"...Where the Mind is biggest, the Heart, the Senses, Magnanimity, Charity, Tolerance, Kindliness, and the rest of them scarcely have room to breathe..."
What's with the difference in clergy, the different colored shirts, crosses, and "plus" signs? Such have been a few of the questions I have received since my consecration as a bishop last month. Briefly--and I do mean briefly--here are a few words on the matter:
There are three types of clergy in the Charismatic Episcopal Church with all three being ordained ministers; deacons, priests, and bishops. The laity are also ministers by virtue of their baptism. Actually they are THE ministers of the church--the ordained clergy are like the "coaches" with the laity being the "players" on the field and in the game.
Deacons are not to be confused with evangelical protestant deacons. Evangelical protestant deacons, for the most part, are laymen, not ordained clergy, who serve on a "board" and may have other assignments. They are not normally authorized to do priestly or sacramental duties, although good deacons in an evangelical church are a very valuable asset to the pastor and the church.
Our deacons are fully ordained clergy and, under certain circumstances, may marry, bury, be a pastor, serve Eucharist with pre-consecrated elements, counsel, pray, baptize, and assist the priest or bishop, among other duties. Deacons in our communion wear a gray clergy shirt. On Sundays, they wear a stole that is diagonal. Deacons represent the servant heart of Christ. They wear a silver, pewter, or wooden cross on a black cord. Some deacons are "permanent deacons" and will serve God as lifetime servants, usually in one church, unless they move to another location, assisting the priest and bishop. Others deacons feel called to the pastorate and are "transitory deacons" who, one day, may be ordained to the priesthood and will plant a church.
Priests may perform all of the sacraments except confirmation and ordination. They wear a black clergy shirt, although they may also choose to wear gray at times. On Sundays, their stole hangs straight down, hopefully equally, on both sides in the front. They wear a silver cross and chain. Priests represent the father heart of God. A priest may use a cross, or a plus sign, after his name in correspondence, for example, Father John Brown +. The cross indicates that he is a priest. Priests should also be good deacons, as far as their "servant hearts" are concerned.
Bishops may perform all of the sacraments. They wear a purple clergy shirt but--guess what--they may also choose to wear black or gray! Confused yet? They wear a gold cross and chain and wear a ring on their right hand indicative of their office. A bishop is the chief pastor in a diocese and is a pastor to ALL the members of the churches but especially to the deacons and priests. In our communion, bishops who lead a diocese are to be pastors of their own churches--demanding, but good for keeping their feet on the ground and their heads out of the ozone.
The bishop represents the government of God--but he should also be a prime example of a servant and be a good spiritual father. The bishops may use a plus sign, or a cross, in FRONT of their name as in: + John Brown. The cross takes the place of the word "bishop." So, + John means "Bishop John." Deceased believers also have a cross in front of their name in special services such as All Saints Day. So both bishops and deceased people have crosses in front of their names, which says something--I don't know exactly what-- but something.
But the truth is that it's ALL about the High Priest and, if it's not, we are wasting our time. Jesus is the High Priest in the midst of his people and He is the consummate servant, father, and king. Don't get all hung up about this stuff. If you desire to know something, just ask. There are no dumb questions, although I just might give a dumb answer---it's happened before! :o)
On Sundays, I wear a purple "beanie-thingy" called a "zucchetta," not to confused with "zucchini." Actually, it's sort of a "red-purple." A young boy asked me the other week, "Why do you have to wear that pink hat?" "For humility," I said. "For humility."
Anyway, I hope that answers a few of the questions you might have on your mind. If there are any others, let me know! If I have shared any incorrect information, I am certain that someone will correct me--but it's okay. I wear a pink hat and am learning humility.
+ David Epps
IKITSUKI ISLAND, Japan (Reuters) - One by one, the sacred relics -- a medal of the Virgin Mary, a crucifix and other revered objects -- are taken from a cupboard and placed on an altar for a Christmas Eve rite passed down through centuries from Japan's earliest Christians. Then, kneeling in the simple hall built where martyrs are said to have been burned on this tiny, remote island 400 years ago, five elders murmur chants as they bow and make the sign of the cross. The kimono-clad deacons are descendants of "Kakure Kirishitan," or Hidden Christians, who kept their religion alive on Ikitsuki and in other isolated pockets of Japan during 250 years of suppression, adapting their rites to the demands of secrecy and blending them with local beliefs.
First brought to Japan by Portuguese missionaries in 1549, Christianity was banned a few decades later in 1614, initiating a period of bloody persecution that forced the faithful to choose between martyrdom or hiding their beliefs. Medals or hanging scrolls depicting saints and martyrs, often with Japanese features, were hidden in cupboards as "nando-gami" ("gods in the closet") and only taken out on special days. In an apparent echo of the bread and wine of the Eucharist, elders still share sashimi and sake as part of the Christmas Eve and other ceremonies. Huge "mochi" rice cakes adorn the altar. Transmitted orally and in secret, Latin "oratio" chants, "orasho" in Japanese, lost all but symbolic meaning.
"They preserved the style and form of the Christianity that they inherited, but the teachings were no longer from the Bible and changed into respect for local martyrs, so in that sense it can be seen as a Japanese ethnic religion," said Shigeo Nakazono, curator of an island museum who has studied the "Kakure Kirishitan" for years.
When Roman Catholic missionaries returned with the lifting of the ban in 1873, some Japanese Christians accepted their teachings, but others clung to what they saw as the true faith of their fathers. "'Gotanjo' is the day of Christ's birth. That's no different from Christianity," said Yasutaka Toriyama, 68, who holds the hereditary position of "gobanyaku," or head of a household that traditionally held a group's relics, such as scrolls or medals.
"But while ours is a religion that believes in Mary and Christ, we also believe that our ancestors who suffered persecution are gods."
WASHINGTON -- Hispanics are returning to the Democratic Party after several years of drifting toward the Republicans, with many saying Bush administration policies have been harmful to their community, a poll showed Thursday. By 57 percent to 23 percent, more Hispanic registered voters say they favor Democrats than Republicans, according to a survey by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center.
The survey found that among Hispanic registered voters:
• Forty-one percent said Bush administration policies have been harmful to Hispanics, 16 percent said they have been helpful and 33 percent said they have not had much impact.
• Forty-four percent said Democrats have more concern for Hispanics, 8 percent chose Republicans and another 41 percent said there is no difference.
• Forty-one percent said Democrats do a better job of handling illegal immigration, 14 percent named the GOP and 26 percent said neither.
Among Hispanics who are registered Democrats, 59 percent said they want Hillary Clinton to be their party's presidential candidate, followed by 15 percent who prefer Barack Obama. Among Hispanic Republicans, Rudy Giuliani leads Fred Thompson, 35 percent to 13 percent...
By: Ed Beavan.
THE Bishop of Ripon and Leeds has joined the growing chorus of prelates urging their Episcopal colleagues not to boycott next year’s Lambeth Conference.Speaking during his annual Advent Address at Ripon Cathedral today, the Rt Rev John Packer said bishops threatening to withdraw from the ten-yearly gathering on issues of principle were ‘misguided and missing the point’. He said the whole point of the conference was for Anglican bishops to discuss divisions and differences, since its inception in 1867 by one of his predecessors, Charles Longley, the first Bishop of Ripon and Leeds.
Prelates including the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, and the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Rev Peter Akinola, may boycott the conference over the gay row which is plaguing the worldwide Communion.Bishop Packer gave his unequivocal support to the Conference and said both he and his suffragan, the Bishop of Knaresborough, the Rt Rev James Bell, would be in attendance.
He said: “There could not be a greater contrast between the attitude of the bishops at Lambeth in 1867 and those who appear unwilling to attend in 2008 who I believe to be misguided and missing the point.“[In 1867] there was no sense of a need to achieve unity before meeting, or refusal to attend on the grounds of the deep divisions which then split Anglicans from each other. “Indeed the fact of such divisions was the chief incentive to meet.” Bishop Packer urged bishops to avoid trying to create the ‘perfect Church’ and said controversy could not be avoided. He concluded his Address by calling for all bishops to attend despite their differences.
“We shall only grow in Christ if we are prepared to listen to one another and learn from one another,” he said. “For the bishops they can only hear one another if we go in our disunity to Lambeth as bishops have done every decade since 1867. “To argue for unity before we can pray or talk together would mean that we shall never, ever be enabled to grow in Christ through his ministry and through each one of us.”
Bishop Packer’s comments follow recent calls by the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Tim Stevens, and Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Rev Tom Butler, for prelates to support the Archbishop of Canterbury and not boycott Lambeth.
On a recent Sunday, I worshiped in a parish served by a faithful and good priest — a woman. Normally I do not have any reaction to such a reality since long ago I settled in my own mind and heart that “faithful and good” were the adjectives I wanted to apply to a priest, and that gender was insignificant to any discussion of call and integrity.
My convictions have not changed. But my perceptions are changing in light of the multiplication of “Anglicanisms” in the world. I fear I must be honest, for there are many faithful and good female priests.
I used to joke with my Baptist friends that they belonged to the “Heinz 57 Variety Denomination.” There were Southern, Northern, American, Missionary, Independent, Fundamental, Free-Will, and seemingly infinite other numbers of Baptists. I have many Baptist friends, and when we are together, we agree to drop the modifiers. Now Anglicanism is giving our Baptist brothers and sisters a run for the money. There seems to be a new acronym weekly. We have CANA, AMiA, REC, CAC, AAC, CCAC, ad infinitum. Each of these factions — and let’s be honest, they are factions — has its own position on catholicity, scripture, ritual, gender, et al. And no one knows all the nuances of all the factions.
I remember being an Independent Baptist for 14 months. It was a fearful thing, for one night at about bedtime, several deacons appeared at our door to determine if Mrs. Mackey, my wife, was wearing pajamas with “legs in them.” For anything with legs was, of course, meant for men! She was safe, I assure you, and we were allowed to remain undisciplined in the church.
I am fearful that we may be on the verge of vigilante tactics in the church as various groups will not tolerate certain ritual, certain clergy dress, certain scripture translations, certain genders to do sacerdotal ministry. Might it happen? It already is happening. In parish churches, institutions, and other church-related organizations, people are being put under severe anti-Christian scrutiny. I fear for many.
But I digress. Back to the wonderful priest a few Sundays ago. I looked at her doing her ministry, fulfilling her calling. She wore an alb and chasuble, read the morning lessons from the New International Version of the scriptures. I prayed that some of the acronym-hungry Anglicans were not present, for there was a real sense that where this woman was as a priest and leader of a congregation was due precisely to the actions and vision of those who would not be part of the acronym groups that are generally out of step with The Episcopal Church. I thought, “You are in a precarious place, dear priest and pastor.”
First, many of those who have found that they cannot continue in The Episcopal Church are people who find much catholic ritual, including vestments, unacceptable. The so-called “low-church” view of ritual and vesting is sufficient and the regalia of catholicity is anathema to many of the acronym-related crowd. I hoped there were no spies in church that Sunday. Had it not been for the progressive liturgical movement, the priest would not have been so arrayed that Sunday morning.
Then I knew that she had employed the New International Version for scripture readings. The very fact that this is allowed rubrically over the historic King James is a sign that The Episcopal Church progressives sought to broaden our experiences in hearing the scriptures.
Finally, a woman at the altar was a testimony that progressive visionaries reread the scriptures and found that indeed Paul may have just meant that in Christ there “is no male or female.” And so I fear for all my female priest friends, that they may find themselves the focus of inattention at best and defrocking at worst as much of emerging Anglicanism is not favorable to female priests. It happens, I know, for an ordained Southern Baptist friend of mine was recently sent a letter telling her that her ordination from some 20 years ago was no longer valid.
And I fear as well that those who are faithful saints in the acronym crowd will not succumb to the works-centered righteousness of fundamentalism. Newfound power can corrupt just as much as long-held power. And those who think they stand may need to watch, lest they fall. So my fear is for those who have reaped the benefits of progressive visionary thinking and praying and acting as well as for those who, ignoring previous progressive visionary thinking and praying and acting, are acting out of a non-Anglican ethos and are falling headlong into an individualistic congregationalism with bishops.
Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, `God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, `God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted."
CHARISMATIC EPISCOPAL CHURCH SPLITS. More news. In my last VIEWPOINTS I said the schism in the CEC had resulted in many leaving and going to Rome. A priest who is leaving the CEC himself wrote to say that many of those leaving have gone to Western Rite Orthodoxy, but the most common destination has been for AMiA, CANA and the Anglican Province of America."Individuals have indeed gone to Rome, but parishes cannot do so. Thus, considering parishes are moving toward Anglican jurisdictions. It is much more accurate to describe the movement as toward Anglicans, including myself. Many former CEC priests have chosen to affiliate with AMiA and are busy planting parishes. Not a few parishes have also chosen to affiliate with AMiA. Lately, others have begun to affiliate with CANA. Eventually, however, it seems likely that a large number of former CEC clergy and parishes are in conversation with APA-REC. In the end, this may result in the largest single quorum of all." The source told VOL that the total number of parishes being planted by former CEC priests added to the parishes that have/are joining with Anglican bodies could total well over 30 Anglican parishes, when all the dust settles.
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door
Opening with an overview of the mission-driven September 20-25 House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori set the tone October 16 for her second webcast held at the studio facilities of Trinity Church, Wall Street, in New York City.
...She said the statement that was produced in the latter part of the meeting represented "a remarkable consensus among the bishops." ..."both affirms the church's commitment to the full dignity of gay and lesbian persons and cautions us to wait before their full sacramental inclusion."
She concluded her opening remarks by quoting one of her predecessors, Edmond L. Browning, "who was fond of saying 'in this church there will be no outcasts.'"
"I concur, and I challenge each one of us to consider who it is we would most like to be rid of," she said. "That person, my friends, is the image of Christ in our midst. There will be no outcasts in this church, whether because of sexual orientation or theological perspective. God has given us to each other, to love and to learn from each other. May God bless each and every part of this body."
I first met Steve White in the doorway of a pantry in a big shambly church in Trenton. I was there for Community Action, working with the Crisis Ministry, and he was there for our Professor's Night to discuss Tracy Kidder's "Mountains Beyond Mountains." During the discussion we had been mulling over Paul Farmer's exhortation to help the world in whatever way you can. I brought up the passage from the New Testament in which Paul speaks about the church as a body, saying the eye cannot take the place of the hand and so forth, and in this same way, how we must all find own places in the whole world working towards social justice.
After our dinner, I snuck away to grab a glass of water, and at the doorway to the pantry I ran into Steve. He was dressed formally, in black with a white collar, with clean rimless glasses and neatly cut hair. I don't remember exactly what he said, but I do remember my first impression was something like, "Oh gosh, not a priest! I've got enough guilt already!" He thanked me for my comments during the discussion and introduced himself as the Episcopal chaplain. At the time, my knowledge was such that this brought up in my mind a small note-card which read only, "1: The American version of the Anglican Church; 2: Like the Roman Catholics, but without the pope." (These assumptions are actually in many ways correct: the Episcopal Church is the American "daughter" of the worldwide Anglican Communion, so anyone who is Episcopalian is also Anglican.)
Steve asked about my religious background; I told him that my family is evangelical, but that I hadn't been going to church for a while — two years in fact, and not because I was uninterested, but because I didn't find our evangelical services helpful or enjoyable. I would leave on Sunday mornings feeling conflicted, angry and guilty — feeling unworthy without knowing how to make things right.
Of course, I didn't actually say all of this to Steve, but I think he could tell. That semester they had a seminarian leading a Bible study every week, he told me, and she had in fact been raised evangelical — would I like to join? He wrote down my name and said he'd put me on the email list.
I was intrigued. I joined the Bible study and met the second person who would change my life. Jill Young is an intelligent, thoughtful and profoundly spiritual woman; with her guidance I found a way to escape the black-and-white world of pseudo-intellectualism in which I had trapped myself. Through her intellectual integrity and sensitive heart, I began to discover in myself an inclination toward an intuitive truth that is believed and understood rather than "known," and toward a greater appreciation for uncertainty and grayness, a defining characteristic of Anglicanism as a whole.
I began the Bible study joking with my parents, "Don't worry, I'm not going to become Episcopalian or something!" In December I took part in my first service (Lessons and Carols), and the Sunday before Ash Wednesday I started attending regularly. I asked Steve at least one question every time I saw him. Why do we pray for the dead? Do you believe in Purgatory? Where does the Book of Common Prayer come from? Why do priests have to wear fancy clothes? Our discussions always went further than the initial questions, branching into bigger ideas: How should we read the Bible? How should we interpret it? How should Christians act in the world? I was shocked — and relieved — to find a place where people thought it acceptable to disagree with Paul's thoughts on women, where silence and stillness were valued and where poets were cited as theologians.
I joined the confirmation class, not because I wanted to be confirmed but because I had so many questions. As I kept learning, however, I started to fall in love. I cannot even express what it was like to learn that perhaps all my questions were not signs of sinfulness or fault; I can't begin to explain the overwhelming and startling joy at encountering a God who did not look at me only to see where I had failed, but who accepted me and called me to higher places. On Easter morning I was baptized. Four weeks later, on Good Shepherd Sunday, I was confirmed, and officially, happily, enthusiastically joined the Anglican Communion.
I have found in the Anglican Church a long sweep of tradition and a wide spectrum of beliefs and doctrines, all centered around a message of love and redemption. I have found an intellectual engagement with Scripture and theology that is balanced precariously but perpetually with a sincere spiritual yearning for holiness. To be fair, not all of my interest and passion for "religion" (i.e. God) arose solely from having joined the Anglican Church; rather, it is in this particular expression of Christianity that I have found my home. It is the place where I have found safety and acceptance enough to explore myself and the world, and to continue the journey toward knowing God.
After an outbreak of pregnancies among middle school girls, education officials in this city have decided to allow a school health center to make birth control pills available to girls as young as 11.I found this to be extremenly disturbing!
King Middle School will become the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available, including birth control pills and patches. Condoms have been available at King's health center since 2000. Students need parental permission to access the school's health center. But treatment is confidential under state law, which allows the students to decide whether to inform their parents about the services they receive...
I registered, but it wouldn't let me post under my registered name, so I'm doing it this way.
Shall I weigh in? Since it was an affront against my wife which was one of the central pieces of the San Clemente problem, perhaps I might make a couple of observations on the retirement of the Patriarch.
I went to the Patriarch's Council over a year ago asking the Patriarch to step down, for a variety of reasons. He said he would if the Council thought it best. They didn't. In a round the table poll, I was the only member asking for him to step down. Interestingly enough, many of them expressed to me "on the side" that Bishop Adler was "a mess", in deep personal crisis, unfit to truly lead, and I was promised that he was going to take "an extended sabbatical" during which he would release the reins of leadership.
A letter was drafted, insisting that there had been NO sexual harassment by the Patriarch. I was told, erroneously (and manipulatively) that if Shirley and I said there was sexual harassment it automatically became a "legal" issue and HAD to be addressed in a court of law. Not wanting it to become a legal matter, rather something dealt with in the context of the church, we refrained from the language of "sexual harassment" and said that there had been inappropriate behavior. This was spun into a strong categorical denial that there had been any sexual harassment charges leveled against Bishop Adler.
Later, one of the Patriarch's Council members told a priest, "We intentionally marginalized Myers". This man was someone I had counted a good friend and someone I had trusted. It was a deep cut.
Through much grief and pain, my diocese left the CEC a month later. We left in mass, but within a matter of months experienced fragmentation - some going to Orthodoxy, some going to Rome, some going to Bishop Zampino, some going to Bishop Fick. That experience was also very, very painful.
Now, a year later, Bishop Adler admits to his local congregation that he had been inappropriate toward the wife of a close friend (that means, Shirley, the wife of his close friend, Ken). Likewise, other allegations were brought forth, and are at least reported to have been admitted to.
Now, I receive emails from some of the priests who have left my fold (good men, I might add), saying, "if only this had happened" a year or so ago none of the fracturing of the CEC or of our diocese would have happened. Indeed.
So, you all must understand that it is with some measure of incredulity that I read the official report: Bishop Adler has retired. His retirement has been graciously accepted by the others and thanks offered for his years of service. Not a mention of the scandal. Not a mention of the sin. Not a word about having been wrong in previous decisions.
I recognize the need for civility, but I detest spin. Couldn't there have been even the simple admission that there were problems? That mistakes were made? That this wasn't just the giving of a man a golden watch at his retirement party? It all has a ring of hollowness to it.
I think what people really yearn for is honesty.
Those men who came to me privately saying, "Keep pressing the matter. Don't let up" but who refused to speak when I spoke; those men who said to me, "He's messed up" (but using language much stronger than "messed"), but refused to demand correction; those men who said privately to me, "He MUST step down" but who when polled said, "No"; those men who insisted that there was "no sexual harassment" but admitted to "marginalizing Myers" - will they make amends? Will they even dare say publicly that sins were committed and grievous mistakes were made?
That Bishop Adler has "retired" is a good thing. I still love him very much, miss him, and pray for him. I hope his life is brought into a good and godly balance and restored to a healthy place. And so now what, for those left in leadership? I love and respect Archbishop Woodall, who had the courage to write on this forum under his own name. I understand what he means when he writes, "For those of you who have left the CEC for whatever reason and have expressed your pain and anger, may God in His mercy begin the healing process in you which enables you to forgive those who have intentionally or unintentionally hurt you and to move on with your lives." I would simply suggest that "the healing process" is best accomplished when there is godly repentance by the offending party. I would suggest that a good start would have been Bishop Adler publicly asking forgiveness and particularly doing so directly to those he sinned against. A good continuance would be for the leadership of the CEC to not spin this as a retirement, but deal honestly with the matter and to perhaps, themselves, in a spirit of repentance, ask forgiveness of those many who have been devastated by the choices they have made (or failed to make) in the past - choices of publicly whitewashing rather than simply being honest.
Archbishop Woodall suggests that those who have been hurt, even intentionally, come to a place where they can "move on with your lives". We are moving on with our lives, Shirley and I. With a diocese that has completely exploded, with significant financial difficulties, with the struggles of moving forward in a new communion, with the personal pain of friendships lost and the abuse of authority figures - we are indeed moving on with our lives. It's just that such a moving on would be much easier if there were a little bit of genuine repentance and admittance of wrongdoing.
That's all I'm saying. Twelve Step stuff. Bible stuff.
Statement from the ICCEC's Patriarch Council, October 15, 2007
The Patriarch’s Council of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, meeting in Orlando, FL, October 15,2007, accepted the Most Reverend Randolph Adler’s retirement as Primate and Patriarch of the ICCEC. We wish to express our gratitude and appreciation for his founding of and many years of service to our church and we express our deepest love and affection for him and his
wife, Betty, and our best wishes for their future.
"...We've been too busy to fight..."
A Scottboro couple recently celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary, one of the longest marriages among living people when compared to reports in the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records.
Alonzo, 97, and Beulah Sims, 94, celebrated their anniversary a day early Sunday at the nursing home where they have lived since May 2002.Without their families' approval, the two teens married in 1927, when he was working at a farm, plowing fields with a mule and picking cotton for 50 cents a day. The couple, who raised six children, credit their long lives to hard farm work and eating lots of vegetables. They moved frequently to find farm work, going from Paint Rock Valley near Garth to Atchley Bottom in Madison County and then to Woodville in the 1960s. They said their eight decades of marriage have been virtually free of fussing.''We've been too busy to fight,'' Beulah Sims said.
Go forth into the world in peace,
Be strong and of good courage,
Hold fast to that which is good,
Render no one evil for evil,
Support the weak, comfort the afflicted,
Honor all people, Befriend the poor
Love and serve the Lord with singleness of heart,
Rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit;
And may that Spirit so fill you that you
Go forth from this place seeing the face
Of Christ in each person you encounter. Amen!
....Each Eucharist I celebrate teaches me something new...Each time fresh. Each time something that God offers back to us, increasing the knowledge that we have in justice restored, hope revealed, holiness amongst us and resurrection life itself.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 — The Senate gave final approval on Thursday to a health insurance bill for 10 million children, clearing the measure for President Bush, who said he would veto it. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, one of 18 Republicans who voted for the bill, said the White House had shown “little if any willingness to come to the negotiating table.”
Republican opponents of the bill, like Senators Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and John Cornyn of Texas, said it would be a big step toward socialized medicine, would shift people from private insurance to a public program and would allow coverage for illegal immigrants and children in high-income families....
...Mozambique's Roman Catholic archbishop has accused European condom manufacturers of deliberately infecting their products with HIV "in order to finish quickly the African people". The archbishop of Maputo, Francisco Chimoio, told the BBC that he had specific information about a plot to kill off Africans. "I know that there are two countries in Europe ... making condoms with the virus, on purpose," he alleged. But he refused to name the countries. The Catholic church has resisted pressure to amend its opposition to the use of condoms despite the Aids pandemic. Archbishop Chimoio told the BBC that abstinence was the best way to fight HIV/Aids…..
The question the Anglican communion is facing for us all right now is a clear one: What happens to a group, to a church, that stands poised to choose either confusion or tyranny, either anarchy or authoritarianism, either unity or uniformity? Are there really only two choices possible at such a moment? Is there nowhere in-between?
The struggle going on inside the Anglican Communion about the episcopal ordination of homosexual priests and the recognition of the homosexual lifestyle as a natural state is not peculiar to Anglicanism. The issue is in the air we breathe. The Anglicans simply got there earlier than most. And so they may well become a model to the rest of us of how to handle such questions. If the rate and kinds of social, biological, scientific and global change continue at the present pace, every religious group may well find itself at the breakpoint between "tradition" and "science" sooner rather than later.
Theological questions driven by new scientific findings, new social realities, new technological possibilities abound. How moral is it to take cells from one person for the treatment of another if all human cells are potentially life generating? Is that the destruction of life? If homosexuality is "natural," meaning biologically configured at birth, why is it immoral for homosexuals to live in homosexual unions -- even if they are bishops? After all, isn't that what we said -- in fact, did -- when we argued "scientifically" that blacks were not fit for ordination because blacks weren't quite as human as whites? And so we kept them out of our seminaries and called ourselves "Christian" for doing it. Without even the grace to blush.
It is not so much how moral we think we are that is the test of a church. Perhaps the measure of our own morality is how certain we have been of our immoral morality across the ages. That should give us caution. We said, at one time, that it was gravely immoral to charge interest on loans, that it was mortally sinful to miss Mass on Sunday, that people could not read books on the Index, that the divorced could not remarry. And we brooked no question on any of these things. People were either in or out, good or bad, religious or not, depending on whether they stood at one end or another of those spectrums.
Clearly, the problem is not that definitions of morality can shift in the light of new information or social reality. The problem is that we don't seem to know how to deal with the questions that precede the new insights. We seem to think that we have only two possible choices: the authoritarianism model, which requires intellectual uniformity and calls it "community" or a kind of intellectual anarchism, which eats away at the very cloth of tradition in a changing world.
The problem is that threatened by change we are more inclined to suppress the prophetic question than we are to find the kind of structures that can release the Spirit, that can lead us beyond unthinking submission while honoring the tradition and testing the spirits ...
From where I stand, we need those who can develop a model of faith in times of uncertainty in which the tradition is revered and the prophetic is honored. Unless we want to see ourselves go into either tyranny or anarchy, we better pray for the Anglicans so that they can show us how to do that.
PHILADELPHIA - An Amish community that lost five girls in a Pennsylvania schoolhouse shooting massacre last year has donated money to the widow of the gunman, the community said Wednesday. The Nickel Mines Accountability Committee, which was set up to handle more than $4.3 million in donations from around the world after the shootings, said it had given an unspecified "contribution" to Marie Roberts, a mother of three.