Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Month: May 2004

The End Is Come

The End Is Come

Classes at the seminary have been over since the 7th, and I turned my final paper in last Friday, but I’ve remained on the Mountain for a few more days because of some meetings and in order to show some prospective students around. Tomorrow I leave for the summer; I’ll have a few days off and then I begin CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at the VA hospital in Mountain Home (Johnson City) TN on the 7th of June. Pray for me. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy working with the veterans, but no one comes through CPE unscathed or unchanged. I have all of my grades back but one, so far all A’s–just New Testament left–we’ll see if I can pull it off.

To all my friends back in Asheville:Though I’ll be working in Johnson City, I’ll be living in A-town, so I’ll be in touch, maybe we can get together on saturdays etc. ..

[Listening to: Leslie Anne Levine – The Decemberists – Castaways and Cutouts (4:12)]

"Canterbear" speaks

If unity is the priority, then, who will have to be sacrificed? Will it be gay believers and priests and would-be bishops, and their supporters? Quite probably. “Whatever solution we come to is going to cost somebody and it has been said that the interesting moral decisions are not about whether anyone gets hurt but who gets hurt, which is a very painful thing. Very. And whatever shape the unity takes, there’s going to be cost.”
I point out that it is he who is going to have to decide who gets hurt, and he agrees. “I’m going to have a very large role in doing it, yes.” More struggle and pain ahead, I fear.

I’m not alone after all

I’m not alone after all

And most important of all, that faith and family are the point of life. We agree with Russell Kirk, who observed, “The best way to rear up a new generation of friends of the Permanent Things is to beget children, and read to them o’ evenings, and teach them what is worthy of praise: the wise parent is the conservator of ancient truths. As Edmund Burke put it, ‘We learn to love the little platoon we belong to in society.’ The institution most essential to conserve is the family.”

I confessed that I was a Birkenstock’d Burkean in a National Review Online essay, and talked about how displaced I felt as a conservative who liked both Rush Limbaugh and Garrison Keillor. My in-box quickly filled up with literally hundreds of replies from across the country, nearly all of them saying, “Me too!”

There was the pro-life vegetarian Buddhist Republican who wanted to find somebody to discuss the virtues of George W. Bush with over a bowl of dal. An interracial couple, political conservatives and converts to Eastern Orthodoxy, wrote to say they loved shaking up the prejudices of liberal friends at their organic co-op. Small-town and rural crunchy cons checked in, and so did their urban counterparts from Berkeley to New York to London. “I used to listen to Rush while driving around following the Grateful Dead!” someone wrote. Wrote another, “We thought we were the only Evangelical Christians in the world with a copy of ‘The Moosewood Cookbook.'”

Clearly, there are a number of thoughtful, imaginative, eclectic conservatives who fly below the radar of the media and Republican politicos. Who are these people? What do they stand for? And do you have to tune in to NPR as well as to Rush, turn on to whole grains, and drop out of mainstream society to join them?

[Listening to: I Won’t Spend Another Night Alone (Hidden Track) – The Ataris – So Long, Astoria (4:17)]

I’m a big fan of

I’m a big fan of Neil Postman and if I wasn’t so enamored with SciFi and technology then I might consider becoming a luddite… at any rate, Postman’s criticisms of the modernist project are some of the clearest. Here’s a good article about the late Dr. Postman.

Neil Postman is No Progressive

by Jay Walljasper
Conscious Choice, January 2000
Don’t call Neil Postman a progressive. He may be a consistent and cutting critic of capitalism. He may be on the editorial board of The Nation magazine. He may be the author of the sixties classic, Teaching As a Subversive Activity. And he may have once believed in the tenets of progress. But no more.

Postman now calls himself a conservative, and contends that most others who now use that label — loyal Republicans and corporate boosters — are actually radicals. He explained why in a speech given several years back to a group of business leaders and academics in Vienna. “A capitalist cannot afford the pleasures of conservatism, and of necessity regards tradition as an obstacle to be overcome…. It is fairly easy to document that capitalists have been a force for radical social change since the 18th Century, especially in the United States…. In today’s America…if anyone should raise the question, ‘What improves the human spirit?’ Americans are apt to offer a simple formulation: That which is new is better, that which is newest is best.

“The best cure for such a stupid philosophy is conservatism. My version, not President Reagan’s.”

Postman, chair of the Department of Culture and Communications at New York University, has spent many years researching the social consequences of television, and he says that’s what made him a skeptic of technological progress.

“Along with everyone else I was delighted with television,” he remembers. “But somewhere in the mid-sixties I began to see that there was going to be a downside to the wonders of television. It would change our social habits, and not necessarily for the better. It would affect our perceptions of what we might do with our leisure time. It would have some serious effects on literacy, and most of all it was having a very unhealthy effect on young people.”

Postman thinks the left “has been insufficiently attentive to what it means to live in a technological culture,” but he saves his strongest denunciations for so-called conservatives, who gladly sacrifice all cultural and social traditions at the altar where technology and profit are married.

“I think the single most important lesson we should have learned in the past twenty years,” Postman offers, “is that technological progress is not the same things as human progress. Technology always comes at a price. This is not to say that one should be, in a blanket way, against technological change. But it is time for us to be grownups, to understand if technology gives us something, it will take away something. It is not an unmixed blessing. We have to go into the future with our eyes wide open.”

As we enter a new age in information technology that makes the influence of television appear quaint, Postman counsels that technology needs to be made into a political issue. He notes that Americans, speaking through their Congress members, rejected supersonic transport planes (SSTs) in the seventies as unnecessary. The same public debate ought to occur about all new technologies.

Postman notes technological advances are always billed as a way to increase our options, when often just the opposite is true. “New technology is sort of imperialistic. It destroys older technologies,” he says, noting that a publisher rejected the typewritten manuscript of his most recent book and insisted that he submit it on a computer disk.

“In imagining a society of the future, I hope people would be a little more sensible about this and allow older forms of human communication to co-exist with newer ways. People would have more consciousness of the effects of technology and there would be room for some of us who like to do it the older way.”

The greatest danger Postman sees in the mad rush to adopt every new form of technology that pops up is, “it creates the impression that the most serious problems we have in the world are the result of inadequate technology and insufficient information.”

“Look at starvation, for example,” he continues. “We already have enough knowledge to feed everyone on the planet. If there is crime rampant on the streets of a big city, that has nothing to do with information. As you go through and look at our most serious problems, you’ll see they have very little to do with information. They are not amenable to technological solutions. But a lot of people think technology is the only way we should go. So there is a real sense that we may be distracted from addressing the real causes of these problems.”

Postman sees a number of positive signs that Americans are now shedding their longstanding naivete, blindness, and idealism about the effects of technology. “Twenty years ago no one would have been interested in this kind of discussion, now you can really draw a crowd. There are all kinds of new books on the subject. Parents are really wondering about television. They’re asking questions about computer games and whether they should be paying money to have their kids sit in front of their computers for hours and never go out on the street and talk to anyone. There is an audience out there waiting to be organized to exert pressure in making sure that we think a little more clearly on these matters.

“People have begun to sense that there’s something really not quite right about making all your aspirations related to bigger and better technology.”

Jay Walljasper is editor of Utne Reader, a digest of the best of the alternative press. To subscribe for $19.97 call 800-736-UTNE or visit

[Listening to: I Feel You – 3 Doors Down – Away from the Sun (4:07)]

Andrew Damick — Why Should

Andrew Damick — Why Should the Devil Get All the Good Music?

In order to understand this question, we must first
understand the current place of Christian art in the culture. Today, Christian
art in America is a consumer driven enterprise. It largely consists of a niche
market of books, music and videos designed to meet the demand of people who
already consider themselves Christian. Granted, many of these products are
marketed as “evangelistic tools,” as ways to “reach the unreached” and so
forth. Yet even those products are filled with the jargon and assumptions of
the American Christian sub-culture what many critics call “Christianese” and
their main appeal really is to the Christian consumer. CD’s, books, and films
are primarily a product to be sold to a demographic called “Christian” and then
marketed in stores filled with soft, sentimental imagery and appropriately
“Christian” knick-knacks. There is therefore an isolation which occurs in the
art produced in this milieu. Its relationship to the art produced for the
non-Christian consumer is the basis for our question.

[Listening to: Superstar – Josh Joplin Group – Useful Music (3:33)]

Dispatches from the front of

Dispatches from the front of cultural nihilism:

But Pavone agrees that abortion is not all that separates these two flocks of believers. They are separated by radically different beliefs about the very nature of belief itself.

This can be seen in their prayer services, he said.

“I think we mean something different when we say, ‘I believe in the scriptures,’ or ‘I believe in the Catholic Church,’ or ‘I believe in the creed,’ ” said Pavone. “On the pro-life side, we really believe that what we are saying is objectively true and eternally true. So if that’s the case, Baptists have good reason not pray the rosary with Catholics. They cannot act as if their prayers are all the same and that they believe the same things.”

[Listening to: Joda – Cravin’ Melon – Red Clay Harvest (3:40)]

Armagh+ speaks He [Eames] challenged

Armagh+ speaks

He [Eames] challenged the conviction still prevalent in parts of the west that scientific progress in Europe and the Americas meant evangelism and civilization were inter-related. Too often the western Church seemed to believe that the former third world would always accept western liberalism as the only alternative to the collapse of communism. The expansion of western ideologies has ended and the revolt against the west has begun. Opposition to the secular values of the west was a potent influence – but only one – on current attitudes within Anglicanism. Modernity in the north and west still seemed to believe that modernization brings such benefits that the Global South will eventually want to embrace it. The explosion of numbers and influence of Christians in the southern hemisphere compels the Anglican Communion to challenge many traditional concepts.

A new dynamic theology for the twenty-first century is emerging in Africa, Latin America and Asia to challenge and find independence from the Enlightenment.

[Listening to: When I’m Gone – 3 Doors Down – Away from the Sun (4:20)]

Inside the pocket of

Inside the pocket of a clown
Is a sad place to hang around
Just watching smiles turn into frowns
Inside the pocket of a clown

Inside the heartache of a fool
You’ll learn things they don’t teach in school
And lessons there can be real cruel
Inside the heartache of a fool

Hollow lies
Make a thin disguise
As little drops of truth
Fall from your eyes

Hollow lies
Make a thin disguise
As little drops of truth
Fall from your eyes

Inside a memory from the past
Lives every love that didn’t last
And sweet dreams can start to fade real fast
Inside a memory from the past

[Listening to: One Flight Down – Norah Jones – Come Away With Me (3:05)]

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