22 May 2006

From the Network Bishops.

Network Bishops Issue Position Statement
At the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2003, just moments after consent was given to the consecration of V. Gene Robinson to be bishop of New Hampshire, over twenty bishops stood in the House of Bishops and made this declaration:

“The bishops who stand before you are filled with sorrow. This body, in willfully confirming the election of a person sexually active outside of holy matrimony, has departed from the historic faith and order of the Church of Jesus Christ. This body has denied the plain teaching of Scripture and the moral consensus of the Church throughout the ages. This body has divided itself from millions of Anglican Christians around the world, brothers and sisters who have pleaded with us to maintain the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage and sexuality.
“With grief too deep for words, the bishops who stand before you must reject this action of the 74th Convention of the Episcopal Church.”

They went on to say that they made this declaration as “faithful Episcopalians, and members of this House.”

The Bishops of the Anglican Communion Network reaffirm this statement in its entirety.
As the Primates of the Anglican Communion warned in October of 2003, if the consecration given consent by the action of General Convention proceeded, it “will tear the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level.” Sadly, this very thing has happened.

It is important to understand that the issues of sexuality are not alone, or even primarily, the cause of this rupture. Rather, a crisis of faith runs deep in the Episcopal Church over the uniqueness of Jesus as Savior and Lord, the sacred authority of the Apostles’ teaching in the Holy Scriptures, and the responsibility Christians have to act in charity and accountability with each other. All these have been relativized and, in turn, this “accommodation” to the culture of North American individualism has been the context in which division has already occurred and may yet continue.

What is now to be done?

The issue for the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in June 2006 is whether the 2003 decision can be reversed and the tear in the fabric of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion can be repaired. Failing this reversal, the state of impaired or broken communion among those formerly together in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion can be expected to become permanent. We, the Network Bishops, are prepared to be part of the efforts to reverse the situation, precisely because we are committed both to the Anglican Communion and the Constitution of the Episcopal Church, and because we long to be instruments of healing and reconciliation in the face of division.

To that end, we unanimously support the recommendations of the Windsor Report as the basis on which our divisions may begin to be mended. We pledge to work with all bishops of this Church and of the Communion who also support the Windsor report, and the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Primates in particular, in working toward greater unity and mutual responsibility under Scripture and within the Anglican heritage.

The Rt. Rev. Keith Lynn Ackerman, SSC, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of Quincy
The Rt. Rev. James M. Adams Jr., Bishop of the Diocese of Western Kansas
The Rt. Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield
The Rt. Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Rt. Rev. Daniel W. Herzog, Bishop of the Diocese of Albany
The Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, Bishop of the Diocese of Central Florida
The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth
The Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr., Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina
The Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, Bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin
The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas
The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson, Bishop of the Diocese of Rio Grande
The Rt. Rev. David J. Bena, Bishop Suffragan of Diocese of Albany
The Rt. Rev. Stephen H. Jecko, Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas
The Rt. Rev. Henry W. Scriven, Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Rt. Rev. William J. Skilton, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of South Carolina
The Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison, Retired
The Rt. Rev. William J. Cox, Retired
The Rt. Rev. Alex D. Dickson, Retired
The Rt. Rev. Andrew H. Fairfield, Retired
The Rt. Rev. William C. Wantland, Retired

On Vacation.


My Neighbor And The Life Everlasting.

At each recitation of the Apostles’ Creed, we Christians affirm our belief in “the life everlasting,” and Sunday by Sunday as we recite the Nicene Creed, we affirm our belief in “the life of the world to come.” I’ve found a good way to test whether I really believe something, or if I’m just “heaping up empty phrases” (Mt. 6.7) is to ask, what difference would it make to my life were it not true? How would my life be different – would it be different – if this thing I confess were not part of the system of Christian belief?

What difference does our belief in “the life everlasting” make? How should it inform my life today and the decisions I make? For most of us, with regard to this affirmation, the rubber meets the road at the grave. When we bury a loved one, we do so “in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.” I suspect this most often is the application for which we reserve “the life everlasting.” And properly so. In the Gospel we proclaim Jesus’ victory over the grave, a victory that destroys the paralyzing fear of death, and with hope tempers our grief at loss – because the loss is temporary and, as St. Paul says, “not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed” (Rom. 8.18). At the grave, the truth of “the life everlasting” makes all the difference.

But this ought not to be the only place it makes a difference. “The life everlasting” is not a belief to be held tightly only with regard to the faithful departed, but with regard to every living person as well. I was reminded of this recently as I re-read Truman Capote’s “non-fiction novel” In Cold Blood, an account of the brutal and pointless murder of a rural Kansas family of four by two small-time criminals, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith. The murder itself and the subsequent arrest and trial were major news stories of the day and came to the attention of a Massachusetts man named Don Cullivan. Reading the stories, Cullivan realized that he had been briefly acquainted with Perry Smith while serving in the army some eight years previously. Following his army days, Cullivan had become a devout Catholic Christian, and felt moved to write to Smith. Smith wrote back and a correspondence began. Eventually Cullivan traveled to Kansas to visit Smith in jail and offer support during the trial. Capote reports that
Many observers of the trial scene were baffled by this visitor from Boston… They could not quite understand why this staid young Catholic, a successful engineer who had taken his degree at Harvard, a husband and father of three children, should choose to befriend an uneducated homicidal half-breed whomhe knew but slightly and had not seen for nine years.

Why, indeed. When asked, Cullivan provided the only possible answer: “Because I’d offered this man my friendship. And because – well, I believe in the life everlasting. All souls can be saved for God.” Cullivan understood that if this bedrock item of Christian faith were true, then every person with whom he came in contact was important, each one significant, each destined for eternity. People matter – every one of them. C.S. Lewis reflected on this reality in his sermon “The Weight of Glory”:
It may be possible to think too much about one’s own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror andacorruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations…

Do we really believe in “the life everlasting?” Don Cullivan did, and it made all the difference.
From the June issue of the parish newsletter.

19 May 2006

C.S. Lewis & The DaVinci Code?

"Religious leaders and others distressed by Dan Brown's novel "The Da Vinci Code"--and its movie debut this weekend--might take a cue from an Oxford don steeped in medieval literature, C.S. Lewis.
A former atheist, Lewis became one of the most beloved Christian authors of 20th century. He was not only a master at exposing the fault lines of modern, secular thought. As a layman, Lewis also could see the weaknesses of the church with unusual clarity--a skill he likely would apply to the furor over this latest challenge to orthodox belief.
There are few things more easily corruptible, Lewis observed, than religious belief and practice. "We must fully face the fact that when Christianity does not make a man very much better," he wrote a friend, "it makes him very much worse." Stories like "The Da Vinci Code" and Michael Baigent's "The Jesus Papers" carry a special appeal for people who are vividly aware of the historic failings of the church: the anti-Semitism, the persecutions, the soul-crushing legalism, right down to modern-day sex scandals.
Here's the whole thing.

17 May 2006

Say It Ain't So.

The Celtics have climbed into the handbasket to... you know. It's hard to take. First came Larry Legend wine. Now this:

The Celtics may or may not put a winning team on the parquet next season, but they will have a dance team on the floor at TD Banknorth Garden. Looking to improve the peripheral entertainment on game nights, the team announced the formation of the Celtics Dancers.

According to Rich Gotham, the team's executive vice president of sales and marketing, ''The Celtics Dancers will contribute to the exciting in-game experience for our fans."

In the past, basketball purists, team president Red Auerbach among them, took considerable pride in the fact the Celtics were the only NBA team without dancers.

Frank Deford offers his reflections.

South Carolina Speaks.

Old friend and all-around swell guy Fr. David Dubay has posted audio of recent talks on our Episcopal difficulties given by the diocesan and suffragan bishops of South Carolina and Canon Kendall Harmon:

Bishop Salmon
Bishop Skilton
Canon Harmon

Fr. Dubay's blog is intended to be "A place for Sewanee Alum and Students to find orthodox solace and encouragement," and I commend it to you.


16 May 2006

Stumbled Upon Today.

For the Original Sin file:

IF YOU are worried about being attacked or killed by a violent criminal, just be glad you are not living in Neolithic Britain. From 4000 to 3200 BC, Britons had a 1 in 14 chance of being bashed on the head, and a 1 in 50 chance of dying from their injuries.

Here's the whole thing.

For the Effluvia file:

Flatulence may be a social faux pas for us, but for some fish it appears to be of great social value.

Here's the whole thing.

Meet the Carthusians.

From a review of An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World’s Most Austere Monastic Order by Nancy Klein Maguire.
"In a world that is increasingly given to distraction and mindless noise—where televisions blare from storefronts and family restaurants, where pedestrians and subway riders alike are plugged into iPods and tuned out—silence is fast becoming the rare and too-often unappreciated treasure of our time.
In Europe, this season’s block-buster is the three-hour documentary Into Great Silence. Filmed at the Grand Chartreuse Carthusian Monastery near Grenoble, it contains no music beyond the solemn Gregorian Chant; it has no dialogue, only prayer, and it has been selling out theaters wherever it plays. And now (there are no accidents) the first great nonfiction book of 2006 takes us to St. Hugh’s (Parkminster) Charterhouse in West Sussex, England, where again we meet Carthusians—in a different way—in Nancy Klein Maguire’s An Infinity of Little Hours.
It is perhaps mere coincidence that these two wholly unconnected projects, focusing on this most austere, nearly unknown religious order, are being released almost simultaneously, and at a time when progressive religious orders are dying and more traditional orders are experiencing solid growth. Perhaps these thoughtful expositions of extreme renunciation are appealing in these rather extreme times. Or perhaps an era of rampant materialism is revealing more convincingly than any philosophy ever could this great paradox: The fullness of the world is emptiness, and the emptiness of a denuded life carries with it a great and surpassing fullness.

Cartusia nunquam reformata quia nunquam deformata—“Carthusians have never reformed because they have never deformed.” In An Infinity of Little Hours, we readers become displaced time-travelers. We move to 20th-century England (circa 1960) when five young men ring the bell of St. Hugh’s to try their vocations as Carthusians in this historic house. These young men—from Germany, Ireland, and the United States—are the last men to enter before the Second Vatican Council will bring changes even to this formerly unchanging place. They are the last men to embrace a life—and a world—specifically unreformed since the 11th century, where the Carthusians,who report directly to the pope, had resolutely remained. They step through the iron gateway and travel back almost 900 years, and we go with them, grateful to glimpse a world whose memory—upon the deaths of the last monks of that erawill be forever lost.
Parkminster has a website.
Here's the website for the film Into Great Silence.

15 May 2006


From Opinion Journal's "Best of the Web Today" comes this bit of hilarity (worth watching for the expression on Goma's shocked face):

"Guy Goma was waiting in the reception area at the BBC's headquarters in London the other day when someone came in looking for a guy named Guy. The Mail on Sunday reports that Goma raised his hand, whereupon he was "ushered into a studio and fitted with a microphone" for an interview.

The producer had the wrong Guy, and Goma was introduced as Guy Kewney, "an IT journalist and founder of newswireless.net" who was scheduled for an appearance to comment on a trademark lawsuit between the Beatles' Apple Corps and Apple computer. The video (which you can download or stream) is hilarious; the look of panic on Goma's eyes when he realizes what's going on is priceless.

But he quickly regains his composure. "Were you surprised by this verdict today?" asks the hostess? Replies Goma:

"I am very surprised to see this verdict to come on me, because I was not expecting that. When I came, they told me something else."

Goma then answers a couple of more questions by talking about the wonders of the Internet--a subject he knows something about, since, as Kewney reports, Goma "was applying for a high level IT job with the BBC."

The producer who mistook Goma for Kewney obviously had no idea what the latter looks like. Goma is black, a Congolese national, while Kewney is white and bearded.


10 May 2006

On the Radio This Morning...

...I listened to Bob Edwards interviewing Thomas Dolby (he of "She blinded me with science" fame). Speaking of his influences, Dolby referenced a band called "Throbbing Gristle." I just needed to share that.

09 May 2006

On W.H. Auden.

Wilfred McClay reviews a new biography of W.H. Auden by Arthur Kirsch, Auden and Christianity.
"The notion that religious faith and serious thought are mutually exclusive categories always struck Auden as risible and unintelligible. But he would have bristled at an effort to separate out his religious beliefs and restate them as systematic propositions, or examine them independently or thematically, rather than see them as players in his rich and various inner symbolic drama. Such an undertaking would probably have struck him as unspeakably vulgar and, moreover, an invasion of his privacy, putting his devotional life on display and forcing him unwillingly to be judged by the public standard of a "religious" man, a role for which he felt singularly ill-equipped.

He was only too aware of how undisciplined and unsanctified his imagination was. His thoughts, as he wrote late in life, wandered freely from the sacred to the profane and back again, "potter[ing] / from verses to sex to God / without punctuation." And since the sexual thoughts in question were generally of what H.L. Mencken called the "non-Euclidean" variety, a persuasion that Auden firmly believed to be sinful or "crooked," but which he nevertheless embraced unrepentantly, their constant intermingling with his religious yearnings and literary aspirations made for an exceedingly complicated sensibility.

That, however, only means that the extraordinary poet was also an ordinary sinner, and that is just how he is presented to us in this generous and humane book, which will be an important addition to the shelf of essential writings on Auden, and will be especially valued for the light it sheds upon the role played by his religious beliefs in the workings of his creative imagination.
Here's Auden his own self reading "After Reading a Child's Guide to Modern Physics."

Jack Speaks.

The BBC has made available the following audio of C.S. Lewis:

"Beyond Personality: The New Men." Hear the only surviving footage of C.S. Lewis's broadcast talks. This is the last episode in Beyond Personality, the third series. It was broadcast on BBC radio on 21st March 1944. We apologise for the sound quality.The transcripts of all three series were published as Mere Christianity.
The New Men (Realmedia, 14m 05s)

An introduction to The Great Divorce "Blake wrote The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. If I've written of their divorce, this is not because I think myself a fit antagonist for so great a genius, nor even because I feel at all sure that I knew what he meant..." C.S. Lewis introduces his book The Great Divorce in a clip first broadcast on 9th May 1948.
The Great Divorce (Realmedia, 1m 58s)

Thanks to Pontifications.

08 May 2006


Are you a list person?

McSweeney's has an
impressive list of humorous lists. Like,
"Common Phrases Not Written in My High-School Yearbook, for a Multitude of Reasons."
1. Stay sweet!
2. Keep in touch!
3. Don't change!

And this one is funny. So also this one.

Here's a blog by a fellow who collects lists, like this one (click to enlarge - and notice the fifth item):

And here, of course, are Letterman "Top Ten" lists.

05 May 2006

How To Read Like An Apostle.

From a Books & Culture review of Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns:

"Changing the words of Scripture to suit your own purposes? Paul wouldn't get past the first week of New Testament 123 (Hermeneutics) like that. He is breaking every rule of thoughtful evangelical scholarship, which holds that the proper way to approach inerrant Scripture is with careful grammatical-historical exegesis: painstaking analysis of each word of the Scripture and its relationship to other words, the setting of the sentence in the verse, the verse in the chapter, the chapter in the book, and the book in the historical times of its composition.

Of course Paul breaks those rules, Enns says; they are our rules, not Paul's. Inspiration and Incarnation offers us passages from such extrabiblical texts as the Wisdom of Solomon and the Book of Biblical Antiquities in order to show that, far from doing something extraordinary and super-apostolic, Paul and Matthew were doing exactly what most of their contemporaries did. Both apostles had been trained by the scholars of their day, the so-called "Second Temple" period, to come to a text looking for the "mystery" beneath the words: the deeper truth that an untrained reader might not see. Both of them came to the Old Testament already convinced that they knew what that mystery was: the incarnation, death, and resurrection of God in Jesus Christ.

Paul knows, by faith, that this truth underlies all of the Old Testament. He knows that it will be in Isaiah; he looks for it in the 59th chapter, and—as we might expect—he finds it. And if he has to change a preposition or two to make this "mystery" clear to the rest of us, he is not violating any sort of interpretive rule. His own principles of exegesis allow him to "read into the prophet's words," as Enns puts it, what he "already knew those words were really about."

Encouraging (to me) to see this work coming out of a conservative, Reformed context like Westminster (where Enns teaches). As a seminarian, and afterwrds, I found myself having to bracket aside the fact that the hermeneutical principles we were learning were not those employed by the New Testament writers themselves. I want to think and write more on this (and buy Enns' book), but for now, I believe this kind of a hermeneutical sea change could be incredibly fruitful, and not least in a new Creed-based ecumenism. Time to wallow in the "moldering scrim of antique prejudice" (more about which here).

04 May 2006

Pandora's (Music) Box.

This is interesting - from arts critic Terry Teachout:

"I’ve been playing with Pandora, the new Web-based streaming audio "music discovery service." Based on a week’s worth of hands-on experience, I’ve decided that (A) it works and (B) it’s going to be a Very Big Thing. To use Pandora, you start by inputting the name of a pop artist or song that you like. This creates a “station” that you can “tune in” on your computer at will. The station then plays a record by that artist, followed by similar-sounding songs by different artists. You respond in turn by telling Pandora whether or not you like each song it plays. At any time you can input additional artists or song titles, which automatically increases the size of your station's playlist. The more information you supply about your tastes, the more accurately Pandora can analyze them and select new songs you’re likely to enjoy...

Believe it or not, this isn’t just hot air. When I “asked” Pandora why it was playing The Band’s “Look Out Cleveland,” for instance, it responded as follows: “Based on what you’ve told us so far, we’re playing this track because it features country influences, a subtle use of vocal harmony, mild rhythmic syncopation, acoustic rhythm piano and mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation.” All true. Of course, it was also playing "Look Out Cleveland" because I’d already told Pandora that I liked The Band, but the very next song it played, Albert Lee’s “The Victim,” contained the same musical features, and I liked that one, too.
Once I’d inputted the names of a dozen artists and given thumbs-up and thumbs-down responses to the songs Pandora was playing in response, it became clear to me that the analytic algorithm it uses to choose new songs was sufficiently sophisticated to second-guess my musical tastes with an accuracy that bordered at times on the eerie. As I write these words, Pandora is playing me Frank Sinatra’s live recording with Count Basie of “The Shadow of Your Smile.” Why? Because it features “swing influences, smooth vocals, romantic lyrics, a horn ensemble and” (wait for it) “acoustic guitar accompaniment.” Sure enough, Freddie Green’s rhythm guitar is very prominent in the mix on the Sinatra-Basie recording of “The Shadow of Your Smile.” Needless to say, that’s not a detail a casual listener would be likely to notice, but it happens to be one of the aspects of this particular recording that I find most engaging.


GC 2006

Karen B. and the good folks at Lent & Beyond are posting daily Scripture-based prayer resources for these forty days (beginning today) leading up to the ECUSA General Convention. Again, please pray.

Three's A Charm?

The Diocese of Tennessee makes its third attempt to elect a bishop this Saturday. Additional comments form the nominees are here.
Please pray for us.
Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously onyour Church, and so guide the minds of those who shallchoose a bishop for this Diocese, that we may receive afaithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip usfor our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. +Amen.

02 May 2006

Compare & Contrast.

Below are nominee's questionaires for episcopal candidates in the dioceses of Albany and California, respectively. Read them carefully and consider the differing theological and missional commitments reflected therein. George Woodliff III has done so and his reflections and conclusions are here.
From the Diocese of Albany:
Instructions: Please respond to the following questions as briefly as possible, but not surpassing the word count specified at the end of each query. Should you choose not to answer any question, please respond to it by writing, "I decline to answer this question." In your response document, include the number and the question prior to your response; skip two spaces between end of a question and the beginning of the next.
1. As stated in The Examination of a bishop-elect on page 517 of the Book of Common Prayer, a bishop is to proclaim Christ’s resurrection, interpret the Gospel, and testify to Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings. In addition, a bishop is to guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church; to celebrate and provide for the administration of the sacraments of the New Covenant; to ordain priests and deacons and to join in ordaining bishops; and to be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ. Please elaborate on your understanding of each of these different roles and responsibilities of a bishop, and how you would attempt to live them out if elected bishop. (Use 1,500 words or less)
-Proclaim Christ’s resurrection
-Interpret the Gospel
-Testify to Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings
-Guard the faith, unity and discipline of the Church
-Celebrate and provide for the administration of the sacraments of the New CovenantOrdain priests and deacons and join in ordaining bishops
-Be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ
2. Why do you want to be a bishop in the Diocese of Albany, especially considering the current climate in the Episcopal Church in the United States? (Use 250 words or less)
3. Using the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, find what you would consider the clearest expression of the doctrine of the Trinity and identify it. Does this coincide with your own personal belief and practice? (Use 500 words or less)
4. Are there any articles of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds with which you are in anything but full personal and theological agreement? If so, which and why? In your response, please address the following questions: Was Jesus raised bodily from the dead, such that the tomb was empty of his physical being, and in his body he appeared unto his disciples until his Ascension into heaven? Do you believe Jesus was virginally conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary? Do you agree that the Persons of the Trinity are only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and no other expression or naming may be substituted? For example, do you believe that a person baptized in the name of "Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier" is validly baptized? (Use 500 words or less)
5. If you were asked by a teenager what is meant by the phrase "the Gospel of Jesus Christ," what would you include in your answer? (Use 500 words or less)
6. Under what circumstances would you authorize the use of rites for or any practice of same-sex blessing, union, or marriage in this diocese or support such rites or practices anywhere in the Church? Under what circumstances would you permit or approve the ordination or licensing of a person who is sexually active outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman? (Use 500 words or less)
7. In John 14:6, Jesus stated, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (NIV) What is your understanding of this passage, and what does it say about Christianity’s relationship with other world religions? (Use 500 words or less)
8. Given the diversity of worship styles in the Diocese of Albany, how would you as "Chief Liturgical Officer" set the tone for the liturgical culture in the diocese? (Use 500 words or less)
9. As a Bible is presented to the newly consecrated bishop, these words are spoken, "receive the Holy Scriptures. Feed the flock of Christ committed to your charge, guard and defend them in his truth, and be a faithful steward of his holy Word and Sacraments." Do you believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary for salvation, and to act as the rule and ultimate standard of faith? Please explain. (Use 650 words or less)
10. What Scripture passage best describes your vision for ministry? (Use 100 words or less)
11. Describe your personal devotional life. To whom are you accountable and how do you live this out? (Use 500 words or less)
12. Detail your commitment to Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 Human Sexuality, Section 3, below and your sense of its call to the Diocese of Albany: "This Conference: 3. recognizes that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptized, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ." (Use 500 words or less)
13. Describe your leadership style. In answering, please include two personal strengths and two personal weaknesses and how they impact your ministry. (Use 600 words or less)
14. The mission statement for this diocese is currently "Disciples Making Disciples." What is a disciple? Describe how your vision for Albany fits or does not fit with this mission statement. (Use 500 words or less)
15. Identify three characteristics of the diocese that you would seek to maintain and three that you would seek to change. (Use 500 words or less)
16. Describe your view of the mission of the Church. (Use 500 words or less)
17. Have you had the opportunity personally to lead someone to faith in Jesus Christ? Explain. (Use 500 words or less)
From the Diocese of California:
Questions to be Answered by Nominees for the Eighth Bishop of California The following questions aim at giving you the opportunity to reflect in some depth on various aspects of your experience, your character, and your conception of Christian ministry. Giving approximately equal attention to each question, please limit the total number of pages for your six answers to no more than five, using single-spacing, in 11- or 12-point type. The set of brief essays should be included with the other nomination materials and should be sent to bishopsearch@mac.com by October 1, at the latest.
1. How do you deal with conflict? Give at least one specific illustrative example.
2. What pastoral situations make you most uncomfortable? Why?
3. What has been for you the most valuable learning experience in ministry outside of your current primary ministry?
4. Tell us about a difficult situation in your ministry which you felt you did not resolve very successfully. In retrospect, what would you have done differently?
5. Based on your reading of the diocesan profile: A. what do you see as your greatest challenge as the bishop of California? B. what excites you most about the position?
6. What have you found most compelling in Christ’s call to you? How is this related to your interest in becoming the bishop of California?

01 May 2006

Ah, Art.

"It was Andy Warhol, I think, who, when asked to define art, said that "Art is what you can get away with." Warhol's own career, and, indeed, a large part part of the contemporary art world testify to the power--if not the truth--of that observation. The sad fact is that today, anything can be not only be put forward but also and accepted and celebrated as a work of art. I won't bother to rehearse examples: everyone here knows what I am talking about: Jeff Koons, Robert Mapplethore, Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, Matthew Barney: the very names conjure up a cultural disaster zone.
The question is: How did did we get here? Well, that is a complicated question to which there is no short answer. But if one had to sum up volumes in a single word, a good candidate would be the word "beauty": What the art world is lacking today is an allegiance to beauty.
--Richard Kimball. Here's the whole thing.

Larry Vino.

When I was 12 years old I gave my heart to Larry Bird. Now he wants my palate:
The Larry Bird/Mitch Cosentino Legends Meritage is a blend of 41 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 37 percent Merlot, and 22 percent Cabernet Franc. Next month the label will release a chardonnay and a merlot. In the summer, there will be a Legends cabernet.
And just how did Larry get involved in this venture?
Julie Weinstock, president of Cosentino Winery, said, ''A mutual acquaintance of Larry and Mitch knew that Larry was looking to be associated with the production of a wine. Larry tasted some of our wines and liked them and said, 'Let's do it.' When I heard about it, I said, 'Larry Bird, the basketball player? I don't get it.' But he has such a following. It's introduced wine to a group of people that may not have been interested in wine. It opens a whole new world to them."
Cosentino said, ''He seems to appreciate better wines. I've always said that great wines can be enjoyed by people that may not be wine-collector types. Larry's goal was to say, 'They've got to be championship-style wines.' He wanted to strive to be at the top level. I think we both shared that vision in the project. And he definitely has a wide range of appeal to folks all over the world."
Celebrity wine is something of a trend. Director Francis Ford Coppola has his own label, as does golfer Greg Norman. According to Larry's press release, fewer than 500 cases of Legends Meritage were produced and the company suggests a retail price of $80 per bottle.
Eighty bucks per bottle. That killed me. I mean, we're talking about Larry Bird here. This is the man who refused to leave a tip when he went out to eat in New York his rookie year. He just couldn't believe the price of lunch in Manhattan in 1979. In 1992, when he was in Monte Carlo with the Olympic Dream Team, he walked out of a lounge when the barkeep told him he owed 7 bucks for his bottle of beer.
Larry said something like, ''You can keep your $7 bottle of beer."

Damn The Torpedoes...

Time to put on the breaks:
"Speed kills. That used to refer to the dangers of driving too fast, and sometimes to the drug. Now it more ominously refers to the unhealthy pace at which we live our lives, coerced by rampaging technology into cramming as much as possible into our waking hours. This isn't good for an individual's well-being. But even if you're indifferent to everyone's need for a little wa, the bean counter in you should appreciate this: It's also counterproductive.
Numerous studies link falling worker productivity to the advent of e-mail, mobile phones, BlackBerries and instant messaging. The ability to communicate instantaneously, around the clock (or, if you prefer, 24/7), with colleagues and clients may seem like a good idea at first blush. But healthy humans know when to down tools and head for the hills. The problem is that we're always on the grid now, always reachable and constantly bombarded, blurring the distinction between work and leisure time.
One recent study, commissioned by a manufacturer of organizational products and reported by Reuters, concluded that technology has sped things up to the point where, paradoxically, everything is slowing down.
"We never concentrate on one task anymore," said John Challenger, CEO of a Chicago outplacement consultancy. "You take a little chip out of it, and then you're on to something else. It's harder to feel like you're accomplishing something."
Here's the whole thing. (Via Arts & Letters Daily.) In this connection, one might like to take a look back at Lauren Winner's piece, "Sleep Therapy."

Cantaur re Judas.

Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, a couple weeks ago on the Gospel of Judas:

"A few days ago, I finally got my copy of the Gospel of Judas that people have been talking about. And no, in case you’re wondering, it didn’t make me tear up the New Testament and start looking for a new job.
It’s actually a fairly conventional book of its kind — and there were dozens like it around in the early centuries of the Church. People who weren’t satisfied with the sort of thing the New Testament had to say spent quite a lot of energy trying to produce something which suited them better.
They wanted Christian teaching to be a matter of exotic and mystical information, shared only with an in-group. So a lot of these books imagine Jesus having long conversations with various people whose names are in the Bible but who we don’t know much about. This, theyclaim is the real thing— not the boring stuff in the official books. Don’t believe the official version, they say. The truth has been concealed from you by sinister conspiracies of bishops and suchlike villains, but now it can be told...