Sunday, March 27, 2011

Standing Commission on Litury and Music Wanders Off Into A Morass

Below you will find the minutes from the table conversations from the recent Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music.  The discussion centers on the issue of same-gender blessings/marriage.  The easiest, simplest most equitable thing to do is to simply use the prayer book (pgs. 423 or 433) but no -- there has to be more to it than that!  To distinguish my comments I have made them red. 

Fall 2010 House of Bishops Meeting

Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music Consultation on 2009 General Convention Resolution C056

Table Conversation, September 18, 2010 Executive Summary

Table conversation centered on the following questions:

Question 1. What pastoral needs must the resources developed meet in your diocese?

Question 2. To what extent do the theological principles (attached) address the questions that people in your diocese are asking?

Question 3. How well do the liturgical principles (attached) reflect your understanding of Anglican theological and liturgical sensibilities?

Question 4. How can this work be done in a way that will both resource the church and strengthen the body of Christ?

Question 5. How do you want the SCLM to consult with the House of Bishops for the duration of this triennium as this work goes forward?

Each table received a set of notes pages for reporting feedback to these questions. The notes were collected and later transcribed into a single spreadsheet. (Note that the table identifications in the spreadsheet were assigned randomly for transcription purposes only. There was no recording of who participated at each table.)

The Bishops’ comments spanned a broad spectrum of ideas. Following is an attempt to categorize and summarize the comments. Themes are presented roughly in order from most to fewest references.

• Theological and Liturgical Principles. Feedback on the principles was widely varied, but the majority of comments were positive. The liturgical principles were especially well received. Several comments serve as reminders of the importance of articulating a strong theological foundation for this work. (Note also that one Bishop offered that the theological principles are pastoral in nature, while another said they’re liturgical theology.) There were many comments noting the lack of direct scriptural references in the principles, and suggesting that theological work must include scripture references and liturgies must incorporate scriptural language. Participants at two tables suggested adding a missional component to the theological principles; others variously suggested attention to concepts of friendship, intimacy, and fruitfulness; and at least two tables noted connections to baptismal living. Two commended Bishop Breidenthal’s book, Christian Households: The Sanctification of Nearness.

Say what?  This is a blessing just like any other blessing.  Aren't there enough "scriptural" references already?  Or, do you mean scriptural references to same-gender blessings? 

• The Nature of the Liturgical Rites. A large number of comments were related to the understanding of same-gender relationships and the rites that would be used to bless them. These comments often referred to the choice of terms, but they reflect deeper questions about exactly what the Church means to express through the liturgical rite. For example, there was diversity of thought about whether this work should be about same-gender marriage. Other comments indicate that the issue is more fundamentally whether same-gender blessings are sacramental. Still other comments questioned the meanings of the terms blessing and covenant.

Why would the church mean one thing for different gender marriages and another thing for same-gender marriages?  For heaven's sake, what has got into people?  Not sacramental?  What the heck does that mean?  If different gender marriages are sacramental what makes same gender marriages NOT sacramental?

• Continuing Consultation with the House of Bishops. Most tables had at least one request for check-ins from the SCLM about its work on C056 between now and General Convention 2012. Many suggested at least a brief appearance at each House of Bishops meeting, with perhaps more time at the fall 2011 meeting. Some also suggested additional reports, posting of information on the College for Bishops website, mailing or emailing material to bishops, or access to materials as it is being developed. Others discussed the role of the Bishops in authorizing liturgy. Others mentioned the role of the House of Deputies or suggested contact with diocesan liturgical commissions.

Just for the record, if we all used the same liturgy, i.e., the current liturgy, we could all be done and moving on.  That is, we would not need to "check in".

• Care for those of Differing Views. Many comments expressed concern about making room for and caring for those who disagree with the provision of rites for blessing same-gender unions.

Using the same liturgy should not cause any stir at all.

• Resources for Conversation. A number of tables requested resources for conversation and education in congregations and dioceses.

Resources and education for what?  Full inclusion?  Does this mean we really do not mean full inclusion until some time in the future when we all agree to full inclusion?  Somebody waffling on the Primates issues?

• Legal Considerations. There were comments about the varied legal contexts now faced by Dioceses and requests for clarity about the relationship between Church rites and civil law. Note that four tables expressed concern about the Church’s role in civil marriage (of different-gender couples) and hope that this function might be separated. At least two tables asked about consequences if a couple subsequently breaks up.

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God, those things that are God's.

• Diversity of Participants. Many observed a lack of geographic diversity among the C056 presenters, and several offered that the people working on these resources must reflect the diversity of the Church, including moderate and conservative voices. [Note: The Bishops were introduced only to the Task Force Chairs; the full Task Force rosters have subsequently been posted on the College for Bishops website.]

Trying to reach some "via media" will only corrupt the work that has been done.  Furthermore, some form of "middle ground" is not full inclusion.  Separate but equal isn't. 

• Authorization of Rites. There was concern about clear communication that any rites developed would not be mandatory and about the role of the Bishop Diocesan in authorizing rites.

Sounds like "blue smoke and mirrors" to me.
• Preparation of Same-Gender Couples. Several comments expressed the need for good materials for the preparation of same-gender couples, especially materials that consider how their preparation might be different from different-gender couples.

The real question is why?  There is no difference in what is going on-- if we start from the premise that there is a fundamental difference we end up with the concept of separate but equal.

• Broad Engagement. Several comments were related to the importance of engagement on this work with Dioceses and various entities of the Anglican Communion.

The above comments can be used to enrich and feed the various gardens one grows.

• Other Rites for Blessing. Comments from at least three tables mentioned the need to develop a rite for any couple that would like to have their relationships blessed but cannot have a civil marriage (for example, an elderly couple for whom civil marriage would create financial hardship).

While interesting and important, this is clearly an attempt to distract from the real issue facing this group.

In closing, it seems to me that the Episcopal Church is either going to fully include same-sex blessings or we are not.  It is impossible to ask for (require) full inclusion and then wander off into an abyss that is fraught with non sequiters, separate but equal arguments and birdwalks.

H/T to IT at Friends of Jake.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Are We Going For Separate But Equal?

Let me begin with a story from The Lead that is entitled Historic Consultation.  We are now "consulting" on what constitutes a valid/appropriate blessing of same sex marriages.  I do not know about anyone else, and I could be absolutely off-base but does this smack of "separate but equal"?  Should we then have schools for children of same sex marriages?  Perhaps we can have separate churches for just this purpose?  How about drinking fountains and of course they could all ride in the back of the bus, right? 

Someone please help me with this for I genuinely do not understand how we can fully include ALL our brothers and sisters and then not use the rites as found on pages 423 an 433 in the current Book of Common Prayer.  Now I recognize that each couple is unique but I believe that there may be enough latitude in the current ceremonies to allow for whatever adjustments a couple (any couple) may wish to make, certainly in conjunction with the priest of the couple's choice.

I worry sometimes we just do not really get it -- or maybe it is just me.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Axis of the Anglican Communion Just Moved 4 Inches!

 While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
                                  Statement On The Global Anglican Future

Today, Archbishop Rowan Williams released his lenten pastoral letter.  It seems to be all over the blogsphere but now where more "battered" than at the one and only Stand Limp blog. 

Yesterday, the 8.9 earthquake moved the main island of Japan 8 feet!  It also reset the earth's axis by no less than 4 inches! 

While you ponder the magnitude of both of those events it appears, based on the comments by those who would be Conelonialists that the Axis of the Anglican Communion just moved about 8 feet.  It will not be much longer before the Primates of the Global South flex their hubris one last time and take the Anglican Communion (or what they call the Anglican Communion) to a brand new axis -- somewhere in the neighborhood of Nigeria, Uganda or Australia.  Hold on 'cause it is goingto be a bumpy ride!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Archbishop MY A**!

Can we talk?  Really, I am about as tired as tired can get of the constant "politeness" with which we deal with those who have created the worst scenario in the history of the Episcopal Church.  I mean really, we have Mr. Schofield, Mr. Iker, Mr. Duncan and a host of misters that have all been deposed and defrocked.  legally, formally, officially, constitutionally, and every other way known to our church yet everyone I see and most everyone I read continues to use the genteel term originally assigned to them, and in Mr. Duncan's case, he actually thinks he is an archduke or something like that -- probably a king!  Just what is up with that?  Lots of folks say, well, if they were Romans, or Baptists or Unitarians or Wizards or whatever we would use their official title.  Folks, can we get this straight -- THEY THINK THEY ARE US!  They believe with all their heart that NOTHING has happened to them and we continue to allow them to live in that lie!  These folks need to face the facts and we need to be less enabling than we are.  They are not bishops, priests, deacons, etc in any church that calls itself Episcopalian and since the ONLY ANGLICAN PRESENCE in the USA is the Episcopal Church they cannot be any of those things in the Anglican Church.  When they start calling themselves wikens or wizards or whatever they finally determine they are maybe then we can call them something other than late for supper but we owe them nothing!  These deposed and defrocked clergy are some of the most venomous, vile, evil people to come along in the history of the Episcopal Church.  They have ripped us asunder, they have cut thousands of Episcopalians to the bone.  They are bleeding us to death and we continue to smile and call them something they are not -- Father, Bishop, Deacon. 

Let's put an end to our enabling -- these folks are drunkards of the worst kind.  Drunk on power and prestige.  We must not enable them any more.  They are Mr. not anything else and until they get that fact let's just keep reinforcing it!

As it is written, so shall it be!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Do Not Be Afraid

Bishop Lamb and Bishop Talton both provided the homily for our seating of the new bishop - Bishop Talton.
Both bishops spoke eloquently but the piece that stood out this time - - to me -- was Bishop Talton and his statement "Do not be afraid."  The long nightmare is turning to the Son rising and the new day is dawning.  We are all being transfigured by the words, the actions, the plans and most important, the people of this diocese.  You must come and visit and see for yourselves.

One last note -- Were it not for the concerted efforts of Bishop Jerry Lamb this diocese would not be.  We owe a huge debt to Bishop Lamb and we can only repay it by thanking God every day for the grace and the goodness of this wonderful man. 

So -- we say goodbye and hello and hello and goodbye!

I Don't Know Why You Say Goodbye I Say Hello

The next phase of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin return to normalcy begins today.  We will say hello and thank you for coming to Provisional Bishop-elect Chet Talton and goodbye and godspeed to Provisional Bishop Jerry Lamb.  More about these two great bishops later in the day but for now please join me in saying thank you and thank you and blessings on you to Bishop Jerry.  He has done a magnificent job here in our diocese and we are very grateful.  Thanks to the Presiding Bishop, the Executive Council and the offices of the National Church for your support as well. 

Thanks be to God!