Deborah Gyapong: July 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Barbara Nicolosi on Baby Boomer's horrendous legacy

The founder of Act One, a workshop to train Christians in the craft of screenwriting and movie-making, has some powerful indictments of my generation. Here's an excerpt, but before you start reading, I have to tell you I repent and I am sincerely sorry for what my generation has done to the western world:

First is the effect on the gargantuan Boomer generation of a lifetime of listening to their own voices. The movies being created by and for the Boomers today are a very unentertaining mix of "Never regret! Life starts at 70!" and "Life is a cruel joke, ‘full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.'" Movies like It's Complicated showcase a bunch of grey hairs still acting badly, swallowing their shame and ignoring their appropriate role as the wise mentors of the younger generations. The Dorian Greyish dark echo of this kind of story are movies like There Will Be Blood and the chillingly titled No Country for Old Men, in which the characters' lives of narcissism and greed devolve into cynicism and brutality.

As an institution bent on saving souls, the Church's urgency with the fading Boomers must encourage them to face and take responsibility for the mistakes they have made. If they would be saved, the Boomer Generation must be guided into repentance for the way they self-righteously sacrificed all others as they fled from the simple heroism of adult human life. The rigid eradication of tradition, the gross materialism, the unbridled license, the embarrassing promiscuity -- all always accompanied by shrill distortion and denial -- have left our society disconnected, bloated, poorly educated, unable to trust and simmering in resentment. If the Boomers don't begin to admit to the rest of us where they went wrong, we all risk losing any of the positive achievements the generation has contributed to human history. I see many of my Millennial Generation students clamoring to set back the clock to a day before the Sixties, when there were grown-ups.

The Church's secondary, but equally urgent pastoral challenge, is with the younger generations. Do not think me flippant in suggesting that pastors and teachers of the faith must quickly provide substantive, moral reasons for GenXers not to euthanize the Boomers; I wish I were kidding, but I watch television, so I know that euthanasia is coming. The Entitled Generation will quickly morph into the Expensive Generation in the minds of the Millennials bent low under the weight of social programs that were strapped on their backs without their consent. It will be very easy to isolate the folks who are draining Medicare and Social Security and the health care system of most of the resources. History has a devastating way of being cyclical. It was the Boomers who made the case that they should end their marriages and abort their children for the God Expediency. Now, their children, stripped of any attachment to a moral framework, will eye the old grey hairs drooling in a corner in diapers -- but certainly still sneering -- and consider expedient "Death with Dignity" to be a sensible and pragmatic policy. The Church must use all media to reach these new cultural power brokers, and to penetrate the commanding subconscious voices of their parents; she must teach them that the breakdown of the Boomers will require patience, heroism, and long-suffering.

How can we help the younger generations break out of the resentment and emotional disconnect that has come from being the children of the Boomers? Decades of being abandoned, let down, and embarrassed has meant that we are engulfed in a new society that sneers at its own impulse to hope and dream.

Great interview with Ayan Hirsi Ali

Kathy Shaidle has it posted here at News Real blog.

I'm listening to it now and it is wonderful. Poor moral relativist Gian Gomeshi is getting eaten for breakfast.

The stage Anne Rice is going through as she ditches Christianity

This is the water cooler/blogosphere talk among Christian bloggers: (My bolds)

Novelist Anne Rice remains committed to Christ. But she is quitting Christianity.

The “Interview With The Vampire” author, who in recent years has spoken publicly about her faith and written a series of novels tracing the life of Jesus, wrote on her Facebook page Wednesday that she was finished with organized Christianity.

For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outside. My conscience will allow nothing else.

She followed that post a few minutes later with more details:

As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
Then she adds this:

My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.

Oh how I remember believing like this. It was just me and Jesus, baby, and since I believed I had a direct pipeline to Him, nobody external, no church, no human being on earth, was going to tell me what to believe. So for years, I wandered as a lonely pilgrim outside the confines of organized Christianity. Consequently, I also picked up a lot of wonky beliefs, heresies that I was even rather proud of since I thought I was smarter than most people. I too, felt like an outsider, partially because I had to be so spiritually disciplined in order to even approximate normality. But my life was one of almost constant spiritual defeat, though thankfully, I had a deep sense that Jesus is alive and He loves me, so that kept me going and kept me from becoming a bitter person.

Thank God for Pastor Doug Ward at Kanata Baptist Church. I remember my first words to him. "I'm a maverick and a heretic and I've never been able to sign on the dotted line of any church," I announced, though I did tell him that I had asked Jesus to come into my heart and acknowledged Him as Lord and Savior.

"Well, maybe this church is big enough for you," he said.

How wise he was. So I entered in. I was loved and accepted and gently taught by people with a deep evangelical faith but a mission to reach out to seekers like myself. So, for the most part, some of my odd beliefs---Swedeborgianism, Christian Science, Roy Masters (I think in the end, they all kind of cancelled each other out, but that's another story---one friend described me as like someone with several large dogs on leashes all trying to pull me in different directions) were not challenged directly. Instead I was exposed to good teaching, wonderful fellowship and gradually the heresies I clutched began to lose their hold over me. I will be forever thankful for Pastor Doug and the good, good Christian brothers and sisters at Kanata Baptist Church.

I feel bad for Anne Rice, because the lonely pilgrim road is a road to nowhere. It is a road of intense vulnerability to the forces of darkness because you have no spiritual covering, no protection from the hierarchy that Christ instituted. And now I see that that Church is the Catholic Church and I thank God I have been able to see Her with spiritual eyes and not get distracted by the very real flaws of some of her members.

The Anchoress---how I love her--writes (her bolds):

Rice’s angry frustration with what she (and, let’s face it, many others) perceive to be a sort of Institution of No is interesting. She refuses to be “anti-gay,” but the church teaches that indeed we must not be anti-gay, that homosexual inclinations are not sinful in themselves, but that all are called to chastity, whether gay or straight.

So, what she is refusing is not so much church teaching, which she incorrectly represents, but the worldly distortion of church teaching both as it is misunderstood and too-often practiced. I do not know how anyone could read the USCCB’s pastoral letter, Always Our Children and then make a credible argument that the church is “anti-gay.”

But then, I do not know how anyone can read Humanae Vitae and credibly call the church anti-feminist or anti-humanist.

I do not know how anyone can read Pope John Paul II’s exhaustive teachings on the Theology of the Body and credibly declare the church to be reactionary on issues of sexuality or womanhood.

I do not know how anyone can read Gaudium et Spes and credibly argue that the church is out of touch with the Human Person or Society.

I do not know how anyone can read Fides et ratio and credibly argue that the church does not hold human reason in esteem.

I do not know how anyone can look at the Vatican supporting and funding Stem Cell Research, or the even the briefest list of religiously-inclined scientists and researchers and credibly argue that Christianity is “anti-science.”

Anne Rice wants to do the Life-in-Christ on her own, while saying “Yes” to the worldly world and its values. She seems not to realize that far from being an Institution of No, the church is a giant and eternal urging toward “Yes,”, that being a “yes” toward God–whose ways are not our ways, and who draws all to Himself, in the fullness of time–rather than a “yes” to ourselves.

I think the "yes" to herself is in her "I refuse" that she repeats as if she were chanting a litany.

This is so sad, because, having the been there done that T-shirt and bumper sticker, I know how fruitless that kind of trying to be Christian without being "religious." That's such a popular mantra these days.

But I must remember the approach that Pastor Doug took with me and be gentle with these seekers as he was gentle with me.

Earlier this week, I read one of my favorite passages in My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers, my bolds:

If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine . . . —John 7:17

The golden rule to follow to obtain spiritual understanding is not one of intellectual pursuit, but one of obedience. If a person wants scientific knowledge, then intellectual curiosity must be his guide. But if he desires knowledge and insight into the teachings of Jesus Christ, he can only obtain it through obedience. If spiritual things seem dark and hidden to me, then I can be sure that there is a point of disobedience somewhere in my life. Intellectual darkness is the result of ignorance, but spiritual darkness is the result of something that I do not intend to obey.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Five young men cycling to raise awareness of the plight of child soldiers

I met an inspiring group of young men today on Parliament Hill. They are planning to cycle from Ottawa to St. John's, Newfoundland to raise awareness of the plight of child soldiers around the world.

They're going to blog and vlog their journey and have some good links at their website on the extent of this horrendous problem. Here's some info from their website:

Do you know anyone between the ages of nine and seventeen…and are they generally happy, well-fed, and protected?

Of course, right? But did you know that if you lived in parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America or Europe…the kids you’re thinking of could be among a quarter of a million children serving—or being forced to serve—in a military capacity?

Child Soldiers…

Imagine children signing up to become soldiers. Voluntarily—out of fear, a lack of alternatives, peer pressure, or a desire for revenge in a violent society. Imagine others being forcibly abducted by military groups, and kept as slaves.

They leave on Sunday after receiving a blessing at St. Joe's parish and a little rally on Parliament Hill.

This is not fundraising campaign but an attempt to get people to sign hand prints indicating they want the media to cover this largely untold story.

So I did mine.

Their names are Benjamin Gunn-Doerge, 18, who is going to St. F-X in the fall. Jamie MacDonald, 18, also of St. Joe's, who is going to Queen's this fall; his brother Sandy MacDonald, 15, who is going into grade 10, Matthiue Halle,, from St. Joseph the Worker parish in Victoria, B.C. , 18, and Philip Schliehauf, 19, who is in his second year at Queen's and also attends St. Joe's.

Phil is the one on the unicycle. Last year he unicycled along from Victoria to Ottawa last year collecting funds for Invisible Children.

Off doing summer things in Merrickville

I had never been to Merrickville, so on Tuesday, I drove down there with a couple of friends. We had lunch on a sheltered patio at the Yellow Canoe, and visited every little shop and well, shopped.

A young man reads The Defilers and likes it!

I got this email this morning, which cheered my day:

Deborah, I just finished reading your book! I started reading it a few days
ago & I seriously couldn't put it down!! It was quite a story & I
enjoyed it. I especially loved reading about spiritual realities from a
true perspective, & what's more, it was free of nihilism, with a
redeeming hopeful point to it!

Thank you.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Interesting article on celibacy

Here's a link to an interesting look at celibacy in the priesthood, but please note the paragraphs on marriage. This is by ABC's Sarah Coakley via David Virtue's site. My bolds for those readers who like to skim.

Yet one might well say, as did David Brooks in 2003, that our age is in a crisis - not so much of homosexuality - but more generally of erotic faithfulness. However, this is scarcely a chic reflection, granted the current prurient obsession with homosexuality, and the accompanying diversion from heterosexual failures.

A third, and final, "cultural contradiction" that I want to propose hovers over the common assumption that celibacy and marriage are somehow opposites: one involving no sex at all, and the other - supposedly - involving as much sex as one or both partners might like at any given time. But this, on reflection, is also a perplexing cultural fantasy that does not stand up to scrutiny.

The evidence provided by Richard Sipe's book, Celibacy in Crisis, is revealing here. Not only does faithful (or what Sipe calls "achieved") celibacy generally involve a greater consciousness of sexual desire and its frustration than a life lived with regular sexual satisfaction. But married sexuality, on the other hand, is rarely as care-free and mutually satisfied as this third "cultural contradiction" might presume.

Indeed a realistic reflection on long and faithful marriages (now almost in the minority) will surely reveal periods of enforced "celibacy" even within marriages: during periods of delicate pregnancy, parturition, illness, physical separation, or impotence, which are simply the lot of the marital "long haul."

And if this is so, then the generally-assumed disjunction between celibacy and marriage will turn out not to be as profound as it seems. Rather, the reflective, faithful celibate and the reflective, faithful married person may have more in common than the unreflective or faithless celibate, or the carelessly happy, or indeed unhappily careless, married person.

Now I shall return fleetingly to these three "cultural contradictions" later, For by then, I trust, we shall have gleaned some resources for addressing them. But for now, we cannot go further without attacking a different sort of cultural presumption head-on: that of the supposed pyschological dangers of celibacy or of any so-called "repressed" sexuality.

Here we may be surprised to discover what Freud himself said on this matter, and to him we shall now turn. Could it be that Freud actually gives us, despite himself, certain back-handed resources for thinking afresh theologically about the nature of "desire"?

Even Richard Sipe - who wishes, despite his sustained expose of clerical failures in celibacy, to defend the estimated 2% of Roman Catholic priests who he thinks do (as he puts it) "achieve" celibacy - argues that this "achievement" is always at the cost of earlier "experimentation" and fumbling, through which the priest must inevitably pass en route to something like mature sexual balance.

Underlying these gloomy figures (Sipe estimates that nearly half of so-called "celibates" are actually not so at any one time) seems to lurk the psychological presumption - often attributed to Freud - that celibacy is unnatural and even harmful. Or, if celibacy is not inherently "unnatural," then it is deemed distinctly "unusual" and even "utopian."'

It may come as some surprise, then, to find that Freud's own views on what he called "sublimation" (or unfulfilled and redirected sexual desire) were not only malleable over time, remaining finally somewhat unclear and inconsistent, but that he moved distinctly away from his early, and purely biological, account of "Eros" (sexual desire) and its power for redirection.

At no time, in fact (as far as I can see), does Freud's position provide a mandate for the view that "sublimation" is harmful - or, at any rate, that it is any more harmful than the psychological repressions we necessarily negotiate all the time, according to Freud.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The "Who goes Nazi?" Parlor Game

As someone who grew up in the 1950s, and a child of a mother, aunt and grandparents who were stateless persons in France and would have been sent to the Nazi death camps had they not found refuge in the United States, I have always had a horror of the Holocaust. I also grew up an American of Russian descent at the height of the Cold War, when my little neighbor, a boy of about five, used to cry when an airplane would fly overhead because it might drop "The Bomb."

The Korean War was on, and brainwashing was in the news, and as a fifth grader, little boys would pantomime killing me with machine guns when I said my unusual last name (not Gyapong back then) was Russian not Irish or Italian. I used to wonder "Would I tell?" if I were captured by the Communists? Would I betray my country? I found out years later that a lot of other kids questioned themselves the same way. I have always had an equal horror of the Gulag and the totalitarianism of Communism, for that is what drove my grandparents on my mother's side out of Russia.

Now there's a parlor game "Who Goes Nazi?" making its rounds again from a 1941 Harper's article) that has me remembering my childhood. (H/t The Anchoress), The game's object is taking a look at your wide circle of acquaintances and figuring out which ones would become a Nazi were the circumstances right.

It’s fun–a macabre sort of fun–this parlor game of “Who Goes Nazi?” And it simplifies things–asking the question in regard to specific personalities.

Kind, good, happy, gentlemanly, secure people never go Nazi. They may be the gentle philosopher whose name is in the Blue Book, or Bill from City College to whom democracy gave a chance to design airplanes–you’ll never make Nazis out of them. But the frustrated and humiliated intellectual, the rich and scared speculator, the spoiled son, the labor tyrant, the fellow who has achieved success by smelling out the wind of success–they would all go Nazi in a crisis.

Believe me, nice people don’t go Nazi. Their race, color, creed, or social condition is not the criterion. It is something in them.

Those who haven’t anything in them to tell them what they like and what they don’t-whether it is breeding, or happiness, or wisdom, or a code, however old-fashioned or however modern, go Nazi. It’s an amusing game. Try it at the next big party you go to.

Today small-government conservatives, or American Tea Partiers are routinely called Nazis. But Nazi is a contraction of National Socialist and a fascists loved a huge, intrusive state. While the racial component made its form of totalitarianism different from the class-based dictatorship of Communism, both systems killed millions of people and violently suppressed dissent.

I have also come to see that the Holocaust (and other genocides, as well) happened because so many normal people were in willful denials about those cattle cars full of people even as they dutifully did the paper work. Many were subject to fear that if they spoke out, they might be on the next train themselves. Or thought it was truly impossible that fellow Germans could be so barbaric. As I have capitulated in small ways merely to be popular in my life, how would I respond if my life were endangered? Would I stand up for the truth?

As a Christian, would I betray Jesus Christ if I faced torture or death or doing so? What about the loss of my job? The loss of my reputation?

I hope and pray the answer would be no, and I would, I hope, beseech God to grant me the grace to die for Him if need be. But I betray Him in so many little ways even without such big temptations. I don't even bother to ask for the grace, which is in itself a betrayal. But then, I think that often people who become Nazis or totalitarians or utopian thinkers is that they do not know their own capacity for evil. They have not reached a deep realization that "There but for the grace of God, go I." They manage to think they are good people because of the civilized bonds of society, but whoa if those bonds break down.

Of course we all think we would not be a Nazi, it's only the other guy. But all of us are vulnerable to being caught up in this kind of thing, which includes deep deception, and appeals to instinct and unconscious drives that most of us have never done the spiritual work to discern in ourselves. We're too busy projecting what is wrong with us onto others.

Interesting game. But first, make sure you do not neglect examining yourself.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The exhaustion of talking about the relationship

Interesting article about a Lesbian and what it was like to have relationships with other women.
Heh heh heh.
This reminds me of a friend of mine lamenting, "The problem with my husband is he tries to understand me!"

Despite the closeness of her relationships, Clune admits that the hyper-emotional world of a female-to-female sexual bond was "exhausting." "The women I went out with were by and large more inclined to be insecure and to need reassurance and I found myself in the male role of endlessly reassuring my girlfriends," she writes. "The subtle mood changes of everyday life would be picked over inexhaustibly."

Clune describes how one lover was so jealous and insecure that "every single time we enjoyed a night out ... we would have a row and have to leave." "Back home, we would then spend the next four hours arguing about our relationship and my feelings of loyalty, fidelity and so on," she writes. "It was never-ending."

"Can you imagine waking up beside a woman when you've both got raging PMT (premenstrual tension)?" she adds.

Ultimately, she says, the emotional rollercoaster forced her to reconsider her lesbian plunge - something she clearly says she "chose," and was not born into. "Unlike most men, women, of course, offer each other endless support and there's hardly ever any lack of communication," writes Clune. "But - bizarre as it may seem - I found myself longing for exactly the opposite."

Following "a calculated decision to try men again," Clune says that she found in her future husband Richard a "quiet kindness" and "lack of neediness" that appealed to her. "I felt we were walking alongside each other rather than spending life locked in face-to-face intimacy or combat," she writes. "It felt natural and not at all scary. He was sanguine about my past and never suffered the insecurities I had come to expect."

"It was a breath of fresh air. I've always been fiercely independent and felt I could be myself with him."

Yeah, it's nice to find a man like that.

Bishop Edwin Barnes homily on St. James

Here's an excerpt from a courageous post at The Anglo-Catholic:

If we do not value our faith, then those who taught us the faith slip from our memory. Then we become vulnerable; open to every sort of superstition and false religion. As Chesterton said, ‘when people cease to believe in God, they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything’. So the Beatles toyed with Hinduism, some people turn an octopus into a prophet who can predict the outcome of football matches, and young women whose parents and grand-parents failed to hand on to them their Christian faith suddenly feel attracted, of all things, to Islam and wearing the Burkha.

In England, we simply don’t understand those cultures where Christianity is still valued. Take, for instance, Romania. For centuries that was at the very edge between the Christian West and the Islamic East. Their great national hero, who stood out against the invaders, was prince Vlad. In the West we have turned him into a comic book villain, Vlad the Impaler. For the Romanians he is one of the great figures of their history, who stood against the armies of the crescent and ensured the survival of the Orthodox Faith in their country.

So honour James your Patron, missionary to the far west of Europe, whose memory and prayers protected Spain when it was threatened by an alien culture and belief system. Ask though whether maybe we should be as bold as his followers were, in defending our own faith. Today we are confirming seven candidates; making them strong in their faith, which is what con-firming means, so that they can give an account to others of the faith which is in them, and stand upright against all those who would insult Jesus and the Church.

Two weeks ago I was in a parish in Birmingham. The priest there told me that down the road, as you enter that district, a black flag flies. It announces that this is Taliban territory. Next door to the Vicarage a new mosque is being built. Every pub for miles around has been turned into a mosque. You will find a similar story in Bradford and Leicester and many English Provincial Towns. If we do not value our faith, we shall lose it. Our church has been too accommodating to people of other faiths, implying that every religion is as good as every other. We have allowed Muslim cultural centres and mosques to be opened everywhere, yet we have not complained when Christians in Jordan and other Arab states are forbidden to practice the faith publicly.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why many catholic Anglicans are seriously contemplating the offer from the Holy Father. In the Church of Rome at least we shall not, for political correctness’ sake, be forbidden to wear the crucifix, or forbidden to pray with patients in hospital, or forbidden to tell others about Jesus. Maybe it was inspired of your forebears to have James as your patron; not just the first Apostle to be martyred, but also the protector of the faith against the Muslim invaders. Holy James, we need your prayers and protection now as never before. Pray for us and all who hold and teach the catholic faith.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I wonder what he thinks of Anglicanorum coetibus?

From David Virtue's site, a story about Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, the new primate of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, the largest province of the Anglican Communion. (Of which I am not a part) My bolds:

“The Church in the West had vowed to use their money to spread the homosexual lifestyle in African societies and Churches; after all Africa is poor. They are pursuing this agenda vigorously and what is more, they now have the support of the United Nations. We therefore call on parents to ensure that their children obtain their first degree in Nigeria before travelling abroad. Parents and guardians should closely watch and monitor the relationship which their children or wards keep so that deviant behavior could be timely corrected. The sin of homosexuality, it must be reemphasized, destroyed the communities of Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Okoh ripped the comparison of those who ordained gay bishops with those who cross borders for “pastoral work” and had been accused of breaking the call for a moratorium.

“We reject being put in the same category with churches conducting gay ordination and same sex marriage, and the equating of our evangelical initiative (for which we should be commended) with those who are doing things unbiblical. But for the Nigerian initiative and others like her, many of our faithful Anglican American friends who cannot tolerate the unbiblical practices of the Episcopal Church in America could have gone away to other faiths. The great commission to go in to all the world to save souls is our compelling constitution.”

Okoh called the step taken by the [Archbishop of] Canterbury “ill-advised and does not make any contribution towards the healing of the ailment in the Anglican extended family.”

“Our main thrust as a Church remains the evangelization of our people. The Gospel is not only proclaimed as a religious faith but a means of godly civilization. By evangelism we mean the spreading of “the faith once for all delivered to the Saints” (Jude 3). We equally mean effective teaching and discipling to reduce the yearning gap between profession of faith and morality. It also includes getting deeply involved in the work of mission by providing some amenities and support to individuals and rural communities so as to reduce poverty and complement the effort of Government that the people may have life more abundantly.”

The archbishop also attacked Nigeria’s numerous social evils and said he would not draw back from addressing them. “Like Biblical prophets of old who were champions of moral, socio-political and economic destinies of their nations, we do not intend to abandon this divine responsibility.”

“I wonder why we still lack vision and mission such that can explore resources to employ and feed all our people; why do most people hunger when God has so endowed us. There is clearly poverty in the land as evidenced in our housing, food and clothing in most rural communities. In spite of this, corruption is still growing in all segments of society; leaving the most vulnerable in society completely dispossessed. There is warning everywhere that fossil oil will not continue to rule the world. Serious scientific research is going on around the world to find viable alternatives.”
So far, I love this guy. Now, where does he stand on priestesses? Wouldn't it be great if he brought all those Anglicans into the Catholic Church under a personal ordinariate?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Father Z is hilarious

I'm listening to Father Z's podcast. He is hilarious.

Boney M song banned from West Bank

From American Thinker:

Palestinians are hosting an international arts festival this week -- with performances in Ramallah and other major West Bank cities. Among the performing artists was the Boney M disco group, known for its world-famous "Rivers of Babylon" song.

But before the singers could mount the stage in Ramallah, they were told that "Rivers of Babylon" was out. Why? Because according to an Associated Press report, festival officials would not countenance lyrics about Jewish longing and ties to biblical Israel.

To be precise, these are the words that are verboten in Mahmoud Abbas's West Bank:

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down

"Yeah, we wept, when we remembered Zion"


But it shouldn't come as a shock why such seemngly innocent lyrics couldn't be heard in Ramallah, why they're impermissible in Fatahland, where Palestinian leaders from Abbas on down stoutly deny historical Jewish ties to the Holy Land. This, after all, is a song that evokes Jewish connections to the land dating back some 2,500 years. And not only does it refer to the Jews' relatively brief exile in Babylon but also to their memories of hundreds of years of Jewish sovereignty in Zion before the Babylonian exile.

Yeah, the fashionable position these days is to argue that the state of Israel itself is illegitimate. Someone was telling me of a conservation she had in Israel, and one of the people she met was touting the one state solution. "What would happen to the Jews then?" my friend asked. "Pfffft! " said the man, making a gesture with his hands.

If you want to listen to the song, here it is on YouTube.

How the Pope spends his summer holiday

Il blog degli amici di Papa Ratzinger [3]: Il ritratto del card. Ouellet secondo la giornalis...

Il blog degli amici di Papa Ratzinger [3]: Il ritratto del card. Ouellet secondo la giornalis...: "Clicca qui per leggere l'articolo segnalatoci dal nostro Alberto. Qui una traduzione."

From Pajamas Media about those youths rioting in Grenoble

You probably didn’t hear about it, but Muslim youths rioted in Grenoble, France, on July 16, sparking some of the worst instability the country has faced since the 2005 riots. Now, like then, most of the media declined to mention the religious or ethnic background of the rioters, instead painting them as unruly youngsters and covering the eyes of the public to the slow dissolution of France as we know it.


Over fifty cars were set ablaze. Stores were also burned and a tramway stoned. Gang members carrying baseball bats took over buses. When the police arrested one rioter, things got worse. Law enforcement officers were fired upon and targeted with stones and Molotov cocktails. It wasn’t for four days that a level of calm returned.

This is France today. Police must fear that any use of force against a criminal with a Muslim background could be interpreted as an act of brutality and racism that must be responded to with violence.

The country was first forced to recognize the problem in 2005 when riots broke out in 300 towns for three weeks following the deaths of two Muslim teenagers who were electrocuted when they hid in a power station believing they were being chased by police. Fires were set to over 300 buildings and over 9,000 cars. A state of emergency was declared and nearly 3,000 rioters were arrested and 126 police officers were injured. Schools, gyms, stores, churches, and police stations were attacked as the rioters clashed with police. Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal would later boast that he convinced Rupert Murdoch to order Fox News to stop describing the rioters as Muslims.

It didn’t take long for the disgruntled Muslim urbanites to go for a second round. In May 2006, about 100 youths with baseball bats fought with police on the same battlefields from the previous year. The mayor had to flee his home when it was stoned, homemade explosives were tossed at the town hall building, trash cans were in flames, and four cars were blown up. It is not clear what exactly sparked the violence, but two arrests for separate incidents did precede the upheaval.

Then in November 2007, a police officer arrived at a traffic accident involving a police vehicle and motorcycle that killed two teenagers. The officer’s car was set on fire before he could escape. He ended up in the hospital with several broken ribs and a punctured lung from being beaten with baseball bats and iron bars. Clashes with police continued for two days as gang members, armed with shotguns, fired at police as they committed acts of looting and arson. About 130 police officers were injured, 70 cars were burned, and various buildings were attacked including a library and two schools. One police officer described the scene as an “open rebellion” by “urban guerillas.”

These hubs of impoverished, mostly Muslim immigrant communities exist because the French government has designated them as “sensitive urban zones.” These are areas where the police do not have control, effectively making them “no-go zones,” as Dr. Daniel Pipes describes them. Almost five million people live in these areas which are left to themselves, allowing gangs and hostility to authority to breed.

I didn't know this

Via Kathy Shaidle, my bolds, as I did not know this:

The injustices endured by black Americans at the hands of their own government have no parallel in our history, not only during the period of slavery but also in the Jim Crow era that followed. But the extrapolation of this logic to all "people of color"—especially since 1965, when new immigration laws dramatically altered the demographic makeup of the U.S.—moved affirmative action away from remediation and toward discrimination, this time against whites. It has also lessened the focus on assisting African-Americans, who despite a veneer of successful people at the very top still experience high rates of poverty, drug abuse, incarceration and family breakup.

Those who came to this country in recent decades from Asia, Latin America and Africa did not suffer discrimination from our government, and in fact have frequently been the beneficiaries of special government programs. The same cannot be said of many hard-working white Americans, including those whose roots in America go back more than 200 years.

Contrary to assumptions in the law, white America is hardly a monolith. And the journey of white American cultures is so diverse (yes) that one strains to find the logic that could lump them together for the purpose of public policy.

The clearest example of today's misguided policies comes from examining the history of the American South.

The old South was a three-tiered society, with blacks and hard-put whites both dominated by white elites who manipulated racial tensions in order to retain power. At the height of slavery, in 1860, less than 5% of whites in the South owned slaves. The eminent black historian John Hope Franklin wrote that "fully three-fourths of the white people in the South had neither slaves nor an immediate economic interest in the maintenance of slavery."

And what about those Americans like me and my immigrant ancestry. Maybe way back we oppressed some serfs in Russia but lost everything in the Bolshevik Revolution, then lost everything again in France during World War Two. The other ancestors were peasants from the Carpathian Mountains. We had nothing to do with oppressing black people or native people.

Unfortunately, a lot of the racism of poor whites stemmed from a desire to find someone they perceived to be lower than themselves. Very sad and ugly.

Richard Sipes writes on "Beneath the child abuse scandal"

Interesting article in the National Catholic Reporter. This is not an area I know much about here in Canada. My bolds:

The attitudes, values, and practices of clerical culture are bound by secrecy. Sexual secrecy is the key to the clerical culture. It beats at the heart of the crisis. Currently clerical culture, on balance, is corrupt. Priests -- even good priests -- live, breath, and have their being in a culture of hypocrisy. Sexual secrecy dominates the culture from seminary training through the episcopacy to the Vatican. There is a great deal more at work in the operation of clergy and the clerical system than "passion for the Gospel" that the pope extols.

Few people want to dirty their hands with the crisis. Who from inside the clerical culture has spoken up and reported abuse? (10) Many folks are sick of hearing about clergy abuse. Fr. James Martin, an editor of the Jesuit magazine America told The New York Times, "I don't think editors realize how tired Catholics are of seeing the church portrayed through the lens of sex abuse." (11)

That poses the real conundrum: percolating behind the scandal of priests preying sexually on minors and vulnerable women and men only waiting to be served up steaming hot is the secret system where priests and bishops enjoy the sexual favors of willing adult women and compatible adult men; (to say nothing about pornography and masturbation). The questions about clerics' mistresses, their children, the abortions of their companions (often instigated by them) and widespread homosexual activity cannot long be ignored. (12) A more powerful lens is waiting to focus on the clerical culture that will render the crisis in ever more precise dimensions.

Beneath the child abuse scandal is a clerical world of sexual reality. Besides avoidance and denial of that reality is a system of moral disbelief sustaining the crisis. Many priests simply do not believe a host of church moral dictums about human sexuality. A more perfect example is not possible than a top official in the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy who was caught on television in 2007 claiming he "didn't feel he was sinning" by having sex with gay men (13) -- unless it is a monsignor acting out in his Vatican office, or a Vatican chorister in 2010 allegedly procuring male prostitutes for papal gentleman-in-waiting.

If you do not believe what the Church teaches--and the moral dictums flow from the Gospel, they are not optional add-ons or part of the cafeteria menu, then you will not have the Holy Spirit's power to resist sin. The chastity required for priestly celibacy (or for single lay people) or a continent married life is not easy to do on one's own power, especially in our sex saturated, "grab the gusto" culture. We're required not only to follow the moral dictums outwardly, but inwardly as well.

Thankfully, I know a whole lot of priests and bishops who seem to be doing this right, as the Church teaches and that is a beautiful thing to see.

A great essay on America's ruling class

It could even be worse in Canada. From the American Spectator, a must read essay The American Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution by Angelo M. Codevilla:

Today's ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters -- speaking the "in" language -- serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America's ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.

The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century's Northerners and Southerners -- nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, "prayed to the same God." By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God "who created and doth sustain us," our ruling class prays to itself as "saviors of the planet" and improvers of humanity. Our classes' clash is over "whose country" America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark's Gospel: "if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand."


Professional prominence or position will not secure a place in the class any more than mere money. In fact, it is possible to be an official of a major corporation or a member of the U.S. Supreme Court (just ask Justice Clarence Thomas), or even president (Ronald Reagan), and not be taken seriously by the ruling class. Like a fraternity, this class requires above all comity -- being in with the right people, giving the required signs that one is on the right side, and joining in despising the Outs. Once an official or professional shows that he shares the manners, the tastes, the interests of the class, gives lip service to its ideals and shibboleths, and is willing to accommodate the interests of its senior members, he can move profitably among our establishment's parts.

Do read the whole thing.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's been a maudlin day

My favorite saint's day. Because God really does give beauty for ashes.

O ALMIGHTY God, whose blessed Son did sanctify Mary Magdalene, and call her to be a witness to his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by thy grace we may be healed of all our infirmities, and always serve thee in the power of his endless life; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

From Father Z, who includes recipes:

Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene.

The 3rd c. writer Hippolytus in his Commentary on Song of Songs identifies Mary Magdalene with both Mary of Bethany the sister of Martha and Lazarus (Luke 10:38-42; John 1:10) and also the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet (Luke 7:36-50)

Mary Magdalene and/or Mary of Bethany are often identified as sinners. Pope Gregory I "the Great" called her a peccatrix, "sinner". Eventually she came to be called meretrix, "prostitute".

There is no way to arrive definitively at the identity of the figure of Mary Magdelene. It is possible that Mary Magdalene was none of these women. The Catholic Church has no position about this. Commonly, however, Catholics sometimes identify all three women as the same Mary.

There is also another version, namely that Mary Magdalene was the woman Jesus saved from stoning after being caught in adultery. Scholars believe Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, the woman Jesus rescued, and the woman who anointed His feet are all different women.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I love it when Father Z puts lots of red on his blog

Like his fisking of this Time article. Heh heh heh.

Appeal Court upholds CHRC Commission

Brian Lilley reports:

OTTAWA - A man who was thrown out of the RCMP training school 11 years ago has been awarded more than $100,000 in back pay and been granted an order that he be reinstated as a cadet with Canada¹s national police force. The Federal Court of Appeal says Ali Tahmourpour was unfairly discriminated against based on racial and religious grounds during his time as an RCMP cadet in 1999.

Tahmourpour was dismissed from the RCMP academy in Saskatchewan, known as the Depot, just past the halfway mark of a 22-week recruit training program. Instructors cited weaknesses in communication skills, decision-making and firearms as their reasons for releasing Tahmourpour from the Depot. Tahmourpour says he flunked out due to the treatment he suffered at the hands of the RCMP instructors who he says singled him out due to his Iranian background and Muslim faith.


In one key incident Tahmourpour said he was singled out when a physical training instructor announced that an exception to the rule against jewelry during training was being made for Cadet Tahmourpour due to his religious requirements.

Tahmourpour filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission and was awarded a settlement that could have reached $1 million, including legal fees. The RCMP appealed that decision and won at Federal Court, which ruled that the case should return to the human rights tribunal for review.

On Monday, Justice Karen Sharlow of the Federal Court of Appeal overruled the lower court and upheld most of the decision of the human rights tribunal, though she ordered a portion of the compensation awarded to Tahmourpour to be reconsidered.

The intrepid Brian Lilley writes about anti-white racism

In the Sun Media chain:

OTTAWA - A stay-at-home mother trying to re-enter the workforce after nine years away says she can’t understand why the federal government would stop her from applying for a job simply because she is white.

Sara Landriault, a sometime family activist, says that with her kids in school full time she decided to start looking for work outside of the home.

While surfing on the federal government job website, Landriault says she found a position at Citizenship and Immigration Canada she felt she was qualified for but was blocked from submitting her resume because she was not an aboriginal or visible minority.

“I was flabbergasted,” Landriault said in a telephone interview from her home in Kemptville, Ont., just south of Ottawa. “It was insane. I’m white, so I can’t do it?”

Landriault says she has seen job postings in the past that encourage certain groups to apply.

“Which is fine, it’s an equal opportunity position,” Landriault said. “But an equal opportunity employer does not stop one race from applying.”

A CIC spokeswoman takes a different view.

“We are under-represented by aboriginal employees in our work force,” said Melanie Carkner. “At this point in time, the department does meet requirements for visible minorities; however, given the department’s mandate, we make a concerted effort to hire individuals in this group.”

Archbishop Hepworth's call to Christian Unity

Here are two short excerpts from exhortation to Christian Unity by Archbishop John Hepworth, primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion at the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada Synod last week. I have heard some of the world's best preachers in my time, and Hepworth ranks among them. This was an inspiring, Spirit-breathed homily.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thank you, Cardinal Ouellet

B.C. Catholic has posted my personal reflections on what it's been like to cover Cardinal Ouellet for the past five and a half years. Here's an excerpt.

He welcomed transparency, and I felt free to be my authentic, albeit imperfect, opinionated self. Even though I gave him opportunities, he never said an unkind word about anyone.
As I gradually got to know him better and observe him over time in a variety of circumstances, I witnessed how beautifully he models what St. Paul described as being a love letter from Christ to the world. Yet the cardinal's humility and transparency did not invite anyone to put him on a pedestal.

Over the years, he did not hide the fact that he found some circumstances challenging and painful. He admitted he depended on prayer, his own and that of the faithful, to sustain him. He seemed to often experience a sense of grief over how so many of his fellow citizens, especially in Quebec, had lost all sense of God.

Despite his many natural gifts and keen intelligence, he waited for the Holy Spirit. I never found him taking credit for any accomplishments or exhibiting pride in his own resources. His response was more often awe at God's grace.

In my Anglican tradition we have married clergy, and the priest's family is at the heart of the parish. There is beauty in this. But Cardinal Ouellet's living out his priestly celibacy opened my eyes to the gift of self all Catholic priests make when they give up the good of a happy marriage, children, and grandchildren to allow themselves to devote their lives wholly to Christ's spouse, the Church.

He modelled celibacy in a way that evoked Chesterton's description of chastity like a flame, a flame of love, that does not come from killing off one's passions but from offering them up to God, rising above them, and through God's grace mastering them without sacrificing their vitality.
In a society where fathers are often absent either emotionally or physically and so many young people crave a father's love, he embodies it, revealing what manly tenderness, firmness, and courage looks like. In a sacramental way, he imparts the Father's love like that of the father in the parable of the prodigal son, an extravagant, lavish, forgiving love that rushes to greet the wayward son with skirts flying.

After I have seen him celebrate the Eucharist Cardinal Ouellet has struck me as ecstatic, not with the ecstasy of trance or stupor, but of an unselfconscious abandonment to divine love, so that it is indeed Christ Who was living through him, freely imparting grace and a holy love that transforms lives.

What a beautiful thing it has been to see and experience this up close. But more than that, he awakens in everyone I know who loves him a desire for heaven, a hunger for more Jesus in their lives. At the same time, he has filled us with Christ's living water and shown us how to continue being filled so we can replenish the thirst of others.

I am not the only one who will be forever thankful.

From Sarah Palin's Facebook Page

The following:

It’s encouraging for commonsense conservatives who are frustrated with media cover-ups and biases to see truth revealed.

Remember the infamous “JournoList” – the listserv chat group of hundreds of “prominent” mainstream media personalities? It seems The Daily Caller obtained copies of the JournoList email exchanges from the 2008 campaign having to do with the media’s coverage of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, then candidate Obama’s pastor of 20 years. It’s everything you may have suspected.

This, in the words of one JournoList member:

“I do not endorse a Popular Front, nor do I think you need to. It’s not necessary to jump to Wright-qua-Wright’s defense. What is necessary is to raise the cost on the right of going after the left. In other words, find a rightwinger’s [sic] and smash it through a plate-glass window. Take a snapshot of the bleeding mess and send it out in a Christmas card to let the right know that it needs to live in a state of constant fear. Obviously I mean this rhetorically.

And I think this threads the needle. If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they’ve put upon us. Instead, take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.”

That’s just one little excerpt. Read the whole thing here. It’s quite an eye-opener.

Barbara Kay gives rave reviews to Octave of All Souls

Hooray! This book by Robert Eady deserves a wide audience. Barbara Kay writes:

Writing about Canadian fiction last September, I bemoaned Canadian publishers’ penchant for somnolent navel-gazing over lively social commotion. I want novels written for real readers, not for creative-workshop peers.

As if waiting for exactly this gauntlet to fall, an author I’d never heard of sent me his novel. Braced for amateurism, I dipped in and was pleasantly shocked to discover an original, richly imagined and eloquently rendered literary world.

The book’s title is The Octave of All Souls. The author is 61-year old Robert Eady, an Ottawa area poet and essayist. Astonishingly, given Eady’s easy mastery over content and form, this is his first novel. Octave was published by a tiny independent press with little distribution, because the manuscript had been rejected by all large Canadian publishers. What were they thinking?

I’ll hazard a guess. That the novel was too politically incorrect to take a chance on.

It’s true that Eady is an unusually conservative Catholic (he attends a traditional Latin-rites church) and an outlier in the literary community — his writing was well-received until he wrote an anti-abortion poem, bringing publication offers to a juddering halt — but Octave is not a “Catholic” novel in any didactic sense. On the contrary, some of its most admirable characters are secular, and an unsympathetic character is a repugnantly obtuse, but devout Catholic.

Mortals — the good, the bad, the mostly in-between — are the novel’s subject. In Octave, Eady patiently picks apart a small town’s intimately tangled social circuitry through the lens of a vital, sensitive central character, a morally striving student of humanity on whom nothing is lost or wasted.

Read more:

Well, I was the first that I know of to review this heartbreakingly beautiful book. I did not want it to end. Here's an excerpt of my review from last year:

Eady, whose op eds have been widely published in major newspapers, has three previously published books of poetry to his credit.

His poet's ability to see and to convey with precision what he observes sets this novel apart.

But the novel has none of the affected, convoluted language that sometimes characterizes Canadian literature. Eady is able to capture the chattiness of his narrator's female voice without losing his poetic economy of language.

A master of the letter to the editor - 60 words or less - Eady also has great wit and humour that Catholic readers have probably recognized in the pages of Canada's major newspapers. He was also a contributing editor of Catholic Insight magazine for a number of years.

The Octave of All Souls is structured around letters written by a shy aging spinster to an Oblate missionary priest who is somewhere in Africa. She addresses him as "Dearest Friend" and signs her missives "J.T."

It soon becomes clear they attended the same Strathearn schools growing up and she is filling him in on the changes in the people and the town since he left.

J.T. has taken upon herself to perform a traditional Catholic practice of going to the cemetery on All Souls Day and every day of the octave to pray for the souls of 14 Strathearn residents who died in the previous year. As she goes to the cemetery each day, she writes about the present as well as the past.

Despite the use of the Catholic tradition to structure the book, non-Catholics would probably also enjoy the story.

Clearly no saint, J.T. confesses off the bat she can't stand the first person she is praying for, Paula Perristar, a former high school basketball star who became a town councillor. Yet J.T. dutifully goes to the cemetery to say the prayers anyway.

The letters start with anecdotes about the deceased townspeople, their entanglements and their battles. J.T. lives in an apartment over the bowling alley downtown.

We get to know her cats who go out on her fire escape, and see her view of the flat pebbled roof tops of nearby stores.

We accompany her to breakfast at the Democracity Café, a diner that was remodelled on themes borrowed from the 1939 World Fair in New York and left unchanged for decades. It is in this diner where many a petty argument or long-running feud plays out.

Gradually, the letters become more revealing. J.T. is no longer a cipher passing along amusing and well-observed stories about the townspeople, but unveiling her deepest self.


One might not think much would happen in the life of a shy, aging spinster, but Eady, with great tenderness and insight, shows how monumental under the surface even seemingly circumscribed lives can be.

It is a story of unrequited love, of despair and grace, of an uneducated woman's finding a mentor in her former high school English teacher, now retired, who forms a book club that exposes her to literature.

There is a profound mystery at the core of this book that opens up the meaning of the communion of the saints in eternity. Eady is able to show this in a way that resonates to the bone.

Now if only Barbara Kay would read The Defilers and write about it in a positive light! I'm no literary novelist, but guess what, Robert Eady told me he thoroughly enjoyed it.

The place of the Church has shifted

Very interesting essay over at First Things by R. R. Reno about how the status of the Catholic Church has slipped (the bolds are not mine):

In the old days, chief investigators, mayors, judges, as well as media moguls, thought of the bishops as key partners in the elite governance of society and culture. You don’t embarrass partners in public. Instead, you work things out through back channels. The Church was happy with this arrangement.

Now, in part because of her own negligence and culpable mismanagement, but more significantly because of the dramatic decline of cultural relevance, the Catholic Church no longer enjoys the perks and protections of elite status. In fits and starts, powerful actors in Europeans societies are making all sorts of decisions—who to investigate and how hard, what to report and how hard—that can only be read as a judgment that the Church doesn’t get a pass anymore.

The Belgian story is perhaps clearest. I find it very hard to believe that when he was active whispers about Bishop Vangleluwe’s pedophilia didn’t reach people at high levels in the Belgian government. It’s not a big country. And I wouldn’t be surprised if officialdom held back, following the unspoken rules of elite society.

Then, BOOM. Police raids, computers impounded, and holes drilled into crypts so that spy cameras can be inserted. Perhaps the chief investigator’s office was as blindsided as the Vatican, suddenly waking up to the fact that the Church is now outside the magical circle of elite society, and that elite society, always attuned to changes in status, demanded the Church be treated differently. Scrambling to action, they overcompensated with heavy-handed tactics.

My point is not to criticize the Belgians. Nor do I want to give another analysis of the roots of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Instead, what I want to point to is the important—lastingly important—change in the Church’s place in the world the scandal has revealed.

Caring for the least of these

Wonderful, inspiring post over at the Anglo-Catholic by a Roman Catholic monk on Anglican patrimony:

Anglo-Catholicism confounds some of our progressive brothers and sisters
who assume that any people who use incense and say “And with thy spirit” must be
guilty of the unforgivable 21st Century offenses of intolerance, elitism, and
heartless conservatism. Somehow it has entered the received wisdom that, when
the Grinch stole Christmas, he wore a maniple.

I love the looks I get when I tell those laboring under this misconception that 100 years ago there was far more concern that Anglo-Catholics were dangerous socialists agitating among the poor and causing them to have ideas above their station. Most in the States know nothing of the great work done in London’s East End or that, closer to home, Anglo-Catholics created some of the first integrated churches and free
hospitals. Even those of us within the movement can too often forget that we
gained toleration for our liturgical practices only because of the incontestable
good that our predecessors accomplished through years of untiring service to the
poorest of the poor.

As a Roman Catholic Monk, one of my selfish interests in
the success of the Ordinariates is that they have the potential to offer the
wider Church a model of parishes renowned both for the beauty of their worship
and for doing a crack job at the Corporeal Works of Mercy. Too many progressives
find a liturgy full of folksy, earnest clichés to be the sine qua non of
worship, sadly revealing their unstated premise that this is the best that those
in need could possibly understand. Historically, Anglo-Catholics would have none
of this, believing dignified worship also dignified the worshiper who was
reminded whose child he was.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bishop Mercer's intervention at Synod

“I am a Jew.” So says St. Paul. A lynch mob is about to do him in. A Roman centurion to the rescue. Paul says to him, “I am a Jew.” A moment or two later, the centurion allows St. Paul to speak to the mob. He repeats, “I am a Jew.” This well-known text is in Acts chapters 21 and 22.

Life is full of opposites. Tall, short. Fat, thin. Day, night. It was self-evident to Paul’s contemporaries that there was another pair of opposites: Jew, Christian. Either you were one, or you were the other. But Paul does not accept this. He does not say, “I used to be a Jew until I became a Christian.” Paul does not say, “Because I was baptized into Jesus, because I believe in Jesus, I am therefore no longer a Jew.” For Paul, it’s not a case of either/or. It’s a case of both/and. Paul writes to Rome, “I am (not I was) an Israelite of the seed of Abraham of the tribe of Benjamin." (Romans 11:1) “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?" (Romans 3:1) Much in every way. Jews were entrusted with the message of God.

To us and to our contemporaries, to Anglicans and to Roman Catholics, above all to journalists and newspapermen, it is self-evident that there is another pair of opposites: Anglican, Roman Catholic. Either you are one, or you are the other. In the fall of 2007, all the bishops and vicars general of the Traditional Anglican Communion unanimously approached the current Bishop of Rome. In effect we asked him, "Must it be either/or? Can it be both/and?" To our amazement, bewilderment and confusion, the Bishop of Rome answered, "Yes, you can be both Anglican and Catholic." The Bishop of Fulham in the Church of England, Chairman of Forward in Faith International, those in England, America and Australia who remained on in the Canterbury Communion to fight from within, explained to his own constituents, “The Pope is offering us not to become Roman Catholics but to become Anglicans in communion with Rome.”

A headline in The Catholic Herald, a weekly Roman Catholic paper in England, read like this: “Pope calls Anglican bluff.” It seemed to me that the paper was alluding to the prayer of St. Augustine, “Lord, make me chaste but not yet.” Anglicans have long been praying for Christian unity. Anglican monks and nuns have been twinned, so to speak, with Roman Catholic monks and nuns in Europe. My own Community of the Resurrection, for example, is twinned with Benedictine men at Trier in Germany. Since the 1960s, Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops and theologians have been in careful and protracted dialogue about unity. They have published several agreed statements about doctrine. Earlier, in the 1920s, two scholars in my Community, Bishops Frere and Gore, were in such talks in Belgium. There is only one thing worse than not getting what you want, and that is getting what you want. We have wanted unity; so we claimed. But will our prayer turn out to have meant, “Lord give us unity, but not yet?” Has the Pope called our Anglican bluff?

Improbable as it will seem to you, I have, since my teens, been praying for this very thing, even though I’d never heard the word Ordinariate, and was hazy about the word Uniate. It seems a hopeless prayer to offer up. I loved the Anglican Church. I never wanted to cease being Anglican. But then I loved the Roman Catholic Church also. Such exemplars, saints and teachers in the past, such holy men and women, such contemporaneous and godly missionaries and martyrs in my own day in Zimbabwe. It seemed so silly in our circumstances for us to be opponents and competitors. Might it be possible to belong to both simultaneously? What an absurd dream it seemed at the time. How could God possibly grant my request? O ye of little faith! But when in London, for example, I’d go to Westminster Cathedral, kneel by the tomb of a Roman Catholic priest hanged, drawn and quartered by Anglicans in the reign of Elizabeth the First and ask that somehow we might be one, as once we were. In all sorts of places, I’d repeat my request, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, by St. Peter’s tomb in Rome, by St. Paul’s tomb in Rome, in Canterbury Cathedral, in the Anglican Shrine of Walsingham, in my former cathedral in Bulawayo while Pope John Paul II was preaching at Prayer Book Evensong, or during unity talks which Anglicans and Roman Catholics were holding in Zimbabwe in the 1980s after John Paul II had been to pray with Archbishop Runcie in Canterbury Cathedral.

And now towards the end of my life and ministry, now during the reign of Elizabeth the Second, after a break of some 450 years, it will be possible to be both Anglican and in communion with Rome. No wonder I have difficulty in getting my head around this fact! No wonder I have difficulty in finding the exact words to describe this totally new prospect. Can this really be happening? Shall I live to see it? Shall I participate in it?

During the 450 years we have been alienated from Rome, the Holy Spirit has showered blessings upon us. I lay claim and shall continue to lay claim to them all. These godly people and their talents make me who I am. I do not, I shall never, repudiate them. Time would fail me to tell of my Church of Ireland godfather, the principal at my theological college in South Africa, the bishop who ordained me in Zimbabwe. Brethren in the Community of the Resurrection like Gerard Beaumont, Gabriel Sanford, Matthew Trelawney-Ross. Nuns like Sister Benedicta, Sister Eva, Mother Cecile. Apologists like C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, Charles Williams. Poets like John Donne, George Herbert, T.S. Eliot. Hymn writers like John Mason Neale, Charles Wesley, Bishop Ken. Missionaries like Monica Boatwright, Dorothy Maund, Arthur Shearly Cripps. Martyrs like Bernard Mizeki, Manche Masemola, the martyrs of Papua New Guinea. Pioneers like Robert and Sophie Gray, Wyndham Knight Bruce, Billy Gaul. Confessors like Fr. Benson, Fr. Palmer, Bishop de Catanzaro. Preachers like Austin Farrer, Jonathan Graham, John Wesley. Parish priests like Father Dolling, Father Lowder, Dr. Wirgman. Scholars like Dr. Pusey, Dr. Mascall, the brothers Henry and Owen Chadwick. The Book of Common Prayer, the King James Bible, the English Hymnal, Hymns Ancient & Modern. Composers and choirmasters Henry Purcell, Orlando Gibbons, Charles Villiers Stanford. Artists, architects and designers, Bodley, Pearson, Sir Ninian Comper, Martin Travers. Eccentric and lovable characters like Fr. Hope Patten, Fr. Wason, Sir John Betjeman. The writers Alan Paton, Thomas Traherne, Kenneth Kirk. Heroes and heroines of the Caroline Divines, of the Evangelical Revival, of the Oxford Movement, of missionary expansion round the world, of the restoration of the religious life, of works of mercy and of social reform, Florence Nightingale, Priscilla Lydia Sellon, Lord Shaftesbury, William Wilberforce, Prime Minister Gladstone. I note with pleasure that in some cases where Rome has accepted former Anglicans as full and uncompromising submissions, the submitters received their formation in Bible, doctrine, liturgy and faith from the Anglican Church: John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Ronald Knox, John Bradburne.

To the end of his life St. Paul said, “I am a Jew.” He meant of course a completed Jew, a fulfilled Jew, a Jew as he is meant to be, that’s to say, a Jew in Christ, but a Jew all the same. I hope to be able to say, “I am an Anglican, a completed Anglican, a fulfilled Anglican, an Anglican in full and visible communion with the universal primate of the universal church, but an Anglican all the same.”

Fr. Aidan Nichols, an ex-Anglican now a Dominican theologian, has written: “Anglo-Catholics are beyond a doubt as to doctrine, worship and devotion a displaced part of Catholic Christendom. And it is as such a part that I shall be now quoting from some of their lay spokesmen.” The time has come for us to stop being displaced persons.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s coat of arms features a vestment called a pallium. It is white, Y-shaped, marked with little black crosses. It stands over other vestments. It looks rather like a yoke. It is given by the Pope to the archbishops of ancient and important dioceses, as a mark of the close link between him and them. In 597, Pope Gregory sent St. Augustine to be Archbishop of Canterbury. Augustine’s successors wore the pallium until the breach with Rome. It is time for the pallium to come off the coat of arms and to be worn over the Archbishop’s shoulders once more. But if this can not yet be because of Canterbury’s embrace of a liberal agenda, let us at least return to the rock from which Canterbury is hewn. As the ancient Celtic Church of Britain at the Synod of Whitby in 664 entered into full and visible unity with Rome, let us do the same.

The Pope’s Apostolic Constitution is not addressed exclusively to us in the Traditional Anglican Communion. Some who are still in the Canterbury Communion and who belong to groups like the Prayer Book Society, Forward in Faith, the Church Union, the Federation of Catholic Priests, the Society of the Sacred Cross, the Society for the Maintenance of the Faith, the Guild of All Souls, the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, the Society of Mary, and religious of the Orthodox tradition, as well as those who belong to no organizations or guilds in a particular way, may want to respond to the Pope. In Canada and in England, once hears rumours or declarations of a parish here, of a clergyman there. Rumours may be unfounded. Those who belong to other Continuing Anglican jurisdictions, such as those which multiply in the USA, may want to respond to the Pope. If so, we shall be together with all these in the future Ordinariates. Initially, until growing numbers alter things, there will be one Ordinariate in each country. Those who gave up being Anglican in order to submit to Rome, may be interested in returning to their Anglican roots by joining us in the Ordinariate.

In the States, there has already been a pilot scheme, so to speak, called the Anglican Use. Episcopalians who went over with their rector, perhaps with their property and monies, were permitted to retain their Prayer Book tradition and hymnody, their way of worshipping and of organizing their parish life. One or two of these parishes grew with astonishing speed. One hears of one which began with twelve members, which now has twelve hundred members, which makes a handsome contribution to the Roman Catholic diocese, which has founded a school for children, from beginners to school leavers, complete with football team. It is not just disgruntled Episcopalians whom these parishes attracted. Parishes of the Anglican Use have won people from unbelief. Each year the Anglican Use hold a conference. This year, they invited Archbishops Hepworth and Falk, Bishops Moyer and Reid, to observe. Our TAC observers got a standing ovation. It may be that the seven or so parishes of the Anglican Use will join us in the Ordinariate. This Anglican Use has succeeded by showing stability and growth, by not blogging frenziedly in the manner of so many other Anglicans, and has won the trust of the Roman Catholic authorities.

I myself claim no expertise in holy matrimony, but I suspect that however much he and she may have been in love, that when it comes to settling down to live happily ever after, they discover there is no such thing as the perfect man or woman. He will leave his screw drivers and saws all over the living room; she will hang up her undies to dry in the bathroom. There is no reason to suppose that Roman Catholics will find us to be perfect, and vice versa. Adjustments may be as necessary in this union as in any other. We are not expected to approve or enjoy everything we find in Roman Catholicism. The Pope himself does not approve or enjoy everything in his own Church. He has likened some Roman Catholic celebrations of the Eucharist as more akin to a tea party than to a solemn proclamation of the Lord’s death until the Lord comes again. (1 Cor. 11:26)

Some of the problems are likely to be with cultural practices rather than with official Roman Catholic doctrine. Cardinal Levada has said, “People imagine our Church to be monolithic but in fact it’s a broad tent.” A Roman Catholic priest recently said to me, “Until I went to seminary in Rome, I was a Little Englander. In Rome I discovered how many different cultures jostle together in one Church.” A black man in Africa enquiring into Christianity and attending the funeral of a white man is likely to be repelled. “I am scandalized by Christians. Why, the whole service lasted no more than twenty minutes. Coffin in, coffin out. Nobody cried. No speeches. No party afterwards.” A white man in Africa, enquiring into Christianity and attending the funeral of a black man is likely to be repelled. “I am scandalized by Christians. Five long hours. Fifty hymns. Twenty speeches. Everybody pretending to grieve, howling away. A party which lasted six hours.” Each man is repelled, not by the Christian faith, but by the respective white and black cultures. An Eskimo with a fear of elephants enquiring into Christianity, and attending a parish communion in India, might be repelled. “I am scandalized by Christians. Two altar boys carrying lighted candles, followed by a decorated elephant, followed by Archbishop Hepworth in an ox cart drawn by clergymen in white.” The Eskimo is repelled, not by the Christian faith, but by Indian culture. As in the Canterbury Communion, so too in the Roman. If you can’t get to one of our Prayer Book Services in one of our Ordinariate Parishes, and therefore seek out the hospitality and charity of a Roman parish, you may have to shop around. You may not care for a nun in jeans and blue hair singing “Michael Row the Boat Ashore.” You may need to look for a Westminster Cathedral or Brompton Oratory for Palestrina or a Benedictine Abbey for plainsong.

Cardinal Levada has written, “Insofar as Anglican traditions express in a distinctive way the faith which we hold in common, the Anglican traditions are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity. Our communion is strengthened by legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these Anglicans bring with them their particular contributions.” Many people have commented on or interpreted the Apostolic Constitution. One or two have been authorized to do so officially and with authority. One is Cardinal Levada himself whose address at Queen’s University, Kingston, has been widely distributed. The other is the head of a university in Rome. This Father Ghirlanda concludes his comments by writing: “A flexible structures has been instituted. The Constitution and the Norms may be adapted in Decrees for each individual ordinariate in the light of particular local situations. As the Holy Spirit has guided the preparation of the Constitution, so may He assist in its application.” In other words, there is a hint here about cultures, and there is a hint here that we may perhaps learn from possible mistakes and remedy them. Delicate negotiations are not free-for-alls. It was not possible for all of you to meet in Rome members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Those who have met them, know them to be our courteous, helpful and trustworthy friends, as you can see when you read the Cardinal’s address in Kingston.

Those of us in established parishes may be satisfied with what we have. I’m all right, Jack. But we have to think of the ones and twos in distant places who seldom can get to Communion. We have to think about when we travel. There are very few traditional Anglican communities round the world. The Apostolic Constitution brings us into communion with millions and millions in many countries. Roman Catholic worship may not be our first preference, but Holy Communion is Holy Communion, Unction is Unction, Absolution is Absolution. Priests and people in all sorts of places may come to our aid in all sorts of practical ways. We must be realistic about the increasing hostility to Christians from secular authority. We must be realistic about the mounting onslaught from Islam. United we stand, divided we fall. “If a man prevail against him that is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

But the pressure towards unity is motivated by more than such practical and realistic considerations. The Pope has written, “Many elements of sanctification and truth are found outside the visible confines of the Roman Catholic Church. Since these gifts of sanctification and truth belong to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards catholic unity.”

Our Lord prayed and prays for unity. We pray for unity. The Pope claims, “The Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly and insistently to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church.” I, for one, say Amen to the Pope’s claim.

I am Anglican and Anglican I remain. But gloriously, surprisingly, unexpectedly in answer to prayer, I shall become an Anglican in full and visible communion with the universal primate of the universal church, and will the millions and millions who are also in communion with them.

To God be thanks!

+Robert Mercer, CR

Threats to the Holy Father from England

I'm shaking my head. Of course, more is likely to happen to those of us who write about the dangers of radical Islam from our own legal authorities than towards those Islamist fanatics that urge violence against the Pope and other Christians, a double-standard Father Z's notes on his blog:

At the National Catholic Register (the Catholic paper), Matthew Archbold has the following.

My emphases and comments:

Is the Pope In Danger?

by Matthew Archbold Monday, July 19, 2010 6:02 AM Comments

I’ve been saying recently that Pope Benedict XVI is heading into enemy territory in “Post-Christian” England. Sadly, I may be more right than I imagined.

A member of British Parliament says he fears violence at an open air mass with Pope Benedict XVI after an Islamic publication called Muslims to attend the Mass to convert Catholics and “tell the Pope in no uncertain terms what Muslims think of his evil slanders against the last Prophet of God and his message.”

I think it’s the “in no uncertain terms” that’s making some a little nervous. Oh, the same publication also called the Pope “evil.”

The Islamic Standard writes:

“A change of venue gives Birmingham Muslims a chance to tell the Pope just what they think of him after his insults against the Prophet Muhammad… As well as this chance to challenge these evil words of this evil Pope, [Imagine what would happen were The Catholic Herald to write something along that line about even the least of Imams in, say, Little Whinging.] over 80,000 Catholics from all over the UK are also expected to attend the open air ceremony….We hope Muslims can be there to meet him as well and to also call people away from the shirk of worshipping the dead like the Catholics do, [I thought even Muslims believed that Christ was … oh… never miiiiind….] calling out to them for help and intercession…The Birmingham event however brings the pope and who worship him into direct contact with the the large Muslim population of Birmingham and offers them the perfect chance to learn about Islam and for the Muslims to forbid the Munkar of worshipping dead men and following the dictates of the sodomite child molesting Church of Rome[How old was their Prophet’s wife again?]

We at the Islamic Standard hope the Muslims of Birmingham take this duel opportunity to give Da’wah to these 80,000 travelling disbelievers, [I believe the less fashionable word is INFIDEL!] whilst at the same time telling the Pope in no uncertain terms what Muslims think of his evil slanders against the last Prophet of God and his message.