Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Tag: Religion

We are the Reason They Don’t Believe (and only Megan Fox Can Save Us Now) | Patrol – A review of religion and the modern world

This article mirrors my own experience. Had I not encountered another way of being Christian, one that took science, history and culture seriously, I may not have been a committed Christian. Likewise, if the only examples of ordained ministry I’d ever seen were like the majority I wtnessed as a child, I likely would’ve continued to say “no” when asked if I was going to be a preacher–because, I never wanted to be a preacher *like the one’s I saw growing up,* with only one exception. But then I encountered Anglicanism in the form of The Episcopal Church, and I saw faithful priests going about their ministry in a holisitic way. The one allowed me to hold tighter to my faith even as I encountered the breadth and wonder of God’s world, and the finite nature of our knowledge of it, while the other put me in a place where I could hear the call of God and the affirmation of the community without an immediate “no” coming to my lips.

It’s more than a little disheartening that many of the interviewees told David Greene that they don’t feel welcome in religious communities because of their doubt, particularly in light of the fact that they have been welcomed to be doubters on public radio. They can air their concerns to a reporter they’ve only just met who will then literally air them to a national audience, but they don’t feel like they can go to the most natural place, a faith community, and share their doubts there. We’ve failed them.

Beyond that though, I almost couldn’t bear to listen as my peers explained the various reasons why they’ve moved away from faith. These include a range of reasons from misunderstandings of the Bible to the problem of tragedy to, for a number of respondents, their perception of Christianity’s universal stance against homosexuality. We’ve failed them.

We failed them in so many ways, but perhaps none more severe than in letting one form of Christianity — and let’s name it: conservative evangelicalism — become the most public face of our faith in the United States. The young people who put it all out there on NPR, my peers, feel estranged from a faith I don’t adhere to. Of course I recognize it, and I remember it, but I don’t claim it. It occurred to me that, without a few crucial influences in my life — from my parents to pop culture — there but for the grace of God go I. I could’ve been a “None” too.

This morning, as I listened to both segments of the NPR story, my first response was to write a solution, to provide an answer, to suggest that we progressive Christians do better PR. But I don’t know. Now, as I sit here actually writing, I feel the old feeling of defeat creeping up again. It seems unavoidable: the most extreme voices are always the loudest.

via We are the Reason They Don’t Believe (and only Megan Fox Can Save Us Now) | Patrol – A review of religion and the modern world.

The Bishop of Durham turns one loose on human-animal hybrid embryo plan

Remember everyone, this man is going to be in Nashville on April 22nd at West End United Methodist. Bravo to him for this stand and clarion call.

Bishop condemns embryo study plan

The Bishop of Durham has attacked government plans which could allow scientists to create embryos combining human DNA and animal cells.

In his Easter Sunday message, given at Durham Cathedral, Rt Rev Tom Wright issued a rallying call to all faiths to object to the “1984-style” proposals.

He accused ministers of pushing through legislation from “a militantly atheist and secularist lobby.”

The Anglican bishop also criticised the treatment of some asylum seekers.

As pressure from religious leaders mounted on prime minister Gordon Brown to allow a free vote on the issue of embryo research in the Commons, Bishop Wright warned that society was in danger of learning nothing from the “dark tyrannies” of the last century.

He told his congregation: “Our present government has been pushing through, hard and fast, legislation that comes from a militantly atheist and secularist lobby.

“In this 1984-style world, we create our own utopia by our own efforts, particularly our science and technology.

“The irony is that this secular utopianism is based on a belief in an unstoppable human ability to make a better world, while at the same time it believes that we have the right to kill unborn children and surplus old people, and to play games with the humanity of those in between.

“Gender-bending was so last century; we now do species-bending.

“It shouldn’t just be Roman Catholics who are objecting. It ought to be Anglicans and Presbyterians and Baptists and Russian Orthodox and Pentecostals and all other Christians, and Jews and Muslims as well.”

{Read it all}

Violence against Christians in Iraq continues: Kidnapped Iraqi archbishop dead

archbishop rahho

An archbishop seized by gunmen last month in Iraq has been found dead.

The body of Paulos Faraj Rahho, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, was found in a shallow grave close to the city.

Pope Benedict XVI said he was profoundly moved and saddened, calling the archbishop’s death an act of inhuman violence.

Archbishop Rahho was kidnapped not long after he left mass in Mosul, in northern Iraq, on 29 February.

According to the SIR Catholic news agency, the kidnappers told Iraqi church officials on Wednesday that Archbishop Rahho was very ill and, later on the same day, that he was dead.

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An Oldie but a Goodie: Phil Turner on Unworkable Theology

Matt over at Religiocity points our attention to this commentary from Phil Turner on the Unworkable theology of mainline Protestantism (especially the Episcopal Church):

It is increasingly difficult to escape the fact that mainline Protestantism is in a state of disintegra­tion. As attendance declines, internal divisions increase. Take, for instance, the situation of the Epis­copal Church in the United States. The Episcopal Church’s problem is far more theological than it is moral – a theological poverty that is truly monumen­tal and that stands behind the moral missteps recently taken by its governing bodies.

Every denomination has its theological articles and books of theology, its liturgies and confessional statements. Nonetheless, the contents of these documents do not necessarily control what we might call the “working theology” of a church. To find the working theology of a church one must review the resolutions passed at official gatherings and listen to what clergy say Sunday by Sunday from the pulpit. One must lis­ten to the conversations that occur at clergy gather­ings–and hear the advice clergy give troubled parishioners. The working theology of a church is, in short, best determined by becoming what social anthropol­ogists call a “participant observer.”

For thirty-five years, I have been such a participant observer in the Episcopal Church. After ten years as a missionary in Uganda, I returned to this country and began graduate work in Christian Ethics with Paul Ramsey at Princeton University. Three years later I took up a post at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest. Full of excitement, I listened to my first Student sermon – only to be taken aback by its vacuity. The student began with the wonderful ques­tion, “What is the Christian Gospel?” But his answer, through the course of an entire sermon, was merely: “God is love. God loves us. We, therefore, ought to love one another.” I waited in vain for some word about the saving power of Christ’s cross or the declara­tion of God’s victory in Christ’s resurrection. I waited in vain for a promise of the Holy Spirit. I waited in vain also for an admonition to wait patiently and faithfully for the Lord’s return. I waited in vain for a call to repentance and amendment of life in accord with the pattern of Christ’s life.

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I really appreciate Matt’s take on this, and invite you to read his post as well. At least he provides a bit of hopefulness.

Uganda may pull out of the Communion

[Update: the Church of Uganda has now denied that it has threatened to pull out of the Anglican Communion.  That’ll teach us to trust the press ;-)]

The Associated Press is reporting that the Church of Uganda is threatening to pull out of the Anglican Communion if no action is taken over the Episcopal Church’s flirtation with legitimizing and blessing homosexuality.

Uganda’s Anglican church threatened on Monday to secede from the 77-million member Anglican Communion unless U.S. clergy condemn homosexuality.

The announcement was the latest salvo in a fierce dispute about homosexuality that has overtaken the global fellowship of Anglican churches since its U.S. wing — the U.S. Episcopal Church — consecrated its first openly gay bishop in 2003.

“Anglicanism is just an identity and if they abuse it, we shall secede. We shall remain Christians, but not in the same Anglican Communion,” Church of Uganda spokesman Aron Mwesigye said.

There are about 9.8 million Anglicans in Uganda, according to the country’s last census in 2002.

Last week, Uganda’s Anglican bishops said they would boycott a once-a-decade gathering of worldwide church leaders this summer in England because of the Episcopal Church’s stance on homosexuality.

Mwesigye said the Ugandan church is now considering a complete severing of ties “because we have complained against homosexuality several times but no action is taken.”

“If they don’t change, and continue to support homosexual practices and same-sex marriages, our relationship with them will be completely broken,” Mwesigye added.

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Interested in interest?

The Ugley Vicar brought this to my attention. Evidently something that slipped in under the radar of the Sharia dust-up was Archbishop Williams’ questioning of the use of loaning at interest:

LP: Thank you. Another, another fairly down to earth. “Our existing world order is based upon usury with control by manipulation of rates of interest. In Islam this is not just illegal but sinful. How can this be reconciled with Christianity? And this Christianity also condemns the existing order as the law of Mammon.”

RW: I’ve often been rather surprised by the ease with which the Christian church changed its mind about usury in the sixteenth century, without any very great public fuss. Martin Luther strongly disapproved of it; he was a good medieval Catholic in ail sorts of ways, and he disapproved of it like his medieval predecessors on the basis of the Bible, tradition and the authority of Aristotle. But within about fifty years of the beginning of the Reformation, virtually everybody had mysteriously and imperceptibly decided that there wasn’t a problem.

Now, without going into details of the history of that fascinating issue, I think that in all seriousness what theologians and moralists have said about lending at interest in the modern economy, is simply to raise the question “Is this what is prohibited in Jewish scripture?” And they’ve answered on the whole, “No”. And yet I have to say there remains, or should remain for the Christian moralist, a level of discomfort around this. Taking absolutely for granted the manipulation of rates of interest as the engine of an economy, ought to leave us with some unfinished moral business, let’s say, and I believe that rather than, so to speak, address that head on, we need to look – and this has been said by many people – at what are the alternative protocols and ethical frameworks for banking that are around. And that is one reason why ! am personally go very interested in the ethics and practice of micro-credit as a way of addressing serious poverty.

Read the rest of the Q&A here.

I find this interesting because I’ve made a similar observation about the rather rapid acceptance of contraception by protestant Christians. It was a rather dramatic about-face to reject the previous 1900 years of moral teaching in a period of less than 50 years.

The American Spectator: Bad faith bestseller

The American Spectator opens up a broadside against Christopher Hitchens’ god is not Great:

Many, many refutations have been written of Christopher Hitchens’s god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Readers can take some small comfort that this won’t be another.

After all, what would even be the fun in piling on at this point? The Washington Post reviewer cast Hitchens as a latter day incarnation of the censorious anti-liberal Pope Pius IX and professed to have “never encountered a book whose author is so fundamentally unacquainted with its subject.”

In religious venues — even tolerant, liberal, kitten-hugging ones like Commonweal–the response has been not shock and outrage but open mockery. Conservative publications from this one to the Claremont Review of Books to Taki’s Top Drawer have dissected and made a study of the book’s many errors and eccentricities. On the other side of the pond, Hitchens’s brother Peter dropped the normal sibling non-review rule and had a run at it in the Daily Mail.

Hitchens’s public defenses of his thesis haven’t been much more successful. True, he bested the Reverend Al Sharpton in a televised debate — barely. But whenever he’s come up against serious opponents, it’s been ugly. Near the end of their exchange in Christianity Today, Douglas Wilson borrowed a line from Wyatt Earp in Tombstone to ask Hitchens, “You gonna do something or just stand there and bleed?”

His argumentation has been found flimsy by philosophers and rhetoricians; riddled with errors by biblical scholars and theologians; sloppy and tendentious by historians of religion; unrigorous by social scientists; breezy and brazen by literary critics; and obnoxious by most readers of good will. One is half surprised that

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