Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Collect

Father, thou art most desirous of perfect
harmony in all of thy creation,
Especially with regard to the body of all
Thy faithful.

In this time of turmoil, help Thy Episcopal
Church to maintain its unity and
communion according to Thy desires.
Help it to encounter the illumination which
It so desperately seeks, and in so
doing, guide it ever closer to You
and Your will,
Enabling it to achieve an indwelling peace
amongst all its adherents,

Thru He who demonstrated all manner
of unity and perfection,
Thy Son, Christ Jesus, our Lord,


Friday, June 23, 2006

Rant 1.01

While reading a blog I enjoy, I came across the following statement:

“I realized that the life of St. Francis was causing me to think about the life of Jesus in new ways. Whatever you think of the man Jesus, whether you count him as the divine son of God who died for our sins, or as a good man and interesting teacher who met an unfortunate end, you can not deny that Jesus was a man who saw a way of living and pursued that way with radical integrity.”

I was a little troubled that this was posted by a Minister of the Christian faith. I recognize there are folks out there who don’t look upon Christ as the Divine Son of God revealed, but it seems that a Minister of God’s Word even offering the concept that Christ was just a “good man” who met an unfortunate end” is outside the scope of their call; though I’m pretty sure that wasn’t their intention.

I choose to believe this author’s key point was in regard to Jesus living a life of supreme integrity as an example to Christians and non-Christians alike, rather than the actual thought that Jesus might only be a radical mortal being.

I also have an acquaintance (a professing Episcopalian) who opines they do not accept in the Virgin Birth (Incarnation). This also is problematic. For I feel that:

If you believe in the Resurrection, you must accept the Crucifixion.
And, to believe in the Crucifixion, you must accept the Incarnation.

If not, Holy Scripture is nothing more than a lot of good principles; a nice story to tell your children; a great blueprint for living a righteous life; but what the hell good is that? Seems there’s no other way around it.

I have heard it said that “when one tries to stand for everything they really stand for nothing.”

Where do you see ECUSA standing today?

My rant begins

While one might accept that in their Divinity God, Christ and the Holy Spirit encompass all facets of both male and female gender, or neither; have we not been taught that in His Incarnation the scriptural Jesus (well documented by other autographs of the time likewise) was an historical person, of male gender, and fully human?

And, if that is the case, how can our titular head elect refer to Him (Jesus) as mother on a sound theological basis?

Furthermore, without sound theology, from whence can proceed respect?


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Antoine "Fats" Domino

Was given Fats Domino’s Alive and Kickin’ for Father’s Day. It’s available through www.tipitinasfoundation.org and is The Fat Man’s paean to The City that he loves with all his heart and soul. The one he refused to leave during Katrina or at any other time in the last several years for that matter.

Fats was rescued from his home in the lower Ninth Ward. The house was totally flooded and most everything in his home was lost, looted or ruined, including most of his Gold Records. I understand that arrangements are being made to replace the records. Meanwhile Fats is living in Harvey or Gentilly, or so I’ve heard.

Oddly enough, the material on the album was put down in 2000 and still awaiting release when Katrina hit. You listen to the music and can appreciate the hold New Orleans has on Fats as well as so many other folks.

In his album Fats says: This Is My Story, It Makes no Difference Now, I Spent All My Money Loving You, but I’m Alive and Kickin’, taking things One Step At A Time. He goes on to say: I’ll Be All Right and I’m at Home USA in New Orleans and that I’ll Love You ‘Till The Day I Die. Regarding Katrina he laments, Ain’t That A Shame.

Fats is around 78 now and will probably depart this earthly life well before I do. If he does, I’ve made myself a promise that I will attend his Jazz Funeral.

Anyway, it's a great album; so do yourself and New Orleans musicians a favor and pick up a copy.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

It's Wednesday morning.

Have been following VERY CLOSELY the General Convention.

Thought you might like to know where we stand.

as reported:
British church leaders pressuring Episcopal assembly over gay bishops

By Rachel Zoll, AP Religion Writer June 16, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio --Top British Anglican leaders are bringing new pressure on the Episcopal General Convention to enact a ban on electing gay bishops before the assembly ends next week.

If the legislative body fails to endorse a moratorium, the overseas bishops fear the divide in the global Anglican Communion over homosexuality will escalate to a full-blown schism.

Church of England Bishop N.T. Wright of Durham said in a statement being widely circulated at the meeting that prohibiting gay bishops -- for now, anyway -- is "the least that can be done that will restore the unity that has already been lost."

The crisis erupted in 2003, when the Episcopalians consecrated New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who lives with his longtime male partner. The move shocked conservative Anglicans around the world, who believe gay sex violates Scripture.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu, the second-highest ranking cleric in the Church of England, told Episcopal delegates that their current proposals to mollify fellow Anglicans do not go far enough. The U.S. church is a member of the Anglican Communion.

The main measure under consideration stops short of a moratorium. Instead, it warns dioceses to "exercise very considerable caution" in choosing leaders.

"Will it actually be sufficient to secure this impaired friendship? Personally, I'm doubtful," Sentamu told a hearing on the legislation earlier this week.

Jim Naughton, who is monitoring the convention for the Diocese of Washington's blog, said that Sentamu has continued to privately lobby bishops for a toughened proposal.

Separately, a senior Church of England leader, Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali, flew into Columbus for a worship service Friday organized by the American Anglican Council.

The council represents Episcopalians with traditional views of Scripture who vehemently oppose ordaining gays. The group works with a network of 10 conservative Episcopal dioceses and more than 900 parishes that are debating whether to remain within the church.

"When people claim something as coming from the Spirit, we have to test it in terms of the clear teaching that we find in our Bible and confessed by the church throughout the ages," Nazir-Ali said in his sermon.

The 77 million-member Anglican Communion is a loose association of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan William is the spiritual leader of the communion, but each province governs itself.

Many Episcopalians cherish that independence. They believe Anglican leaders should respect the church's decision to elect bishops without outside interference. The Rev. Tobias Haller, a priest at St. James Fordham in New York City, said delegates may resent the British push.

"We will hear what everyone says," Haller said, "but Americans can be pretty resistant to pressure."

Still, delegates recognize that there is intense international interest in their deliberations.
On Friday, Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, told the convention that Williams has formed a small group of advisers to help him assess the outcome of the General Convention, which runs through next Wednesday.

Williams sent a message to the convention that did not recommend a specific vote, but said "we cannot survive as a communion of churches without some common convictions about what it is to live and to make decisions as the Body of Christ."

An Episcopal committee shepherding the moratorium issue through the assembly is considering whether to revise the proposal. It was unclear when the convention vote will occur.

Also Friday, the House of Bishops overwhelmingly approved a resolution regretting its support of slavery and agreeing to study for three years the possibility of providing some form of reparations.
The resolution didn't make clear who would receive the reparations or what form they might take. The measure now goes to the House of Deputies for their consideration.

an editorial from the middle ground:
Justice for All


Yesterday afternoon, it looked like we were about to walk apart from the Communion with the rejection of Resolution A161, one of the Church’s responses to the Windsor Report.

Last night, fortunes changed when Deputies passed the revised A159, on our commitment to interdependence, and the rewritten A166, on the development of a covenant. Deputies refused to allow amendments, clearly stating that we need to stay in the Communion and allow new Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to take part in the conversation.

If we truly want to remain Anglicans, our chance to do so comes this morning.

Today is the last day of Convention – what we do today will resonate throughout the Communion. The question before Convention is one of justice – justice for gay and lesbian Episcopalians, as well as justice for the rest of the Communion – and how we are to live into this tension.

Immediately following the Eucharist this morning, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold will address a joint session, to help Convention craft a response to the Anglican Communion. This is the time for both Deputies and Bishops to be focused, not on individual desires and ideas, but on what we share as Anglicans and how to communicate that message to the rest of the world.

Despite yesterday afternoon’s actions, which left many in a bit of shock, we seem determined to honor our heritage. How that will look at the end of the day is uncertain, but last night, Deputies took a positive step forward.

We need to keep going.

as presented, adopted and/or be voted on:

Resolution A0159
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church reaffirm the abiding commitment of The Episcopal Church to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion and seek to live into the highest degree of communion possible; and be it further

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention reaffirm that The Episcopal Church is in communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer; and be it further

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention join with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the primates, and the Anglican Consultative Council in making a commitment to the vision of interdependent life in Christ, characterized by forbearance, trust, and respect, and commend the Windsor Report and process as a means of deepening our understanding of that commitment; and be it further

Resolved, That as an expression of interdependence, the Presiding offices of both Houses work in partnership with the churches of the Anglican Communion to explore ways by which there might be inter-Anglican consultation and participation on Standing Commissions of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.
To be determined

Resolution A0160
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, mindful of “the repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation enjoined on us by Christ” (Windsor Report, paragraph 134), express its regret for straining the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the General Convention of 2003 and the consequences which followed; offer its sincerest apology to those within our Anglican Communion who are offended by our failure to accord sufficient importance to the impact of our actions on our church and other parts of the Communion; and ask forgiveness as we seek to live into deeper levels of communion one with another.

Resolution A0161
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church regrets the extent to which we have, by action and inaction, contributed to strains on communion and caused deep offense to many faithful Anglican Christians as we consented to the consecration of a bishop living openly in a same-gender union. Accordingly, we are obliged to urge nominating committees, electing conventions, Standing Committees, and bishops with jurisdiction to refrain from the nomination, election, consent to, and consecration of bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.; and be it further

Resolved that this General Convention not proceed to develop or authorize Rites for the Blessing of same-sex unions at this time, thereby concurring with the Windsor Report in its exhortation to bishops of the Anglican Communion to honor the Primates’ Pastoral Letter of May 2003; and be it further

Resolved that this General Convention affirm the need to maintain a breadth of responses to situations of pastoral care for gay and lesbian Christians in this Church.

Resolved that this General Convention apologize to those gay and lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters hurt by these decisions.

Resolution A0166
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, as a demonstration of our commitment to mutual responsibility and interdependence in the Anglican Communion, support the process of the development of an Anglican Covenant that underscores our unity in faith, order, and common life in the service of God’s mission and be it further

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention direct the International Concerns Standing Committee of the Executive Council and the Episcopal Church’s members of the Anglican Consultative Council to follow the development processes of an Anglican Covenant in the Communion and report regularly to the Executive Council as well as to the 76th General Convention; and be it further

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention report these actions supporting the Anglican Covenant development process, noting such missiological and theological resources as the Standing Commission on World Mission and the House of Bishops’ Theology Committee to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates, and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion; and that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church report the same to the Primates of the churches of the Anglican Communion.
To be determined

Pray for guidance for our Communion this last day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys

Am proud to consider myself a cowboy. Had a couple of horses way back when & haven’t sold my saddle, yet. Rodeoed a bit a long time ago. Have “run” with other cowboys off and on, several are still friends. Was given my first pair off spurs by a cowboy when I was just 5 or 6. Still wear boots daily, and don’t own but one or two pair of shoes.

I was given a belated gift from my daughter, a book called Revealing Character, consisting of a series of modern day cowboys photographed in tintype by Robb Kendrick. Accompanying the photos are thoughts from each cowboy photographed. The book includes a Preface by Tom Frost as well as one by the Photographer and a short commentary by fellow Texan John Graves.

The book moved me because its words eloquently portray what I’ve always felt, and why I've always been proud to consider myself a cowboy. Here are some thoughts gleaned from its pages.

“Man’s chief purpose is the creation and preservation of values: That is what gives meaning to our civilization.”
Lewis Mumford

From Tom Frost’s Preface:
“Character involves all the features and traits that that form the individual nature of a person.
… the cowboys of the 19th century gave Texas its character. Their honesty, sense of humor, work ethic and determination remain as our indigenous values.”

From Robb Kendrick’s Preface;
“… I’ve never been around people as a whole who love life and family more, and are more tolerant and considerate of others, than cowboys. They define the highest qualities of character, honesty incredible work ethic, self-reliance, and a respect for the wonders of the unflinching nature they deal with … trying to eke out a living as cowboys.
… I’ve heard a lot of people say that cowboys are a dying breed, that they won’t be here much longer. … Cowboys are evolving with the times. But …, cowboying still tests a man each day. … They are the ones determined to carry the torch forward. I hope they keep passing it along for generations to come.”

And from the cowboys themselves:
“Hard work makes you a better person. Makes you think in positive ways and pays off in the long run, in obtaining goals you’ve set for yourself.”
John Frazier (Pitchfork Ranch)

“A clean honest living keeps you pure. I won’t get rich, but too much money can make a man compromise his values.”
Dustin Haney (Pitchfork Ranch)

“To me, being a cowboy is not a job. I believe if a man goes to work for a paycheck, his heart can’t be in it.”
Dewey Hill (Saunders Ranch)

“You got to live in the past but remember the future.”
Jason Pelham (Spade Ranch)

“So why do cowboys cowboy? It sure ain’t the money. There’s never enough. It’s not the glory. There ain’t none. There are a million different reasons why a cowboy abuses himself and his family to do what he does, and most of them couldn’t be put into words. They are things that are inside a feller, such as pride in a job well done, the challenge of a constantly developing set of skills with horses and cattle and nature, and self-discipline that manifests itself in integrity.”
Buster McLaury (Paducah, Texas)
Will you say Amen?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Pay it Forward 2.0

I’ve just finished reading a newsletter from a local Social Service Agency’s Exec. Director. His program is doubtless the most successful one in our city. I admire, respect, always enjoy and am sometimes made uncomfortable by what Jimmy has to say. About as effective as one can become, he not only talks the talk but walks the walk. Having chosen to live and raise his family among the disenfranchised and marginalized, his actions are a powerful testament to his faith in practice.

In an earlier post I had posed the question “Have we become so paranoid that we no longer feel safe doing our Christian duty to our fellow man? Or, is it not paranoia, but truly a part of the risk of operating from within a Christian ethic?”

Jimmy's message said that answers lie: “in personal touch and faith. God can’t do anything if we don’t stop and touch.” He goes on to say that involves risk; and while those we minister to might be mentally ill, drug addicts, ex-offenders or diseased, “that is exactly the stuff of faith. It is in risking with the ‘least of these’ that we often meet and trust God. Personal touching is the way of the Kingdom.
… the healing works of listening, touching, and looking into their eyes are all redemptive. Relationships are God’s way. With enough faith, we can stretch beyond … comfort zones to offer genuine compassion. … Offering dignity is more important than what they ask for.”

So I guess two months later my question has been answered. We are called to go beyond our zone of comfort and risk ourselves for the sake of others, “even to the least of these.”

Friday, June 02, 2006

Family Reunion

Went to our family reunion this past weekend and found out that the Cousins’ old family home in Blanco had just been sold to settle out part of the estate. This was probably the last concrete tie to my childhood. A place where I learned to hunt and to eat rabbit, squirrel, doves and deer; drive a tractor and generally prank around as kids were wont to do when they had too much time on their hands.

We bowled at the Blanco Bowling Club (with pinboys setting the pins), drank Cherry Limeades from a real Soda Fountain at the Drugstore, watched movies in the balcony of the Movie Theatre, swam up and down the Blanco River and rode through “The Big Round Hole;” all in the middle of the Texas Hill Country, one of the most beautiful places on earth.

If you’ve watched “The Last Picture Show” you’ve seen a town and time much like I experienced in Blanco. It was a property my Uncle bought and improved when he retired from development in Houston in the early 40’s and married my Aunt. They raised their 6 kids on that land and I spent untold time there throughout my youth and teen years. It’s been 12-15 years since I was last in the house; but I still knew, until Saturday, that I could stop in and re-visit those times if the mood struck me. I no longer can.

As a child I was raised up between my parent’s house and Grandma & Grandpa’s home and both of them have since been “razed”. Grandaddy also had lakefront property (where I spent untold time) that was lost to the Corps of Engineers in my teens when they built the new lake. That property is now mostly under water. Grandaddy’s business’s building (where I spent many more hours of my childhood) was taken by Urban Renewal 35 years back. His business was moved to a new building. The parents and Grandparents had long since moved from their old homes to new houses before they died, so all that’s left from that time are my memories and a few pictures, and that’s sad. It’s true, you know, “You can’t go home again.”

Therefore, with apologies to Robert Frost:

Whose grounds these were, I used to know.
Their homes exist no longer, though.
Nor will they see me stop again
To pause and ponder what was then.

A stranger might consider queer
My contemplating days held dear.
That empty lot or flooded ground
Wherein I’d spent such time profound.

A child no more, I’ve older grown
With adult children of my own.
And memories of that carefree way
Will they too mourn some future day?

Those times were wondrous, dark and deep.
Yet I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
Yes, miles to go before I sleep.