It’s the “True Love” Thing Again

The trials of Harvard student Janie Fredell’s ongoing–but at least no longer solo–battle to uphold the Christian sexual ethic in her own life are yet another example of something that has been going on for a long time.

I’ve taken some heat on this subject before, but I’ll say it again: this society, and especially the liberals that dominate much of it, takes as given the idea that the only fulfilled life is a sexually active life.  And as far as the intense pressure goes, it looks like what I kind of posited as "hypothetical" in my last post is altogether too real for members of the True Love Revolution:

Other than reminding me of a speech I put in my first novel, what strikes me about this is that it overlooks the opposite possibility: that people would be forced to have sex, "pluriform" sex (to use a good TEC revisionist word) in order to belong.  How this inversion happens is the result of the relationship of morality and community standards, something I discuss in The Trouble With Morality.

I don’t make a very clear distinction between the force of law and the force of peer pressure; in a society where shared values are so important, you can’t.  The situation that has has been around since at least the days of The Ten Weeks continues for those of us who uphold true love.

Disturbing One’s Sleep

I’ve commented once on Jonathan Stone’s my struggle with homosexuality.  But some of the subsequent comments–and Tanya’s last one in particular–beg some response.  It’s rather like the geotechical engineer and contractor Lazarus White’s reaction to certain technical papers on pile driving: after reading them, "the result was that my sleep was very much disturbed."

Let me start with this one:

I remember my youth pastor telling our youth group interracial dating was wrong. He gave us some scriptures and as we all know, had a good foundation traditionally. I was pretty disturbed because I’d just been reading scriptures that I thought said quite the opposite. When I asked him about them, he hemmed and hawed and was unable to resolve the differing perspectives in the texts. While today I know he would never come up with a sermon like that, it’s not because his scriptures have changed; instead his perspective has.

His idea about interracial dating is taken from the Old Testament, and reflects one of the long-running weaknesses of American Evangelicalism: the desire to create a synthetic Judaism rather than New Testament Christianity.  The Jews were exhorted to avoid marrying outside of Judaism, the descendants of Abraham.  But that reflects the basically different nature of the old covenant versus the new.  The Jews were God’s chosen people by birth.  Christians are by adoption.  Put another way, the Jew’s blood line was human, and the Christian’s blood line is Jesus Christ’s own, which he shed on the cross.  The results is as follows:

Never lie to one another. Get rid of your old self and its habits, And clothe yourselves with that new self, which, as it gains in knowledge, is being constantly renewed ‘in resemblance to him who made it.’ In that new life there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, freeman; but Christ is all!–and in all! (Colossians 3:9-11)

The actual New Testament counterpart to this is for Christians not to marry non-Christians.  Tanya’s youth pastor should have focused on this; Christian churches have been highly remiss on that subject.

Let me turn to another comment:

Essentially we’re saying, ‘You can’t be in the club unless you have sex like we do; if you really want we can train to have our kind of sex. Otherwise, you don’t get to have any. Ever. At all.’

Other than reminding me of a speech I put in my first novel, what strikes me about this is that it overlooks the opposite possibility: that people would be forced to have sex, "pluriform" sex (to use a good TEC revisionist word) in order to belong.  How this inversion happens is the result of the relationship of morality and community standards, something I discuss in The Trouble With Morality.

And, with pieces like that, perhaps I can disturb someone else’s sleep.

Update:  well, not yet.  But I continue to try to add to this discussion, which is, in reality, a life or death issue for Christianity.

Hillary Clinton has Nothing to Lose by Ploughing On

All of the hue and cry for Hillary Clinton to quit is rubbish:

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont senator who endorsed Obama in January, said she was never going to win enough delegates, and he suggested she should throw in the towel in "the interests of a Democratic victory in November." A number of Democrats have expressed concern that Republican John McCain is getting a head start while Obama and Clinton fight on.

Undeterred, Clinton said the competition would only strengthen the party in the long run.

"This spirited, exciting contest is actually a real plus for us," she said while campaigning in Indiana, which has its primary two weeks after Pennsylvania’s April 22 vote.

Hillary has no good reason to quit.

If she wins the nomination, she has a shot at the presidency.

If she loses the nomination, her anti-Obama propaganda has set up a win by John McCain.  And she can try again in 2012 much more easily if Obama loses the general election.

The main casualty in her continuing on is the Democrat Party.  And both she and Bill have always found the party to be dispensible, as they proved after the 1994 debacle.  Resentment of that attitude is one thing that has fuelled Obama’s support amongst high-ranking Democrats, which has grown as his candidacy has stregthened amongst the party faithful.

Like Richard Nixon, the Clintons aren’t quitters.  That’s why they’ve gotten as far as they have.  There’s no reason to think they will change their MO just became a few fellow Democrats bawl and squall.

Latte Liberals, and Saving Starbucks

Some coffee musings:

  1. It used to be that high-income, left-wing people were referred to as "limousine liberals."  Now they’re referred to as "latte liberals," and Barack Obama wouldn’t be where he is without them.  The difference?  Global warming perhaps?  But part of the reason is the expense, and that leads us to…
  2. Starbucks is trying to "reinvent" itself, and they’ve started a website called to gather some suggestions.  Take a look at the all time favourites, and you’ll find things like this:
    • "Punch" cards for frequent drinkers.
    • Free wi-fi.
    • More comfortable chairs.
    • More substantial breakfast.

But "indie" coffee shops (for the most part) have been offering things like this for years.  They weren’t bad ideas, but Starbucks’ overwhelming marketing presence tended to mask the fact that these were and are good things.  Now that Starbucks is challenged by the economy (and the indies,) they’re asking their customers for advice, and their customers are responding by saying, "Just look at your competitors!"

I’ll leave it to Leonard Sweet to relate this to the church…

Reply to Jonathan Stone on the Possibility of Dialogue between Pentecostals and the LGBT Community

Jonathan Stone knows how to select a hot topic in his post my struggle with homosexuality.  For you Anglicans that visit regularly, you know I deal with this on a regular basis, and many of the Anglican/Episcopal blogs and websites do so even more.  The premier Anglican (IMHO) blog, Titusonenine, does so regularly, but will generally close comments on a post dealing with the subject.  In fact, it’s gotten so bad with churches seceding and what not (they hold the property the same way we do in the Church of God, which only fuels the slugfest) that Kendall Harmon, whose blog Titusonenine is, actually shut off comments on everything during Holy Week, the tone had degenerated so badly!  And these are the Episcopalians and Anglicans, previously “God’s frozen people!”  Just think about what we could do if we ever got started!

In any case, I felt compelled to respond to his posting, and he’s come back with one question in particular that I think needs some detailed treatment:

I want to know if there is any room to have some constructive dialogue between Pentecostals and the LGBT community. I am therefore interested what the ‘conditions’ might have to be for such a conversation to take place, as well as what the potential fruit might be. I would think that such a conversation would only be possible on the Pentecostal side if it was clear that there was, and would continue to be, a firm commitment to the stance that the practice of homosexuality was a sin. What I do not know is whether anyone from the LGBT would be interested in a conversation with that particular condition.

Based on what I’ve seen with the Episcopalians and Anglicans, I’m not optimistic, but I need to explain this in more detail.

Let’s start with the LGBT (I guess I’ll have to rearrange my use of those initials) community first: they’re definitely interested in conversation.  Frank Griswold, TEC’s (The Episcopal Church’s) former Presiding Bishop (isn’t is amazing we’ve adopted that title,) used to love to engage in “deep conversation” but the results were still the same: the consecration of V. Gene Robinson in 2003 and the continued fights over the property of seceding parishes, something which his successor, Katherine Jefferts-Schori, has only ratcheted up.  The problem for them is that they (especially their leadership) are very one-sided in the way they see the issue.  Whether they are inside or outside a church, their idea is not a libertarian “live and let live” paradigm but a “you must accept and love us and what we do” paradigm.  (There are a few exceptions, but most of them don’t have the visibility and get trashed by others in the LGBT community.)  And they will use whatever resources they have at their disposal to force the issue.

Put simply, I don’t see them accepting a dialogue based on your precondition of “a firm commitment to the stance that the practice of homosexuality was a sin.”

Turning to the Pentecostals, one reason why we’ve avoided having this dialogue at all is because of the income distribution of the two sides.  TEC and other “Main Line” churches have faced this issue first is because, traditionally, they have attracted people in the upper income levels, and as a group the LGBT community is an economically advantaged one.  For our part we have done the opposite.  To my way of thinking, this is a sure sign that Pentecost is from God, but the humble roots have instilled an (undeserved) inferiority complex in many of our people.  (Why people in a movement who have swept Christianity the way modern Pentecostalism has would have an inferiority complex is beyond me.  Everybody else is busy taking lessons from us!)  This manifests itself, among other places, in the highly unbudgetary way we do many of our building projects, as I pointed out in my reply to the posting of Rickie Moore’s prophecy on MissionalCOG.    Going into a dialogue with this idea is dangerous; it’s one reason why, for instance, Tony Richie’s visit to the World Council of Churches last summer bothered me so much.  Our traditional isolation has bred into us a hunger for acceptance, and it’s one that the LGBT community could well exploit.

That leads me to make another point: we need to quit spending so much time over going over where we’ve (well, many of us, this blogger excluded) come from and start thinking about where we’re going.

Let me touch on three other things.

  1. The first is “homospirituality.”  I’m not completely sure what you’re referring to, but back in September I posted an article entitled The Paradox of GLBT People and the Church, which featured a scholarly article on the relationship between the development of Anglo-Catholicism in England and homosexuals in the church.  Anglo-Catholicism and Pentecostalism have one thing in common: a strong emphasis on the aesthetic and emotional appeal of worship forms, albeit the aesthetic and emotions are completely opposite one from another.
  2. The whole movement to accept homosexuality needs to be understood as an adjunct to the breakdown of the Christian sexual ethic in our society and, to an extent most don’t want to admit, in our churches.  This is an important issue; it’s one I explore most fully in, of all places, my novel The Ten Weeks.   To specifically demonise homosexuality without including fornication is simply not correct.
  3. I try to reflect my Saviour as much as I can on this site and the others I comment on.  I don’t always succeed; I have definite positions on many topics, and in a society that is as paranoid as ours is on people being “judgemental” I don’t always come across as pleasing.  But I think that Christians should avoid being rude to the greatest extent possible, and be a little more “pastoral” in the way they deal with others.

Houston: The Next Great World City?

Are they really surprised at this?

Given these trends, it seems likely that the next great American city will emerge from the ranks of the opportunity cities. The ultimate winner will come from those that keep up with the infrastructure needed to accommodate their growth. They also will have to deal with issues of education, crime, and creating a skilled workforce— issues that are important anywhere, of course, but can be particularly challenging in a rapidly growing metropolis. 

Perhaps the key factor that will influence the rise of the next great American city is the ability to fit into the global economy. An opportunity city with only modest links overseas can certainly grow rapidly, but only an urban center with powerful ties to global commerce is likely to achieve greatness. 

This may be where the case for Houston’s emergence is strongest. From its inception, Houston has been oriented to markets outside the country, first through its exports of timber and cotton and later as a major oil port. Trade and the global connections of the energy industry have also paced the development of internationally minded banks, business-service firms, hotels, and specialized shopping areas. An indicator of Houston’s international reach: it now ranks third among U.S. cities, behind Los Angeles and New York, in the number of consulates located there.

For those of us who have spent time in Houston, the surprise is that of others.  It has been a great world city for a long time, surviving even the collapse of the oil industry

My Soul is Satisfied

Since liberal black, inner city churches seem to be the rage (and the enrage, in the case of Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama) this week’s podcast features one of the more long-running ones, namely Glide Memorial in San Francisco.  Bobby Kent hits the ground running with My Soul is Satisfied.

If Jeremiah Wright had stuck with this kind of thing, Barack Obama wouldn’t be in the mess he’s in.  Then again, perhaps that explains why Bobby Kent faded into obscurity after this album, the rest of which is on The Ancient Star Song.

They Were Both Radicalised by Their Pastors

Hillary Clinton’s statement about Barack Obama’s pastor is just a little disingenuous:

Hillary Clinton stoked up the row over Barack Obama’s fiery pastor today when she claimed she would have left any church where such intemperate remarks had been made.

"He would not have been my pastor," Clinton said, in her first public comments since the Reverend Jeremiah Wright row began more than two weeks ago.

The problem here is that both of these people were radicalised by their pastors.  Obama’s is obvious to everyone, although he may not have needed help.  In Hillary’s case, her Methodist youth pastor, Don Jones, very much raised Hillary’s "social consciousness" and led her on the road to people such as Saul Alinsky and being the left-wing person she is.  It’s true that one doesn’t have the same level of choice of a youth pastor (especially when she was growing up) but left wing pastoral influence is left wing pastoral influence.

Today we look at the secular left as the source of all problems, but strangely that secular left has been covered up in the Democrat Party.  We’re looking at the religious left back in action, and as we see in TEC, it’s no improvement.

Is Palm Beach Really the Centre of the Universe?

I know it sounds conceited, but now I have support for this idea:

At Metro, M.D. Bashar, a very helpful and engaging salesman, saw me looking at a display for the magicJack, invented by Palm Beacher and telecom wiz Dan Borislow. Yet more proof that Palm Beach is still the center of the universe.

My last year living there, I discovered Dante’s Divine Comedy, a book which literally changed the course of my life.  There the centre of the universe was Jerusalem.  Little did I suspect that I was actually living in the real one!

The AMiA Prayer Book: Maybe I Shouldn’t Have Said That

Sometimes, as a blogger, you come up with what you think is a great idea only to have doubts about it later.  Consider this posting:

One thing that the various groups, such as CANA, AMiA, and the like, could be working on is a new prayer book for themselves.  We can hear the sigh of disgust from here:  "Another new prayer book…"  And, given our opinion of the 1979 production, we are sympathetic to this idea.

The "sigh of disgust" is now verbosely verbalised by Robin Jordan in his reaction to the 2008 project.

First revelation: we now know that people in Kentucky can write.  Over the line here in Tennessee, we had our doubts.  (Just kidding!)

Let me make a few comments about his article:

  1. I’ve followed some of Peter Toon’s writings on the subject of the Prayer book; I’m not sure all he ascribes to Dr. Toon is justified, although he’s probably has a more in-depth familarity with Toon’s stuff than I do.
  2. He’s right about the 1928 Prayer Book being more Anglo-Catholic than its predecessors, and that it does depart from the 1662 Reformed theology in significant ways.  This illustrates one of the central dilemmas that reasserters face in putting orthodox Anglicanism back together again in North America and elsewhere: at this stage in history, it is impossible to completely dispense with Anglo-Catholicism and its influence.  As much as one might want to (and in one very important respect need to,) it just isn’t going to happen.  That’s not only reflected in this country, but everywhere else too.  We see common cause, for example, between the Province of the West Indies (which is very Anglo-Catholic) and provinces like Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya, which tend to be more Protestant.  But they’re geographically separated, which means that they can gloss over the difference more easily than, say, Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals can in a single AMiA parish.
  3. When growing up at Bethesda, I was certainly taught that the Holy Spirit was received at Confirmation.  As a Pentecostal, I certainly know better now!  Seriously, though, the attempt by Anglo-Catholics to sacramentalise Acts 2 is a stretch in any kind of Biblical theology.  Confirmation is definitely a good "step-up" recognition (a kind of rite of passage, perhaps?) in a Christian’s life but to hog-tie it to the reception of the Holy Spirit is too much.
  4. Advocates such as Robin Jordan of a "Reformed" theology in Anglican churches need to be aware that, although the 1662 BCP certainly is imbued with that, the expression of what constitutes "Reformed" (especially with regards to election) is undermined by Article XVI.  Issues such as this underline one of the long-running dilemmas of Anglicanism: in it’s attempt to be comprehensive, it sometimes ends up ambiguous, and that has been used with deadly effect by reappraisers in TEC for a long time.
  5. Anyone who reads the Thirty-Nine Articles (and I even included them in my discipleship book for Pentecostal men) knows of the running horror they have for the transubstantiated Eucharist and any logical results therefrom (such as the reserved sacrament.)  This is because, in late Medaeval Catholicsm (and afterwards) the Host was ascribed almost magical attributes.  We all know, however, that, unless an individual is regenerate and in a right relationship with God, reception of the Eucharist is unworthy and will lead to one kicking the bucket in this life and the life to come.  However, anyone who is honest about the Biblical evidence knows that the New Testament doesn’t teach a purely symbolic Eucharist either, and coming up with a reasonable via media between these two extremes has been one of the great "Gordian Knots" of Christian theology.
  6. Although only partially related to the last point, anyone who looks objectively at the 1662 BCP’s Holy Communion service has to admit that it is a liturgical mess.  (I offered one solution here, a product of my work with my fiction.  I think the magenta rubrics make it, but that’s just me.)

Robin Jordan’s article is a good one, I hope that those at the AMiA will take heed to his thoughts.  Rest assured that I will continue offering the 1662 Book of Common Prayer for download, which remains an all-time popular standing resource of this website.