Monday, February 27, 2006

Don't be slow to fast

From the Apostolic Constitutions (c. 390):

"If any bishop, priest, deacon, lector, or cantor does not fast the fast of forty days, or the fourth day of the week [Wednesdays] and the day of the Preparation [Fridays], let him be deprived, unless he is hindered by weakness of body. But if he is one of the laity, let him be suspended."

Most practicing believers are familiar with the reason for the custom of the Friday abstinence (in honor of the crucifixion). Not as many are aware of the fact that Wednesdays are also a traditional day for fasting (and among Anglicans, for reciting the Great Litany). According to the Third Council of Constantinople (680), here's why the day is significant:

"Wednesday is to be fasted, because the Jews conspired to betray Jesus; Friday, because he then suffered for us. We keep the Lord's Day as a day of joy, because then the Lord rose for us."

Timely wisdom from the Office

Here's St Paul's comment on controversy in the Church, from today's reading at Morning Prayer:

Philippians 2:1-2
"So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind."

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The black halo

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Speaking of Judas, from the St Matthias post, here is one of the most interesting pictures I have seen from Christian art. Normally, when Judas is depicted, he is distinguished from the other apostles and saints because he has no halo (or "nimbus"). This is the only case I've seen where he's depicted with a black halo. Kinda creepy. Judas is in the front, second from the left. Notice he's holding the purse in his hand. No comment about what he's sitting on (let the reader understand).

As you may be aware, Judas Iscariot has undergone something of a rehabilitation in an effort for scholars to understand why de did what he did. You can also read more about it here.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The search committee results are in

It's Matthias! Judas didn't work out too well as one of the Twelve (see Psalm 69:25, "Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein;" and Psalm 109:8, "Let his bishopric another take.") It was a challenge to find a new Twelfth Man for the team, but it's a good thing someone brought lots to help decide (read the story in Acts 1:15-26).

O Almighty God, who into the place of the traitor Judas didst choose thy faithful servant Matthias to be of the number of the twelve Apostles: Grant that thy Church, beings alway preserved from false Apostles, may be ordered and guided by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Welcome home a hero

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I saw a story on the news this morning about this wonderful program from DFW airport. Check you local airport to see if this opportunity is available in your area.

"Every day, more than 100 soldiers come through DFW Airport on their way home for two weeks of much-anticipated rest and recuperation (R&R). Under the R&R program, American servicemen and women receive these brief vacations from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. DFW Airport welcomes home these members of the armed forces as they return from duty. One R&R flight lands every day at DFW, and this warm welcome home starts their two weeks of R&R on a high note. DFW has assisted thousands of men and women since the R&R flights first started in November 2004. DFW would like anyone who wants to show these soldiers how much their commitment means to the North Texas community to participate. . ."

Diabetes and healthier living

Thanks to Mom for the following from the ADA:

There are 20.8 million Americans with diabetes--and nearly one-third of them (or 6.2 million people) do not know it. Take the Diabetes RiskTest to see if you are at risk for having or developing Type-2 Diabetes. The ADA offeres this tool in Spanish and Chinese Diabetes is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. If you are a member of one of these ethnic groups, please pay special attention to this test. Take the test today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Separated at birth

I've always has a fascination for people who look alike. I couldn't always find the best pictures for comparisons, but here are some favorites that I have observed over the years.

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The late Pope John Paul II and The Very Rev'd M.L. Agnew,
Dean of St Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Shreveport, LA

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Actresses Helen Hunt and Leelee Sobieski

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The "Queen of Mean" Leona Helmsley and actor Martin Landau

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Retired football coach Tom Landry and retired Bishop of Texas Claude Payne

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Steroid-soaked bodybuilder Gregg Valentino and the Ripping Friends
(boy, I really miss that cartoon)

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Bible prophecy guru Hal Lindsey and the late Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin

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Actresses Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci

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Someone once told me I look like actor Kevin Pollack. I'll let you decide.

Click here for more fun celebrity "separated at birth" comparisons.

And from Louise's comment, here's . . .
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Bible prophecy preacher Tim LaHaye and entertainer Spike Jones

If David Letterman hosted a summit

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"Gorby, Gipper, Gorby, Gipper, Gorby, Gipper."

I miss "The Inclusive Worshipper" blog

Now the wife can't send me to that Re-imaginging Masculinity Conference.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I take my stand

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The Most Rev'd and Rt Honorable Lord Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Thanks to Kendall for bringing out the great ++Rowan quotes.

From the ACC Presidential Address:
“So there are two issues coming out of this that need patient study. What is the nature of a holy and Christ-like life for someone who has consistent homosexual desires? And what is the appropriate discipline to be applied to the personal life of the pastor in the Church?”

From the Global South Encounter:
“The Church overall, the Church of England in particular, the Anglican Communion has not been persuaded that same-sex sex can be holy and blessed. Were it to decide that by some process--unimaginable to most of you--it would be by an overwhelming consensus and only at that point would it be possible to say in the name of the Church, this is holy and blessed. So I take my stand with the Church of England, with the Communion, with the majority of Christians through the ages.”

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Presidents' Day

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In honor of Presidents' Day, I'd like to post my two favorite pieces of President Lincoln's writing.

Letter to Mrs. Bixby
November 21, 1864

Dear Madam,—

I have been shown in the files of the war Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of Freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
A. Lincoln

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From the Second Inaugural Address
March 4, 1965

. . . The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Steichen hole-in-one

I just finished reading Donna Steichen's book Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism. Although a little dated now, it is still an excellent investigation. She is also good at analyzing the situation from a theological perspective. Here is some of that insight from page 375-6 of the concluding chapter.

The doctrine of original sin is especially pertinent today for the clarifying light it casts on feminist errors.

In the beginning as today, rejection of authority was the central problem. The particular roles of Eve and Adam seem to indicate the temptations to which each sex is most inclined. Genesis reveals that God created both man and woman in his own image, sharing one human nature, equal in dignity, intended for each other in a complementary relationship in the unity of marriage. When Eve steps forth from God's hands, Adam rejoices in her equality, exclaiming, "She now is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." They are delighted in each other, naked and innocent. Just as their human nature is made in the divine image, so their union in the faithful, fruitful, permanent covenant of marriage is an image of the inner life of the Blessed Trinity, loving and creative.

Cunning, the serpent draws Eve into dialogue. She knows the limits God has set, but she listens as the deceiving voice lures her with a promise of autonomy—the promise that she can be her own God. When she yields, her disobedience separates her from God and from Adam. Contemporary Catholic feminists are part of a vivid, and ruinous, re-enactment of that ancient tragedy. Their history strikingly recalls Eve's susceptibility to false promises, her rebellion against legitimate authority and her presumptuous ambition to make herself "as God". Women, it seems, are more prone than men to such fraudulent spiritual enthusiasms.

Men, in contrast, seem especially tempted to irresponsibility. Adam chooses to evade the very duties of leadership that Eve covets. He is not deceived by the serpent, but he eats the forbidden fruit anyway. Perhaps he cannot bear to be separated from his bride by her sin. Perhaps he is intimidated by the prospect of confronting her. In either case, the head of the first family disobeys his Creator and betrays his patriarchal obligations with his eyes open. We can see parallels to Adam's sin in men who abdicate their legitimate authority and obligations in the family. Some use the slogans of feminism to seduce women into sexual relationships outside of marriage, then coerce them to abort their babies. Some deny their wives motherhood or deprive them of the right to live their maternal vocation with full attention by driving them into the labor force. Some welcome any excuse to remain immature and carefree boys by shunting their responsibilities onto their wives.

Many contemporary Catholic pastors and shepherds have similarly succumbed to the lure of irresponsibility. They have failed to teach with clarity and conviction, to defend the Church with courage or to protect their flocks from enemies internal or external, neo-modernist, feminist or atheist. Male support for women's ordination probably springs from the same root. Ultimately, feminists are less culpable than those in the hierarchy who permit them to desolate the American Church unopposed. It could not have happened if pastors and bishops had fulfilled their patriarchal obligations.

Image hosting by Photobucket Ungodly Rage, along with other fine books, are available for purchase from Ignatius Press.

Update: for an example of "ungodly rage" in a parish church as described in the book, check out the thoroughly feminized (and now pagan) Ebeneezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco. Be sure to watch their video.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

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Here is a radio advertisement for St Andrew's in Birmingham, AL. What do you think? Is it a good commercial for a church, or is it too irreverent?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Holy Ned Flanders

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Pray for us.

Raindrops keep fallin' on my head

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"What's true for shrimp cocktails is true for all cocktails . . .
only in moderation!" --Tony Sinclair

February 13, 2006

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am writing to you from an alcohol treatment center where on February 1, with the encouragement and support of my partner, daughters and colleagues, I checked myself in to deal with my increasing dependence on alcohol.

Over the 28 days I will be here, I will be dealing with the disease of alcoholism-which, for years, I have thought of as a failure of will or discipline on my part, rather than a disease over which my particular body simply has no control, except to stop drinking altogether.

During my first week here, I have learned so much. The extraordinary experience of community here will inform my ministry for years to come. I eagerly look forward to continuing my recovery in your midst. Once again, God is proving His desire and ability to bring an Easter out of Good Friday. Please keep me in your prayers and know that you are in mine.

Your Brother in Christ,

With the news of the Bishop of New Hampshire checking in for rehab, my attention has turned to the problem of alcoholism and the church. I admit it's something I hadn't known a whole lot about. I've been paying attention to comments about it on the web. Someone has mentioned that clergy and law are the professions where alcoholism is most prevalent. The Episcopal tradition is one that seems to have a reputation for boozing it up. Unfortunately, we seem to be more content with joking about it than addressing the problem. Sewanee (Robinson's alma mater) has a reputation for being a drinking school, and for turning out a great number of "functional alcoholics." It isn't the only institution of higher education where people learn "how to Tanqueray." I was struck by the insight of John Wilkins, who left the following comment on Kendall Harmon's TitusOneNine blog:

"I’ve often wondered how many parishes in the Episcopal church have group dynamics that can be traced to an alcoholic culture."

Despite the spiritual nature of their work, the clergy are not exempt from alcoholism. I'm aware of the drinking problems of Bishop Carolyn Irish (Utah) and the late Bishop James Pike (California). Bishop Mark Hollingsworth (Ohio) was open about it being something he had to battle in the past. I'm sure there other examples among bishops and many more among the priests and deacons. Are people who are aware of the problems in candidates for ordination keeping quiet for them? What can be done to remedy the problem? I have many questions, but not many answers.

Alcoholic bishops seem to be a problem experienced from the beginning. Notice how St Paul is careful to mention it twice in describing the qualifications of a bishop:

"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous" 1 Timothy 3:2-3

"For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict it." Titus 1:7-9

In reading Robinson's letter, I'm concerned that he seems resigned to be the victim of a disease, which would just lead him to become a "dry drunk" (i.e., someone who stops consuming alcohol, but still leaves the root emotional and behavioral probems unresolved). I was surprised to read the following from Wikipedia about alcoholism as a "disease":

The American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Medical Association both maintain extensive policy regarding alcoholism. The American Psychiatric Association recognizes the existence of "alcoholism" as the equivalent of alcohol dependence. With the publication of the DSM-III in 1980, two separate syndromes of alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse replaced the earlier category of alcoholism. The World Health Organization dropped the diagnostic category "alcoholism" in 1979, replacing it with the diagnostic categories "alcohol dependence" and "harmful use." The American Hospital Association, the American Public Health Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American College of Physicians classify "alcoholism" as a disease.

The causes for alcohol abuse and dependence cannot be easily explained. However, the belief that the roots are from moral or ethical weakness on the part of the sufferer has been largely altered. A 1995 Gallup Poll found that 90% of Americans currently believe that "alcoholism" is a disease. In contrast, in a 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether alcoholism is a condition for which the U.S. Veterans Administration should provide benefits, Justice Byron R. White agrees with the U.S. District Court that there exists "a substantial body of medical literature that even contests the proposition that alcoholism is a disease, much less that it is a disease for which the victim bears no responsibility."

Whether or not alcoholism is a disease remains a controversial subject. It should be noted that not all participants in the debate are without self-interest. For example, if alcoholism is not considered a disease, third party payments to physicians and hospitals for its treatment would cease.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Do you know what love is?

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Rocker Courtney Love.

Do you know what love is? You might get many different answers if you spent an afternoon asking "What is love?" to people walking down a busy street. Using the model of God's love, here is how St. Paul describes it.

1 Corinthians 13
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Good Samaritans

Somehow, for all these years I had missed the detail that there are still Samaritans out there. I came across that information when reading up for yesterday's Sunday School class. I was aware of at least one other unusual group of adherants to Israelite religion (the Ethiopian Falasha), but now here is another. They are not very numerous--only about 150 in 1900, and about 600 in 2000. They are a very conservative bunch. They don't usually marry outsiders. They only accept (their version of) the Penteteuch. They follow the Torah very strictly. Unlike rabbinical Judaism, they also have their own priesthood and offer animal sacrifices at Gerizim.
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Samaritan priests at Gerizim (above) c. 1900. The Samaritan Torah (below).
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My favorite winter games

Here is a little slideshow of my favorite events in the Winter Olympics. Downkill skiing is the only one I've done personally (though certainly not at 80 mph). I'd love to go curling sometime.

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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Macho Italiano

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And so begins the games of the XX Winter Olympiad. I noticed the high testosterone level of the Italian presentation of the opening ceremony. From the rollerbladers on fire to the supermodel with the Italian flag to the Olympic Ferrari to the man striking the anvil which produced the particularly. . . ahem, er, manly flames . . . the ceremony told us these Olympic games are meant to invoke passion, and I'm passionately awaiting the downhill skiing, ski jumping, bobsled, luge, and (believe it or not) curling.
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