Comments: Virginia: some further reports

As a resident of British Columbia, I nearly died laughing at Wayne Besens article.

Posted by Charles at Thursday, 4 January 2007 at 10:42pm GMT

Benton's editorial accuses the Falls Church of being a "homophobic church" that "touts an angry, judgmental Old Testament deity." This is flatly untrue. This is not a bad interpretation of the evidence; it is simply a falsehood for which there is NO supporting evidence. The Falls Church teaches that homosexual acts are sinful but that God is eager to forgive. I defy anyone to substantiate any hateful statement ever made towards homosexuals by any teacher at the Falls Church. Any such hateful statement made at the Falls Church would be met with shock and horror; no one would stand for it.

Posted by DGus at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 12:20am GMT

"The Falls Church, whose historic sanctuary dates from 1769, draws almost 2,500 worshipers to its services on an average weekend."

"At least two-thirds of the worshipers are Methodists, Presbyterians or Baptists, and there is no pressure on them to be confirmed as Episcopalians, said the Rev. Rick Wright, associate rector."

So, I have some questions.

How do the 2/3 who are not Episcopalians leave the Episcopal Church that they have never joined by confirmation?

So - how can the 2/3 claim to be better ANGLICANS then the rest of us?


Canonically, they do have the right to vote in the recent election: the canons only require confirmation for being a member of the vestry. To be a member who votes, one must be baptized, take Communion 3 times a year, and 'be known to the treasurer,' which I suppose could be construed as 'known to be a deadbeat,' but I don't think these churches would put up with THAT.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 1:18am GMT

Geez, after reading the article on the churches in Virginia, I am almost ecstatic they are gone from TEC. They don't fit in with any sort of intelligent approach to Christianity.
Good luck and good riddance.

Posted by Allen at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 1:58am GMT

Interesting bit in the Post stating that 2/3rds of the membership refuse to either be confirmed or received. Are they Anglicans?

Posted by ruidh at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 2:13am GMT

Cooperman and Salmons' article led to an "ah ha". If all the liberals had spoken in tongues rather than plain english (or whatever native tongue), they would have been seen as blessed in Spirit and affirmed.

1 Corinthians 14 is worth a read. Two particular good passages 14:4 "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church." and 14:22 "Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers."

I also take issue with Wells' inference that ending slavery is liberal and not biblical. It is was at the heart at the point of Jesus' sacrifice - Jesus gave the sacrifice to end all humanity's slavery to sin and to put all creation back into proper relationship with God.

We sin when we put back into slavery that which God would have set free. This is OT, not an new fangled liberal innovation e.g. Jeremiah 34. Of particular note 34:13 "...the God of Israel, says: I made a covenant with your forefathers when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." and Jer 34:15-17 "Recently you repented and did what is right in my sight: Each of you proclaimed freedom to his countrymen. You even made a covenant before me in the house that bears my Name. But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again. “Therefore, this is what the LORD says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom for your fellow countrymen..."

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 6:22am GMT


Thanks for adding Matt's blog. I particularly liked this point "We want our church and our institutions to be immaculate and beyond reproach."

Physician heal thyself. And people who live in glass houses should probably avoid throwing stones. And if you can't stop making mistakes or be perfect all the time, then maybe you should start cutting some slack for others that make mistakes and pragmatically accept their imperfections.

As you judge so you will be judged. Those that give mercy will be given mercy.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 9:10am GMT

Very strange and incomprehensible doings in Virginia. How did 2/3rds of the congregation who are not, and have no desire to be, Episcopalian get to decide for an Episcopal parish? In my small ever so liberal parish in New York, everyone is invited to share the blessings of life in our parish; all are welcome to our ministries and our parties as either workers or beneficiaries. All baptized Christians whether Mormon, Methodist, or Maronite are welcome at our Table, while others are encouraged to come to the Table for a blessing. However, in order to be a voting member of the parish, one must be baptized, and confirmed or received into the Episcopal Church by a bishop, and pay a tithe to the parish. The Mormon, Methodist, and Maronite are welcome to do everything in our parish, but to be considered members of the parish and to vote, they must become Episcopalians.
I suspect that most of the Episcopalians in those Virginia parishes either left or were driven out. Should we even consider them part of this church or part of the Anglican Communion at all?

Posted by counterlight at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 1:33pm GMT

Here's what the canons actually say about who is a member of the Episcopal Church, and who is entitled to vote:

"All persons who have received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism with water in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, whether in this Church or in another Christian Church, and whose Baptisms have been duly recorded in this Church, are members thereof." (Canon 17, sec. 1(a), TEC.)

"All members of this Church who have received Holy Communion in this Church at least three times during the preceding year are to be considered communicants of this Church." (Canon 17, sec. 2(a), TEC.)

"All communicants of this Church who for the previous year have been faithful in corporate worship, unless for good cause prevented, and have been faithful in working, praying, and giving for the spread of the Kingdom of God, are to be considered communicants in good standing." (Canon 17, sec. 3, TEC.)

"All adult communicants in good standing, registered in the particular Church in which they offer to vote, shall be entitled to vote ...." (Canon 11, Sec. 5, Diocese of Virginia.)

Confirmation is not required. Remember those signs that say "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You"?--they even apply to former Baptists and Methodists.

Posted by DGus at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 2:30pm GMT

'..a "homophobic church" that "touts an angry, judgmental Old Testament deity."

I am not quite sure how to put this.
I want to beseech Christians carefully to consider, the use of this kind of language, in relation to its possible meaning and effects on members of the Jewish Faith.

I do wish Christians would replace 'OT' with either 'Hebrew Bible / Scriptures', or 'Tanakh' in their spech and writing. It would be a modest and kind step, given that we have appropriated (at best) these books, re-arranged their order to fit Christian polemics. Do you even know to what I am referring ? Have you never opened a copy of the Hebrew Bible as used in English translation in synagogues and homes ?

But even more so, to refer to the Jewish 'deity' as 'angry and judgmental' is a serious moral failure. Remember it's their book, not ours.

This is a very serious matter, if you care about truth, ethical behaviour and neighbourly relations between faith communities. It is all the more imperative wehn one remembers the tragic history of Church failure in relation to Jewish coomunities and individuals (medival and modern pogroms; the Holocaust) ....

Posted by laurence at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 3:20pm GMT

I, of course, cannot document any homophobic statement made by a leader of Falls Church. As a result, I do not form opinions as to whether or not such a thing has happened. What I can see is that Falls Church has no problem putting itself under the leadership of a man who favours jailing for 5 years, not only gay people, but anyone who is supportive of gay people. He also admitted that the first time he knowingly touched a gay man, he "jumped back". How would we feel if he had responded the same way to a leper? He would probably equate the physical illness of leprosy to what he would consider the moral sickness of homosexuality. That the congregation and leaders of Falls Church do not seem to be troubled by what appears as a serious failing of Christian love in the man they would choose as their leader says a lot about their presuppositions about gay people and how to minister to us. It certainly shows an odd understanding of how Christian love is expressed. We ought not to draw back even from those we perceive as grievous sinners, but reach out to them in love. And how about the rather alarming statistics about the number of non-Anglicans who are having a say in the direction the Church will take? That would certainly deflate the already suspect claim to historical continuity that is being used to justify taking the building back from the God it was originally given to.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 3:39pm GMT

One might add this link to The Nation article: Holy Homphobia ...

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 3:50pm GMT

It just occurred to me how really odd it is, that churches like Truro and Falls Church VA - so experientially steeped for several decades in charismatic renewal living - (speaking in tongues is just the tip of the iceberg of deep gifts of the Holy Spirit, after all, even if one limits oneself to canonical scriptural sources) - should be throwing stones at other believers for exercising gifts of the Spirit, not to mention for demonstrating fruits of the Spirit in their daily lives.

Thanks to legacy prejudices, enshrined in attitude and laws and regulations and customs; and thanks to HIV/AIDS, the LGBTQ communities have had plenty of opportunity to get more overtly involved with both the gifts of the Holy Spirit and with living out of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Just the courage (gift) and care (fruit)demonstrated so publicly in USA during the earliest years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic should be overwhelming evidence that God is at powerful work, outside the legacy condemnations of the religious.

Using the six or seven clobber passages to absolutely and categorically define gay relationships ahead of time as nothing but sin - well, fact is this judgment flies in the face of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. Those who otherwise make such generous room in their daily lives for the ghostly person of God might be expected to listen (and observe) more accurately, or not.

Then to join in condemning other believers because they hear God telling them to change for the better in their attitudes, definitions, and daily life with queer neighhbors - well it boggles.

Imagine how easily Peter could simply have talked back to God, by quoting the legacy scriptures that condemned the Gentiles. We of course can still quote the scriptures that made people of color inferior and subject to white authority by God-given revelation. Ditto, for women. Care for a go? Those scriptures haven't changed one bit.

Nah, I guess it just will not wash after all. This is pure dislike of queer folks, regardless of gifts or fruits of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Pure legacy allegiance to exclusively straight legacy privileges. The Holy Spirit obviously falls, only on Falls Church and Truro and others conformed to their spitting conservative image.

Read Gray Temple for another charismatic witness.

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 4:12pm GMT

I live such a sheltered life!

I never knew there even WERE Episcopal Churches that behave the way T&FC apparently have.

What's to leave, when they are already so far away from Anglicanism? And why in the world would T&FC even bother with troublesome things like ordained Anglican clergy? Does it really all have to do with pension funds and the like? Or "social standing" of being "Episcopalians"?

Does this also tell me something more about the Church in Nigeria as well? I wonder if 2/3 of their touted millions are Anglicans at all? Maybe they, too, pad their lists with a myriad of various brands of General Protestants?

And why, again, do they even wish to maintain the Anglican pretense? I just don't see what they gain by that when they could be free as the wind if they just called themselves "non-denominational".

If I cross a turkey with a penguin and the result is black-and-white, has no useable wings, a long beak, and swims a lot, why in the world would I demand that people call it a turkey?

Posted by John-Julian, OJN at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 4:32pm GMT

DGus has quoted the canons of TEC correctly. I would add only this: how one becomes "registered in the particular parish in which they intend to vote". It is by being baptized in that parish, or by being confirmed as an Episcopalian Christian in that parish, or by being received into the communion of the Episcopal Church in that parish (or in a service of confirmation in the deanery or in a diocesan service, as a person claimed by a particular parish within that deanery or diocese), or by transferring their membership from their previous Episcopal Church to the parish in which they now intend to vote. You don't get to be eligible, so far as I can tell, in more than one Episcopal Church parish.

By the way, I have been present on at least one occasion when a RC was received into an Episcopal Church parish. The bishop receiving him, after taking the man's hand, and saying the appropriate words, then extended the hand with his episcopal ring on it, with the expectation the former RC person kiss that ring. It was a gesture not lost on the former RC.

I'm not sure one can "transfer" membership from, say, a Methodist congregation to a congregation in TEC without being confirmed in TEC or received into it by the bishop.

I share this with no judgment on anyone - my particular parish welcomes you. At the same time, when it comes to voting, we are constrained by rules, just like a U.S. presidential election.

Lois Keen

Posted by Lois Keen at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 6:27pm GMT

My grandmother (obm) was a charismatic Episcopalian, who spoke in tongues (at charismatic prayer services---never that I saw, during Eucharist).

...she also had an *openly lesbian priest* give the blessing at her 80th birthday party (and this, 25+ years ago!).

There is NO reason to equate "the Gifts of the Holy Spirit", with institutionalized, Bible-cited homophobia. Truro and TFC have just *chosen* to equate them.

[Share the gobsmackedness at the 2/3 ***non-Episcopalians***, voting to TAKE Episcopal parishes with them...]

Posted by JCF at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 6:33pm GMT


I echo your concerns about the idea of a previously angry God, but the Christian God isn't. Your posting raises two questions.

One is on whether to use the word OT or Hebrew scriptures or whatever. I actually choose to use the word OT because the OT that which is bound with the NT and put out as the bible. It is not the same as the original Hebrew texts. There was editing, the same as the early church edited out Thomas, Philip, Mary scrolls to leave us with the four "pure" gospels. I will not falsely portray the OT as being more Hebrew than it really is, it is a Christianised sanitised edited version of Hebrew texts.

The other question is ascribing an angry judgemental God to one faith and not another. I think that one thing that should have become clear to all humanity in the last few years is that it is not the texts that is the problem but the human condition. Mohammad did us all a favour by writing a new text. His descendants still managed to gallop off into the same errors. As did the Christians, despite Jesus and the NT.

Thus there is a human tendency towards excessive zealotry, repression, elitism, hypocrisy and complacency. Those human tendencies need to be acknowledged and boundary managed. Understanding that, we will find the same lessons and practical examples across many different holy texts of very many different faiths.

This is what happens when the curse of Babel is lifted, one starts to recognise the underlying recurring themes and tensions.

Illiterate people can be holy and gentle, people who work full time advocating the bible can be cruel and socipathic. Jacob God loves, but Esau is hated.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 8:35pm GMT

One CAN "transfer" his membership to TEC without being confirmed or received by an Episcopal bishop. Canon 17, sec. 1(a), provides that members of TEC are persons baptized "whether in this Church OR IN ANOTHER CHRISTIAN CHURCH, and whose Baptisms have been duly recorded in this Church ...." Sec. 1(c) states that "It is EXPECTED that all adult members of this Church ... will have been confirmed or received," but a not-yet-confirmed adult communicant is as much a MEMBER as a not-yet-confirmed child communicant.

Maybe the distinction between confirmed and unconfirmed members might affect their voting rights in some dioceses: TEC Canon 14, sec. 1 provides that "the qualifications of voters, shall be such as the State or DIOCESAN law may permit or require".

However, Virginia Canon 11, sec. 5, provides: "ALL adult communicants in good standing, registered in the particular Church in which they offer to vote, shall be entitled to vote...." (Contrast this with sec. 4, which provides that only "CONFIRMED adult communicants in good standing ... shall be eligible for election as Vestry members.")

I do not know whether, in allowing voting by unconfirmed members, Virginia is unusual or is common in TEC. I also do not know whether Virginia's open approach is an accident, or is the result of democratic tendencies, or is the result of Anglicanism's schizophrenia about confirmation, or is the result of Virginia's historic ambivalence about bishops. But there it is.

However, this "2/3 non-Episcopalians" issue is, in any event, a complete red herring, since the vote was so overwhelming. Only 120 of 1,348 voters at the Falls Church voted against disassociating. Assume, if you like, that 2/3 of these voters were "non-Episcopalians" (whatever that means) who voted in favor of disassociating, and that their votes shouldn't count. The remaining vote would have been 120 Nays and 329 Ayes--i.e., still a 73% super-majority in favor of disassociating. Surely some of the old-timer cradle Episcopalians at the Falls Church did oppose disassociation, but many more favored it.

Posted by DGus at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 8:41pm GMT

"It just occurred to me how really odd it is, that churches like Truro and Falls Church VA - so experientially steeped for several decades in charismatic renewal living - (speaking in tongues is just the tip of the iceberg of deep gifts of the Holy Spirit, after all, even if one limits oneself to canonical scriptural sources) - should be throwing stones at other believers for exercising gifts of the Spirit, not to mention for demonstrating fruits of the Spirit in their daily lives."

It's not strange at all. Speaking in tongues does not threaten the established orthodoxy the way that speaking in English does. The leadership of these parishes have made it clear that they do not believe that God would ever do a new thing. Anything which is an innovation is to be distrusted.

Posted by ruidh at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 8:46pm GMT

And on the comments about miracles. Early on it became clear there was a section of the church that had pegged out their paradigms and nothing on heaven and earth was going to move them from their position. They set the ground rules for this round.

No miracles, hands on healing, speaking in tongues or any "super human" solutions. Any such solutions would be seen as the "evil one" trying to throw a glamour, unverifiable and lead to allegations of insanity.

The only thing they said they would listen to is scriptural authority. Anyone advocating a position had to advocate it quoting passages from the bible. Yet we have seen that even that is not enough because they have these special filters that enable some passages to be recognised from the bible and the others as errors that can be ignored.

These souls' hearts and minds are hardened more than the Pharoah's as are the walls that shore up their paradigms of hate. Let them live in their ivory libraries.

In the meantime, the rest of us can get on with healing this planet and its occupants.

I take comfort in the bible. In times of deadlock, God brings the solutions. Zechariah 4 and Daniel 8 are a good read. I particularly like these two passages:

Daniel 8:25 "He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.' and Zechariah 4:6 "‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty".

Micah 7:15-20 rounds this study out nicely. "“As in the days when you came out of Egypt, I will show them my wonders.” Nations will see and be ashamed... They will lick dust like a snake... they will turn in fear to the LORD our God... Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant…?You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be true to Jacob, and show mercy to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our fathers in days long ago."

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 8:54pm GMT

I want to beseech Christians carefully to consider, the use of this kind of language, in relation to its possible meaning and effects on members of the Jewish Faith.

I do wish Christians would replace 'OT' with either 'Hebrew Bible / Scriptures', or 'Tanakh' in their speech and writing."

I would heartily agree. The image of the God of Hebrew Scripture as angry and vengeful is at odds with the One who gave his fallen humans a second chance after the Flood, who restored his chosen after bondage in Egypt, who restored them after the Babylonian Exile, who used prophets to call them to just and loving living ...Have we not heard the reading from Isaiah lately? That God is far more complex than our categories allow for is something not to forget.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 5 January 2007 at 9:03pm GMT

Well the departure of the Virginia churches was obviously VERY important politically... or there wouldn't be so many articles and commentators sniping still!

But I do get a bit bored of the old "homophobia" line. There are lots of other conflicts between evangelical Christianity and the liberal take on Human Rights... Can't we be lambasted for believing that Christ is the *only* way to God and rejecting other religions, or for campaigning against abortion because it is murdering the unborn child, or for objecting to the second-class status of Christians in some Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim and communist countries, or for saying that God will condemn people eternally if they reject Him in this life ? Pleeeze ?

Posted by Dave at Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 12:56am GMT

Dgus - the issue isn't whether the outcome of the vote would have been different. - Although it certainly would have read differently with nearly a quater of the church voting against it despite the years of indoctrination against TEC. - But that the nature of the congregation as a a whole appears to bear no particular allegiance to or affinity with the TEC in the first place.

Posted by C.B. at Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 2:01am GMT


The total witness of scripture is more varied, more mixed, more contextual - than any of the new conservative set pieces for Absolutized (Idolized?) Biblical Authority (capital letters advised) will permit us to recall.


Posted by drdanfee at Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 2:02am GMT


An Episcopal bishop expecting his ring to be kissed (I can't imagine one of our women bishops doing that)? I haven't seen that in all my years, including in such an Anglo-catholic environment at the Diocese of Chicago.

When I have seen a Roman Catholic (or other Christian whose episcopate we recognize as historic) the bishop has simply received the person with a handshake. Occasionally I've seen a bishop receive (as opposed to confirm - different prayer) and still lay on hands; but in most cases, since we trust the episcopate the person comes from, there is not need to lay on hands again.

And, "registered with the parish?" I fear in most cases that's covered by getting on the mailing list, attending communion regularly, and perhaps making a pledge. I appreciate and affirm the value of being inclusive of anyone baptized in the name of the Trinity; but perhaps we've lost the emphasis on encouraging an adult commitment.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 5:09am GMT

"However, this "2/3 non-Episcopalians" issue is, in any event, a complete red herring, since the vote was so overwhelming."

Nice try, DGus, if not for the many reports that former parishioners who wouldn't toe the party line at Truro/TFC "felt obliged" *cough* shoved out *cough* to leave these assemblies, for more faithfully *Episcopalian* ones.

Once the deck is stacked, that proverbial Royal Flush just ain't all that, is it? :-/

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 5:50am GMT

You said "The image of the God of Hebrew Scripture as angry and vengeful is at odds with the One who gave his fallen humans a second chance after the Flood, who restored his chosen after bondage in Egypt, who restored them after the Babylonian Exile, who used prophets to call them to just and loving living ..."

In my opinion your statement rest upon the concept of "the chosen". The God of Hebrew Scripture is great if you are Hebrew - but not if you happen to be different. I wonder if the mothers of the firstborn of Egypt were as happy about their children's deaths as the Hebrews were. And when we tell the story of the exile and the promised land we always seem to forget the original occupiers of those lands of Caana whose deaths and disposession are so graphically described in the historical books.

I think there is a good reason for calling these texts the "Old Testament" and not the Hebrew Scriptures. It is to remind us that these documents have been superceded by a New Covenant.

In the Gospels Jesus repeatedly criticises an ethics and a theology based on such Old Testament stories, and he stood up for those the Old Testament ethics repeatedly enslaved. We too as Christians should look on the Old Testament with a radically critical eye.

William Blake tells us how Jesus either broke or taught against every single one of the ten commandments, and Blake regarded much of the book of Joshua as blasphemous. I think Blake is the prophet we should be listening to.


Posted by simon dawson at Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 11:59am GMT

Simon D - there's plenty of vengeance against the unchosen in the NT (the Apocalypse, anyone?). And you do seem to have neglected significant strands in OT thought in (eg) Isaiah and the Wisdom literature.

As David Lane of Mirfield of blessed memory apparently used to say to those who looked down on the OT, "How can you understand the appendix if you don't read the book?"

Posted by mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) at Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 1:07pm GMT

Marshall Scott: re the kissing of the bishop's ring.

Funny you should mention Chicago - the bishop was a retired Bishop Suffragan of Chicago. He was acting as interim bishop in the diocese where the ring kissing took place. He was greatly loved, and when he died, the whole world attended the funeral in our little cathedral.

Regarding the parish register, what is supposed to be and what is are indeed two different things. People worship regularly, give of their time, talent and treasure, are on the mailing list, submit a promise of pledge in the fall thus falling on the pledge secretary's register and end up voting, whether they have committed to the Episcopal Church itself or not, it's true.

I'm in a New England parish now, the second one like it, in which the vestry will review this Monday the list of prospective elegible voters for the annual meeting. Whether or not a person is on the parish register by virtue of transfer, baptism, confirmation or reception is not one of the criteria. Being on the pledge secretary's register is. Being a communicant in good standing is. So the voting in Virginia of persons not confirmed as Episcopalians is not unusual.

However, the Virginia voting has at least made us sit up and take notice. In spite of the apparent fact that a huge number of non-Episcopalians have voted to remove an Episcopalian congregation from the Episcopal Church, I'm probably going to continue to err on the side of not insisting this coming Monday that only those in the parish register be allowed to vote at our annual meeting. Especially since the parish registers I've had in my charge during my years as a priest are imperfect themselves.

By the way, for fun let me share this: in a parish in Delaware, I was reading the old parish registers and in them for several priests, 100 years or so back, when someone left the church for another denomination, the words "Aposticized (or apostitized) to the Presbyterians" or the Baptists or whatever were entered by their name. Imagine that!
Lois Keen

Posted by Lois Keen at Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 1:39pm GMT

I'm just writing this while its before me, and before the thread drops from sight.....

I am all for listening to Blake. Big time.

But my PLEA (above) had less to do with Christian self-understanding, including Christian relation to Bible. It was a plea for us to consider the Jewish Faith and synagogues.

In the Christian communities we use without a second thought, language which implicitly devalues Judaism (I pointed to one or two -- "Old Testament" and the implication that 'the Christian God' is superior to 'the Jewish / OT'. Also i'll addd : the oft used phrase 'the Judeo-Christian tradition' is used by Christians, and is offensive to Jews.
Many Christians are ignorant of the Jewish Faith and ITS self-understanding. It would do us no harm to try harder, to do better on this. So visit a shul, attend a service on Shabbat eve or morning. Obtain a prayer book, read, get informed,(could start with Lionel Blue's 'To Heaven with Scribes & Pharisees!'). And then the wisdom of say, the Baal Shem Tov or Isaac Luria, etc...
Make inter-faith relationships.

I know Jewish and shuls are few and far between, but kindness, and truthfulness should not depend on numbers.

Don't Minorities matter ?

Posted by laurence at Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 1:47pm GMT

On the subject of ring-kissing -- hey, it is Epiphany !

In Southwark Diocese (south London, UK), bishop Mervyn Stockwood - " the last of the Prince Bishops" as he used to refer to himself with pride & a touch of irony -- he insisted people he'd just ordained kissed his ring; more or less on their knee. He would thrust his hand and sort of propel one downwards in one wonderful stroke --trying to remember how he did --twas 25 odd years ago! I don't think anyone minded. Anglos like me loved it --and the young evos wondered what had hit them ! Great stuff !

He was creative in other ways and brought in gifted people to the Diocesan team and parishes. So that mission, theology, industrial mission, pastoral care and counselling and what what became nationally known as 'South Bank theology', including people like bishop John Robinson(of Lady Chatterly's Lover; and Honest to God, fame). Also, he quietly appointed people who were gay, like himself, to leading positions.

happy epiphany !

Posted by laurence at Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 5:43pm GMT

In response to DGus's comment above about the "so overwhelming" nature of the vote - "still a 73% super-majority in favor of disassociating" - at The Falls Church, I offer this post from another list:

>I was surprised the other day when I looked at Church of the Word’s website, to see that only 73 members voted on their resolution to leave the Episcopal Church. I was surprised because I thought they were much larger.

>Well what do you know: I looked at the Journal of last Council to find that they reported 230 Communicants in Good Standing (CGS). So while it was a 95.8% vote to leave, only 31.7% of the congregation voted (and thus only 30% of the congregation voted to leave). I have a hard time seeing that they cleaned up their membership books quite so much since their last Parochial Report.

>I then looked at the numbers reported by Truro, TFC, and St. Stephen’s to find a similar pattern:

* Truro CGS=2259, voted=1095 (48.4%), yes=1010 (44.7%)
* TFC CGS=2280, voted=1348 (59.1%), yes=1228 (53.8%)
* St Stephen’s CGS=149, voted=132 (88.5%), yes=99 (66.4%)

>For those who know the voting numbers for the other churches (I cannot find them), here are the latest reports CGS:

* St Margaret’s CGS=300
* Apostles CGS=820
* Christ the Redeemer CGS=220
* Potomac Falls (2003)CGS=79
* St. Paul’s Haymarket CGS=241

>In summary, what has happened represents a large number of people, but does not reach even the low bar agreed to by the churches that took the vote. My hope is that this might find some traction with the Standing Committee/Executive Board, etc.

(from a Virginia discussion list - posted by CCunningham)

Posted by Robin D at Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 7:39pm GMT


I think one of the problems we have is that people ascribe to Jews what Jews say; or take the words of one of their rampant extremes and project that onto all Judaism.

Judaism is actually better at acknowledging righteousness in others than, say, Christianity does.

There are an awful lot of Christians out there saying that they hate Jews because Jews say this. What is really happening is that there are an awful lot of Christians out there who listen to each other and don't check their facts. They then act on an incorrect group think and no amount of evidence to the contrary seems to get through.

The imagery of battleship that seems stubbornly desirous of running into a cliff face comes to mind. I love the debate between the lighthouse keeper trying to tell more senior battleship leader to change direction. The battleship director keeps trying to pull rank and experience. Finally the lighthouse keeper comments that they might have little experience or status, but they are a lighthouse and that is a cliff the battleship is heading towards. The more senior officer can choose to ignore the advice, but don't complain if the ship gets beached.

There are so many parts of both the OT and NT that show that God is a God of mercy. Unilateral grace has come at many times and not on the merits of the souls who were annointed as witnesses e.g. Noah, the second set of stone tablets with the 10 commandments, Jesus. Jesus referred to the generation in which he manifested as a wicked generation. It is often in humanity's darkest times that God brings forth the brightest light. It is God's balancing act - one extreme needs to be mitigated by the other.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Saturday, 6 January 2007 at 8:04pm GMT

The opening post of mine, last part of third paragraph down, might be of interest to this general area - the space available for the Episcopal Church to move compared and contrasted with the Unitarian Univeralist Association.

Possibly Mynsterpreost might be interested in what we get gassing about after a service, though he didn't preach in this one (he says elsewhere here that he did at 8 am but it's too early for me; he the Queer Bible he says so I obviously missed something interesting).

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 7 January 2007 at 4:50pm GMT

Very interesting to read the link to your blog Adrian. I am always fascianted by your knowledge of church history, especially the Great Ejection and Unitatianism etc. Thank you. Also like the brahma logo.

What medium do you paint in, if you don't mind me asking ?

Posted by laurence at Sunday, 7 January 2007 at 8:38pm GMT

Thanks, Cheryl

I particlarly like 'unilateral grace'. A striking word for our times...

Posted by laurence at Sunday, 7 January 2007 at 10:10pm GMT

Very cheap gouache and watercolour paints, sometimes on entirely the wrong surfaces and using the wrong method (ie I paint up to white instead of from white to dark) and I am a heavy user of gouache white and black mixing, just like you shouldn't.

Oh and I have painted a version of Rublev's Trinity icon for tonight's experimental worship which, er, well, is rather different. I'll have to photograph it and then reduce and upload for visuals. The portrait one I can scan - not sure - and I'll take my big painting of the church too.

The Brhama avatar (good word) is for different viewpoints as in Pluralist. The word Plualist is inherited from my previous Unitarian tendency.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 8 January 2007 at 5:16pm GMT

Thanks Pluralist. VEry interesting.
Have replied more fully via your website. Hadn't realised till now that 'clicking' on your name would take me there !

Painting (and looking at paintings) have to be among the sanest human activities.

I recently came across this slogan :

Make art Find joy

never a truer word spoekn!

Posted by laurence at Wednesday, 10 January 2007 at 10:01am GMT
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