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Oasis Mag

Compare and Contrast …

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What do you get when you cross a Benedictine Monk and a Dominican Priest/Friar when writing about Celtic Christianity? Compare and Contrast!!

Reading from: Celtic Christianity: A Sacred Tradition a Vision of Hope from Timothy J. Joyce O.S.B was amazing. Then moving forwards into Fr. Gilbert Markus’, Christian History, 1998, Vol. 17, Issue 4: Rooted in Tradition, was short, trite and to the point a piece of religious treatise.


Report: Anglican Head To Meet ‘In Secret’ With Gays

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THIS is NEWS!!! 

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(London) The leader of the world’s Anglicans reportedly with conduct a “secret” communion service in London for gay clergy and their partners.

The Times newspaper in an article to be published on Tuesday says that Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams will hold the service at St Peter’s, Eaton Square. The parish is home to many of the country’s liberal and wealthy Anglican elite.

The paper said the service will take place on November 29 and include an address by the Archbishop that is titled “Present realities and future possibilities for lesbians and gay men in the Church.”

Those attending will be there by invitation only, the Times notes, adding that they have been warned not to disclose any of the events or discussions which take place.

A list of those attending has been vetted by the Archbishop’s staff and and will be shredded.

Disclosure of the service will likely acerbate the already deep wounds between Anglican liberals and conservatives as the church appears to be inching closer to schism.

This week Williams will attend the Episcopal House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. 

The meeting comes  just ten days before a deadline imposed by conservative Anglican factions around the world for the Episcopal Church to guarantee it will not appoint any more openly gay bishops.

Tensions between liberals and conservatives in the worldwide Anglican Church have been increasing since the Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, in 2003.

Anglicanism’s national churches, called provinces. are loosely bound to one another in the Anglican Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury its titular head.  Appointed by the Queen on the advice of the British government, the Archbishop is little more than a figurehead.

Rowan William’s tenure has been marked by growing differences between right and left in the Church – seen mainly as a struggle between those provinces in the Developing World and those in Industrialized Nations.

Conservatives, led by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, oppose gays and females in the clergy, and believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. Nigeria has the highest number of Anglican’s outside of the UK and about half of the Church’s members are in the Third World.

When he meets in New Orleans this month with American bishops Williams will attempt to work out a statement that will be acceptable to both liberals and conservatives – something most church observers say is impossible.

Earlier this month the challenge in avoiding a schism became more difficult. 

Uganda’s Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi consecrated Virginia-based conservative John Guernsey as a bishop of a breakaway Episcopal group of 33 congregations in the United States that will recognize the Church of Uganda’s authority.

In Kenya two American priests were consecrated as bishops in the US as African conservative churches continued to poach dioceses in the United States. 

 A string of conservative parishes in America have broken from the Episcopal Church and aligned themselves to the African Anglican provinces.

Last month the Episcopal diocese of Chicago included an openly lesbian priest among five nominees for bishop. 

Next year bishops from around the world are scheduled to meet in London for their once-a-decade meeting called the Lambeth Conference.

In July the steering committee for the Global South Primates, made up of churches mainly in the developing world and the most conservative in the worldwide Anglican Communion, said its bishops will boycott the meeting.  

©365Gay.com 2007


Report: Anglican Head To Meet 'In Secret' With Gays

gene_robinson.jpg

THIS is NEWS!!! 

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(London) The leader of the world’s Anglicans reportedly with conduct a “secret” communion service in London for gay clergy and their partners.

The Times newspaper in an article to be published on Tuesday says that Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams will hold the service at St Peter’s, Eaton Square. The parish is home to many of the country’s liberal and wealthy Anglican elite.

The paper said the service will take place on November 29 and include an address by the Archbishop that is titled “Present realities and future possibilities for lesbians and gay men in the Church.”

Those attending will be there by invitation only, the Times notes, adding that they have been warned not to disclose any of the events or discussions which take place.

A list of those attending has been vetted by the Archbishop’s staff and and will be shredded.

Disclosure of the service will likely acerbate the already deep wounds between Anglican liberals and conservatives as the church appears to be inching closer to schism.

This week Williams will attend the Episcopal House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. 

The meeting comes  just ten days before a deadline imposed by conservative Anglican factions around the world for the Episcopal Church to guarantee it will not appoint any more openly gay bishops.

Tensions between liberals and conservatives in the worldwide Anglican Church have been increasing since the Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, in 2003.

Anglicanism’s national churches, called provinces. are loosely bound to one another in the Anglican Communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury its titular head.  Appointed by the Queen on the advice of the British government, the Archbishop is little more than a figurehead.

Rowan William’s tenure has been marked by growing differences between right and left in the Church – seen mainly as a struggle between those provinces in the Developing World and those in Industrialized Nations.

Conservatives, led by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, oppose gays and females in the clergy, and believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. Nigeria has the highest number of Anglican’s outside of the UK and about half of the Church’s members are in the Third World.

When he meets in New Orleans this month with American bishops Williams will attempt to work out a statement that will be acceptable to both liberals and conservatives – something most church observers say is impossible.

Earlier this month the challenge in avoiding a schism became more difficult. 

Uganda’s Anglican Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi consecrated Virginia-based conservative John Guernsey as a bishop of a breakaway Episcopal group of 33 congregations in the United States that will recognize the Church of Uganda’s authority.

In Kenya two American priests were consecrated as bishops in the US as African conservative churches continued to poach dioceses in the United States. 

 A string of conservative parishes in America have broken from the Episcopal Church and aligned themselves to the African Anglican provinces.

Last month the Episcopal diocese of Chicago included an openly lesbian priest among five nominees for bishop. 

Next year bishops from around the world are scheduled to meet in London for their once-a-decade meeting called the Lambeth Conference.

In July the steering committee for the Global South Primates, made up of churches mainly in the developing world and the most conservative in the worldwide Anglican Communion, said its bishops will boycott the meeting.  

©365Gay.com 2007


Living with Other People …

 

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The Experience of Moral Responsibility:

On reflection, what we are seeing in such situations (if we are honest with ourselves) is not simply their moral and cultural horizons but our own as well. We find that the two do not “fit,” because the previous invisible aspects of our horizons are clashing with the all too visible features of theirs. To be sure, this clash is unsettling. If we can move beyond the initial irritation and ask ourselves what, in our lives, is clashing with theirs and why we value these ways of living we can begin to map out terrain and the boundaries of our own moral horizons. If we launch this project in earnest it can have some startling results, including, perhaps, a subtle shifting of these boundaries and restructuring of the terrain in our lives.

Self-Knowledge can lead to real growth in Moral Maturity.

I f things are of value, it is because we have attributed feelings of value to them. Our moral feelings are diverse, and , so it is argued, we have democratic right to our own feelings. Some would even claim that there is no objective content to ethics beyond the feelings that are evoked in us and expressed in our moral language.

To set the discussion moving in the right direction, we will begin with three observations about what moral knowledge is NOT. This will allow us to say something about what it is: moral knowledge is not a quality, but a direction of change; it is not about individual events, but about relations among events; and it id not about action in isolation, but about living with other people.

Similarly, moral knowledge does not grasp the facts or features of a static situation; it grasps a dynamism, the motion of a series of events which are set into play by a decision to act. When we speak of moral “rightness” or “goodness,” we mean human action and the direction of events which unfolds from this action.

This is the section which I fear is going to come between myself and my peers as class continues…

Ethical relativism is usually the claim that when two people from different perspectives or cultures try to understand the same moral situation, they will attain different results and that these differences cannot be reconciled withi a common evaluative framework.

Let us make one final clarification by contrast. Many of us were taught that the central issue in ethics was integrity or duty. The ultimate sin was giving in to the pressure to conform to the dictates of society. Acting responsibly meant refusing society. It meant acting according to our consciences, living up to our convictions regardless of whether or not this puts us at odds with others.


Celtic Christianity …

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Celtic society was hierarchical and class based. According to both Roman and Irish sources, Celtic society was divided into three groups:  a warrior aristocracy, an intellectual class that included druids, poets, and jurists, and everyone else.

Celtic economy was probably based on the economic principle of most tribal economies: reciprocity. In a reciprocal economy, goods and other services are not exchanged for other goods, but they are given by individuals to individuals based on mutual kinship relationships and obligations.

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The Celts were polytheistic: We do know that Celtic gods tended to come in threes; the Celtic logic of divinity always centered on triads. This triadic logic no doubt had tremendous significance in the translation of Christianity into northern European cultural models.

“In short, what the soul is in the body, Christians are in the world. The soul dwells in the body but is not of the body; Christians dwell in the world, but they are not of the world. The soul is invisible and is confined in a visible body; so Christians are recognized in the world, but their religious life remains invisible.”

Many of the early British Christians known as the Celtic saints were monks and nuns. Monks lived in caves or huts, often grouped around a more experienced leader. Bishop Martin Tours (c316-97) was the best known of the early Western figures who pursued the monastic life. The monasteries of Gaul developed a strong intellectual tradition, and from 400 ce their influence spread to Ireland and Wales.

Columba established a community on the island of Iona, off the Scottish west coast, which became a centre of monastic life and learning throughout Celtic times.


Connected…

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A little “Inspiration!”

This post has been running through my head for a couple of days, and I have put up some thoughts here, only to take them down, for fear that they would be read by particular readers. I feel like a school boy as of late, because I put my hand out and invited a new friend into my life, and there is a ritual to introducing new people into my circle.

Coming Out is still a daunting experience, at age 40. Every time I sit to write this post I get tongue tied and skiddish. Classes start and you try to find commonality with your peers and eventually one or two people step out of the fray and it is like God saying, “here you go, you wanted to meet new friends, well here they are!”

Over the next few days one gravitates in the direction of said people in class and you start with pleasantries and speaking to each other after class, and eventually something clicks and a friendship is summarily born. But for me, in religion and now theology circles, I am still an outsider.

Having to “Come out” to new friends is always daunting because you never know how people are going to react to your interest in them. Why would someone like me make a concerted effort to get to know someone – I can answer that question simply by stating that in listening and participating in class, “commonality” is usually my first connection to any one new that I want to get to know.

So I invite new friends to come here and read. Over the last few days many of my historical posts have been accessed from the memory banks – someone is reading about my history. My stories about being diagnosed, my life story and my AA story and as well, my parental sins page. Someone is interested in who I am by way of what has happened to me over the last fifteen years.

I proposed the “getting to know you” in the form of an invitation to my blog to break new friends in, so that they have a full understanding of where I am coming from and possibly begin dialogue and further discussions. I also invite my friends to break bread. Sharing a meal with someone is, in my book, a very important part of friendship. Many of my present friends also feel that sharing a meal is an integral part of our relationships. Going for coffee or having a meal together is a logical step in “Christian community.”

Silence is deafening.

The weekend is upon us and I haven’t heard back from my fellows and I can’t help but wonder that I have freaked them out by assuming that someone would want to engage me because of certain differences in out respective lives. Maybe I have hit a sore nerve or maybe the fact that I am observant of people and situations and I listen to what things are shared in class and outside of class.

I’ve stayed away from posting to allow my fellows to have time to read and sit with what they have read, following the traffic patterns, it seems today that the past has not been accessed in over 24 hours. I wonder what will happen if the weekend goes by and those people I have invited into my community decide not to engage. Life goes on and we must accept what people decide to do with information they have been given.

I am powerless over people, places and things…

Knowing that we are all adults and it is 2007, I was sure that we could make friends with people without having to worry about judgments or moral issues. I can’t change what has already happened and who I am today. I guess the topics of Gay, AIDS and Homosexuality will make good fodder for discussion in my Christian Ethics course, seeing we all attend this class. Maybe this will be a learning situation for everyone involved.

We all want for people to like us for who we are and not be put off by factors of our lives that they might not find acceptable. I am making assumptions here, but ant good man with HIV knows how to read signs, body language and signs. It is a gift that we were given long ago by the creator so that by peoples actions and reactions, we could judge their character and know whether to cut them loose or bring them closer.

I don’t know…

I did not expect to be emotionally caught up in this new friendship. But I am only human. They say never assume, and maybe I did assume that commonality would outweigh difference, that as adults we could find commonality and discuss what may bother us or what is bothering us already. God puts people in our paths for a reason, I guess I will have to wait and see what transpires in the coming days.

Like I said the other night,
I will be heartbroken if my fellows do not rise to the mark.


Wednesday – Week 1

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Let’s get on shall we…

Gula speaks on Moral Theology as “Reason Informed by Faith.” What are the implications of faith for the way we live, the moral choices we make, the moral persons we become.

Ethics: Theoretical Foundations for Moral Action, based on the understanding of:

  • The “Nature of the Good” – Value
  • The Human Person as “Moral Agent” – Person
  • Criteria for “Moral Judgments ” – Action
  • Ethics of “Being”: What kind of person should I become, because I believe in/follow Christ?
  • Ethics of “Doing”: WWJD to “What is God enabling and requiring me to do here and now?
  • Reason Informed by Faith
  • “Morals” – Practical Implications for Human Behavior, shaped b:
  • Fundamental convictions / religious beliefs
  • Character of the moral agent – “virtues – characteristics “Be-Attitudes”
  • Situational analysis drawing on interplay between experience and relevant norms
  • Moral norms as fruit of communal discernment, past and present

The Task of Moral Reflection: Essential Requirements

  • Sensitivity – heart
  • Reflection – mind
  • Method – integration of the two above

They say that “The Love of God and the Love of Neighbor are two facets of the same coin. When we speak about the Golden Commandment.

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”He said to him,”You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” Mt. 22:37-40
And Socrates said: “The unexamined life, is not worth living.”

Gula speaks about the Transcendental Method:

  • Experiencing: Input the Data: Be attentive
  • Understanding: What is it? Be intelligent
  • Judging: Is it so? Be reasonable
  • Deciding: What should I do? Is it the right thing to do? Be responsible
  • Acting: Will I do it? Be loving
  • “Seeing is more than looking”
  • A Need for communal reflection

With these ideas in mind we can approach certain moral topics and entertain discussion, I will not argue a point because there is enough material on this blog for you to read.

So a question is asked:

I recognize that there is something not right within me, but I do good in the community. I teach, I minister and I live rightly! Yet, I act on goodness but yet there is something not quite right within me, Do I need to stop ‘doing’ until I change internally? And should I stop until I have changed?

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I take this spiritual approach to change: Awareness is the first step for evolution to take place.

In Order to BE you must DO, but also, In Order to DO you must BE!

I believe that if you recognize that there is something not quite right, and you are aware of that ‘not just right’ then you can begin the process of personal transformation. The behave your way to success model always works for me. The more you ‘do it’ the better ‘it’ feels and eventually that ‘not quite right’ will become ‘right.’

Everyone has personal truth and we are imperfect beings, and everyone struggles, even Jesus struggled. But Jesus, in the book of Matthew says:

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

One must walk the journey. No one can walk it for you. And in our life we know that you can step off the path that God has set for you, but eventually the voice beckons and speaks softly to us, “I am still here, Waiting on You!” And I will wait patiently for you, You are not alone.

We all know the way into the Seminary. How we discerned the call, by prayer, work and proper guidance from our spiritual directors. And we also are aware of the many reasons that one would leave the seminary. But as long as we stay connected to God and we work on the art of Doing and Being, discernment usually follows. Nothing would surprise me, and You’re not alone…

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I pray for my friends and my peers. I had a meeting with my Graduate Adviser this afternoon and he set me straight on my mandate for the next year. He said that I should focus on my studies and find a project to work on in the meantime. There will be a meet and greet in the Theology department in the coming days – because I told him I was feeling a little disconnected. He told me that the ‘Certificates’ are usually lost through the cracks and he will do what he can to help connect us to the department at large, which is focused on Graduate and Masters students. I am hoping my new friends will join us and we can talk again. Or you can always contact me through my blog.

I’ve added another course to my academic schedule, Celtic Christianity with Sara Terreault, I took her Spirituality course over the Summer, we chatted this evening and I got a space in her class which is on Monday nights. So I am back to 9 credits which still meets my full time requirements. I am excited about this addition to my schedule. So that’s all I have to say for tonight. I am off for the rest of the week now!

Yay !!!


September 11th…

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The Calm Man who did his best at reporting

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A photo from April of 1971 of the towers

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The Man who changed us all

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The Man who gave his life for his faith

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Longing for the Divine

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I’ve changed the header again. I can’t seem to stay on one photograph. I was running through some images and I came back to this one, because I guess, I am missing that component of my life as it was lived so long ago.

I’m tired and all I really want to do right now is curl up in a pew, in the chapel, before God and his angels. The photo you see above is of the rear wall mural located inside the chapel of the Seminary of St. John Vianney in Miami. I approach the chapel from the residence hall close by. The glass doors open for me and I take that first step upon the flagstones that are paved throughout the chapel. To my right and my left are tall glass doors that shudder with the breeze blowing against them.

The lights are low, save for the sacrament candle hanging to the right of the mural. As I walk down the center aisle of the chapel, my footsteps echo off the walls and reverberate through the vast empty space. I approach the altar and genuflect to the altar and greet my God in his holy place. It is said that you can take a boy out of the church, but you can never take the church out of the boy.

As defiant I am against institution and my railings against all that is ‘christian’ It in these moments that I long to be before the almighty alone before the tabernacle of God. Listening to the Litany of the Saints as chanted by the monks, I reflect on all that is holy within me. I know His voic, He has more than once spoke my name. And funny, that I was able to hear it amid the din in my head. There was a time when I could fresh recall it at will, but now I have to look for it today.

I have visited some of the most important “Churches” in Christendom and though they are grand in scale, and pronounced for their place in the living of Catholicism, it is the sacred chapel where I consecrated myself to God that I return to in my minds eye.

We are all called, to a life of holiness, whether we choose to follow that call is up to us, save for the judgment of men who would either deem us able or disabled to follow. Which I think is my biggest resentment with “Church.” Walking on the path of God is a lonely path, because no one can walk the journey for you, you must walk it alone. Because when you hear the voice you have to choose, to walk towards or run from. I don’t think I have completely run away from it.

You can’t run from God, because He is always there. You can choose to walk off the path and do what you need to do, but eventually, you find that the path looks really good from where ever you are standing and when you take that first step back onto the path, there God is waiting for you to resume your journey. “I was waiting for you, you know, I can hear Him say to me!” “Why did you go away from me?” “You can deny me and ignore me, but you must admit that my voice draws you near to me, you long to hear me call your name.”

The chant continues…

Tantum Ergo III

I must admit that the silence is beautiful, the chant fills the space with such heavenly sacred sound. All voices praising God and his heaven. The Preacher man is apt to tell us about his chapel in the Rockies where he like to nap before God and his tabernacle in Crede. There are times in the life when I muse on the thought of just walking away from all of this and finding myself in an abbey somewhere out in the hills, just me, the monks and God. It’s not like I wouldn’t have far to travel, there are plenty of Holy Places in this city of light where God’s footprint can be seen on any given street anywhere in Montreal, because “here is where it all started.”

From my front door within a few minutes walk, you can find yourself transported to a place that is otherworldly, Godly in fact. So many churches – and not a moment to spare out of my busy day to find one open where I can be alone with my God. I guess that’s my fault, that because of my stubbornness and principles, I won’t walk into a church because of politics, and I know that God is not about politics. It is at the last of the night as I sit here in the quiet before the silence and I take a few moments to contemplate the Holiness of God and His majesty.

Have you ever felt the sublime majesty of God in his holy place? Have you ever felt what it feels like to raise your voice to God and sing his praises? Do you know what it feels like to have God wrap his arms around you and hold you to his breast as you weep for the grandeur of it all? God is perfect, He is mighty, He is sublime. There is nothing that I write here, right now that I do not know. Just that I don’t take enough time during my day to remember and reflect. I guess this post shows you that I can go from the Profane to the Sacred in a matter of hours. Sometime you just gotta say “#$&%!!!”

I never said I was perfect, I said that God was perfect. I never said that I was God either. Well, it is getting late and I am exhausted and I have things to do tomorrow, it’s my day off and my home group. Maybe I will find myself a quiet corner of a chapel tomorrow before I have to chair the meeting.

Stay tuned. I may visit God with you again soon.

Isn’t this an interesting journey? I leave you with Great Expectations…

The morning finds me here at heaven’s door
A place I’ve been so many times before
Familiar thoughts and phrases start to flow
And carry me to places that I know so well
But dare I go where I don’t understand
And do I dare remember where I am
I stand before the great eternal throne
The one that God Himself is seated on
And I, I’ve been invited as a son
Oh I, I’ve been invited to come and…

Believe the unbelievable
Receive the inconceivable
And see beyond my wildest imagination
Lord, I come with great expectations

So wake the hope that slumbers in my soul
Stir the fire inside and make it glow
I’m trusting in a love that has no end
The Savior of this world has called me friend
And I, I’ve been invited with the Son
Oh I, I’ve been invited to come and…

We’ve been invited with the Son
And we’ve been invited to come and…

Believe the unbelievable
Receive the inconceivable
And see beyond our wildest imagination
Lord, we come with great expectations


For the Bible Tells Me So …

For The Bible Tells Me So – Trailer

For more information go to: For The Bible Tells Me So…

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Can the love between two people ever be an abomination? Is the chasm separating gays and lesbians and Christianity too wide to cross? Is the Bible an excuse to hate? Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival, Dan Karslake’s provocative, entertaining documentary brilliantly reconciles homosexuality and Biblical scripture, and in the process reveals that Church-sanctioned anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon a significant (and often malicious) misinterpretation of the Bible. As the film notes, most Christians live their lives today without feeling obliged to kill anyone who works on the Sabbath or eats shrimp (as a literal reading of scripture dictates).

Through the experiences of five very normal, very Christian, very American families — including those of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt and Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson — we discover how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child. Informed by such respected voices as Bishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard’s Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity.

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Evangelicals Fear Thompson Too Soft On Gays

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SEE: God’s Warriors – Christianity

This is the exact kind of Religious SHIT that I hate – HATE about Christian Fundamentalists. That you believe that you hold sway over the government any more than the rest. This is why America needs a clear SEPARATION between CHURCH and STATE.

In the year 2007, Straight Evangelical Minions are so concerned with Gay Rights, Hate Crimes Legislation, AIDS funds, Gay Marriage, that you are going to spend millions of dollars and hundreds of hours of lobby time to sway the electorate to elect a God Damned President?

Oh the Gays are gonna come and get us, they threaten the sanctity of marriage, Oh the gays want Special Treatment, Rights, and Protection from Hate Crimes!! Oh Oh Oh….

The Evangelicals are on another Witch Hunt. They are going to press the Gay Issue on the Candidates and they will attempt to KILL any nomination of any candidate who is soft on the Homosexuals, Gays and Lesbians. I guess we are not past the wedging of Sexual Orientation or Sexual Orientation issues into a Presidential Campaign.

It is really sad when you think that all Evangelicals do with their spare time is THINK about all things GAY!!! Does this strike anyone as problematic for them and informative for us?

God, We pray for Salvation from Evangelical…

Meanwhile,

  1. Osama Bin Laden is still alive [See Video]
  2. The United States is engaged in a war [Read:IRAQ] that they cannot win
  3. President George Bush is an idiot – And needs to be IMPEACHED
  4. Your foreign policy needs work
  5. People need health care
  6. There are children going without food
  7. There is not enough money for People with AIDS across the board
  8. All you Christians can think about is the GAY AGENDA!! Pardon me while I THROW UP!!! You limey bastards…And God Wept!!!

by The Associated Press

Posted: September 9, 2007 – 3:00 pm ET

(Washington) Prominent evangelical leaders who spent the summer hoping Fred Thompson would emerge as their favored Republican presidential contender are having doubts as he begins his long-teased campaign.

For social conservatives dissatisfied with other GOP choices, the “Law & Order” actor and former Tennessee senator represents a Ronald Reagan-like figure, someone they hope will agree with them on issues and stands a chance of winning.

But Thompson’s lack of a full endorsement of a federal gay marriage amendment and his delay in entering the race are partly responsible for a sudden shyness among leading evangelicals.

“A month or two ago, I sensed there was some urgency for people to make a move and find a candidate,” said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a Washington-based conservative Christian group. “Right now, I think people are stepping back a little and watching. The field is still very fluid.”

A loose network of influential evangelical leaders known as the Arlington Group met privately Wednesday and Thursday in Washington to discuss presidential politics and other issues, participants said.

Although the group does not endorse candidates, individual members have done so in the past, and one of the organization’s founding principles is to get the movement’s leaders on the same page when possible.

Some in the meeting shared their presidential leanings, but the consensus was that more time is needed to gauge Thompson’s performance, according to a participant.

A clearer picture may develop Oct. 19-21 during a “Values Voter Summit” in Washington that will include a presidential straw poll.

In June, Thompson met privately with several Arlington Group members, many of whom are uncomfortable with the GOP top tier for various reasons: Arizona Sen. John McCain for championing campaign-finance overhaul and labeling some evangelical figures “agents of intolerance”; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for backing abortion rights and some gay rights; and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for his social-issue policy reversals and – for some members – his Mormon faith.

With the post-Labor Day primary push under way, the 65-year-old Thompson faces a crucial month to prove he is the best alternative for a key GOP constituency.

“He’s got a real opportunity to be the most credible conservative candidate across the board,” said Gary Bauer, a one-time presidential aspirant who heads the advocacy group American Values. “Whether he can put it all together remains to be seen. But he’s got a real chance to emerge as the major conservative alternative to Giuliani.”

Others are skeptical about whether Thompson can fill that role.

Rick Scarborough, a Southern Baptist preacher and president of Texas-based Vision America, said that while he is encouraged by Thompson’s strong voting record in the Senate against abortion, he questioned the candidate’s commitment to social issues.

“The problem I’m having is that I don’t see any blood trail,” Scarborough said. “When you really take a stand on issues dear to the heart of social conservatives, you’re going to shed some blood in the process. And so far, Fred Thompson’s political career has been wrinkle-free.”

Thompson’s long-delayed entry is another concern, Scarborough said. “The hesitancy has made us wonder whether he has the stomach for what it’s going to take,” he said.

Earlier this summer, doubts crept in following reports on Thompson’s role in crafting campaign finance reform and stories that he lobbied for an abortion rights group.

More recently, Thompson has come under scrutiny for his position on a constitutional amendment on gay marriage, a defining issue for the Christian right.

Thompson over the past month has stated on more than one occasion that he supports an amendment that would prohibit states from imposing their gay marriage laws on other states. (story) That falls well short of what evangelical leaders want: an amendment that would bar gay marriage nationwide.

Thompson’s position surprised evangelical leaders who say they met with him in June and came away thinking he shared their desire for a more sweeping constitutional change. Now, they wonder if he is flip-flopping.

One person in attendance – Mathew Staver of the Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based conservative legal group – said Thompson described going back and forth about the merits of an amendment prohibiting gay marriage nationwide.

“At one time, he said he was against it,” Staver said. “Then he said in June he was for it. So if now he’s saying he’s against it, to me that’s a double-minded person. And that would be a real concern for religious conservatives.”

Messages left with Thompson campaign were not returned.

Several Christian right leaders said opposition to a broad amendment would hurt Thompson with evangelicals, but not necessarily cause irreparable harm. Others played down the issue, pointing out that their favored approach was politically impossible anyway because Democrats control the House and Senate.

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said Thompson’s position is consistent with the former senator’s support for limited federal government and giving power to the states.

Land said it is healthy that expectations for Thompson have diminished from unrealistic levels and he does not think evangelical excitement has dimmed for a man he described as a “masterful retail politician.”

Many evangelical leaders said one of Thompson’s biggest draws is his perceived electability. Some are watching whether former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist minister, can build on his second place finish last month in the Iowa straw poll.

Tim Wildmon, president of the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Association, said that while he likes Huckabee, Thompson’s better name recognition and fundraising potential is a strong draw for evangelicals.

“This is a dilemma a lot of people have,” Wildmon said. “They want to support the candidate that most reflects their values. “But at the same time, you have to balance that against finding someone who can actually win.”

©365Gay.com 2007


Pope speaks of Europe’s tragic past

capt4bd015a8a6c14b13901156475e6cc741austria_pope_papa102.jpg

By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer 

VIENNA, Austria – Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged Europe‘s tragic past and warned of its uncertain future Friday as he honored Jews killed in the Holocaust and urged the continent to accept its Christian heritage.

Abortion must never be considered a human right, Benedict said, and urged European political leaders to encourage young married couples to have children and the continent’s graying population “not to become old in spirit.”

“Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots,” the pope declared, saying that Christianity has “profoundly shaped this continent.”

Benedict opened a three-day pilgrimage to Austria, once the center of a Roman Catholic-influenced empire and now a wealthy but small nation that has seen considerable dissent against the church, as in much of Europe.

In an evening address to Austrian officials and diplomats in the former imperial Hofburg Palace, Benedict spoke of the “horrors of war” and the “traumatic experiences of totalitarianism and dictatorship” that Europe has undergone.

The pope, born in neighboring Bavaria, Germany, began his visit by paying tribute to Holocaust victims.

He stepped out of his popemobile in a driving rain and joined Vienna‘s chief rabbi, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, in prayer before an austere stone memorial honoring the 65,000 Viennese Jews who perished in Nazi death camps and others burned at the stake in the 1400s after refusing to convert.

He made no public remarks during the seven-minute stop but told reporters aboard his plane from Rome that he wanted to extend his sense of “sadness, repentance and friendship to the Jewish people.”

In 1938, the city’s vibrant Jewish community numbered 185,000 members. Today, there are fewer than 7,000.

Alluding to the nation’s past complicity with the Nazis, President Heinz Fischer conceded in a greeting to the pope that Austria had “dark hours in its history.”

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Austria’s top churchman, noted Christianity’s roots in Judaism and urged his countrymen never to forget the atrocities committed against the capital’s Jews.

“It is part of the tragedy of the city that here, of all places, this root was forgotten — even denied — to the point where godless will destroyed the people to whom God gives his first love,” he said.

Benedict, who visited and vacationed here often as a cardinal, faced a challenge: Many Austrian believers, disgusted by clergy sex scandals and deeply resentful of a government-imposed church tax, have grown cold — and tens of thousands have left the church altogether.

Benedict’s trip underscored the difficulties the Vatican confronts across Europe, where cathedrals are empty as disillusioned believers question the relevance of faith in the postmodern era.

The pope defended the vitality of Christianity today, saying Christians throughout history have been examples of “hope, love and mercy.”

In his condemnation of abortion, Benedict said he was speaking out “for those unborn children who have no voice.”

He also urged Europeans to ensure humane care of the elderly, assailing “actively assisted death,” a reference to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In a reflection of anti-pope sentiment held by some Austrians, about 300 young demonstrators marched through central Vienna on Friday to protest the pontiff’s conservative stance on homosexuality, gay marriage and other issues.

“I think the pope represents a system that has repressed people and other religions for hundreds of years. It’s simply antiquated,” said Ludwig List, 19, holding a banner that read: “Papa Don’t Preach.”

Security was heavy for Benedict’s visit, with more than 3,500 police officers and soldiers and 50 aircraft deployed to protect him. The Interior Ministry said the measures were taken even before this week’s thwarted terrorist plot in Germany.

On Saturday, the pope holds an open-air Mass to commemorate the 850th anniversary of the founding of Mariazell, a famous shrine to the Virgin Mary about 60 miles southwest of Vienna.

The Vienna Archdiocese said 33,000 pilgrims had received tickets for the event and that 70 bishops, mostly from Eastern Europe, would join in. Benedict called the anniversary “the reason for my coming” and said he would go as a simple pilgrim.

Benedict’s visit concludes Sunday with a Mass at Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral and a visit to the Heiligenkreuz abbey outside the capital.

___

Associated Press Writers William J. Kole and Veronika Oleksyn contributed to this report.


Pope speaks of Europe's tragic past

capt4bd015a8a6c14b13901156475e6cc741austria_pope_papa102.jpg

By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer 

VIENNA, Austria – Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged Europe‘s tragic past and warned of its uncertain future Friday as he honored Jews killed in the Holocaust and urged the continent to accept its Christian heritage.

Abortion must never be considered a human right, Benedict said, and urged European political leaders to encourage young married couples to have children and the continent’s graying population “not to become old in spirit.”

“Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots,” the pope declared, saying that Christianity has “profoundly shaped this continent.”

Benedict opened a three-day pilgrimage to Austria, once the center of a Roman Catholic-influenced empire and now a wealthy but small nation that has seen considerable dissent against the church, as in much of Europe.

In an evening address to Austrian officials and diplomats in the former imperial Hofburg Palace, Benedict spoke of the “horrors of war” and the “traumatic experiences of totalitarianism and dictatorship” that Europe has undergone.

The pope, born in neighboring Bavaria, Germany, began his visit by paying tribute to Holocaust victims.

He stepped out of his popemobile in a driving rain and joined Vienna‘s chief rabbi, Paul Chaim Eisenberg, in prayer before an austere stone memorial honoring the 65,000 Viennese Jews who perished in Nazi death camps and others burned at the stake in the 1400s after refusing to convert.

He made no public remarks during the seven-minute stop but told reporters aboard his plane from Rome that he wanted to extend his sense of “sadness, repentance and friendship to the Jewish people.”

In 1938, the city’s vibrant Jewish community numbered 185,000 members. Today, there are fewer than 7,000.

Alluding to the nation’s past complicity with the Nazis, President Heinz Fischer conceded in a greeting to the pope that Austria had “dark hours in its history.”

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Austria’s top churchman, noted Christianity’s roots in Judaism and urged his countrymen never to forget the atrocities committed against the capital’s Jews.

“It is part of the tragedy of the city that here, of all places, this root was forgotten — even denied — to the point where godless will destroyed the people to whom God gives his first love,” he said.

Benedict, who visited and vacationed here often as a cardinal, faced a challenge: Many Austrian believers, disgusted by clergy sex scandals and deeply resentful of a government-imposed church tax, have grown cold — and tens of thousands have left the church altogether.

Benedict’s trip underscored the difficulties the Vatican confronts across Europe, where cathedrals are empty as disillusioned believers question the relevance of faith in the postmodern era.

The pope defended the vitality of Christianity today, saying Christians throughout history have been examples of “hope, love and mercy.”

In his condemnation of abortion, Benedict said he was speaking out “for those unborn children who have no voice.”

He also urged Europeans to ensure humane care of the elderly, assailing “actively assisted death,” a reference to euthanasia and assisted suicide.

In a reflection of anti-pope sentiment held by some Austrians, about 300 young demonstrators marched through central Vienna on Friday to protest the pontiff’s conservative stance on homosexuality, gay marriage and other issues.

“I think the pope represents a system that has repressed people and other religions for hundreds of years. It’s simply antiquated,” said Ludwig List, 19, holding a banner that read: “Papa Don’t Preach.”

Security was heavy for Benedict’s visit, with more than 3,500 police officers and soldiers and 50 aircraft deployed to protect him. The Interior Ministry said the measures were taken even before this week’s thwarted terrorist plot in Germany.

On Saturday, the pope holds an open-air Mass to commemorate the 850th anniversary of the founding of Mariazell, a famous shrine to the Virgin Mary about 60 miles southwest of Vienna.

The Vienna Archdiocese said 33,000 pilgrims had received tickets for the event and that 70 bishops, mostly from Eastern Europe, would join in. Benedict called the anniversary “the reason for my coming” and said he would go as a simple pilgrim.

Benedict’s visit concludes Sunday with a Mass at Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral and a visit to the Heiligenkreuz abbey outside the capital.

___

Associated Press Writers William J. Kole and Veronika Oleksyn contributed to this report.


Bishop Orama’s Courageous Biblical Christianity

Originally read on:“The Anglican Scotist”

Probably by now you have heard that Bishop Orama of Oyo in Nigeria claimed

Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man…

Though one hopes Orama was completely misquoted, still, one might reasonably suspect that this opinion is authentic to Nigerian Anglicanism and the Global South faction; it might well be that strong, international criticism will serve not to change the opinion, but merely silence it, driving it underground where it can continue to operate unseen and unheard.

I. Curious Conservative Reactions
While some Western conservatives might disavow Orama’s comments, one might be forgiven for wondering why they would bother. Here’s Father Kendall Harmon of T19:

These words are to be utterly repudiated by all of us–I hope and trust.

Well, why is that? He wrote (beackets added):

[1]We are all in the global village now, like it or not, and the world is indeed flat. So what we say needs to take seriously the resonances that it may bring out in contexts other than our own. There could hardly be a worse statement in a Western context than to say of ANYONE that he or she is “not fit to live.” [2] It immediately brings to mind the Nazi language of Lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”) and in flood images and activities too horrendous and horrific for any of us to take in even at this historical distance from the events themselves.

According to [1], the problem is that others will hear–we live in a global village after all, and comments like this will gain a wide enough audience to most likely hurt the Separatist cause. Why? Part [2] gives Father Harmon’s answer: it will remind hearers of Nazi language. And of course he is right about that. Bishop Orama is not a Nazi or fascist so far as I know, but he has no trouble employing their Eliminationist rhetoric. Some bishop.

But I am utterly stunned by Father Harmon’s reasons for repudiating Bishop Orama’s rhetoric. There is nothing specifically Christian–no laudable Biblical principle–invoked in Father Harmon’s words. And there is nothing significantly moral either. The trouble with Bishop Orama’s words is strictly instrumental: it will hurt the cause by bringing to mind Nazi depravity. I suppose such an instrumental reason could have a moral resonance for Father Harmon: the end–Separation–justifies the means perhaps. He did not say that Bishop Orama was in error, or that Bishop Orama’s words were unscriptural or anti-Christian. The problem? Bishop Orama could hurt the cause.

Here is Greg Griffith of Stand Firm (I do not know if he is ordained like Father Harmon: no disrespect intended):

[1] About the horrible nature of the remark, the injury to the Christian witness it does, and yes, even the “rhetorical violence” it commits… I agree completely.

[2]Describing homosexuals as “unfit to live,” or implying that that sentiment is in any way part of the Gospel message, is where I get off the bus. “Life not worthy of living” is the phrase Nazis used to describe Jews, dissenting Christian clergy, the physically handicapped, the mentally retarded, and anyone else who might spoil their vision of a pure Aryan world.

[3]If being homosexual makes one unfit to live, then being the kind of sinner Bishop Orama is makes him similarly unfit to live; and of course, that is not the Gospel of Jesus, not the Good News we have been entrusted by Christ to carry to the world.

I think it is pretty clear that Griffith does alot better than Father Harmon in stating his reasons for repudiating Bishop Orama’s remarks. The remark has a “horrible nature” perhaps due to its “injury” to Christian mission and its “rhetorical violence.” On the latter count, Griffith invokes comparisons with the Nazis in [2]. He goes further than Father Harmon, saying explicitly that the Nazi message of Elimination is not part of the Gospel message: thanks for that. Finally, in [3] there is some kind of half-baked argument that Bishop Orama deserves to die if homosexuals deserve to die–and that this is not the Gospel message.

While Griffith’s response has unmistakable specific moral content, and even refers to the Goispel message, still it leaves one wondering. What exactly in the Gospel message contradicts Bishop Orama’s message? It is odd–even comic–to see biblical conservatives in the tradition of Barth and Childs run to secular notions of moral good when push comes to shove. Guys, one does not need to hear the Good news of Christ to condemn Nazis, their Eliminationist rhetoric, and rhetorical violence: one can do that on purely secular moral grounds.

II. Throwing Down the Gauntlet
When push comes to shove, and Bishop Orama’s remarks constitute a shove, does the Gospel vision of these–or any–Separatist, Anglican, biblical conservatives have the resources to issue a specifically Christian moral repudiation? Can they do better on this count than, to choose another extreme, Borg and Crossan?

Show me. I do not think you can do it, because any sound, specifically Christian moral argument that implies the events of GC2003 are permissible for Christians counts as an utter failure of the Separatist biblical vision. In other words, to make the argument condemning the bishop’s remarks, you will end up conceding too much, and if you do not conceed too much, you will not be able to condemn the remarks.

Where is the crux of the problem? The problem is that Bishop Orama has the Bible–as construed by responsible Separatist interpretation–on his side. Leviticus is clear:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

All Scripture is of a piece, and Christ did not come to obliterate any part of the Law–not a single iota! Bishop Orama respects the Bible enough not to claim to be a biblical Christian and just pretend. His Bible says homosexuals must die–what does Father Harmon’s Bible say? Or Griffith’s? After all, Scripture is clear in Leviticus. The difference might be simply that Bishop Orama has the courage to be consistent and lift up his vision of Scripture for all the world to see, whereas other self-styled conservatives insist on hiding this unsavory part–ashamed–under a bushel.

Careful: an appeal to Authority, like the authority of a great old interpreter, is a fallacy. You ‘d have to extract the authority’s argument and let the argument stand on its own merits, and you had better hope it stands.

****************************
From:
Father Jake Stops the World

There’s been quite a bit of discussion over the last 24 hours regarding Bishop Orama of Nigeria’s disturbing remarks. There have been condemnations of the declaration that gays are “unfit to live” from all corners of the Episcopal Church. For that we can be thankful.

Yet, even in light of these condemnations, this incident has given me cause to wonder if the sentiments expressed by Bp. Orama are really an isolated incident, or are they more broadly accepted, but just not so bluntly stated?

Mark Harris points us to an interesting article in the Boston Globe, which includes this paragraph describing a reporter’s experience at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Nairobi, Kenya:

…Criticizing the Episcopal Church’s embrace of gays and lesbians, the Rev. Samuel Muchiri told the 1,000 worshipers “we in Kenya feel this is not what God wants.” An usher advised a visiting reporter to “remember that Sodom and Gomorrah was demolished because there were homosexuals.” Another warned that the reporter could be assaulted if he asked worshipers about the issue, and said that America’s permissiveness toward homosexuality had led Osama bin Laden to attack…

Where are they getting these strange ideas? To some degree, they are probably being taught this by their leaders. For instance, in the same article, the Archbishop of Kenya made the following statement:

“God cannot be mocked,” said Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya. “Here, in the context of Kenya, if we take somebody who is polygamous and we make him a lay reader or a priest, we would be doing the wrong thing. . . . If I know somebody is a homosexual, and I make him a lay reader, or I make him a priest, or I make him a bishop, I am sanctioning what he is doing as right. I am saying ‘no’ to this, and the church is saying ‘no’ to this.”

Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria, is also notorious for his hateful words regarding gay and lesbian Christians. With leaders like Nzimbi and Akinola at the helm, it is not surprising that bishops and clergy might feel free to perpetuate ideas such as gays and lesbians being unfit to live, and that they could be assaulted because they caused 9/11.

I think that the leaders giving either explicit or implicit permission for such rhetorical violence is a big part of the problem. But I think there is something more to it than that. In the Boston Globe article, the Primate of the Southern Cone, Gregory Venables, know as one of the more careful voices among the extremists, points us towards that “something more”:

…”Sadly, the sexuality issue isn’t the issue – it’s about Scripture,” said Archbishop Gregory J. Venables, the primate of South America. “What’s happened in the States is that they’ve moved away from the view that God has revealed himself in Scripture, and they’re rewriting that with post-modernity relativism”…

The erroneous accusation that “the States” have “moved away from the view that God has revealed himself in Scripture” might sound like nonsense to us. Most Episcopalians that I know, including myself, affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be regarded as divine revelation, which completes natural revelation. Our difference of opinion is over the matter of how we interpret this revelation.

And, it is on this point that the Global South extremists find allies among some North Americans.

This causes some problems in the current discussions regarding rhetorical violence, and gives us reason to seek further explanations regarding some of the condemnations of Bp. Orama’s remarks. Anglican Scotist offers us a good explanation of why this supposed stance rooted in “biblical authority” is problematic:

…When push comes to shove, and Bishop Orama’s remarks constitute a shove, does the Gospel vision of these–or any–Separatist, Anglican, biblical conservatives have the resources to issue a specifically Christian moral repudiation? Can they do better on this count than, to choose another extreme, Borg and Crossan?

Show me. I do not think you can do it, because any sound, specifically Christian moral argument that implies the events of GC2003 are permissible for Christians counts as an utter failure of the Separatist biblical vision. In other words, to make the argument condemning the bishop’s remarks, you will end up conceding too much, and if you do not conceed too much, you will not be able to condemn the remarks.

Where is the crux of the problem? The problem is that Bishop Orama has the Bible–as construed by responsible Separatist interpretation–on his side. Leviticus is clear:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

All Scripture is of a piece, and Christ did not come to obliterate any part of the Law–not a single iota! Bishop Orama respects the Bible enough not to claim to be a biblical Christian and just pretend. His Bible says homosexuals must die–what does Father Harmon’s Bible say? Or Griffith’s? After all, Scripture is clear in Leviticus. The difference might be simply that Bishop Orama has the courage to be consistent and lift up his vision of Scripture for all the world to see, whereas other self-styled conservatives insist on hiding this unsavory part–ashamed–under a bushel.

Careful: an appeal to Authority, like the authority of a great old interpreter, is a fallacy. You’d have to extract the authority’s argument and let the argument stand on its own merits, and you had better hope it stands.

The reality, which most thoughtful people accept without a second thought, is that scripture contains all things necessary for salvation, but also includes lots of other stuff as well. The argument has never been “The bible said it, I believe it, that ends it.” Otherwise, we’d be executing disobedient children, to give but one bizarre example of the biblical mandate. The debate has been over how to define what exactly is “necessary for salvation,” and what is “other stuff.”

Apparently, there are some bishops, such as Orama, who have not been informed of this particular nuance in the discussion regarding scripture. That is a rather frightening realization, it seems to me.

Regarding our continued discussion of this topic, I want to draw your attention to a recent reflection from Elizabeth Kaeton entitled What the Anglican Communion Can Learn from Dog Fights. Elizabeth affirms what the Anglican Scotist has pointed out:

…People like Fred Phelps don’t make up the hateful words on the signs they hold up during the funerals of people with AIDS or soldiers who have died in Iraq. That self-proclaimed but unlicensed minister of God takes them right out of “The Good Book.”

It is Levitical logic, of course, almost pristine in its purity and simplicity. Indeed, some of us in the LGBT community have said to our orthodox and conservative sisters and brothers that if they really believe every literal thing in Scripture, then they are compelled to pick up a rock and stone every last LGBT person to death…

But then Elizabeth continues with some thoughts that I think it is important for us all to hear:

…The worst thing we mongrel dogs can do is to allow ourselves to be baited into a blood-sport by those who glorify and are entertained by violence.

We must resist that temptation with every thing that is in us. This is not about us. It is not about homosexuality or even scriptural interpretation.

This is about power and violence and we who claim the high calling of Christ Jesus must be about peace and justice, mercy and compassion, and walking humbly with God.

This is neither our fight nor our sport. Let’s not dignify it with our blood. Let us not insult the blood that was shed for our salvation.

Let us, instead, like our Samaritan sisters and brothers in Christ, use our wit and our intelligence.

The Samaritan woman, that mongrel dog, said to Jesus, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (Mt. 15:27)

And Jesus said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” (Mt 15:28)

May it be so for us in our day and time.

And may God have mercy on us all.

I understand that some will need to express their outrage and indignation. But let’s not allow ourselves to be baited into pointless arguments that just may tempt us to toss out our own forms of rhetorical violence.

This is not some kind of rhetorical game. We must stand against violence and oppression. But let us make our stand with intelligence, wit and dignity.

J.

 


Bishop Orama's Courageous Biblical Christianity

Originally read on:“The Anglican Scotist”

Probably by now you have heard that Bishop Orama of Oyo in Nigeria claimed

Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman. Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God’s purpose for man…

Though one hopes Orama was completely misquoted, still, one might reasonably suspect that this opinion is authentic to Nigerian Anglicanism and the Global South faction; it might well be that strong, international criticism will serve not to change the opinion, but merely silence it, driving it underground where it can continue to operate unseen and unheard.

I. Curious Conservative Reactions
While some Western conservatives might disavow Orama’s comments, one might be forgiven for wondering why they would bother. Here’s Father Kendall Harmon of T19:

These words are to be utterly repudiated by all of us–I hope and trust.

Well, why is that? He wrote (beackets added):

[1]We are all in the global village now, like it or not, and the world is indeed flat. So what we say needs to take seriously the resonances that it may bring out in contexts other than our own. There could hardly be a worse statement in a Western context than to say of ANYONE that he or she is “not fit to live.” [2] It immediately brings to mind the Nazi language of Lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”) and in flood images and activities too horrendous and horrific for any of us to take in even at this historical distance from the events themselves.

According to [1], the problem is that others will hear–we live in a global village after all, and comments like this will gain a wide enough audience to most likely hurt the Separatist cause. Why? Part [2] gives Father Harmon’s answer: it will remind hearers of Nazi language. And of course he is right about that. Bishop Orama is not a Nazi or fascist so far as I know, but he has no trouble employing their Eliminationist rhetoric. Some bishop.

But I am utterly stunned by Father Harmon’s reasons for repudiating Bishop Orama’s rhetoric. There is nothing specifically Christian–no laudable Biblical principle–invoked in Father Harmon’s words. And there is nothing significantly moral either. The trouble with Bishop Orama’s words is strictly instrumental: it will hurt the cause by bringing to mind Nazi depravity. I suppose such an instrumental reason could have a moral resonance for Father Harmon: the end–Separation–justifies the means perhaps. He did not say that Bishop Orama was in error, or that Bishop Orama’s words were unscriptural or anti-Christian. The problem? Bishop Orama could hurt the cause.

Here is Greg Griffith of Stand Firm (I do not know if he is ordained like Father Harmon: no disrespect intended):

[1] About the horrible nature of the remark, the injury to the Christian witness it does, and yes, even the “rhetorical violence” it commits… I agree completely.

[2]Describing homosexuals as “unfit to live,” or implying that that sentiment is in any way part of the Gospel message, is where I get off the bus. “Life not worthy of living” is the phrase Nazis used to describe Jews, dissenting Christian clergy, the physically handicapped, the mentally retarded, and anyone else who might spoil their vision of a pure Aryan world.

[3]If being homosexual makes one unfit to live, then being the kind of sinner Bishop Orama is makes him similarly unfit to live; and of course, that is not the Gospel of Jesus, not the Good News we have been entrusted by Christ to carry to the world.

I think it is pretty clear that Griffith does alot better than Father Harmon in stating his reasons for repudiating Bishop Orama’s remarks. The remark has a “horrible nature” perhaps due to its “injury” to Christian mission and its “rhetorical violence.” On the latter count, Griffith invokes comparisons with the Nazis in [2]. He goes further than Father Harmon, saying explicitly that the Nazi message of Elimination is not part of the Gospel message: thanks for that. Finally, in [3] there is some kind of half-baked argument that Bishop Orama deserves to die if homosexuals deserve to die–and that this is not the Gospel message.

While Griffith’s response has unmistakable specific moral content, and even refers to the Goispel message, still it leaves one wondering. What exactly in the Gospel message contradicts Bishop Orama’s message? It is odd–even comic–to see biblical conservatives in the tradition of Barth and Childs run to secular notions of moral good when push comes to shove. Guys, one does not need to hear the Good news of Christ to condemn Nazis, their Eliminationist rhetoric, and rhetorical violence: one can do that on purely secular moral grounds.

II. Throwing Down the Gauntlet
When push comes to shove, and Bishop Orama’s remarks constitute a shove, does the Gospel vision of these–or any–Separatist, Anglican, biblical conservatives have the resources to issue a specifically Christian moral repudiation? Can they do better on this count than, to choose another extreme, Borg and Crossan?

Show me. I do not think you can do it, because any sound, specifically Christian moral argument that implies the events of GC2003 are permissible for Christians counts as an utter failure of the Separatist biblical vision. In other words, to make the argument condemning the bishop’s remarks, you will end up conceding too much, and if you do not conceed too much, you will not be able to condemn the remarks.

Where is the crux of the problem? The problem is that Bishop Orama has the Bible–as construed by responsible Separatist interpretation–on his side. Leviticus is clear:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

All Scripture is of a piece, and Christ did not come to obliterate any part of the Law–not a single iota! Bishop Orama respects the Bible enough not to claim to be a biblical Christian and just pretend. His Bible says homosexuals must die–what does Father Harmon’s Bible say? Or Griffith’s? After all, Scripture is clear in Leviticus. The difference might be simply that Bishop Orama has the courage to be consistent and lift up his vision of Scripture for all the world to see, whereas other self-styled conservatives insist on hiding this unsavory part–ashamed–under a bushel.

Careful: an appeal to Authority, like the authority of a great old interpreter, is a fallacy. You ‘d have to extract the authority’s argument and let the argument stand on its own merits, and you had better hope it stands.

****************************
From:
Father Jake Stops the World

There’s been quite a bit of discussion over the last 24 hours regarding Bishop Orama of Nigeria’s disturbing remarks. There have been condemnations of the declaration that gays are “unfit to live” from all corners of the Episcopal Church. For that we can be thankful.

Yet, even in light of these condemnations, this incident has given me cause to wonder if the sentiments expressed by Bp. Orama are really an isolated incident, or are they more broadly accepted, but just not so bluntly stated?

Mark Harris points us to an interesting article in the Boston Globe, which includes this paragraph describing a reporter’s experience at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Nairobi, Kenya:

…Criticizing the Episcopal Church’s embrace of gays and lesbians, the Rev. Samuel Muchiri told the 1,000 worshipers “we in Kenya feel this is not what God wants.” An usher advised a visiting reporter to “remember that Sodom and Gomorrah was demolished because there were homosexuals.” Another warned that the reporter could be assaulted if he asked worshipers about the issue, and said that America’s permissiveness toward homosexuality had led Osama bin Laden to attack…

Where are they getting these strange ideas? To some degree, they are probably being taught this by their leaders. For instance, in the same article, the Archbishop of Kenya made the following statement:

“God cannot be mocked,” said Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi of Kenya. “Here, in the context of Kenya, if we take somebody who is polygamous and we make him a lay reader or a priest, we would be doing the wrong thing. . . . If I know somebody is a homosexual, and I make him a lay reader, or I make him a priest, or I make him a bishop, I am sanctioning what he is doing as right. I am saying ‘no’ to this, and the church is saying ‘no’ to this.”

Peter Akinola, the Archbishop of Nigeria, is also notorious for his hateful words regarding gay and lesbian Christians. With leaders like Nzimbi and Akinola at the helm, it is not surprising that bishops and clergy might feel free to perpetuate ideas such as gays and lesbians being unfit to live, and that they could be assaulted because they caused 9/11.

I think that the leaders giving either explicit or implicit permission for such rhetorical violence is a big part of the problem. But I think there is something more to it than that. In the Boston Globe article, the Primate of the Southern Cone, Gregory Venables, know as one of the more careful voices among the extremists, points us towards that “something more”:

…”Sadly, the sexuality issue isn’t the issue – it’s about Scripture,” said Archbishop Gregory J. Venables, the primate of South America. “What’s happened in the States is that they’ve moved away from the view that God has revealed himself in Scripture, and they’re rewriting that with post-modernity relativism”…

The erroneous accusation that “the States” have “moved away from the view that God has revealed himself in Scripture” might sound like nonsense to us. Most Episcopalians that I know, including myself, affirm that the Holy Scriptures are to be regarded as divine revelation, which completes natural revelation. Our difference of opinion is over the matter of how we interpret this revelation.

And, it is on this point that the Global South extremists find allies among some North Americans.

This causes some problems in the current discussions regarding rhetorical violence, and gives us reason to seek further explanations regarding some of the condemnations of Bp. Orama’s remarks. Anglican Scotist offers us a good explanation of why this supposed stance rooted in “biblical authority” is problematic:

…When push comes to shove, and Bishop Orama’s remarks constitute a shove, does the Gospel vision of these–or any–Separatist, Anglican, biblical conservatives have the resources to issue a specifically Christian moral repudiation? Can they do better on this count than, to choose another extreme, Borg and Crossan?

Show me. I do not think you can do it, because any sound, specifically Christian moral argument that implies the events of GC2003 are permissible for Christians counts as an utter failure of the Separatist biblical vision. In other words, to make the argument condemning the bishop’s remarks, you will end up conceding too much, and if you do not conceed too much, you will not be able to condemn the remarks.

Where is the crux of the problem? The problem is that Bishop Orama has the Bible–as construed by responsible Separatist interpretation–on his side. Leviticus is clear:

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

All Scripture is of a piece, and Christ did not come to obliterate any part of the Law–not a single iota! Bishop Orama respects the Bible enough not to claim to be a biblical Christian and just pretend. His Bible says homosexuals must die–what does Father Harmon’s Bible say? Or Griffith’s? After all, Scripture is clear in Leviticus. The difference might be simply that Bishop Orama has the courage to be consistent and lift up his vision of Scripture for all the world to see, whereas other self-styled conservatives insist on hiding this unsavory part–ashamed–under a bushel.

Careful: an appeal to Authority, like the authority of a great old interpreter, is a fallacy. You’d have to extract the authority’s argument and let the argument stand on its own merits, and you had better hope it stands.

The reality, which most thoughtful people accept without a second thought, is that scripture contains all things necessary for salvation, but also includes lots of other stuff as well. The argument has never been “The bible said it, I believe it, that ends it.” Otherwise, we’d be executing disobedient children, to give but one bizarre example of the biblical mandate. The debate has been over how to define what exactly is “necessary for salvation,” and what is “other stuff.”

Apparently, there are some bishops, such as Orama, who have not been informed of this particular nuance in the discussion regarding scripture. That is a rather frightening realization, it seems to me.

Regarding our continued discussion of this topic, I want to draw your attention to a recent reflection from Elizabeth Kaeton entitled What the Anglican Communion Can Learn from Dog Fights. Elizabeth affirms what the Anglican Scotist has pointed out:

…People like Fred Phelps don’t make up the hateful words on the signs they hold up during the funerals of people with AIDS or soldiers who have died in Iraq. That self-proclaimed but unlicensed minister of God takes them right out of “The Good Book.”

It is Levitical logic, of course, almost pristine in its purity and simplicity. Indeed, some of us in the LGBT community have said to our orthodox and conservative sisters and brothers that if they really believe every literal thing in Scripture, then they are compelled to pick up a rock and stone every last LGBT person to death…

But then Elizabeth continues with some thoughts that I think it is important for us all to hear:

…The worst thing we mongrel dogs can do is to allow ourselves to be baited into a blood-sport by those who glorify and are entertained by violence.

We must resist that temptation with every thing that is in us. This is not about us. It is not about homosexuality or even scriptural interpretation.

This is about power and violence and we who claim the high calling of Christ Jesus must be about peace and justice, mercy and compassion, and walking humbly with God.

This is neither our fight nor our sport. Let’s not dignify it with our blood. Let us not insult the blood that was shed for our salvation.

Let us, instead, like our Samaritan sisters and brothers in Christ, use our wit and our intelligence.

The Samaritan woman, that mongrel dog, said to Jesus, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” (Mt. 15:27)

And Jesus said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” (Mt 15:28)

May it be so for us in our day and time.

And may God have mercy on us all.

I understand that some will need to express their outrage and indignation. But let’s not allow ourselves to be baited into pointless arguments that just may tempt us to toss out our own forms of rhetorical violence.

This is not some kind of rhetorical game. We must stand against violence and oppression. But let us make our stand with intelligence, wit and dignity.

J.