The Episcopal Church Lumbers Toward a Rational Approach About the Property

At least in one case:

After a lengthy process of prayerful discernment, respectful conversation, and engagement with the Presiding Bishop’s Office and the Standing Committee, the leadership of the Diocese of Washington, working together with the leadership of Christ Church Accokeek, has decided to sell the property of Christ Church Accokeek to a new corporate entity that is not in union with the Diocese. We have reached this decision in a spirit of friendship

In the recent past the Episcopal Church has pursued a “take no prisoners” policy on keeping its property, and especially keeping its property out of the hands of other Anglican entities.  But this is the same diocese that looted the Soper Trust; the call of financial necessity has given cooler heads the upper hand, up to and including the Presiding Bishop’s Office, once the most intransigent link in the chain.

But it could have been different all along.  The Church of God, which also owns the property centrally (and has a more consistent history of doing so) has a different view.  I asked the aide to a state Administrative Bishop what he would do if a church wanted to leave and purchase its property.  His response? He would tell them where to send the check.

Evidently the Episcopal Church is starting to see the wisdom of following the example of those “insufferable Holy Rollers across the tracks.”

David Bentley Hart’s Lonely, Last Stand for Christian Universalism

Clip source: David Bentley Hart’s Lonely, Last Stand for Christian Universalism David Bentley Hart’s Lonely, Last Stand for Christian Universalism A Review of ‘That All Shall Be Saved’ October 2, 2019 | Michael McClymond For those not already acquainted with him, David Bentley Hart of the University of Notre Dame is widely regarded as one…

David Bentley Hart’s Lonely, Last Stand for Christian Universalism

Jon Bruno Goes to Meet God

An eventful Episcopal life ends:

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, former bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles, died suddenly of natural causes at his home in La Quinta, California, on April 23.

Although anyone who was involved in the Episcopal property wars is well aware of his “take no prisoners” approach to this problem, the first notice this blog took of him was in 2014. In 1985, long before those conflicts, he succeeded Ian Mitchell of American Folk Mass fame as Rector of St. Athanasius Episcopal Church in Los Angeles.  At the time the Los Angeles Times noted the following, quoted in this piece:

The Rev. J. Jon Bruno, a former policeman and professional football player, is a large man. Now, the 6-foot, 5-inch, 300-pound Episcopal priest has a job to match his size–a job that may require the spirituality of a clergyman, the street smarts of a cop and the rough-and-tumble doggedness of a defensive tackle…

“You know the old saying about ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread?’ Well, I’m no angel. So of course I have some fear and trembling about entering this situation. But I do it prayerfully. I feel compelled to respond to the need.”

No angel indeed, as evidenced by this and this. His litigiousness evidently transcended the world of church property, as evidenced by this comment in 2016:

I’m not going to say anything on this blog about Bishop Bruno that might open either of us to being sued by him. It’s hard to imagine that suing one’s flock is conducive to a pastoral mindset or inspires trust. And the defensiveness of litigation is totally at odds with the cross.

He was dismissed from office, a rare event for a champion of their new idea, which he was.

I’m sure his encounter with God was interesting.

The Problem of the New Right

In the world of conservative thought, the intellectual energy lies with the New Right. The New Right can be found in the society of Washington wonks, Silicon Valley dissidents, New York writers, and all manner of GOP politicos.[1] Many served in the Trump administration at one level or another; all are interested in taking the popular…

The Problem of the New Right

The Nature of Sin

From the Dominican Walter Farrell, as quoted in Donald Connolly’s Renewing Your Faith:

The catechism defines sin as a thought, word, deed or omission against the law of God.” But the word “omission” is a little unfortunate. It has the air of the accidental about it, like forgetting to take medicine or absent-mindedly going out without an umbrella. Actually, sin is impossible without some positive act back along the road from which that sin has come. Sins do not just happen, they are willed; they are not accidents that stain our souls as ink might stain a table-cloth; we must deliberately throw the stain at our souls. For sins are human acts, acts for which a man is responsible, which proceed under his control and to an end which he has freely chosen. Otherwise his acts, no matter how evil they may be in themselves, are not sins. So somewhere behind a sin of omission, either by way of cause, or occasion, or impediment, we must be responsible for the omission: which means that somewhere we must have willed it, whether directly or indirectly.

Yet in another sense, sins are indeed accidents. The commission of sin puts us in the position of the little boy who wants to eat green apples, but does not want the inevitable stomach-ache that goes with eating them. Nevertheless, he eats the apples. The stomach-ache is an accident so far as his will is concerned , certainly his mouth does not water in anticipation of a stomach-ache; yet in another sense he is quite willing to accept the stomach-ache as the price to be paid for eating green apples. No man wants to be a sinner, wants to turn his back upon God , wants to give up all chance for happiness and condemn himself to eternal misery. But if all that is inevitably connected with what is desired here and now, the sinner is willing to pay that price for his sin. We never quite grow up; and there is no more convincing evidence of our constant immaturity than the childish reversal of values involved in sin.

Stepping into the world of sin is like stepping into a dark tropical forest, nurtured to unbelievable growth by a sun of desire which kills healthy plants. The variety of sin rivals the variety of tropical growth, in fact surpasses it; for the variety of sin is limited only by the possibilities of a will whose limit is the infinite. It is of no use to look to that will for a distinction of the various kinds of sin; an examination of the motives of sin, meaning by motives the causes which produce sin, can tell us only that this act was or was not human, that it was or was not sin. From a terrible fear of humiliation, or from a wildly passionate love, can come the same sin of lying or murder; from the one motive of anger can come sins as widely different as blasphemy, theft and murder.

The reason for this is that sin, like every other human act, is a motion to a goal. In the world below man, we can easily determine the nature of a motion by looking either at the goal or at the active power that produced the motion; for the powers beneath man run along a determined track that leads always to the same goal. But the powers of man have no set channel along which they must necessarily flow. So, for the determination of any human act, virtuous or vicious, we must look to the goal towards which it is going, to the object of the act. to the thing desired that first set in motion that activity of a human being. In other words, the specific character of any sin, as the specific character of any virtue, its very essence, is to be judged by the object to which it is directed.

This concept, which is rooted in St. Thomas Aquinas and is certainly evident in Dante, was one that drew me to Roman Catholicism in the first place.  It solved many problems that the Episcopal Church I grew up in either could or would not address.  And it has protected me from the Scylla and Charbdis of both the unreasonable sentence of Reformed theology or the sloppy theodicy of modern Pentecost.

Two Funerals and an Amazing Grace

After attending yet another funeral in the morning yesterday, I came home and hunched over my kitchen counter, absorbed in leftover scalloped potatoes, to be transported by the soaring music, the elegant hats, and the heartbreaking social distancing of a very different kind of burial, that of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. A handful of…

Two Funerals and an Amazing Grace

Those Dangerous Latin Masses

You’d think that there is a better use of time, but…

What’s happened to the next generation, you ask? Well, to Fr. Reese’s sorrow, they’re off attending the Traditional Latin Mass, just as if Vatican II never happened. Or if not all of them, enough to cause Fr. Reese to beg the Vatican: do something! “The church needs to be clear that it wants the unreformed liturgy to disappear and will only allow it out of pastoral kindness to older people who do not understand the need for change,” he writes. “Children and young people should not be allowed to attend such Masses.”

It’s worth noting that one of the restrictions the Chinese Communist Party puts on Christian churches is that children and young people is prohibit them from going to church.

I think it’s sad that supposedly “tolerant” and “liberal” people think this way, but as we all know it’s common.  This is especially true in Roman Catholicism where no one gets to vote for their pastor, or bishop, or much of anything past Susan of the Parish Council.  So there’s no danger that these terrified people will take over the church and cast the Novus Ordo Missae into the Outer Void.

A large part of the problem here–as is the case with most things in American Catholicism–is the parish system.  Catholic parishes are in theory like public schools, with zones and enforced non-competition between them.  Occasionally a Byzantine Rite or Anglican Ordinariate parish (like a magnet school) will emerge, but they’re outliers in the general scheme of things.  Although some of this goes back to the way the Church in this country was organised, much of it comes from the same wellspring of the public schools: the desire for uniformity and non-competition amongst parishes, which makes it easier for those who lord over them to manage things.  The result is mediocrity, and the Church has the parishioner bleed to show it.

Roman Catholicism is large enough to handle the diversity that would result from some parishes being TLM.  (The Charismatic Renewal wouldn’t have needed covenant communities if this option had been available.)  But real diversity, in the Church and elsewhere, is hard to find these days.

Cancelling William Fulbright

They’ve come for another one:

Comments to the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville about the legacy of former U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright included a few threats to halt donations if his statue is taken down and his name is removed from UA’s arts and sciences college.

But many wrote in to say that UA should distance itself from Fulbright given his legislative record supporting segregation and opposing civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s.

In many ways this is amazing, since generally Fulbright has been lionised by the American left for his opposition to the Vietnam War, something that many civil rights leaders at the time (including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) shared.  But the left has allowed CRT to induce a form of amnesia for stuff like this.

As some of my readers know, my mother was from Arkansas, so politicians from that state are more than a passing interest.  Personally I don’t care what the University of Arkansas does with this.  Fulbright was one of those people who was educated far past his ability to properly absorb it, and that’s something he shared with many Southern liberals.

What We Were Really Trying to Accomplish in Men’s Ministries

As sort of a follow-up to my last post, I’d like to defend something else that’s under attack these days: men’s ministries.  I actually worked in this field during my time with Church of God Lay Ministries, from when I started in 1996 until the department was abolished in 2010.  So I can speak with some authority on the subject.  When the department ended, I created a legacy web site from the site we had, so you and everyone else can see what was going on.

So what were we trying to accomplish?  The best way to start is to reproduce our own introduction to the topic and ourselves, from this page:

Sunday after Sunday, pastors and ministers in the Church of God go up to their pulpits and frequently preach to a congregation of mostly…women and children (assuming there’s no children’s church.) This is so common that we take it for granted. It is not something that is restricted to our denomination; it is the rule in many evangelical churches. Beyond the doors of the church—on the golf course, at the football game or bowling alley, or in the backyard—men absent themselves from the house of God. Today in the U.S. men represent the fastest growing portion of the population to abandon meaningful belief in God. They frequently embrace secularism, a “religion” in its own right whose growth threatens both the eternities of those who embrace it and the ability of everyone else to freely live for Christ. Why is this? One reason is that there is no organization in many local churches for men to find fellowship, to learn who God is and how they might live for Him, and how they might then serve Him in a meaningful way. By “organization” we don’t mean a quasi-governmental structure as has been common in churches. Our goal is to facilitate ministry teams, men bonded together in love for Jesus and each other, discipled in the essentials of Christianity, instructed to interact with people around them in a Christian way, and sent forth in service to the lost and hurting world around them. LifeBuilders Men’s Ministries—and the Church of God Men’s Fellowship that preceded it—have been ministering to men before such organizations as Promise Keepers and the National Coalition of Men’s Ministries. We have a long-standing alliance with both. But our world is changing, and we must change with it even as we serve “the Maker of the Lights in the heavens, who is himself never subject to change or to eclipse.” (James 1:17b) Men’s ministries must become more relational if it is to be meaningful both to men newly saved or for those who have walked with the Lord for many years.

To that I’d like to make some comments and explanation:

  1. Our Executive Director, Leonard Albert, is first and foremost a trainer of lay people for soul winning.  The LifeBuilders Men’s Ministries was deeply affected by that.  Our desire was for men to share the good news both in what they said and the way they lived.
  2. The Church of God, unlike some other churches, does not have a socio-economically privileged demographic.  Our men’s interests ran along those lines and we tailored our activity recommendations to that reality.  We had to promote the idea that men should read books.  We are also a multi-ethnic church; our men come from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, something that made working for the Department a real joy.
  3. On the other hand, neither Leonard Albert nor I were into the “he-man” ethic that some find so off-putting with men’s ministries.  When Wild at Heart was released, he was unenthusiastic about it, it took some time before we included it in our book store.  As I mentioned in the last post, the society we live in was militarised by World War II and the Cold War, but we never really pushed that nor pushed for men’s ministries to be organised in that fashion.
  4. In our last years we shifted our emphasis to a more discipleship/relational model for men’s ministries.  This was not only a more Biblical way to do it; it was also driven by the realisation that the “pre-discipleship” the culture may have given in the past was fading away.  To be honest a discipleship model was a hard sell in some places, but we partnered with Patrick Morley and Man in the Mirror Ministries in order to promote it.
  5. We never got pushback from the women of our church about men’s ministries.  To encourage men to be saved and responsible husbands and fathers resonated positively with many women.  The big pushback–and this included our entire agenda–came from some of our pastors, who were content with the model described at the start of the piece above.  They felt the presence of strong men in their congregation was a power challenge to them, so they resisted it.

More about how our idea of men’s ministries worked is here.  The Department came to an end in the wake of the church’s budgetary crisis caused by the cutback in remissions from local churches.  Today the legacy website is most frequently visited by Hispanics from all parts of the hemisphere, so men’s ministries is anything but a “white supremacy” project, at least in a Pentecostal context.

I was blessed to be able to be a part of such a ministry and also to explain and defend what we did.