Sunday, December 06, 2009


Anyone who has been trying to read Morningsider in the past several months knows that I have been posting rarely and not particularly commenting on events of any kind. For example, my most recent post, on November 15th, was about Chinese characters in a photograph on the front page of the New York Times. Before that,
  • On November 12, completely unnoticed by the blog world, I broke the story of the response of the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church to the Apostolic Constitution.

  • On November 10 I commented on the pejorative use of the term "unequivocal love" by an ex-Episcopalian in Fort Worth.

  • On September 28, I reported cryptically on the meeting of the North American Academy of Ecumenists and referred to a conversation with Alyson Barnett-Cowan.

  • On September 11, I posted a very personal account of a week and included this paragraph:
    As for me, I'm in the process of discernment about how I want to spend my time -- when I have time. I may turn back to genealogy for a while -- or I may go back to The Dunciad. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to try to blog assiduously about things Episcopal (or Anglican) or political. But who knows?
    As an update, I'll report that a free class in Chinese here at Morningside Gardens has captured my attention.

  • On September 7th I posted about a Labor Day gathering, some old chairs, and an old canoe.

  • On August 29 I posted about the Anglican roots of the Faith and Order movement and on the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order.

  • On August 28, I posted about an article by Adrian Worsfold at the Daily Episcopalian in which he said things that I thought, and still think, show an appalling ignorance of the relationship of Anglicanism, Christian Unity, and Faith and Order.
Here, in reverse order, are a few things I have not posted about:
  • Elections of bishops
  • A court ruling against the use of eminent domain in my neighborhood
  • Defeat of marriage equality in the New York state Senate
  • Sending more troops to Afghanistan
  • Uganda
The list could be longer, but that will do for now.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Help wanted

On the front page of this morning's New York Times, above the fold, is a photograph with the caption "A Beijing store is selling notebooks with an image of President Obama, who arrives in China for a three-day visit on Sunday." Most prominent in the photograph is a handwritten sign in Chinese -- and since I am once again studying Chinese (in a very relaxed way) I was curious as to what the sign said. Here is an image of the sign:

There are three characters on the top line and a single character in parentheses below. I should have recognized two of the characters, but the only one I recognized was the one at the bottom in parentheses: 女 (nǚ) which means female or woman.

To find what the other three are I went to YellowBridge and drew the characters into the handwriting recognizer. I learned that the three characters were 招店員 (zhāo diàn yuán) and mean, roughly, "seeking a shop assistant", so the sign means "female shop assistant wanted." I was surprised that the character 員 was the "traditional" form and not the modern "simplified" form, which is 员. The other three characters are the same in both traditional and simplified.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another (Roman Catholic) Response to the Apostolic Constitution

In April, I mentioned attending a gala for the 80th birthday of Leonard Swidler, who is editor of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies. Leonard is also Co-Founder and President of the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC). Yesterday Leonard sent out, on behalf of ARCC, an open letter to Anglicans.Episcopalians thinking about coming over to Rome. The full text of the letter is here.

Completely without irony, the letter lists a number of things that might make someone think twice before making the move. Here is the text except for the footnoteswhich can be found at the link cited above.
We, the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC), wish to extend a warm welcome to our brothers and sisters of the Anglican/Episcopal communion who are clergy and spouses, as well as laity, discerning the call to become members of the Roman Catholic Church under the recently announced Apostolic Constitution.

As committed and enthusiastic Catholics working for the renewal of the Church in the spirit of the Second Council of the Vatican (Vatican II), we recognize the primacy of an informed conscience in making your discernment and decision, To that end, we wish to offer the following observations, that you may be informed of the realities in the Roman Catholic Church of which you may choose to become a part.

You bring an experience of collegiality and subsidiarity at the parish and diocesan levels which, provided you are allowed to retain its practice, will bring a strong complement, even as it stands in polar opposition, to the top-down authority structure of the Roman Catholic Church, where collegiality and subsidiarity function only haphazardly, and almost exclusively at the international level.

You will find yourself members of a Church rich in the liturgy that flowed from the authentic conciliar tradition of Vatican II.

You will find yourself in a Church where at least 39% of marriages now take place across denominational lines, and where truly interchurch couples (who continue to worship together as much as possible in both their Christian traditions) offer an imperfect but real preview of the anticipated unity for which Christ prayed.

If you are a priest, you will find yourself a member of a Church where your Anglican/Episcopal priesthood, exercised with fidelity over the years, is considered “absolutely null and utterly void.” You will be required to question the validity of your earlier ordination and then seek re-ordination within the Roman Catholic Church.

If you are a priest, you will find yourself in a Church where, if your wife dies, you will be called to be celibate, and forgo for the rest of your life the joy and solace of a loving spousal relationship.

You will find yourself members of a Church where at least 60% of its members are in favor of married clergy and the ordination of women, and 45% are welcoming of gay and lesbian unions.

You will find yourself likewise in a Church which defines homosexuality as an objective disorder, yet where some 20-30% of the clergy (bishops, priests and deacons) have that orientation.

You will find yourself in a Church with a rich variety of theologies and practices, some of which you will be in agreement with, while others will be difficult for you to accept, yet all of which are held under the banner of the Roman Catholic Church.

Should you accept all these things, and in conscience believe that the offer of priestly ordination within the Roman Catholic Church is from God, then we will warmly welcome you, for you will have accepted the Church as it is, rather than the sentimental or imagined Church of integrity which some would have you believe.

Leonard Swidler.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Equivocal Love"

I haven't blogged for well over a month -- no reason, except a host of other things have been occupying my time.

Here's a quote from The Wall Street Journal, via The Lead at Episcopal Cafe, in an article about the Diocese of Fort Worth:
Mr. Chaffe (part of the breakaway group) said he is no longer distracted by church politics or upset by issues such as the blessing of gay unions. He need not put up with what he sees as a flawed message of "unequivocal love" for all; instead, he can focus on bringing those he believes to be sinners toward repentance. His church, he says, is again his -- and that uplifts him.
The opposite of "unequivocal love" is "equivocal love," which doesn't sound very attractive to me.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Liz and I have just returned from the annual gathering of the North American Academy of Ecumenists, held this year at the Washington Theological Union in Washington, DC. The thene was The Ethical Horizon from and Ecumenical Perspective. As readers of this blog and those I link to and follow are already aware, the ethical question that dominates today relates to human sexuality.

There were five major papers presented at the conference. They will be published, perhaps by next fall, in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies. One, by Dr. Timothy Sedgewick of Virginia Theological Seminary, dealy directly with human sexuality. The others ranged from a survey of those ecumenical discussions which had touched on matters of ethics to relflections on the Roman Catholic - Mennonite dialogue which in 2004 produced a report entitled Called to be Peacemakers.

As is often the case at conferences, informal conversations were as interesting and informative as the formal presentations. I was especially interested in conversations I had with Alyson Barnett-Cowan and Christopher Agnew.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Down Days

This past Tuesday I drove home from our cottage to our partment in New York, in the full expectation or going to the dental school for another Wednesday appointment and then returning Wednesday afternoon and watching Obama's address to congress with Liz. The plan was that while I was at the dentist, my car would be at the garage.

The plan fell apart in several ways. First, shortly after I got home there was a call from the dentist that the work hadn't come back from the lab, so I didn't go to the dentist ater all. Then the work on the car took all day instead of half a day so I didn't drive back until very early Thursday morning.

I did watch Obama' speech, alone. It was a great speech. But it didn't excite me. My friend Christina sent Liz a link to an interview with Dennis Kucinich about the speech and I passed the link on to who posted the video.

As for me, I'm in the process of discernment about how I want to spend my time -- when I have time. I may turn back to genealogy for a while -- or I may go back to The Dunciad. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to try to blog assiduously about things Episcopal (or Anglican) or political. But who knows?

To review this week:
Sunday -- we had a family gathering here at the lake
Monday -- we were here but I don't remember doing anything in particular
Tuesday -- in the afternoon I drove to New York
Wednesday -- I mostly read all day while the car was being worked on
Thursday -- I drove back early in the morning, then lazed out for most of the day
Friday -- I've mostly puttered all day
Saturday -- tomorrow, we drive to New York. Sunday will be our first day back at St. Mary's in many weeks. We'll return here on Thursday.

Our time in the country is winding down. My commitments at Morningside Gardens are heating up.

Finally, I have begun reading The Church-Idea by William Reed Huntington, first published in 1870. I'll report on it as I get into it.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Chairs and a Canoe

On Labor Day Sunday, September 6, we had what is becoming an annual family gathering at Heart Lake. The picture above shows my cousin Jenny, my nice Michelle and her husband Dan, Liz (my wife,) my Uncle Chuck and my cousin David. Chuck and David are sitting in spring steel lawn chairs that have been on that lawn for more than fifty years.
Here's a picture of the chairs by themselves.It's easy to see that they are in need of paint. Here they are from the back.None of us have ever seen anything like these spring steel chairs anywhere else. Here they asre from the side. In the background are two metal chairs with solid seats and backs, which are more common -- in fact you can find contemporary versions made of much thinner gauge steel. By the way, the reason the grass is so thin or eve nmissing is that the lawn was dug up several times last fall and this summer in the course of installing a new sewer system.

On the same day Uncle Allen took Caitlin and Aidan out in the canoe.
Thanks to my niece Tina for the pictures with people in them.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Christian Unity & Faith and Order

The Office of Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations of the Episcopal Church has issued a Handbook for Ecumenism, most recently revised in 2007. It states, on page 8, that "the story of the Episcopal Church in the ecumenical movement has yet to be written," and goes on to say that the story may be said to begin in the 19th century with the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral.

In 1870, an Episcopal priest, William Reed Huntington, published The Church Idea -- An Essay Towards Unity in which he proposed what later became the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. Most of the 1886 resolution adopted by the House of Bishops in Chicago is printed on pages 876-877 of the 1979 Prayer Book. In paragraph 4 the bishops declare
That this Church does not seek to absorb other Communions, but rather, co-operating with them on the basis of a common Faith and Order, to discountenance schism, to heal the wounds of the Body of Christ, and to promote the charity which is the chief of Christian graces and the visible manifestation of Christ to the world.
At General Convention in 1910, Charles Brent, Missionary Bishop of the Phillipines, suggested a world conference on faith and order and a motion by the rector of Trinity Church in New York City, William T. Manning, was became the first formal proposal for a World Conference on Faith and Order. The first conference was held in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1927, and Bishop Brent was elected its President.

The first North American Conference on Faith and Order was held at Oberlin, Ohio in 1957. In October, 2005, the National Council of Churches Commission on Faith and Order issued a Faith and Order Commission Handbook which contains a brief history of Faith and Order written by Sr. Lorelei F. Fuchs, SA. She writes:
To date Faith and Order is the most comprehensive theological forum gathering together representatives of Christian churches to work towards the visible unity of the one church of Jesus Christ. It embraces more Christians and churches than the World Council of Churches. Serving this movement at the global level is the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. Similar structures exist on other levels – national, regional and local. This world commission describes its meaning and purpose in its by-laws:
to proclaim the oneness of the Church of Jesus Christ, to call the churches to the goal of visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship, expressed in worship and in common life in Christ, in order that the world may believe
Oneness of the church of Jesus Christ... visible unity in faith and eucharistic fellowship... worship... common life... so that the world may believe... These concerns are the heart of this unity movement, which identifies two spheres that frame their consideration.

“Faith” is the first of two spheres that expresses the goal of Christian unity in the Faith and Order movement. Behind the “faith” sphere is the desire for visible unity in the essentials of Christian faith, life and witness that inspired the churches to come together in a conciliar structure at the turn of the twentieth century. Regarding “faith,” the purpose of the Faith and Order movement is to unearth the common ground that is at the root which binds Christian creed and confession.

“Order” is the second sphere that expresses the goal of Christian unity in the Faith and Order movement. At the centre of the “order” sphere is the ecclesial praxis of the Christian way of life. Concerning “order,” Faith and Order’s purpose is to discern the ways to mutual recognition and reconciliation of Christian spiritual and sacramental life, Christian mission and ministry.

Together, “faith” and “order” unite in a “movement” enabling the churches to enter into the theological dialogue and reflection necessary to discern and transcend the differences that are church dividing and to recognize and articulate the bonds that are uniting. The dimension of “faith,” then, focuses on doctrinal matters of faith, sacraments, mission and ministry. The dimension of “order” focuses on the form or polity or discipline of these matters. That Faith and Order is a “movement” means that it is not a static entity but a journey towards unity with a direction that is
charted and followed by diverse routes. Rather than a mapped-out blueprint, the movement’s goal of the visible unity of the church is understood as gift and call – a gift from God revealed in the response to a call to fellowship, communion, koinonia. Various structures support this movement.

Sustaining the world movement of faith and order is the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches. This commission consists of a secretariat, programmes of studies and world conferences. These latter, the world conferences, are the peaks of ongoing theological work and prayer that is carried out in the valleys and plains of everyday life lived as an ecumenical Christian. Parallel structures exist on national, regional and local levels.

This coming October, the Faith and Order Plenary Commission of the World Council of Churcvhes will meet in Crete. Among the items on the agenda are:
  • Sources of authority

By looking at how churches use sources of authority, the commission will take a new approach to the old debate around "Scripture versus Tradition", moving it from a theoretical discussion towards a sharing of experiences.

  • Moral discernment

Through the examination of case studies – some of them on controversial issues like proselytism, homosexuality and stem-cell research – the commission will critically look at how churches arrive at their positions on moral issues. The goal is to begin the process of developing an ecumenically recognized set of steps for the churches' moral discernment.

These seem to me to be important questions -- and like many of the issues that Fiath and Order has taken up in the past, they are not easy.

The current WCC director of Faith and Order is Canadian Anglican theologian Canon Dr John Gibaut.

Let me reiterate that I think that someone at the Anglican Communion Office or the Anglican Consultative Council blundered when they put together the title "Unity, Faith and Order." My wife Liz points out that the names of the two previos commissions -- the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations and the Theological and Doctrinal Commission -- were clear and communicated what the commissions were about. The name of the Commission for Unity, Faith and Order is unclear, unless you realize that "Unity" and "Faith and Order" are technical terms that have ecumenical reference. The name is also unfortunate in that it lends itself to a risible acronym, which has been used by Adrian Worsfold not just once or twice on his own blog, but also at the Daily Episcopalian. Sad to say, Grandmère Mimi picked it up here and here.

Now that I've said all that, it's only fair to point out a few facts.

On The Anglican Communion Official Website is this page:

Ecumenical Affairs - Commissions IASCUFO

IASCUFO - Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order

IASCUFO’s mandate was approved by the Joint Standing Committee in November 2008.

The Standing Commission shall have responsibility:
  • to promote the deepening of Communion between the Churches of the Anglican Communion, and between those Churches and the other churches and traditions of the Christian oikumene
  • to advise the Provinces and the Instruments of Communion on all questions of ecumenical engagement, proposals for national, regional or international ecumenical agreement or schemes of co-operation and unity, as well as on questions touching Anglican Faith and Order
  • to review developments in the areas of faith, order or unity in the Anglican Communion and among ecumenical partners, and to give advice to the Churches of the Anglican Communion or to the Instruments of Communion upon them, with the intention to promote common understanding, consistency, and convergence both in Anglican Communion affairs, and in ecumenical engagement
  • to assist any Province with the assessment of new proposals in the areas of Unity, Faith and Order as requested.

The first meeting of IASCUFO will be in Canterbury in December 2009.

Note that the Commission's mandate was approved the Joint Standing Committee in November 2008.

The Windsor Continuation Group Report to the Archbishop of Canterbury, dated 17 December 2008, refers to the IASCUFO. I have been unable to find any reference to the IASCUFO before May, 2009, although there is discussion of the report the Windsor Continuation Group starting about February.

Two resolutions of the May 2009 meeting of the Anglican Conultative Council (ACC-14) refer to IASCUFO. In section g of Resolution 14.09, the ACC
asks the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order to undertake a study of the role and responsibilities in the Communion of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting; the ecclesiological rationale of each, and the relationships between them, in line with the Windsor Continuation Group Report, and to report back to ACC-15;
and Resolution 14.10 reads
The Anglican Consultative Council, in the light of the Resolution 14.08 of ACC-14 on the WCG Report, asks that the report of the study undertaken by IASCUFO includes a study of the existing papers developed within our Communion and of current best practices in governance for multi-layered complex organizations, and makes recommendations to ACC-15 on ways in which the effectiveness of the Instruments of Communion may be enhanced.
The reference to 14.08 is a mistake -- they meant section g of 14.09 quoted above.

There's plenty there to brood on, but I don't think it's necessarily ominous. The questions they are asked to study are profound ones. I'm going to leave it there for now.

NOTE TO READERS, IF I HAVE ANY: I'll have very limited time on the internet from now until next Thursday, September 3.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Adrian Squeaks

At Daily Episcopalian Adrian Worsfold has written a piece called "Anglican no longer." That title is intended to signify that he, Adrian, is no longer an Anglican or a Christian, which is fair enough. Adrian is a clever guy, and on his blog, Pluralist Speaks, has written several clever commentaries on things Anglican, especially taking on Archbishop Rowan Williams and Bishop Tom Wright. He has also had cogent things to say about the proposed covenant and about the apparent drive for uniformity within the Anglican Communion. But in the end, he does not know enough and so he sometimes talks (or squeaks) through his hat.

I refer especially to this statement: The latest development is still worthy of comment: having an office for Unity, Faith and Order - a UFO very alien to Anglicanism. In fact, the office for Unity, Faith and Order is not, as Adrian thinks, part of a "drive towards unity of process" in the Anglican Communion. In the first place, it is not new -- it is the result of the consolidation of two long standing Inter-Anglican Commissions. In the second place, Unity and Faith and Order are both terms that refer to aspects of the ecumenical movement -- aspects indeed that have deep Anglican roots. Two minutes or less on Google, or my favorite, Goodsearch, would have brought these facts to light.

To be sure, the average Anglican layperson, and even clergy, are not very well informed about the ecumenical movement and thus might be forgiven for missing the significance of the rather unfortunately named position, Director of Unity, Faith and Order. It is also true that the August 14 post by the Anglican Communion News Services Appointment of new Director for Unity, Faith and Order is not terribly informative. For example, it does not refer to the July 1 post Inter-Anglican Standing Committee for Unity, Faith and Order - IASCUFO in which two important points are made -- first, that the new commission replaces two earlier commissions, The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations and the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission, and second, that the Secretary for the Commission will be the Director for Unity, Faith and Order, Anglican Communion Office.
It was at the third meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Trinidad in 1976 that the idea was conceived of a representative commission to consider theological and doctrinal questions which concern the Anglican Communion as a whole. The proposal was endorsed by the 1978 Lambeth Conference, and the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission was subsequently established. -- For the Sake of the Kingdom - 1986
Following Lambeth 1988, the second Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission was formed and in 1997 produced the Virginia Report. Following Lambeth 1998, the third Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission was formed and in 2008 issued the report "Communion, Conflict and Hope."

The Inter-Anglican Commission on Ecumenical Affairs is relatively recent. It was established following Lambeth 1998. Before that was something called the Ecumenical Advisory Group of the Anglican Communion which issued the Agros Report to the Anglican Consultative Council at ACC-1o in 1996 and then to the Lambeth Conference.

It is true that both of these commissions have dealt with issues which touch on coherence within Anglicanism, but these are old issues and there is really nothing new here.

In part II, I shall discuss the Anglican and Episcopal roots of the terms Faith and Order and Unity.

Note: I inadvertently posted an incomplete version of this on Thursday, August 27.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cottage and Canoe

A week ago, I took our friend Howard out in our canoe. It's a 17 foot Morris canoe which my cousin Doug restored about 10 years ago. Here we are bringing the canoe close to the spot where Howard could disembark. I then took the canoe over to the spot where we could take it out of the water.And here's a view of our cottage from the lake.

Monday, August 24, 2009

So Many Thoughts

As this last full week of August begins, I find my head swirling with ideas. Ideas, that is, that I want to write about. At the same time, I find that I have a number of tasks that seem to take priority over writing. I don't seem to be able to produce a coherent composition -- so I'll just jot down a few ideas and hope to be able to expand on them later.

Since I heard a broadcast last summer on Alternative Radio of a talk by George Lakoff, I have been interested in embodied mind theory, and especially in the explanation it provides for why rational argument rarely changes people's minds, why so many ordinary people are persuaded to vote and act against what is clearly in their own interest, and why otherwise decent people can so easily demonize others. This has application to the LGBTQ struggle, to immigrants, to anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions, to the health care reform struggle, and to a host of other issues. I want to write more about this.

Because my wife Liz is active in the ecumenical movement, I have been exposed to both current thinking and the history of the ecumencial movement, the desire for Christian Unity, the Faith and Order movement, and contemporary inter-religious dialogue. I want to write more about this, especially about the Episcopal roots of the ecumenical movement and the influence of William Reed Huntington and Charles Henry Brent.

Although I can't call myself a Marxist (I don't know enough to be able to tell whether I am a Marxist or not,) I do call myself a socialist. I am convinced that capitalism as it exists today, along with what I will call financialism, are incompatible with the Gospel as I understand it.

I would like very much to try to explicate what I mean by "the Gospel as I understand it." This will take a good deal of work.

Those are some of the things I am thinking about. Now for a few of the things I am doing.

Liz and I have been here at Heart Lake full time since July 25 -- that is, Liz has. I hve gone back to New York for one or two nights every week. Sometimes it's for a meeting, sometimes for a dentist's appointment, sometimes for both. The meetings are connected to my service on the Board of Directors of our coop, Morningside Heights Housing Corporation. The dentist's appointment are for prosthodntics at Columbia Dental School which can only take place on Wednesdays (because of the schedule of the attending dentist who is overseeing the work.) Two weeks ago I was in the chair for eight hours and last week for five hours. The drive to New York is three hours each way.

Meanwhile, here at the cottage, we are proceeding with some work to improve things both outdoors and indoors. When we rebuilt the cottage after the 1988 fire, we acquired an attic space. The number of things we have put in that attic is astounding. I have begun the task of cleaning it out -- it's a big job.

To be updated.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Stouter than I used to be

I have mentioned before that I am a G & S fan and have been for more than 60 years.

I think (nay, I know) that I have also mentioned that that I am a fan of BBC Radio 3 on the internet and in the summer a fan especially of the Proms.

Well, on August 12, the day I am posting this, I have an appointment with my dentist so on Tuesday August 11 I had to drove back to New York. And while I was driving the BBC was broadcasting, live from the Royal Albert Hall, Prom 35 - Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience -- conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras. (Chatles Mackerras is eleven years older than I, and I bought a record of his Pineapple Poll, a ballet based of G & S tunes, before I was 20, so I have known about him almost all my life and certainly all my adult life.

So consider my dismay when this broadcast (and internetcast) took place while I was driving. If I had been driving on the wrong side of the road in England, (I should tell you sometime o about the first time i did that) I could have listened to the broadcast live -- but in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and again New York, it just wasn't possible.

But wait, on the BBC iPlayer I can "listen again" for seven days. So I didn't miss it after all. As I write this, I am listening to Felicity Palmer, as Lady Jane, sing "Silvered is the raven hair," accompanying herself on the cello. I recommend it. You can hear it here.

The image of Lady Jane is from the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Catching Up

A lot has happened since I last posted. In no particular order:
General Convention has ended
The BBC Proms have begun
Liz and I went to the wedding of her (our) grandniece Sara and saw a great many family members including Jane, Scott and Amanda
So far this week and last week I have been to three meetings here at Morningside Gardens
To accomplish this, I have driven at least 660 miles with another 180 to go to get back to our summer base at Heart Lake (in truth, Liz drove some of it)
With all this I have been trying to keep up with the intertubes

Right now (Thursday morning) Liz is in Philadelphia and will come back Friday morning - then we drive back to Heart Lake.

I have another meeting this evening while Liz is in Philadelphia and I have to come back from Heart Lake next Tuesday for a board meeting.

All this is by way of prologue -- right now I want to write about some of the significant actions taken at General Convention. First, a couple of resolutions whose designations have become well known -- D025 and C056. I wrote last March that our tiny church of St. Mary's, in Manhattanville (now sometimes called West Harlem) voted at our Annual Meeting to call for the rescinding of 2006's B033 and also for approval of the blessing of same-sex unions. D025 effectively, but not formally, rescinds B033 and C056 is a small but significant step in the direction of approval of blessing of same sex unions.

As an autobiographical aside, when I was in a same sex relationship, my partner Rex Slauson was against "gay marriage," at least in the church, because he felt it was a slavish imitation of a straight institution. It must be said that Rex was not able to be faithful, so maybe that's why he held that opinion. Since Rex died in February 1973 (after a heart attack in a bathhouse) I've had a lot of time to develop my own views. At the end of 1974, about 21 months after Rex's death, I realized I was in love with Liz. We were married in February 1975 and for at least 15 years I fooled myself into thinking I was bisexual. Then Liz and I went to a Conference of the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus EEWC in Virginia and at a presentation about the wives of "ex-gays" I realized that I was still simply gay and not bisexual. As always, I am reticent about what that means in our marriage, except to say that I have never "fooled around," but I am not reticent about my advocacy for full inclusiveness in the church.

Two members of our parish work at 815 -- both are in same sex partnships. As it happens neither was there at this year's Annual Meeting, and the other LGBT people aren't as tuned in to issues in the wider church as I am. So I was the one who made the motion about B033 at our annual meeting, and I was the one who realized I had forgotten to mention the blessing of same-sex unions.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thoughts on B033

While General Convention has been going on in Anaheim, I have been following several blogs and other sources on the internet to see what has been going on. As I mentioned a few months ago, my parish, St. Mary's, Manhattanville, at its annual meeting took a stand for the repeal of B033. Now B033, a resolution passed at the 2006 convention, provides, that is asks for, an effective moratorium on the election of of an openly gay or lesbian bishop in thr Episcopal Church. It is an amazingly hot issue for LGBT persons, considering that most of us don't aspire to be a bishop. But with B033 in place, all LGBT Episcopalians are damaged in two ways -- first, we are being told that the Episcopal Church welcomes us -- but only up to a point and no further. Second, we are being told that we cannot -- for a season -- see a person like us in the the role of bishop.

I live on the edge of Harlem, very close to 125th Street. On election night, 2008, when Barack Obama won the election for President, people poured into the street to celebrate -- especially African American people. Never mind that Obama has been a disappointment in several important ways -- to have an African American as President is very important to people of color -- and as we were reminded again today, to Africans as well as to people in the United States.

Just as people of color all over the world rejoice to see Barack Obama as President of the United States, so too many LBGTQ people who are not Episcopalians rejoice to see Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

NOTE: I have revised this post because my remarks on bishops were not really related to my remarks on B033. July 13, 7:50 AM


The Friends of Jake, of OCICBW, and Wounded Bird are at this moment assembling in Anaheim, and probably heading towards the doors of the Integrity Eucharist. I wish I were there. 'Nuff said.

Monday, July 06, 2009

July 5th - Last week's Pride March and beyond

Sunday July 5th Liz and I got up early at Heart Lake and drove home (2-1/2 hours taking I80 on a Sunday morning) in order to attend St. Mary's, Manhattanville, one last time before starting our ten (or more) week hiatus.

As I wrote last week, at the Pride March I carried one end of the Diocese of New York Banner and Lisa carried the other end. There were lots of pictures taken, but I haven't yet seen one that includes me. Here, though, is a picture of Lisa and her sister with +Gene Robinson.
Lisa has this picture on her phone and was able to send it to me when we spoke after church. I'll keep looking to see if there are any posted pictures of the full banner -- if there are, I am sure to be in them.

The reason for the ten week hiatus from St Mary's is that Liz and I are about to move to Heart Lake for the remainder of the summer. When we are there, we attend the Heart Lake United Methodist Church, where Liz plays the piano to the delight of the congregation, including Judy, who is a great musician but doesn't really play the piano. So once we get there, it's hard to not be there on a Sunday.

We're leaving for Heart Lake on Thursday, and so far my calendar shows that I have to be in New York for meetings every week for the next month. Usually I drive down alone the day of the meeting and head back the next morning.

Thus begins the summer.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pride March 2009

Here are some highlights from the NYC Pride March yesterday. I made a conscious decision to travel light, and I don't have any pictures to show you.

I got there quite early -- my plan was to march with the Diocese of New York. The announced assembly time was 11:30 and I was a few minutes earlier than that. We were in group 6 and assembled on East 54th Street. The delegation from St. Luke in the Fields had great tee shirts and I looked around for Counterlight. Overcoming my natural shyness, I spoke to him. Later I also saw and spoke to the Reverend boy.

The Eucharist was at 12. It was conducted amid a great deal of street noise but it went off well. Towards the end of it, the marshals wanted us form up so a few folks put the banners out as placeholders.-- we all knew that there would be a long wait afterward. The website had predicted a step off time of 1 PM.

I volunteered to help carry the diocesan banner and soon Lisa, another member of St. Mary's, Manhattanville, showed up and she volunteered to carry the banner, too. We both expected to see Patrick, another St. Mary's person, but he never showed.

Finally, we stepped off at 2:05 pm. The diocesan banner led, followed by Integrity, and at least four parishes -- St Luke in the Fields, Holy Apostles, St Bart's, and St John's in the Village. I carried the banner the whole way, so I didn't get a chance to circulate.

There are three churches near the beginning of the line of march. Out group didn't pass the first one, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian -- we started out one block south of it. Almost immediately we passed St. Thomas Church. Then two blocks later is St Patrick's Cathedral, with barricades isolating it from what was happening on the street. I think that's sad.

I was surprised at the number of people along the way who greeted us enthusiastically. A little more than a mile along the way, we came to Marble Collegiate Church, where there were people handing out cups of water -- a welcome refreshment.

The big surprise came a mile after that. At First Presbyterian Church they were also handing out water. Who should come towards us carrying a tray of cups, but Bishop Gene Robinson, who was their preacher yesterday morning. Receiving a cup of water from Gene Robinson on Pride Sunday was almost sacramental.

For the rest of the march, +Gene marched with us. An awful lot of people along the way recognized him and called out his name.

We got to the end of the march a little before 5:30. Three and a half hours to march around three miles -- an hour's walk at a good pace, maybe a little more for me these days. I called Liz, who had stayed at home feeling a little sick, and she came down to the Village for the Festive Choral Evensong at St Luke in the Fields. All in all, a memorable day. I'm sorry I don't have any pictures for you.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pride March

I'm off to the 8 AM service at St. Mary's.
I'll be marching in the Heritage of Pride Parade this afternoon, probably with the Diocese of NY group.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Faith in NYC

Believe it or not, I live in one of the most religious cities in the United States. According to the adjusted data in the linked article, 83.44% of New Yorkers identify as religious adherents, compared to 61.49% for the United States as a whole. For Manhattan, where I live, the figure is 89.42%.
Two thirds (66.6%) of the total religious adherents in Manhattan identify as Christian, 29.2% as Jewish, 3.4% as Muslim, and 0.7% as adherents of other religions.
Among the Christians, the 66.6% percent in Manhattan is largely Roman Catholic (52.5%), followed by mainline protestant (9.3%).
The historically African American churches are not included in the unadjusted data but an estimate for them is included in the adjusted data reported here (a fact not mentioned in the article but stated in the underlying report at the Association of Religious Data Archives (ARDA).
It should also be noted that the article does not tell us anything about the definition of being an adherent of a religion (although ARDA does -- it includes children and ) or about the rate of religious observance.

Interestingly, the unadjusted data at ARDA shows more Episcopalians than any other protestant denomination. (This is sociological data so let's not quibble about the word words "protestant" and "catholic" or even "evangelical" and "mainline." )
More later.


No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. -- John Donne, Meditation XVII.
I mourn Michael Jackson as a human being. I am not in a position to judge his artistry as I never paid much attention to him. I found his notoriety distasteful but confess to having had a prurient interest in his trial.

I mourn Farah Fawcett as a human being. As far as I know, I never saw any of her performances.

I mourn Ed McMahon as a human being. I actually used to stay up and see the beginning of the Johnny Carson Tonight show, so I have a clearer impression of him than I do of the others.

But among the human beings I mourn the most are those ordinary persons who have died as a result of hunger, fear, injustice, oppression, the violence of war, and capital punishment.

Oh, I forgot hate -- I mourn Dr. George Tiller and Stephen T. Johns, both shot by haters.

Parent of all, we pray to you for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of god, rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How Spent My ...

I'm so glad I don't have to try to be up to date when I'm posting.

Last Saturday, Liz and I had dinner with friends at The Symposium, a Greek restaurant on 113th Street that has been there as long as I can remember. We walked to the restaurant, and on our way we passed a small group of people picketing Jewish Theological Seminary -- most of the signs were anti-Jewish, but I did see a "God hates Fags" sign, so I thought it was probably the Westboro Baptist crowd. There were more police than picketers.

After a pleasant supper with our friend Ginny and her husband and granddaughter, we walked our guests to the corner of Morningside Drive and Cathedral Parkway, they headed over to the A train and we walked back home. As we were walking along past two sides of the Cathedral of St John the Divine, Ginny mentioned that when she was living at Union Seminary, she used to bring recycling to the Cathedral grounds.

On Sunday morning, we went to St. Mary's where we had some special guests, the James Parks Morton International Visiting Fellows, who were in New York from Glasgow and Barcelona. James Parks Morton was Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine for 25 years and started the first Recycling Center in Manhattan's Upper West Side on the Cathedral Close. After he retired as Dean in 1997, he founded the Interfaith Center of New York, and for several years he and his wife Pamela have been members of St. Mary's. Two years ago, Chloe Breyer, a priest and member of St. Mary's, succeeded Jim Morton as Executive Director of the Interfaith Center. Chloe preached and all in all it was a pretty good St. Mary's service.

After church we drove to Vermont. Monday was our granddaughter Amanda's second birthday, and we just had to be there. Before the birthday party, we spent four hours in the morning at Amanda's day care facility. We met her two principal caregivers and six of her classmates -- it was a really fun time.

On Tuesday morning we drove back home -- total time away, almost exactly 48 hours. Total driving time -- about 10-1/2 hours. Sleep time -- maybe 17 hours. It was worth it, though.

Sorry I don't have any pictures.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


On the new website of ACNA (the Anglican Church in North America,) Bishop Robert Duncan has written An Introduction to the Constitution and Canons. He has identified six principles behind the governance structure that the delegates at the Inaugural Assembly of ACNA next week will be asked to ratify. The princples are:
  1. confessional unity, expressed in matters of Faith and Order;
  2. subsidiarity, where what may be wisely left to the local level (both diocesan and congregational) is left to the local level, including property ownership;
  3. missionary focus, especially in structures, roles and representation;
  4. flexibility, recognizing the diversity of Godly approaches common among the partners coming into union;
  5. disciplinary reform, including address of concerns for Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders, as well as provision of a provincial tribunal.
  6. collegial accountability, especially in matters relating to bishops.
The first principle, "confessional unity," means that ACNA is going to be a confessional church, which comes as no surprise. Now I have no particular quarrel with confessional churches as such -- it's just that they generally construct confessions of faith that are designed to exclude somebody. In this case, they are designed to exclude those who believe that sexually active LGBT people are just as worthy as sexually active straight people of participating in the full sacramental life of the church.

On ACNA's What We Stand For page are two documents, a Theological Statement first issued by the Common Cause Partnership and the Jerusalem Declaration, issued in 2008 by GAFCon, and "a foundation for fellowship in the global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans." Particularly relevant is statement 8:
8. We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.
For those attracted to members of the opposite sex, that is a good and adequate statement.

But if you believe, as I do, that sexual orientation is real, then you either have to say that statement is inadequate or you have to accept the statement and conclude that sexual intimacy outside of the marriage of a man and a woman is not proper.

A lesbian or gay person who accepts the second alternative is likely to be unhappy. A lesbian or gay person who accepts the first alternative may either reject Christianity altogether, as many do, or may find a church home in what has come to be known as an "affirming" church.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bloomsday (and after) thoughts

In my Blogger profile, I list James Joyce's Ulysses as one of my favorite books. It truly is one of my favorites, although it's been years since I've seriously looked at it. Among other things, Ulysses is a book about the author's home town. My own hometown is Binghamton, New York -- at least that's where I was born and where I spent the majority of my young life before I headed off to college when I was 18. Even though I have lived in New York City for more than 50 years, Binghamton is still my home town and nearby Heart Lake, Pennsylvania is my summer home place -- not quite a town.

Binghamton is the home -- not the home town -- of Matt Kennedy, a former Episcopal priest who led his parish out the Episcopal Church (TEC) and who blogs at Stand Firm. Just as the Rev. Mr. Kennedy seems to be obsessed with gay sex and with what he sees as the failings of the Episcopal Church, I am somewhat, although to a much lesser degree, obsessed with the doings and writings of Mr. Kennedy (I mean no disrespect -- I am simply being low church.) The current location of the Church of the Good Shepherd is under 30 miles from our cottage at Heart Lake and that no doubt plays a role in my interest in their doings. Because of my mini-obsession I sometimes drop in on the Blog of the Good Shepherd. Today I found this gem:
Many have been asking about how to become a member of Good Shepherd. I'll be putting together a packet and a class in the next week or so. So stay tuned for information on that. The membership regulations in the Episcopal Church are very low...something like "Are you breathing and are you in the pew?" Yes. "You are a member of our church". We hope to do a little better than that now that God has given us this new start.
That quote includes a gratuitous and unsupported slur.

Mr. Kenndedy is a regular blogger at Stand Firm. Here's a recent quote on a thread suggesting that the Episcopal Church might soon endorse bestiality:

Jackie did not “attribute” this particular “vile thing” to TEC. She simply wrote: “New Frontier for TEC” and concluded with a question mark—as in: could this be the next “new thing”

Personally, I do not at all see such things as future impossibilities for the “church” that embraces already one form of sexual perversion and whose bishops participate without censure in “Pride” parades which specialize “vile things” and extreme lewdness

Let's see, he's saying that the Episcopal Church is not a real church, rather it is some kind of a false "church," it embraces a form of sexual perversion (by which he means same-sex sexual behavior,) and its bishops participate in parades which "specialize" in "vile things" and "extreme lewdness."
  • Putting the word church in quotes is a form of innuendo that is devoid of content.
  • The assertion that TEC embraces a form of sexual perversion is wrong. TEC's limited acceptance of LGBT people is in no sense an "embracing" of any kind of sexual behavior. There is a genuine debate going on in TEC (as in the Anglican Communion as a whole and in othe denominations) about same-sex sexual relationships. Use of the word perversion adds heat, but not light, to the discussion.
  • The complaint about bishops participating in Pride parades at which other people engage in "vile things" and "extreme lewdness" seems to suggest that the bishops, whoever they are, are endorsing the "vile things" and "extreme lewdness." That's remarkably close to the complaint that Jesus consorted with tax collectors and sinners.
In the same thread, Keith Töpfer, another commenter, made this remark:
The last time I checked, bestiality was just as much a “sexual orientation” as is heterosexuality, homosexuality, pædophilia, necrophilia (and the list, in all probability, goes on a considerable distance from those.)
This statement is either intellectually dishonest or simply stupid. "Sexual orientation" is a technical term with a specific meaning, not just a faddish catch-all term to descirbie any and all sexual behaiors. Specifically, it refers "to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes" and "to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions." Mr. Töpfer, if indeed he checked anywhere at all, did not check any reputable source, or he would have found that while there are indeed advocates for treating pædophilia and zoophilia (bestiality) as "sexual orientations," there is no reason to think these efforts will go anywhere.

I didn't notice Mr. Kennedy disassociating himslef from Mr. Töpfer's foolishness, so, using his kind of logic, I guess I can impute those remarks to him..

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's Only Me and it's Awesome, Dude

For at least a week I have been absent from the blogosphere. I have been somewhat obsessively spending my time vicariously at Ulvescott, at St. Mark's College, Cambridge, and in Strelzen, Rothenia, in the company of a whole bunch of fictional characters. I don't make any promises about resurfacing, because I am now beginning to peruse the works which brought Rothenia to light. I'm also going back to the long narration that tells how come Jacko is in residence at Ulvescott. Let the reader understand.

P.S. I didn't include any links, but the works I refer to, although they contain explicit X-rated content, verge on being literary.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Holiday Weekend

Liz and I came to our cottage here at Heart Lake on Thursday afternoon. Friday morning, I started turning on the water -- a process which involves reconnecting pipes in and under the cottage and putting the footvalve back in the lake. The final step is to prime the pump and the line to the lake. At that point, I discovered that I not properly drained the pump jast year and it was cracked. So I had to call the plumber and get a new pump. The plumber came Saturday afternoon, and now we have running water again.

The next task was mowing the lawn. The grass was high and it was something of a struggle to cut it, but now that's done. It will probably be at least two weeks before we are back, and the grasss grows fast, but next time won't be as hard as this time.

They had a yard sale at the Heart Lake UM Church on Friday and Saturday -- we got there Saturday morning and everyone was delighted to see us. On Sunday, Liz played the piano for the service -- people really appreciated having her back.

Today's our last day here -- gotta go back to NYC tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Slogging On

When I last reported, I was working my way through In a Godward Direction. I finished that and then went on to Noble Wolf. I spent most of yesterday working through Of Course I Could Be Wrong and I'm still only in the G's.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I thought better of it and removed the original post.

I'm still praying.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Thermometer at Resentful

Come to our bracing desert
Where eternity is eventful,
For the weather-glass
Is set at Alas,
The thermometer at Resentful.
-- W H Auden, For the Time Being

I have removed most of this post.

I am praying for Joel and for Margaret; for John and for Elizabeth and the rest of his family; for Mimi; and for Jonathan.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Exploring the Community - First Report

I decided to use my genealogy program, The Master Genealogist (TMG) to keep track of this small part of the blogging community. The inset paragraph that follows is technical and if you don't follow it, don't worry.
I began with this blog, Morningsider. I entered each of the Blogs I Follow and each blog on my blog roll Some Blogs I Read. To the program, the blogs are people. I also entered the blog owner as a parent to the blog, so I have a list of people that includes both bloggers and blogs.
Each blog I entered from my list was an associate of Morningsider. I then repeated the process with the associates of the first of Morningsider's associate, which chanced to be Adventus. I discovered that Adventus had a number of links to blogs that were far afield from the community of inclusive Anglicans but at first I entered them anyway. After a time, I realized that it was extraneous to my purposes to enter (those that are neither blogs nor directly concerend with inclusive Anglicanism. (If I encounter a link to "the other side," I will include it, but I will not explore its associates.)

After I finished Adventus, which is on my blogroll but not among those I follow, I decided to proceed down the list of Blogs I Follow. I have finished An Inch at a Time, Counterlight's Peculiars, and Father Geoff Farrow (who has no blogroll), and now I am working my way through In a Godward Direction.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Another Morning

Continuing in the spirit of the last few posts, I am going to continue to talk about me.

It has taken me at least a full day to come down from the high induced by the excitement of seeking the presidency of my coop. But now I am turning back to other things -- while at the same time remaining a committed board member and committee chair here at Morningside.

Morningside Gardens is a community -- six 21 story buildings with about 980 residential apartments and a population of more than 1,700 persons. I am deeply involved in this community and that involvement will not change.

I am going now to direct my attention to another community -- a community of people, many of whom have never met, who blog or comment on blogs on the inclusive side in the Episcopal Church and othe Anglican churches. I want to explore this virtual community more deeply than I have in the past.

On an occasion or two in the past, I have surfed from blog to blog, seeing where it took me. This will be a different sort of exploration. I'll keep writing about what I find.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


The Board of Directors of Morningside Heights Housing Corporation had its organizational meeting this evening. The elections are over.

I narrowly escaped being elected president. There were two other candidates and the vote, so I was told, was 6-5-1. (I got 5 votes.)

I wasn't elected to any other office, so this year I am not an officer, and that's ok with me.

I was elected to the Finance Committee and to the Executive Committee.

Now that that's over, my preoccupation with this aspect of our coop is also over and I can get back to some other things that interest me.

Monday, May 11, 2009


We got to Heart Lake (not having been there for 28 weeks) and found that the phone was out -- no dial tone. So I had no internet access -- we did have our emergency cell phone, so we used that to call the phone company. The phone was still out at the time we left.

After I got home I learned that there's no change in the vote count. Four people solidly for me, five if I count myself. Two more are needed to elect. Maybe we won't find out until the board meeting tomorrow night.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Away,away, ere I expire

This afternoon, Liz and I are taking off for our cottage at Heart Lake. We have haven't been back since the end of October.

I still don't know whether my supporter have rounded up enough votes to elect me as president. The truth is, while I am willing to be president, I am not running against anyone. There is another candidate who I think would be fine but there are some who are really against him. It's an odd position to be in.

I'm leaving right now. More later.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

New Board Members

Well, the waiting is over. Four people have been chosen for the board -- three new and one reelected for a second three year term.
There is another candidate for president, but I think I am more qualified. I am actively campaigning for the office, although in a low key sort of way. While the Whip is finding out what the count of votes is, I'm waiting again, but more actively, because nobody gets to vote until Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Last night, our Morningside coop had its annual meeting. We voted for four board members to begin three year terms. Now it's all over but the counting.

Depending on the outcome of the election, I may or may not be chosen by the board to be the next president. As I said before, I don't really want the job, but I am willing to take it if the votes are there.

So I'm waiting for the results -- waiting to see who will be on the board.

Update: I had thought the results would be out this afternoon, but I just learned that the Elections Committee will not begin counting the votes until this evening. So I had best be patient.

Monday, May 04, 2009

What's Up?

This morning I was asked whether I am a candidate to be president of my coop. My answer was that I am not seeking the job, but that if there are six board members who want me to, I will accept the job (and be the seventh vote.)

There is another person who I am told wants the job, but since the person who told me that is severely irony-challenged, I don't know for sure -- the statement the presumptive candidate is quoted as making could have been meant humorously.

I have already served as president of this coop for five years -- and I am completing my fourteenth year on the board. I do not want to be president -- it's quite enough to be a responsible board member. So why am I willing to accept the job?

First, though I say this who shouldn't, of all the present and potential board members, I am the most suited for the job -- temperamentally, by availability, and by experience. For over a decade now, the president has been a retired person. When I was president the first time, in the early 1980s, I was not only working but I was beginning a new career -- high school teaching. During my second stint, from May 2004 to May 2006, I was putting in 20 to 30 hour weeks at the job. I believe our outgoing president is averaging more time than I did.

I think I will able to chair even handedly. Depending on who gets on this time, there may be some sparks. I think I have the skill (or at least the vision of what's required) to help the board have vigorous but civilized discussions.

I think my experience at Morningside both on and off the board will help me help the board to be a better board.

Our main challenge right now is financial -- this has nothing to do with the current economic crisis, but that sure makes finding solutions more difficult.

The first time I was president I had just been overwhelmingly elected to the board for a second three year term. My three years as president ended in acrimony -- not over me, but it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I vowed never to be on the board again. Six or seven years later I ran again and that time I was tied for a one year term. I won the run off and a year later I was elected to a full three year term.
In 2004, I was on a trip in early February and when I checked my phone messages I had received an urgent message that things were awry at Morningside Gardens. Upon my return I was urged to run for the board (even though the official deadline for a candidacy had passed.) I did run and I was again elected with a large number of votes. I was elected president by the board, unseating the then current president. Two years later the same thing happened to me -- I was unseated by an incoming director.

In November 2007 I wrote in a small notebook:
Should I run for the board or shouldn't I?

I need to have my time.
If I run, I might want to be president.
Being president is too time-consuming.
It's fun.
I want to.
The corporation needs me (or somebody good.)
I'm good

As it happened, in December I decided against running -- then in January a board member implored me to run. So I did.
Sure enough, I was asked to be a candidate for president. It turned out, there weren't enough votes and I withdrew. I didn't really want to be president anyway, and I also did not think that the incumbent, who had unseated me two years before, was all that bad. We all have strengths and weaknesses and the question was this -- did her weaknesses trump her strengths? For some board members, the answer was yes -- and some were against her for political reasons. But there were an equal number who were for her on account of her strengths.

Some of that politics is still here, but the cast of characters is changing slightly, and my candidacy would not be challenging anyone. In our coop we have twelve directors; each year four are elected for three year terms. A director may serve a maximum of six consecutive years -- that is, normally, two three year terms. Three years ago, four new directors were elected -- three of them were clearly perceived to be part of a faction. This year, none of those three are running for reelection -- they are all going off the board.

I hesitate to say too much about the politics here -- largely because so much of it is driven by personalities. I will say this -- for each of the six candidates for the board there are people who say "I wouldn't vote for that person," because of either a personality trait or a position that person has taken (or is said to have taken) on a no longer live issue. In my judgment, none of those reasons speak at all to the question of whether any of the candidates will be a good board member.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Apostles’ Teaching and Fellowship

Liz and I went to Philadelphia this past weekend to attend a Gala Celebration honoring Leonard Swidler. The Gala celebrated Leonard Swidler’s 80th birthday, the 45th Anniversary of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, and the establishment of the Leonard and Arlene Swidler Chair in Interreligious Dialogue at Temple University.

In 1977 Leonard and Arlene Swidler edited a book entitled Women Priests: A Catholic Commentary of the Vaitican Declaration (referring to Inter Insigniores, the Declaration of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the question of the admission of women to the ministerial priesthood. -15 October 1976.) The text of this book is available at the Women Priests Internet Library.

While the Swidler gala was getting underway at Temple University, two Catholic women were being ordained a few miles away– one to the diaconate and one to the priesthood. I heard from a friend that several people who might otherwise have been at the gala were attending the ordinations. The ordination was under the auspices of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, an international movement of Roman Catholic women and men who support the ordination of women and since 2002 have been ordaining women and some men to the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopate. [NOTE: the Women Priests Internet Library is separate from Roman Catholic Womenpriests.]

In looking up information on Roman Catholic Womanpriests, I discovered that last week four Catholic women were consecrated bishop, and now there are five Catholic womanbishops in the United States alongside three in Europe.

UPDATE 10 hours later: His eminence, Jonathan the MadPriest, has picked up the story. Sadly, his focus is on the spin put out by the RC hierarchy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

In a Good Friday meditation a few years ago, I said that Jesus' death on the cross was God's act of solidarity with us humans. I don't much care about the atonement in the sense of reparation or appeasement. What's important is the original meaning of atonement - reconciliation. In Jesus' death, God reconciles us with himself.

Last Sunday Liz and I were at Christ Church, Montpelier, Vermont. The rector, David Hall, told us he was very fond of the processional, celebratory part of Palm Sunday. He referred to The Last Week, the book by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. The opening of that book is cited here in a post this afternoon by Doorman-Priest. Jesus's entry in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday was a subversive event. Both David Hall's sermon and Doorman-Priest's post remind us that we are faced with the question of which camp are we in -- in simplest terms, that of the rich or that of the poor. For many of us, it's a bit of both.

Two weeks ago, we were in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, at Moravian Theological Seminary, for a talk by Ian Douglas, the priest and missiologist. He got us all to think about being either in a p0sition of privilege or a position of being a target (I don't have the vocabulary quite right) and made us realize that we may well be in different positions in different areas of our lives.

Last night at St. Mary's, our Deacon in training, Sydney Blake, preached on servant ministry. Sydney reminded us that Jesus's statement in John 13:15 "I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you" calls us to all aspects of servanthood, not simply foot washing.

Next weekend I will be attending the Left Forum. One of the reasons I go every year is to be reminded that our economic system is inherently unjust. The Religion & Socialism Commission of DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) is sponsoring a panel "God's Economics: Is an Ethical Economy Possible?" I look forward to it -- I know many of the panelists. The question makes me ask myself about employment practices here at Morningside Gardens. I'm an currently 1st Vice President of our housing cooperative, so I get reports of personnel actions taken by management. Here is a case that came to my attention.

Tom needed to unlock a door in the course of his duties. He discovered that the new key he had recently been given was defective. Tom left his assigned place and went to the shop. The locksmith was not there so Tom began making a copy of the key himself. A supervisor told Tom to stop because he was not authorized to use the key making machine. Tom protested in an angry manner and went on to make the key.

Tom was suspended pending investigation for the following reaasons:

* unauthorized use of the key machine
* failure to follow supervisor's instructions
* insubordination
* unauthorized break

The actions of management in this instance are fully consistent with the culture. Tom is a union employee and is being treated fairly according to the union contract. But I suggest that there is something wrong with the culture operating here.

Tom needed a key to do his job, so he took steps to get a working key. This was initiative which should be commended. But instead, Tom is charged with violating a boundary (using the key machine,) insubordination, and leaving his post. There's a presupposition here that Tom (or any employee) needs to be subordinated to a supervisor and needs to operate under strict rules.

How does the way I (by proxy of management) treat our employees square with the Baptismal Covenant? Is it a proclamation of the Good News of God in Christ? Is it seeking and serving Christ in every person, loving my neighbor as myself? Is it striving for justice and peace among all people and respecting the dignity of every human being? In our complex, and all too human society, is there anything I should be doing to change the way we conduct employer - employee relations?

I don't know the answer. And yet, even on Good Friday, the kingdom of God has come near: repent and beleive in the good news.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

John 3:16

Over in Leeds on the fourth Sunday in Advent, Doorman Priest preached on "what is probably the most famous Gospel text known to Christians."
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that all who believe in him may not perish but have everlasting life.
D-P writes "Taken literally this passage from John suggests that those who do not believe in the son will perish," and then proceeds to argue against taking the passage literally. Now I liked D-P's sermon, but I have to say "Sorry, D-P, but that is not correct. Taken literally, this passage (unlike John 14:6) asserts nothing at all about those who do not believe in the son."

A 2004 paper by Samuele Antonini points out that for students of mathematics, the false equivalence of a statement and its inverse is intuitive and the true equivalence of a statement and its contrapositive is not intuitve. The same is true for most people who are not trained in mathematics or formal logic. But what do the terms inverse and contrapositive mean? Taking the statement in John 3:16 as an example (and restating the may as will):

1. Statement: Those who believe in the son will not perish.
2. Inverse: Those who don't believe in the son will perish.
3. Contrapositive: Those who perish don't believe in the son.
There is a fourth possibility, the converse:
4. Converse: Those who do not perish, believe in the son.

Now we take 1, the statement, as true, based on our view of scripture. For most people, it is not intuitive that 3, the contrapositive, says exactly the same thing as 1, and so is also true.
2, the inverse, and 3, the converse, also say the same thing as each other, but, despite our intuition, their truth value cannot be deduced from the truth of 1.

But to leave the realm of logic and return to the substance of the sermon, D-P points out a corrective to those whose intuition tells them that statements 1 and 2 are equivalent. In the passage before this, Nicodemus mistakenly takes Jesus literally (John 3:4). In a 2006 sermon entitled No One Comes to the Father But By Me, John Thatamanil makes the same point about John 14:6.

I'll say more about this topic in my next post.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Litany in Time of War

Last year I hoped I would not be posting the following email this year:

Subject: Great Litany at the Isaiah Wall
From: Earl Kooperkamp

Dear sisters and brothers:

Please be aware of the following and pass it on to others who may be interested:

The Great Litany chanted in Solemn Procession:

The Fifth Friday in Lent, March 27, 2009 12 noon
The Last Friday in Lent, April 3, 2009 12 noon

Ralph Bunche Park (The Isaiah Wall) NW corner of 42nd Street and First Avenue
(across from the United Nations)

Vestments: Cassock, surplice, tippet and hood (clergy are asked to vest, and if lay members of Altar parties in parishes care to vest, please come in cassock and surplice)

Please join us as we ask for God's mercy on us for the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we mourn the deaths of the children, men and women of those nations and the death United States and other military personnel.

Sponsored by: St. Mary's Episcopal Church - Episcopal Peace Fellowship chapter

For more information, please contact Earl Kooperkamp, (212) 864-4013 or

Thank you for your kind attention and may you observe a blessed Lent.

Peace, Earl Kooperkamp
The United States invaded Iraq six years ago in the small hours of March 20, 2003. Here in New York, it was still St. Joseph's Day, March 19. We began chanting the Litany at Ralph Bunche Park during Lent in 2003. We've done it at least once or twice every Lent since. We intend to keep it up at least as long as there are US combat troops in Iraq. I'm going to lobby for continuing the practice while we have troops in Afghanistan.

If you are able to make it on either Friday, you will be welcome. As it turns out, I won't be able to participate on April 3rd and it's not likely I'll be there March 27th either. At the beginning of April, Liz and I are going to Vermont to see our granddaughter Aamnda and her parents. More on that later.

This coming Thursday, March 26, Liz and I are going to Bethlehem, PA, to attend the 2009 Campbell Lecture sponsored by the Lehigh County Conference of Churches. The speaker will be the Rev. Ian Douglas, of Episcopal Divinity School, speaking on Living into Unity in a Time of Disunity. We're staying overnight in Bethlehem and depending on the weather we might pop up to Heart Lake on the way home.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bishop Katharine on Morningside Heights

This past Monday evening, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori gave the Episcopal Lecture at Columbia University. The event was jointly sponsored by the Canterbury Club and the Episcopal Chaplaincy at Columbia.

After some brief introductory remarks, Bishop Katharine fielded questions from the audience. I made a few notes on her remarks – these are not verbatim quotes and represent only what I took away from the evening-- they are the equivalent of a few sound bites.

“The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society”
I have interspersed some comments of my own in [brackets.]
The corporate name of The Episcopal Church lifts up the missionary calling of our church. Bishop Katharine describes it as working towards God’s reign – by feeding the hungry, striving to end poverty, healing the sick, working for peace, for justice, for environmentally responsible actions.

The word “Society” in our corporate name highlights our interconnectedness – that we are interdependent. Churches in the Anglican tradition place a good deal of emphasis on the incarnation. As a consequence we take bodies seriously. As Christians, we say that the church is the body of Christ. [It should be obvious that this is a metaphor.] Theologian Sally McFague talks about all of creation as being the body of God. [Another metaphor.] When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. [“God hath created nothing simply for itself: but each thing in all things and of everything each part in other hath such interest that in the whole world nothing is found whereunto anything created can say, I need thee not.”– Richard Hooker: Learned Sermon on Pride. Compare specifically 1 Corinthians 12:21, Romans 12:4-5 and Ephesians 4:15-16, and more generally, 1 Corinthians 12: 12-31; Romans 12: 3-8;Ephesians 4: 11-16.]
On Sexuality
Taking the Incarnation seriously and taking bodies seriously means, in the Episcopal Church, that we take sexuality seriously.

Some of the tensions in the Anglican Communion over sexuality arise from the fact that in some cultures sexuality isn’t discussed at all and it is deeply embarrassing to have to discuss it.

Another characteristic of Anglicanism is lex orandi, lex credendi. We have very few systematic theologians – our theology is contained in our prayer books and our worship. The question of developing a liturgy for the blessing of same sex unions is fraught with tension, because the existence of such a liturgy would bring same sex unions right into the center of our life as a church – into our worship.
On Intra-Anglican Relations
Both the election and consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire and the election of Bishop Katharine as Presiding Bishop were seen in some parts of the world as just another example of American arrogance, alongside the arrogance of the Bush administration. The change in Washington, as well as the conversations in last summer’s Lambeth Conference, have helped ease things somewhat.

Americans who are bishops in African churches [Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda] do not attend synods in those countries. The local bishops do not like that and wish their primates (some of whom are near retirement) to correct the situation. This is a hopeful sign.
On Ministry
In our thirty year old “new prayer book” the Episcopal Church emphasizes the ministry of all the baptized. What used to be “Canon 9 priests” or priests ordained for a purely local ministry need to be viewed in the light of the ministry of al the baptized.
On Emerging Church
Because we take the incarnation seriously, we recognize that things don’t necessarily need to be the same everywhere.
On the proposed Anglican Covenant
In the latest draft, the first two parts seem ok. The objections are to the third part. The next draft is scheduled to be presented to the Anglican Consultative Council in May. We’ll have to wait and see what its contents are and what the ACC does with it.

The exercise itself may be the most important part of the process.
On the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury
We view him as first among equals. He has the authority to call people together for conversation.
All of the questions were friendly,but there were three questions that were somewhat challenging. First, there was a young man who asked Bishop Katanrine how she responded to those who challenge the validity of her ordination as a women -- after all, Jesus chose only men as the twelve.
Mary Magdelene was called "the apostle to the apostles." Women in leadership positions are referred to in Acts and in Paul's letters. We don't know very much about actual ordination in the early church. There's some evidence that the rules against ordaining women are post Constantinian.

[I'm reconstructing and perhaps making up this part.] Our incarnational theology of people and our baptismal theology of ministry both lead us to support the ministry of all persons.
Bishop Katharine was asked about the prophetic ministry of the Episcopal Church and mentioned two issues -- our stand against the death penalty and our stance for the right to abortion while we recognize that abortion is a moral tragedy. The same young man asked how we could support the right to an abortion while calling it a moral tragedy. In this case, my notes don't have Bishop Katharine's exact answer and I am not going to put words in her mouth.

The third challenging question was about a hypothetical ordinand who admitted that he no longer believed in the Resurrection -- the question was whether she would ordain him. Three things stick with me from her answer:
He seems on the face of it to be unusually honest.
She would want to have a long talk with him.
and finally,
God calls us to keep wrestling with our faith.
I have left out a good deal, but I hope I've given a flavor of what it was like to hear Bishop Katharine.

The audience included a dozen or so members of the Canterbury Club, other Columbia students, six or eight clergy unknown to me, and a group from Grace Church in Nyack, New York, including the Rev. Emily Sieracki, the assistant to the rector at Grace. Emily was sponsored for ordination by St. Mary's and the Columbia Episcopal Chaplaincy. Others there associated with St. Mary's, besides Liz and me, were Dean James Parks Morton and Pamela Morton, who are current members of the parish, and the Rev. Winnie Varghese, Episcopal Chaplain at Columbia and member of Executive Council, who was at St. Mary's while she was in seminary. And since our former rector Bob Castle ("Cousin Bobby") used to say to those who came to church at St. Mary's that they were now members of our parish, Bishop Katharine herself is now associated with St. Mary's.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


This morning I received an invitation to be become a Facebook friend of one of my Florida cousins. I joined Facebook in January 2008, but have been very inactive. In October, I became a friend to a Massachusetts cousin, but was still incative. In January, i became a friend to an internet store, Betterworld Books, but still was otherwise inactive. But tonight, I have acquired new friends from a 17 year old high school junior (I'm her uncle and godfather) to an 84 year old retired pastor (he's my uncle.) And just now I became Facebook friends with a blog friend -- one who came to Of Course I Could Be in New York. It opens up lots of possiblilities -- this person has lots of friends who I know -- some in person and some through blogs.

And so to bed.

Baptismal Covenant

The time changed this morning – Liz and I almost missed the change and would have been late for church. This morning we had some special guests – women from the Plainfield Community Church in Plainfield New Hampshire. The Rev. Suellen Luegers, pastor of the church was our preacher. The women had been here for a week, working in various community outreach programs – some based at St. Mary’s and some nearby. But most important, they brought us quilts which the Episcopal Church Women will give to families in a homeless shelter at the end of our block.

Today we had four baptisms of children – all siblings or cousins. As a result, we got to say the Baptismal Covenant – to my mind the best new thing in the 1979 Prayer Book. We promised, with the help of God,
  • to continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers,
  • to persevere in resisting evil, and whenever we fall into sin, to repent and return to the Lord,
  • to to proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ,
  • to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourself,
  • to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being.

We have a fair number of baptisms at St. Mary’s each year, so we get to renew this covenant frequently.

If you Google “Baptismal Covenant Episcopal” you will find that some on the right hand side of the aisle find that the promise to “respect the dignity of every human being” is problematic. In 2007, Canon Gary L'Hommedieu of the Diocese of Central Florida wrote “What is unarguable is the novelty of the final promise to "strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being." It is this final promise that distinguishes the 1979 baptismal liturgy from all previous ones, apart from incidentals of language. ... It is the final promise that comprises the spirit of the Baptismal Covenant. Or rather, the final promise IS the Baptismal Covenant. ... Even though the language of [the Baptismal Covenant] is purely abstract and non-specific, it typically finds application that is politically motivated and unabashedly partisan, and invariably to the left.”

Canon L'Hommedieu is spot on, save for one thing. He does not acknowledge, perhaps he does not recognize, that opposition to the “invariably left” application of “respect the dignity of every human being” is also “politically motivated and unabashedly partisan.”

I have only recently become acquainted with the relatively new field of cognitive linguistics and cognitive science in general. Central to that discipline is the discovery that most of human thought and reasoning is not conscious, is based of cognitive frames sometimes called metaphors, and, because we exist in our bodies, is embodied and inextricably tied to our emotions. Most of my reading in this field is in the writings of George Lakoff. Lakoff observes that much of our political, and I would say also religious, thought is informed by the metaphor of the family. Now there are at least two models of the family out there. One is the nurturant parent model and the other is the strict father model.

Very recently I read on some blog or other a definition of politics as being about decision making and a refutation that said no, it was about power and who gets to exercise it. In either case, I think I’m right is saying that the ecclesial and theological perspective of both religious progressives and religious conservatives are politically motivated.

to be continued ...

BTW, tomorrow evening PB KJS is speaking at Columbia University, a few blocks from here, and I intend to be there. I hope to report on what she says.