received during the week of 7 October 2003
by the culture'
YOU FOR YOUR TIMELY THOUGHTS,
once again. From my observation, the Church has not only passively
bought into the current marketing model and applied it to congregations,
but the Church has actively done so, employing marketing-oriented
consultants to advise dioceses and congregations on 'growth
techniques.' And of course, the emperor once again has no clothes.
No one seems to be willing to speak up at these seminars and
say 'Spiritual growth is what we're really after here, isn't
it? Aren't numbers beside the point?'
wise priest I know used to say fairly often that 'The end of
the Anglican Communion is the end of Anglican Communion.' He
was referring to the Church as a bridge between Catholics and
Protestants, but isn't this actually true of Christianity in
general? The end of Christianity (God willing) is the end of
Christianity and the beginning of the eschaton. Yet how many
of us really pray 'Come quickly, Lord Jesus?' We'd rather worry
about 'getting it right' on our own, when righteousness has already
been accomplished on our behalf.
we start assessing the worth of our churches by the numbers instead
by faithful lives, we have been suborned by the culture. And
when we start judging others (beginning, as usual, with those
closest to us!) as to the correctness or value of their spiritual
lives, we have not yet seen Christ face to face. In the light
of his countenance, we cannot possible judge anyone but ourselves.
Reverend Peggy Blanchard
Kingston, Tennessee, USA
7 October 2003
a church grows (or doesn't) says nothing revelatory about its commitment
to the gospel'
and Brian. I fear we in the States have confused 'success' with
'discipleship'. That a church grows (or doesn't) says nothing
revelatory about its commitment to the gospel. The essential
criteria must, and has always been, faithfulness to the ministry
of Jesus. Which, as you so aptly remark, can (and usually does)
mean a community that will not attract large numbers of secular-minded,
consumer-oriented, 'successful' persons who want to remain 'successful'.
Louisville, Kentucky, USA
7 October 2003
TO YOUR COMMENT on
Andrew Brown's observation that 'inclusive
and tolerant churches are less successful than exclusive and
rigid churches'. I
believe these 'rigid' churches are successful because they have
positioned themselves as bulwarks against the onslaught of secular
humanism, and not because they've found someone to exclude or
call sinful or rail against. They are successful simply because
they have refused to 'be conformed to this world' (Rom 12:2).
Church of Nigeria
6 October 2003
We rather believe that Our Lord embodied Truth, Beauty,
WAS QUITE A SHOCK to
read in the last AO home page editorial that 'Having more members
makes a church more viable as a social institution, but cannot
possibly make it nearer to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty or necessarily
more capable of advancing the kingdom of heaven.'
must have missed the lesson that Christianity is an adoration
of Platonic ideals, rather than a relationship with the Human
Son of God who died yet was raised beyond death in order to reconcile
the world to God.
must have misread the scriptures of the earliest followers of
Christ that challenge all who already are part of the church
to preach the good news of Christ and offer baptism to all nations.
St. Paul must have been quite a fool, then, to go around actually
trying to bring into communion with Christ people of questionable
I simply misunderstand about the kingdom of heaven. Would you
kindly let me know who is in charge and the address?
Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, ENGLAND
6 October 2003
Sorry, we don't have a current postal address.
makes us equal?
HAVE BEEN A RELUCTANT READER of
your site for some years, although never (but almost, once) an
Episcopalian and no longer a Christian (at least in any orthodox
sense). I keep reading out of a combination of nostalgia and
the guilty fascination of seeing a train wreck in slow motion,
wandered to your link to a fairly incoherent article by Ghanian
Bishop Kwame Nsiah on gay bishops. What struck me was his
casual racism. White men evil, black men good. And I'm sure no
one called him on it. It reminds me that the only empirically
verifiable Christian doctrine is the ironically named original
sin. That's what makes the races equal.
San Francisco, California, USA
6 October 2003
HAVE BEEN A SUBSCRIBER TO ANGLICANS ONLINE for
some time now, and have enjoyed much of your output and, indeed,
frequently find the editorials interesting and, yes, even challenging. This
week your editorial is based around an article by Andrew Brown,
who historically has struggled with those of us who are labelled
Evangelical. Although you do not explicitly support his article,
you seem to be uncritical of its comment.
seems to me that evangelicals, like liberals and catholic Anglicans,
are unhelpfully stereotyped by others. Evangelicals, like all
the different traditions in our church, have a variety of people
within that tradition, some who one would gladly identify with,
and others one would rather not be publicly identified with! Please
don't fall into that trap, of tarring every one with a particular
label with same brush, given your obvious frustrations regarding
the current debate regarding sexuality.
am confident that most of my evangelical friends would welcome
anyone into their churches, regardless of race, colour, age,
etc and... sexual orientation, as we do. Surely, if the gospel
is not for sinners like me, it isn't for anyone? Please, please
avoid a party spirit, even when there are aspects of that party
you find distasteful. ot least, when it is a media stereotype
or a minority that shouts louder than anyone else. In
the end, we are one in Christ through faith in Him, and not because
we share every aspect of theology and Christian practise with
St Saviour, Island of Jersey, Channel Islands, British Isles
7 October 2003
imitates art indeed
WROTE IN YOUR FOOTNOTE: 'Speaking
of the cinema, we recall having once seen a futuristic science-fiction
film in which all restaurants remaining on earth were Taco Bell.
The nonchalant acceptance of this mind-numbing blandness was
part of that film's means of horrifying its audience. Not only
did criminals run rampant and not only was the government of
the future corrupt, but all restaurants were Taco Bell. How much
worse could it get?'
that same film, there was portrayed the 'Arnold Swarzeneger Presidential
Library.' It seems that because of his star-power, Congress removed
the requirement that only natural born US citizens be president.
It was a joke then.
Reverend Andrew Gerns
Trinity Episcopal Church
Easton, Pennsylvania, USA
8 October 2003
issue of tu quoque
HAPPENS THAT I PERSONALLY have
seen the pain caused by the conservative rejection of homosexuality,
and would personally like to do away with the prohibition. It
also happens, unfortunately, that I hold strongly to the authority
of the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and also that I don't
see how a reasonable person can deny that Scripture condemns
the practice of homosexuality; so I don't consider myself to
have the authority to throw out the prohibition. And yes, I am
familiar with at least the more common academic and popular progressive
arguments, and they are I believe unreasonable — though I should
emphasize that I mean 'unreasonable' only
in the sense that they do not hold water, not that the people
holding them are jerks. I just mean that I have yet to see a
progressive argument that doesn't have serious logical or methodological
flaws; they cannot be adopted by people who seriously want to
know what the Bible means to say unless they are either rather
ignorant or else rather muddle-headed.
interests me is that by far the most effective progressive argument,
in my experience, is one that runs roughly, 'You
conservatives don't obey the Bible when it says _______ [fill
in whatever here], so where do you get off telling us we have
to be bound by the condemnations of homosexuality?' Most often
I have heard this presented very simplistically, as a straightforward
tu-quoque. Now, a tu-quoque (Latin for 'you, too') is a way to
excuse your own bad behavior by claiming that somebody else has
behaved just as badly, and it is not a very good excuse. (Just
imagine your six-year-old telling you, 'But Sean was doing it,
too!' It's no better an excuse when the person making the excuse
is a bishop.) But the fact that a tu-quoque accusation doesn't
excuse the person making it, doesn't mean that the accusation
itself isn't perfectly accurate.
agree with my fellow conservatives that the Bible does indeed
condemn homosexuality. But Jesus also condemned divorce, and
said very plainly and unambiguously (at least by the standards
conservatives apply to the homosexuality passages) that if a
couple divorced on grounds other than adultery, and then remarried,
the second union was adulterous. It hardly seems that a Church
that is serious about making sure it doesn't bless sinful unions,
has any business blessing adulterous ones. But I sincerely doubt
that very many of my friends who are up in arms about the idea
of blessing Bishop Robinson's union with...is it Mark?...anyway,
I doubt many of them would have been willing to refuse the rites
of marriage to Amy Grant and Vince Gill.
it comes down to it, few of us conservatives want to say to Amy
Grant, 'Because of Christ's words on adultery, we have to tell
you that for you it's a lifetime of marriage to a husband you
no longer can stand to be with or else a lifetime without romantic
love.' We feel bad for Amy, and we're glad she's had a second
chance at happiness. But we don't feel the same way about Gene
Robinson. That doesn't mean our treatment of Amy is right and
our treatment of Bishop Robinson is wrong, by any means. Jesus
Himself never told us we had a 'right to happiness,' and as far
as I can tell we can each expect to come to a point in our lives
where He demands of us a sacrifice that seems intolerable; 'let
him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me' doesn't
exactly sound like, 'let him follow me and I'll make sure there's
an acceptable way for him to enjoy romantic love if he wants
it.' But the point is that if we conservatives are not dying
to our own selves daily, our calls for our progressive brothers
to take up their personal crosses will have no power.
people look at those of us who claim to take the Bible seriously,
do they see us paying whatever brutal price our own cross imposes?
As long as the accusation in the tu-quoque has validity, the
people who use tu-quoques will continue to feel validated, however
foolish that may be. When the tu-quoque has lost all its force
because the accusation is plainly false, then perhaps our words
will have a chance to carry some power of conviction and persuasion.
St Luke's on the Lake
Austin, Texas, USA
9 October 2003
whether in bed or in your shroud'
ARE FOLLOWING THE NEWS WITH INTEREST. I'm
sending a copy of a poem by CH Sisson, 'A letter to John Donne,' (taken
from The Oxford Book of Christian Verse, Donald Davie):
letter to John Donne
On 27 July 1617, Donne preached at the parish chruch at Sevenoaks,
of which he was rector, and was entertained at Knole, then the
country residence of Richard Sackville, third earl of Dorset.
understand you well enough, John Donne
that you were a man of ability
by lust and by the love of God
that you crossed the Sevenoaks High Street
rector of Saint Nicholas:
am of that parish.
be a man of ability is not much
may see them on the Sevenoaks platform any day
men with despatch cases
Ambition drives as they drive the machine
the certainty of meticulous operation
as a morbid sex a heart of stone.
you could have spent your time in the corruption of courts
these in that of cities,
you no place among us:
is not even the game of a fool
the click of a computer operating in a waste
cleveness is dismissed from this suit
out your genitals and your theology.
makes you familiar is this dual obsession;
is not what the rutting stag knows
is to take Eve's apple and to lose
stag's paradisal look:
love of God comes readily
those who have most need.
brought body and soul to this church
there through the park alive with deer
now what animal has climbed into your pulpit?
whose pretension is that the fear of God has heated him into
evaporated man no physical ill can hurt.
might you hesitate at the Latin gate
such apes denying the church of God:
am grateful particularly that you were not a saint
extravagant whether in bed or in your shroud.
would understand that in the presence of folly
am not sanctified by angry.
down and speak to the men of ability
the Sevenoaks platform and tell them
at your Saint Nicholas the faith
not exclusive in the fools it chooses
the vain, the ambitious and the highly sexed
the natural prey of the incarnate Christ.
St David's Church
Royal Palm Beach, Florida, USA
10 October 2003
current global movement is toward conservatism'
A 39-YEAR-OLD SINGLE MOTHER of
two girls, I walked out of our church when one of the clergy
was giving a sermon, in front of my two young daughters, on why
we should support the decision of the General Convention on the
election of a homosexual bishop. My nine year old daughter asked
me 'What does a relationship
between two men mean?' after hearing part of that sermon. Trying
to raise young girls in today's society is challenging enough—I
resent having political liberalism preached at me in the church.
believe in the traditional reading of the scripture that denies
homosexual relationships. I
strongly object to the Convention's decision and have separated
myself from St Anne's both physically and financially due to
the their decision and the liberal attitude of the clergy. The
current global movement is toward conservatism, not liberalism.
will support the AAC in seeking a reversal of the General Convention's
decision or a division thereof and a formation of a new conservative
church body. I look forward to a church we can go to again.
St Anne's Parish
Annapolis, Maryland, USA
10 October 2003
language of talk radio and political extremism'
mirror, on the wall
WAS NEARING THE END OF READING a presentation given
by Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh to the AAC conference in Dallas and was
growing increasingly dispirited when I came across this remarkable
decision ... has been a source of great controversy and division
among us, and remains so. Experiences of joy and possibility
have often stood alongside feelings of pain and betrayal.
We are only one generation into a several generation process
In what is ahead we must allow this process to be lived out
among us. Force and repression of conscience are part of
the sad story that brings us to this day of intervention.
We need to make godly provision for one another. We need
to develop understandings of how our two integrities can
proceed alongside one another, until our Good Lord eventually
makes this matter plain to our children and grandchildren.
There will be awkwardness as we shape our common life ...
but we will get better at it, and we can find a way to honor
one another and to protect one another, if we will to do.
could have been written by Bishop Griswold or any of those who
supported the actions of General Convention, but there's a catch.
Bishop Duncan is writing about the ordination of women, not about
the confirmation of Bishop Robinson's election or the blessing
of committed relationships. And the 'us' and the 'we' he writes
about pointedly exclude Bishop Griswold and all of us who welcomed
the actions of General Convention. Bishop Duncan and his allies
refuse any 'godly provision' for those of us who disagree with
them; they will not even try to 'develop an understanding of
how our two integrities can proceed alongside one another.' They
cannot even admit that we, too, act out of conscience and deep
faith, much less find a way to honor that conscience and faith.
Griswold has tried again and again to find a way to honor and
protect these 'two integrities.' For his pains, Bishop Duncan
and others have castigated Bishop Griswold in the language of
talk radio and political extremism. Bishop Duncan calls for 'a
communion-wide discernment in which we are called to listen carefully'
but he will not listen, much less hear, any who do not already
agree with him.
find little that is Anglican in this, little that is Christian,
little of the Holy Spirit, and I despair.
Thank you for your invaluable service.
St Martin-in-the-Fields (Episcopal)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
10 October 2003
AM A BIT CONFUSED AS TO YOUR ORIENTATION. Are you for the Episcopal church, or for the Gaypiscopal one?
I saw a group of people starting to dig under the foundation
of my house, I would do more than pray to save it. I would call
for help. So it is with the church.
have already successfully lobbied in political affairs, so
it perhaps my call for help is too late. Sodomy and all the filth
it entails seems to be the norm. How can any man or woman look
at themselves in the mirror when
they live so contrary to nature?
All Saints of the Desert
Sun City, Arizona, USA
11 October 2003
they 'grow big' out
of the 'men okay-women not' model?
MUST TAKE ISSUE that Churches grow big out of the we-they, good
guys-bad guys model. We in the continuing Church, following
traditional Anglicanism and deeming 'ordination' of women as
priests and bishops as 'null and void', have been and continue
to 'swim upstream' outside the 'official' Anglican Communion' while
continuing the religion of the Christian Church, Anglican Communion,
in varying degrees of 'churchmanship' mostly Anglo-Catholic.
been (and will continue to be) a long hard pull to remain truly
Christian in the Anglican Church model while being denounced
as schismatic and our bishops as 'vaganti' and still develop
parishes where faithful priests and people meet and worship,
juxtaposed, as it were, with a local 'liberal' Episcopal Church.
often than not, we begin in a local funeral home (been there,
done that, got the T shirt), and until and unless we too develop
some 'bricks and mortar' we find it tough sledding. But we will 'keep
on keeping on'.
Reverend Canon Owen J. Loftus, Jr.
Episcopal Church of North America
St Jude the Apostle Church School (Seminary)
New Port Richey, Florida, USA
11 October 2003
the heart of it all
I TRAVELLED ON BUSINESS to San Francisco,
arriving on a Sunday. San Francisco is a wonderful place to visit on
myself at Grace Cathedral. I went inside and made a happy discovery.
The church's hushed atmosphere, jeweled light from stained glass,
and spaciousness all defined for me the peace and happiness that
Episcopalians strive to attain in spirit. I felt at home.
think that in the battles over social reform being fought in
churches of the Anglican Communion we have forgotten the need
to develop one's inner life. It seems to me that devotion to
social agenda, whether conservative or liberal, has superceded
our search for personal devotion. We Anglicans are the less for
Trinity on the Pike
Laurel, Maryland, USA
12 October 2003
We launched our 'Letters
to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our