"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Statement of the Global South Gathering

The leaders of the Anglican Communion who met last week in Alexandria, Egypt, issued this statement at the conclusion of their meeting. Some hightlights:

29. The unscriptural innovations of North American and some western provinces on issues of human sexuality undermine the basic message of redemption and the power of the Cross to transform lives. These departures are a symptom of a deeper problem, which is the diminution of the authority of Holy Scripture. The leaders of these provinces disregard the plain teaching of Scripture and reject the traditional interpretation of tenets in the historical Creeds. ...

31. The Windsor Report rightly points out that the path to restoring order requires that either the innovating provinces/dioceses conform to historic teaching, or the offending provinces will by their actions be choosing to walk apart. Paragraph 12 of the Primates Communiqué says:

“Whilst there remains a very real question about whether the North American churches are willing to accept the same teaching on matters of sexual morality as is generally accepted elsewhere in the Communion, the underlying reality of our communion in God the Holy Trinity is obscured, and the effectiveness of our common mission severely hindered.”

32. Regrettably, even at the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Nottingham in 2005, we see no evidence that both ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada are willing to accept the generally accepted teaching, nor is there evidence that they are willing to turn back from their innovations.

33. Further, the struggles of the Communion have only been exacerbated by the lack of concrete progress in the implementation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report. The slow and inadequate response of the Panel of Reference has trivialized the solemn charge from the Primates and has allowed disorder to multiply unnecessarily. We recognize with regret the growing evidence that the Provinces which have taken action creating the current crisis in the Communion continue moving in a direction that will result in their “walking apart.” We call for urgent and serious implementation of the recommendations of the Windsor Report. Unscriptural and unilateral decisions, especially on moral issues, tear the fabric of our Communion and require appropriate discipline at every level to maintain our unity. While the Global South calls for the errant provinces to be disciplined, we will continue to pray for all who embrace these erroneous teachings that they will be led to repentance and restoration.

Read the entire statement here.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A Dutch Treat for Halloween

The Associated Press has this story today:

APPELSCHA, Netherlands (AP) -- Dutch witches were guaranteed a financial treat when the Leeuwarden District Court reaffirmed their legal right to write off the costs of schooling - including in witchcraft - against their tax bills. Those costs run to thousands of euros. ...

"It's just because the word 'witch' was mentioned that they have woken up," said Margarita Rongen, clad in flowing black velvet robes and wearing a Wiccan talisman. "This write-off has been around for a long time." The court found that a witch can declare schooling costs if it increases the likelihood of employment.

Lawmaker Pieter Omtzigt was astounded. "If we spend euro 1,000 on a witchcraft class, that's euro 1,000 we can't spent elsewhere," Omtzigt said. When he asked about it in parliament, Junior Finance Minister Joop Wijn wrote, "Under the circumstances, the cost of a course to become a witch qualifies as school fees."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"Florida Six" Pulling Out

Titus One Nine passes along this report:

Six North Florida Episcopal congregations long at odds with their denomination over homosexual ordination and same-sex blessings are leaving the Jacksonville-based Episcopal Diocese of Florida.

The congregations — three in Jacksonville and one each in Orange Park, Gainesville and Tallahassee — will negotiate with Bishop John Howard over property rights, benefits and other issues to try to avoid litigation and to quit the Episcopal Church USA by the end of the year, the Rev. Neil Lebhar, rector at the Church of the Redeemer in Jacksonville, said Tuesday. “It’s our expectation that we will leave with our property,” said the Rev. Sam Pascoe, rector at Grace Church in Orange Park. “Our first choice is to negotiate, but we are willing to litigate.”

Howard was unavailable for comment but his chief of staff, the Rev. Canon Kurt Dunkle, said the “Holy Spirit-filled” negotiations so far have been limited to “how it is we will discuss whether you want to remain Episcopal or not.”

The decision to leave capped nearly two years of growing tension between the six congregations and the diocese….

This event is unusual only in the number of parishes departing from ECUSA at the same time. Hardly a month goes by that a parish here or there doesn't leave. But half a dozen at once makes one sit up and take notice. It is a little more than eight months until GenCon 2006. Only time will tell how many will "jump ship" before the fireworks of next summer.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Preparing for the Aftermath of GC 2006

As this piece in the Washington Times indicates, "conservatives" are not the only ones expecting dramatic consequences to flow from next summer's General Convention of ECUSA. Read the story here.

This piece from Reuters on this week's gathering of "Global South" leaders in Alexandria is also worth a skim.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

St. Vincent's Fall Family Festival 2005

Today we celebrated St. Vincent's Family Festival 2005, featuring our famous Chili Cook-off. The day started with the 5K Chili Trot run. Later there was a live band, a climbing tower, a bouncing house, and first rate dining outside. My impression is that turn out was excellent. The weather was spectacular and a good time was had by all.

Here is a typical chili booth, featuring the work of the Jackson family. Good stuff! I believe there were about eight chilis in the competition. A buck worth of tickets purchased a bowl of good eating at each booth.

There were games for the smallest kids in the church's courtyard, and a cake walk in the parish hall. This was the St. Vincent's family at its best.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Faith in the Life of St Vincent's School

The web site of St. Vincent's School has a wealth of information about our institution, but a few weeks ago I noticed a curious deficiency: there was no mention of Jesus, the Bible, or even Christianity on our web page! The only time "Christian" appeared on the site was in connection with a parochial school athletic league we belong to and on the faculty page in the CVs of those of us with degrees from TCU. No doubt this lack of discussion of Christianity was just an oversight, but it bothered me. I raised the issue with Dean Reed and he enthusiastically endorsed my efforts to "beef up" the faith profile of the web site. This is the entry I have drafted for inclusion on the site:

While St. Vincent's Cathedral School welcomes students from all religious backgrounds, we are grounded within the great educational tradition of Anglican Christianity. As a Christian school SVCS is intentional about helping each student cultivate his or her spiritual life. Our goal is to produce graduates who will honor their Creator not only with well-developed minds and bodies, but also with the choices they make in their lives.

Every school day our students encounter the Good News of Jesus Christ in morning chapel. While participating in chapel students hear readings from Holy Scripture, sing hymns of praise to God, receive religious instruction from our clergy and lay ministers, and develop a custom of daily prayer.

But spiritual development at SVCS does not stop at the doors of the chapel. Our faculty strives to model love and care in their interactions with students and each other. And students are encouraged to strive for the highest ethical standards in the classroom. As a result, in addition to receiving an education of the mind and body of the finest quality, SVCS students also develop the spiritual and moral character one expects of society's future leaders.

I understand there is some discussion of reverting back to our old name, "St. Vincent's Episcopal School," so the name may be SVES again when this statement finally appears on the web site. Personally I do not find the word "Episcopal" has the same positive connotations as does "Anglican," but apparently market research here indicates that the VGR affair has not tainted the name "Episcopal" in the public mind as much as it has for me.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Greetings from Bedford

I want to thank all readers of my blog who have lifted up my health in their prayers over the last three weeks. It has been a long run of illness, but I am finally feeling better. Tomorrow I will return to my duties during Sunday worship at St. Vincent's and resume my Sunday school teaching at St. Laurence later in the morning. Thanks be to God.

The image above was taken by my father this evening at a park near my home. A beautiful day.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Spong the subject of a new play

For those with a theatrical bent who might be in Los Angeles next week, you may want to take in a new play--about the heresiarch retired ECUSA bishop of Newark, John Shelby Spong! The Rt. Rev. Spong's life story is being immortalized thanks to the good folks at Harper SanFrancisco. Here is an excerpt from a story in the LA Times:

At 74, Spong, the retired bishop of Newark, N.J., continues to rile many Christians with his denial of the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Jesus and a God who works miracles and exacts punishment. His critics call him a heretic.Others, however, say that Spong's defense of ethnic minorities, women and gays as well as his skeptical take on Scripture as the literal word of God bring relevance, rationality and hope.

Now Spong's lifelong quest to wrest himself from what he has called his fundamentalist evangelical North Carolina upbringing to understanding God in a radically different way is the subject of a sympathetic new drama, "A Pebble In My Shoe."The bishop plans to be at Sunday's 5:15 p.m. premiere at the Los Angeles Theater Center, 514 S. Spring St. After the 90-minute performance, Spong will be honored at a reception. He also will sign his latest book, "The Sins of Scripture." Other performances are scheduled for Oct. 15,16, 22 and 23.

Written and directed by [Colin] Cox, the play is based on Spong's 1999 autobiography, "Here I Stand: My Struggle for a Christianity of Integrity, Love and Equality." It features actor Stephan Wolfert as the bishop. Cox said Spong's publisher, HarperSanFrancisco, approached him two years ago about writing a play about the bishop's life. Cox, director of the Los Angeles-based Will & Co. theater ensemble, described himself in an interview as "not a religious fellow."

"Any God who can be killed ought to be killed. That's the message of the play and, I think, that is the message of Jack Spong," Cox said. A biochemist by training, Cox said he was smitten by Spong's take on Christianity and his dismissal of so many traditional views of God. "Once I read Jack's books, I kind of realized, here's a man with a different point of view that seems valid to me," Cox said. "If you're going to be a Christian, what this man is saying makes sense."

Incidentally, Spong credits his exposure to Tillich during his time at VTS for moving him away from the Christianity of his youth. I can only hope that my friends who have attended VTS in the years since were not similarily moved. Hat tip to CANN.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Exorcism via Hollywood

I don't know how many readers of this blog saw the film in the theatres, but one of the most thoughtful treatments of the supernatural I have seen in a Hollywood motion picture in recent years was the handling of demonic possession in this year's The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I commend it for your viewing when it comes out on DVD (though don't watch it late at night, unless you want a near sleepless night like the one I experienced after seeing a 10PM screeing last month!). There is an interesting interview with an exorcist in New York City discussing the film here. It is my hope that films like this one will reawaken Americans to the reality of the spiritual realm, both in its positive and negative aspects. Hat tip to Sacramentum Vitae.

The Recent Lack of Posts Here

My apologies, gentle reader, for the dearth of interesting posts over the last two weeks. I have been ailing. Just as I began to recover from the first virus I contracted last week, I was struck down by a second--apparently unrelated--illness. And even though I have been cooped up in the house for much of the last couple of weeks, illnesses usually don't lead me to creative thought. Hence, little blogging. I hope that I am finally on the mend now, and I look forward to resuming my work here with better, more thought-provoking posts in the near future. Thanks for continuing to drop by. God bless.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Roman Catholic statement on Scripture

The Times of London has a report on a new document produced by the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Britain on the authority of Scripture. The text of Ruth Gledhill's rather overblown article may be found here. I note that Gledhill seems to be vastly overstating what is "refuted" in the bishops' statement. The Times reporter treats what students have long been taught at modern seminaries as if it were astonishing new information the Church has never recognized up to now. I eagerly await the publication of the full text of the statement for study.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

St. Laurence Church, Southlake, Texas

This is a lovely church in our diocese, St. Laurence in Southlake. I have been a guest Sunday school teacher there recently. I am teaching a version of the "Christianity and the Eastern Religions" course I offered at St. Vincent's Cathedral last summer. Today we began our discussion of Buddhism, having covered Hinduism in September. The course will run for five more weeks and will also cover Taoism and Confucianism. Of course, I still have duties at the cathedral as well, so this morning I served as subdeacon at St. Vincent's at 7:30 AM, then raced over to Southlake in order to teach my 9:45 class. Attendance at the class was good (perhaps more than eighty people). It makes for a busy morning, but it has also been quite rewarding. The good folks at St. Laurence have been very welcoming.

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