Monday, January 19, 2009


After a war in the area, and a family member's health crisis more recently, threatened to scuttle this trip, I am indeed about to walk out the door and spend the next 27 hours en route to a Tel Aviv hotel room. From there, a week of guided touring with about a dozen other Christian pastors. We'll be doing the usual stuff: Mediterranean coast, Galilee (and the sea thereof), Masada, the Jordan River and Dead Sea, Bethlehem (we've been told) and Jersusalem. 

I'm not bringing my laptop and while internet access at hotels is available, it's a little spendy. I may post something from time to time while I'm there, but I expect to bore all of you with an extended illustrated travelogue when I get back.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Friday, January 16, 2009

B033 Followup

Another snippet of my participation in the ongoing HoB/D discussion on the repeal of B033. Among those who post there, the sentiment is overwhelmingly in favor of either replealing it or eclipsing it with another (contradictory) resolution or canonical action. I am dubious that these posters represent as statistical "mind of the house."

At any rate:

I find myself flummoxed by assertions that B033 was a "failure." That depends, I suppose, on what one considers its purpose to have been. As I understand it, the purpose was to get our bishops to Lambeth and to keep our Presiding Bishop at the Primates' Meeting. Well, our bishops (minus one) were at Lambeth, and, as far as I know, Katharine is planning on being in Egypt next month. Sounds pretty much like a success to me. That some (most who are vocal on this list, at any rate) consider B033 too high a price to pay for such success I totally get. But it is manifestly not a failure if it is evaluated in terms of what it was designed to accomplish.

I find myself equally flummoxed by assertions that "a lot has changed" or that "society has moved on" since 2006, thus consigning B033, or anything like it, to the ash heap of history. As another poster has observed, the success of Proposition 8 in California, along with other similar measures in other states, gives the lie to such an assertion. But even if the assertion were true, it would still be at best marginally relevant to B033, since B033's "audience" is not TEC, or American society, but the rest of the Anglican Communion in general, and the Four Instruments in particular. I suspect many in TEC have been lulled into the notion that the "Windsor Process" has ground to a halt because it hasn't been making news of late. This is a serious mistake, IMO. It's taking a long time to work itself out (thus having long alienated conservatives of a GAFCON disposition), but it is working itself out with a higher level of inexorability than many realize. Any movement to distance ourselves from B033 will only hasting and intensify the day of reckoning in which we will be forced to choose between the vision of (what the majority party calls) "full inclusion" and the vision of a worldwide Anglican Communion. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009


With General Convention looming now less that seven months away, the HoB/D listserv is beginning to heat up over potential specific resolutions. One of these--not yet crafted and submitted to my knowledge--will be to repeal Resolution B033 from 2006--the one that, by some accounts, effects a moratorium on the consecration of more partnered gay bishops. I share below my own most recent contribution to the conversation.

No surprise here, but I'm going to weigh against anything that even smells like repealing B033.  Not that I was particularly crazy about it at the time; I didn't think it was strong enough, and was dismayed that it did not address the question of the blessing of same-sex unions.

Of course, I realize that mine is a minority viewpoint, and there is nothing to be gained by arguing my point, as it were, "on the merits." It seems expedient, however, to remind the members of this list, particularly those who are new deputies at this year's convention, of the context in which B033 was moved and carried.

The issue on the floor was the Episcopal Church's formal response to certain requests contained in the document known as the Windsor Report, produced by the international commission appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury in response to what were widely perceived as the provocative actions of the 2003 General Convention. A special legislative committee was tasked with crafting, and bringing to the floor, resolutions that would address these requests, one of which was to effect a "moratorium" on the consecration of any more non-celibate gay bishops. The committee's resolution on this question had been defeated in the HOD two days before the scheduled close of convention. At stake was the participation of members of TEC in the wider councils of the Anglican Communion, including the Lambeth Conference. This is why Bishop Griswold and Bishop Jefferts Schori advocated so assiduously for its passage.

Contrary to what some have written, the purpose of B033 was not to smooth the way for conservatives in certain offshore provinces to participate in Lambeth and other meetings. It was to ensure that TEC would have a place at such venues. And it was, by all accounts, successful. While some, myself included, have at times contended that it was not worthy of such success, B033, together with the HOB New Orleans statement in September 2007, was a key ingredient in the issuance of invitations to our bishops to attend Lambeth '08, to say nothing of the Presiding Bishop's continued participation in the Primates' Meeting.

Even though there has been no recent drama, Deputies and Bishops should be under no illusion that "all is well" with respect to TEC's relationship with the Anglican Communion and continued unclouded communion with the See of Canterbury. The reports of the Windsor Continuation Group at last summer's Lambeth Conference, along with the presidential addresses of Archbishop Williams, can lead to no optimism for our continued place in the communion should we back off from what are understood by the rest of the communion to be commitments on our part. Those for whom such considerations are of marginal importance may well feel emboldened to make the mind of this Church with respect to "full inclusion" crystal clear. But those for whom our place in the Communion is still a non-negotiable mark of Episcopalian identity will, no matter what their opinions may be on the sexuality issues, want to think long and hard before voting Aye on any resolutions stemming from such boldness.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


I don't have anything terribly profound to say about this feast, which is probably in itself profound. 

Mostly, I'm grateful for the opportunity to be part of a community that is willing to keep it with me. It's a lot to ask of people to come to church on a weeknight--some to serve at the altar, some to read, some to sing in the choir, some to fix the post-liturgical repast--especially when freezing rain is in the forecast. But I asked, and about 70 of them said yes. That's about half of our total attendance on a typical Sunday. Certainly critical mass (pardon the pun) for soul-satisfying worship.

To paraphrase Ray Kinsella, "If you feed them, they will come." So we had spaghetti and garlic bread and salad ... and a little red wine for the grownups. Three of our high school thespians did a brief "reader's theater" presentation adapted from Matthew's and Luke's gospels. People lingered, enjoying one another's company.

Before that, in the liturgy, we began in dark silence (or was it silent darkness?). After a greeting mentioning light, and a snippet from the prologue to John's gospel about the light that the darkness could not overcome, the altar candles, and the people's hand candles, were langorously lit. Then, while everyone sang the (really) ancient Greek hymn Phos hilaron (usually rendered "O gracioius light," but I like to think more literally: "O hilarious light!"), I walked around the altar swinging incense, which, to tell you the truth, is one my favorite things to do.

The homily was a "children's sermon" (not a frequent event in my minsitry). I gathered them around the creche and sort of did the Art Linkletter thing (if you catch that allusion, you're really old; if not, don't worry), hoping, of course, that the adults would overhear, because I was wanting to get through to them as much as to the kids. I suspect it probably worked, at least a little bit.

Oh ... and I got to sing "Brightest and best of the stars of the morning," which, if I didn't get to sing it, would rob me of that old "Epiphany feeling." See, I'm a little eccentric in what I get sentimental about.

The Lord has shown forth his glory: Come, let us adore him.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Meeting the 22nd Century

My first grandchild--Charlotte Louise Martins Washington--was born three weeks ago tomorrow. But since her house is 537 miles away from mine, Nana Dragonfly and I were not able to meet her personally untl yesterday. She's a beauty, alright, and we are thrilled to begin our relationship with her. She won't remember it, of course--though, God knows, there will be plenty of pictures to prove to her that the event took place. 

Most of what needs to be said at a moment like this, of course, is inarticulable--except, perhaps, in poetry, and I don't have that particular muse just right now. It is a liminal time, suffused with mystery. My grandparents saw the 19th century. It is not at all inconceivable that this grandchild (and any who may follow her) will see the 22nd. Awesome.

In the meantime, check out the effect I have on her: