Saturday, 29 July 2006

Internet Basics

My Columns from the Church Times

July 2006 Building a parish website

June 2006 Cheap public WiFi?

May 2006 Free broadband?

April 2006 More on sharing your thoughts [Blogging basics]

March 2006 How to use Bloglines

February 2006 How to Blog

January 2006 CT guide to RSS

December 2005 More Firefox hints

November 2005 Extending Firefox

October 2005 Protecting your computer

September 2005 More on getting connected

August 2005 Getting connected
(This was originally titled Getting Started; next month will deal with ISP selection)

July 2005 Browser Tips

June 2005 Introducing wireless 2

May 2005 Introducing wireless (this column was much longer as written: more in future months…)

April 2005 Sinful email

March 2005 Browsers and broadband

February 2005 More about security

January 2005 More about Thunderbird

December 2004 Should I switch to Firefox?

November 2004 Technology Updates 2 (broadband and audio/video)

October 2004 Technology Updates 1 (Windows XP and blogs)

September 2004 Broadband update

August 2004 More on accessible websites

July 2004 Alternatives to Internet Explorer

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 29 July 2006 at 12:00 PM GMT | TrackBack (0)
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Monday, 1 November 2004

All future news items on main blog

Now that I have returned from an extended holiday, I shall be posting regularly on the Thinking Anglicans blog rather than here.

This personal blog will remain in place, and may be used again in future, but for the time being comment posting has been disabled, due to excessive spam.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 1 November 2004 at 8:00 AM GMT | TrackBack (0)
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Wednesday, 27 October 2004

News on main blog

Please note that during October all news reports will appear on the main Thinking Anglicans blog.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 27 October 2004 at 2:19 AM GMT | Make Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
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Thanks for the heads up. Also wanted to pass along my appreciation for the new look of the Comments section. Having it appear in its own pop-up window, as well as having comments moderated before they appear, is a solid improvement. Good show.

Posted by: David Huff on Thursday, 14 October 2004 at 1:13 PM GMT

I agree with David. Thanks for your attentiveness to readers and users of this blog, Simon.

Posted by: Jay Vos on Thursday, 14 October 2004 at 1:48 PM GMT

Sunday, 3 October 2004

BBC Sunday programme

Two radio reports today:

Same sex blessings
The worldwide Anglican Communion finally gets to see the Eames Report this month. Named after Archbishop Robin Eames, who chaired the commission, it’s meant to chart a way forward out of the crisis over same sex blessings and the election of the practising homosexual Bishop Gene Robinson. Conservatives in Africa and around the world want The Commission to recommend throwing the Episcopal Church USA – or ECUSA – out of the Anglican Communion. And also to reject the man it endorsed as Bishop of New Hampshire. Many predict schism if the American Church isn’t called upon to “repent”. But as Jane Little reports from New Hampshire the break up is already happening. Listen here (9 minutes)

Women Bishops
The long standing row about whether women should be able to become Bishops in The Church of England, and whether one day there might be a woman Archbishop, is coming to a head. Next month the so called “Rochester Report” will be published but its contents have been widely leaked. It will apparently put forward seven options, from which Synod can choose. For Forward in Faith, the organisation which opposes the ordination of women as Bishops, or indeed as priests, there are only two options which they will outline in their own report, to be published next Friday. These are either to maintain the status quo where all Bishops are men, or set up an independent or free province of the Church for those who cannot accept women Bishops. Roger Bolton reports. Listen here (7 minutes)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 3 October 2004 at 11:15 AM GMT | Make Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
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Well what do you know: a year ago I called it correctly on my blog in my reflections on The Limits of Management. At that point the cogniscenti in the Episcopal Church were convinced that they could push through any program they wanted by “using psychology” and beating up anyone who wouldn’t get on board. There would be “workshops” with “materials” in three-ring binders at which we poor sods could “ventilate” our feelings. The agenda would be ratified by General Convention and then there would be more workshops for “healing” and “reconciliation” with hugs and making nice. And everyone would live happily ever after except for the recalcitrant few who would soon die off.

I predicted that it wouldn’t happen, and I was right.

Now, as we await the Eames Commission’s report, I’ll venture another prediction. The report will censure the Episcopal Church for the ordination of Bishop Robinson, propose some symbolic gesture to make it good, and make noises about flying bishops and alternative jurisdictions. Within ECUSA it will not make one whit of difference—except to the extent that it provides more opportunities for bishops and their staffs to go to conferences. Conservative congregations will continue pursuing litigation to retain rights to their property, liberal clergy will keep sucking up to the secular elite and congratulate themselves for being cool, the secular elite will not notice and despise them as much as ever, and the majority of Episcopalians, preoccupied with bake sales and Sunday School construction paper projects will not give a damn.

The Episcopal Church will continue in its slide, with membership down from 5% of the population in 1960 to 1% now, and I look forward with pleasure to its eventual demise, facilitated by the arrogance of clergy who regard themselves as members of the enlightened intelligencia and imagine that they can manipulate or bully us into buying their half-baked politically correct nonsense and into doing church they way they want it done.

Posted by: H. E. Baber on Monday, 11 October 2004 at 5:57 AM GMT

I feel that Dr Baber is always worth reading: not only intelligent, but also able to see different sides of the picture.

Posted by: Dr Christopher Shell on Monday, 11 October 2004 at 9:54 AM GMT

I suspect that H. E. Baber is basically correct in his/her predictions as expressed in the next to the last paragraph. Tho’ I could have done without the insulting rhetoric aimed at the “liberal clergy.”

However, I am astounded to a point of being speechless at the meaness and rancor expressed in the final paragraph. Luckily, a parishoner at a local church here in Dallas (St. Luke’s) has some words for this (in the Letters page on Anglicans Online from 10/3/04): “Although “those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” are blessed, I don’t remember anything about blessings on those who are indignant in their righteousness.”

Posted by: David Huff on Monday, 11 October 2004 at 10:12 PM GMT

”. . . . I look forward with pleasure to its [TEC]eventual demise,. . . .”

Funny, I hadn’t noticed that Dr. Baber cared.


Posted by: Tim Stewart on Tuesday, 12 October 2004 at 6:21 PM GMT

My point is that if people don’t like what the church dishes out then they will leave.

The issue isn’t the message but the medium: I don’t have any objections to the ordination of openly active homosexuals or the blessing of same sex unions. I object the way in which clergy tried to get us to go with the program by wheedling and manipulation—and the smug assumption that they could get us to buy anything and then make us feel good about it by “using psychology.” It’s patronizing and insulting.

This has been standard procedure in the church for years, not only in the discussion of sexual ethics. Whether it’s a vestry “retreat,” a diocesan “workshop” or a conference on hot issues, participants can expect to be treated to gimmicky routines, tightly controlled by “facilitators” using the whole panoply of “group dynamics” techniques. The campaign on sexuality was just the latest and most egregious example.

Intelligent, educated adults are sick of being treated like defective children.

Posted by: H. E. Baber on Wednesday, 13 October 2004 at 2:24 AM GMT

My point is that if people don’t like what the church dishes out then they will leave.

May I ask if you are still a member of the CoE, the ECUSA or the Anglican Church of Canada (depending on what side of the Atlantic you’re on) ? And if so, since you apparently hold such rancor towards many of us, what sorts of positive things about the church are prompting you to stay ?

Posted by: David Huff on Wednesday, 13 October 2004 at 11:03 PM GMT

Saturday, 2 October 2004

The Archbishop and the Network

This week’s Church Times press column by Andrew Brown has further comment on this matter.

After reviewing at length the earlier events all reported here and in earlier entries under the same title, he has the following comment.

The only thing we can conclude from this for certain is that somebody is lying. It’s not just a question of who suggested the term “confessing church”. The contorted passive voice of the ACNS statement is perfectly compatible with the story that it was Dr Williams. I rang Jonathan Jennings at the Lambeth press office again, and asked whether the Archbishop had or had not suggested the phrase. He replied: “I wouldn’t go that far,” which is illuminating, but not of the question I wanted answered.

Beyond the phrase itself are the implications. Mr Minns has stated in print and repeated that Dr Williams made explicit the link with Bonhoeffer; Lambeth has now denied it. There were three people in the room; so at least one, it seems to me, must be lying. I don’t know that it’s particularly blameworthy. This kind of social or diplomatic untruth is told all the time to all sorts of journalists: provoking it is a measure of our success in finding interesting stories. But it is only religious journalists whose job consists, in a large part, of ringing up Christians so that they can tell us lies.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 2 October 2004 at 5:16 PM GMT | Make Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
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The sharing and open imaginings of three people kicking around ideas and possibilities as they meet in a room remain just that. The fact thet afterward everyone remembers something a little different, remains also rather commonplace. The only fault in here is the ABC’s lack of a considerable and far-sighted tact. We keep this up on Williams, and he will soon learn the Anglican ability to speak for paragraphs and paragraphs, and say nothing.

In the end, it is the Primates together, or perthaps the General Synod of the CofE (as the ABC has said already), or maybe even the next Lambeth Conference of Bishops who will say who is in communion; who is out. The Americans created this problem (especially the reckless liberal ECUSA establishment) and Williams should not be faulted for (1) trying to keep his options open; (2) trying to defer to the real deciision-makers on such questions (in spite of the American love for focusing on personalities and leaders); and (3) offering pastoral advice and sharing exploration with various groups.

As for “lying” let’s remember the deeper meaning of the commandment to not bear false witness. That’s being broken by many more people than whoever we want to designate as the “liar” in this particular exercise of 20/20 hindsight.

Posted by: Chris McMullen on Sunday, 3 October 2004 at 9:45 PM GMT

It is telling, C McMullen, that you say “Americans created this problem (especially the reckless liberal ECUSA establishment)” and “American love for focusing on personalities and leaders.” You don’t like (presumably, U.S. of) Americans: I get it. Heck, I am one, and I don’t particularly care for us either.

But unpack the phrase “ECUSA establishment” and you’ve got a direct contradiction of the second (about the love of “personalities and leaders”). The only “establishment” in ECUSA, is one that has come about—-over the past 200 years—-through democracy: the opposite of a “focus on personalities.”

When the Primates went ballistic a year ago, there you saw the personalities: pontiffs like +Akinola, who expect the entire Episcopal Church to ask “how far”, when +Frank Griswold was ordered to jump.

But that’s not how ECUSA works! The Primates (indeed the entire AC episcopacy) may not like it, but the fact remains, that by our time-tested canons, each and every decision at the level of the national church, has to be weighed by the entire church, through the vehicle of our triennial General Convention.

A openly gay bishop being elected in our Church has been on the radar screen for 30 years now. It’s not some kind of “sneak a Communion-wide revolution covertly through” conspiracy, but just a transparent part of our process (+Gene was not the first openly-gay candidate for an ECUSA episcopate).

If ECUSA’s democratic polity was unacceptable to the Communion at-large, Lambeth could have said so for decades (and established a controlling authority at the level of the AC). To now say that the results of this polity—-again, which has been open and transparent all along—-is now “reckless,” just because (the episcopal majority of) the AC does not agree with where the democratic process has taken ECUSA, is nothing short of hypocrisy.

Conservatives’ “focus on personalities” (like +Robert Duncan) and reckless manipulation (like the invention of non-local so-called “confessing” church-within-churches) cannot obscure their contempt for the (democratic) body of the Episcopal faithful.

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Monday, 4 October 2004 at 12:21 AM GMT

Dear J.C. Fisher,
Please forgive me for implying that Americans are unlikeable. That is certainly not what I meant to suggest.

Though to say it’s all the fault of personalities like Akinola, Duncan, etc., and not the “democratic” vote at the last Lambeth, or the consistent discipline of Christians across the centuries, or the issue of making a credible case based on scripture, tradition and reason (as opposed to the great witness that Robinson is, after all, such a nice personality)… well, I think I rest my case.

Posted by: Chris McMullen on Monday, 4 October 2004 at 2:28 AM GMT

Lambeth democratic? Yes, to the extent of “one vote, one bishop.” But that ignores 1) the varying methods in the AC by which one becomes a bishop, 2) that Lambeth only represents bishops (and not clergy and laity, as in ECUSA’s GC, or the Ang. Consultative Council), and most of all 3) that Lambeth has never been more than advisory in its authority.

As far as “the consistent discipline of Christians across the centuries, or the issue of making a credible case based on scripture, tradition and reason,” I can only respond w/ the (likeable?) Americanism, “sez you.” As was said in our (U.S.) recent Presidential debate, “It’s one thing to be certain. It’s another to be certain, and wrong.”

I sometimes get the impression, that Episcopalians, being less Anglo-philic than some of our brethren in the Communion (and who are sometimes pleased to elect bishops who have “nice personalities”—-as opposed to a Here’s Talking Down at You imperium), are supposed to be cowed by our more tut-tut “betters.” Golly gee, sumbuddy speakin’ da Queen’s English sez dey got’s da ‘consistent discipline of Christians across the centuries’ on thez side, whaddo I, ‘merkin rube, know ‘bout dat?

How else can I say this, C McM? You do not persuade me. I very much doubt that there’s any “fact,” any line of argumentation (from your versions of “Scripture, Tradition and Reason”) that I haven’t heard before, and found wanting in terms of “making a credible case.”

Now, it’s easy enough for you to say “back atcha!” (if you’ve heard all my arguments before: maybe you haven’t, maybe you have). But assuming we have not persuaded each other, does that mean we are to say “I have no need of you? I cannot share Bread and Cup with you?”

I do not say that of you, C McM. And, for the love of Christ, I honestly do not understand why you should say that of me. Why it is that we should find ourselves in the circumstance of you finding me unrepentant in practicing homosexuality, while I find you unrepentant in practicing homophobia, is a mystery. But I believe that, with Christ, all things are possible. We can get through these, our crosses, together: if we both but keep our eyes on our Crucified Lord.

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Monday, 4 October 2004 at 7:21 AM GMT

My goodness, my dear J.C., I pray I will be always honoured to kneel at the rail and receive Christ’s redeeming humanity with you. I am so sorry I implied anything otherwise.

I do not think, however, that democracy is an infallible way of discerning God’s will. That’s why the Church has overseers and elders (episkopoi and presbyteroi). Perhaps the least inneffective way of choosing them is by prayer and ballot. But then, I assume, we defer to their maturity and wisdom, unless they start doing things that suggest they are exalting themselves over and against all of their episcopal and presbyterial peers, or the very sources of authority that give them their mandate for leadership in the first place. I honestly don’t want to have “MY scripture, tradition and reason” vs. “yours”. I only want to discern “our” (or God’s) “scripture, reason and tradition”. I don’t think that all we can do is agree to disagree.

Perhaps that’s the real issue. Is classical Christian “critical realism” dead? (I am biased; you are biased; but there is real truth out there and with some work and humility we may arrive at an ever closer approximation of it.) Or is it now but everything is relative (except relativity itself, which is absolute) and “majority rules” (quickly becoming “might is right” in getting my side to that majority)?

This Sunday I will prayerfully receive Christ’s body and blood in communion with J.C. I pray that it may always be so possible.

Posted by: Chris McMullen on Monday, 4 October 2004 at 1:14 PM GMT

Well, you know what they (Winston Churchill, IIRC?) say: “democracy is the worst form of governance . . . except for all the others.”

I am not familiar with the construction “classical Christian “critical realism (I am biased; you are biased; but there is real truth out there and with some work and humility we may arrive at an ever closer approximation of it.)” It sounds good to me.

Tell me though: how does it functionally differ from “everything is relative (except relativity itself, which is absolute),” except that the former is noble, and the latter is pejorative? (Noble means/goals which we always aggrandize to ourselves, while imputing ignoble ones to The Other?). It would seem to me that the first aim of a “critical realism,” is to be realistically critical of ourselves (e.g. that I am queer, yet find my queer sexuality Biblically acceptable—-subject to the same restrictions as heterosexuals, of course—-is distinctly in my own interest. Which does not mean I am necessary wrong . . . but would seem to require the additional testimony of “disinterested witnesses.”)

The decision to remain (or, for that matter, join) communion with another is, ultimately, a personal one (like the mature decision to accept Christ in Confirmation). At the same time, there legitimately are other factors: what happens if your bishop does not accept mine, or vice-versa? It’s a difficult conundrum, but to me, the “economy of grace” would tend to lead me towards an expansive definition of “communion.” Jesus said “the one who is not against me, if for me,” and I can only reply Amen!

Therefore, Chris, as long as you “hold fast to the faith” (as embodied in the Creeds)—-and I do too, natch’—-the “possibility” of my remaining in communion with you is as sure as the Lord’s Grace: Absolute. I pray you see it the same.

God’s peace to you. :-)

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Tuesday, 5 October 2004 at 4:00 AM GMT

Dear J.C.,
Your comments have given me lots to think about. Like you, I tend to see the “economy of grace” thing as most important, especially where issues beyond the Nicene Creed, Jesus is Lord, etc., go, like the subtleties of appropriate Christian lifestyles.

You’re right that if our bishops are not “in communion” with each other, this complicates things; especially for me since I’m an ordained minister. I tend to encourage the laity to exerise what I call our “evangelical liberty” in this regard, and receive communion wherever Jesus is offering himself through his ministers (even if I disagree with them on a few points Jesus would probably hardly even recognize). But as an ordered minister I feel I am under some discipine in this regard. Double standard? I suppose so; think its inevitablly part of a leadership responsibility. The bottom line on all of this is “God have mercy on us all” and the remembrance that we’re talking about real people, not just dogmas and Bible verses.

May God’s peace be also with you.

Posted by: Chris Mcmullen on Wednesday, 6 October 2004 at 1:36 AM GMT

letters from ECUSA bishops

The Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold issued this letter to the HOB members after the meeting, which discusses plans for Lambeth Commission followup and contains at the end of it the text of a resolution passed concerning the transfer of clergy between dioceses. The letter is here among other places. The wording of the resolution is also below the fold here.

Bishop John Chane of Washington DC issued a letter concerning the visits of bishops to his diocese. You can read it on the diocesan website here.

Continue reading "letters from ECUSA bishops"
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 2 October 2004 at 10:26 AM GMT | TrackBack (0)
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still more around Eames

There have been several articles recently that consider this forthcoming report.

The National Catholic Reporter published Anglicans at the crossroads by Austen Ivereigh, who is deputy editor of the London-based RC weekly The Tablet.

The Episcopal Divinity School website has published An Imagined Conversation on the Lambeth Commission with the Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Ph.D.

The Guardian’s godslot today publishes a column by Colin Slee entitled The word on Gene Robinson.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 2 October 2004 at 9:10 AM GMT | TrackBack (0)
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Wednesday, 29 September 2004

ECUSA developments

In Los Angeles, Bishop Bruno has said that he will not take legal action against Bishop Maurice Benitez: Bishop to Hold Off on Charges

Meanwhile NACDAP has published this Analysis of Bishop Bruno’s Lawsuit Against St. James Church, Newport Beach (it would be more comprehensible if the source documents were available)

The ECUSA House of Bishops has held a meeting in Spokane. Larry Stammer reported on it this way: Bishops End Session With Hope and here is the ENS press release, A word to the Episcopal Church from the House of Bishops.

Another ENS press release is subtitled House of Bishops informed of network leaders’ plan to launch parallel agency and refers to this announcement by NACDAP: Anglican Relief and Development Fund Launched. The same body had earlier claimed that SUPPORT AND RECOGNITION OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION NETWORK INCREASES. The figures in that release deserve some analysis in due course.

Yet another item of interest from this HoB meeting is on titusonenine and is Bishop Epting’s House of Bishops’ Presentation concerning the status of ECUSA’s ecumenical relations.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 29 September 2004 at 10:06 PM GMT | Make Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
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A list of those bishops who boycotted the House of Bishops meeting so far include:
  • Ackerman, Quincy
  • Herzog, Albany
  • Iker, Ft. Worth
  • Stanton, Dallas
  • Beckwith, Springfield
  • Duncan, Pittsburgh
There were conflicting reports that Gray (Asst.) and/or Jones (Suffragan) of Virginia did or did not attend (with no clear reports of motivation). Lipscomb of SW Florida did not attend for health reasons, and as far as I’m concerned, anyone from Florida has a perfectly valid excuse for missing the meeting :) Posted by: David Huff on Wednesday, 29 September 2004 at 11:10 PM GMT

TitusOneNine has published a letter from Assistant Bishop Frank Gray of Virginia explaining his reasons for not attending the meeting:

Posted by: RB on Thursday, 30 September 2004 at 2:39 AM GMT

An additional, tho’ not surprising, boycotter:

  • Schofield, San Joaquin

So along with Quincy and Fort Worth, that’s the entire “He-Man Woman Haters” club and their sympathetic, AAC allies.

Posted by: David Huff on Thursday, 30 September 2004 at 2:04 PM GMT

Mr Huff, one would have thought that a “thinking Anglican” would not resort to that sort of foolish ad hominem “argument”.

Posted by: Todd Granger on Friday, 1 October 2004 at 6:53 PM GMT

Mr. Granger, Apparently you didn’t get the reference. It was to a series of comedy movies made in the U.S. during the 1920’s and 30’s called The Little Rascals. In this series, the young boys had a clubhouse where they referred to themselves per the above.

In the ECUSA, the bishops of Ft. Worth, Quincy and San Joaquin “distinguish” themselves by not ordaining women - in clear violation of Church Canons.

Posted by: David Huff on Friday, 1 October 2004 at 9:32 PM GMT

Mr. Granger is quite right, and the reference is beside the point. You were clearly dismissing those three bishops and the rest of the AAC bishops (who ordain women) as sexist. It is indeed an argumentum ad hominem, an attack upon the people’s character instead of their positions and reasons for them.

Posted by: RB on Saturday, 2 October 2004 at 12:01 PM GMT

I’m sorry RB, but your point is ?? Of course they’re sexist, and I have no intention of being tolerant of that. I wouldn’t be tolerant of a bishop that refused to ordain someone based on their race or ethnic background either…

And no, it isn’t an ad hominem remark if it’s germane to the subject at hand. Being sexist is a sign that these bishops don’t respect the dignity of every human being - which shows both poor judgement and a lack of Christian moral values.

Posted by: David Huff on Saturday, 2 October 2004 at 9:03 PM GMT

It’s not germane to the subject at hand; it’s a smokescreen. In the first place, of the nine dioceses that are part of the network, six of them ordain women as priests; only three of them do not. In the second place, the action which precipitated this event was not the ordination of women but the dedication of a practicing homosexual to the episcopate. In the third place, you presume that anyone who opposes the ordination of women is a sexist and doesn’t respect the dignity of every human being. This would include far more than those three dioceses, but also the Roman Catholic church, the Othodox churches, much of the Anglican Communion, and probably most of the evangelical churches — possibly the vast majority of Christians, excepting only Anglicans, liberal Protestants, and a few evangelical sects (mostly among the holiness/pentecostal types). That is quite an assumption. Do you know the reasons all these people oppose women’s ordination, and can you demonstrate that all of them boil down to sexism and a lack of respect for human dignity? I support women’s ordination as well, but I would hesitate to characterize all these people in this way.

As I see it, there are some profound implications in suggesting the Episcopal Church refuse to tolerate people who oppose women’s ordination. First, of course, the Episcopal Church should withdraw from the Anglican Communion now. There are far too many primates who refuse to ordain women. Secondly, most of our ecumenical discussions should cease, especially with the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox. We don’t need them. Third, let those three dioceses go unless they conform now; they have no place in the Episcopal Church. (It is, of course, an open question who gets the property — we’ll let the lawyers sort that out.) Fourth, those who refuse who refuse to ordain homosexuals should be put on notice; after all, refusing their ordination also implies a lack of respect for human dignity, does it not? The fact that these bishops don’t come to the HoB meetings is a positive thing; their negative influence is undesirable. The bad thing is that this schism is taking so long to happen.

Is this how you would see your position? If not, why not?

I can only hope your attitude isn’t widely shared in the Episcopal Church. If it is, the effort to establish this Network for conservative Episcopalians (which I had been opposing) is absolutely justified.

Posted by: RB on Sunday, 3 October 2004 at 12:30 AM GMT

In the first place, of the nine dioceses that are part of the network, six of them ordain women as priests; only three of them do not.

And I implied nothing more or less than that.

you presume that anyone who opposes the ordination of women is a sexist and doesn’t respect the dignity of every human being.

I don’t speak for the ECUSA in this, just myself. But if one judges the fitness of a person to do a job based solely on their gender, and finds that person lacking purely due to their gender, then that’s the definition of sexism. And to be sexist, racist or (in my opinion) homophobic is to not respect the dignity of many of your fellow human beings.

Third, let those three dioceses go unless they conform now; they have no place in the Episcopal Church. (It is, of course, an open question who gets the property — we’ll let the lawyers sort that out.)

If it were up to me, yes - I’d be much more proactive in enforcing our Canons in those three dioceses. I find the attitude of these three bishops, quite frankly, an embarrassment to us. I’d feel exactly the same way if they refused to ordain people of color. And yes, I am old enough to remember when people of color were not welcome in most Episcopal Churches…

But no, I don’t want these dioceses to leave and never implied that I did. It would be a tragedy for the church. My beef is with their bishops, not with every Episcopalian resident there (I’m not so simple minded as to think that, for example, every church member in Ft. Worth is sexist. I know for a fact that they’re not :)

BTW, the property question isn’t that open. Heard of the “Dennis Canon” by chance ? (though I am aware that such cases aren’t completely open and shut, and as they say on the Internet, “I Am Not A Lawyer”)

You’re also are making snap judgements about my “attitude.” I think the ECUSA should have plenty of room for “conservatives” - as long as they don’t try to shove their beliefs down everyone else’s throats and agree to abide by their ordination vows to obey the Constitution and Canons of this church.

We have many thoughtful and honorable conservatives in the Episcopal Church. I’d suggest reading pastoral letters and such written by the likes of +David Bane (Southern Virginia), +Don Johnson (West Tenn.) and +Herbert Thompson (Southern Ohio). They somehow manage to maintain collegial relationships with their fellow bishops, attend HoB meetings, and work to build up the church - all from a conservative viewpoint, without being members of an organization attempting to supplant or tear down our church (the AAC/”Network”).

In closing, I apologize if I came across as, well, “very worked up” about this. I do feel quite passionately about these issues and am also resident in one of those nine diocese you mention. Unless you are a mainstream Episcopalian in one of those places, you have absolutely no idea what a hostile environment it is becoming. The AAC-types are trying to drive out, or simply disenfranchise & silence, anyone who doesn’t toe their line. It can really be quite discouraging.

Posted by: David Huff on Sunday, 3 October 2004 at 2:30 AM GMT

If I have given a snap judgment, based on your refusal to tolerate those bishops, I apologize. I don’t know you, of course, and can’t judge you based on a few comments in a blog.

I find some irony in your post, and have a much too long response to them. I especially refers to the comments:

“I think the ECUSA should have plenty of room for “conservatives” - as long as they don’t try to shove their beliefs down everyone else’s throats and agree to abide by their ordination vows to obey the Constitution and Canons of this church.”


“I’d be much more proactive in enforcing our Canons in those three dioceses.”

You realize, of course, that until 1997, those canons did not apply to dioceses that objected due to conscience and their traditional theology. The recent determination to enforce those canons is, to speak frankly, the way the majority has determined to shove their beliefs down the traditionalists’ throats.

I believe several of those bishops were already in place before 1997. The Canons changed after they were elected, to something they felt they could not in good conscience obey. They also were duly elected in their dioceses, as was Robinson, and possibly reflect the views of the majority of the people in their respective dioceses. If the liberal Episcopalians cannot tolerate the more conservative bishops, how can they expect the conservative ones to tolerate Robinson? They are, after all, greatly embarrassed by him in ecumenical circles. Maybe these bishops are sexists (or at least, their position on this issue is sexist – in other ways, it is quite possible that they are very respectful of the dignity of women). Are they and the people they represent therefore unworthy of being treated with dignity and rightfully pushed into positions that violate their convictions?

The idea of enforcing these changes on those who don’t accept is comical. The Episcopal Church doesn’t have field marshals and guns, and has little leverage for such coercion. Then there is this matter of religious liberty. Forcing compliance in matters of faith smacks of the Inquisition, and the days of the Inquisition are long gone. It is no surprise that the attempts have been so ineffective, and it is a pity the Episcopal Church gave up on the idea of reception for women’s ordination when they were only three dioceses short of full agreement. They appear to have substituted a process that was working, though slowly, for a process that can’t possibly work and causes tremendous alienation.

The potential weakness of a democratic process, including that of the Episcopal Church, is that a democracy is not always cognizant of the rights and perspectives of minorities within it, unless it sets up checks and balances. From the perspective of the three dioceses in question, it would be valid to interpret this move as a “tyranny of the majority.” The message given to those three dioceses is clear enough (to borrow from another famous series of movies): “Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated.”

Might I suggest that despite all the rhetoric from the presiding bishop and others to the contrary, respect for diversity in the Episcopal Church may well have ended in 1997, at least toward conservatives? Yes, I understand full well how important is the inclusion of women in the leadership of the church to many of us. It’s important to me also. I have two daughters, and I don’t want them to think of themselves as second-class Christians. But to trample upon the convictions of those who believe, like other sacramental churches such as the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches, and even much of the Anglican Communion, that the priesthood should be restricted to males, is simply oppression from the perspective of those who hold such convictions.

Now we have declared someone a “bishop of the church of God” (not just of New Hampshire) who is a practicing homosexual, and same-sex blessing are declared acceptable. How long before they are mandatory rituals, and homosexual priests are mandatory, in the name of “justice”? When will conservatives be told that not ordaining homosexuals is a clear violation of church canons, and they must choose between a clear violation of the canons and of the Word of God (as they and most Christians understand it, not according to the agenda-driven reinterpretation of a very few)? This would be intolerable; evangelicals cannot turn their backs on scripture and still be evangelical, any more than Anglo-Catholics can turn against tradition and call themselves catholic.

It is my opinion that schism within the Episcopal Church would be an utter disaster. Liberals and conservatives need each other; they force each other to ask the hard questions and keep each other balanced. But keeping the church together will be very hard work indeed. I’m not sure the Church is prepared or willing to do the work. Liberal and conservative minorities in various dioceses are both suffering, as I follow the Episcopal news in the blogs. The greatest sign I see that reconciliation is not coming are the argumenti ad hominem and the insults that both sides use so freely. Instead of listening to each other, we demonize each other, and disrespect breeds distrust. There will be no reconciliation without trust and true, not feigned, respect for each other.

Posted by: RB on Tuesday, 5 October 2004 at 12:53 AM GMT

“How long before they are mandatory rituals, and homosexual priests are mandatory, in the name of “justice”?”

Oh, this one’s too easy, RB: Never. While I really don’t want to impugn your motives in asking it, I can’t help but suspect Ye Olde Straw Man.

Correct me if I’m wrong: the 1997 Canonical change on women’s ordination was not that the “conscience-bound” (aka “recalcitrant”) bishops personally ordain women, only that they not bar parishes in their diocese from selecting a woman priest if they so chose! Now, how is that “shoving something down conservative throats”? (Aren’t conservative parishes who disagree with their ordinary demanding far, far more autonomy than that?)

Yes, I suppose that in the future, a parish here or there, will request the same right to potentially select a gay priest (in a non-ordaining diocese). I also suspect that a “conscience clause” (for bishops who want to deny their parishes that choice) will persist a lot longer than the one on women did.

“Oh, but whether such a clause lasts a year or a century, you’re still demanding that gay priests (or perhaps, a parish’s similar choice to bless same-sex unions) will potentially be anywhere in ECUSA after a certain period of time!”

Y’know, there was another movement within the People of God, that was seen as a radical, apostate departure. Those within the movement were determined to spread it, whereas traditionalists were horrified. What to do? A wise one from the traditionalists offered this advice: “let [the radicals] be, because if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—-in that case you may even be found fighting against God!” (Rabbi Gamaliel, quoted in Acts 5:38-39)

Now, from our perspective, 20 centuries after the radicals got going, wouldn’t you agree that “the undertaking” was of God? (even if, sadly, a lot of Christian behavior towards Gamaliel’s spiritual heirs, the Jews, has not been).

The opportunity arose, in the case of women priests (and of gay priests, too), to judge them by their fruits (I’ll agree that it would be great if every bishop was so persuaded . . . I’m just not sure it’s justified to punish each and every parish of a bishop not yet convinced: alternative episcopal oversight anyone?). That is also now the case of gay bishops/same-sex blessings: let’s see what fruits [hah-hah, I get it] are produced—-over the decades—-shall we? The canonical processes for negative judgment (the GC, presentment) will still be there, if the fruits are found wanting.

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Tuesday, 5 October 2004 at 11:53 PM GMT

Monday, 27 September 2004

lay presidency challenge

Today the Telegraph carries a story by Jonathan Petre
Archbishop faces fresh crisis over Holy Communion.

This refers to remarks by the Bishop of North Sydney, the Rt Rev Glenn Davis. What happened was that Glenn Davis wrote an article which was published two weeks ago in the Church Times. You can read that here:
What’s all the fuss about?

The link in that to the Carlisle origins of Communion by Extension is incorrect: it should be to this: Extending the boundaries by David Smethurst

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 27 September 2004 at 8:04 AM GMT | TrackBack (0)
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion

Sunday, 26 September 2004

Ripon on radio

The BBC Sunday programme talked to the people of Ripon, and others…

Last Sunday in Ripon Cathedral, The Bishop, John Packer, announced the suspension of the Dean, John Methuen. The Dean has protested his innocence. Although it isn’t clear what he is being accused of, there seems to be some concern about his allegedly autocratic style.
Interviews with members of the public in Ripon and the Dean of Southwark Cathedral in London, the Very Rev Colin Slee.
Listen (5m 24s) with RealAudio.

Yesterday, the Telegraph carried Suspension of Dean fails to silence whispering which contains a lot more background detail whispers.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 26 September 2004 at 8:52 AM GMT | Make Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
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Categorised as: Church of England

My thinking goes as follows:

(1) This story is nothing to do with the homosexuality crisis;

(2) The main qualification for any non-homosexuality story appearing here is that it is gossip-worthy;

(3) This means that the website is to an extent a gossip-website, which casts doubt on the motivation of some of the discussion of the homosexuality issue as well.

Having said that, it has to be said that the main fault lies with the press, since the site exists to report the press, and the press inevitably chooses gossip-worthy material.

However, the main reason I left the Anglicans was that gossip was the main reason for many people going, or at least the main reason for their enjoyment when they did go; if I said I did not find a big difference here from e.g. University Christian Unions, I’d be lying.

Posted by: Dr Christopher Shell on Sunday, 26 September 2004 at 2:43 PM GMT

Well, all I can say is that if this is supposed to be a gossip-website, it’s been a dismal failure. There has been a shameful lack of scandalous and titillating stories over the past few months — and as for the photographs! I mean, the nipple-count has been practically zero. It’s a disgrace to the Anglican Communion.

Posted by: Andrew Conway on Monday, 27 September 2004 at 11:00 AM GMT

Dr. Shell wrote:
However, the main reason I left the Anglicans was that…

So if you’re not even Anglican ? Why in the world do you keep coming back here to post ?!

Andrew wrote:
…and as for the photographs! I mean, the nipple-count has been practically zero. It’s a disgrace to the Anglican Communion.

ROTFL! Too true! Simon, time to do something about that… Why, you don’t even have any decent “page 3 girls” (as I believe they’re called in the UK ?)

Posted by: David Huff on Monday, 27 September 2004 at 11:57 PM GMT

LOL@”The resulting publicity photographs showing him in his scarlet vestments holding up a pint jug caused some to whisper darkly against him.”

I love the whisper darkly bit. My ex was a PK. I’ve been at dinner parties amidst clergy and believe me, it’s a back-stabbing feast sometimes, whether it’s criticising one priest’s style of liturgy or another’s sermon delivery… I’m reminded how ‘human’ our clergy are. But I also see how lot of clergy hide use their “collar” (read: power) to get away with bad behaviour. And that’s what the Methuen story is about.

Reminds me of what happened with Bp Doss and the Diocese of New Jersey.

Posted by: Jay Vos on Tuesday, 28 September 2004 at 3:45 AM GMT

If person A identified themselves as a Christian or a member of the Body of Christ, and person B identified themselves as an Anglican, I’d feel that Person A was the one who understood the situation. What value are party/denomination labels as opposed to existential descriptions?

That’s why it only ultimately makes sense to identify oneself as a Christian regardless of secondary labels. This being so, I’m in the same boat as all other Christians.

Posted by: Dr Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 28 September 2004 at 8:52 AM GMT

Of course you are perfectly entitled to post here, Christopher, but what I think David was asking was, why on earth do you bother? If you have (in your own words) “left the Anglicans”, why do you visit this Anglican website, and why are you so fascinated by the activities of the Anglican Communion? It is flattering to be the object of your attentions (flutters eyelashes seductively), but why do you find us so interesting?

And if you find this site a useful resource, then perhaps you might consider thanking Simon for his efforts, instead of criticising him for maintaining a ‘gossip-website’?

Posted by: Andrew Conway on Tuesday, 28 September 2004 at 10:45 AM GMT

Well, I think Andrew is being more generous than I. None of us are “entitled” to post here. The comment threads and everything in them exist at Simon’s sufferance, and can be removed anytime he wishes to invoke his demi-godlike powers as webmaster.

But he has narrowed down the question well. What motivates you to post in such an obviously inappropriate environment ? I certainly don’t frequent Southern Baptist weblogs just to enter vexing comments (as much perverted enjoyment as I might receive from doing so). Do you imagine that all of us weak-willed progressives are waiting with baited breath for your Godly correction ? Or do you simply get a charge out of being a nuisance ?

And while I do find this behavior quite annoying, I’m also very curious. There seems to be quite a few “conservatives” engaging in this pointless behavior on many progressive sites…

Posted by: David Huff on Tuesday, 28 September 2004 at 1:10 PM GMT

There are several good reasons for posting, and none for not posting:

(1) As a non-Anglican with Anglican parents I can see both sides of the issues. In all matters the opinion of those with experience of both sides is (all things being equal) preferable to those with experience of only one side.

(2) As I mentioned, anyone who identifies themselves with a denomination rather than simply as a Christian is missing the point. But since this is the case, then it’s impossible to see different denominations as being in different boats in these enlightened ecumenical times. Naturally, whatever happens to one part of the Body of Christ affects all the other parts. It would be wrong if it did not (1 Cor.l 12, Rom. 12)

(3) Progress in understanding comes through dialogue, not ghettoes or cliques (I’m sure none of us is a fan of cliques). Everyone agrees that preaching to the converted is a fruitless pastime; rather, the whole point of such a website as this is to encourage open debate. If we all agreed, there’d be nothing to say.

Posted by: Dr Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 28 September 2004 at 1:50 PM GMT

Also see my remarks on the ‘Andrew Brown’ item (posting no. 10) with regard to the label ‘conservative’, which (like ‘liberal’) is an ideological label that no open-minded truth-seeker critical of their own presuppositions could wish to own. :o)

Posted by: Dr Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 28 September 2004 at 1:53 PM GMT

Well. Three cheers for Simon and the TA team. I try to read as much as I can here…posts, links to pertinent stories for Anglicans/Episcopalians.
Simon’s thoughtful posts help keep me abreast of what’s happening. Thanks, Simon and TA!

Posted by: Jay Vos on Tuesday, 28 September 2004 at 3:34 PM GMT

I second that. It is a valuable resource.

Posted by: Dr Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 28 September 2004 at 4:24 PM GMT

It might be helpful to recall Michael Oakeshott’s image of discourse as ‘conversation’:

In a conversation the participants are not engaged in an enquiry or a debate; there is no ‘truth’ to be discovered, no proposition to be proved, no conclusion sought. They are not concerned to inform, to persuade, or to refute one another .. they may differ without disagreeing. Of course, a conversation may have passages of argument, and a speaker is not forbidden to be demonstrative; but reasoning is neither sovereign nor alone, and the conversation itself does not compose an argument.

This idea of ‘conversation’ is particularly applicable to the Internet, where there is no one to chair the discussion or control its direction. In Oakeshott’s words: ‘there is no arbiter, not even a doorkeeper to examine credentials .. every entrant is taken at its face-value and everything is permitted which can get itself accepted into the flow of conversation’.

And at its best, this sort of conversation can be creative and rewarding in ways that no ‘argument’ can ever be. Oakeshott again:

Thoughts of different species take wing and play round one another, responding to each other’s movements and provoking one another to fresh exertions .. It is an unrehearsed intellectual adventure.

The trouble with you, Christopher, is that you aren’t prepared to join in the conversation. You are only interested in having a ‘debate’ — and your idea of a ‘debate’ is a purely confrontational one, where the argument continues until one party is proved right and the other party is forced to their knees by the power of logic.

If you would like to have a conversation, then you are most welcome to come and hang out here; your contribution would be much appreciated, and we can all have fun together in this wonderful playground that Simon has created for us. But if you insist on having an argument, then please don’t waste your time here. It is not worthwhile.

Posted by: Andrew Conway on Tuesday, 28 September 2004 at 4:41 PM GMT

Wow: I give up on this site for a while (that figurative blood-pressure thing), and look at the progress! For the sake of quality “conversation” maybe I should stay away? ;-)

NB to Dr Shell: “one Christian is no Christian.” There is no purely idiosyncrasy-free “Christian” (or “Christian” body of believers). We all have our particular Christianitie*s* mediated by one tradition or another. The question is, do we acknowledge those particular traditions and, more than that, take responsibility for them? I acknowledge, and own, the Anglican tradition (in its USA “Episcopal” iteration). All other forms may interest me (they definitely do, as I am just insatiably curious about religion, in all its forms), and I may even feel a sense of kinship w/ some of them (as an ecumenist). But I take no responsibility for them . . . and I don’t post to their websites (w/ scarce time, they just aren’t a priority—-if for no other reason).

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Wednesday, 29 September 2004 at 6:39 AM GMT

I wonder whether it’s possible to quote Michael Oakeshott as an infallible source?

Let’s suppose for the sake of argument (sorry, for the sake of conversation) that he’s infallible. Is his concept of debate-free ‘conversation’ coherent? For:

(1) Any conversation must be about something.

(2) Whatever it is about, one will sometimes agree with the previous speaker and sometimes disagree.

(3) Who would pretend to agree if they disagreed, or to disagree if they agreed?

(4) Therefore, the line between argument/debate and conversation is not easily drawn. Which is why we have the useful word ‘dialogue’ which embraces them both.

(5) If one examines this website, one will see that plenty of discussion has gone on between those who don’t precisely agree. This makes it not worse not better. If all debate were eliminated, what would be left?

Posted by: Dr Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 29 September 2004 at 11:52 AM GMT

Final line read: ‘not worse but better’.

Posted by: Dr Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 29 September 2004 at 11:53 AM GMT

Note to Dr Fisher:

It is undeniable that we’re not all a product of our traditions and cultures.

Otherwise why would people reject one tradition in favour of another? Or why would some be more self-critical of their own cultures than others?

Posted by: Dr Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 29 September 2004 at 11:56 AM GMT

Dr Shell: I don’t see how your comment responds to mine. Of course we’re free to reject one tradition in favor of another (just not a tradition-/denomination- free Christianity. I made this in response to your Point 2) above, “As I mentioned, anyone who identifies themselves with a denomination rather than simply as a Christian is missing the point.” I obviously disagree—-the Body is meant to have different members.)

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Friday, 15 October 2004 at 3:43 AM GMT