It’s Not about Sex

Just up the road from here, an Episcopal "priest" (I hate that term for Anglican ministers) tell us us about why It’s Not about Sex:

I believe the archbishop’s essay underscores what really is going on within the Anglican Communion and beyond. Debate about sexuality, or more precisely, homosexuality, is not really the issue; it is, rather, a very significant symptom. The real issue is this divide about how the Bible is to be interpreted and understood, and its place in the life of the church. Human sexuality is the current favourite battleground for this more significant debate about Scripture. And it is no surprise that in setting forth his views about the Bible and its place in the church, Archbishop Orombi indicates that he feels much more kinship with the evangelical manifestations of the Christian faith than he does with most Anglicans in the North Atlantic provinces. I am quite sure that, if the archbishop visited my town, he would feel more at home at the huge Baptist church down the street than in our parish. And realizing this leads me to feel rather less hopeful about re-establishing unity within the Anglican Communion.

As far as the role of Scripture is concerned, he’s absolutely right.  But then he follows it up with a mushy, ambiguous ramble that ends with the following:

Wouldn’t it be a remarkable thing if all the Anglican bishops were to gather together at Canterbury next year fully aware of their own incompleteness, and seeking their completion in Christ and in one another? That would be by far the most powerful witness I could imagine, both to the church and to the world.

Sermons like this is one major reason why I left the Episcopal Church.  His immediate fallacy of course, is that the central focus of the church is either the Bible or Jesus Christ.  It isn’t an either/or proposition; it’s a both/and one.  The written Word of God is there to draw us to and teach us about the living One.  Beyond that, he goes into good Episcopal/Anglican fudge to try to make the case that people like Archbishop Orombi are too quick to characterise them as a "closed-ended" revelation.

A church that follows such a vague path is pointless.  In a recent dialogue with a Muslim, we both found ourselves disliking the idea of an open-ended road to eternal life.  Perhaps if our East Tennessee priest would take a more definite view of where he’s at, where he’s going and how he plans to get there, he might be surprised at the "unity" he would find.

The Saudis and Their Dangerous Game

It’s little wonder that U.S. Officials Voice Frustrations With Saudis’ Role in Iraq. The wonder is that they haven’t sooner.

Saudi Arabia is trying to do two things at once:

  • Spread Wahhabi/Salafi Islam throughout the Muslim world through a well-financed system of patronage (mosques, imams, etc.)  Salafism attempts to return Islam to the faith and practice of Mohammed and his companions.  It is very strict and fundamental.  Although Salafis will attempt to tell you that bin Laden and his ilk are more influenced by modern currents (Marxism, Nazism) the truth is that, in a faith where religion and politics are a unity, sooner or later someone is going to try to put Salafism into action on a widespread basis, as many Islamicists want to do.
  • Prevent internal dissidents and external rivals (such as Shi’ite Iran) from taking over the country.  For all of its oil wealth and holy sites, Saudi Arabia is a relatively weak country.

One explanation of this weakness is that the nature of the House of Saud (now running in five figures in membership) makes for a house divided against itself (to use a good Biblical expression.)  There is some merit to this argument.  It would explain why U.S. officials (used to a more set piece type of existence) find the Saudis equivocal.

But ultimately the Saudis are playing with fire.  It’s good foreign policy to try to keep all of the "balls up in the air" (as a juggler would do) and thus your potential rivals off balance.  The British used to do this in their imperial days.  But trying to export a tough version of Islam and expect your ship to stay afloat in the tempest it creates is asking too much.  The Saudis’ game is dangerous, and not just for them either.

Russian youth: Stalin good, migrants must go

In thinking about the recent poll Russian youth: Stalin good, migrants must go, one is reminded of the following concerning another brutal Russian tyrant, Ivan the Terrible:

By the 1580’s Russian society had assumed the essential shape it was to retain until 1861; despite war and revolution vestiges of it have survived until today.

During and since Ivan’s lifetime Russian and foreign writers have argued bitterly about the Terrible Tsar…To what extent was the disturbed personality of Ivan IV itself responsible for the events of his reign, and therefore for the transformation of Russian society?…

Also by 1582, Ivan killed his son and hair and his pregnant daughter-in-law, leaving only the mentally and physically handicapped Theodore Ioannovich to succeed him when he died two years later.  Were these apocalyptic events the results of a ‘class struggle’ as so many from Giles Fletcher onwards have suggested?  Or could it be that a powerful but deranged individual was able to impose himself on a country in which the social classes had not yet developed to the point at which effective resistance could be organised? (Lionel Kochan and Richard Abraham, The Making of Modern Russia.  London: Penguin Books, 1983, pp. 42, 44)

Ivan the Terrible’s legacy has long survived him, even with today’s Russian youth.

Like Ivan the Terrible, Stalin imposed himself on a country where the classes were in a definite state of flux, and did so with brutality against which even Ivan’s paled.  Although Americans are shocked that Russian youth look up to Stalin, the truth is that democracy as understood in the English speaking world is not a taste that the Russians have acquired with their centuries of autocracy.  To expect a change in idea overnight–especially after the chaos and rampant corruption of the "wide open" Yeltsin years–is to expect too much too fast, just as the Bush Administration’s expectations of democracy in the Middle East are equally unrealistic.

Next Time, Hire a Real Indian

The lesson of the Ward Churchill saga Ward Churchill Saga is simple: if you want real ethnic diversity and the viewpoints that come with it, hire someone with real non-white background.

Living in "Cherokee Country," the University of Colorado would have had a better shot at this if they had walked into just about any Pentecostal (and many other Evangelical churches as well) congregation around here and picked someone at random.  And their viewpoint would have a lot different from most of the faculty than Ward Churchill.

TitusOneNine – A Tech Update from Greg Griffith re: a Denial of Service attack on the SF/T19 server

Earlier this year, in the post Create Your Own Anglican Communion Network I said the following:

Note that your computer can pick up more than your own router.  This works both ways, and illustrates our next point: you need to set up your wireless network with whatever security you can manage, otherwise a TEC revisionist (who will be angered when they see your “Anglican communion network” in their own backyard) or other hacker could easily get into your network and create a mess or download things that you would expect a TEC revisionist to enjoy.

Now we have TitusOneNine – A Tech Update from Greg Griffith re: a Denial of Service attack on the SF/T19 server, which documents a DOS attack on those two orthodox Anglican blogs.

It’s just too creepy out here these days…

Maybe It’s Time to Emigrate

Lydia Playfoot’s loss of her legal action to wear a chastity ring brings to mind two previous posts:

But it also brings up something else, this time from the appendix dealing with "Weights, Measures and Currency" of the Positive Infinity New Testament:

The use of Bahamian paper explains how many of the pounds, shillings and pence got on this page; it came out of having to learn how to count it and spend it while in the Bahamas. The good news was that this education could be had in a place with a warm climate and people. This also illustrates one of the characteristics of the old British Empire: many of the colonies were improvements over the mother country. Why else would two small islands be able to populate two entire continents with the people who either wanted or had to leave, to say nothing of the “expatriates” in places such as South Africa and India?

Many of those emigrants left for reasons of religious freedom.

It seems that the UK (and a lot of the supposedly "free" West) is moving to the idea that the only way freedom can be guaranteed when everyone is a secularist, which is enforced groupthink.  Perhaps it’s time for her move to a place where her religious convictions are more honoured than in the UK (and, unlike the US, are not in medium-term jeopardy.)  It’s something easier to do while young; the older one gets, the harder it is to make the move.

If Poverty is Their Theme, They’re in Trouble

The Boston Globe’s report that poverty is the key theme for Democrats is a combination of wishful thinking and a blind faith in the success of past programs.

The thinking is wishful for one simple reason: the Democrat party is largely controlled by elites who have no concept of what poverty means or how to fix it.  On top of that they have a visceral distaste for those who are in it.  That’s why it’s so much easier for them to support "justice" causes for people more like them: the secularisation of society, homosexuals and the like.  Given that they would end up paying for direct assistance to the poor, I can’t help but think that this sudden interest in the poor is sentimental (or a form of vote buying) up front and a non-starter once in power.

The one candidate who breaks the mould in this regard is John Edwards.  He is, in some ways, one–and maybe one of the last–in a long line of Southern populists like Huey Long.  The media has focused on the $400 haircuts and the multi-million dollar house, but this an accepted part of the genre.  As with preachers, Edwards’ success–and his flaunting of it–is a sign that, if he can do it, his followers can too, which is a way of projecting hope.  Edwards is a bona fide product of the kind of background and people that the Democrats are supposed to be helping in this new emphasis.

But Edwards is swimming against the tide.  The rest of the candidates are too much a part of their party’s elite.  The most complicated case is that of Hillary Clinton.  Like Edwards, Bill Clinton came up from nothing, and in the same culture too.  But Bill was too good of a politician to push a hard social agenda in his day.  For her part Hillary has doubtless found her years in Arkansas too distasteful for her to empathise with people like those in Marks, MS, described in the article.

As is the case with the Episcopal Church, if your organisation isn’t the preferential option of the poor, it doesn’t have the preferential option for the poor.

The One Thing They Forgot to Tell Us

The death of Tammy Faye Bakker Messner–and her tumultuous life and career–is a reminder that the greatest weakness of "prosperity teaching" is that it never tells you how to handle the success it brings.

Two years ago I discussed the whole business of unrealistic expectations wrapped in defective methodologies, another weakness of this kind of Christianity, in If You’re Going to Take the Land, Take It.   But what happens when "name it and claim it" actually does work?  Sadly things like what happened to Jim and Tammy Faye, in all too many cases.

Before you set out on your "road to riches," you need to do as Solomon did:

“And Solomon went up thither to the brasen altar before the LORD, which was at the tabernacle of the congregation, and offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it. In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said unto God, Thou hast shewed great mercy unto David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead. Now, O LORD God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great? And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.” 2 Chronicles 1:6-12, KJV.

Yahweh in the Morning: Our God is Our King

People who attended any of the conferences–youth and leaders—at the Catholic Charismatic (and Franciscan) University of Steubenville in the early 1980’s will remember the group Emmanuel.  Our podcast this week kicks off Emmanuel’s second album, Yahweh in the Morning, with the track Our God is Our King.

Yahweh in the Morning (EM002) was released in 1979.  The people involved were as follows:

  • Emmanuel Members
    • Mike Clark
    • Tom Cramer
    • Mary Crienjak
    • Dave Fatula
    • John and Barbara Flaherty
    • Julia Norton
    • Cincy Teynor
    • Betty Jo Thompson
  • Producer: Martin Leifeld
  • Director: Elsie Luke
  • Recording Engineer: Henry Root

More information on this and Emmanuel’s previous album can be found here.