Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
But, as is always the case here below in the regio dissimilitudinis, the pleasure is accompanied by an inevitable quantum of pain. The sweetest wine quaffed from the cup of bliss comes mingled with a bitter draft of sorrow (alas, alack). Tragically—tragically—we can remove one politician only by replacing him or her with another. And then, of course, our choices are excruciatingly circumscribed, since the whole process is dominated by two large and self-interested political conglomerates that are far better at gaining power than at exercising it wisely.
And yet we must choose, one way or the other. Even the merry recreant who casts no vote at all, or flings a vote away onto the midden of some third party as a protest, is still making a choice with consequences, however small.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Lively testified before parliament and told Ugandans, “The gay movement is an evil institution”; he equated gays with serial killers and sociopaths who, “do mass murder, you know, like the Rwanda stuff.”
[Warren] has enjoyed close ties in Uganda ... where The Purpose Driven Life is reported to be almost as popular as the Bible. Warren was close to Pastor Martin Ssempa, though he’s since distanced himself from the pastor and come out in opposition to the AHB [a draconian anti-gay bill].
Ssempa, known for staging anti-homosexual marches where people chant “Kill the Gays” and “Arrest all Homos,” has shown gay porn movies in church to promote the AHB. ...
Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian Priest and author of a report on American evangelicals and anti-gay African clergy, told this reporter back in January, after Warren finally repudiated the bill in Dec. 2009: “Ugandans,” and Ssempa in particular, “are demanding an apology from Warren; the question is why are they demanding an apology? Warren misrepresented what he said in Uganda and [it] is very different tha[n] what he is saying now [in the U.S.]”
“Ugandans are not concerned about the finer points of the American class system,” according to Sharlet. “They look at fanatics such as Lively, or a politician such as Inhofe, and they see the same thing: a smiling white man come to preach moral ‘purity’ as a path out of poverty.”
... Americans overwhelmingly agree that airports should use the digital x-ray machines to electronically screen passengers in airport security lines, according to the new poll. Eighty-one percent think airports should use these new machines -- including a majority of both men and women, Americans of all age groups, and Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike. Fifteen percent said airports should not use them.
More Americans think 9/11 was an inside job (16%) than oppose naked X-ray screenings at airports (15%). But the ones who oppose the X-rays happen to have access to your televisions and computers, so America is freaking out about the TSA.
Monday, November 22, 2010
All current versions of Christianity can be very conditionally divided into two major groups – traditional and liberal. The abyss that exists today divides not so much the Orthodox from the Catholics or the Catholics from the Protestants as it does the ‘traditionalists’ from the ‘liberals’. Some Christian leaders, for example, tell us that marriage between a man and a woman is no longer the only way of building a Christian family: there are other models and the Church should become appropriately ‘inclusive’ to recognize alternative behavioural standards and give them official blessing. Some try to persuade us that human life is no longer an absolute value; that it can be terminated in a mother’s womb or that one can terminate one’s life at will. Christian ‘traditionalists’ are being asked to reconsider their views under the slogan of keeping abreast with modernity.
Regrettably, it has to be admitted that the Orthodox Church and many in the Anglican Church have today found themselves on the opposite sides of the abyss that divides traditional Christians from Christians of liberal trend.
Ouch! It no doubt made the kindly old gents at the Nicean Club want to slip out of their wet clothes and into a dry martini. (Benchley said that, too.) In the language of theology, virtually nobody wants to be accused of innovation, or side with anything called "liberalism." That certainly includes the Egg's editorial staff. We hate that stuff.
But Benchley's Law applies at once. (Or Barth's Law; we don't really care.) The obvious problem here is that Hilarion has made division which, even "very conditionally," will not hold up. There are enough Christians in the world, after all, to have six or eight well-reasoned answers to any question. Delicate and difficult questions rarely admit only two answers. If they did, consider the question of divorce and remarriage, which Orthodoxy allows but Roman Catholicism does not. In fact, the moral reasoning is very parallel; only the juridical conclusion differs. And yet, using Hilarion's taxonomy, one would have to classify Orthodoxy as "liberal" in this matter.
One might just as easily divide the Christian world into those who identify apostolicity with episcopacy and those who do not; or -- closer to home for Hilarion -- those who recognize 2 Maccabees and Psalm 151 as authoritative and those who do not. Or those who consider KJV 1611 to be uniquely inspired and those who do not. And so forth. No, the conditional division is too easy, and fails from the outset.
But perhaps worse than this, Hilarion's speech also indulges in some outright ecumenical fear-mongering:
We have studied the preparatory documents for the decision on female episcopate and were struck by the conviction expressed in them that even if the female episcopate were introduced, ecumenical contacts with the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches would not come to an end. What made the authors of these documents so certain?
Nothing, of course. It's called bravado. The truth is that those relationships may end. And then what will happen? Hmm. Maybe the Pope will start a recruiting program for disaffected Anglicans. Oh, wait ... he's already done that.
Then it gets bad. In Benchley's words, "an ardent supporter of the hometown team should go to every game prepared to take offense," but when Hilarion introduces Lutheranism to the discussion, he makes it too easy:
The same document argued that despite a possible cooling down in relations with Catholics and Orthodox, the Church of England would strengthen and broaden its relations with the Methodist Church and the Lutheran Churches in Norway and Sweden. In other words, the introduction of the female episcopate ‘will bring both gains and losses’. The question arises: Is not the cost of these losses too high?
Um, is it? Let's see. Lutherans and Anglicans, on both sides of the Atlantic, have recognized in one another a common faith, and agreed to share sacraments and even exchange clergy when their mission demands it. Our full communion agreements, along with the others into which Lutherans have entered and alongside the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, are the most dramatic successes in the history of the ecumenical movement. Two centuries of Anglican-Orthodox talks have resulted in ... nothing. They can perform marriages and bury each other's dead, which were both agreed to long before the modern dialogue series opened in 1930. So if you are serious about church unity, who is the better partner?
The fact is that, as Lutherans discovered in the 16th century and have rediscovered recently, the Orthodox bring little to an ecumenical table. Okay, that's a cheap shot. They have exquisite liturgies, brilliant theologians, and a striking ascetical tradition. These are all things they can share, and from which Western churches have much to learn. What they signally lack is a commitment to establishing fully reciprocal relationships with non-Orthodox churches. Evidence: they've never done it.
When Hilarion starts threatening Anglicans with the end of their Orthodox dialogue, he is like Colin Powell at the UN, waving around packets of baking poweder when there were, demonstrably, no WMDs.
He goes on to make some trite distinctions between Orthodoxy and Protestantism -- one safeguards the deposit of faith, the other encourages critical thinking -- and to accuse the Anglicans of acting like Protestants. Apart from failing the Benchley's Law test, this is more fear-mongering, and of a very particular kind. First, you humor Anglicans by letting them believe that they are not "Protestant," an assertion that, whatever its actual meaning, is dear to many of them; then you tell them that they're acting as if they were. Oooooh, now they feel bad, and want to be just like you. But, rhetorically, this is a cheap trick; Anglicans are too blessed obvious about their class anxiety. As Benchley said, "Tell us your phobias, and we'll tell you what you're afraid of."
There is little in this rhetorical move to admire. Hilarion's "Protestantism" is a straw man, bearing only a notional relationship to historic Protestantism. Properly understood, the churches of the Reformation -- Lutheran, Anglican and Reformed -- have always attempted to embody the historic traditions of Christianity, as properly understood. Their common argument, from the beginning, was that they were indeed more Catholic than the Pope. Many of us still stand by that claim. Even if you think we are mistaken, you have a duty to acknowledge the claim.
For that matter, his "Orthodoxy" isn't especially credible, either. He makes it sound like the sort of stale, moralistic, anti-intellectual, institution that its worst enemies sometimes make it out to be. They are mistaken, and so is he.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
From 2008 to 2009, the median household net worth for a member of Congress went up 19 percent. During the same time, the national median plummeted by 15 percent. This is known as a plutocracy.
The most popular investment among congressional members reads as [sic] a who’s who list of the most powerful corporate political forces in Washington, D.C. -- companies that each spend millions, if not tens of millions of dollars each year lobbying federal officials. Many of them likewise donate millions of dollars to federal candidates each election cycle through their top employees and political action committees.
Apple, with 42 current congressional investors, edges IBM, with 41. Coca-Cola’s 39 congressional investors pop it a notch above PepsiCo, with 36.
Furthermore, the companies behind a number of lawmakers’ favorite investments played key roles in lobbying Congress on two of the most critical legislative initiatives of the past two years: health care reform and financial regulatory reform.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
In fact, a 2007 survey ranked Mormons — along with Buddhists and Muslims — among the nation’s least-liked faiths.
“Mormons like everyone else,” wrote Robert Putnam and David Campbell in their new book, American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, “while almost everyone else dislikes Mormons.”
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
[The Society bishops] really think that they can plausibly claim to be “committed to the full visible unity of the Church” (there it is, in the very first sentence of their mission statement) while absolutely rejecting any notion of being in communion with the pope. So their ludicrous outfit ... will copy the Ordinariate in every detail but one: they will not be in communion with the pope (that is with over half of Christendom) but they will be in communion with all the women bishops the validity of whose orders they refuse to accept ....
Monday, November 15, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
... Bishop of Ebbsfleet Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Richborough Keith Newton, Bishop of Fulham John Broadhurst — as well as retired bishops Edwin Barnes and David Silk ....
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans, said he had accepted the resignations of Burnham and Newton, "with regret."
"We wish them well in this next stage of their service to the Church," he said.
Seriously? Pardon us, your grace, but we at the Egg would like to propose a rewrite. Here, if we may, is what you might have said:
It saddens us that these bishops cannot keep the promises they have made, and have chosen to abandon the church they have vowed to serve. While we wish them long and happy lives as laymen, we cannot imagine that they will ever be entrusted with pastoral duties, far less episcopal ones, in any well-ordered church body.Furthermore, we deeply regret that that the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church have chosen to lure away prelates of our communion, dangling before them the hope of undeserved honors in an as-yet-unformed club for unhappy old men. After decades of ecumenical rapprochement, the proposed ordinariates are a step backward toward the bad old days of Jesuit spies attempting to overthrow both the church and crown.
These men have proven themselves to be treacherous rascals, and the Church is well rid of them. We hope that they live out their lives in the obscurity and impotence they so richly deserve. Furthermore, we decry the overreaching hubris of the bishop of Rome, and declare that England will no more tolerate foreign interference with her Church than with her state.