Monthly Archives: November 2008

Joseph Bottom: The End of Advent

Christmas has devoured Advent, gobbled it up with the turkey giblets and the goblets of seasonal ale. Every secularized holiday, of course, tends to lose the context it had in the liturgical year. Across the nation, even in many churches, Easter has hopped across Lent, Halloween has frightened away All Saints, and New Year’s has drunk up Epiphany.

Still, the disappearance of Advent seems especially disturbing—for it’s injured even the secular Christmas season: opening a hole, from Thanksgiving on, that can be filled only with fiercer, madder, and wilder attempts to anticipate Christmas.

More Christmas trees. More Christmas lights. More tinsel, more tassels, more glitter, more glee—until the glut of candies and carols, ornaments and trimmings, has left almost nothing for Christmas Day. For much of America, Christmas itself arrives nearly as an afterthought: not the fulfillment, but only the end, of the long Yule season that has burned without stop since the stores began their Christmas sales.

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H/T: Internet Monk

Man Dies After Wal-Mart Stampede, Throng Of Unruly Black Friday Bargain-Hunters Knock Down Door, Killing Man – CBS News

This is unreal.  People trampled this person to death so they could get their mark-down Christmas-crap sooner.  I agree with Rod Dreher: “Makes you wonder if we don’t deserve at some collective level what we’re about to get on the economic front (bearing in mind that the rain falls, alas, on the just and the unjust).”

A worker died after being trampled by a throng of unruly shoppers when a suburban Wal-Mart opened for the holiday sales rush Friday, authorities said.

At least three other people were injured.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in Bentonville, Ark., would not confirm the reports of a stampede but said a “medical emergency” had caused the company to close the store, which is in Valley Stream on Long Island.

Nassau County police said the 34-year-old worker was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead at about 6 a.m., an hour after the store opened. The cause of death was not immediately known.

A police statement said shortly after 5 a.m., a throng of shoppers “physically broke down the doors, knocking (the worker) to the ground.” Police also said a 28-year-old pregnant woman was taken to a hospital for observation and three other shoppers suffered minor injuries and were also taken to hospitals.

The exact cause of death will be determined by the Medical Examiner’s office, detectives said.

The dead worker’s name was not released.

{Read it all}

The Jewish hostages are dead – Crunchy Con

Just reported out of Mumbai: the hostages at the Chabad center are dead. Moshe Holtzberg, the two year old son of the rabbi and his wife, a child who escaped with the center’s cook, is now an orphan.

Thanks, Muslim terrorists! You do so much for the world. Your Mumbai adventures on behalf of your faith have killed scores of people, and have jacked up tensions between two nuclear powers that hate each other. And now there are reports that British nationals of Pakistani origin may be involved in the attack — something that, if true, could make life very difficult for Brit-Paks.

Good thing this bloody-minded intolerance is limited to a small number of Muslims, right? Except for the 10,000 to 20,000 ordinary Muslims who assaulted a Coptic Christian church in Cairo this week. Excerpt:

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The Christian Century: Public pews

This book review in the Christian Century hits on something that I believe has hamstrung not only the oldline protestant churches, but also the evangelical movment.  The polarization of the institutional oldline churches against many of their own members is epitomized my the fact that churches such as The Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church are affiliated with the Religious Coalitition for Reproductive Choice despite the oppositon of many of their members and the fact that–at least in the case of the Episcopal Church–aspects of the RCRC’s agenda blatantly clash with General Convention Resolutions on abortion.  The fact that mainline churche maintain lobbying offices is a situation that I’ve found profoundly disturbing since I became aware of it.  The fact that these lobbying offices often support legislation that many church members oppose is simply another way that our institutions are furthering alienation vs. reconcilliation.  If the oldline is ever going to be able to reform itself–or to birth a separate renewal movment that will offer hope to those in the evangelical wilderness without becoming part of that wilderness itself–then it is going to have to address these sorts of unnecessary means of fragmentation and alienation.

Tipton’s study proves my point. It tells the story of the “institutional ecology” of the public sphere in which the denominations operate: In the 1960s and 1970s the mainline churches’ leadership moved from a centrist or mildly conservative position to a frankly progressive one, while their congregations were far more mixed. The institutional consolidation of a progressive agenda was secure by 1980; one sign of this was the emergence then of parachurch groups—such as the Institute on Religion and Democracy—that protested the consolidation. These groups complained about the “leftist” and “Marxist” captivity of the mainline leadership and initially seemed interested in offering the laity a big-tent alternative to the official line of the churches, purportedly to preserve the traditional faith against the elite’s woolly liberationism. But by the 1990s these parachurch groups had begun to focus their efforts on simply attacking the other side. While members of the official church hierarchies didn’t fixate so totally on their enemies, they became ever more resistant to ceding them any intellectual or theoretical ground. This polarization left the vast middle underserved. And that is our condition today.

{Read it all}.

Covenant: A New "Province" in North America: Neither the Only Nor the Right Answer for the Communion, by Ephraim Radner

A new “province” for North American Anglicans is now promised to be “up and running” in the next month or so. It will comprise the 3-4 dioceses that have voted to leave TEC; the associations of various congregations that have left TEC (e.g. CANA) and those started outside of TEC from departing groups; it will also include congregations and denominations within the Anglican tradition that have formed over the past decades in North America. All of these groups now form part of an association called Common Cause.

The formation of this new “province” appears to be a fait accompli. It will presumably provide formal stability for the congregations and their plants who have left TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as some kind of more easily grasped relationship with some other parts of the Anglican Communion. It is important to note, however, that such a new grouping will also not solve the problems of traditional Anglicans in North America, and that it will pose new problems to the Communion as a whole. As a member of the Covenant Design Group, committed to a particular work of providing a new framework for faithful communion life in Christ among Anglicans, I want to be clear about how the pressing forward of this new grouping within its stated terms poses some serious problems:

 1. The new grouping will not, contrary to the stated claims of some of its proponents, embrace all or even most traditional Anglicans in North America. For instance, the Communion Partners group within TEC, comprises 13 dioceses as a whole, and a host of parishes and their rectors, whose total Sunday membership is upwards of 300,000. It is unlikely that these will wish to be a part of the new grouping, for some of the reasons stated below.

 2. The new grouping, through some of its founding members, will continue in litigation within the secular courts for many years. This continues to constitute a sad spectacle, and is, in any case, practically and morally unfeasible for most traditional Anglicans.

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The next time I hear a fellow clergy person complain…

Or feel tempted to do so myself, I’m going to re-read this article:

India’s anti-Christian pogrom has caused 20 clergy and over four dozen lay catechists to flee for their lives from the Kandamal district in Orissa, the Bishop of Phulbani told the Church of North India’s General Synod last month.

Meeting in Pathankot in the Punjab from Oct 17-21, Bishop Bijay Kumar Nayak told the 400 delegates to the CNI’s General Synod that Hindu militants had been targeting the clergy so as to “strike at the foundations of Christian life” in the Eastern Indian state.

Almost all of the CNI’s churches in Kandamal had been destroyed the bishop said, while the dead included one member of the diocese’s executive committee. Bishop Nayak reported that Thomas Nayak, the superintendent of the CNI school in Gudrikia was murdered by a mob on Aug 27. The bishop urged the synod to pray for the Christians of Orissa and to champion their cause with the Indian union government and the outside world.

India’s recent outbreak of anti-Christian violence commanded centre stage at the General Synod, with several survivors of the mob violence sharing their stories with the delegates. The CNI’s General Secretary the Rev. Enos Das Pradhan denounced government inaction in the fact of the violence, and condemned the decision by several Indian states to enact anti-conversion laws, ostensively in the name of “religious freedom.”

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What is Realignment? | Covenant

As many of my readers will know, the Diocese of Quincy became the third Diocese to remove themselves from the Episcopal Church, USA recently.  The official line from TEC is still, of course, that only individuals can leave, not Dioceses or parishes.  Yet, I believe out natural human inclination to say that such-and-such parish or such-and-such diocese has left is revelatory.  It reveals the truth that a parish or a diocese is nothing if not made up of the people within it.  It also reveals that the claims of the Episcopal Church to a certain type of formal authority and heirarchy are not only on historically thin ice, but simply do not fit the reality of the moment.

Sometimes attempts at clarification help more than arguments. This is especially true of marital quarrels: I’ll rarely convince my wife I’m right about this or that course of action, but I can at least try to explain what I thought I was doing.

It may be helpful, in light of Fr Dan Martins’ compelling essay, to explain briefly what Quincy thinks it did last Friday afternoon. I can’t claim to speak for the diocese. But I can work through some theological reasons employed at the synod (from the debate itself, and addresses by Bishops Ackerman, Beckwith, and Parsons as well) to try to explain what Quincy thinks it did. This may or may not correspond to what it actually did. I’m not going to judge the synod’s action, which means I’ll neither agree nor disagree with Fr Martins’ assessment of it. I’m merely going to use his terms – rebellion and revolution – to explain what Quincy thinks it did.

The nearest dictionary defines rebellion as “an act of violent or open resistance to an established government or ruler,” and revolution, “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.” Fr Martins rightly notes their virtual synonymity. Different shades of meaning only emerge retrospectively, when history’s victors tell their story – when, that is, rebels become revolutionaries by successfully establishing and valorizing their own regimes. However, rebellion and revolution are identical in one objective condition: the rejection of established political authority.

It wouldn’t be hard to imagine how to apply these terms to the present situation, even if Fr Martin hadn’t already ably done so. A rebellion is in progress, the rebellion of a handful of dioceses against TEC – which nevertheless may in the long-term end up looking more like a revolution. Only time will tell.

Perhaps. The problem with this way of understanding Friday’s action is that Quincy doesn’t think it has rebelled or revolted. I’ve already implicitly explained why. To rebel or revolt, there has to be some established political authority to rebel or revolt against. And though many will beg to differ, Quincy emphatically does not think it has rejected an established political authority. Neither therefore has it rebelled or revolted.

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A lesson in web etiquette

B´elton John

You never know who will find you...

It’s a fact a about the web that one should assume that nothing ever published to it will disappear.  The same is true of email and as such it is wise advice to never write anything in an email that you would mind being splashed across the front page of a newspaper and tied to your name.  Such a thought, I’m sure, will lead many of us to reflections upon some of the less than charitable things we may have posted on discussion boards, blogs or written in emails.

Another thing that should be cause for reflection is the result of products such as Technorati, Google Analytics etc… which allow a web site or blog owner to detect where their traffic comes from and to follow the backwards links to their origin.  I have come across some rather interesting discussions of my writing and web site this way.  Last month, I came across a negative example when I followed a backwards link to the “Friends of Jake” weblog, which I am assuming is an ongoing web presence for folks who used to frequent “Father Jake Stops the World,” the blog of a more “liberal” (for want of a better term) TEC commentator.

When I got there I found an out of date discussion that had taken place in July in which one commenter referenced my blog and some comments I may or may not have made on Episcopal Cafe.  The commenter references a different name and I went back and looked through the archives in Episcopal Cafe and couldn’t find any comments that I’d left during that date range, nor could I find any that fit the description… since he got the name wrong, I thought perhaps there was another Jody floating around–it wouldn’t be the first time:

JCF @ Friends of Jake

JCF @ Friends of Jake

The post JCF references was an excerpt of an article written for the Anglican Communion Institute by Dr. Phil Turner. Now, I suppose it’s fair to call me a “baby priest” and it may even be appropriate to add the modifier “piss-ant” depending on one’s mood, but Dr. Turner can surely be called by neither.

It’s interesting to compare the above comment to the comment policy published on the site:

About comments We ask that you remain civil and courteous in your discussion. Passion is fine, as long as respect is maintained. If you wish to post anonymously (i.e. without signing in), we request that you sign your comment with at least a nickname. The organizers will remove any offensive posts, without warning, and occasionally without reason.

When I found the discussion in October, I left the following reply:

JCF,

It’s been too long ago to know whether any comments at the Episcopal Cafe could fairly be labeled “patronizing” or not–I try to be pretty direct and call things they way I see them–sorry if you disagree. However, if you’re going to insult me by calling me a “piss-ant of a baby priest” and then link to my blog, you could at least get my name right. It’s Jody Howard, not Richards–if “Jody Richards” left patronizing comments, I have no idea who that is.

Next time, why not drop me an email or comment on my site rather than spreading insults across the web?

Now, I will say that there was a cordial response to JCF’s comment immediately following in which the commenter left it to interpretation as to whether or not I (or whoever Jody Richards is) had been patronizing and maintained that in either case it should not be blamed on youth. Be that as it may, since it was a dead thread and of course, there has been no response, I thought I’d use the interconnectedness of the web and link to Friends of Jake just to see if anyone shows up.