The Charismatic Nature of Anglicanism

In the midst of everything else going on here, I received an interesting comment on my piece Charismatic Anglicans: The Missing Link:

I used to be a Lutheran who was sort of involved with the charismatic movement before coming to Canada. I became very discouraged with my church. I recently joined an Anglican Church in Vancouver. I asked the priest if there were any charismatics Anglicans. He did not know.I would love to find such a fellowship of Anglicans and a priest who is aware of the gifts of the spirit. The Anglican Church believes in casting out demons, healing, anointing of oil, and the laying on of hands, that is pretty charismatic to me. The Anglican Church has a richness that the Lutheran Church does not have. The Anglican Church by it’s historical practice is charismatic. It is liturgical,and sacramental. It has the gifts, use them, teach them, practice them for the enrichment of the believers, to do battle in a world that is filled with the demons of unbelief, power, addiction, corruption and war. We long to see Christ. We long for the presence of the Holy Spirit, for it is our peace and comfort. We are called by our baptism to good into all the world to preach., to share good news to a hurting world. We don’t need to preach about the law. For God sake we live feeling condemned. Preach the Good News of Love in Jesus Christ. Love builds life.

Please is there a fellowship of Charismatic Anglicans. We have the spiritual gifts, let’s not be afraid of who we are in our baptism and faith in the Lord Jesus. Greater things than these shall you do in the days of the Spirit. Lutherans and Anglicans are so close together why is there not a fellowship of spirit led Christians. We have the sacraments of grace. Let’s hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.  But there’s more.  In looking at the classically Anglican Books of Common Prayer (like the 1662 version) one is struck by the mention of many of the things he’s listed.  Beyond that, in these books there is a God who makes promises and delivers on them, a cornerstone of Full Gospel theology.  That impacts the whole discussion on the 1979 prayer books "baptismal covenant," what I call the contract on the Episcopalians.  There all the performance in on one side, i.e., ours.

Hopefully our friend will find what he’s looking for, although he’s in Michael Ingham’s home turf.  If you can help, just put a comment below.

Clarifying Positions (Maybe)

I have a few answers of my own to Liam’s response to my last piece on the subject of gay marriage and adoption.

I have, thus far, understood Don to be advocating that homosexuals be excluded from marriages recognized by the state (i.e., civil marriages.) If that is not the case, then my efforts have been misguided.

Perhaps.  Starting with the piece that started this ball rolling, I have always hoped that someone would come up with a more creative solution to this problem.  For example, if the state simply went to civil unions entirely, the Christian churches could concentrate on building up relationships that really reflected the relationship between Christ and his church rather than had proper legal status, because the two would have a clear distinction.  Everyone else could pursue their own agendas for marriage and the family.

But that hasn’t happened. Gay marriage is what has been demanded.  In Canada, homosexual groups opposed the idea that civil marriage be abolished altogether.  Here and in the UK they’ve also opposed extending civil unions to heterosexual couples (as is the case in France.)

The result was commented on by Jeff Gannon of the Washington Blade:

Gay leaders demonized opponents of same-sex marriage as hateful bigots and homophobes, completely ignoring the religious and social motivations behind the opposition. The reality is that marriage as the union of one man and one woman is our most basic social institution and deeply rooted in our culture.

Even though during the last few thousands of years marriage has had some variations that departed from strict monogamy, same-sex combinations have never been one of them. Gay marriage represents such a fundamental change that few can grasp it, let alone support it.

Instead of waging efforts to change hearts and minds, gay movement leaders have tried to bludgeon opponents and pursued a strategy where a very small minority would impose its will on a vast majority though judicial fiat.

But back to Liam:

I have little patience for those who wish to be part of a private club for no reason other than that they have been told that the club does not want them.

Where were you when Augusta National needed you?  In case this news hasn’t filtered out your way, this country club (where the Masters golf tournament is played) has fought a long campaign to force it to admit women members.  But seriously, Liam has hit upon an important issue: freedom of association.  Liam’s desires notwithstanding, there is a substantial movement that would break freedom of association in the name of "fairness" and "anti-discrimination."  That’s what drove the litigation in NJ about the Boy Scouts.

We can float solutions like getting the state out of the marriage business, or allowing people to continue to exercise their First Amendment rights in freedom of religion and association.  But such ideas will probably sink in the storm of our political and social dynamic.

Back and Forth on Marriage

Liam’s response to my question is interesting:

Much as in religious marriage, it is absolutely forbidden by law to engage in a civil marriage unless the parties involved genuinely and demonstrably love each other… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Just kidding. The truth is that, much as in religious marriage, the answer to that question depends upon who is getting married. Two people could marry each other because they like the way each other cooks. Or looks. Or smells. Or because one of the people is pregnant. Or because one or both of them is/are being coerced. Or because each likes the way the other rolls the toothpaste up from the bottom. Or the way neither one of them uses toothpaste at all. Marriage is a contractual relationship; it is a formal legal agreement entered into between two consenting parties (which, by the way, is pretty much the hottest and most romantic thing I can imagine!)

Oh, and people can get married because they love each other, too. Unless they’re gay, of course. Then, even if they love each other more than any two people in history, it is against the law for them to get married almost everywhere in this country. Straight people can get married because they both hate the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it is clearly immoral for gay people who are committed to each other, who would die for one another, whose hearts beat for each other, to get married. For, if that were to happen, it would render the marriage between the Pittsburgh Steeler-haters utterly meaningless.

So, the answer is that the relationship between love and civil (or religious) marriage is everything or nothing. Again, thanks for asking.

Liam and I are looking at the problem from different vantage points.  He’s looking at it from the personal view (the view of those getting married) while I tend to focus on the entity doing the marrying: for civil marriage, the state.  There’s also a generational difference as well; if Liam’s Myspace data is correct, by the time he came into the world, much of the "revolution" was over with.

Gay marriage advocates (including Liam) tell us that they want gay and lesbian people to have the opportunity to express their love and commitment.  As far as love is concerned, from my vantage point love has nothing to do with it.  Any group of people–and I sincerely mean any–that needs the endorsement of the state to express their love is in deep trouble.  The state isn’t about love, it’s about power and control.  It sanctions the family for its own purposes, not for the couple’s.  From Liam’s side, as he says, it’s "everything or nothing."

As far as commitment is concerned, in the U.S. that quality of marriage has been in deep trouble since the institution of "no-fault" divorce, pretty much a fait accompli by the time Liam arrived.  Before no-fault divorce, it was necessary for one spouse to prove the other had acted in such a way as to break wedlock.  This discouraged divorce.  It seems draconian to us now, but, as I said, power and control is what the state is all about.  That’s the only tool it has.  So, from either side, I don’t see how gay marriage achieves those stated goals.

With the two different perspectives, there’s one other thing that needs to be noted: the pursuit of personal desires, be they good, bad, or indifferent, can produce unexpected consequences when applied to a political system, especially one like ours.  Let me take as an example Liam’s cause célèbre, gay adoption.

Let’s assume that we actually achieved gay adoption.  Now let’s assume that some adoption agencies, for religious or other reasons of conviction, decided not to place children with same-sex couples.  The sensible solution would be to give prospective parents their choice of agency (which they have now.)  If a same-sex couple wanted to adopt, they could go to an agency that facilitated that.  Chances are, most would.  For those who wanted otherwise, they could go somewhere else.  We would have choice and competition, after a fashion.

But that’s not how things work these days.  No, we all know that the state would eventually force all of the agencies to adopt same-sex couples, with the usual given rationale.  Institutions and sympathetic individuals who see this and other like things coming (like forcing ministers and churches to wed same sex couples whether they wanted to or not, even with the plethora of denominations and religious institutions out there) do what they have to: oppose gay marriage and adoption.  So we have political conflict.

It seems that freedom has become a "zero-sum" game, where enabling new freedoms for some people means taking away freedoms from others.  I find this disturbing.  If nothing else, this is a big country.  There should be room for everyone.  But, I suppose, as long as we have Boomers running the show, we’re stuck with our present situation.

Note: Liam presented a "contract" view of marriage.  For civil marriage, this is correct.  (After all, it’s the law!)  I’ll let the other religions speak for themselves, but for real Christian matrimony, this is not the case.

More Hard Questions for the Left Coast

Earlier this week I responded to some email satire about gay marriage, adoption and other related issues.  Sure enough, I got an email answer, but, in a sign of progress, now same answer is posted on his blog.

Now that this debate can be pursued on a blog-to-blog basis, in reading Liam’s response there one thing that puzzles me: what does he think the relationship between love and civil marriage is?

P.S. It can be shown that I did know about the proper use of the word "alternative."

You Can’t Fix a Problem by Denying It Exists

Ruby Payne’s work on effectively interfacing with and helping students from the lower income levels has brought the expected howls of indignation from her colleagues.  But the truth is that this is the absolutely most explosive issue in the U.S. today, which is why no one wants to discuss it.

Let’s look at this from both sides.

The U.S. is supposed to be the place where "anyone" can start out "anywhere" and be successful.  It is ingrained in our national psyche.  The fact that class differences exist is an offence to this idea.  That’s reason #1 why people don’t want to discuss it.

For those in the lower income strata, this reason #1 induces shame.  It implies that they either have done something wrong or are "bad" people who can’t make it.  So they don’t want to think about it.  It used to be that churches provided some solace from this.  They could say that those who followed Jesus were going to heaven while those of a more worldly bent weren’t, so the inequities in this life would be reversed in eternity:

There was once a rich man, who dressed in purple robes and fine linen, and feasted every day in great splendor. Near his gateway there had been laid a beggar named Lazarus, who was covered with sores, And who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the very dogs came and licked his sores. After a time the beggar died, and was taken by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In the Place of Death he looked up in his torment, and saw Abraham at a distance and Lazarus at his side. So he called out ‘Pity me, Father Abraham, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering agony in this flame.’ ‘Child,’ answered Abraham, ‘remember that you in your lifetime received what you thought desirable, just as Lazarus received what was not desirable; but now he has his consolation here, while you are suffering agony. And not only that, but between you and us there lies a great chasm, so that those who wish to pass from here to you cannot, nor can they cross from there to us.’ ‘Then, Father,’ he said, ‘I beg you to send Lazarus to my father’s house– For I have five brothers to warn them, so that they may not come to this place of torture also.’ ‘They have the writings of Moses and the Prophets,’ replied Abraham; ‘let them listen to them.’ ‘But, Father Abraham,’ he urged, ‘if some one from the dead were to go to them, they would repent.’ ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets,’ answered Abraham, ‘they will not be persuaded, even if some one were to rise from the dead.’" (Luke 16:19-31)

But now we have prosperity teaching, so we don’t talk about that any more.

On the other end, liberals talk about restructuring society so that people who start out with disadvantages can make it.  But experience teaches that people at the top know that they could not make it if such a society was in place.  So they continue to send their children to the best schools and dispense social programs that they think will work.  But they are so far out of touch with the "other half" that they really don’t know what it will take.  The result is what we have, i.e., the left continues to push trendy causes and the gap between the top and the bottom continues to grow.

Ruby Payne doesn’t need "New Age" inspiration to see that what she proposes has good truth content.  Anyone who has made their life’s adventure to travel the longest trip in America–up and down the social ladder–can discern the veracity of what she says.  Boomers would rather travel to exotic places around the world than to explore unknown places in their own society.  But Boomers are a hard bunch to teach anything, which is why they really don’t understand either.

It’s time to acknowledge the existence of this problem and face it forthrightly.

Gradualism: An Historical Consideration

For a long time historians have unfolded their narratives without worrying about setting up a chronological punctuation, without the need of pausing at a major stopping point.  When the concept of medaevalism was imposed on general consciousness–it has only been a century–the dogma of evolution, of the continual and slow transformation of nature and of humanity made it difficult to understand the fact of discontinuity.  The indubitable result of this is that the primary differences between the period to which it fits to reserve the term of "Antiquity" and the following times continued to be misunderstood without the need of inserting breaks in the historical narrative for teaching purposes.  Unfortunately these chronological curriculum-driven divisions were made clumsily, or frequently the subject of ridicule, and they compromised the whole proposition of division between Antiquity and the Middle Age.

This separation nevertheless corresponds to a reality and it is dangerous not to apply it.  Even if it’s true that the river of Time glides in an continuous movement, it is also true that its course does not flow at an even rate.  Sometimes it slows down to the point that its movement is hardly perceptible, and the description of several centuries seems to be able to be contained in a few pages.  ‘At other points it tumbles over a waterfall, boils up and races away, and the historian, crushed by the abundance of important and tumultuous events, spends a lifetime retracing several revolutionary days.  (Ferdinand Lot, La fin du monde antique and the début du moyen âge (The end of the ancient world and the beginning of the middle ages) Paris: Éditions Albin Michel, 1968, pp. 11-12 (originally published 1926)

One of the main assumptions of current evolutionary dogma (to use the phrase of Ferdinand Lot, a French historian cited here earlier) is that of gradualism, that all changes in the structure of species took place gradually over long period of time.  This, of course, is taught as court-enforced fact in our schools, in spite of the warnings of creationists (even old-earth ones like myself) and some secular evolutionists that certain things just can’t be explained by anything else than cataclysmic events.

Although biologists would probably object, some correspondence can be made between the study of history and the study of the "prehistory" that is the subject of so much controversy.  After all, aren’t both the recounting of living organisms interacting in a geological/marine environment?  In human history the decision making capacity of people is further thrown into the mix (which in turn has some correspondence with Intelligent Design, but I’ll leave that for another time.)

Lot’s statement should be a caution for all those who would impose a scientific dogma without recourse to further study, and (to add injury to insult) impose it on disciplines which have some relation but also have significant differences.  The imposition of an evolutionary/gradualistic world view not only blinds us to the importance of cataclysmic events of all kinds, but also to the role of human volition and decision making processes in the course of events.  Too much history is written–and this translates into how current events are seen–with the idea that it’s driven by impersonal "forces," with the result that we slide all too often into historical determinism.  The end result is that we don’t learn anything applicable from history other than the idea that we can’t change it.

This quote also should warn us of the effects of how we teach subjects on how we view the knowledge they contain.  Anyone who has taught knows that there are ways of arranging the course content that make it easier for the students to learn, but in the long run may have to be "unlearned" for fuller understanding.

Trapped between fanatic gradualists and the demands of the curriculum, sometimes it’s a wonder anyone learns anything.

Gay Marriage and Adoption: Rescuing Absurdity from Itself

Back in the fall, I received an email from one of our visitors challenging my article Gay Marriage: What Marriage? and especially my statement that "it can be shown that the optimum home for children is one where there is a father and a mother."  I referred him to a number of places on this site (and one elsewhere) when I bloviate on the subject of gay marriage.

Well, he finally responded to me as follows (I will reproduce it fully, as he refrains from bad language:)

Thanks for the references to the well-designed and objective studies on the children of gay parents; they’ve opened my eyes, and convinced me that hack-job research by such partisan institutions as The American Academy of Pediatrics <http://www.aap.org/>  — which makes such outrageous statements as, "the research has been remarkably consistent in showing that lesbian and gay parents are every bit as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents." <http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-surrogacyside1xoct30,0,1727418.story?coll=la-home-headlines>  — is pure pablum. You’re a shining beacon of truth and rationalism in a world-gone-gay.

I share your concern for the welfare of children. I worry, however, that your rationalism isn’t going to gain much traction with the gay-loving U.S. society. But I think I may have found a back door — forgive the pun — to helping the children to an even greater extent than preventing gay people from raising children.

Negro parents.

You see, I’ve found that there are many good arguments to maintain marriage as a union of one white man and one white woman. Research shows that the children of negro parents don’t fare nearly as well — economically, educationally, or getting arrestedinally — as the children of white parents. And here’s the beauty of it: there are relatively few gay parents, so even if you abandon the noble-but-difficult cause of keeping gays from raising children, you’re only dooming a relative handful of kids. But there are tons of negro parents. Tons. The number of kids that need saving from negro parenting is literally in the millions.

How can we team up to get this initiative off of the ground? You’ve apparently got a framework already in place; all it needs is a slight shifting of focus to help millions of kids, rather than the thousands that stand to benefit from not having gay parents. I think I’ve got some good ideas that I’d like to brainstorm with you. Please get back to me and let me know what we can do.

This one’s for the kids! Let’s roll.

P.S. This is in the preliminary stages, but I’ve also begun to look into the detrimental effects of low-income parenting as well, and I think you’ll find the numbers pretty darn interesting…

Needless to say, this is as absurd as it is offensive.  But even at that some comments must be made:

  • The one thing I agree with is that "your rationalism isn’t going to gain much traction with the gay-loving U.S. society."  It generally doesn’t.  I am pleased that the left-wing community, filled with secularlists who keep telling us that religious people are incapable of rational thought, has at least one person who considers me a rationalist.
  • With satire like this, it’s little wonder that many black people resent the whole concept of gay rights.
  • His addition of low income people finally tipped his hand.  One reason why people might seem to do better in GLBT homes is that same homes are generally upper income places, as I noted in Protecting the Master Race.  If you took into consideration the income disparity, you would doubtless get a different result.  But GLBT people don’t want to do that, because it would seriously reduce the sympathy that they might generated for themselves.  (Just ask Paris Hilton!)
  • I still can’t understand how a group of people who routinely describe themselves as "alternative" is so fixed on gay marriage and gay adoption.  It’s just too bourgeois!  (I still don’t have an answer to that.)

P.S. After posting this, an item appeared on Andrew Sullivan’s blog that just might really move things in a positive direction.

Who Shall Spread the Good News: Holy, Holy, Holy

With this instalment we begin the series taken from the Mass itself.  The first piece is Holy, Holy, Holy.

We don’t give Anglo-Catholics much of a break on this site, so perhaps this is a welcome relief.  This is the best "folk Mass" out there, period.  So lighten up those "smells and bells" and join in.

Click here for more information.

Better to Stick with Secularism

The whole Sojourners’ discussion with Clinton, Obama and Edwards is a exercise in wishful thinking by both the Sojourners and the Democratic candidates.

It’s no secret that the Democrats’ own base is very secular.  It’s also no secret that the Republicans’ base tends to be religious.  So the trick for these candidates is to sound like they’re religious when they convey a message to their own base that they’re not.  This is very cynical politics.

Hillary is the best positioned to take advantage of this, as is the case with many other things.  She was raised in a United Methodist church and was led into the "religious left" by her activist youth minister, Don Jones.  She is a moralistic person, which sometimes doesn’t fit well with the "party animal" branch of the left.  Her background makes it easier for her to use the buzz words of evangelicalism, which she did profusely, especially when talking about her dealing with the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Edwards has to deal with the whole religious issue because he is a lower middle class Southerner.  He obviously knows how to sprinkle a little religion in front of a jury, which probably helped him become a successful trial lawyer.  Religious lefties probably find his high lifestyle hard to take, but that’s part of the scene he’s a product of too.  Those who come up to success are almost expected to flaunt it because it creates a visible example for others to follow.  That’s why so many preachers do it that way.

Obama, with a complex background, is probably less at ease with this issue than the others.  That’s one reason why George Soros likes him so much.

The truth is, however, that statists–and all of these people are that–see religion solely in its ability to serve the interests of the government, not religion as a way to animate society to be and do better.  This is close to an "opiate of the people" line of thinking, as Marx and Engels would put it.  That’s why conservative evangelicalism frightens them and the rest of the left–it represents to them a power challenge.  That’s why they want to co-opt it the best they can.

It would be more honest of them, however, to stick with secularism and try to buy off the public with new government programs than to try and impress the rest of us with their religiosity.