Thursday, 11 December 2008

Los Angeles authorizes blessings

See this news report by Episcopal News Service LOS ANGELES: Bishop authorizes blessings of lifelong covenantal relationships.

Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles has authorized the use of a rite for the “Sacramental Blessing of a Life-long Covenant” for both same-gender and heterosexual couples…

On the diocesan website there are these four PDF files:

Policy Regarding the Sacramental Blessing of Life-long Covenants in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

Some Questions and Answers: The Sacramental Blessing of a Life-Long Covenant

Service for the Sacramental Blessing of a Life-Long Covenant

Suggested Readings for the Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 11 December 2008 at 12:25pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

The Q&A document has some very unhelpful and confused portions. For instance, it refers to the "sacramental blessing" of marriage -- yet, as it also admits elsewhere, the "blessing" is not the "marriage" -- it is the covenant itself that is sacramental; the blessing is, well, the blessing. The whole section on sacraments needs a hearty revision -- or omission; better to stick with the traditional Anglican concept of marriage as an "estate" and limit the discussion of the church's role to blessing and witnessing.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Thursday, 11 December 2008 at 3:10pm GMT

An interesting history in the Q and A. A few samples.

“We have to remember that, through the years, almost everything we understand
about marriage has changed….”

So it doesn't really mean anything.

“Gradually, the custom of marriage between one man and one woman evolved and became prevalent in most of the Christian West.”

Apparently polygamy evolved out of “most of” the Christian West so quietly and slowly that it was hardly missed.

“Throughout antiquity, including Christian antiquity, marriage was primarily viewed as a
social vehicle for uniting families for various political and social gains, from increasing
the size of a farm or business to uniting nations. Women were basically commodities….”

Hence the famous counsel of St. Paul, “Husbands, purchase your wives carefully, so that the size of your farm bring social gains.”

“The idea of marrying for love…was essentially a foreign concept in antiquity and not part of our Christian heritage.”

And the Song of Songs was a later interpolation into scripture, probably dating from the 1950’s.

Posted by: rick allen on Thursday, 11 December 2008 at 5:58pm GMT

Glad to see you've got your Sarcasm-Happy, Rick.

[A FWIW hint: I like to close *my* Sarcasm-Happies w/ a "But seriously: ...", so that the post is not ENTIRELY an exercise in self-gratification. ;-/]

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 11 December 2008 at 7:56pm GMT

I think I stand with Tobias on this one, so far as the customary aims of blessing/witnessing what God is doing in the committed daily life (and often, parenting) of the two daddies or two mommies involved. One nice touch is the encouragement to actually get to know a few queer folks in committed relationships, face to face, and then weigh openly if/how fruits of the Spirit affect their daily life together.

To Mr. A I reply, yes of course, gospel values partly transmitted by Pauline texts (plus other sources) inform the modern shift to mutuality and equality in marriage - tilting against the ancient cultural odds which (A) put males first as owners/executors of most marriages in past centuries, plus (B) culturally defined most women and children as something very akin to animal property (fruit of his homunculus loins, in some mistaken past eras).

Yet when it comes to extending these changes to how we understand committed queer couples, suddenly the rightist believers balk and return to speaking of closed, final categorical or presuppositional authorities. Yet. If divorce is now discerned as morally and spiritually better than remaining in a violent and abusive marriage, then it is pretty easy to use a similar reconsideration tool box to newly discern that our negative traditions have been mistaken about queer folks, too.

This move in LA will only push rightist believers further into dudgeon than they already are - as if such a thing were possible. Straights only religion functionally obtains from most of the rightist believers, who simply cannot quite really conceive that anybody lives queer life pretty much embodied just as straight folks are, despite the palpable differences in some domains of gender variance and/or sexual orientation.

For the first time in history, really, the natural animal roots and pathways of these phenomena are coming clear, so stay tuned. The next 20-50 research years will yield many traditional gender/sexual orientation apple carts overturned - in some cases, neatly sidelined in one fell swoop of changed data, irrelevant, like the traditional homunculus theory of human reproduction.

How odd that, given their high preferences for their own special rightist selves, rightist believers have some of the highest divorce rates in USA. That straights only pot can hardly get away with calling queer kettles sooty, so far as the non-rightist rest of us believers are concerned.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 11 December 2008 at 8:06pm GMT

Folks, I hate to say this, but Bp. Bruno should be inhibited by the PB. He is ignoring the canons of the church and General Convention, just like the Duncans of the world. I don't understand why he felt compelled to act now. GC09 will most certainly authorize some litury for blessing of same-sex relationships. Here's the rub: either everyone plays by the rules (i.e., General Convention), or we just admit now that TEC is congregationalist. Perhaps one way out of this entire mess is to say that common worship is going to be the "bonds of affection" that bind us, and that everything else is up to the various dioceses. That is, to be considered part of TEC, a diocese would have to conform to the worship of the BCP, period. All other matters of polity would be a diocesan matter. Now that means that orders valid in one diocese may not be received or valid in another diocese. Well, if that's the price we have to pay to end this fighting, perhaps we need to look at it.

I'm sorry Bruno did this now. I support same-sex marriage, full inclusion of the gay community in the lay and ordained life of the church, and tearing down barriers. But why didn't he just wait until after GC09? In order to maintain integrity, the PB should inhibit him.

Posted by: pete on Thursday, 11 December 2008 at 8:17pm GMT

How wonderful !

a
A taste or infact, foretaste of things to come.

Sometimes, anglicans can be wise Godly like this.

This is a beautiful liturgy

Posted by: The Rev'd Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 11 December 2008 at 8:41pm GMT

Rick
I take it your post was intended to be humourous.

Of course love was known in the times the bible was written, that does not mean it was linked to marriage.

St Paul's counsel does not say anything about how those marriage came to be.

And to say that because the concept of marriage has changed it "So it doesn't really mean anything." is a non sequitur. It simply means that the meaning changed.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 11 December 2008 at 8:49pm GMT

Tobias

I had read it to mean that the blessing was permissible because the convenant was a sacrament.
Did I misunderstand?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 11 December 2008 at 8:50pm GMT

Much of this is pure twaddle.

One is left wondering just how many of the allegations levelled at TEC by the ambitious conservatives have merit.

I can feel Tobias seething with discomfort too ……..

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 11 December 2008 at 9:12pm GMT

Rick Allen:

Polygamy was not only accepted, it was the standard practice throughout the Middle East (including Judea) until the Christianization of the Roman Empire. And even in officially monogamous Rome, it was understood that the "elite" who could afford it would have mistresses and liaisons aplenty. And that monogamy was largely serial...divorcing and remarrying (usually for financial, social and/or political reasons) was a common and accepted practice.

That attitude toward marriage among all but the poorest (who simply couldn't afford keeping more than one wife) continued well into the 19th Century and probably the first third of the 20th Century. (In some communities, it still lingers.)

To suggest that marriage for love was anything other than a romantic fantasy for most people in the Western World until less than a century ago is nonsense.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 11 December 2008 at 9:52pm GMT

"He [+Bruno] is ignoring the canons of the church and General Convention, just like the Duncans of the world."

For the life of me, Pete, I don't understand where your hyperbole is coming from.

***

"Much of this is pure twaddle."

You mean, posts like Rick's? Right?

"One is left wondering just how many of the allegations levelled at TEC by the ambitious conservatives have merit."

You mean, none: right? Right??

I hope I'm right . . . or who are you, and what have you done w/ Martin Reynolds?

[Is there a case of the Krazies going around, and I didn't get the health warning? Whatever the specific deficits of any of the documents/liturgies coming out of Los Angeles, there's nothing especially unique NOR twaddle-ish about them (and their pastoral NECESSITY more than justifies the rush to get them out, with time for revisions later!).

Now would the Thinking Anglicans around here resume said cognitive-activities, and cease w/ the dramatic willy-nillies already?]

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 12:16am GMT

"[B]eautiful liturgy"? Chacun à son goût, I suppose. I find it sentimental - even sappy.

Posted by: BillyD on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 12:58am GMT

"The Q&A document has some very unhelpful and confused portions."

Confused and (it seems to me) rushed to publication.

Posted by: BillyD on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 1:17am GMT

"Folks, I hate to say this, but Bp. Bruno should be inhibited by the PB."

I wish that I understood the nuts and bolts of PECUSA polity better. Is there a case to be made that Bishop Bruno is acting within the bounds of the Constitution and Canons?

I thought it odd that the Episcopal Life article didn't even mention that LA's new policy flies in the face of what GC has decided...

Posted by: BillyD on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 1:29am GMT

Sloppy thinking and slapdash gestures do no justice to the reality of a loving and committed relationship between two people.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 5:26am GMT

Monogamy was a thing for the middle and lower classes, Emperors like Nero (and Boswell says Basil the Great) both were married 4 times each (both genders).

As late as in the 1850s King Frederik VII of Denmark had both a Queen (his cousin Caroline of Strelitz) and a wife (Countess Danner) simultaneously.

This form of Polygamy (marriages morgengabicum) lingers on, though monogamous now. The late Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands is an example born of a marriage morgengabicum, that is without inheritance rights. At first he was merely a Count of Lippe, not a Prince and Heir.

Today's Civil Partnerships, mistakenly percieved as "Modern", in fact continue this secondary line of private liasons of Story; in rights the partner is less than a Spouse.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 7:01am GMT

It might help if we remembered that the sort of marriage that church people talk about today, 'one man - one woman, for ever, and exclusive', is virtually unknown in the Bible. It is largely a modern invention with little Biblical authority.

King David and King Solomon, lived merry merry lives
With many, many concubines and many many wives
When old age crept up on them, with its many many qualms
King Solomon wrote the Proverbs and King David wrote the Psalms.


Posted by: toby forward on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 10:11am GMT

"To suggest that marriage for love was anything other than a romantic fantasy for most people in the Western World until less than a century ago is nonsense."

Apparently someone forgot to tell Shakespeare.

"'one man - one woman, for ever, and exclusive', is virtually unknown in the Bible. It is largely a modern invention with little Biblical authority."

Jesus and Paul are after all marginal figures.

I have to say there is an unreal quality to these discussions. It's as if I said, "Christians have always considered it wrong to murder people," and I was met with a chorus of "The Bible is full of murder!" "People murdered each other all the time in the middle ages!" "It's absurd to suggest that taking life was considered wrong before the Victorians!"

Posted by: rick allen on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 1:48pm GMT

I don't know what about inhibiting Bruno, but I too cannot understand why he has taken this action now. I suspect it has to do with the "egalitarian", for want of a better word, nature of TEC. It appears from what some posters here say that there is more of an "elected official" in an American bishop than I would understand, and maybe this action needs to be seen in this light, +Bruno is not so much shepherd of his flock as elected representative of his consitutents. All the same, this to me shows an incredibly parochial (oh my) attitude: we want to do this, we believe we are right in doing this, and we don't care whose toes we tread on, we don't care who is upset by this, we don't care that this makes us look arrogant and dismissive of others, we're "prophetic".

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 2:13pm GMT

It just occurred to me. Perhaps they're just fed up. I mean, American society was born in rebellion against authority, and Americans have an almost innate mistrust of it. The idea that someone on the other side of the planet might be trying to force them to behave in a certain way is probably a red flag to some. I can sympathize, but thumbing one's nose at others is not all that Christian, not that I can be called all that Christian either.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 2:20pm GMT

"I find it sentimental - even sappy."

True. But then again, I find most marriage ceremonies sappy and saccharine. All very "Ahhhh, love." Too bad we don't have smilies here, there's a good one for what I'd like to express. An aunt of a friend of mine used to say, whenever she heard straight people driving around after a wedding, flaunting their sexuality, honking their horns, and frightening the horses, "They've atied(the 'a' is pronounced) a knot with their tongues they won't untie with their teeth." Of course, that was in the days before the Church told us the chewing open of that knot was suddenly, and conveniently for some prelates, acceptable.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 3:10pm GMT

There was no religious element to marriage until the 12th c. when local priests began to write (unauthorised) services of blessing. It was another 300 years before blessings were permitted inside churches. Polygamy and concubinage remained common in England until the Late Middle Ages. Marriage was always a secular and legal institution. The CofE tried hard but unsuccessfully to make church blessings an essential element of the marriage contract but by the mid-18th c. both canons and practice were in such a mess that the State stepped in and 'nationalised' marriage, making it compulsory to marry in church. The result was that large numbers of people simply refused to marry and eventually the State had to reintroduce civil marriage. The legal definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman was only devloped in the 19th c. and it was only in 1973(?) that statute law actually banned marriage between people of the same sex.

Companionate marriage only developed after the First World War and the 'nuclear family' of course is a post-Second World War phenomenon. As for sex within marriage - well as recently as 50 years ago women past child-bearing age were not allowed to marry in the CofE.

The true history of marriage and the family and the role of Christianity in both is all very, very different to the propaganda put out by the Church today.

Posted by: Terence Dear on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 3:21pm GMT

My concern is that the Q&A document gives too much weight to the blessing, rather than to the covenant. The title "Sacramental Blessing" in itself is problematical. Not to rehash the 17th c debates as to whether marriage is a sacrament at all, but it is fair to say that whatever _is_ sacramental in marriage lies in the covenant of the couple -- their consent, joining of hands, [exchange of rings] _makes_ the marriage. The church witnesses it, "declares" it (an act of "publication") and then bestows its blessing, _on an already existing new creation_ -- that is, the blessing does not "make" the marriage.

The whole spin-off in the Q&A concerning baptism is off the mark. I assume it was meant to raise the issue of entitlement, but even there it is wrong, because not all are called to or gifted to marriage; in fact, some are called to celibacy. And, like celibacy, marriage is something that the person(s) do(es) in response to their vocation and their vows -- it is a state of life.

The Liturgy itself is not particularly objectionable; though I would've changed sequence in a few places.

As to violation of canons: Bruno has done nothing outside his constitutional right to authorize liturgies that are not provided for in the BCP. He is guilty of no ecclesiastical crime.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 4:29pm GMT

""To suggest that marriage for love was anything other than a romantic fantasy for most people in the Western World until less than a century ago is nonsense."

Apparently someone forgot to tell Shakespeare."

Shakespeare was writing romantic fantasies. Or did you think Romeo and Juliet really happened?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 6:40pm GMT

rick allen cites Jesus and Paul in his post. As far as I recall, both were unmarried, so no help there. We know nothing of Paul's parents' lives; those of Jesus did not conform to the pattern urged on us by today's champions of 'traditional Christian marriage'. The teaching of both Paul and Jesus is inconsistent with the same 'traditional' view, especially those elements which look to the parousia as a reason for avoiding marriage altogether. rick really can't call them in aid.

Posted by: toby forward on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 6:47pm GMT

The Venerable Bede, writing in the early eighth century, describes a synod held at Hertford, called in 673 by Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury, which, after addressing issues like the date for Easter, territorial authority of bishops, and movement of monks and priests, decreed that

...nullus coniugem propriam, nisi, ut sanctum evangelium docet, fornicationis cauisa, relinquat. Quod si quisquam propriam expulerit coniugem legitimo sibi matrimonio coniunctum, si Christianus esse recte voluerit, nulli alteri copuletur; sed ita permaneat, aut propriae reconcilietur coniugi.

...let no one forsake his own wife, except, as the holy Gospel teacheth, for the cause of fornication. But if any man put away his own wife being lawfully united to him in wedlock, if he will be a right Christian man, let him be joined to none other; but let him so continue as he is, or else be reconciled to his own wife.

This norm may have been as little observed then as it is now, but it is obviously in continuity with Jesus' teaching.

Posted by: rick allen on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 7:54pm GMT

Why don't those of you who are better liturgists than Bruno / his advisors produce one of your own together ? I think it would be a worthwhile project for you and for us lucky recipients --

I wait with bated breath !

Posted by: The Rev'd Laurence Roberts on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 8:54pm GMT

"the 'nuclear family' of course is a post-Second World War phenomenon."

Not to mention that, for those of us lucky enough to have grown up in the far more traditional extended family, the "nuclear family" looks like a sad and deformed variant of what was, after all, the REAL family for most of human history. It is a product of industrialization and modern capitalist/consumerist culture, nothing more, forced on people with terrible consequences, the most important being loss of support in the raising of children. Your great grandparents wouldn't have conceived of having strangers come into the house to "babysit", unless you come from a wealthy background, and even then the "nanny" would have become part of the family.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 9:50pm GMT

Rick Allen:

But that is the "norm" of the Eighth Century, not of the Biblical era...and it still says nothing about polygamous activity outside of marriage. Note that a man can put aside his wife for "fornication", but apparently a woman has no right to do the same with her philandering husband.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 10:41pm GMT

Actually, Laurence, there are a number of superb liturgies already available, and there have been for over a decade. I made a rather extensive study of the subject, which you can find linked in the sidebar on my blog.

The problem I have with what has come out of California isn't the liturgy -- it's the Q&A document. The only substantive change I would make in the liturgy is to move the prayers for the couple to precede the exchange of vows. (This puts it into greater conformity with other rites). Needless to say, I have suggested doing the same for the current marriage rite in the BCP. I have always found, when performing a marriage, that this placement of the prayers comes as rather a hiccup.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 12 December 2008 at 11:21pm GMT

Tobias wrote: "The title "Sacramental Blessing" in itself is problematical. Not to rehash the 17th c debates as to whether marriage is a sacrament at all, but it is fair to say that whatever _is_ sacramental in marriage lies in the covenant of the couple -- their consent, joining of hands, [exchange of rings] _makes_ the marriage. The church witnesses it, "declares" it (an act of "publication") and then bestows its blessing, _on an already existing new creation_ -- that is, the blessing does not "make" the marriage."

But surely, this a very Modern view, the one of Vatican II to be precise; the Consensus of the People of God makes the marriage.

In Sweden we still (through the legal innovations of 1915) have the Renaissance/Absolutist variety; a Priest or Judge or other, personally appointed performer, p e r f o r m s the Marriage by Declaring:

"You are now Man and Wife."

In the Middle Ages it was the two Families (in the broadest sense) who were the Parties, not the individuals. Un-willing daughters could be forced.

But a private arrangement (what someone above called concubinage) was v a l i d in law until 1917, when it was suddenly turned into un-chastity, bastardising 3 categories of children, who had thitherto been regarded as born in wedlock and heirs.

Concubinage re-entered the law in 1987 – perceived not as the Tradition of Millennia, but as a novelty ;=)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 6:54am GMT

As to Polygamy, it’s the only point where the Church has maintained some sort of persistent standing over Time, not the infamous “one man, one woman” of late modern anti Modern Socio-Political Propaganda.

This stand, however, wasn’t persistent enough to prevent various forms of Polygamy to persist into the present time, like marriages morgengabicum “to the left hand”.

I gave some examples in a thread above: King Frederik VII of Denmark +1863 who had both a Spouse (the Queen) and a Wife (Countess Danner) simultaneously, and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, who was born as Count Bernhard, to a marriage morgengabicum, not having equal rights.

The legal standing of the non-Spouses in these secondary marriages is repeated in late modern Registered Partnerships.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 7:16am GMT

Though it matters not at all JCF, I am not a great fan of TEC. I think it in some considerable disarray and the above is only another example of poor preparation and bad presentation that neither helps TEC’s reputation nor the cause for which I advocate.

This blog is called Thinking Anglicans not Liberal Anglican supporters of TEC I am profoundly conservative on many matters ethical, theological and ecclesiological – I would (for example) continue to support the view of marriage described at the Synod of Hertford as told by Bede and recounted earlier in this thread.

The reasons why I am so opposed to what is happening amongst fellow conservatives in America (apart from their problems with my family) are:
1. Their arbitrary and self serving selection of ethical issues as “othodox”.
2. Their rejection of existing authority.
3. The disinformation, spin and downright lies that have come from their leadership. This most of all.

I can only note that while they tend to characterise Rowan as “unity at any price” – their motto appears to be “we must have our “purity” at any price”.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 10:22am GMT

"But surely, this a very Modern view, the one of Vatican II to be precise...."

Not so, as it turns out. See the (pre-Vatican II) Catholic Encyclopedia article on marriage:


http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09707a.htm

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 12:30pm GMT

"I gave some examples in a thread above: King Frederik VII of Denmark +1863 who had both a Spouse (the Queen) and a Wife (Countess Danner) simultaneously,"

Are you quite sure? The information I've found available on line says that his first two marriages ended in divorce. His third marriage, to Louise Rasmussen (Countess Danner), was morganatic.

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 12:35pm GMT

Billy D,

Don’t really understand that link. A lot of claiming doesn’t make it so… Pre Vatican II, by the new Codex iuris canonici of 1918, Rome had the Renaissance formula and Making of Marriage, just as we are now the only ones to do it: Ego coniugo vos (Tridentine Manual of 1614). No Consensus of the parties there.

In Latin countries the Contract (between the families) remained what mattered.

Renaissance theory (from Orleans) broke with the medieval Civil law Betrothal and its matrimonio de praesenti to obtain a moment in Time, when the matrimonio de futuro could start, forgetting that the Betrothal was that very moment.

It was legal necessities that required the performer in Roman countries to be a magistrate/civil servant other than the priest up to 1918. The advent of Modernity; the “Kulturkampf” in Germany and Hungary, gradually changed this.

But Sweden had no separation of State and Church (Absolutism made State and Church one by the 1686 “Church law”), so for us the declaration “You are now Man and Wife” is still Administrative law, State, not Church, not Civil.

It took until 1908 before we could have marriages performed by a magistrate in a secular building (this had originally been a social punishment for “other believers” and dissidents, who were barred from Universities and Exams).

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 4:24pm GMT

Billy D,

You seem to be correct on Frederik's marriages.

Fredrik VII *1808 King 1848, †1863 was thrice married but perhaps not at the same time:

1) 1828 Wilhelmine of Denmark *1808 †1891, separation 1834, div 1837, remarried 1838 to Duke Charles of Holsten-Sønderborg-Lycksborg *1813 †1878
2) 1841 Caroline of Mecklenburg-Strelitz *1821, separation 1844, †1876
3) 1850 morgengabicum Louise Rasmussen, Countess Danner *1814/5 †1874

I have never heard of a divorce of Caroline of Strelitz. Admittedly divorces and marriages morgengabicum are not talked about much... And the old, generally reliable Swedish encyclopaedia “Ugglan” the Owl for short, hasn’t even got an entry for this Caroline, but it’s possible that Caroline’s return to Strelitz in 1844 was in fact a divorce, not merely a separation.

Some caution is advisable though, for Wilhelmine’s second marriage in 1838 isn’t mentioned either…

But if Caroline of Strelitz was indeed divorced from Frederik in 1844, his marriage morgengabicum in 1850 is not the last example of a bigamous/polygamous secondary marriage, which I thought it was. I shall have to search for the (real) last one.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 5:16pm GMT

"Shakespeare was writing romantic fantasies. Or did you think Romeo and Juliet really happened?"

Shakespeare was writing drama. It was not a science fiction story in which two time travelers from the 20th century fall in love and, to the utter astonishment of Shakespeare's audience, fall in love and marry. It was obviously something understood by everyone. It still is.

The literature of the past bears ample witness to love in its many varieties, including romantic love that leads to marriage.

But I understand that some see this as a dragon that must be slain.

Posted by: rick allen on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 5:33pm GMT

Bishop Bruno in LA was probably pushed ahead of GC by several local-regional factors, which nonetheless have wider national-global implications. Firstly, as we all know, the California gay marriage dilemma is still brewing bubbles furiously, thanks to P8. The California bishops took a unanimous unconformed stand against it, so the issue must arise of putting action to witness the preaching. Finally, if any target group was in real danger as the gay marriage dilemma unfolds, it surely must include the parents and children in families where the parents got married thanks to the court decision only to have themselves denied and punished by P8. Do those kids have inferior parents? Or not?

Also pushing Bruno must be the continued conservative realignment drive to have a replacement province. If nothing is going to slow down or stop the conservative small tent replacement-ists, why wait? We simply have no indications that their special high purities will ever really yield peace across Anglican differences, so why bank on doing things to keep them ever promising that pretty soon now, any day in fact maybe, they will get to be Anglican peaceniks?

Also pushing Bruno must be that odd, distinctive, messy Anglican mix of hierarchical church, multiply dispersed church life authorities, and vivid local church life taking initiatives. Something like this mix gave rise to New Hampshire electing VGR in the first place, without asking GC permission ahead of time, first. Rowan probably still wishes NH had asked him first, so that he could have said, No, Not Yet, duh. Yes doing it all via strict top down processes would seem to be neater, but not really. Any change in these hot button domains, no matter how it is done, will be seriously and intently trash talked by the active Anglican rightist believers. Then used as fair grounds for taking over whatever the rightist believers feel God is telling them they must grab, lock and stock and barrel.

Besides, something special arises when we can see God working in messy human lives without necessarily transforming people into squeaky clean robots who never spring a leak, ever. We hardly ever put cow dung in our Advent Nativity Scenes, but maybe we should have a patty or two about, to remind ourselves of what we value in our typical Anglican messiness?

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 7:18pm GMT

Göran, the "traditional" teaching in the RCC on the sacrament of marriage has long been that "the couple are the ministers of the sacrament." The nuptial blessing was not required for validity (or was it licitness -- I alwsys get those mixed up!) until the Council of Trent, though the practice of blessing at least the woman dates from the late middle ages.

The statement "You are man and wife" does not "make" the marriage, it declares that it has been made. This is equivalent to the longer statement in the American BCP, "Now that N and N have given themselves to each other by solemn vows, with the joining of hands and giving and receiving [a ring], I pronounce that they are husband and wife..." The language is declarative and an attestation -- much like signing the register.

[Most] Anglicans have been reluctant to number marriage as a "sacrament" full stop; but even so, the liturgy makes it clear that it is the couple who marry each other. The church imparts its blessing on something that already exists -- which is why both the C of E and TEC have rites for the blessing of a civil marriage. You do not bless what does not yet exist, so the blessing always follows the vows.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 8:45pm GMT

"I am not a great fan of TEC. I think it in some considerable disarray"

Then I regret that you, Martin, like the ABC, are believing more what you have been TOLD about TEC (those incessantly screaming "victims", like xDuncan, xSchofield, ?Ackerman, and xIker), than the life of my actual, beloved, Episcopal Church (as I've experienced it, all around the U.S., over the course of my 46 years: I'm a lifer).

Anytime you're in the neighborhood of Albion, Michigan, I invite you to join me at St. James parish (mind the construction, as we rebuild after last year's fire!). See for yourself, whether we're in "disarray", or simply living the Gospel in Word and Sacraments (and, as best as we sinners can, in Virtuous Living).

Neither La Bete Noir, NOR some "New Thing": just the Gospel, per the BCP. That's all---and (Praise Christ!) that's EVERYTHING. :-D

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 8:46pm GMT

Gören, I read the Catholic Encyclopedia article as boiling down to the idea that the ministers of the sacrament are the couple, not the priest, although this has been a source of controversy in the RCC. It seems to say that RC marriages not witnessed and blessed by a priest illicit and sacrilegious, but not invalid.

FWIW, the Swedish understanding you describe seems to put you in the same school of thought as the Eastern Orthodox Churches. They believe that the priest is the minister, too.

Posted by: BillyD on Sunday, 14 December 2008 at 12:17am GMT

""Shakespeare was writing romantic fantasies. Or did you think Romeo and Juliet really happened?"

Shakespeare was writing drama. It was not a science fiction story in which two time travelers from the 20th century fall in love and, to the utter astonishment of Shakespeare's audience, fall in love and marry. It was obviously something understood by everyone. It still is.

The literature of the past bears ample witness to love in its many varieties, including romantic love that leads to marriage."

Oh, it was understood by everyone...but it was understood to be something that rarely occurred in real life, rather (to use a Shakespearean phrase) "a consummation devoutly to be wished". The literature of the past--including Shakespeare--also bears ample witness to witches, ghosts, faeries, and the like.


Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Sunday, 14 December 2008 at 12:46am GMT

"As for sex within marriage - well as recently as 50 years ago women past child-bearing age were not allowed to marry in the CofE." - Terence -

Well, Terence, at least that's an improvement on the latest R.C. scandal - where an Italian priest recently would not allow the marriage of a man who was disabled, simply because he was incapable of siring children! Now that IS an inhibition not many of us would want our Church to go along with. It does imply, does it not, that marriage is most importantly about procreation, when not many RCs I know would want it to be solely limited to that particular objective?

I wonder what the Church does about the many couples nowadays who are unable to conceive in the normal way. Do they forbid them to remain in a marriage which they have already contracted? And how does all of this affect the opinon of conservatives in the Church who would deny the use of in-vitro fertilisation?

It seems to me that the whole field of human relationships could be made out to be too difficult to negotiate. In passing, it seems so un-Christian to me to deny a blessing to the partnership of two people of the same gender who love one another, are Christian believers, and want to solemnise their commitment to one another in the Church.

Of course, there is no chance of natural conception of children of such a union, but as this is not now required of any hetero-sexual partnership in our Church, why should that be a barrier to homosexual couples?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 14 December 2008 at 12:52am GMT

Rick Allen wrote: “The literature of the past bears ample witness to love in its many varieties, including romantic love that leads to marriage.”

Not so fast… If you look at old opera texts you will see that Love was well known, but despised.

“Vittoria, vittoria” someone shouts, “Vittoria, vittoria! mio core…” “Non lagrimar più. Non lagrimar più! È scioltà d’Amore la vil servitú!”

Victory! Victory, my heart, don’t weep any more, the vile servitude to Love is past!

A song by Antonio Scarlatti:

Spesso vibra per suo gioco,
il bendato pargoletto,
strali d’oro in humil petto,
stral’ di ferro in nobil’ core!

He uses to through darts for fun,
the bundled boy,
darts of gold to humble breasts,
darts of iron to noble hearts…

The evaluation is quite different from our Modern. “The past is a different landscape” a well known Swedish historian says…

Pre-Modernity is different, strange even. We must know and understand that (not least when we read a Book which is 1.700 plus years…

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 14 December 2008 at 7:01am GMT

Sorry Tobias, but in Sweden this is not so. The consensus (which is said twice in the ritual ;=) is just a pre-condition, that is pre the “moment”, like the witnesses (necessary to the Church, but inconsequential to the law) or the presence (of performer and pair) in one place (unity, like in French classical drama!). The law even s a y s that the witnesses are not necessary to validity!

It is the performer who “makes” it all, pronouncing his/her State/administrative law declaration. He/she is Agent for the State, who is the real Subject, the pair being mere Objects…

In fact, the Missionary Union, one of the Calvinist Free Churches has your kind of declaration “Now…” We don’t. We have the “forma tridentina” originally (1608 Court Manual) formulated exactly like the 1614 Missale Romanum “Ego coniugo vos!”, but several times changed, because it was so scandalous to the Church!

Marriage in Sweden is, by the 1811 Manual (it was the 1811 Manual which abolished the Sacrament, the Eucharist, (which by the 1298 Upland law had made the Wife a Spouse – and the un-free free!), “till Samhällets bestånd”; for the preservation of Society – the result of the upheavals of the continental Revolutionary wars, no doubt.

The century-long fight, constitutional, ecclesiological and theological, between the radical Renaissance Absolutism cum Calvinism of the Kings and their Servants, and the basically 1st Millennium Church of Sweden, ended with a hostile take over in 1686/1687 – and the radical Court didn’t even use the Manual the State had forced on the Church in 1693!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 14 December 2008 at 7:33am GMT

Now, if King Frederik VII of Denmark was not the last high profile bigamist/polygamist in Europe, there remains the perhaps most well known case of Philipp the “Magnanimous” *1504 †1567, Landgrave of Hesse 1509/1518 – 1566 who, 469 years ago almost to the day, on the 10th of December 1539 obtained the accord of Dr Martin Luther – and perhaps more surprising – also the consent of his Spouse since 1524 Christina of Saxony *1505 †1549 for his second, bigamous, marriage to Margarethe von der Saale *1522 †1566 at Rotenburg an der Fulda in 1540.

Dionysius Melander performed the act, Reformers Martin Bucer and Philipp Melanchthon were among the witnesses. The unfortunate Wife does not seem to have been tolerated at Court, however, not even after the death of Christina of Saxony in 1549.

Between 1541 and 1557 Philipp had 9 children (called Counts of Dietz) by his Wife, while happily continuing to produce children by his Spouse.

One of these, Christina of Hesse *1543 was almost married to Eric XIV of Sweden in 1563 but married Duke Adolph of Holstein instead. Their daughter Christina became the second Spouse of Eric’s youngest brother Charles IX in 1593.

Another daughter, Elisabeth of Hesse *1539 married Louis VI, Elector Palatine. They were the parents of Charles IX’s first Spouse Maria †1589.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 14 December 2008 at 7:36am GMT

Tobias Haller wrote: "The nuptial blessing was not required..."

Well, "the nuptial blessing was not required" for legal reasons. In Roman state, a magistrat performed the marriage, presiding at the ceremony. This was only challenged from Rome after 1890 because of the Kulturkampf in Bismarck's Germany and the trouble between Calvinists and Romans in Hungary, leading to new signals in 1908 and a novel version of the Codex iuris canonici in 1918 (at the same time as the Swedish changes...)

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 14 December 2008 at 7:44am GMT

Billy D wrote: "FWIW, the Swedish understanding you describe seems to put you in the same school of thought as the Eastern Orthodox Churches. They believe that the priest is the minister, too."

Yes so it is, and I think is more than the East ever was. And it strikes me as being exceedingly Neo Platonist, the State Ideology in Byzantium. Byzantium’s view of the Priest was essentialist, in fact. No Priest – no Marriage (or, according to Boswell, no Adelfopoiesis). Consequently from 740 AD, a church ceremony was enough to establish the Consensus – and thus the Marriage, from 893 AD it was compulsory…

But, do remember that Byzantium was the Academic ideal in Western Europe also, both – but differently – for Empire and Rome.

So, what Western Renaissance really is, is not only a Neo Platonist Renaissance (the “Middle” Ages being “middle” because taking up the millennium between the 2 Neo Platonisms) but also a Byzantine Renaissance – Absolutism, the Principle of Majestas, the single Subject above all Hierarchy in (what was traditionally a lateral, multi-subject) Society.

Swedish Absolutist statesman Eric Lindschöld declared in a letter to Charles XI, August 1686, that the King’s Majesty was Summus Episcopus; the only Bishop there was, that “the right and highest” Jura Episcopalia belonged to him alone, and that the name-bishops and Governors were his delegated ministers, his servants (this included the Governor’s police ;=).

Upon which the Instruction for the Governor’s Office of January 28th 1687 withdraw the Bishop’s delegation, their “exercitium juris episcopalium”; placing it, their Episcopé, on the Governors.

This was a 5th (or was it a 13th ;=) and unique Western Ecclesiology, cf the contrasting Landeskirchen of Germany.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 14 December 2008 at 9:51am GMT

Göran, I must accept your reading on the state of things in Sweden, but this is not the western tradition. As you note, the Swedes seem to be following an Eastern modality.

But the lack of a nuptial blessing in the western church tradition has nothing to do with legal reasons. It simply didn't occur to the early western church that marriage needed blessing -- it was a blessing in itself. The earliest form of blessing in the west is an Italian blessing of the wife, primarily for safe childbearing. Then there developed the custom of blessing the bridal bed. Eventually the blessing moved to the porch of the church, and then finally to the church itself. But the _requirement_ of a blessing, and the participation of the priest, only comes at Trent. Even then, the nuptial blessing was not understood as "making" the marriage.

There was a long debate in the western tradition as to whether consent or coitus "made" the marriage. Consent eventually won out, perhaps for obvious reasons.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Sunday, 14 December 2008 at 10:46pm GMT

No, no, JCF.

Look at what I say.

I am deeply shocked by the lies and deceit spewing from those you mention above and say so, how could you think they had misled me?

When I say TEC I do not mean your lovely parish or the thousands of faithful communities throughout the world.

I have specific matters in mind, and they relate to the way TEC has represented itself over the past few decades at Communion level and the confused and rather poor way the leadership has attempted to protect itself since 2003.

I am also amazed at the extraordinary mess they have made of recent depositions – though I have to admit there are extenuating circumstances

Frankly though I believe there are few reasonable excuses for the poor show we have seen.

I am frequently in your area – we recently spent a pleasant time driving from Detroit to Sandusky and stayed a while – I shall make a point of heading due west when the fancy takes us next year!


Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 14 December 2008 at 11:50pm GMT

Tobias wrote: "... I must accept your reading on the state of things in Sweden, but this is not the western tradition. As you note, the Swedes seem to be following an Eastern modality."

Quite, and even more so: Absolutism.

I have even written a book about Marriage and the Swedish Rite (Äktenskap och Vigsel) with a jurist friend of mine.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 15 December 2008 at 11:47am GMT

"they relate to the way TEC has represented itself over the past few decades at Communion level and the confused and rather poor way the leadership has attempted to protect itself since 2003."

Martin, this is much like my reasons for leaving the ACC years ago. It just seems that the "liberals" don't argue theology well, as though they are somehow afraid of it or something. Not that they never argue theology, it IS out there. But we all know the reasons, theological and otherwise, the GAFCONites are so fussed up. Why are we not all equally aware of why the left is going where it is going? This gives the impression of lack of belief. It was the same thing with the OOW debates here in Canada. It just appears that in liberal circles, God is the senile old uncle who someone brings a cup of tea every now and then so he won't wander off while we get on with the important business of telling each other how much God loves us and "I'm OK, you're OK". +Akinola thunders his Gospel imperative with confidence. Where is the liberal who can do the same? If God is truly calling Western Church to the recognition of the humanity and gooodness of gay people, why are liberals not banging the drum loudly? Or is it just that liberals are more interested in DOING Christianity rather than just preaching it? Trouble is, if you just DO what you discern God is calling you to do without taking the time to convince the timid and fearful, well, you end up in a situation like we're in right now.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 15 December 2008 at 2:43pm GMT

"The reasons why I am so opposed to what is happening amongst fellow conservatives in America (apart from their problems with my family) are:
1. Their arbitrary and self serving selection of ethical issues as “othodox”.
2. Their rejection of existing authority.
3. The disinformation, spin and downright lies that have come from their leadership. This most of all."

I have thought for a while that there needs to be yet another group in the Anglican Church, that stands firmly in the middle and tells both right and left to, for the love and honour of God, sit down and shut up. In fact, I think a good name for it would be "For the Love and Honour of God!" Can I have your permission to embroider this quote on the flag of the new group? Of course, we'd need something aimed a liberals as well, they not being entirely blameless, but this the most concise set of reasons for why the Right is wrong.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 15 December 2008 at 3:18pm GMT

Ford:

"...doing Christianity rather than just preaching it..."

You see, I've always thought the best way to preach Christianity IS to do it. "They will know we are Christians by our love..." "By their fruits you will know them..."

As for your second posting:

We had a guest preacher at our parish last month who said the following: "I firmly believe that, when Christ comes again, the first thing he will say to us all is, 'Ahh, shaddup!' " (And the preacher pronounced in exactly that New Yawkese manner!)

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 15 December 2008 at 5:03pm GMT

Yes, Pat. In fact someone eminent in the Church has been quoted as saying: "Preach the Gospel constantly, and use words if necessary".

Don't you find that the most effusive of speakers about 'righteousness', don't seem to have any time to get about the business of practising what they preach; what it really means: to 'Feed the hungry, help the poor, nurse the sick, and release the captives, care for the outcast?

This is where the provision of planned Silences within the context of the Liturgy can be so heart-warming and faith-building. "Be still, and know that I am God". Therein lies many a blessing. I have often found that, after receiving the Blessed Sacrament, a period of silence helps me to digest what and whom I have received.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 2:25am GMT

"You see, I've always thought the best way to preach Christianity IS to do it."

So do I, actually, I wasn't being clear. It is interesting though that most Evangelicals would draw a distinct line between evangelism and "doing" Christianity. I think John Stott does, for one. I think that's the source of their accusation that liberals don't preach the Gospel. Now is that a kind of simplicity of understanding, or is it something more nasty, like attraction to the idea of threatening others with Supreme Punishment if they don't obey?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 12:11pm GMT

Ford:

Are you familiar with the film version of "Pollyanna"? Recall the two very different church services, before and after Pollyanna's conversation with the pastor?

In the first, the pastor is preaching Christianity; in the second, he is doing Christianity. Unfortunately, it seems most evangelicals think the first was more effective than the second.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 2:45pm GMT

"Are you familiar with the film version of "Pollyanna"?"

No, actually, but the point is made despite my cultural ignorance. I think that, for some Evangelicals, DOING Christianity is about geting people "saved". Look at +Akinola's comments a few years ago in relation to his understanding of the Anti-liberal position as defending the Gospel. "Human suffering doesn't matter." For him, it's all about making sure people, or better the right people, get into Heaven. I sincerely doubt he's at all interested in a "likely not even human, worse even than the animals", creature like me getting into Heaven. But, relieving human suffering, well, any suffering on Earth is finite, so better to make sure their suffering is relieved for all eternity than worry too much about what they're going through in the here and now. And he's supposed to be "orthodox"!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 4:36pm GMT

"But, relieving human suffering, well, any suffering on Earth is finite, so better to make sure their suffering is relieved for all eternity than worry too much about what they're going through in the here and now."

Yes, apparently they skipped right over the part about "whatever you did for the least of these..."

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 10:13pm GMT

"Yes, apparently they skipped right over the part about "whatever you did for the least of these...""

Oh, Good Heavens, no. +Akinola claims that "WE must love them (gay people) more than that(more than letting them sin for the rest of their lives.) Apparently, in his world, that kind of Gospel love, that Christian agape, is manifested in a five year jail term. Inasmuch.....

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 11:49am GMT

I think we are getting too far off track here. Let's stick to Los Angeles...

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 2:12pm GMT

Apropos of Bishop Bruno's facilitating a special rite for the Blessing of as same sex-relationship, we should perhaps note the following

In this week's edition of the 'New Zealand Catholic', published in Auckland by the local Roman Catholic Bishop, we learn that, in one article, the NZ Roman Catholic Church is calling on the N.Z. Government to sign the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Sounds good?

In other articles, however, the rights of LGBT people are adamantly opposed! One such, headlined *Vatican City", outlines how the Vatican has made clear its opposition to the United Nations' endorsing a universal declaration to decriminalise homosexuality.

Here we see a Religious State (Vatican City) virtually, in essence, approving Nigeria's right to criminalise homosexuals - and not only homosexuals, but also anyone who might try to shelter them. Does this sound like a Gospel initiative that any Church, or State for that matter, ought to pursue, in order to persuade secular (and other religious) people to abide by their own rigid form of apartheid? I wonder if Akinola and the re-Asserters have the ear of Pope Benedict on this matter? Does the Pope want to advocate the same criminalisation of homosexuals to be carried out in his own host country, I wonder? And what would the Italian Government have to say about that?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 18 December 2008 at 2:19am GMT

"Does this sound like a Gospel initiative that any Church, or State for that matter, ought to pursue,"

Well, we have had comments made here that jailing someone for 5 years is "a good compromise", so yes, I would say that for some this is a very good Gospel initiative. Now, I have yet to have a conservative explain how this can be, how putting someone in jail where they could well be killed is "a good compromise" or if they would be willing to undergo the same treatment in order for there to be peace with others. I rather suspect that when it is good, holy straight people, real people, not just those of dubious humanity like us faggots, it would suddenly be less good a compromise, and likely not a compromise at all, but they so much more deserve freedom and respect than we do! It is clear that, while many of these people would react very badly at the suggestion, they understand us, perhaps subconsciously, to be a different class of human being, not fully deserving of the rights and responsibilities of "normal" heterosexuals. It's really quite obvious, in what they say, in how they act, in the kinds of arguments they make. They cannot understand this, of course, since they are so desperate to portray themselves as persecuted that when you point out to them what their words, arguments, and actions reveal about them, they immediately accuse you of persecuting and silencing them.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 18 December 2008 at 2:55pm GMT
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