31 March 2006

Dodgeball is Dangerous.

And all of us who have been youth ministers said, "There but for the grace of God go I."
"Authorities said the teen missed Boudreaux with one throw but then knocked the youth minister's glasses off with the next.
The boy apologized, authorities said, but Boudreaux pushed him backward, and when the teen got up again Boudreaux kicked him in the groin and left."

A Crunchy Con Library.

The Crunchy Con blog is winding up today, and doing so by posting some recommended reading:
T.S. Eliot, The Idea of a Christian Society and Notes Toward a Definition of Culture.
Richard Weaver,
Ideas Have Consequences.
Russell Kirk,
The Conservative Mind (anything by Kirk is essential, but this is the big one).
Matthew Scully,
James Howard Kunstler,
The Geography of Nowhere.
Jane Jacobs,
The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
Alasdair Macintyre,
After Virtue.
E.F. Schumacher,
Small Is Beautiful.
Wendell Berry, various essay collections, including
What Are People For? and Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community.
Eric Schlosser,
Fast Food Nation.
Aristotle, Politics
Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck,
Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream
William F. Lynch, Christ and Apollo: The Dimensions of the Literary Imagination
Allen Tate, "What is a Traditional Society?" (essay), found in Essays on Four Decades

Immigration and the Good Samaritan.

A couple days ago, one of our local newscasters said that the immigration debate had "split the country in two." Well, not exactly. However, Baja Burrito was closed Wednesday afternoon so employees could participate in the march downtown, so now I'm officially engaged. From an editorial in today's WSJ Opinion Journal:
"A secular objection is one that we ourselves have made many times before: It is not the job of ordinary citizens to act as INS agents. More to the point here, though, it should not be the job of INS agents to arrest human-rights workers dispensing water and other basic aid, like the two people snapped up last year in Arizona while driving injured aliens to a doctor.

The Rev. Luis Cortes, a Republican and the president of Nueva Esperanza, the country's largest Hispanic faith-based community development group, told us that the smuggling measure attacks the very underpinning of Judeo-Christian theology, which is to help those who travail and "treat aliens with fairness, justice and hospitality." Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles vowed last month to instruct "the priests of my archdiocese to disobey the [proposed] law." It would, he said, violate "our Gospel mandate, in which Christ instructs us to clothe the naked, feed the poor and welcome the stranger."

Notably absent from these compelling protests are the voices of some influential conservative Evangelicals. A number have said nothing, or, like Chuck Colson, evasively called only for "civility" in this debate. The Christian Coalition, meanwhile, has openly opposed immigration reform proposals--like many in this week's Senate bill--that go beyond strict enforcement measures. On the matter of punishing aid-givers, for instance, the organization apparently believes that the law-breaking of illegal immigration trumps claims to Christian compassion.

We'll leave it to voters to determine the political consequences of such a stance. Suffice it to say that along with many Americans, large numbers of rank-and-file evangelicals (including many Hispanics) are uneasy particularly about the notion of criminalizing acts of charity.

Morality aside, it's stunning that anyone would support--overtly or through their silence--a proposal that would insert government directly into the affairs and faith-based prerogatives of churches. When we allow the government to tell priests, pastors and rabbis whom they can help among the suffering, we give new meaning to the word 'restrictionist.'"

Here's the whole thing.

29 March 2006

Kew re Tennessee.

Richard Kew, as usual, has astute comments re our current impasse in the Diocese of Tennessee, and because today is the solemnity of Blessed John Keble, whose 1834 Assizes Sermon effectively launched the Oxford Movement, and because if there's one thing Richard really loves, it's the Oxford Movement, I herewith link to his comments with approbation.

28 March 2006

The Bishop of Exeter's Address.

The full text of Bishop Langrish's address to the ECUSA House of Bishops (referred to below) is now available here.

Holy City, Oily City.

I've been meaning to put this up for a week. I miss a great many things about the South Carolina lowcountry, but not the worrisome possibility of being attacked by An Oiled Man Armed With Nunchucks.

"Smith answered reluctantly, wearing athletic shorts and shoes with oil covering his bare torso and a pair of wooden nunchucks in his left hand. The officers ordered him to drop the weapon, but he refused. When Thayer attempted to grab his arm, Smith began hitting Hildebidle with the nunchucks. They had a hard time controlling him because of the oil."


27 March 2006

Killing with Kindness.

In the Netherlands, compassion means infanticide. Does that make them Nazis? Of course not, but...

Still, the "Nazi" analogy is worth exploring, precisely because it is unequivocally true that German doctors did kill thousands of disabled babies, for which a few such physicians were hanged at Nuremberg. Dutch apologists know this, of course. But they claim that the Netherlands' infant euthanasia program is substantially different: Dutch doctors are motivated by compassion whereas the Germans' were motivated by the bigotry of racial hygiene. Of course it is the act of killing disabled and dying babies that is wrong, not the motivation. But even leaving that aside, the Dutch defense is not as persuasive as Prime Minister Balkenende would like to believe...

Here's the whole thing. A good review of an ugly but re-emerging history. Remember, never forget.


Windsor Matters.

Ruth Gledhill, religion correspondent for England's The Times newspaper reports on an important speech delivered at last week's House of Bishops meeting:

"The Bishop of Exeter, Michael Langrish, has delivered an extraordinary speech to Ecusa bishops which makes me believe for the first time that schism might actually be a possibility. Fundamentally, he has told the US bishops that if they consecrate another gay bishop or authorise same-sex relations, the Anglican Communion will break apart, ARCIC will be finished and inter-faith dialogue with the Muslims will be at an end. Two things give this speech added weight. One is that Langrish was speaking at the episcopal retreat of ECUSA's house of bishops in Kanuga as the representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams. So we can assume the views stated here are Dr Williams' own...

[Bishop Langrish]: 'I suppose one of the major challenges for the Episcopal Church now has to do with whether there are enought of you to stand broadly on the same ground, holding a range of opinions on Lambeth 1.10 but firm in carrying forward the Windsor vision of a strengthened and enabing communion life. This, I believe, is the key question rather than questions about whether the Episcopal Church will either be pushed out of the Communion or consciously walk away. Let's be clear. On the one hand, noone can force another province or diocese either to go or remain. We are not that kind of church. Yet equally, no diocese or province can enforce its own continued membership simply or largely on its own terms. There has to be engagement. There is no communion without a shared vision of life in communion. So it does seem to me, as I listen to those other parts of the communion that I know best, that any further consecration of those in a same sex relationship, any authorisation of any person to undertake same sex blessings, any stated intention not to seriously engage with the Windsor Report, will be read very widely as a declaration not to stay with the communion.'"

This is very much at issue in the current episcopal election in the Diocese of Tennessee. One of the things we on the "reasserting" side are insisting upon is a bishop absolutely committed to "walking together" with the Anglican Communion by living into the Windsor Report's norms here in the Diocese and advocating for them in ECUSA. What else do we hope for? See below.

25 March 2006

Pray, Brethren.

The Diocese of Tennessee tries again today to elect a bishop. Ballot results will be posted through the day here. Expect a real-time comment-apalooza on TitusOneNine. If they care, I would encourage all those watching and commenting folks to say their prayers, and then to go outside and enjoy the day.
Also, the Diocese of Albany is electing today, and the Diocese of Texas is electing a Suffragan Bishop.

23 March 2006

Oh, Hell.

"Hell has never been a fashionable destination, but it in recent years it’s met a fate that even the most passé hotspots don’t endure; people suspect it doesn’t exist. Or, if it does exist, it attracts no customers; "we are permitted to hope that hell is empty" is how this is sometimes phrased. Even the most conservative Christians have a hard time putting a positive spin on a wrathful God who flings evildoers into flaming torment. It is tragic that some Christians have been so battered with stories of a prideful, vindictive God that they have fled from Jesus’ fold. No wonder some become atheists; who would want to spend eternity with such a tyrant?

Yet I’m going to make a case for hell, though not the one you see in cartoons, a fiery cavern where demons poke you with pitchforks. Dante made that kind of thing look pretty exciting, but "The Inferno" was written almost 1300 years after the Gospels. When you strip away European and medieval assumptions, and look at the writings of Christians in lands and cultures closer to Jesus’ time,you get a different picture."

Here's the whole thing.
Update: Upon perusing this Mathewes-Green's essay, Al Kimmel has just asked and posted the obvious question. Comments, probably one or two of my own, will ensue.


The ECUSA House of Bishops has concluding its meeting at Kanuga. Here are the documents:

A couple wrap-ups from the media:


22 March 2006

Human Dignity and the Limits of "Progress."

The following from then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, cited in an interesting conversation on the Crunchy Cons blog:
"I have always been skeptical of the concept of progress. There is, of course, a progress in the amount of knowledge, in science and technology. But this progress does not necessarily bring about a progress in moral values, nor in our ability to put to good use the power granted by knowledge. On the contrary, power can be a factor of destruction. I have always been contrary to the Utopian spirit, to faith in a perfect society–conceiving of a perfect society once and for all means excluding the freedom of every day….
…For modern man, the idea of placing limits on research sounds like blasphemy. However, an intrinsic limit exists, and this is human dignity. Progress obtained at the price of the violation of human dignity is unacceptable. If research attacks man, it is a deviation of science. Even if we protest that this or that research will open possibilities for the future, we must say no when man is at stake."

21 March 2006


It's about a lot more than the "the issues." It's about apostolic leadership. Here's Fr. Ken Leonczyk of Canterbury Episcopal at Southern Methodist University, commenting on Neil Michell and the Diocese of Tennessee's episcopal election at TitusOneNine:
"...I also feel a bit odd hoping that TN sees God’s call on Neal’s life as a Bishop- without Neal’s help I wouldn’t have known up from down in my first time in charge of a parish and without his pastoral guidance, spiritual mentoring, and evangelistic wisdom we certainly wouldn’t have had the amazing growth inour college ministry (over 10x rise in ASA and more importantly many college students and young faculty coming to a first time faith in Jesus Christ). While God receives the credit for all we do, Neal has been vitally important to me and to many of the small parishes, young priests, and cardinal rectors in Dallas. The problem I’m having with much of the discussion on this issue is that I keep hearing about finding a Bishop who be a good “compromise” or “bring the diocese together” or even are “orthodox.” Shouldn’t we look for people whom God has called to be Bishop because of their holy boldness, their commitment to the gospel, their ability to be mission-minded, and their passion to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ so the kingdom of God can be expanded, so lives can be transformed, and so our world can become a better place. Just being “orthodox” isn’t good enough. And choosing a Bishop because he is a “company mandevotedto ECUSA” just seems a bit like idolatry. How about a Bishop devoted to hearing God and following Him. We need Bishops who call us back to relationship with God, who call us back to a biblical worldview, who love people enough to worry less about “compromise” and “bringing us together” and instead are passionate about bringing the lost to Christ and helping those who know Christ to grow in their relationship with the Triune God. I’m young and I haven’t been a priest for that long, but it saddens me to hear so much about ECUSA, Networks, and other political entities when we all know that our only hope lies in Christ and in His Gospel. I went to Sewanee and loved it, and I certainly was and am called to be an Anglican priest (thereby in ECUSA), but there are a lot of people in and around Sewanee, TN, and the rest of the US who don’t know or care about Networks, ECUSA, or dialogue but who do know a lot about the void in their lives that they just can’t fill and know a lot about pain, and a lot about wondering what the world will look like in 50 years. They, and I, need the gospel of Jesus Christ and they, and I, need Bishops who preach Christ and see the Church as the Body of Christ a gift of God in the world to change the world, not to allow for polite conversation, but to enable radical change in our lives and enable the experience of the radical love and joy that comes from knowing and trusting God. Just some thoughts…"

Back to Basics.

Herewith my contribution for the Lent & Beyond daily Lenten devotional series:
Each Ash Wednesday I find myself a little taken aback as I stand before the people of my parish and call us to our Lenten life:
I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self‑examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self‑denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.

Self-examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, and self-denial; reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. The thing that takes me aback is that these disciplines enjoined upon us as special emphases for Lent are not actually “special” at all. In fact, they are normal aspects of a normal Christian life, the bread and butter elements of Christian devotion. Or at least all previous generations of Christian believers would have recognized them so to be. Keeping a holy Lent is more a matter of getting back to basics than adding on spiritual booster rockets. And if these basics have become foreign and strange to us – well, that is something to ponder.

In today’s Gospel lesson for the Daily Office, we read of Jesus’ less-than-triumphal reception in his home town of Nazareth:

And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. (Mk 6.2,3 RSV)

Without question, Jesus’ teaching got these folks worked up, although notice that Mark does not tell us what that teaching was. Likely, the sermon that day was some variation on the theme of “the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel,” which Mark elsewhere tells us was Jesus’ constant message (cf. 1.14). But what Mark concentrates on here is the “familiarity breeds contempt” aspect of the story. The good people of Nazareth knew Jesus, knew his job, knew his family – he was, so far as they could tell, no one special. Who was he to call them to reorder their entire lives, to repent? Why would they look for the kingdom of God in him?

His neighbors and Nazareth “took offense at him.” Familiarity breeds contempt. We’re addicted to the unique and the novel. We want a “new and improved!” pattern of devotion. However, our Lord came to us not as a Roman emperor or a renowned scholar, but as a common man who worked with his hands; “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Is 53.2). And, in the main, Jesus still meets us and changes us in the common things, speaks to us in the still, small voice, is present in all his grace and glory in the simple elements of bread and wine in his Holy Supper. Lent is “special” in that it recalls us to the ordinary things wherein our Lord may still be found.

Self-examination and repentance; prayer, fasting, and self-denial; reading and meditating on God’s holy Word. The pattern of Christian devotion is forever old-fangled. But the Lord who meets us in them “makes all things new” – even our hearts, even our weary lives. “Late have I learned to love you,” St. Augustine prayed, “Beauty at once so ancient and so new!” Amen.

20 March 2006

The Election and Our Local Rag.

Get Religion's Doug Leblanc weighs in on the Tennessean's poor coverage of the Diocese of Tennessee's episcopal election.

"Notice especially how the words moderate and progressive flow together so effortlessly, not just in direct quotations but in Hunter’s paraphrases, leaving the impression that the only extremists in the diocese are mean conservatives."

Here's the whole thing. I believe Leblanc is, among other things, the Anglican Communion Network's communications officer.

Good Advice.

"Here’s some advice, for what it’s worth. The way to tell if a liberal — or a conservative — is to be trusted is to see how fairly he or she deals with the other side’s arguments. Obviously, you can’t give a full airing to the other side’s point of view or you’d be spending all your time making the other side’s case. And not every column has to be a on the one-hand, on-the-other-hand affair. But, over the long haul, you can tell which liberals actually have the intellectual self-confidence to engage with the other side’s best arguments and not just their worst ones. Meanwhile, if you look at, say, Maureen Dowd, there isn’t even an attempt to be fair to the other side. It’s all bile, snark, and sneer — which would be a good name for a law firm in mordor. Lord knows, I don’t mind bile per se, but it can only be a single ingredient, not the whole thing. Dowd's stuff is closer to fiction writing than opinion journalism. I think a lot of rightwingers have a similar problem — and I wouldn’t recommend them to liberals trying to get a fair read on the conservative point of view either. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth reading. But entertainment is not necessarily argument."


19 March 2006

Bracket Busted.


Orate Some More, Fratres.

As predicted, a stalemate.

Here's the Nashville Tennessean.

And here's 2 threads totalling 8 zillion comments on TitusOneNine.

18 March 2006

Orate, Fratres.

Please be in prayer for the Diocese of Tennessee as we meet to elect a new bishop today. If you're interested, the results of the successive ballots will be posted throughout the day at the search committee's website.
Almighty God, giver of every good gift, look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a Bishop for this Diocese that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

17 March 2006

I Bind Unto Myself This Day...

"1. I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, of the settlement [vicus] of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age. I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people, according to our deserts, for quite drawn away from God, we did not keep his precepts, nor were we obedient to our priests who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought down on us the fury of his being and scattered us among many nations, even to the ends of the earth, where I, in my smallness, am now to be found among foreigners.

2. And there the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that, even so late, I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my insignificance and pitied my youth and ignorance. And he watched over me before I knew him, and before I learned sense or even distinguished between good and evil, and he protected me, and consoled me as a father would his son.

3. Therefore, indeed, I cannot keep silent, nor would it be proper, so many favours and graces has the Lord deigned to bestow on me in the land of my captivity. For after chastisement from God, and recognizing him, our way to repay him is to exalt him and confess his wonders before every nation under heaven.

4. For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, whose are all things, as we have been taught; and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit with the Father, indescribably begotten before all things, and all things visible and invisible were made by him. He was made man, conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father who gave him all power over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe. And we look to his imminent coming again, the judge of the living and the dead, who will render to each according to his deeds. And he poured out his Holy Spirit on us in abundance, the gift and pledge of immortality, which makes the believers and the obedient into sons of God and co-heirs of Christ who is revealed, and we worship one God in the Trinity of holy name..."
St. Patrick, pray for us.

In the News.

The following from today's Nashville Tennessean, the local paper. There are some problems with the article. The writer states,
"A resolution to affiliate the Diocese of Tennessee with the Anglican Communion Network, a Pittsburgh-based group of conservative churches, did not pass during the diocese's annual convention in January."
True, but only because there was no vote on joining the Network at the Convention. The "Continuing Episcopalians" took credit for "preventing" a vote on joining the Network in their post-Convention mailing (and apparently also in interviews with the article's author), but that is at best disingenuous. We traditionalist types had been telling them for months that we would not be moving for such a vote. So, you know, way to go. In any case, it is incorrect to say that a motion to join the Network "did not pass." There was no vote on the matter.
Also, the writer allowed the liberals (Ann Walling in this case) to characterize themselves as "moderates" and cast themselves as victims. Wouldn't it have been interesting to know just how "individuals who took moderate and progressive theological positions found themselves 'marginalized in terms of inclusion in the life of the diocese.'" Poppycock. Had she a better understanding of the issues and dynamics within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, she could have provided some perspective. But that is almost always the case with religion reporting in the regular media. Anyway here it is:
Episcopalians to elect new bishop
National division on gay issues felt locally
Staff Writer Published: Friday, 03/17/06

Midstate Episcopalians gather tomorrow to elect a new bishop who many think will face stiff challenges in shepherding a fast-growing yet doctrinally divided diocese.
Like church members elsewhere in the country and around the world, local Episcopalians have sharply different views on the national church's decision to elect an openly gay bishop and to sanction same-sex unions.
"There is more uncertainty about our relationship with the wider Anglican Communion than there used to be," said the Rev. Timothy Jones, senior associate rector of St. George's Church in Belle Meade.
"What will be our relationship, particularly if (the Episcopal Church USA) continues
to ignore some of the pleas to refrain from certain actions? Also, people are really invested in how this election turns out. The different candidates could take us in different directions, not in the near term, but down the road."
Four candidates nominated for bishop of the Diocese of Tennessee, with 51 congregations stretching from atop the Cumberland Plateau in the east to the Tennessee River in the west, are:
• The Rev. Canon F. Brian Cox, IV, rector of Christ the King in Santa Barbara, Calif.
• The Rev. Canon James B. Magness, canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Kentucky.
• The Rev. Canon Neal O. Michell, canon missioner for strategic development in the Diocese of Dallas.
• The Rev. Winston Charles, rector of Christ Church in Raleigh, N.C.
The winner will need a two-thirds majority of votes cast by the 89 clergy and 131 lay delegates who vote separately beginning at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville.The bishop-elect then requires ratification by the denomination's General Convention, which meets in June in Columbus, Ohio.
The new bishop will succeed the Right Rev. Bertram Nelson Herlong to become the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Tennessee.
In 2003, the global 77 million-member Anglican Communion fractured after ECUSA approved the election of New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson, who has a same sex partner, and authorized the blessing of same-sex unions. More than 20 branches
of the global church broke off relations with ECUSA.
Dozens of U.S. parishes left ECUSA to receive foreign oversight or form new Anglican networks. A resolution to affiliate the Diocese of Tennessee with the Anglican Communion Network, a Pittsburgh-based group of conservative churches, did not pass during the diocese's annual convention in January. About 20% of Midstate Episcopalians belong to the ACN.

The Rev. Patrick Allen, rector of ACN-member St. Joseph of Arimathea in Hendersonville, said tomorrow's election here raises many questions, including whether the diocese will be a "mission-minded, gospel-driven, reaching-out" one that continues to grow. Will it also be a part of the worldwide communion, he asked, or "will we follow the rest of ECUSA into decline and irrelevance?"
"Our goal in the network is to maintain communion with global Anglicans."
The Rev. Ann Walling, assistant to the rector at St. David's in West Meade, said even before 2003, individuals who took moderate and progressive theological positions found themselves "marginalized in terms of inclusion in the life of the diocese."
She said evidence of division includes churches removing the word "Episcopal" from church signs; diminished support to long-standing mission congregations; refusal by some churches to accept female ordination or denial by some clergy to receive Holy Communion with "those of moderate points of view."
"All in all we are in a very distressing situation," she said, adding that many long for a return to a "mode of acceptance of a great diversity of perspectives."
Susan Huggins, spokesperson for Continuing Episcopalians of Tennessee, which opposes affiliation with ACN, said that tomorrow's election could "determine the direction of this diocese."
The Nashville-based organization believes ACN intends to disenfranchise ECUSA, Huggins said. Her group seeks to move the diocese back to the middle ground, she said.
"If we can stay in ECUSA, we can begin to heal this division that we have," said Huggins, a member of St. David's. "We do not believe that breaking down the Episcopal Church is the way to do it."

15 March 2006

Private Choices...

...have public consequences in their cumulative effects. The following from a review by Kathryn Jean Lopez of a sensible sounding book called Smart Sex: Finding Life-Long Love in a Hook-up World, by Jennifer Roback Morse:

"Sex matters. Not just to the two (or more?!) actively participating, but it has ramifications. If you're married, one act may change the structure of a family for generations. If you're not, what if there's a pregnancy? If you're cheating on a spouse, take a look at family courts or classroom discipline problems or talk to your local police precinct for stories about some of the pathological ramifications. Sex is a civil act inasmuch as "there is much more at stake in our love lives than just personal happiness. It matters to other Americans whether we succeed — because bad sex and bad family life usually produce damaged children." And society pays for bad sex choices. When you know, for instance, that only six percent of married families in the United States live below the poverty line — a fact Kay Hymowitz points out in a recent piece in City Journal — you better realize that "smart sex" decisions really have the potential to do a world of good."


14 March 2006

Let the Madness Begin.

Here's my bracket. I believe clicking thereon will pull up the full-sized image. It's bold (C'mon Winthrop). It doesn't reflect my rooting interests (which are minimal). And, of course, this is only for purposes of exhibition, not competition. So, please, no wagering (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

Exurban Blight.

From the Crunchy Con blog:

"...One theme of this chapter is to question the idea of whether it's right to want "as much home as [one] can afford." David Holme, quoted in the book, chooses to live in a much smaller house than his brother, because he wants to be closer to his work, so he can get home faster and spend more time with his family. In fact, his wife quit her job so she could devote herself to raising their son. By way of contrast, his brother and his brother's wife both work crazy hours to pay for As Much Home As They Can Afford out in a far exurb, and have to spend a long time commuting because of it. Meanwhile, on the occasion they are at home with their kids, it's hard to live together as a family because the kids are off lost somewhere in this exurban castle. It's obvious that the built environment, whether a neighborhood, a commercial district or a house, has something to do with the kind of life we live. Bigger is not necessarily better, if you measure the quality of your life by means other than the size of your garage..."


Reality Check.

"...For years I have believed that renewal of the Episcopal Church was not only possible but worth working towards. That is the way we viewed our role within the broader church. The Falls Church has hoped to be a lighthouse of renewal and a model of orthodox Anglican faith but I have changed my mind. Certainly renewal is always possible with God, but all the signs I see now lead me to believe that ECUSA is inevitably headed away from historic biblical faith. We are now a radically liberal Protestant church with tinges of Catholic ceremonial, hierarchically-dominated, and pathetically shrinking numerically week by week. Yes, there are still exceptions to this, but the exceptions are rarer and rarer.

I do not have a clear sense of what might a trigger a TFC decision to leave the denomination. Our own Bishop allows us to be who Christ has called us to be, and tells us that the rest of the Diocese and denomination needs us. We are under no pressure to embrace or teach or give financial support to practices or people or programs that in good conscience we feel we cannot support. Still, many, many dioceses are not so generous and open as Virginia. General Convention this June could present us with worse developments, and the pressure from the Global South to break away is increasing. Many of us simply do not feel at home in ECUSA anymore. I dream of an Anglican Church in North America that is truly biblically centered, mission-focused, evangelistically on fire, doctrinally sound, led by wise, passionate godly leaders – a church that will offer confused 21st century post moderns a real faith, a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ, and community in which the healing, powerful, and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is being celebrated in worship and fellowship day by day."

–The Rev. John Yates is rector of The Falls Church (Episcopal) in Falls Church, Virginia


13 March 2006

Countercultural Justice.

More in the "Counterculture for the Common Good" series. This time from Rodolpho Carrasco of Harambee Ministries.

"Not so long ago, evangelical Christians who served the poor often found themselves on the defensive among fellow believers. Now it's the rare church that doesn't engage in works of mercy and justice. Watching this evangelical wave of concern and action, I've been greatly encouraged. Yet as I listen to my fellow justice-impassioned Christ-followers, whether they are newbies or grizzled veterans, I often hear only part of the message of justice.

There is no shortage of protest across the political spectrum. Some promote fair trade over free trade and argue for turning the minimum wage into a living wage; they seek to strengthen immigrant rights and oppose racism. Others object to activist judges, family-hostile state laws and school curricula, and porous borders. But increasingly, all these concerns are framed in terms of concern for the most vulnerable members of society. These issues rouse people out of their living rooms, out of the pews, and into society to work for change.

While I celebrate this development, I worry that we are perilously weak at walking alongside the poor, at investing directly into the lives of individuals to give them what they truly need—not what we believe they need or what our policy statements tell us they need.
I've found that it's relatively easy to raise a voice in protest, but unfathomably hard to invest in a life."

Here's the whole thing. I think "justice" is generally the wrong category under which to consider the plight of the underclass. See, for instance, Michael Novak's "Defining Social Justice":
"The trouble with “social justice” begins with the very meaning of the term. Hayek points out that whole books and treatises have been written about social justice without ever offering a definition of it. It is allowed to float in the air as if everyone will recognize an instance of it when it appears. This vagueness seems indispensable. The minute one begins to define social justice, one runs into embarrassing intellectual difficulties. It becomes, most often, a term of art whose operational meaning is, “We need a law against that.” In other words, it becomesan instrument of ideological intimidation, for the purpose of gaining the power of legal coercion."

Meanwhile, Back on Bourbon Street...

A look at post-Katrina New Orleans from Matt Labash in the Weekly Standard.
"New Orleans is a town that resists being fitted with an adjectival straitjacket. But if it were a Chinese-food condiment, it would be sweet 'n' sour. The easily pacified citizens of this country's other cookie-cutter cities seem to require only that they have a Starbucks Mocha Macchiato in one hand, and an Olive Garden breadstick in the other. But New Orleans offers something more. Faulkner called it "that city foreign and paradoxical, with an atmosphere at once fatal and languorous." Walker Percy wrote, less grandiosely, that if you fell ill in its streets, it's a place where there's still a chance "that somebody will drag you into the neighborhood bar and pay the innkeeper for a shot of Early Times."
Despite my New Orleans fixation, I'd never been to Mardi Gras, figuring I wasn't missing much--perhaps spring break in Daytona with a shrimp remoulade twist. But this year seemed as interesting a time as any to go. For a good month after Katrina, everyone was unanimous that the hurricane had been a buzz kill. Then for the next five months, most of the attention shifted from the dire situation on the ground so that critics could hash out who was responsible for dropping the ball--the president, the governor, the mayor (correct answer: all of the above).
Now, breathless reporters were anxious to tell a comeback story. Never mind that the city that loves to eat, the city from which Louis Armstrong used to sign his letters "red beans and ricely yours," has seen only 1,000 of its 3,000 restaurants reopen. Never mind that its only growth industries at the moment are house-gutters, mental health workers, liquor store owners, and strippers (to handle all the extra business from the influx of fly-by-night contractors). Never mind that its infrastructure is in shambles, that its public school system is nearly defunct, that all but two of its hospitals are closed, that 80 percent of its residences sustained flood damage, that only 200,000 of its 480,000 citizens have been able to return, that 1,100 of its citizens are dead, and close to 1,500 are still missing. Apparently, the fact that inebriated people will come to the mostly undamaged Quarter to bare their breasts for beads is as good as a clean bill of health. New Orleans is on the mend! A phoenix rising from the ashes! Laissez les bons temps rouler!"

11 March 2006

Chuckles & Chortles.

Below I linked to a National Review symposium on Lenten reading. Today's WSJ Opinion Journal gives a short but good list by Roger Kimball (of the New Criterion) of comic novels, providing fodder for frivolous reading post-Easter:

1. "Leave It to Psmith" by P.G. Wodehouse (Doran, 1924).
May I begin a survey of superb comic novels by offering the collected works of P.G. Wodehouse--100 volumes, give or take? No? Well, how about "Leave It to Psmith"? Everyone knows about Bertie and Jeeves. Allow me to introduce Rupert Psmith. The "P" is silent, he explains, "as in phthisis, psychic, and ptarmigan." But the comedy is uproarious in this tale of an impecunious though impeccably turnedout dandy who impersonates the modern poet Ralston McTodd--a scaly specimen--in order to cadge an invitation to Blandings Castle so that he can pursue the beautiful Eve Halliday. The plot is stuffed with improbable twists, farcical turns, breath-stopping complications and one of the greatest predawn flowerpot-throwing scenes in literature.
2. "Scoop" by Evelyn Waugh (Little, Brown, 1938).
"Scoop" is Waugh's funniest book and the best (and most savage) satire of newspaper journalism in English. William Boot is the retiring author of "Lush Places," a nature column in the Daily Beast, the brash flagship of Lord Copper's gargantuan publishing empire. He is not to be confused with John Courtney Boot, the ambitious novelist eager to get away from London and his girlfriend. A helpful friend, the mesmerizing Mrs. Stitch, invites Lord Copper to a lunch party, wraps him around her little finger and has everyone at the table regale him with the exploits of young Boot, "the Prime Minister's favorite writer." "Get Boot," Lord Copper commands, and his underlings buzz into action, producing the wrong Boot, of course, who is promptly outfitted and sent to the godforsaken African hot spot of Ishmaelia to cover the impending revolution. The rest is farce--or just journalism.
3. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" by Eric Hodgins (Simon & Schuster, 1946).
Perhaps you've seen the movie "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" (1948), with Myrna Loy and Cary Grant. It's charming, and the scene where Loy instructs the painter about the colors she wants is comic perfection ("match the little rosebud next to the delphinium--not the one near the hollyhock leaf"). But the movie is
nothing compared with the novel by Eric Hodgins. If you've ever thought about engaging an architect to fix up that beautifully sited if slightly ramshackle old place you saw in the country one weekend, read this book. You'll laugh till you cry, and you'll think twice about embarking upon an adventure in real estate or house construction.
4. "Lucky Jim" by Kingsley Amis (Doubleday, 1954).
The academic novel has become a subgenre of its own. There are some very good ones, but the best is also one of the first, Kingsley Amis's "Lucky Jim." An instant sensation when it was first published, "Lucky Jim" tells the story of Jim Dixon, an anxious young history don at a small, aggressively undistinguished provincial university. Dixon has just managed to produce--but not yet publish--a scholarly article called "The Economic Influence of the Developments in Shipbuilding Techniques, 1450 to 1485." It was, Dixon thought, "a perfect title, in that it crystallised the article's niggling mindlessness, its funeral parade of yawn-enforcing facts, the pseudo-light it threw upon non-problems." You can see why "Lucky Jim" is, even today, regarded as an important source of information about university culture.
5. "The Belles Lettres Papers" by Charles Simmons (Morrow, 1987).
Ostensibly a history of Belles Lettres, "the most powerful literary magazine in the world," this book is in fact a satire of the passions and personalities of the people who run a famous New York weekly book review. Curious readers might like to know that Charles Simmons was formerly an editor at the New York Times Book Review. One of the best characters is Newbold Press, a ghastly and thuggish philistine who is brought in as editor to clean house. He comes a cropper, but not before entertaining us with a stupendous exhibition of stupidity and bad judgment. My only question is whether this splendid book should be filed under fiction or documentary.

Good books and great fun. I'm surprized not to have seen David Lodge (maybe Small World?) on a list like this. I would also add Chistopher Buckley's Thank You for Smoking.

The DaVinci Crud.

Eric Metaxas gives us "Screwtape on the DaVinci Code":

My dear Wormwood,

I trust this finds you as miserable and coarse as ever. I am pleased to take a respite from our usual tutorial and venture into something a bit broader, but vastly instructive for our larger purposes. To wit: I shall today croak a paean of praise to a particular work of middlebrow non-fiction. The genre has been particularly good to us, Wormwood! Do you remember The Passover Plot? Or that excellent hoax by Erich von Daniken, In Search of Ancient Astronauts? You may snigger now, but in its day even that harebrained rant proved helpful to our cause. As did most of the books on The Bermuda Triangle and "UFO's". And don't get me started on Out on a Limb! Oh, but Wormwood. Those books were mere types and shadows of the one that has in these last days transported me to ecstasies of embarrassing intensity. It is a type of "romantic thriller" (penned by someone under the unwitting tutelage of an old crony of mine from the Sixth Circle); it is titled The DaVinci Code.

I surmised it should be well worth the trouble of familiarising you with it, inasmuch as it contains such a precariously towering heap of our very best non-thinking that it is quite dizzying! It has the genuine potential to mislead, confuse, and vex millions! Indeed the mystical sleight-of-hand involved in shoehorning so many cubic yards of gasbag clichees, shopworn half-truths and straightfaced howlers into a single volume simply beggars belief; and if I didn't know that the author had had unwitting "help" from my former colleague, the venerable Gallstone, I simply shouldn't believe it could have been done at all!

Now, Wormwood, before you object to my calling this book "non-fiction"— since it is technically classified as "fiction"— let me say that it is essentially non-fiction, at least as far as our purposes are concerned. That's because it's principle delight for our side is that in the tacky plastic shell of some below-average "fiction" the book parades as "fact" a veritable phalanx of practical propaganda and disinformation that would make our dear Herr Goebbels (Circle Eight, third spiderhole on the right) jade green with envy! Souls by the boatload are blithely believing almost all of the deliciously corrosive non-facts that are congealed everywhere in it, like flies in bad aspic, and it is that precisely which most recommends this glorious effort as worthy of our dedicated and especial study.


Let It Be.

"Such an appraisal must begin by taking into account the fact that the Beatles were the first rock-and-roll musicians to be written about as musicians. Elvis Presley, for instance, had attracted vast amounts of attention from the press, but for the most part he was treated as a mass-culture phenomenon rather than as an artist, and so were the other rock musicians of the 50’s and early 60’s (and the swing-era band-leaders and vocalists who came before them). Not so the Beatles. Almost from the time they began making records in 1962, their music was taken seriously—and praised enthusiastically—by such noted classical composers as Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Ned Rorem and such distinguished critics and commentators as William Mann, Hans Keller, and Wilfrid Mellers.
What was it that made these four musically untutored pop stars stand out in such high relief from their contemporaries? And has their music proved to be of lasting interest, as their admirers of four decades ago predicted it would?
It is, I suspect, no accident that after 1970, none of the four Beatles would write any songs or make any recordings comparable in quality to the ones they made as a group. Together, their musical limitations had been offset by the creative synergy of their collaboration (as well as by the discreet guidance of George Martin, their
producer-mentor). When they began to work independently, the limitations overwhelmed them, and they spent the rest of their lives struggling in vain to rival the achievements of their youth.
The historical significance of these achievements, however, cannot be overstated. After the Beatles, rock-and-roll would never be the same. What started out as a stripped-down, popularized blending of country music and rhythm-and-blues intended for consumption by middle-class teenagers evolved into a new musical dialect in which it was possible to make statements complex and thoughtful enough to seize and hold the attention of adult listeners.
This is not to say that rock in general has always repaid such close attention. Unlike jazz, which developed with great speed from a purely functional accompaniment of social dancing into a full-fledged art music of the highest possible seriousness, most rock has remained as commercial as the simplest-minded pop music of the pre-rock era. But between the late 60’s, when rock became the lingua franca of the baby boomers, and the late 90’s, when the disintegration of the common culture brought its stylistic hegemony to an end, the best rock groups had much to offer the serious music lover."

Network News.

Pittsburgh, PA – Since the beginning of 2006, eleven parishes with their clergy and ten individual clergy have affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network (ACN). Another eleven affiliates are slated to be approved within the week. This steady stream of new affiliate churches and individuals comes from within the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) and from those churches that are now under the authority of bishops from other parts of the Anglican Communion.
The ACN’s motto “Biblical, Missionary, United” points to some of the reasons that more and more orthodox Episcopal and Anglican churches and clergy are choosing to align themselves with the Network. Bill Stalcup, Senior Warden of Church of the Word in Gainesville, VA, which is part of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, reported that there was not one dissenting vote from the congregation of 150 when the parish decided to officially become a Network affiliate.
“The work of the Network is very encouraging for us,” said Stalcup. “It is reassuring that there is an organization uniting like-minded Anglican and Episcopal believers that we can be a part of. The Network really reached out to us, not just as an association, but personally, spiritually.”

Here's the whole thing.

09 March 2006

More to Read.

Leaving Song

Now is the winter of my discontent
To be reformed, transfigured into spring?
I cannot seem to hold to anything
That by this sudden blossom is not rent.
I leave a love behind, unfathomed still;
I have a hope before me, waiting yet;
And trapped so, where no boundaries are set,
I find a faith, an unexpected will.
The summer is impending in the autumn;
The promise is penumbred by the wilt;
Before new petals grow, leaves must be spilt
On forest floors, at garden’s edge and bottom. . .
Fall, leaves, as my heart, for leave I must,
And autumn presses on, and we are dust.
—Katy Willis

The above from a new literary magazine, Dappled Things, which styles itself "A Catholic Literary Magazine for Young Scholars and the Young at Heart." Lots of stories, essays, poetry, photographs and other visual art. "Dappled Things" is of course a referance to the wondeful Gerard Manley Hopkins poem.

Contented Housewives

Getting a fair bit of play in the media just now is this study by sociologists at the University of Virginia, "What's Love Got to do With it? Equality, Equity, Commitment and Women's Marital Quality." National Review Online has an interview by Kathryn Jean Lopez with W. Bradford Wilcox, one of the study's authors. Among the conclusions reached is this shocker: Women in strong, committed marriages who have the emotional support of their husbands are happier than women who do not!!! Here's another: You can't have it all!!!

Lopez: Could the subtitle of your study be "Betty Friedan was wrong?"
Wilcox: Not quite. I think that Friedan was right to point out that a lot of married women at home — especially well-educated women — experience very real frustrations. Being at home with small children is challenging for anyone, especially someone who has enjoyed a rich and rewarding career outside the home. But I don't think Friedan really understood how difficult it would be for women to combine childrearing, a full-time career, and a marriage. There are only so many hours in the day. One of the things that our study shows is that working wives spend less quality time with their husbands, probably because they are juggling so many balls in the air.
Lopez: What do your findings mean for women? She's gonna be unhappy if you work outside the home, period?
Wilcox: One thing that has gotten lost in media coverage about whether or not the wife works outside the home is that marital commitment matters more for her happiness than does her labor-force status. So even feminist-minded wives who work outside the home can be very happy in their marriages if they share a strong commitment to the "till death do us part" model of marriage with their husbands.
Our study also suggests that the marital happiness gap between working wives and stay-at-home wives may be strongest for married women with children at home. So it may not be true that working wives in every stage of the life course are less happy than stay-at-home wives.


Crunchy Con-versation.

From a long interview from Godspy with Crunchy Cons author Rod Dreher:
"The first thing is to realize that this is a sensibility, not an ideology. I still shop at Wal-Mart when I need to, and I don't feel guilty about it. I don't want people to think—oh, I've got to run out now and get a Prius, and junk the mini-van.

The first important first step, I would say, is turn off the TV. You can consider it fasting. My family spent an entire Lent not watching TV at all, and pretty soon, if you do that, you realize how great it feels to have a house where people talk to each other, or spend their time reading or listening to good music. A good idea is to stop and think about how your family's media diet, including time on the computer—as my wife Julie constantly reminds me—cuts into family time, and make the necessary changes.

The next thing I'd do is work on the family's diet. Organic food can be expensive, but you'd be surprised how much you can save, to spend on quality food, by cutting down on all the processed food most people have around the house. I can't afford to eat organic vegetables from the supermarket, but Julie and I feel pretty strongly about not eating meat that's raised on factory farms. So what a lot of people can do is check into the local farm situation. We live in downtown Dallas, but we get our meat from Christian farmers who live out in the countryside, who raise their livestock without antibiotics, ranging freely, because they believe that's what God would have them do. We love their food, and we love the fact that our dollars are supporting these large, home-schooling Christian farm families. So those are two small things that people can do, and you'll find others once you start....
I think one thing Julie became very aware of was how our economy is so geared to making our kids a target market. There's a science to all this, with companies trying to communicate their brands to kids when they're pre-conscious. You don't want to be a paranoid crank about it, but it's happening all the time. What we try to do with our kids is teach them the tools they need to spot when they're being
manipulated. If parents don't see their role to be actively countercultural—not passively countercultural—then they're going to lose. We see people losing all the time, good conservative people who don't see how the messages of mass consumer marketing work against their values..."

08 March 2006

Fidelity: the Ultimate Counterculture.

Yet another in the "Counterculture for the Common Good" series, this time from prolific essayist, biographer of C.S. Lewis, and Wheaton English professor, Alan Jacobs. It's good stuff:
"And in any case, those who would rectify the weaknesses or errors of any body of people should keep two warnings in mind. First, when a community fails to live up to its own standards, as of course it will, that community will be laboring under some kind of illusion—some distorted or fanciful self-understanding. As Kierkegaard pointed out long ago, "an illusion can never be destroyed directly, and only by indirect means can it be radically removed . . . one must approach from behind the person who is under an illusion." When anyone sees a jeremiad coming, he or she, like the captain of the Enterprise, immediately begins deploying the shields. This is why the prophet Nathan approached that adulterous murderer King David with a little story about sheep.

But the most desirable goods, like the most deadly illusions, rarely yield to direct assault. Wise men and gurus, saints and cranks alike testify that happiness cannot be sought but can only be found in the pursuit of something else. C. S. Lewis wasted years of his life seeking the peculiar stab of longing he called Joy—only to discover in the end that, like a stray cat, it declined to come when called, but appeared when it was least looked for.

Similarly, we Christians cannot set as our goal the becoming of a counterculture for the common good. Nor can we directly seek the elimination of the vices and illusions that constrain our attempts to love our neighbors as we should. We will strip away our self-deceit and become a true light unto the nations only by seeking and becoming faithful to the call of the Gospel. If we eventually become a true counterculture for the common good, that counterculture (and that good) will simply be the product of our faithfulness.
All too often Christians think even of faithfulness as a means to an end, that end being (usually) something called "church growth." We think so because in our culture goals are always products: quantifiable goods that, because they are quantifiable, can be produced by techniques. Thus our true ancestor is Charles Finney, the 19th-century evangelist who believed that his evangelistic techniques were fully scientific: "The connection between the right use of means for a revival and a revival is as philosophically [i.e., scientifically] sure as between the right use of means to raise grain and a crop of wheat." Improvements in agricultural technique and improvements in evangelistic technique are, then, achieved by application of the same experimental practices— though I am not sure what the evangelistic equivalent of Cyrus McCormick's reaper is. It is truly wonderful that Finney and his many modern heirs fail altogether to notice that whenever the Bible compares soul-winning to agriculture it invariably does so in order to emphasize the inscrutable sovereignty of God: Paul planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. And we never get an explanation of why the ground on which the sower sows is so variable in quality, in receptiveness to the seed of the Gospel. Obedience, not results, must be our watchword, and in one sense all I have to say is this: be obedient to Christ today."

06 March 2006

What's At Stake.

ROWAN WILLIAMS: I think we have to wait and see on that. There are other world churches, the Lutheran Reform Churches, which get on with a federal pattern. There’s always been, I think, a higher expectation in the Anglican Communion, that we, we have more, more at stake than that. And of course what that means is that if there is rupture, it’s going to be a more visible rupture, it’s not just going to settle down quietly into being a federation. And, I suppose my anxiety about it is that if the Communion is broken we may be left with even less than a federation.
DAVID FROST: Even less than a federation.
ROWAN WILLIAMS: And there will have to be an awful lot of bridge-building, absolutely decades to restore some sort of relationship there.
DAVID FROST: Yes. … at the moment is that … majority of the Anglican Communion are quite clear that active gay relationships should not be blessed in church and actively gay clergy should not be ordained and that these are unwelcome new developments in America. I mean that would be the common view, wouldn’t it?
ROWAN WILLIAMS: Very much the majority view and I think on a matter of real substance like this, a matter that effects the interpretation of the Bible, the discipline of clergy and lay people, what actually the Church will bless in God’s name; for a change on that I think we would need, as a Communion, to have a far greater level of consensus than we in fact have. Which is why the American determination to go it alone is, is worrying.
DAVID FROST: And is the, is the convention in June likely to be that moment of decision?
ROWAN WILLIAMS: A lot rides on that and people have projected lots of expectations. I’ll wait and see.


"But larded throughout these insights are others that show that Wills is still trapped inside his incoherent theology, which seems to be animated by a basically elitist crypto-Anglican sensibility. This becomes especially glaring, indeed annoying, when he pits Jesus against Pope Benedict XVI. For despite his defense of the Atonement, Wills actively dissents from Catholic teaching on the sacrificial character of the Eucharist, which he sees only as an anticipatory meal of the Messianic banquet in heaven."
From a review of Gary Wills' What Jesus Meant, by Edward T. Oakes, S.J. in First Things.
To lend credence to the it's-only-a-meal charge, comes this afternoon an announcement for Lenten services at St. Luke's Community House, a Diocese of Tennessee-affiliated ministry that does wonderful work among low-income Nashvillians:
"Local Episcopal churches have joined together with St. Luke’s for this worship series. The services will be held each Tuesday during Lent at 7:30am in the St. Luke’s Mural Room. Each week, a clergy member from a local parish will deliver a reflective homily and the Eucharist will be served."

04 March 2006

Counterculture Kids

Turns out the Lauren Winner piece I linked to below was not the first in the "Counterculture for the Common Good" series (itself one part of a 3-year undertaking called the Christian Vision Project), which means that Frederica Mathewes-Green's piece was the third, not the second. Sorry. The first essay was actually this one by Michael Scott Horton. The introduction to the series is here.
Now that we've gotten that straightened out, here's a little bit of Horton's essay:
To be truly countercultural, the church must first receive and then witness to Peter's claim in Acts 2:39: "The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call." The promise is not only for us, but also for our children. According to recent studies by sociologists like Christian Smith, evangelical teens are only slightly less likely than their unchurched friends to adopt a working creed of "moralistic, therapeutic deism." As the diet in our churches is increasingly determined by the spirit of the age, and as youth are treated as borderline cases to be cajoled into thinking God is cool, the church risks abandoning that promise. The "pumped-up" teens in our youth groups today are often tomorrow's skeptics and burnouts. They don't need more hip Christian slogans, T-shirts, and other subcultural distractions, but the means of grace for maturing into co-heirs with Christ.

But mightn't that mean that what these children - and all of us - need is a sacramental life together, something like The Church as Culture?