Monthly Archives: January 2007

Truth and Kudzu…

Check it out

A Word from E. Stanley Jones

An individual gospel without a social gospel is a soul without a body, and a social gospel without an individual gospel is a body without a soul. One is a ghost and the other a corpse…

Prayer requested

I ask your prayers for the consecration and ministry of the Rev. John C. Bauerschmidt, soon-to-be eleventh Bishop of Tennessee.

Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ they Son our Savior. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon our bishops, and other clergy, and upon the congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace; and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

And finally,

Almighty and glorious Lord, creator of all we perceive and all that is hidden from us, grant that we, being blessed with new eyes in the Spirit, may better discern your will and find the strength to cast off the hindrances of things which even now pass away, and instead grasp those things which remain, so that we may abide in your prescense at the end of days and unto the ages of ages.
Amen

News from the Convention of the Diocese of Tennessee

Diocese of Tennessee shieldThe annual convention of the Diocese of Tennessee just adjourned. On the whole it was a convention characterized by a desire to exhibit good will to one another and to get through only the most pressing business before the consecration of Bishop-elect Bauerschmidt tomorrow. No official word about who the chief-consecrator will be, though it’s certain that it’s not going to be KJS. This was my first annual convention as a clergy delegate, and there were definitely some interesting parts. Probably the best moments for me came with the reception of Church of the Good Samaritan as a mission congregation in the Diocese of Tennessee, the report on our relationship with our Companion Diocese of The Litoral in Equador and with the Diocesan Youth Commission’s report to convention about youth ministry in the Diocese. It was also a good time of fellowship with friends in an atmosphere that was, on the whole, very different than the electing conventions of last year. If pushed I would characterize the mood of the convention as expectant.

While not much was done, St. George’s church did introduce a resolution which basically re-affirmed what the Diocese has already said at previous conventions. Here’s the text of the resolution, with (friendly) amendments, below:

BE IT RESOLVED:

The Diocese of Tennessee recognizes that all people are included in Christ’s redeeming love and welcomed into the fellowship of the Church, where each of us is offered the foregiveness of sins, called to a new life of grace, and invited to share in the Lord’s ongoing work in the world;

We acknowledge the existence of serious division in our worldwide Anglican Communion and within the Episcopal Church USA over decisions of the 74th General Convention 2003 of the Episcopal Church relating to issues of human sexuality. We lament and regret that at times these issues, and the reactions to them, have created tension, conflict and division within the Diocese of Tennessee, the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Communion;

We urge all Episcopalians and members of the Anglican Communion to pray for understanding, compassion, guidance, forgiveness, repentance and healing in the midst of these controversies;

We acknowledge that differences of opinion exist within our Diocese concerning these issues, as well as differences of opinion about how to respond to our current controversies in the larger Church;

We strongly believe and confirm that differences of opinion on these issues do not define or prohibit any person’s membership or presence in our parishes and mission communities and we pledge our efforts to ensure that mutual respect, compassion and forbearance will shape our common life in relation to these issues into the future;

Without regard to any individual personal views on the issues surrounding the Church’s current controversies, we believe the findings and recommendations of the Windsor Report represent the best way forward for the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Communion, and we accept and support those findings and recommendations;

We express our concerns We acknowledge that the House of Bishops and the duly elected deputies to the 75th General Convention 2006 in Columbus, Ohio did not take sufficient action to comply with the recommendations of the Windsor Report, including an expression of regret that the proper constraints of the bonds of affection with other parts of the Anglican Communion were breached by ECUSA’s actions;

We also affirm and support the recommendations of the Windsor Report that bishops who believe it is their conscientious duty to intervene in other provinces, dioceses, and parishes other than their own should prayerfully reconsider and take action to comply with the Windsor Report concerning the support of dissenting groups within the Church; and

We are committed to:

  • remaining a full and active part of the Anglican Communion, in unity with the See of Canterbury, and the Episcopal Church USA;
  • forgoing our own local desires for the sake of the greater Anglican Communion; and
  • a conciliar approach to decision-making in the life of the Church and the Anglican Communion by working with and heeding the collective wishes of the Communion before making unilateral decisions.

We respectfully request that the Episcopal Church USA take all necessary steps to ensure that Episcopal parishes, missions and dioceses wishing to do so can remain in communion with the Anglican Communion.

Submitted by the Rector and Vestry of St. George’s Episcopal Church, Nashville.

This resolution was passed with no discussion or further amendments. I believe that, while it doesn’t say anything very surprising, it is important in the sense that it says the Diocesan Convention supports what Bishop Herlong has said in signing the minority Bishop’s letter after GC 2006, as well as the Camp Allen statement. Additionally, some of the language in the resolution strongly echoes language used by Bishop-elect Bauerschmidt to describe the the state of the Communion in his written answers before the election, i.e. that international unity is of the utmost importance.

UPDATE:

It looks like the Episcopal line-up for tomorrow will be

Chief Consecrator

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, Bishop of East Carolina

Consecrators

The Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, Bishop of Atlanta
The Rt. Rev. James B. Brown, Bishop of Louisiana, retired
The Rt. Rev. Bertram N. Herlong, Tenth Bishop of Tennessee
The Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley, Bishop of Alabama

Bathroom Graffiti of the Kingdom

Anna and I just returned, along with the Trinity yooots (to the relief of their parents) from a great youth event held at Ridgecrest conference center in Black Mountain North Carolina (close to my hometown of Asheville). This was our first YouthQuake, and I feel certain that we’ll be back. I think our kids had an awesome experience and it touched several of them deeply in addition to challenging them in areas where they really need to be challenged. The whole weekend was filled with professions of faith from the kids, and this morning we finished our time together by listening to the testimonies of many of them.

I really enjoyed the messages given by Pastor Steven Furtik–they were right on the money and delivered very well. I think the portion of the message that stuck with me most was an illustration he gave where he talked about administering a survey at a mall about what people thought was important. Evidently at some point they ran across a 15-year-old “fake thug” who responded that the most important thing in his life was God…at second came “getin’ his smoke on” and third related to “getin his freak on with the ladies.” Clearly there’re are some issues with that list of priorities. As Pastor Furtick pointed out, it’s not about putting God or Jesus FIRST in your life, it’s about having Jesus in ALL of your life.

Which leads me to one of the more ironic finds I had this weekend. At one point I visited the little boys room and, as I often do, I took the time to read the bathroom graffiti–often a source of great cultural insight and amusement–only to discover that there was a distinct difference between the graffiti in this restroom and that I had observed elsewhere. Rather than crude remarks about anatomy or half-baked political slogans the graffiti at Ridgecrest consisted of “Jesus loves you,” John 3:16 and “I Love Jesus.” I’ve been thinking about this awhile and I wonder if this graffiti–whether done by people at YouthQuake or some other event–represents an aspect of what Pastor Furtick was illustrating with his humorous story. As a matter of fact, I found myself wondering throughout the weekend first, how much of the enthusiasm was actually about Jesus and our Salvation and secondly, how much of it would actually carry over. Pastor Furtick’s message was perfect to get the kids and their leaders to ask the same question, I believe, at least for those who actually heard.

The issue is that, at an event like this, there’s a lot of reverse peer pressure for kids who might not otherwise be interested in Jesus or his message. They come to a place that’s so different from their everyday lives, with a group of people who are all–at least ostensibly–Christian, and suddenly it becomes cool to be a believer. But part of me wonders if we are simply reinforcing in this microcosm the same behaviors that get our children into such trouble out in the world. The world says do what makes you popular; we create a place where the popular thing is to believe in Jesus or to go up and receive prayer and “get saved.” The world makes everything a commodity and turns our bodies into advertising; we steal commercial slogans to make cheesy shirts, hats etc… to advertise Christ. The world worships celebrity; we bring a (worship/Christian) rock band up front, have lights flashing, the sound turned up and focus the cameras on them so giant versions of them are seen on the overhead screens. And then, at the end of it all we sale their merchandise, and watch as the kids stand in line to get autographs.

I don’t mean to be cynical. I’m just questioning some aspects of the event–perhaps they are unavoidable by the very nature of it, I don’t know. I do know that the event was positive in that it did precisely one of things I’d hoped it would: it showed our kids that there are other people their age who believe in Jesus Christ, and it showed them that Christianity shouldn’t be equated completely with the boring old people they see going to church in their small towns (that’s not an insult, it’s just the way I think a lot of kids see it). The weekend showed them, I think, that being a Christian can be exciting and fun. I simply pray that’s not all it showed them. I pray they heard the gospel that was very well presented in the midst of all the sound and lights. And I pray that there is great follow-up in their home churches so that those who had an authentic experience of the risen Lord, don’t find themselves left flat by the return to everyday life.

The Band, Unhindered was great, and I really enjoyed hearing them. I’ve already alluded to one of my pet peeves that was touched on at the conference though–the cameras focused on the band during the worship sessions, and the two large screens were often filled with images of the band playing, with worship music lyrics super-imposed over top (something, on a practical level that made the lyrics hard to read). Incidentally, how can anyone take seriously evangelical criticisms of iconography, when the faces of “worship leaders” are projected onto huge screens? Seems to me this plays much more closely to the sorts of modern idolatry than iconography ever has.

So, my take on YouthQuake? Overall a great experience, for myself and I believe for our kids. We’ll definitely be back. We’re also making sure to follow up with our kids after the event. Who knows, maybe they’ll take my advice and use something other than the band as a background for the worship lyrics next year.

Epiphany

Epiphany Icon Today is January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany, also known in the Prayerbook tradition as “The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.”

Collect:

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the people of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where me may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Psalm 72
Lessons:
Isaiah 60:1-6,9
Ephesians 3:1-12
Matthew 2:1-12

An example of Anglican theology?

We Should Live – Ben Bateman » Potty Theology

I ran across this post earlier tonight. Anglicans have a lot of problems, but this should bring us up short…

He focuses on the Anglican Church, which is hardly fair. Most of the big Protestant denominations are intellectually rotten, but the Anglicans are probably the most thoroughly so.

The sad thing is, Mr. Bateman–and Mark Styne whom he is writing about–have a rather blatant example of some of the wackiness that characterizes Anglican “theology” (I certainly hesitate to apply that term to it) today. The following is from the Niagra Anglican, April 2006–not only that, but it is a reprint from the January 2006 newsletter of the Diocese of Mantreal. Be forewarned, it lives up to the term “potty theology.”

Next to having sex, a good bowel movement rates pretty high on most people’s scale of things that satisfy. In fact, as you grow older, a good poop can be as rewarding as a good romp under the covers. You know the relief that comes after having been frustrated for so many days to finally stand proudly before your accomplishment floating in the toilet bowl and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

If you have the interest and the stomach for it, you can read Mr. Bateman’s entire post–he cites some more of the article, which is now making news again (I must have missed it when it first came out). The conclusion Mr. Bateman draws is a good one though… we do need to reclaim a broader–and orthodox–theological discourse, or risk the total implosion of our society. I don’t think I can put it any better than he did:

Without theology, you are defenseless when Canon Smart shoves his smelly finger under your nose and dares you to claim that your religion is better than his.

{Read it all}


Other posts relating to Canon Smart’s not so edifying article:

Classical Anglican Net News (March 2006; January 2007)

The Confessing Reader

Midwest Conservative Journal

Local Roman Catholic Church desecrated

A few weeks ago I heard that Good Shepherd Catholic Church, Decherd, had been desecrated by vandals. The following is the news release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nashville describing the desecration of the church and the subsequent rite of reparation performed by Bishop David Choby.

December 15, 2006

Good Shepherd Church desecrated by vandals

Bishop David Choby performed a penitential rite of reparation at Good Shepherd Church in Decherd after the church was desecrated by vandals last week.

On the morning of Dec. 8, Pastoral Associate Janet Moore-Caso arrived to set up for morning prayer and discovered that overnight vandals had knocked over the tabernacle, desecrated the altar by putting a cigarette out on it, left urine and feces throughout the church, and smashed one of the Stations of the Cross.

The vandals tried but were unable to open the tabernacle, however, several hosts were found lying on the floor apparently after slipping out of the bottom when the tabernacle was knocked over, said Father David Perkin, Vicar General for the Diocese of Nashville.

There was disbelief and hurt upon seeing the damage, Moore-Caso said, and then parishioners felt a need to pray for the people responsible. “It’s very obvious this individual is deeply troubled and very much in need of prayer.”

{read it all}

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Reformed Catholicism on Dort and Arminius.

fireI thought some of the readers of this blog might be interested in the Reformed Catholicism blog’s podcast about the Synod of Dort and Arminianism. Lend an ear