July 2008


Lots of Episcopal bishops are blogging from the Lambeth Conference, and one of them, Stephen Lane of Maine, wrote a post today that includes the following paragraph, wherein one of the most important reasons for the decline of the mainline denominations as a whole is neatly encapsulated. He wrote:

This morning there was a small explosion in my Indaba group. What exploded was widespread frustration that all the talk about our disagreements distracts from mission and undermines the Communion’s credibility. The real issues, the real priorities of the Anglican Communion, need to be poverty, hunger, HIV/AIDS, the oppression of women and children, the oppression of the Dalits in India, war, refugees, care for creation, etc. (Indeed, if there is a consensus at this Lambeth it is that global warming is the most important matter facing humankind and that care for creation must be a first priority for the Church.) Most of the members of my group shared in some part of this frustration.

On the basis of this statement, I feel secure in saying that Bishop Lane and many of his colleagues, like so many mainline leaders, don’t actually want to be Christian leaders. They want to be congresscritters or senators, or United Nations bureaucrats.

They have no interest in the central mission of the Church–“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”–a mission for which they are entirely unequipped, and for which they find no basis in their ideology. Nor are they really all that interested in actually doing anything about the issues about which they wring their hands so piously, so instead we get stuff like the Garden Party Hunger March, which accomplished absolutely nothing, but got them all kinds of flattery from the British Prime Minister. Reading stuff like this, I don’t think that there can be any doubt that organizations like the Episcopal Church are sliding into utter pointlessness, incapable of carrying out Christ’s commission at the same time they are completely ignored by the world.

(Via T19.)

Correction: Commenter Daniel Muller alerted me to the fact that I had conflated the names of Maine’s two bishops. The actual writer was Bishop Stephen Lane, and I’ve obviously fixed it in the post. Thanks, Daniel.

“The common mission is more important than what separates us. The common mission is the MDG’s.”

–The Rt. Rev. Ian Ernest, Anglican Archbishop of the Indian Ocean, at a press conference Thursday at Lambeth, demonstrating that liberals aren’t the only ones who say silly things. For those not clued into Anglican-speak, the “MDGs” are the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations.

(Via Stand Firm.)

I know it’s hard to believe, but some of the funniest people on Earth are Anglicans. Sure, they have a reputation as being kind of dour and stuffy, but really, you just can’t top some of the stuff coming out of the Lambeth Conference for side-splitting, laugh-out-loud humor. (WARNING: Put down anything you’re drinking, and swallow anything you’ve already drunk. OK. Now, to proceed…)

This comes from an exchange between Stand Firm blogger-Anglican priest Matt Kennedy and a South African seminary professor and “biblical scholar” by the name of Gerald West, the latter of whom we are told took part in writing the study guide for the bishops’ Bible study at the Lambeth Conference. At a press conference on “The Bible and Mission,” West said this:

From a literary perspective, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you look at what happens there in that story you note that it takes place after Abraham has entertained 3 angels.. If that is the true, then the problem in Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexuality but inhospitality as demonstrated in male rape

Now what that means is that in terms of the literary narrative it is a narrative of hospitality.

That’s a pretty standard liberal line regarding S & G, but the Rev. Kennedy wasn’t going to just let it pass. Instead, he asked the questions that provoked the witty side of Dr. West:

Q: I have a question for Dr. West. Would you say that the author of the NT book of Jude was incorrect when he wrote this about Sodom and Gomorrah, “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire…” that was from verse 7. Would you say that the writer of Jude got the context wrong?

A: No not at all, I think he was referring to the sin of inhospitality.

Me: When he uses the phrase “sexual immorality”?

A: Yes, that was the way they were being inhospitable.

Now, you’ve got to admit: that is hilarious.

“We have 700 men here. Do you think any of them beat their wives? Chances are they do. The most devout Christians beat their wives….Many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally acceptable to beat your wife. In that regard, it makes the conversation quite difficult.”

–Episcopal Bishop Catherine Roskam, writing about, but providing no evidence regarding, unnnamed colleagues at the Lambeth Conference. Her comments appeared in The Lambeth Witness, a daily newsletter produced by the Inclusive Church Network, a liberal lobby group working for the full inclusion of gays in Church life.

(Via Stand Firm.)

UPDATE: The full text of the article from which this quote is taken may be found at the Integrity web site here.

The PCUSA branch of the Democratic Party, the Witherspoon Society, has published an article by an Iranian-American Presbyterian by the name of Noushin Darya Framke, in which she, and by extension the Society, distorts current events, whitewashes history, and air-brushes Iranian foreign policy. Among other things, she writes:

Last week, I heard a quote that Condoleezza Rice had said Iran should stop its saber rattling. This took my breath away. The country of my birth, where most of my family still lives, has been morphed into the aggressor. Most Americans don’t realize that the constant call to “bomb bomb Iran” has been just what the conservatives pray for in Iran. All the various factions there, who are normally at each other’s throats, are united against a common enemy now. This anti-Iran fervor in the U.S. is what has kept the Islamic Revolution alive there.

That’s an amazing paragraph. She claims that the Bush Adminsitration has “morphed [Iran] into the aggressor.” Presumably that means that she finds nothing aggressive in 1) Iran’s funding of Hezbollah and other Islamic terrorist groups; 2) Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, which has been ongoing since at least the Clinton Administration); 3) Iran’s continuing stonewalling of the IAEA; 4) Iran’s repeated threats to vaporize Israel once it has gotten nuclear weapons; and 5) Iran’s sending of members of its various security and military agencies into Iraq for the purpose of killing Americans and fomenting chaos in its next-door neighbor. In the course of her piece, none of these ongoing Iranian policies are so much as mentioned. Perhaps she isn’t aware of them.

Oh, and she also seems to think that if it weren’t for American hostility, the mullahs would have morphed into a Persian version of the Witherspoon Society by now. It hasn’t been political repression, relentless propaganda, or the Guardian Council’s refusal to let anyone run for office who doesn’t have the Good Housekeeping Seal of Fanatical Approval. It’s American hostility that keeps the mullahs in charge. Got it.

In slow motion, I watched the Soviet Union shed its label of “evil empire” and eventually, sitting in my den watching the State of the Union Address – now as an American – heard my president put Iran in the “Axis of Evil.” It’s been downhill from there. Slowly but surely, Iran has become America’s biggest enemy and today is the only member left of “the axis.”

Last time I checked, the Soviet Union is no longer called the “evil empire” because it, you know, no longer exists. And why might Iran have been included in the “Axis of Evil”? It couldn’t have anything to do with any of those five items listed above, could it? As for the claim that Iran is the “last member” of the Axis, two things come to mind: one, Iraq has become a democratic nation where Saddam Hussein no longer breaths; and two, North Korea has significantly changed its behavior, in part because of the pressure put on it by the international community, including its biggest supporter in Beijing. Iran, on the other hand, has simply increased the behavior that got it so labeled. Is this really so hard to understand?

Knowing the Persian Spirit as I do, all this saber rattling by the hawks in Washington gives the Iranians more pride. They take it as an honor to be standing against a massive superpower’s hegemony over Middle East oil. A naval blockade, if approved by our Democratic Congress, will only be seen as a declaration of war.

I don’t know the Persian Spirit, but I do know that no one is talking about a “naval blockade.” This is the latest fantasy in leftist circles, a way to mislabel an inspection regime that is perfectly legitimate under international law, in no way a “declaration of war,” and no where close to being adopted.

Oh, and by the way, I can’t resist the urge to ask: if the United States has “hegemony over Middle East oil,” why is it that we’re paying $4 a gallon for gasoline? If this be hegemony, we’re sure screwing it up.

UPDATE: Lest anyone think this is only a Witherspoon delusion, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has published the same article.

““The kingdom of heaven is like 650 bishops marching through the streets of this city a couple of days ago, insisting that together we can end global poverty, if we have the will to do it”.”

–Episcopal Bishop Katharine Jefforts-Schori, preaching the Deist gospel at St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields in London, earlier today

(Via T19.)

“We spoke in our bible study this morning of Creation as the body of God. Creation reflects God and the tradition has a mixed history of affirming that understanding.”

–Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefforts-Schori at a press conference on the theme of “The Bishops and the Environment” at the Lambeth Conference

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