Sunday, July 30, 2006

Friday, July 28, 2006

You don't think they'd need a chaplain, do you?

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If I only had gobs of cash, I'd head off to California this September for the second World 3-D Film Expo. It will be held September 8-17 in Hollywood. All films at the festival will be shown as they were orginally intended to be seen--in their original polarized format on a dual interlocked 35mm projector system on the huge silver screen at the world famous Egyptian Theatre. That means full color and glorious back-and-white images seen through the gray polarized Poleroid glasses; no color-distorting blue and red anagylph 3-D glasses will be needed for the occasion.

Among the films on the schedule are: The Bubble, Bwana Devil, Cease Fire, Charge At Feather River, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Hitchcock's Dial M For Murder, Glass Web, Gog, House Of Wax, It Came From Outer Space, Kiss Me Kate, The Maze, Money From Home, Phantom Of The Rue Morgue, Revenge Of The Creature, and Robot Monster

With many short films, including: Woody Woodpecker--"Hypnotic Hick", Three Stooges--"Pardon My Backfire", Three Stooges--"Spooks", Popeye--"The Ace Of Space", and Disney's "Working For Peanuts".

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Trying to live in communion

It's not a new challenge. St Paul addresses it in part of the reading from this morning's Office.

Romans 15:1-7
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me." For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Bomb's away

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Jesse Hyden has written an interesting and somewhat critical article titled "Thou shalt not" on Fr. David Roseberry of Christ Church in Plano and the troubles of the Episcopal Church in the July 27th issue of the Dallas Observer. Hyden turned to Fr. Stephen Waller of St. Thomas the Apostle in Dallas for comment as Roseberry's counterpart--another priest of the same diocese, but who is gay and leads a parish that is on the cutting edge of the liberal movement in the Episcopal Church.

Sometimes that kind of "tennis match" style of reporting gets a little tired, but fair enough. What blew me away, however, was when Waller goes on to drop the F-bomb in front of Hyden. As he tells the story in the article:

The way [Waller] sees it, the Bible teaches love and tolerance. How David Roseberry has lost sight of that is beyond him. "My grasp of truth, I believe, is a bit wider than his is, and I don't know why his has to be so narrow. It's unfortunate. He's got a wonderful thing going, why does he have to #*&% it up?"

The priest went on to clear the air with this condescending comment:
"I think what's going on with the conservative right in the Episcopal Church is causing all of us to have to prop up the building, and we wouldn't have to do it if they would just settle down. The general convention made its decision to elect Katharine Jefferts Schori presiding bishop, and nobody's head fell off. Gene Robinson is the only partnered gay bishop that we know of. We've made a decision that we're not likely to elect and consecrate somebody else because we don't want to offend anybody in the deepest, darkest Africa about this. What else do you want? What they want is Gene's head on a platter and Katharine to be a guy," Waller says.

I've heard my share (more than I care to hear) of potty-mouthed priests. Cussin' clergy is nothing new. Of course, before it had always fallen on the unstained ears when I was among colleagues, behind closed doors, or on some get-together away from the laity (usually after midnight, on the tail end of hours of hearty discussions).

Is Fr. Waller just trying to sound like Kinky Friedman--out to "dewussify Texas"? Does anyone else think this was way out of line? As for myself, I don't talk like that. But I can't imagine saying it in front of the laity or an unfamiliar ear--especially a reporter!

It seams to me to be rather self-defeating if he wants to make a point and have it be persuasive at all. After the F-bomb, I just can't help but ignore the rest that he has to say, thinking, "I guess he's not a very holy priest--not someone worth listening to about what the will of God might be." In other words, I gues when it comes to cussin' clergy, my rule is "Thou shalt not."

[BTW--Gene Robinson is not "the only partnered gay bishop that we know of." Bp. Otis Charles was among the flurry of same-sex weddings in San Francisco last year. But Robinson is probably the only one who was open about it when elected.]

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Let there be peace on earth

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Teens from the Ulster Project planning a farewell worship service at St. Alban's.

The Ulster Project was started in 1975 by the Rev'd Kerry Waterstone in order to provide a safe place in America for Northern Irish teenagers to discuss the climate of "the troubles" that was facing them at home. Currently, the project brings teens from eleven cities in Northern Ireland, including Belfast, Londonderry/Derry, Omagh, Coleraine, Strabane, Sion Mills, Limavady, Portadown, Castlederg, Enniskillen and Cookstown.

Once selected for the project, the Northern Irish teens meet extensively to form strong bonds with each other before leaving the country. As they will be far from the comforts of home, with only the rest of the teens and two Northern Irish counselors to guide them, the Northern Irish must trust each other implicitly before leaving the country. They begin meeting in January and continue to nurture their friendships until the project starts in July. The teens from Northern Ireland will live with their host families for the month of July, becoming an extra son or daughter in an American family.
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In the United States, there are currently 28 cities which host the Northern Irish teenagers, including Arlington, TX. Each city hosts a variable number of teens, from about eight to sixteen. In 2006, 256 Northern Irish teens are visiting the United States and participating in the project. In the Arlington Project, the opening reception for the project was held at St. Alban's school campus and the closing ecumenical worship service (which the participants have planned themselves) will be at St. Alban's Church on Thursday, 27 July at 7:30pm.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Stop! In the name of love

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Before you break my heart, think it o - wo - ver.

He is our peace

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Homily on Ephesians 2:11-22

Sally was a new resident at the home for the mentally ill. Every Thursday night, the residents gathered in the great hall for a group therapy session with visiting family and friends. The facilitator was also new to the institution, so he planned a group discussion to help him get to know the residents better. He began with a question: “Why are we all here?” After a few moments of silence, Sally raised her hand and said, “Is it because we’re not all there?”

It is said that there are two kinds of people in this world: those who divide people into two kinds of people, and those who don’t. For those who do—it always essentially comes down to the division between us and them. Are you one of us? Or are you one of them? But that ends up sounding a little bit hostile, doesn’t it? Of course you know it would be easier for us to get along,
if you weren’t one of them? It’s divisive by nature. Even as I’m using these generic terms, all around the room, our minds can’t help but start filling in the blanks, trying to identify “us” and “them.”

Of course this has no application for us today (he said with tongue in cheek). I think one of the most discouraging thing about problems in the Church today, is that all the innovations we are facing together are by nature so divisive—it automatically forces everyone to think and talk in terms of “us” and “them.” It tears us apart. It distresses our faith. We know that this is a reality of our world, and yet we still long for the unity and harmony that only God can give us.

When we seek Hezbolla launching hundreds of missiles into Nazareth, destroying the pleasant mental image we have of Jesus’ home town, we can see so clearly the need for peace in our day. So many people around the world are searching for peace. It’s obvious that our world needs peace. And yet it stays just out of reach.

In our epistle reading today, St Paul wants to remind the Ephesians of their past. He knows that if the gentiles forget who they were—ignorant pagans—they will soon presume that God owes them something and decide to live under their own merit rather than under God’s grace. Salvation, the Apostle insists, came to the gentiles by grace through faith, not through human works, but as a gift from God. We cannot boast of anything but God’s mercy. His warning is: Do Not Forget the Graciousness of God.

To keep them from forgetting the writer calls on the Ephesians to remember. Remember that there was a time when the “circumcised” derided you, calling you the “uncircumcised” and boasting of their privileged place in God's plan. Remember that you were without Christ and were strangers to the covenant, lacking hope and apart from God.

Yet Jesus brought you from afar into the very presence of God through his blood. He did not just make peace between you and God; Jesus is the peace between you and God. In creating his Church—the mystical Body of Christ, he tore down the wall of separation and made one people of Jew and gentile.

Remember that you could not enter the temple, the holy place. You could only go as far as the court of the genitles before the Temple guards would stop you in your tracks. There was a barrier between you and Israel even in God’s house. Now through Jesus, both have been granted access to the Father. You are no longer aliens, but you are citizens with equal standing and equally valued members of God’s household.

There is an intimate connection between Christ’s death and this new peace. Christ’s death and resurrection and the creation of his Church reorients us. It points us to the truth that the hostile division is not between us and them, it is between us and him—between human beings and God.

The root cause of all hostility is the pride of man—the innovation of human sin. Pride is what led to man’s first act of disobedience in the peaceful garden. Adam and Eve said, “We don’t want to do what God says. Who is God to tell us what to do? It's about us, not about him. We will do what we want to do. It's not about what he wants, it's about what we want. We know better, and we won't be fooled any longer.”

That’s pride, which is inherently hostile, for humility is what nurtures relationships, especially when it comes to our relationship to God. Human pride led to the sinful hostility between man and God. The same is true with our relationships with one another.

St Paul writes that "he himself"—Jesus Christ—is our peace. “He is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.” That is, Jesus completely fulfilled God’s will where we could notand would not do so.

St Paul continues, “His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” Our pride should melt away when we behold the cross and consider what it cost to bring us together. Our peace comes through bringing us all to kneel before the same Lord, to share in the same grace and the same salvation. But that peace has a very high price—the precious Blood of Jesus.

Yet he willingly and joyfully surrendered his life so that we could be brought together as one. Will we now show disregard for what Christ has done by not loving our fellow Christians for whom Christ also suffered and died? Even more, we should follow his revealed will in our Lord’s command to love all our neighbors as ourselves.

I love the hymn by Isaac Watts: "When I survey the wondrous cross, / On which the Prince of glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, / And pour contempt on all my pride." This passage from Ephesians must be recalled time and time again. Remember that at one time, you were hopless, cut off, excluded. Remember that your sins had shut you out of heaven. Appreciate again what Christ the Savior has done for you. His blood has opened wide heaven’s door.

You who were once stopped outside the Temple, now you are God’s Temple. The proclamations of many churches would lead you to think that the gentiles have always had equal access to God. The truth of our past drives us to amnesia because we want to forget that there was a time when we did not belong. But let’s not jump too quickly back into our acceptance in Christ. Let us linger in the court of the gentiles a little longer. Let us stay out here for a while—alienated, locked out, cast away. Let us be reminded, lest we forget, lest we boast.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram once reported that firefighters in Genoa, Texas, were accused of deliberately setting more than forty destructive fires. When caught, they stated, “We had nothing to do. We just wanted to get the red lights flashing and the bells clanging.” Of course, the job of firefighters is to put out fires, not start them. The job of Christians is to help resolve conflict, not to start more of it. The work of the Church is to transform the culture, not to copy it. The ministry of God’s people is to witness to his will, not to circumvent and betray it.

Are we sharing in Christ’s work of being our peace with God? Are we sharing in his labor of smashing walls of hostility and of healing wounds of pride with outpourings of humility? Are we the Church of the living God, the Temple of the most High, children of our heavenly Father, the mystical Body of Christ? Are we indeed all these things? Or are we not?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Where were you 37 years ago?

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Neil Armstrong was out at the lake--Tranquility, that is.

The first manned landing on the Moon by Apollo XI on 20 July 1969, is one of history's most significant events. Neil Armstrong's words, "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind," are known by people worldwide. Less well known is what occurred immediately after landing at the Sea of Tranquility. Lunar Module pilot Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin made an act of Holy Communion from the reserved Sacrament (outside his own diocese, I might add).

Aldrin, a layman from St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Nassau Bay, TX, brought the blessed Sacrament in both species in his personal kit. Due to political concerns, NASA kept this event under wraps for two decades. The published memoirs of Dr. Aldrin, combined with Tom Hanks' HBO mini-series, From the Earth to the Moon (1998), made millions aware of this humble act of "workplace witness." Colonel Aldrin, with an earned doctorate in astrophysics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was acknowledged as the most highly educated of the first astronauts; he was a "true scientist," yet respected by peers as an unabashed Christian.

The First Holy Communion on the Moon is significant in other ways:
+ The first liquid ever poured in the Moon's 1/6th gravity was the Blood of Christ.
+ The first food and drink consumed by humans on another celestial body was the blessed Sacrament.
+ The most remote act of worship (235,000 miles from Earth) ever undertaken was this lay-led office from the Book of Common Prayer.

That event led to the approval of the following propers for a common of space exploration this year.

Job 38: 4-12, 16-18
Psalm 19:1-6, or Canticle 12
Revelation 1:7-8, 12-16
John 15:5-9
Preface of God the Father or the Epiphany

Collect for Space Exploration

Creator of the universe, whose dominion extends through the immensity of space: guide and guard those who seek to fathom its mysteries [especially N.N.]. Save us from arrogance lest we forget that our achievements are grounded in thee, and, by the grace of thy Holy Spirit, protect our travels beyond the reaches of earth, that we may glory ever more in the wonder of thy creation: through Jesus Christ, thy Word, by whom all things came to be, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Being crushed by voyeurism

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Cartoon by Jeff MacNelly, 23 January 1998

Are we as a society and as individuals being crushed by voyeurism? I think I heard the statement on the radio the other day in a discussion about the news coverage of war in Israel and Lebanon. Here are some random thoughts.

It made me think of how Melisa jokes about me being addicted to the E! television network in their programs like "101 most embarrassing celebrity moments." It made me think how news coverage has changed over the years, becoming more and more like Entertainment Tonight. It made me think of the stories about teachers and others professionals being fired after posing risque photos of themselves on "my space." It made me think of church worship and church architecture, becoming more and more like theaters, including dramatic skits and with emphasis on the need to see and hear everything.

It also made me think of Gus, the gentle blind dog who quietly sits at the back of the chapel at every service each morning and evening at the Lake Delaware boys camp. And it made me take notice of one of the verses from yesterday's appointed evening psalm:

Psalm 119:37
Turn my eyes from watching what is worthless; *
give me life in your ways.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

It feels like 110 degrees outside!

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But it's really no more than 107.

Bishop Wright on being Simply Christian

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N. Tom Wright, the Bishop of Durham has a new book out called Simply Christian. He is a delightful (and believing) New Testament scholar who is always worth the read. This book is similar in tone to C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. I have two other of Wright's books written for the laity that I picked up at seminary which I have also enjoyed. One is called What Saint Paul Really Said, and another one co-authored with liberal scholar Marcus Borg called The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions.

Bishop Wright was in Washington as a part of a book tour through the "National" Cathedral of Ss Peter and Paul. Their website offers video of his delightful and engaging talk about the subject of his most recent book. I recommend it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

My wife is a dollmaker

As some of you know, I am not the only one who is handy with a needle and thread in the Matkin home. My wife Melisa (also known as "the Coppermouse") is a wonderful dollmaker. Here are some of her recent creations.
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You can keep track of her creations at her blog I am a Dollmaker. You can also buy some of her dolls on eBay. Just check here to see what is currently available.

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Doing some embroidery

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On my vacation time, I've been doing some hand embroidery work, which my wife taught me how to do a few weeks ago. I'm working on what will be twelve red shields with the symbols of the Twelve Apostles. I'm about half-way through the set. The one pictured in the ring above is James the Less, signified by a hand saw.

These shields are to go on the red velvet orphrey of the red cope that I have just made (the last piece of my red solemn set that I made for my ordination to the diaconate). I'll post a picture when it's all completed.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Can we go forward in hope?

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Audio from the Forward in Hope Conference is now available here on the Forward in Faith website.

This is a "Christian" church, right?

From the interview with Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jeffert Schori in Time magazine:

Is belief in Jesus the only way to get to heaven?
We who practice the Christian tradition understand him as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.

With the death of reason, can the death of love be far behind?


Rev. [Donna] Schaper, pastor of Judson Memorial Church in New York City, wrote a recent article for the liberal Jewish monthly Tikkun about the abortion she had nineteen years ago. She says she's "neither bragging nor apologizing."

. . . She even names the aborted child, "Alma," which means soul. She also admits that what she did was the taking of a human life. She even calls it murder:

"I did what was right for me, for my family, for my work, for my husband, and for my three children. I happen to agree that abortion is a form of murder. I think the quarrel about when life begins is disrespectful to the fetus. I know I murdered the life within me. I could have loved that life but chose not to. I did what men do all the time when they take us to war: they choose violence because, while they believe it is bad, it is still better than the alternatives."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Interview with a believer

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I've been reading Anne Rice's new book Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, a first person narrative of the seven-year-old Jesus whose family is returning from Alexandria to Nazareth. I'm enjoying the book very much, and I look forward to the rest in the Christ the Lord series. But even more captivating than the novel itself is the long Author's Note at the end of the book talking about her faith journey away from God and then back to him. I wanted to share some highlights.

She first notes, "Without planning it, I've moved backwards in history, from the nineteenth century, where I felt at home in my first two novels, to the first century, where I sought the answer to enormous questions that became an obsession with me that I simply could not ignore. Ultimately, the figure of Jeus Christ was at the heart of this obsession."
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Rice had a strict Catholic upbringing at St. Alphonsus Church (above) and parochial school. For various reasons, she lost her faith and left the Church in college at age 18. She always loved writing and quickly found success with her vampire novels.

She continues, "In 1974, I became a published writer. The novel reflected my guilt and misery in being cut off from God and without my salvation; my being lost in a world without light. . . . After that, I wrote many novels without my being aware that they reflected my quest for meaning in a world without God."

Rice describes what began to pull her back home in the research she did for her novels. In studying ancient history, she says, "I stumbled upon a mystery without a solution, a mystery so immense that I gave up trying to find an explanation because the whole mystery defied belief. That mystery was the survival of the Jews. . . . It was this mystery that drew me back to God."

In 1998, Rice made her confession and returned to the Church. She movingly describes the death of her husband Stan in 2002, and how he consented to marry her in the Church before he died. From that point until 2005, she poured herself into reading the New Testament. She describes wrestling with the texts and with scholars to come to an understanding of Jesus in order to to tell his story anew.

She explains, "I wanted to write the life of Jesus Christ. I had known that years ago. But now I was ready. I was ready to do violence to my career. I wanted to write the book in the first person. Nothing else mattered. I consecrated the book to Christ. I consecrated myself and my work to Christ."

All I can say is, "Well done."

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Grab your 3-D glasses

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I was looking around the net and found these spectacular anaglyphic 3-D images the other day. The photos below are of the Mars rover and some pebbles on the martian surface.
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Here are some pictures I took around the Matkin home.
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For those of you without glasses, you can cross your eyes to view these photos from the Matkin home in stereoscopic 3-D.
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Holiday movie marathon

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It seems that each holiday, I end up watching movies that revolve around a similar theme. At Thanksgiving, it tends to be disaster movies or spy movies (in which the bad guys are trying to create a disaster). On Independence Day, I think I like fight'n' movies best.
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After the fireworks, we started it off with the outstanding documentary about Robert McNamara called The Fog of War. After that, we continued the fireworks theme with a documentary about nuclear testing called Trinity and Beyond.
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Lastly, we watched the movie Batman Begins. It was the first time Melisa had seen it, and we both loved it. But this time around, I noticed how much Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) looks like President Bush. That added a whole new dimension to the story of a young sucessor to a powerful family who goes around the world fighting the bad guys as the caped crusader.
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To salute or not to salute?

Similar to my previous post is the question for clergy as to whether they ought to salute the flag during the singing of the national anthem or during the saying of the pledge of allegiance. I can see both arguments.

One would say that clergymen should model good citizenship and salute. They would point to St Paul's advice on being good citizens and back that up with the compatibility between our religious and national allegiances. They might also point out that in some cases (such as priests of the Church of England) the clergy function as officers of both the church and the state.

Another group would argue against it. They would point out that Christian citizenship is primarily in heaven, and it is this heavenly citizenship that the clergy are supposed to image for us. As a foreigner would not salute or pledge allegiance to a flag that is not his own, neither should the clergyman. In addition, the priest is ordained for the whole church, not for a particular locality. As a catholic ("according to the whole") priest, he should stand above national allegiance rather than under it. The clergy should show us above all that Christianity is universal and thus respectfully not salute.

As I said, I can see both sides. Any thoughts?

Monday, July 03, 2006

To clap or not to clap in church?

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While I'm having some vacation time, it's an opportunity for me to visit other parishes. Last Sunday, I thought I'd go to Christ Church in Plano, long touted as the largest [formerly] Episcopal congregation in the country. I had been there several times for different functions over the years, but this was my first time to attend worship there on a Sunday morning.
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It is an evangelical "low church" congregation, so I knew there would be some things not to my liking (stacking books on top of the tabernacle was the only thing I found offensive). From the start, I was confronted by that awkward question: "To clap, or not to clap?"

As it was the Sunday before Independence Day (which is a major feast on our calendar), patriotic music was played. The prelude was a rousing performance of "the Stars and Stripes Forever" on the piano. And yet it seemed so odd that many in the congregation burst into a standing ovation at the end. I did not clap, and stayed seated.

In place of the Gloria, a soprano sang the National Anthem (but only the unanswered question of the first stanza). Now this is not exactly the "hymn of praise" the Prayer Book may have had in mind as a fitting substitute for that ancient hymn to the Trinity, but hey, it's a special occasion. I understood. It did, however feel very odd that everyone around me was saluting the American flag during this "hymn of praise" and burst into applause at the end. My hands stayed by my side.

The sequence hymn was another excellent solo by Handel--"Let the Bright Seraph." At the end of that solo? More clapping. And at the end of that standing ovation? "Please remain standing for the gospel reading." I did clap once later on, however, at a line in the sermon that was particularly moving. So what's the difference?

It felt natural to clap in the sermon to let the speaker know I am encouraged by what he said. It was essentially to communicate something like, "Amen! Preach it, brother." However, it felt very awkward to applaud at the end of a musical offering (and the Rector did refer to it as an "offering"). After all, we don't clap at the end of a well-prayed prayer or when we see someone put a check in the offering plate, so why would we applause at the end of an offering in song--a "prayer prayed twice"? I understand the desire to show warmth and enthusiasm in parish worship, but to me, clapping makes it all seem like just entertainment. Any thoughts?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The "Kenyan touch?"

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Left: Anglican Bishop Joseph Wasonga of Maseno West in Kenya.

After reading about two controversies over an unauthorized concelebration between Anglican and Roman Catholic priests (one in a priory in Ireland and another more recently in Arizona), it got me thinking about the mutual recognition of orders and that led me to recall the old effort to resolve the problem through the "Dutch touch" and that led me to remember a conversation I once had about . . . the "Kenyan touch."

For those unfamiliar with the problem, while Anglicans recognize the validity of Roman Catholic ordinations, the reverse is not the case (at least officially). The 1896 papal bull Apostolicae Curae clarified that the Vatican considers Anglican orders to be "absolutely null and utterly void" because of a defect of form and intention in the Prayer Book ordinal which broke the chain of apostolic succession after the Reformation period. Thus, Roman Catholics may not receive Holy Communion in Anglican churches and Roman priests are not permitted to invite Anglican priests to join in the consecration of the Eucharist (of course, they would neither be at liberty to invite another cleric whose orders are considered valid but who are not in full communion with Rome).

On to the "Dutch touch." When the ecumenical movement was gathering steam in the early 1900s, an attempt was made to remedy this obstacle to corporate reunion with Rome. Since Rome acknowledged the validity orders in Old Catholic churches of the Union of Utrecht (with whom the Anglicans had recently entered into a relationship of full intercommunion), an effort would be made to gradually and intentionally make sure that the stream of succession from the Dutch was merged with the English.

At each ordination, the protocol was documented, with the Church of Utrecht bishop stating that he was participating in order to pass along the Dutch line of succession, and another ducument from the new Anglican bishop stating that in episcopal consecrations he performed, it was his intention to convey the Dutch succession. Fr John Hunwicke noted, "Both of these documents constitute a tacit reference to Apostolicae Curae and imply a willingness to address that Bull as a significant reality in ecclesial life. In a sense, they say 'We care about Pope Leo's condemnation of our Orders; and we are remedying the alleged defect in ways that (we hope) will be acceptable in his terms'." His full article on the subject may be found here (see the appendix for the texts of the documents in question).

Canon J. A. Douglas described the significance of the practice by noting, "The fact that [Bishop Simpson] had the intention to pass on the Old Catholic stream of Episcopal Succession might be of no small importance in given future conditions . . . if ultimately the stream of the Old Catholic succession is completely merged with the Anglican . . . the most severe Roman Catholic will find it hard to question the validity of Anglican Orders."

Of course, with the advent of the ordination of women and other serious Anglican departures from traditional faith and practice, the point of combining successions became moot. Canterbury and Rome were now moving apart, not together. Yet if full communion is to ever be established, the Roman doubt about our orders will need to be remedied to Rome's satisfaction--either through massive reordinations at that time, or by participating in ordinations in advance.

Which leads me to the "Kenyan touch." Back in the Spring of 2000, I was a Junior seminarian at Nashotah House. Every Wednesday was work crew in the afternoon. I was assigned to the library, along with fellow seminarians Jefferson Otwell and Joseph Wasonga (a Kenyan bishop on sabbatical at the time). One Wednesday afternoon when we had finished our chores, the three of us were standing around the bookcases talking. The subject turned to Africa and the life of the church there. We asked all kinds of questions. What are the churches like? What challenges do your parishes face? What are ecumenical relations like?

Bishop Wasonga said ecumenical relations are very good. "We get along with the Catholic bishops very well. They always come when we consecrate a new bishop." Something made me pause and ask for clarification. "Your Grace, do you mean they attend as ecumenical guests?" He replied, "Oh, no. They consecrate the bishop with us."

Jefferson and I looked at each other with faces of disbelief. Maybe the bishop's English wasn't so good (although it had always been better than my English). I questioned him again, "Do you mean that the Roman Catholic bishops attend in choir and are present for the consecrations, or that they are among the consecrating bishops?" He answered, "They consecrate the new bishop too." Still disbelieving I went on, saying, "Your Grace, do you mean they wear mitres and lay their own hands on the new bishop's head and say all the words they are supposed to say in the ordination rite?"

"Yes, yes!" Wasonga replied.

It is still hard for me to believe. Perhaps things are different out on the mission front. This is the only Anglican bishop in Kenya I've had the priviledge of speaking with about this. If anyone else has further details to add (to disprove or to corroborate), please comment.