Wednesday, April 30, 2008

You know it's bad when...

If you're looking for signs of food shortage on the horizon, here it is. I took this picture on the way back from Diocesan House the other day, at a gas station and in a town that will both remain nameless.

I have to give them an A+ for ingenuity. Who knew worms to be a good source of protein? The problem is they cost more than the bologna--might be more nutritious as well.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thou shalt not steal!

You don't steal--ever! That was a big one in my house growing up. You just didn't do it. And if you took the five finger discount on a piece of candy at the local store and mom or dad found out, you not only got punished, but you also had to go back to Simmerings and apologize to the husband and wife who owned the store. And since it was a small town, by the time you finished all this, everyone knew and nobody trusted you.

In my community stealing is not only a personal sin it is also a public evil. It puts you at enmity with everything around you.

But in the days of huge severance packages for corporate jerks who sink the company but are bought out to avoid lawsuits, it seems that stealing is only stealing when the thief is in the lower rungs of the economic classes. Oil companies make the largest profits in the history of the planet through collusion, but that's not fraud--it's high finance. Toy companies send most of their work overseas with little if any supervision and the product that comes back to our children is covered in lead-based paint. But that's not negligence--that's out-sourcing.

Why my rant about all of this? The schismatic bishop of San Joaquin, John Schofield, is trying to steal the real property of The Episcopal Church. Plain and simple, no ifs ands or buts about it. Here is what he recently sent out the congregations following him into schism...

To the clergy and parishioners of San Joaquin -We recognize that the news of a lawsuit from the Presiding Bishop and the representatives of Remain Episcopal in Stockton, may be unsettling. However, please be assured that we have been expecting this litigation and the contents contain no surprises. Please know that our legal team has been at work for some time. They are optimistic and remain unperturbed by The Episcopal Church's most recent action. What our legal counsel has accomplished on our behalf is already proving most helpful in defense of property and assets despite the fact that this preparatory work had to be done without the benefit of seeing what the Episcopal Church intended to do. Furthermore, I want to remind you that in spite of the claims by The Episcopal Church, nothing in their current Constitution and Canons prohibits a diocese from leaving one province and moving to another.

I'm not a radical when it comes to this. It is my hope that conservatives and liberals and everyone in between can find a home in The Episcopal Church. I don't want to see the church divided by schism. That only destroys what the faithful before us worked so hard to build.

All of that said, it doesn't change the fact that he once served in The Episcopal Church, and because of reasons of conscience he can no longer remain in communion with us. But rather than resign from an institution he could no longer serve, taking the noble path of many non-jurors before him, he decides to change the rules to keep the church property that was built and has been maintained over the decades by the very institution he can no longer tolerate.

It's theft...there is no getting around it...and no amount of moralizing will make it right. Shame on you, Mr. Schofield. Your mother taught you better than that.

Friday, April 11, 2008

And I thought we had it bad!

It's hard not to get caught up in what is called the current crisis going on in the global Anglican Communion at present if you're an American Episcopalian. But it is stories like these that remind me that it's not always so bad here in our little corner of Christendom. I first came across this article over at Kendall Harmon's site. It tells the story of slave labor used by the Catholic Church in Germany during the Nazi era. The mere fact of this is terrible in itself, much like the Episcopal Church's dubious history with slavery in the US. But the real corker is the way a German Cardinal responded to the news of this.

The Archbishop of Mainz, Cardinal Karl Lehmann said the 700-page history entitled "Forced Labour in the Catholic Church 1939-1945" found that 776 church hospitals, homes, monasteries, farms and gardens were provided with slave labour imported from Russia, Poland and the Ukraine by the Nazi regime.

“The comparatively small number of labourers, many of whom spent barely a year working in Catholic institutions, doesn't even amount to a thousandth of the estimated total of 13 million forced labourers employed throughout the Reich," Cardinal Lehmann said at a press conference broadcast on German television on April 8.

"But it remains an historical burden which will continue to challenge our church in the future. There is no collective guilt, but as Christians and as a church we are aware of the responsibility that results from the burden of the past,” the former president of the German Catholic Bishops Conference said.

Are you kidding me! "There is no collective guilt..."

The Cardinal goes on to make a half hearted non-apology...

"We shouldn't hide the fact that the memory of the Catholic church was blind for too long to the fate and the suffering of the men, women, young people and children dragged to Germany from all over Europe to be put to forced labour," Cardinal Lehmann said.

They were more than blind to it, they were culpable in it! Here is the whole article, read at your own risk

Of coarse what do I know. According to Pope Benedict, I belong not to a church, but to a ecclesial community that suffers from defects!

All of this makes me think of the words of the invitation to the confession in the old Book of Common Prayer office of Morning Prayer...

DEARLY beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us, in
sundry places, to acknowledge and confess our manifold
sins and wickedness; and that we should not dissemble
nor cloak them before the face of Almighty God our
heavenly Father; but confess them with an humble, lowly,
penitent, and obedient heart; to the end that we may obtain
forgiveness of the same, by his infinite goodness and

It seems to me there is often a lot of dissembling and cloaking of our actions in the church, especially when those present or past actions are against those we disagree with. I for one am glad to be in a church that is struggling with issues about basic human rights. Because that is exactly what the current crisis in Anglicanism is all about. It is not about doctrine, it is not about scripture, and it not about apostolic authority, it is about whether or not all people are created equal in the eyes of God. And I pray we never disemble or cloak that to appease someone who disagrees with us.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Always a current crisis

We often suffer from the tyranny of the immediate in the Anglican Communion. This is the case in most institutions when they either forget or ignore the central mission. They lose focus and suddenly become consumed in what ever is immediate. Our current crisis surrounds the inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church. And this crisis is often divided into the liberals versus the conservatives. Mark Oakley offers another way to look at what is going on in a recent article in the Church Times...

The division, however, is not really between conservatives and liberals at all. It is much more serious than that. It is a division between, first, those who are willing to say that other Christians, who have different views or lifestyles to themselves, are still, nevertheless, Christian, and have a Christian integrity that must be part of the Church; and, second, those who think that this simply cannot and must not be the case.

Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Reality Check

If you attend a service at All Saints' on the second Sunday of Easter, you heard me speak about the continuing situation at our mission of St. Michael and All Angels in Cincinnati. I spoke about the anger members expressed in the closing of the mission. I then made the comment that if they expressed as much energy in doing ministry as they have in trying to grab headlines things would be different at St. Mike's.

Here is the original article--SPIN ALERT!

And here is the Op-Ed from Bishop Tom in today's paper. He makes the point here that goes to the heart of what is going on at the mission.

As some know, the parish of St. Michael & All Angels has been closed, owing to dwindling numbers. This is understandably a sad time for those who are losing their accustomed weekly gathering for worship in a place they love. But this is not the whole story. The Episcopal Church is not leaving Avondale. On the contrary, we are convinced that now, more than ever, we are called to stand with those who seek peace and justice and the possibility of common life in the inner city. God has provided us in St. Michael's with a strategic location for such a ministry, and we intend to move forward as quickly as possible to make this a reality.

Hope this sheds a little light on what is going on in Avondale.