Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Category: hat tips (Page 1 of 15)

The Role of Choice and Destiny: An Intro to Flight of Blue (By A.E. Howard)


A cursed traffic light. A rip in the fabric of the world. A possum sorcerer injured on a quest for revenge.
Kai and Ellie embark on a journey to return the sorcerer to his home. Entangled in events that could destroy the world, Kai must choose whether to accept the role he was born to play, but isn’t sure he wants.

So is the core tension at the heart of Flight of Blue explained. Will Kai embrace the role–or this one particular role–he was born to play, or will he choose another path. What will the repercussions of his choices be; for himself, for his friends?

Tonight’s guest post is brought to you by A.E. Howard, better known–to me–as my wife! I’m very excited and happy to be able to host this post to help introduce more of you to Flight of Blue, her new novel. This labor of love–and I can attest to the labor, having been a novel widower off and on for months ;-)–is now available for purchase in paper back or ebook form from Amazon. Tonight and tomorrow a group of people who are interested in the book, many of whom have read and enjoyed advance copies (including me!) will be hosting blog posts and interviews on their sites trying to get the word out.

I encourage you to check out this fantastic book, and not just because I think the author is amazing, intelligent and beautiful (she is my wife after all) but because it’s a good book. As I wrote in my review:

Flight of Blue is an engaging and fun read. The characters are believable and the dialogue is funny. While a good representative of the genre, I did not find the work derivative or predictable and found myself laughing at times, even in the midst of suspenseful events. The weaving of multiple layers of emotion was very skillful. Do yourself a favor and read it, or pass it along to someone you know who’s in the mood for a good read.

And now, a word on the role of choice and destiny.

Guest Post:


Flight of Blue coverKai sighed. “It seems I have no choice.”

“You always have a choice. You still have a choice: you can choose not to go. In fact, if you want to go, you must choose that, for I will not take anyone unwillingly into the Realm of Darkness.”

Shadrach straightened up and appraised Kai, waiting for a response.

“I’ll go. Serina needs me, and so, I’ll go.” He felt elated and heavy-hearted all at the same time.

Earlier in the story, Kai discovered that he was born into a role that no one had held for hundreds or perhaps even thousands of years. And with this discovery comes a certain level of obligation. Kai feels that he no longer has a choice in his life, that he has to do the things laid out for him to do.

But his mentors continue to point out to him that he must willingly accept the role in order to be effective in fulfilling it, but also that he does have a choice. He might have been born into the role, but he doesn’t have to step into it.

I felt it was important to maintain this distinction because it seems all too often both in fantasy worlds and in our own, we find characters or people sort of weighed down with the feeling that they have no choice. Somehow they’re stuck with their lot in the world, or some job they’ve been thrust into, and now that’s it. But I think it’s important to realize that we always have a choice.

Launch Party Central Post on A.E. Howard’s Blog

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Lenten Videos

A few great videos I thought I’d share with the readers of this blog during the Lenten Season. (Just a note for folks in the Diocese of Tennessee: Stanley Hauerwas–in the 3rd video–is honorary Canon Theologian of Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville):

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New Covenant Web Site

Though I’ve been a bit short on contributions lately, I am still one of the contributors to the Covenant web site, and will hopefully be more active again soon.

Despite my lack of participation of late, I want to direct folks’ attention to the redesigned Covenant site, now fully integrated with The Living Church.  Check it out.

America’s high school graduation rate is lower today that it was in the late 1960s and “kids are now less likely to graduate from high school than their parents,” according to an analysis released last year by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. In fact, not only is the graduation rate worse than many Western countries, the United States is now the only developed country where a higher percentage of 55 to 64-year-olds have a high school diploma than 25 to 34-year-olds.

via Rotting From the Inside Out – By Michael A. Cohen | Foreign Policy.

Sam Wells: Christmas is really for the Grown-Ups

Wonderful piece to consider on this second day of Christmas and feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr.  Hat tip to Bishop Graham Kings (@BishopSherborne).

Around 15 years ago I had the opportunity to be in northern India in December. The churches in Delhi had a remarkable tradition I’d never contemplated before. They had nativity plays, like everyone else. But all the adult characters – Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, the wise men, Herod and so on, were played by grown-ups.

I was flabbergasted. How could the church in India have got it so wrong? Surely they must understand that the whole point of nativity plays is that they be performed by children.

Surely December is to be filled by fathers comforting their daughters with the reassuring words that not everyone can play Mary (and that Third Angel really is the crucial role), mothers finding squares of burlap that look convincing on the head of Joseph without being too scratchy, and Sunday School teachers persuading a reluctant wise man from the east that there’s a subtle but significant difference between frankincense and Frankenstein.

Everyone knows the unique charm of Christmas is lost if adults take it too seriously. I sat there in Delhi and thought, Don’t these people realize that Christmas is really for the children?

But look what happens when you see a nativity play performed by adults in a country like India, a place where to be a Christian is always to experience being in a minority, often to face cultural discrimination, and sometimes to find yourself in a place of physical danger. You start to see aspects of the story that get overlooked when it’s all about a little donkey on a dusty road.

You see for a start that Christmas is about suffering people.

Read it all via Christmas is really for the Grown-Ups – Opinion – ABC Religion & Ethics (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

What I’m reading: From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin

From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin
A timely corrective for evangelicals.

Christopher Benson | posted 11/08/2011

Everyone loves an iconoclastic thesis, the kind that elicits a flabbergasted response of “Oh, really?!” Three immediately come to mind: in an essay on military service, theological ethicist Stanley Hauerwas argues that gays (as a group) are morally superior to Christians (as a group); in God’s Battalions, sociologist Rodney Stark argues that the Crusades were a justified war waged against Muslim terror and aggression; and in Defending Constantine, theologian Peter Leithart argues that the heresy of Constantinianism should not be named after the historical Constantine.

Add this eyebrow-raising thesis to the mix: in From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin: Evangelicals and the Betrayal of American Conservatism (a book whose title and subtitle should have been switched), historian Darryl Hart argues that “the evangelical temperament is inherently progressive.” Despite being the largest single voting bloc in the Republic Party, evangelicals—owing to their religious and moral idealism—are no more fitted to traditional conservatism than an armadillo is suited to Antarctica. Currently a professor at Hillsdale College, the premier academic enclave for conservatives, and prolific author of such books as A Secular Faith: Why Christianity Favors the Separation of Church and State, Hart offers a historical account of evangelical political reflection since World War II.

Focusing on the evangelical intelligentsia rather than the rank-and-file, he considers “the reasons that representative born-again Protestant academics and pastors give for political participation, their understanding of the good society, or the value of the American polity.” The literary evidence that Hart marshals is impressive. He takes us through the writings of young progressives in the 1970s (Richard Pierard, David Moberg, Mark Hatfield, Richard Mouw), historical revisionists (Peter Marshall, Jr., Francis Schaeffer, Donald Dayton), correcting historians (Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch, George Marsden), fundamentalist “party crashers” in the 1980s (Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, Pat Robertson), faith-based pundits (Chuck Colson, Ralph Reed, Marvin Olaskey, James Skillen), leftist evangelicals (Jim Wallis, Randall Balmer, Tony Campolo, Ron Sider), and “heroic conservatives” (Michael Gerson, Joel Hunter, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren).

Hart then turns to traditionalist conservatives (Russell Kirk, Roger Scruton, Michael Oakeshott, Mark Henrie, Patrick Deneen) for an alternative to the “redemptive utopianism” that prevails among evangelicals. In Hart’s account, latter-day evangelicals, for all their internal differences, closely resemble their revivalist ancestors, stitching a patchwork quilt of American exceptionalism and providential benediction, patriotism and piety, evangelism and social action. “Deep within the soul” of members of the Religious Right, Hart observes, beats “the heart not of a Burkean conservative but of a Finneyite activist.” If we follow the levels of reading in How to Read a Book, Hart has reached the highest level as a syntopical reader, placing multiple books in relation to one another and constructing a new and perceptive analysis on the subject. However, I do question how much can be extrapolated about the political ethos of evangelicalism—a remarkably pluriform movement—from literary evidence alone.

According to Hart, evangelicals forged a third way between the accommodationist posture of mainline Protestants and the separationist posture of fundamentalists. They found their political calling in the postwar years when the character of the United States was tested in the crucible of secularity. Animated by a transformationalist vision to reclaim America as the new Israel or redeemer nation, evangelicals developed a parallel universe with all of its insularities, myths, and propaganda, leaving them bystanders to the arguments and institutions of modern conservatism. Traditionalists, anti-communists, and libertarians shaped the conservative outlook between 1950 to 1965 as they debated the future of the American republic.

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Will the Kids be Alright? Part II – Some Lessons from our Youth « The Curate’s Desk

Some thoughtful comments from Fr. Robert Hendrickson, of Christ Church New Haven reguarding the results of the National Survey of Youth and Religion.  I commend them to you:

Identity Crisis Part II

So, having put up results from the NSYR study of youth and religion, I have gotten some interesting responses.  They ranged from “Oh my God, the Church is dying” to “These numbers are really suspect” to “We are Episcopalians, we don’t do Church the way these other denominations do.”

None of these is especially helpful.


To allow our young people to grow up without clear teaching means that we cede faith to those who continue to use it for political or personal gain because those are the loudest voices or we risk them drifting aimlessly between self-exploration, astrology, reincarnation and the like without a firm foundation so that when life’s trials come they do not have a spiritual and moral footing that will hold them fast.


The study notes that “The majority of adolescents reported remaining at the same level of religiosity, and when adolescents did report a change in their overall religiosity, a higher proportion of them reported becoming more religious than becoming less religious.” In other words, there are opportunities for us to draw young people deeper into the life of faith. They are not rejecting the faith so much as having it presented to them in such a slipshod manner that it is irrelevant.


The survey results bear this out. Read again these results:

  •  “…while 93 percent of Presbyterian Church (USA) teens and 91 percent of Evangelical Lutheran Church in America teens report that their churches usually feel warm and welcoming, only 69 percent of teens whose parents are Episcopalian say the same.”
  • “65 percent of Church of God in Christ teens and 57 percent of both Assemblies of God and Southern Baptist teens say that church is a very good place to talk about serious issues…while only 31 percent of Episcopal teens agree that church is a very good place to talk about serious issues.”
  • “less than one-half of Episcopalian teens who attend church more than a few times a year (46 percent) say that church usually makes them think about important things.” (by far lowest and the only group under 50%)

We have the lowest percentage of respondents that say our churches are welcoming to them. We have the lowest percentage that says that church is a good place to talk about serious issues. We have the lowest percentage that says church makes them think about important things. If we are serious about intellectual engagement with the faith then the numbers would bear this out. We would have young people who felt challenged and believed we talked about serious things and made them think about important things.

Read it all via Will the Kids be Alright? Part II – Some Lessons from our Youth « The Curate’s Desk.

Worship like it’s 1099: Tradition, Liturgy, and “Relevance” « The Curate’s Desk

The following is one in a series of ads put out by Christ Church, New Haven.  They have sparked quite the response on Facebook.  It’s interesting that I shared one of the ads and it received several “likes” mostly–though not totally–from younger folks, providing an example of the phenomenon discussed below. Check it out.

So, what is going on here?  In all, I have counted 150 or so “likes” on our page and on the pages of those that shared the ad along with lots and lots of comments.  It is rare that a piece of church media generates such a response.  It has obviously stricken a chord.

The interesting thing is that it was overwhelmingly younger folks sharing and liking the ad.  Those that expressed doubts or outright resentment were from another generation.  They seem angry that young people would find value in something they worked to undo.

via Worship like it’s 1099: Tradition, Liturgy, and “Relevance” « The Curate’s Desk.

When Harry Should Avoid Meeting Sally –

NYTStanley Fish hits on something important here: we all have our objects of “unreflective scorn,” and he’s right, I think, that meeting and knowing them makes it less possible to scorn them.  There’s a profound lesson in reflection on both of those facts.

The German philosopher Jürgen Habermas is a luminary who occupies such a place in my anti-pantheon. I have been throwing verbal brickbats at Habermas for years (I once even called for him to be prevented from writing anymore; I didn’t specify the means), poking academic fun at his slogans (like “ideal speech situation” and “universal pragmatics”) and trumpeting the emptiness of his program to anyone who would listen.

This means that Habermas (along with a few others I will not name) is very important to me. I feel that I couldn’t get along without him. I need him to be there. If he were taken away from me, I wouldn’t know what to do. I’d have to find someone else to be the object of my unreflective scorn. And that would prove difficult, given that Habermas, or anyone else who might fill this slot, has very particular views (the ones I love to hate), and installing a disciple or a simulacrum in his place would not really be satisfying.

{Read it all: When Harry Should Avoid Meeting Sally –}

H/t: @craiguffman

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