Who Shall Spread the Good News: Song of Revelation

We continue our podcast series of this album with Song of Revelation.

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Virginia Tech, The Supreme Court: Counting on the System?

To be honest, I haven’t said anything about the Virginia Tech massacre because I wasn’t sure what to say.  Best to start brain before engaging mouth (or keyboard.)

However, it’s becoming obvious that the "system" had considerable warning of what was going on in Cho Seung-Hui, both before and on the day of the massacre.  It’s also obvious that "the system" dropped the ball at various points.

The usual response (in this country at least) is to change the system "so this will never happen again."  This assault on the status quo will extend from whittling down (or eliminating) Second Amendment rights to more intrusive snooping in people’s lives.  Sooner or later Congress (the opposite of progress) will get involved.  But two things need to be kept in mind in all of this excitement:

  1. You first need to see if existing procedures were followed before you change them.  A good example of fixing what wasn’t really broken is Sarbanes-Oxley, and now Europe/Russia trades more in securities than we do for the first time since the Great War.
  2. You need to realise that the "system" isn’t perfect.  It is made up of people who make mistakes both in setting the system up and in execution of their duties within it.  That’s why, as a Christian, I keep hammering at the importance of trusting a Saviour rather than an institution for what’s really important in this life and the life to come, be it church, state, or otherwise.  That means any institution.

Note: after we wrote this piece, it was pointed out that many of the laws that exist tie universities’ hands in dealing with students such as Cho.  This is an interesting point, but the problem again is thoughtless changing of the "system" in the past. Years ago colleges and schools were in loco parentis, but this went out with the Sixties, an era when many problems that weren’t "broke" were "fixed."   The system isn’t perfect.  It’s human.

Perhaps the best way to respond is to have Congress and our state legislatures engage in a "repeal session," where they can’t pass laws, only repeal them.


We don’t doubt that pro-life activists will be dancing the streets over the recent Supreme Court decision to allow the ban on partial birth abortions.  We will doubtless hear some triumphalistic rhetoric about our country "coming back to God" and the like.

There’s no doubt that this was the right decision.  Abortion should have never become a constitutional issue in the first place, although doing so has handed the conservatives a fabulous issue the last third of a century.  But it’s too early to tell whether this is the trend or just an aberration.  That depends upon the continued course of Supreme Court nominations, and that in turn depends upon the next election cycle.

Once again confidence in "the system" needs to be tempered.  The system got us into this mess at a time when our nation was supposed to be closer in time to its traditional values (it wasn’t, but that’s another story altogether.)  And, of course, we need to continue working on other issues to insure that our defence of life isn’t just to produce people whose main earthly purpose is to support and humour left-wing bureaucrats.

What It Takes to Experience Discrimination

Today is the so-called "Day of Silence" put on by the LGBT community to attempt to illustrate their idea of what they go through because they are LGBT.  The idea is to "raise consciousness" (a good Maoist term) about the "plight" of LGBT people.

Since this event targets schools, it’s fair game to bring up the whole subject of bullying and persecution in a school context.  Having been at the bottom of the heap in Palm Beach at that time in my life, I can bring some hard-earned expertise to the table.

Liberals of all kinds have many explanations as to why people are persecuted and picked on.  They use morally loaded terms such as "racist," "sexist," "homophobe," and whatever other insult comes to their minds.  Doing it in this way demonises people, forcing them either to retreat to the background (if the liberal-induced attack allows that option, which it frequently doesn’t) or be forced to publicly "repent" of their "feudal attitudes," as Chinese Communists used to force people to do in "group struggle meetings" during the Cultural Revolution.  But the idea is always the same: attack people for what they "are" in a morally loaded fashion, with the result that they are either beat into submission (silence!) or come over to your side.

I find it ludicrous that secularist liberals–especially those veterans of the "sexual revolution" of the 1960’s, which was supposed to toss morality–always resort to moral pressure to get their way.  Even worse is to see people who scoff at the idea of a personal devil demonise people on a regular basis.

The simple truth is this: the only thing you need to experience discrimination is to be different.

We–and when I say this, I mean those of us who live in the U.S.–are part of a society that is held together by shared values.  Without a common ethnic origin, state religion or any of those things that hold other nations together, Americans are ultimately defined by the values they share.  That can rapidly deteriorate into the "dictatorship of the proletariat" (or any other group that can seize power, and that includes the LGBT community) without the checks that we have enshrined in our legal system.  That’s a fine line, one that gets crossed more often in American society than we care to admit.

If liberals–and we include but are not limited to LGBT liberals–were really committed to expanding freedom in order to promote real diversity, they would rid us of many of the "politically correct" requirements we have.  They would allow people to rob themselves of the benefits of interacting with large expanses of the human race through discriminating–but also allow people to discriminate against them.  Discrimination is costly: one reason the South took more than a century to recover from the Civil War is that it immobilised itself through systemic discrimination against a large portion of its population.

The problem with this is that it forces people who are different for whatever reason to learn why they are different and decide whether it is worth it or not.  This is too painful for most people.  Liberals know this, and they also know that the easiest way to make your ways society’s ways is by having your ways defined as "normal" and those you don’t like as "different."  The whole objective of liberalism is to supplant values long accepted in American society as their own.  The whole diversity agenda is a smokescreen for this.

And that brings us to the subject of Christians: liberals need to define real Christianity as different so they can put it down and elevate themselves in the process.  But Our Lord said it would be like this:

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted in the cause of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are you when people taunt you, and persecute you, and say everything evil about you–untruly, and on my account. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward in Heaven will be great; for so men persecuted the Prophets who lived before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)

As we said, being different makes you stop and decide whether it is worth it.  For the Christian, it is.  First, there is eternity.  Second, with the mediocrity passed off as success we see in our society today, being "normal" is a major step backward.

Too Much Like the Lizard Queen?

They are strange creatures, these Bolsheviks. They talk of freedom and the reconciliation of the peoples of the world, of peace and unity, and withal they are said to be the most cruel tyrants history has ever known. They are simply exterminating the bourgeoisie, and their arguments are machine guns and the gallows. My talk to-day with Joffe (Soviet negotiator) has shown me that these people are not honest, and in falsity surpass all that cunning diplomacy has been accused of, for to oppress decent citizens in this fashion and then talk at the same time of the universal blessing of freedom—it is sheer lying.  (Count Ottokar Czernin, Austro-Hungarian foreign minister, from  his book In the World War)

Czernin wrote this before Stalin, before the purges, before the whole 70 years of Soviet history.

Some things never change.  This sounds too much like the "Lizard Queen" and her colleagues on the left.

At the Inlet: August, Part 2 (A Fateful Meeting)

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Later that day Julian, Terry and Priscilla resumed their tour.  Their next stop was St. Simon’s Church in Fort Albert.  Until the war all of the Anglican churches in what is now Drahla were Churches of Serelia.  When the Drahlans declared independence, they forced these churches to provisionally affiliate with the Church of Alemara, the Anglican province to the west; that affiliation became permanent with the formal treaty of Drahla’s independence.

This was Terry’s first trip back to Drahla since she had left, so it was another opportunity to be nervous.  When they reached the border, the guards gave Terry a funny look as they checked her very Serelian paperwork, but they were admitted and went on St. Simon’s.

St. Simon’s was an attractive church that had managed to survive and prosper the change of affiliation, the war, and the loss of government funding.  As customary, they arrived in mid-afternoon, but it wasn’t long before an elderly Anglican minister, his wife and two teenagers came in.  Priscilla recognised them immediately and introduced them to Terry.

“This is Reverend Anselm Gant’s father and mother, Bede and Lydia Gant, and Anselm and Theresa’s children, Mary and young Bede.” Mary curtsied at her introduction.  Terry was always impressed at how polite children and young people on this end of the Island generally were—as opposed to their Verecundan counterparts—but these two were above average in manners even by Serelian standards.  As the conversation progressed, Priscilla focused on the elderly Gants.  Although retired, Bede helped out at the church, so Priscilla and them caught up on Anglican news “south of the border.”

Terry for her part talked with the children.  Mary was a boarding student at St. Anne’s, like her mother and aunt had been.  Bede went to St. Matthew’s School in Serelia Beach.  What they wanted to know, however, was the kind of life Darlene was living in the palace.  This is something Terry was prepared to discuss at length; it also gave her an opportunity to share their spiritual activities as well.  Mary and Bede wanted to go there at some time other than Court and get a real tour of the place and spend some time on the beach; Terry promised to try to make that a reality.

About that time the children were informed that they needed to go help set up the after-recital tea in the parish hall.  This they did; both of them left with the elder Gants to do this.  Five minutes later Mary came back and told Terry, “There are three gentlemen outside who would like to see you, Miss Marlowe.”

“Thank you, Mary,” she replied.  She was puzzled by this but went out through the narthex to find three men in suits waiting.  She recognized them immediately.  One was Rev. Peter Kelly, the current General Superintendent of the Drahlan Pentecostal Fellowship.  The second was Rev. James Sillender, pastor of the Fort Albert Pentecostal Church.  The last was Rev. Oliver Hackett, who pastored another church in the Fort Albert area.

“Sister Marlowe,” Kelly said.

“Bretheren,” she replied.

“We didn’t come here for camp meeting,” Sillender noted.  “We have a serious matter to discuss with you.”  Kelly pulled an envelope out of his pocket and handed it to Terry.  “These are ministerial charges which are being laid against you.”

“Charges?  What of?” Terry asked.

“Conduct unbecoming of a minister,” Kelly said.  “There’s also the matter of your lack of reporting since you’ve been in Serelia.”

“We’re sorry it had to come to this,” Sillender said.

“You know you’ll have the opportunity to answer these charges according to the minutes,” Kelly said.  “I would appreciate it, though, if you would at least give us your preliminary response before you leave Fort Albert.”

“With God’s help, I will,” Terry answered.  With that she left the committee outside of the church and went back in.

Julian was finishing up getting the organ ready when he looked out and saw his visibly shaken love seated at the front.  He came over and asked, “Is there something wrong, Terry?”

“Yes, Julian, there is.  But I don’t want to discuss it now.  We’ll talk about it later.”  Julian was miffed but went along.

Terry might as well have been on a barrier island by herself as to be at the recital.  All she could do—and pray about—was her ministerial charges.  By the time the recital was over, she was more at peace with the situation.

At the tea she met some old political colleagues from the Citrus Growers Cooperative.  “I need a favour out of you guys,” she said.

“What’s that?” one of them asked.

“First, I need to borrow some of your office facilities—early, about 0800 tomorrow.  Second, Brother Peter Kelly is in town.  I need to see him and the two other ministers who came to see me this afternoon in your conference room about 1000.”

“We’ll be glad to,” was the response.  They suspected what was going on but said nothing.

Terry arrived at the Cooperative at the appointed time, borrowed a typewriter, did a letter, and made some copies.  By the time the brethren filed into the conference room there to meet with her, she was ready for them.

“So what is your response?” Kelly wanted to know.  “When can you come back for a hearing?”

“My only response is this,” Terry said, handing the original of the letter to Kelly and copies to Sillender and Hackett.  They read the letter as follows:

Rev. Peter Kelly

General Superintendent

Drahlan Pentecostal Fellowship

Dear Brother Kelly:

This is in response to the letter you presented to me yesterday concerning the charges of conduct unbecoming of a minister and failure to report.

First of all, I am surprised that these charges were presented to me without any preliminary consultation with you or with Brother Sillender.  Having been involved in several proceedings such as this in my fifteen years of ministry, I find this rather abrupt.

Second, I deny the charge of conduct unbecoming of a minister.  I have done nothing to dishonour God since I have been in Serelia, any more than I did while I was in Drahla.  Since your letter has absolutely no specifics about the basis of the charges, I cannot answer further.

Third, having been a Provisional District Superintendent, I find it rather unpastoral to include the charge of failure to report without any “friendly reminders.”

I am prepared to defend myself against all of these charges.  However, I realise that my entire expedition to Serelia has been controversial in many quarters, even though it is pastoral in nature.  It has always been my policy to put the interests of God’s church above my personal ones.  Therefore, not desiring to prolong either the agony of the Fellowship or my own any further, with this letter I resign and surrender all ministerial credentials that I have with the Drahlan Pentecostal Fellowship, effective immediately.

May God bless you and all of the Fellowship as we all continue to do the work that our Lord as commissioned us to do.

Until Jesus comes,

/s/

Terry Marlowe

The brethren read the letter in silence.  Then Kelly said, “This is very noble of you, Sister Marlowe.”

“I believe this matter is at an end, Brother Kelly,” Sillender said.  The three rose, said their goodbyes, and left.  Terry left just after them, thanking the Cooperative for their help.  When she got outside, Hackett was still there, waiting for her.

“Can I ask you one question,” he asked her.

“Sure.”

“Do you think you’ll marry that Anglican minister who played the organ last night?”

“Only God knows that,” Terry said.  “Just because I turned in my license doesn’t mean I still don’t want God’s will for my life.”

“Nobody else may like this,” Hackett said, “but I hope you do.  You’ve been single long enough.  Not many of the rest of us would have stayed single for this long.”

“I guess that’s what bothers me the most about this whole thing.  But keep me in your prayers.”

“I will,” he answered.  “A lot of people here will.  You still have a lot of friends here.”

“Thanks,” she said.  They shook hands and departed.  Terry made her way back to St. Simon’s.  Julian was waiting for her.

“Did it go well?” he asked.  Terry handed him the two letters.  Julian read them with progressive concern coming over his face.

“Oh dear, I had no idea it would come to this.  I was hoping something could be worked out.”

“Evidently, it can’t,” she replied.  “I guess I’m all yours now—my bridges are officially burnt.”

“You’re God’s child, Terry,” Julian reminded her.  “He will be with you.  As the Holy Scriptures say, ‘Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.’”  They were both in tears as they embraced each other as closely as they ever had.

Julian’s last recital was at St. Mark’s Church in Drago.  They loaded the car and proceeded down the Old Beran Road.  After what she had been through in Fort Albert, the idea of going to Drago, where most of the pressure for the abolition of Royal Counsellor had come from, wasn’t so bad.

St. Mark’s was near the waterfront; from the church through the trees you could see the Crescan Sound and boats at dock or anchor, more numerous all the time.  They didn’t have much time to sightsee, though, as they were running a little late due to Terry’s problems.  As always, though, everything came together.

Terry was in her usual position before the service started when she felt a tap on the shoulder.  She turned around and saw no less than the Princess Andrea, her mother Cecile, and Andrea’s oldest daughter Deborah.  They were so excited that even Julian, making final adjustments and practice, could hear them over his organ playing.  Andrea was down visiting her mother.  They had a lot to catch up on, which they did both before and after the recital.

“So you resigned your credentials,” Andrea told Terry during the tea.  “I hate to hear that.  I was hoping you could come back and dedicate my next child, due in April.”

“You’re pregnant again?” Terry asked.

“Yes, it’s just too much fun,” Andrea sighed.  “But they’re a joy.  But you’ve got to tell me—are you and Julian serious?”

“This country is crazy,” Terry observed.  “First, they’re all mad about me going to Serelia and dating Julian.  Then they want to know when the wedding’s going to be.”

“This place is crazy—in a lot of ways.”

“How’s your new Prime Minister working out?”

“Duane Peterson?  He’s okay.  They’re still hashing out a constitution.  I leave that to Dennis and Michael—I’d rather raise the children, they’ll mind you.  The King is sick about this whole thing—he spends a lot of time out on his hunting estate.  He’d rather fight the mosquitoes than the Provisional Committee.  They’re trying for a referendum on the constitution in October.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he abdicates.  Then we’re going to have to had constitutions for all of these ‘cantons’ we’re getting—Drago, Cresca, Barlin, etc..  By the time we get this government figured out, we’ll have wasted enough time to have blown any advantage a ‘democracy’ is supposed to bring.  If it weren’t for Cathy at the Central Bank, we’d be in really serious trouble.”

“Duane was in my youth group in Cresca,” Terry reminisced.  “He was a good kid.  I hope he does well.  Thinking about him as a teenager then and Prime Minister now makes me feel old…I didn’t know that Queen Annette was your aunt until recently.”

“My mother will hardly discuss the whole thing,” Andrea answered.  “The whole thing about her father and brothers is too painful.  I’ve tried to get her to go visit the Queen in Serelia but she won’t go—says she won’t set foot in the place.”

“Maybe you and Cathy and Queen Janet can invite her to Barlin, or here.  Annette is lonely.  She doesn’t get out much.  I spend some time with her between everything else—we play mah-jongg.”

“I didn’t know you played that,” Andrea said.  “My mother loves it.  We used to play it growing up.”

“I guess I didn’t want anybody to know,” Terry sheepishly admitted.  “But the Serelians have an extensive intelligence file on me and that’s how they found out.  I’ve had a lot of stuff like that happen.”

“Next time Dennis and I come to see you, I’ll find out just how good you are.”

Priscilla’s sister was the rector’s wife at St. Mark’s, so they wanted to spend time together in the morning.  Julian and Terry went out to promenade on the dock at Drago when they saw a nice looking black couple coming up to them.

It was Arthur and Elizabeth Millington; Terry recognised Elizabeth, they embraced and the introductions were made.  Elizabeth was the daughter of Andrew Vickers, the pastor of the large Pentecostal church in Beran.  The men were properly introduced and then they decided to look for somewhere to drink coffee or tea.  It took a little doing but they found the dining room of the guesthouse still open.  Their porch overlooked the harbour so they were able to socialise and still take in the beautiful scene.

“How is your church doing in Vidamera?” Terry asked.

“It is difficult,” Arthur confessed.  “Vidamera is a hard place, as you know.  I have had to work quite a lot but that’s getting a little better.  It’s good enough so we can take a little holiday here in Drago.  Now that Father Raymond is now a bishop, I’m not sure whether they will still want Elizabeth at the school—the new priest is from the mainland, he doesn’t understand our ways.  But we hear you’re having your problems also.”

“I certainly am,” Terry admitted.

“We heard a rumour that the church here revoked your credentials,” Elizabeth said.

“I didn’t give them the chance,” Terry answered.  “I resigned them just yesterday.”

“It’s a pity what’s happened,” Julian added.

“Talk about you—the two of you—is all over the Island,” Arthur stated.

“My father got up at our camp meeting and told everyone that he believed that you were on God’s work in Serelia and that a lot of the talk wasn’t true,” said Elizabeth.  “He asked me to stand in for you and asked the ministers to come down and pray for you.  Almost all of them did.  That’s helped a lot.  Now my father told me that, if I ever saw you, to tell you that, if you needed them, we would extend credentials to you if you ever came to Aloxa.  He also wants you to come back for a revival and Bible teaching session.”

“I want to more than you’ll ever know,” Terry said.  “You people are great.  I’ve just been tied up with everything.”

“I’ve also heard that we’re about to get an embassy in Serelia sometime this year,” Arthur added.  “Maybe that will make things easier.”

“I hope so,” Terry said.  They talked about everything and everyone for a long time.  As the noon hour approached, Julian reminded Terry that Priscilla might be wanting to get on back to Serelia.  They embraced each other as they left.

“You know,” said Julian, musing as they walked back to St. Mark’s, “that’s the first time I’ve ever actually socialised with black people in my life, other than when I was at university.”

“They’re wonderful, aren’t they,” Terry replied.  “White people, they love you one day and hate you the next.  When you have a black friend, you have a friend for life.”

The Millingtons were likewise talking about their meeting.  “They make a lovely couple,” Elizabeth said.  “Terry looks so happy.”

“There’s one rumour I can crush now,” Arthur said.

“And what’s that?”

“That they’re having an affair.”

“And how do you plan to do that?”

“It’s a man sort of thing.  Some men, you have your doubts. Him—the whole idea is ridiculous!  Just look at him…”

“Now, stop it,” Elizabeth said.

When the three returned to Serelia Saturday afternoon, they let Terry out at the palace.  She caught sight of Kyle on the grounds and motioned him to come over.

“I need a favour of you,” Terry told him.

“What might that be?”

“I need to see Tim Mallen.  Tonight.  Tell him to meet me at the front porch of the Inn at 2000.  It’s important.”

“I understand—I’ll get it done.”

The Inn had a large front porch.  The evening was calm.  Tim Mallen sat on one of the wrought iron chairs there; they were well provided for with padding.  Suddenly Terry emerged from the Inn with two cups of coffee.  “How do you like your coffee, Brother Tim?” she asked.

“Sister Terry—I didn’t know you were here.”  He rose, she put the mugs down, and they shook hands.  “I just take mine black.”  They both sat down.

“I’m sorry for the short notice—I know you like to use this time to prepare your sermon, but this is urgent—I wanted to discuss things with you before I had to face everyone at the palace.”

“Well, Sister Terry, what we’ve got to discuss is probably more important than any sermon I might prepare right at the moment,” Tim said in his slow, deliberate manner that was almost his trademark.  “The whole church is tore up about this.”

“I’m sorry I’m so much trouble,” Terry said.  “I was blindsided by what happened at Fort Albert.”

“It’s not your fault, really, Sister Terry.  Let me try to explain all of this from the beginning.

“I was real proud when I heard you were coming here.  I knew you came for Princess Darlene and all that.  But ever since you’ve been here, there’s been a lot of talk going on.  Sister Mallen would tell me about it, but I didn’t pay it any mind.

“Right after the hurricane, Brother Sillender—I’m on his district—came to see me.  He started asking me a lot of questions about you.  I didn’t have a lot of answers, so I asked him, ‘What kind of trouble is she in?’  Serious trouble was his answer.  So I asked why.  He said he couldn’t discuss everything he knew but he told me the following.

“The first thing he brought up was your going to the beach with Reverend Lewis.  He asked if you two were having an affair.  I told him that I knew you were seeing each other, but that you were too much a woman of God to have an affair with anyone, let alone the likes of Reverend Lewis.  He told me that he understood that they had done things on the beach that were so shameful, he wasn’t sure how he was going to deal with them if it went to trial.  I said that I knew that they had been on the beach together, but that the palace beach is very private, and that the King doesn’t permit any foolishness on any beach in this country.”

“Especially since he was watching the whole thing himself, along with the rest of the royal family,” Terry observed.

“The second thing he brought up was about her seeing Reverend Lewis at all,” Tim continued.  “I told him that she—you—was free to marry.  He said it was a disgrace for any saint to get involved with a priest of an apostate church, but especially you.

“The third thing he brought up was that he had heard tell that you were going to join their church.  I told him we’ve discussed this matter before.  I reminded him that it was impossible for anyone to hold any kind of government office, or palace or Cathedral position, without being a communicant with their church.  I also reminded him that many of my members also maintain a membership with their church just to keep their jobs.  He said that that policy was wrong for them and wrong for you, but that maybe if they made an example out of you, Sister Terry, everyone else would finally get the message.

“He said there were a lot of other things that he didn’t want to get into.  I asked him ‘What are you going to do?’  He said he’d have to discuss it with Brother Kelly, since you were technically still on the Barlin District, and were so well known.  He said that it wouldn’t be long though.”

“It wasn’t,” Terry sighed.  “So who went to him and told him all this?”

“Let me tell you one more thing before I get to that,” Tim answered.  “I knew we had a serious problem.  So I called a meeting of my five house deacons.  They had heard a lot of this too.  So I asked them what they thought of it.  I didn’t get a very positive answer; I knew you were in trouble then.  But one of my deacons—the gardener at the palace, actually—suggested that the five of us might want to meet with Princess Darlene to let her tell what had happened to her, since she was the reason you came in the first place.  It took some doing, but we got an appointment with her the day she came back from seeing her family in Amherst—I think it was the same day you left for Fort Albert.

“We met in the parish hall at the Cathedral.  She spent about an hour with us.  She told us about how you prayed with her for salvation on the yacht, how you had given everything up to come and minister to her, and some of the things that you had taught her during Bible study.  She was really sweet—I really felt the presence of the Lord during that meeting.  At the end we all prayed together for you and for each other.  As we were leaving, another deacon broke down and confessed that he knew who it was who went to Brother Sillender.”

“Who was it,” asked Terry, a little impatiently.

“It was Sister Hammett,” Tim replied.

“DeDe—the Queen’s lady-in-waiting.”

“She claims she saw everything on the beach—and elsewhere.”

“She probably did see us there—but what she told Brother Sillender and what she saw probably didn’t have much to do with each other,” Terry observed.

“Turns out, though that we weren’t the only ones to find out about Sister Hammett.”

“Oh?”

“When the news hit here on Friday that you had turned in your license, both the Queen and the Princess were incensed.  They dismissed Sister Hammett—Brother Hammett had to lose his job too on the maintenance staff—I feel real sorry for him, he’s a good man.  Sister Hammett’s daughter is now lady-in-waiting to the Queen, she just started coming back to our church recently.”

“I wonder who’s going to be Darlene’s lady-in-waiting?”  Terry interrupted.

“I’ve heard her name is Althea—used to work on the Amherst estate,” Tim replied.

“I know who she is—she’s the one whose daughter was bit by a rattlesnake and Darlene spent all night with her.  Darlene proved both her ability as a servant leader and her belief in divine healing—and that’s before she got saved.”

“God is always preparing people for something,” Tim said.

“So where are the Hammetts going?”

“I’ve heard tell they’re going to move to Barlin.”

“And make Brother Calloway’s life miserable,” Terry said.

“Maybe not,” Tim said.  “I think I’ve got the votes to turn her out.  She should have come to one or both of us first.  That’s the Bible way.  Besides, I’m not about to have my members go over my head and run to the DS every time something doesn’t suit them.  We live in a different world up here—if we’re going to risk going to jail all the time, the least they can do is to let us work things out the best we can.”

“I’ve learned that the hard way,” Terry agreed.

“This whole thing isn’t right—you’ve done too much for us.”

“Such as?”

“Such as keeping the church constable off our backs.  He hasn’t raided a Pentecostal church since you got here.  I saw him last week on the beach with his grandkids—we just waved at each other.  And there’s that Bible study, and everything else…”

“Thank you—that makes it all worthwhile.  Can I ask you one question?”

“Yes.”

“What do you think of Julian Lewis?  Honestly.”

“Well,” Tim said after a long pause, “I don’t think these Church of Serelia clergy are very spiritual, except maybe at the liquor cabinet.  But him—he’s a good man.  Always treated us right.  If I were in your position, I wouldn’t mind spending my life with him, but I’m not so sure about his church.”

“Neither am I, Brother Tim.  I don’t know what I’m going to do about that, especially now.”

“God will find a way, Sister Terry,” Tim said.  “He’s never failed us yet.”  They talked about other matters, but finally they took their leave of each other after prayer.

Darlene and Terry went through a long analysis of the past week’s events when they reunited on Monday morning.  Darlene was saddened by Terry’s problems with her church, but said she was blessed meeting with Tim Mallen and his deacons.  They also talked about Darlene’s family as well.  After that session, however, their Bible study and prayer time were altered by one significant addition: the Queen became a regular part of it.

Without a catechism, Julian and Terry had to find another topic of conversation, but Terry’s whirlwind tour of east Island Anglicanism—along with her problems with the Pentecostal church—opened up new vistas of conversation.  Julian felt more at liberty to discuss his years as an organist, choirmaster and minister.  He also took a renewed interest in Terry’s years in the ministry as well.  As he gazed into those dark eyes he so adored, he came to know that he was looking into a world that most Anglicans—especially ministers—were ignorant of, a world that combined material poverty and sacrifice with spiritual exuberance and energy, and not just as a disinterested observer but through the very eyes of one of its most prominent participants.

There are No Transparent People

In the speech he used to fire radio "shock jock" Don Imus (looks like the shock is going the other way) CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves said the following:

There has been much discussion of the effect language like this has on our young people, particularly young women of color trying to make their way in this society…That consideration has weighed most heavily on our minds as we made our decision.

Although I found Imus’ characterisation of Rutgers’ women’s basketball team as offensive as many (for different reasons,) Moonves’ phrase "women of colour" riles me up just about as badly.

Why?  As a black friend said long ago, "nobody’s clear.  Everybody’s coloured something."  Back in those days black people were referred to as "coloured," which they found offensive, and justifiably so.  So we had to quit saying that. Now people routinely refer to non-white people as "people of colour," which is ridiculous.  The human race is not a simple matter of black and white, but were created by God to be a continuum, mixable because we are one human family and can procreate interacially.

But there’s another angle to this: there are no transparent people, either racially or any other way.  People are complex, with all kinds of internal contradictions.  That’s why our society today, which strips people of their privacy, is so corrosive to the human spirit.  That also underscores our need for a Saviour who doesn’t accept us for what we do or what we are but what he did for us.

Who Shall Spread the Good News?

We begin yet another podcast series, this time the contemporary Catholic album Who Shall Spread the Good News? by Roger Smith, Michael Howell and the New Commitment.

Although it may seem a stretch to call this album a “classic,” that is what it is.  Personally, I always found this album to be good to hear then things weren’t going well.  For orthodox Episcopalians, given the sad events at Camp Allen (down the road from the photo to the right,) some consolation might be in order.

We start the series with the title track Who Shall Spread the Good News?

Some Help for Your Acolytes

Holy Week was magnificent.  You, the Rector of an Anglican church, know it.  The choir was heavenly.  The altar guild outdid themselves again.  Not a revisionist in sight.  Your sermon even ended with more than half of the congregation awake!  Your golf game on Easter Monday with the Senior Warden only crowned the whole experience.  However, as you dropped that last 20 centimetre putt and headed to the Nineteenth Hole, there was that something that just kept coming back to haunt you.

Face it.  Your Senior Warden is right.  Your acolytes were pitiful.

But help is on the way.  You can click here and go view the “handbook” for the Order of St. Peter acolytes for Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach, FL.  This dates before TEC’s current prayer book, in case you’re still using the old standard.

And while you’re working on bringing them “up to standard,” you should know that, when Bethesda’s acolytes messed up (and they did,) all the Rector had to do was to call for a tee time and walk next door.

Below: The field, caddies and gallery of the 1974 Palm Beach Golf Classic at the Breakers wait to proceed. In the upper left hand corner, barely visible above the palm trees, is Bethesda’s spire.  (Click here for more golf photos.)

The Epistle Dedicatory to the Authorised (King James) Bible

Today many of the millions of Authorised (King James) Bibles printed and distributed lack the preface of the translators to the most important translation of God’s Word in the English language.  We present it here for the following reasons:

  1. It shows clearly that the Authorised Version is a product of the Church of England, which should give Baptists pause as to why they use it so much.
  2. It shows how important the accession of a monarch favourable to the Church of England as a demonstrably Biblical institution was and is important.
  3. The next to the last paragraph is probably as succinct statement of the true nature of the much-vaunted "Via Media" and its results as one could want.
We trust that it will be a blessing to you.


TO THE MOST HIGH AND MIGHTY PRINCE

JAMES

BY THE GRACE OF GOD

King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. The Translators of the Bible wish Grace, Mercy, and Peace, Through JESUS CHRIST our Lord.

Great and manifold were the blessings, most dread Sovereign, which Almighty God, the Father of all mercies, bestowed upon us the people of England, when first he sent Your Majesty’s Royal Person to rule and reign over us. For whereas it was the expectation of many, who wished not well unto our Sion, that upon the setting of that bright Occidental Star, Queen Elizabeth of most happy memory, some thick and palpable clouds of darkness would so have overshadowed this Land, than men should have been in doubt which way they were to walk; and that it should hardly be known, who was to direct the unsettled State; the appearance of Your Majesty, as of the Sun in his strength, instantly dispelled those supposed and surmised mists, and gave unto all that were well affected exceeding cause of comfort; especially when we beheld the Government established in Your Highness and Your hopeful Seed, by an undoubted Title, and this also accompanied with peace and tranquility at home and abroad.

But among all our joys, there was no one that more filled our hearts, than the blessed continuance of the preaching of God’s sacred Word among us; which is that inestimable treasure, which excelleth all the riches of the earth; because the fruit thereof extendeth itself, not only to the time spent in this transitory world, but directeth and disposeth men unto that eternal happiness which is above in heaven.

Then not to suffer this to fall to the ground, but rather to take it up, and to continue it in that state, wherein the famous Predecessor of Your Highness did leave it: nay, to go forward with the confidence and resolution of a Man in maintaining the truth of Christ, and propagating it far and near, is that which hath so bound and firmly knit the hearts of all Your Majesty’s loyal and religious people unto You, that Your very name is precious among them: their eye doth behold You with comfort, and they bless You in their hearts, as that sanctified Person, who, under God, is the immediate Author of their true happiness. And this their contentment doth not diminish or decay, but every day increaseth and taketh strength, when they observe, that true zeal of Your Majesty toward the house of God doth not slack or go backward, but is more and more kindled, manifesting itself abroad in the farthest parts of Christendom, by writing in defense of the Truth (which hath given such a blow unto that man of sin, as will not be healed), and every day at home, by religious and learned discourse, by frequenting the house of God, by hearing the Word preached, by cherishing the Teachers thereof, by caring for the Church, as a most tender and loving nursing Father.

There are infinite arguments of this right Christian and religious affection in Your Majesty; but none is more forcible to declare it to others than the vehement and perpetuated desire of accomplishing and publishing of this work, which now with all humility we present unto Your Majesty. For when Your Highness had once out of deep judgment apprehended how convenient it was, that out of the Original Sacred Tongues, together with comparing of the labours, both in our own, and other foreign Languages, of many worthy men who went before us, there should be one more exact Translation of the holy Scriptures into the English Tongue; Your Majesty did never desist to urge and to excite those to whom it was commended, that the work might be hastened, and that the business might be expedited hi so decent a manner, as a matter of such importance might justly require.

And now at last, by the mercy of God, and the continuance of our labours, it being brought unto such a conclusion, as that we have great hopes that the Church of England shall reap good fruit thereby; we hold it our duty to offer it to Your Majesty, not only as to our King and Sovereign, but as to the principal Mover and Author of the work: humbly craving of Your most Sacred Majesty, that since things of this quality have ever been subject to the censures of ill meaning and discontented persons, it may receive approbation and patronage from so learned and judicious a Prince as Your Highness is, whose allowance and acceptance of our labours shall more honour and encourage us, than all the calumniations and hard interpretations of other men shall dismay us. So that if, on the one side, we shall be traduced by Popish Persons at home or abroad, who therefore will malign us, because we are poor instruments to make God’s holy Truth to be yet more and more known unto the people, whom they desire still to keep in ignorance and darkness; or if, on the other side, we shall be maligned by self-conceited Brethren, who run their own ways, and give liking unto nothing, but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil; we may rest secure, supported within by the truth and innocency of a good conscience, having walked the ways of simplicity and integrity, as before the Lord; and sustained without by the powerful protection of Your Majesty’s grace and favour, which will ever give countenance to honest and Christian endeavours against bitter censures and uncharitable imputations.

The Lord of heaven and earth bless Your Majesty with many and happy days, that, as his heavenly hand hath enriched Your Highness with many singular and extraordinary graces, so You may be the wonder of the world in this latter age for happiness and true felicity, to the honour of that great GOD, and the good of his Church, through Jesus Christ our Lord and only Saviour.

Rising From the Pool

On my first trip to the then Soviet Union in 1988, I noted the following:

After this, we were given tour of the seminary (at the Monastery of Trinity-St. Sergius, outside of Moscow)museum by a seminarian. This contains historical articles of the Orthodox church of all kinds and a special section on the life and work of the Patriarch Alexis, who helped bring the Orthodox Church back to life after its near extinction by Stalin. There was a scale model of a large cathedral in Moscow built to commemorate the victory over Napoleon in 1812. Titov (our Russian agent) asked what happened to it and the seminarian replied “What happened to thousands of other churches in Russia? There is a swimming pool where that one was.”

The model was of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, then the largest Orthodox church in the world. Stalin had visions of a grandiose “Palace of Soviets,” so on 5 December 1931 he had the cathedral dynamited to rubble.

Unfortunately the regime that brought the world “scientific” socialism (and some unscientific socialism as well!) had troubles with the foundations, so the palace remained unbuilt. Under Nikita Khrushchev, the site was converted into a giant swimming pool.

With the fall of communism, the possibility once again came to rebuild the Cathedral. Work began again in 1994. Evidently now, as when it was built the first time, the foundation problems were solved, as the Cathedral was dedicated 19 August 2000, once again the largest Orthodox church in the world in the largest Orthodox country in the world.

656px-Moscow_July_2011-7a

Today we celebrate Easter, the day when we commemorate the rising of Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead simply on his own account, but so that we, believing him to be our Lord, God and Saviour, might rise with him on the last day and spend eternity with him.

In a way the story of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour mirrors that of the Saviour after whom it is named. When Stalin had the place demolished, many thought that Communism was the way of the future and that they had just blown up the past. But the “Great Patriotic War” (World War II) showed that things didn’t work quite as planned. As was explained to me twenty years ago:

Matters were at their nadir when the Second World War broke out, and when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union the demoralization of the nation was so complete that Hitler nearly succeeded in conquering the country. In its desperation Stalin’s war effort turned to the Orthodox Church and other Christian groups to help with the war effort, to revitalize the people for the war effort. This they did, and in return the Soviet government has granted the Orthodox Church and some other Christian groups limited freedom of existence and activity.

It was only a matter of time from that when the Cathedral would “rise from the pool” and many monuments to Communism would fall.

The Russians are certainly capable of fine work with both foundations and with the equipment to install those foundations. But beyond the technology and science the whole course of the Soviet Union is a reminder that we need a solid foundation of another kind before we start building (and tearing down): “For no man can lay any other foundation than the one already laid-Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11) We need to keep this in mind as we face secularists that seem to be more rabid by the day. We know that the Orthodox, like everyone else, aren’t perfect, but what they have to offer is certainly a big improvement over atheism, as history has borne out.

So, with the Orthodox and others who call themselves by the name of Jesus Christ, today we lift our voice and proclaim the truth that will ring into eternity:

Christ has arisen! He has arisen indeed!