Going Back to the Ones That I Know…

Pope Benedict XVI is certainly shaking things up in his "new" approaches to the Mass, Anglicans and Orthodox. It has more profound implications that many people realise.

To start with, he’s being more proactive to Anglo-Catholicism than many anticipated.  In Think Before You Convert, I figured that the Roman Catholic Church would simply pick up those who "swam the Tiber" in the wake of what Damian Thompson referred to as the "car wreck" of the Anglican Communion.  (The old British car, I might add!)  Obviously His Holiness has a different idea, and it will be interesting to see how this proceeds.

That proactivity may be facilitated by his moves with the liturgy, making it easier to use the Tridentine Mass.  Note should be taken how he’s done this.  Instead of eliminating the Novus Ordo Missae or establishing a formal system of parishes that use it, he simply took the power to regulate it out of the hands of bishops.  With the easier feedback now available, liberal bishops who try to get in the way of "progress" can be ratted on.  (Oh, that we would have had this a long time ago…)  It’s a decidedly "bottom-up" approach.  But it also is a step away from the breezy informality that the Mass is celebrated with in many places, putting Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic practice more in synch with each other.

All of this–including his dialogue with the Orthodox–shows that the current Pontiff is trying to re-establish Roman Catholicism’s traditional view of itself while at the same time do so in a way that makes more progress in the present world.  It’s "going back to the ones that I know" (Tull fans will recognise this) in a new way.

But those outside of the circle that Benedict is creating need to take heed: dialogue with Roman Catholicism will become more difficult as the church reverts (in some ways) to a more pre-Vatican II stance.  Remember, this is the man that reminded the world that we (outside of this circle) may not be a church after all.

America’s disappearing middle class

The declining share of low and moderate income workers in the American pie is undeniable; the relative share of such workers peaked as long ago as 1973. For those with only high school qualifications or less, their absolute earnings peaked in 1973 and have declined substantially since then. From 1973 to 1995, this appeared to be simply a case of the rewards for skills increasing, with low skilled workers suffering increasingly in terms of earnings and job losses compared to those with a bachelor’s degree or better. Since 2000, however, the paradigm has changed, with all sectors of the workforce losing ground in absolute terms, except for the top 1% who have gained essentially all of the modest gains in employee incomes under the George W Bush administration.

Read it all.  It’s interesting to note the gap in his analysis–which pervades the article–between 1995 and 2000, which covers most of the Clinton administration.  Same administration is noteworthy for its inaction in addressing the income disparity problem, content with letting Robert Rubin and Alan Greenspan direct the economy.  I don’t think that Hillary will repeat this inaction, but then again Hillary’s socialistic tendencies will not allow the economic growth necessary to facilitate the correction of the inequities we have in our society.  Before it’s over with, she will make both her husband and her opponents look like geniuses.

I also don’t entirely agree with the following:

The standard centrist and conservative response to inequality, that increased investment in education will solve the problem, is mostly tosh. A substantial percentage of the workforce, while perfectly capable of supporting themselves, are wholly unable to benefit from higher education at a sophisticated level, while “community college” higher education often provides them with skills that are marketable for a few years at best. Thus, increased investment in education is likely to have little effect at the lower end, beyond perhaps a few rare cases of successful remediation, while delaying inordinately the entry of those with high-end skills into the workforce.

The central problem with our education system is that it doesn’t really ground students in the basics, which are the things people do carry with them throughout life.

The Best Proof is in the Results

Ever since I wrote my first piece on The Golden Compass, I’ve noticed an uptick in interest in this site from secularists and atheists.  Now Black Sun adds his idea to my piece Sonny Perdue Prays for Rain. Why Not?

Maybe you could help yourselves out of your own human-created mess instead of a pathetic appeal to a non-existent God to make up for your own poor planning. Ridiculous. Appealing to a higher power is the surest way to see that nothing whatsoever gets done.

Evidently I’m too subtle again.  The central problem atheists and secularists are going to have to deal with is that the strongest "proof" of their idea will have to be the success of totally human institutions.  That’s where Marxism got itself into trouble: it was relatively simple to outlaw the "opiate of the people" but much harder to build a society of long-term viability without it.  Atheism and secularism are tied to humanism whether they like it or not.

His bringing up the nuclear plant is a good case in point.  As I pointed out two and a half years ago in The Obvious Solution, we could have had more nuclear power in the US had not luddite liberals blocked it. Many of us in the engineering community are still very regretful over this.  Where were the secularists when that fiasco was taking place?  Development of nuclear power would have advanced both our energy independence and reduced our emissions of CO2.  The road to "scientific" solutions is not as straightforward as secularists would have us believe.

As far as his contention that "appealing to a higher power is the surest way to see that nothing whatsoever gets done," that simply isn’t correct.  We were put here by our Creator to exercise stewardship over same creation, and that stewardship includes use of the creation for human survival and progress in such a way that the use can be sustainably perpetuated.  That involves the construction and maintenance of public works.  Good grief, you had water management in ancient Israel in such projects as the Gihon spring.

But we’re not dealing with God’s chosen people here, we’re dealing with the descendants of the same people who didn’t build an industrial base before entering a suicidal civil war.  And we live in a country which has a general aversion to invest its resources in public works of any kind.  By secularistic logic, our proactivity with public works should increase as our belief in God decreases, but that just isn’t happening.

Sonny Perdue Prays for Rain. Why Not?

Secularists can laugh all they want as Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue prays for rain amid drought, but it doesn’t change the fact that the other higher powers involved haven’t come through for the state in general and Atlanta in particular.

The Feds are too scared that certain species will be harmed to slow the flow into the Chattahoochee River and out of Lake Lanier.  And needless to say, in spite of much warning, no one else seems to have been planning for this problem.

As long as human institutions fail, appeal to divine intervention will continue.

Dollar Hegemony is Truly Toast

A couple of weeks ago, I commented on the end of dollar hegemony.  Many of you doubtless thought I was smoking crack.

On a recent visit to the New York area, I got to spend time with my cousin, who works in a Manhattan based hedge fund.  Ignorant of the wide variety of cuisine the area has to offer, I asked her to pick the place so her family and ended up at a restaurant that calls itself ‘The Rupee Room.’  (This is excellent, by the way.)

When New York hedge fund managers take you to The Rupee Room, you can make book on it that dollar hegemony is toast.

Yet Another Baptismal Certificate, and Why I Blog About the Anglican/Episcopal World

I’ve been presenting a series of baptismal certificate forms (the back of them) on this site; this is another, from the mid-1960’s.

It is very similar to the one from the 1920’s except for the formatting.

All three baptismal certificates can be downloaded in one pdf file by clicking here.

Now that orthodox Anglicans can produce proper baptismal paperwork, they can turn their attention to other weighty matters, such as the proper training of acolytes and paying your youth choir (I hope you don’t imitate the latter!)

Why I Blog About the Anglican/Episcopal World

Many (including one of Titusonenine‘s elves) who visit this blog/website (it some of both) assume that, because I spend so much time commenting about the Anglican/Episcopal world, that I must be a part of it. The story about how I ended up doing this is has many twists and turns.

I was raised in the Episcopal Church, baptised and confirmed at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach. (George Conger, the well known Anglican journalist, is also an alumnus of Bethesda.) In logical progression, I went to the Diocese of South Florida’s (now Southeast Florida) Episcopal prep school, St. Andrew’s. That experience made such an impact that I swam the Tiber as a Sixth Former, irritating the school’s liberal chaplain.

That decision in turn led me into the Charismatic Renewal, which in turn led to a long period of fluidity in my church commitment. That fluidity ended when I married my wife, who introduced me to the Church of God, a Pentecostal church. I joined that church and have been a member ever since.

In 1996, our family having divested itself of the business we were in, I was offered the position of Coordinator of Field Services for the Church of God Department of Lay Ministries, which I accepted. The Department, which is a denominational ministry, primarily oversees two ministries: men’s ministry and personal evangelism. A little over nine years later I was promoted to Ministries Coordinator, which is the #2 position in the Department.

The Church of God has more in common with its Anglican/Episcopal counterparts than one might think. To start with, COG has a centralised, episcopal form of government, more centralised in many ways than TEC. A corollary of that is that the local church property is held in trust for the general church, much as it is under the Dennis Canon in the TEC. The main difference between the two is that, while COG’s practice is more or less consistent from the the start of the denomination, TEC’s history is more complex and the practice of property holding amongst the parishes has more variations, which the Dennis Canon attempted to solve ex post facto. Finally, the Pentecostal view of Christianity, with its Wesleyan-Holiness antecedents, is directly descended from the Anglican one via its rejection of rigid Calvinistic perseverance by Article XVI.

But that certainly didn’t end my interest in the Anglican world. In 2003, I began to write/rewrite my fictional series The Island Chronicles. Much of the background research for that drew me into Anglican/Episcopal worship and polity, which in turn made me take a look at what was currenly going on there. At that time this meant the ordination of Vickie Gene Robinson, and websites such as Virtue Online (and later Titusonenine) showed me that there were orthodox Anglicans who were prepared to fight for what they believed in. I was impressed by this. I knew I wanted to do something to help. But what?

The first “what” was the publication of the online versions of the 1662 and 1928 Books of Common Prayer (I actually developed one for the fiction, too.) When this was first linked to in the spring of 2004, the site traffic suddenly jumped. I knew I had something of interest, so I started Anglican Corner and continued to keep up with events and add pieces on the subject. When I launched a blog in 2005, I was able to continue writing and commenting on the subject.

It’s easy for Evangelicals to be critical of those who chose to stay in TEC, although I made my choice a long time ago. But the longer I follow this ecclesiastical drama the more sympathetic I am with those who did, although I think their position is presently untenable. And following Anglican blogs and news services has been an education in other ways:

  • Anglicans tend to deal with the more serious issues facing the church, not only concerning human sexuality but many others, and frequently with more depth than other non-Catholic sources do. Too many Evangelicals are focused on the immediate needs of their flock or are trying to reactivate revival as the primary method of growing the Gospel in society (it’s working in the Global South but not in North America) to step back and look at some of the long-term issues they’re facing.
  • All of the new Anglican entities in North America (and soon coming to the UK?) need to be more entrepreneurial than they have been accustomed to be in the past. In this respect they have a lot to learn from their Evangelical (and particularly their Pentecostal) counterparts. This is because parishes joining these entities generally lose the property and certainly lose the “brand name” that still carries a lot of weight in the US in spite of the best efforts of reappraisers to screw it up.
  • The invasion of the Global South provinces into the US is of great comfort to reasserting Anglicans, but it is of historical import to the rest of us. The centre of gravity of Christianity is shifting to the Third World, and the whole idea of third-world people overseeing upscale Anglicans in the US is definitely “ahead of the curve” for many people on both sides of the divide.

In 1968, the demonstrators in the streets of Chicago shouted, “The whole world’s watching!” That’s true of the Anglican/Episcopal world today. On the front lines of both a struggle for the soul of Christianity and the shifting realities of the religion’s demographic and ethnic make-up, Anglicans are in an exciting place. Maybe too exciting, but know and be sure that you are not alone.

Seeing, therefore, that there is on every side of us such a throng of witnesses, let us also lay aside everything that hinders us, and the sin that clings about us, and run with patient endurance the race that lies before us, our eyes fixed upon Jesus, the Leader and perfect Example of our faith, who, for the joy that lay before him, endured the cross, heedless of its shame, and now ‘has taken his seat at the right hand’ of the throne of God. Weigh well the example of him who had to endure such opposition from ‘men who were sinning against themselves,’ so that you should not grow weary or faint-hearted. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

That’s true both of the saints in heaven and many of the rest of us on earth.

I have spoken to you in this way, so that in me you may find peace. In the world you will find trouble; yet, take courage! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33)

Obama Baby Boomer Bash: Says Hillary, ’60’s Era Boomers Can’t Lead Change

Barack Obama says that Hillary Clinton and ’60’s Era Boomers Can’t Lead Change.

He’s right.  I commented on this problem at the first of the year.

But I’m not convinced that a Soros-backed candiate is going to do much better.  Or, if he does "better," he does it at the expense of freedom.

It’s Time to Cut a Deal: Pat Robertson Endorses Giuliani

Anyone who thinks that evangelicals are rigid stand-patters are probably picking themselves off of the floor at the news that Pat Robertson has endorsed Rudy Giuliani for the Republican Presidential nomination.  It’s something I discussed back in February, and my guess is that Pat went through some of the same thought processes as well.

Although the "drive-by" media has been silent on the subject, Pat has been anything but "party-line religious right" on many issues.  He expressed his doubts about the war in Iraq in 2003 and has continued to do so ever since.  He opposes military action against Iran.  His statement about rubbing out Hugo Chavez must be seen against the backdrop of a President that started a trillion-dollar plus war to get rid of one man.  He isn’t even a "New Earth creationist," which is becoming a litmus test for real religious conservatives along with a pro-life stance.

Pat has been at Christian politics for a long time, and has figured out the limitations of the system relative to making a "righteous nation."  But he will have the last laugh.  If the Lord delays his second coming, the army of Christian missionaries and lay people from the "Global South" will rise to make secularist and Islamicist squirm, and that army–recruited in part by CBN Worldreach and Operation Blessing–will be his greatest legacy.

Sen. Charles Grassley Asks Six Ministries To Turn Over Financial Records Within One Month

It’s obvious that Sen. Charles Grassley has too much time on his hands, as he asks six ministries to turn over financial records within one month.

The "Religious Right" is is political disarray these days.  As a Republican (RINO?) Grassley ought to know that.  They’re certainly not the force to be reckoned with they were even two years ago.  None of these ministries and many others are the threat to the left or even the middle that they once were.  So why all of this fuss?

There are three possibilities:

  • It’s grandstanding.  Grassley is trying to project himself as some kind of fighter against "consumer fraud."
  • It’s part of a long plan for the government to gain effective control of Christian churches and parachurch organisations through the tax code.  LBJ paved the way for this by prohibiting 501c3 organisations from endorsing candidates, and the Carter administration successfully revoked Bob Jones University’s tax exempt status.  This campaign has been dormant since Ronald Reagan but it looks like it’s being revived.
  • It’s an attempt to revoke same tax status of churches when same revocation can be "justified."  Doing this would enhance the government’s revenue stream.  The IRS has been working on this for some time.

"Heroes of the poor" living large is part of the genre; just look at John Edwards.  Personally I don’t think it’s the way to do it but, hey, I grew up in Palm Beach.  I’ve done the yachts and private school.  It’s time to serve the people!  So, Sen. Grassley, why don’t you serve the people and concentrate on a real fraudulent shell game like Social Security?

More on The Golden Compass

My piece late last week on The Golden Compass has generated some interesting comment, especially from Mark.

First, an interesting follow up.  I spent some time talking about the reality of some people’s atheism.  Atheist Theodore Dalrymple, writing on Sam Harris’ site, has also come to the conclusion that being a "pure" atheist is a trickier proposition than many of the unbelief’s proponents would have us…believe?  So theists such as me aren’t the only ones to perceive the reality of this problem.

And that brings us to Mark.  He makes the following statement:

You said it yourself, the god killed is called “Yahweh” Is that the name of the christian god? I think not.

Well, unless you are a Marcionite, Yahweh is certainly the name of the Christian God.  It is based on Exodus 3:14-15, where God reveals his name to Moses.  The fact that later Jewish and Christian tradition substitutes "Lord" or "Jehovah" for this out of respect for the divine name does not change this.  Just take a look a the Jerusalem Bible (English and French) and see for yourself how the Old Testament reads when "Yahweh" is restored.

While we’re at it, let’s explore the issue of Marcion.  He was a wealthy man from Pontus (on the Black Sea in what is now Turkey) in the second century A.D.  He came up with a religion where the God of the Old and New Testaments were in fact different.  According to Marcion, the Old Testament’s deity was incompetent and vindictive; the New Testament’s loving and kind.  It would be interesting if Marcion had inspired some of Pullman’s thinking.

Then Mark asks the following question:

Besides, he ("Yahweh") gets killed, does that sound like something a divine being does?

No, it doesn’t, but that’s my point: you can’t be a real atheist and believe in the death of God at the same time.  That’s the dilemma that both Dalrymple and I are looking at: people proclaim themselves atheists one minute and then turn around and say things that require the existence of God, at least at some point in time.