Thursday, January 29, 2009

Greetings from Florida

My only computer access here on Anna Maria Island is at the library, where I am in competition for computers with several others, but the wait is never too long.

Liz and I are enjoying our vacation so far and we are looking forward to going to Miami tomorrow. We'll visit my Aunt Joyce whom I have not seen for half a century.

I'll have more to say when we are back in New York.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Away to Florida

We're off to Florida for a week.
While we're away, we'll miss author Thomas Cahill preaching at St. Mary's tomorrow, January 25, Prisosn Ministry Sunday in the Diocese of New York.
We'll also miss a special service on February 1 in which the Harlem Episcopal churches will honoe the ministry of Bishop Don Taylor, assisting bishop in the Diocese of New York, on the occasion of his retirement.
Too bad we can;t be in two places at the same time.

I probably won't post anything until I'm back.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Marion Hatchett on the American Church and Anglicanism

The Anglican arrived yesterday. It contains a "Response to the Distinguished Alumnus/a Award at The General Theological Seminary" by Marion J. Hatchett. The whole response is worth reading and I wish I had been there last October to hear him deliver it. Here are the last two paragraphs:

The American Church always seems to jump way out ahead of the Church of England and our other sister churches, and in a number of respects. One was in giving voice to priests and deacons and to laity (as well as to bishops and to secular government officials) in the governance of the national church and of dioceses and parishes. The American Church revised the Prayer Book in a way that went far beyond revisions necessitated by the new independence of the states. From its beginning the American Church legalized the use of hymnody along with metrical psalmody more than a generation before use of "hymns of human composure" became legal in the Church of England. At an early stage the American Church gave recognition to critical biblical scholarship. The American Church eventually gave a place to women in various aspects of the life of the church including its ordained ministry. The American Church began to speak out against discrimination against those of same-sex orientation, and the American Church began to make moves in establishing full communion with other branches of Christendom.

Historically the American Church has been the flagship in the Anglican armada. It has been first among the provinces of the Anglican Communion to take forward steps on issue after issue, and on some of those issues other provinces of Anglicanism have eventually fallen into step behind the American Church. My prayer is that the American Church will be able to retain its self-esteem and to stand firm and resist some current movements which seem to me to be contrary to the principles of historic Anglicanism and to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.
The full talk is online here. The Anglican is a publication of the Anglican Society. 2008 Dues/Subscription = $15 US ($20 foreign) -- I think this is the latest rate -- the figures on the website are out of date.

Updated Friday to point to the text of the paper.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Thanks to Mad Priest several vistors dropped by my blog early this week. I'll be returning the favor and updating my blog roll, but probably not for a couple of weeks -- for reasons stated below.

Here are three other things I am grateful for.

Barack Hussein Obama is now President of the United States of America. Thanks be to God.

There is a ceasefire in Gaza -- or rather two unilateral ceasefires. Thanks be to God.

In about a week and a half I'll be seeing my Aunt Joyce for the first time in about 50 years. Thanks be to God.

Here we are 70 years ago (actually more, since it was in the summer of 1939). As you can see, Aunt Joyce is only seven years older than I. Joyce is my father's youngest sister and the sole survivor among my father and his siblings. She moved to Miami about 50 years ago. Here is a picutre taken while she still lived in New York State. She was a TV personality at the time.

A little more than 10 years ago, I reconnected with Aunt Joyce by email and telephone. I've been meaning to arrange a trip to Florida ever since, but it wasn't until this year that Liz and I got to it.

This coming Saturday, January 24th, we are flying to Tampa for almost a week with Liz's cousin Oliver on Ana Maria Island, just below St. Petersburg. Then we drive to Miami for a couple of days visting Aunt Joyce and part of her family.

I most likely will not be taking a laptop, so I don't know how much internet access I'll have.

I'm grateful that after half a century I'm going to see my beloved Aunt Joyce.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

About blogging

It took me five days to write the last post. At first, I didn't know where it was going. I also don't know whether I have an audience, but no matter -- I will press on. I wonder what's next.

Jesus loves you more than you will know (Wo wo wo).

Mrs. Robinson will be moving into the White House next week, as will her daughter and son-in-law, along with her granddaughters. I learned about this the other day from the New York Times. I was going to write about it.

On Monday, I learned about another Robinson -- Bishop Gene Robinson has been invited to deliver the invocation at the opening event of the inauguration festivities next Sunday. I first learned it at Of Course I Could Be Wrong and I wasn't sure it was true until I checked The Lead at Episcopal Cafe. At The Lead, Jim Naughton, who apparently broke the story, reports that it became the biggest blog event of the day at 4:30 Monday afternoon.

There were a few other things in the past few days that I wanted to take note of. Last week, our local weekly The Westsider had an aricle about a shelter for homeless LGBTQ teenagers here in New York City. It's not online, so I can't link to it, and we gave the paper to someone in our church who works with homeless people. The article makes the point that for these kids there are more pressing issues than same-sex marriage (or ordination of bishops and other clergy.) Bishop Robinson is quoted in the Concord Monitor as having told Beliefnet "The difficult thing is that [Rick Warren]'s said, and continues to affirm, some horrendous things about homosexuality." The horrendous things that Bishop Gene is referring to lead to horrendous consequences -- as witness the incidence of suicide among LGBTQ youth, the family rejection that many of the homeless LGBTQ youth have experienced, and violence against LGBTQ persons.

On Saturday I learned, also from MadPriest, that a church in my home town had lost its bid to keep the property ater the congregation seceded from the Episcopal Church. The Church of the Good Shepherd, on the south sde of Binghamton, is one of three parishes in the Diocese of Central New York that withdrew from the Episcopal Church at least in part in protest over the consecration of Bishop Robinson in 2003. Good Shepherd, whose rector is Matt Kennedy, is the only one of the three parishes which actually pursued the legal battle to the end (see this article in the Press & Sun-Bulletin.) Monday or Tuesday, I read in a post by Matt Kennedy over at Stand Firm (I will not link there) that they were given a a little more than a month to vacate the premises -- and they had to pay while they stayed. Well, on the church blog Matt reports they have found a disused RC rectory to house the Kennedys. and the gym of a Baptist Church for Sunday worship -- both within less than a mile and a half of their old church.

In a comment at OCICBW last week, Matt Kennedy wrote
Say what you will about me and my you have...but believe it or not, in all sincerity, we believe those who promote same sex sexual behavior are, albeit unintentionally, hurting people by leading them away from Christ.
I certainly believe he is sincere -- I also think he is dead wrong in his approach to the bible and the true nature of orthodox Christianity. I also think he is wrong about Anglicanism, but this is ground that has been contested at least since the days when Richard Hooker and his cousin Walter Travers preached at the Temple Church in the 1570's. I hope to write more about the significance of contested ground, but for now I want to take a close look at Matt Kennedy's statement.

"Those who promote same sex sexual behavior" is an odd choice of words. It isn't about promoting any kind of sexual behavior. It's about affirming people, accepting who they are, and where necessary encouraging them to accept who they are.

Affirming people does not lead them away from Christ. Telling people that God hates what they do when what they do is intimately related to who they are does indeed lead many people away from Christ.

I'll leave it to others to talk about why it is right for Gene Robinson to be a bishop in the Episcopal Church and wrong for Matt Kennedy to teach that same sex sexual behavior is contrary to God's will.

I conclude with part (slightly updated) of a 17th century prayer written when there was contested ground in the church:
O God, the Creator and Preserver of all humankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of people; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for thy holy Church universal; that it may be so guided by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

KJS at St. Mary's (Just Another Sunday)

Situated as we are in the Manhattanville valley, a few blocks from Union Theological Seminary and the Columbia University campus, we get a fair number of interesting visitors at St. Mary's. Just before the 10 AM service this morning, I noticed that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her husband Richard Schori were in the congregation. They were just visiting.

Today in place of a sermon we had the annual Sunday School Christmas Pageant -- the topic was the Slaughter of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt. Under the direction of Jim White, the slaughter took place in the sacristy, so all we heard were terrible screams. In the last scene, the soldiers had a change of heart -- that is, they repented -- and joined the Holy Family as refugees in Egypt. Then each soldier, or rather each child actor, presented gifts to the baby Jesus commemorating the names and ages of children killed in Iraq. I think the PB was as appreciative of the pageant as the rest of us.

Most of the congregation were not aware that Bishop KJS was there until announcement time, which we have just before the blessing and dismissal.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Day

Picking up where the last post left off ...
It was a real time away for us -- no internet, no TV news, very little radio news, no newspaper most days. I can't remember when I became aware that all hell had broken loose in Gaza.

I spent most of my personal time reading and trying to write a coherent piece about what I was reading. On the way to Jane and Scott's on Christmas Eve, we stopped for gas in Brattleboro, Vt and bought the New York Times. The was a front page article on Jewish response to the Bernard Madoff scandal. I was particularly struck by a statement made by Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky of Congregation Ansche Chesed which is about a mile and a half from our apartment in Morningside Gardens.
In a recent sermon, Rabbi Kalmanofsky described Mr. Madoff as the antithesis of true piety. “I said, what it means to be a religious person is to be terrified of the possibility that you’re going to harm someone else,” he said.
The first time I read that, it struck a chord but I thought that "terrified" was a little over the top. The more I ponder it, though, the less extravagant I think it is.

As we started out from New York on Christmas Eve, I turned on the radio to catch the end of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College Cambridge. After I listened to the ninth lesson (John 1:1-14) I mentioned to Liz that I had read a wonderful rendering of John 1:14a at Preludium:
The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood... (1.14a, The
(As an aside, I had never consciously encountered The Message before and in fact it was only after I got back to New York that I discovered where that rendering came from. In the course of looking The Message up, I found an otherwise perceptive review that oddly thinks the rendering "moved into the neighborhood" is facetious.)

We got to Jane's house too late to go to the afternoon Christmas Eve service at Christ Episcopal Church in Montpelier, so we went to another church a little later. -- I won't say which one. We did get to Christ Episcopal Church on Sunday and got to hear the opening of John again. The rector, David Hall, preached a fine sermon. We go to that church whenever we are visiting Jane on a Sunday. and we like it.

While at Jane's, I was also reading Helene Cooper's The House at Sugar Beach, a large part of which is about the bloody events in Liberia that began in April 1980. As I thought about the evils of war as exemplified by the Liberian events, about Rabbi Kalmanofsky's observation that to be religious is to be fearful of inflicting harm on another, and about the Incarnation, which is central to my own religious faith, I contemplated writing a brilliant blog post on the subject -- even though almost no one reads this blog. Since I didn't have my computer with me, I began composing in a spiral notebook.

I got far enough to observe that not doing harm was not enough -- we actually have to do good.

Another book I began reading in Vermont was Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope. On Sunday after I learned that Israel had begun bombing Gaza, I was particularly struck by Obama's observation on the difference between values and ideology.
Values are faithfully applied to the facts before us, while ideology overrides whatever facts call theory into question.
Rather than getting into a rant about Israel and Palestine, I just want to observe that it appears obvious to me that the public statements of Israeli officials are dripping with ideology. The statements of the weaker party, Hamas, are also dripping with ideology.

In that article on the Madoff scandal, Rabbi Jennifer Krause said
The Talmud teaches that a person who only looks out for himself and his own interests will eventually be brought to poverty.
I believe that principle extends to security -- even national security.