Archive for June, 2014

The March to new “Marriage Services” continues…….

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music provides information on Indaba-style gathering

The Episcopal Church
Office of Public Affairs

The Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) has provided information following an Indaba meeting in Kansas City, MO on June 3 – 5.

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SLCM) of The Episcopal Church recently held a two-and-a-half-day Indaba-style conversation on same-sex marriage June 3-5 at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, MO.

The conversation included leaders from across the Anglican Communion, ecumenical partners, and lay and clergy representatives from Episcopal dioceses where civil same-sex marriage is legal.

“The overwhelming feel of the entire gathering was one of openness, love, trust, and joy,” said Kathleen Moore, Diocese of Vermont. “Over the course of just three days, many participants who hailed from different states, countries, and denominations shared the profound closeness they now feel toward one another, and an intent to remain in touch.”

The first half of the gathering featured Indaba-style discussion that sought to develop an understanding of civil marriage and the church’s response in different contexts. Indaba is a method of having purposeful conversation, especially about issues that may invite disagreement or diverse viewpoints, that is common in some African cultures.

The second half focused specifically on discussing and hearing responses to “I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing,” the rite and related resources for blessing same-sex relationships approved at the 77th General Convention in 2012.

The SCLM held the meeting to fulfill, in part, Resolution A049’s directive to invite responses “from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals from throughout The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, and from our ecumenical partners,” in order to report back to the 78th General Convention in 2015.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori encouraged openness. “We are here to encounter a diverse sample of God’s creation and consider how we might effectively support and nurture that journey in community for all without resort to rigidity or anarchy,” she said. “Neither is Anglican. So enjoy the discovery and don’t jump to conclusions.  Be open to God’s still-and ever-unfolding creative spirit.”

As an introduction to the Indaba-style conversation, each participant was asked to introduce himself or herself and an object that represents what he or she brings to the conversation. The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music Chair, opened by introducing her object, a photograph of two women at whose blessing she officiated. Meyers explained, “I have heard so many stories. This photo reminds me of the couples whose hopes and dreams are expressed in this process.”

Ulysses Dietz, Diocese of Newark, brought his wedding ring. He recounted his journey through the years that began when he and his husband Gary entered into a private covenant in 1975, followed by a civil union, and finally a marriage. They were married by the mayor of Maplewood, NJ. Dietz explained: “When the mayor asked about rings, I said, ‘forget the rings.’ What we got was the word ‘husband.’ Words are important.”

Echoing that sentiment, Jeff Diehl, Diocese of El Camino Real, brought the liturgy from his upcoming marriage. Diehl told participants, “It is incredible that our names are written under the words ‘The Witnessing and Blessing of Marriage.’ We belong to a church that acknowledges us for who we are, that blesses our family, that loves our family.”

The Rev. Jacynthia Murphy of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, brought with her a dress with the Maori symbol koru to remind participants that “we are all joined.” She also taught the Maori greeting of hongi – rubbing noses and exchanging breath – to remind all present that “you belong to each other and to all of creation.”

A highlight of the gathering was enacting the “Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” liturgy. Meyers served as “Presider,” while the Rev. Jane Stewart and Linda Kroon, Diocese of Iowa, who happened to be celebrating their 15th anniversary that day, served as “the couple.” Though it was only a reading of the text and not an actual use of the liturgy, several of those present were moved to tears. The Rev. Marinez R. S. Bassotto from Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil observed that this liturgy sounded very much like the Holy Matrimony liturgy in Brazil. “What I heard was a marriage,” she said.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, preached at the meeting’s closing Eucharist. “If every person is of equal value, a beloved child of God, then every baptized member of this Church has equal claim on everything the Church offers,” she said. “Equal value.  Equal claim. It’s not rocket science…It’s an amazing privilege to work so that all may claim their rightful inheritance. Talk about a love story.”

At the meeting’s end, a number of Episcopal participants said that while the church has come a long way in its effort to treat all of its members as equals, the difference between the church offering same-sex couples a blessing and other couples a marriage was of great concern.

“Speaking from the perspective of the clergy group at the gathering, I would say that we felt that as priests we are in a particularly difficult position,” said the Rev. Amy Welin, Diocese of Connecticut. “The distinction between a blessing and holy matrimony is not insignificant. As we have vowed both to obey our bishops and to care for all our people, this puts parish clergy in a pastorally tenuous role.”

Bishop Thomas C. Ely of Vermont, who serves on the Task Force on the Study of Marriage as well as the SCLM, said this gathering gave “much to be able to take back into our work based on conversation with people living this reality on the ground, and hearing the pastoral challenges local clergy are facing.”

Meyers described the experience as “amazing,” adding, “You hope and you pray – and when you stand back and give the Holy Spirit room to do her work, it’s astonishing.”

The banality of clergy failure

Saturday, June 21st, 2014
Article image

I’ve traveled a long way. I’m the preacher from across the pond who has dropped everything in the face of tragedy, reached out, and said, “Sure, I’ll come to the funeral. How could I not? I’ll use air miles. And yes, I’ll preach. Be glad to.”

At the funeral I’m surrounded by old friends, parishioners, and acquaintances. And then comes a word of recognition: “Sam!” And she’s before me, thrilled to see me, full of memories, energy, sadness—about the tragic circumstances—but also bursting with appreciation for my ministry, my moving sermon, and how marvelous I was when I used to be here—all the things pastors pretend people shouldn’t say but in fact crave.

And this: I haven’t a clue who she is. My mind goes blank. I’m in a different world now, showing hundreds of other people how important they are to God, and—if that’s too remote—important at least to me. And maybe my head or more likely my heart can’t take any more people, because when I run down my mental checklist of those whose names I may not instantly recall but whose lives I nonetheless deeply cherish, she isn’t on it. She’s greeting me as if I changed her life, and I’m failing to keep up the pretense that her name will come to me any moment.

Her face falls. Plummets. She’s crushed. Here was a pastor, it had seemed, who was different than the others—whom she trusted, to whom she’d poured out her soul (surely if she’d done that I’d at least recognize her), whom she’d put in the trophy cabinet of people who would never let her down. And I just had. Not by some public or private fall from grace, but by something more personal, more painful, more pitiful—by forgetting her.

Half a minute later I glimpse her husband, and glints of recognition dawn. I think I recall that beard . . . But the damage is done. The lie is exposed. I’m all surface and no depth, the pastor who can put on a show but deep down doesn’t care enough to remember, who made her feel special but when she was no longer useful moved on elsewhere, who could talk but didn’t walk. Maybe God, in the end, was like that too.

This is the banality of clergy failure—that we put ourselves between people and God. That we tacitly assume God is distant, remote, occupied, distracted, and so we, to compensate, must be present, intense, hearty, and inspiring. We must be more human than God. God can’t possibly remember this woman’s name, her complex story of not having and then having children and their complex story. So we invest deeply in her, utterly professionally, of course, and her melting heart, her trust, her signs of faith and hope—these are the medals of our ministry. Our people need us, need us badly, because only through our sacrificial and immensely thoughtful yet appropriate love can they possibly glimpse a God who seems reluctant to be made known in any explicit and tangible way.

There’s a good element to this. Part of the atonement is the discovery that in wounding and lacerating Christ’s body on the cross, we matter to God. If we matter negatively, by hurting and killing, then we can matter at least as positively by giving joy and delight. And just as the risen Christ still has the wounds of the tree, so the ascended Lord takes with him the joy we evoke in his heart. The pastor who says, with care, y’all matter to me is showing that we all matter to God.

Of course we’re not up to it. We forget her husband was going in for a scan and we should have inquired how it went. We neglect to ask her to read at the carol service. We get talking to someone else after the worship service, and she drifts away disconsolate to her car. But all these things are forgiven. And we know that they’re healthy ways of indicating she shouldn’t overinvest in us, because it’s not really about us, it’s about Christ and Christ’s body, the church. In fact, we shouldn’t be standing between her and God in the first place. God can look after that part without our unique contribution. The pastor’s job is not so much in front of the people as behind them, ushering them like sheep into a place where they may encounter God together. It’s not about being more interesting than God. Cyprian never said, “Outside the pastor there is no salvation.”

When I haven’t the faintest idea who she is, and both parties are forced to face up to the illusions of pastoral care, we may both lick our wounds for a while. But maybe later she’ll say, “The pastor forgot me today. But God remembers me every day. And always will.” And it could be that later I’ll say, “I’ve a feeling she just discovered I’m not God—and started believing in the real God. Perhaps I did too.”

Presbyterian Church USA will allow same-sex marriages

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

By Peter Smith / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette DETROIT — Ministers in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) can preside at same-sex marriages in states where the marriages are legal, following a vote Thursday afternoon at the denomination’s top legislative body. And in the coming year, the denomination’‍s regional presbyteries will vote on an even more sweeping proposal endorsed by the General Assembly that would change the church‘‍s definition of Christian marriage churchwide, defining marriage as involving two people, regardless of gender. That change — which would require approval from a majority of the 172 presbyteries — would make the denomination the largest American religious body to approve such a change in defining marriage in its official governing documents, although smaller denominations have done so and others allow local option on blessing same-sex relationships. Strong applause broke out after the overwhelming votes, which came amid debate of more than two hours at the Detroit Cobo Center. The lopsided margins contrast with what had been close divisions during most of the past half-century over homosexuality but which in recent years has followed the trajectory of broader public opinion in favor of affirming gays and lesbians both at the altar and in the pulpit. The votes were “historic,” said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk, or top ecclesiastical officer, of the denomination. They resulted from “concerns to reach out to people who are LGBT and to offer them a church home where they can be,” he said. But Thursday’‍s decisions also came with anxious words about the possibility that more conservatives will join an exodus of an estimated 350 congregations that have left for more conservative denominations, including many in Western Pennsylvania, in response to liberal shifts in recent years on sexuality and theology in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). In 2011, the denomination ratified a constitutional change authorizing the ordination of gays and lesbians in non-celibate relationships. The General Assembly on Thursday voted 371-238 in favor of an official “authoritative interpretation” of its constitution, which honors the freedom of conscience of any pastor who chooses to preside at a legal same-sex wedding and of any church that chooses to host one. It supersedes previous case law from the denomination’‍s top court, which said Presbyterian pastors could bless same-sex relationships but not portray them as marriages. The new measure applies only in the fast-growing number of jurisdictions — now in 19 states, including Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia — where gay marriage has been legalized by legislation or court order. The Rev. Randy Bush, pastor of East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, said he has received several requests for same-sex weddings since they became legal in Pennsylvania last month and would avail himself of the opportunity to do so now with his denomination‘‍s permission. The measure takes effect Saturday upon conclusion of the assembly. The authoritative interpretation says that a minister’‍s “discernment of the leading of the Holy Spirit is indispensable” and ministers have the freedom of conscience to discern whether to solemnize any legal marriage. Separately, the assembly also voted 429-175 to recommend changing the church’s constitutional definition of marriage from a covenant between “a man and a woman” to that of a “unique commitment between two people.” The assembly did approve a floor amendment to say those two people have been understood to be “traditionally between a man and a woman.” That phrasing received overwhelming support, including from the Rev. Janet Edwards of Pittsburgh, who long has advocated for same-sex marriage and was acquitted in a church trial in 2008 for presiding at such a ceremony. “The fact is our Presbyterian Christian family and our culture have seen marriage traditionally between a man and a woman. It is also a fact that God has opened our eyes to see what has been there all along,” she said. “… The whole overture also includes the many in the Presbyterian Church who see two men and two women showing all the qualities of love and commitment we recognize as marriage.” The Rev. Paul Roberts of Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, long active in conservative causes in the church, said the amendment would allow the use of more traditional language for those opposed to the change. But he asked the assembly for prayer for pastors and churches “trying to discern God’‍s will about do we and will we still feel a part of this denomination.” The church has 1.76 million members and is particularly concentrated in Western Pennsylvania. The denomination has lost about 10 percent of its members in the past two years, driven in large part to the exiting congregations. The assembly overwhelmingly approved a motion directing the top leadership of the Louisville, Ky.-based denomination to “establish a way to bring reconciliation to the church that would involve visiting each presbytery.” Rev. Parsons said that while he couldn‘‍t immediately estimate the travel cost of such an effort, “the cost of not doing this is higher.” Read more: http://137.117.100.210/local/region/2014/06/19/Presbyterian-Church-USA-will-allow-same-sex-marriages/stories/201406190320#ixzz35AMDMNSm

San Fran Archbishop Schools Pelosi on Marriage Tolerance

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Posted on | June 19, 2014 by Wendy Wright |

San Francisco politicians got more than they bargained for when they tried to demonize pro-marriage supporters and pressure Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone to bow out of today’s March for Marriage in Washington, DC.

Instead of cowering in fear, Cordileone – who rallied voters to pass 2008 California’s marriage amendment – explained what marriage is, corrected their false accusations and held them up to their own standard: “Before you judge us, get to know us.”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi led the lobbying to pressure San Francisco’s top Catholic leader. The small group of local politicians and homosexual advocates sent a letter to Cordileone attempting to smear marriage supporters – a tactic outlined in the homosexual strategy book “After the Ball.”

Cordileone heads the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ work to defend marriage – and the accusers gave him a prime opportunity to model how to defend marriage from the vicious methods of pro-homosexual activists.

C-FAM is proud to stand with Archbishop Cordileone – and sent a contingent of youth to listen and learn from his courageous speech at today’s March for Marriage and carry the message to the next generation.

Here is his letter:

June 16, 2014

Dear Fellow Citizens,

Your  letter  sharing  with  me  your  thoughts  on  the  upcoming  “March  for  Marriage”  in  Washington, D.C., was forwarded to me while I was attending meetings out of town, and I have reflected on what you have to say. I  appreciate  your  affirmation  of  my  Church’s  teaching—not unique to our religion, but a truth accessible to anyone of good will—on the intrinsic human dignity of all people, irrespective of their stage and condition in life. That principle requires us to respect and protect each and every member of the human family, from the precious child in the womb to the frail elderly person nearing death. It also requires me, as a bishop, to proclaim the truth—the whole truth—about  the  human  person  and  God’s  will   for our flourishing. I must do that in season and out of season, even when truths that it is my duty
to uphold and teach are unpopular, including especially the truth about marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. That is what I will be doing on June 19th.

With regard to your request that I not attend the March, and the reasons you give for this request, allow me to explain the following points.

1. The March for Marriage is not “anti-LGBT”  (as  some  have  described  it);  it  is  not  anti-anyone or anti-anything. Rather, it is a pro-marriage March. The latter does not imply the former. Rather, it affirms the great good of bringing the two halves of humanity together so that a man and a woman may bond with each other and with any children who come from their union. This is
precisely  the  vision  promoted  by  Pope  Francis,  who  recently  said,  “We  must  reaffirm  the  right  of   children to grow up in a family with a father  and  mother.”  Rest  assured  that  if  the  point  of  this   event were to single out a group of individuals and target them for hatred, I most certainly would not be there.

2. While I cannot go into all of the details here of your allegations against the sponsors of this event and scheduled speakers, I do know that at least some of what you say is based on misinterpretation or is simply factually incorrect. For example, it is not true that the National Organization for Marriage connects homosexuality with pedophilia and incest. What is true is that three years ago a conference was sponsored in Baltimore by the group B4U-ACT for the purpose of finding ways to encourage tolerance for pedophilia. A  statement  on  NOM’s  blogpost objecting to this conference affirmed that this is something that would outrage people in the gay community as well. Unfortunately, many conclusions are being drawn about those involved in the March for Marriage based on false impressions.

3. It gives me assurance that we share a common disdain for harsh and hateful rhetoric. It must be pointed out, though, that there is plenty of offensive rhetoric which flows in the opposite direction. In fact, for those who support the conjugal understanding of marriage, the attacks have not stopped at rhetoric. Simply for taking a stand for marriage as it has been understood in every human society for millennia, people have lost their jobs, lost their livelihoods, and have suffered other types of retribution, including physical violence. It is true that historically in our society violence has been perpetrated against persons who experience attraction to members of the same sex, and this is to be deplored and eradicated. Sadly, though, we are now beginning to see examples, although thankfully not widespread, of even physical violence against those who hold to the conjugal view of marriage (such as, most notably, the attempted gunning down of those who work in the offices of the Family Research Council). While it is true that free speech can be used to offend others, it is not so much people exercising their right to free speech that drives us further apart than people punished precisely for doing so that does.

4. Please do not make judgments based on stereotypes, media images and comments taken out of context. Rather, get to know us first as fellow human beings. I myself am willing to meet personally with any of you not only to dialogue, but simply so that we can get to know each other. It is the personal encounter that changes the vision of the other and softens the heart. In the end, love is the answer, and this can happen even between people with such deep disagreements. That may sound fanciful and far-fetched, but it is true, it is possible. I know it is possible, I know this from personal experience. When we come together seeking to understand the other with good will, miracles can happen.

When all is said and done, then, there is only one thing that I would ask of you more than anything else: before you judge us, get to know us.

Sincerely,
Most Reverend Salvatore Cordileone Archbishop of San Francisco

Envy and Narcissism

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Before we add gender identity and expression to anti-discrimination laws and international agreements, it might be a good idea to try to understand what is driving those the law is supposed to protect –the transgendered, transsexuals, transvestites, cross-dressers, drag queens and kings, gender queer, adults and children with gender dysphoria (previously know as gender identity disorder), and autogynephiles (men who are in love with the image of themselves as a woman).[1]

With such a diversity of expressions of gender dysphoria (being unhappy with the sex you were born), no single characteristic could be expected to be applicable to every person who could claim protection under “gender identity and expression” status, but there is reason to consider the possibility that many could be described as being motivated by pathological envy.

As I was trying to find a way to explain why men who claim to be women trapped in male bodies aren’t women, I came across a web post by Thorin25, a man struggling against the temptation to cross-dress. I felt his insights were significant since dressing in clothes associated with the other sex is the gateway to the transgender world. He wrote:

Recently I’ve been pondering the nature of cross-dressing desires and have become convinced that a significant component of cross dressing is envy or coveting…

What are cross-dressing desires if not envy?  We want what females have, things that do not properly belong to us.  We envy the beauty of females.  We crave and desire that beauty.  We want it for ourselves.  We want to be as beautiful as the women we see or imagine.  We envy the feeling of “being beautiful.”  Is it any surprise that cross-dressers are so vain?  We spend hours in front of the mirror striving for perfection in our beauty and admiring ourselves.

We envy the feminine experience.  We want to experience what it is like to be a woman or a girl.  We want to experience how men treat women or how they treat beautiful women.  We want to be treated chivalrously.  We want to experience the freedom women have to give in to specific emotions or behaviors that our culture tends to not be so accepting of with men.  We envy that women get to feel sexy, sensual, spontaneous, daring, free from responsibility, provocative, cute, free to giggle, be expressive, vulnerable, sensitive, flirtatious, or gentle.  We improperly think that we shouldn’t show these feelings as much as men, so we envy women being able to have these feelings, and when we cross-dress we then feel free to give in to these feelings…

We envy the soft or silky feel of the clothing.  We envy the beautiful colors of the clothing.  We envy the beauty of the feminine face with makeup.  We envy the beauty of shiny painted nails.  We envy the cool look of high heels.  We envy what we perceive as the ability to dress in a sexy way.  We envy the female clothing that we perceive as more comfortable.[2]

As I read this, as a woman, I could not identify with this man’s idea of what it means to be a woman. I found it demeaning. Where was women’s intelligence, competence, power, motherhood? His envy driving image is not the heart of the feminine experience. I don’t spend hours in front of a mirror striving for perfection. I just try to cover up the obvious flaws, before I face the world. I certainly don’t feel free from responsibility, as a mother (even though my children are grown) I still feel responsible. This is a male illusion of what it means to be a woman and doesn’t match the reality of women’s lives.

The antidote to envy is trust. If we trust God the father, we believe that he will give us what we need. Unfortunately, the transgendered have trouble trusting their heavenly father because they don’t – often for understandable reasons – trust their biological fathers. Some of the transgendered go so far as to claim that God made a mistake that they should have been born with a woman’s body. Some deceive themselves into believing that they can change their sex with clothes, hormones and surgery. They can’t. Our sex is written on our DNA, wired into our brains.

Envy is the sin of wanting what you don’t have and what someone else has. The person who envies is unhappy and imagines that if he has what the other person has it will make him happy. He creates a fantasy, and then tries to make it real. Even if he were allowed to change his documents and be recognized legally as a woman, he wouldn’t be a real woman, only a simulation of a fantasy. Passing as a woman requires wiping out his past and living a lie. Society is under no obligation to give the envious what they covet.

According to the DSM-5, envy is one of the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder.[3] Narcissists are “hungry for adoration , admiration, acceptance , approval and any other kind of attention… Narcissists are, at times, suicidal and are always self-destructive.[4]

Why does this matter to us? Because Narcissists’ needs can never be completely satisfied. No matter how much adoration, admiration, acceptance, approval and attention they receive it will never be enough. They will notice the smallest slight, the tiniest criticism, the inadvertent rejection and they will demand groveling repentance. If they don’t receive it, they will react with narcissistic rage. According to Heinz Kohut, the narcissist experiences a:

…need for revenge, for righting a wrong, for undoing a hurt by whatever means, and a deeply anchored, unrelenting compulsion in pursuit of all these aims…. There is utter disregard for reasonable limitations and a boundless wish to redress an injury and to obtain revenge…. The narcissistically injured on the other hand, cannot rest until he has blotted out [the]…offender who dared to oppose him, [or] to disagree with him.[5]

Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen in their blue print for gay activism After the Ball could not help but notice that a significant number of gay men fit the clinical description for narcissistic personality disorder.

If even only a small percentage of the LGBTQ community is pathologically narcissistic, according them legal protection will give them a weapon to use against anyone who so much as looks at them cross-eyed. People of faith who refuse to compromise religious principles are being dragged into court and charged with discrimination. Even those who support their agenda can be targeted, as the case of J. Michael Bailey, author of The Man who would be Queen demonstrates. Several members of the transsexual community were offended by Bailey’s treatment of his subjects and launched a vicious smear campaign against him, his friends, family, coworkers, and casual acquaintances. A comprehensive review of their attack by Alice Dreger was published in Archives of Sexual Behavior.[6]

Narcissistic rage may also explain the LGBTQ activists’ demand that therapy for same sex attraction and gender identity disorder be made illegal. Gerald Schoenewolf, in an article entitled “Gender Narcissism and its Manifestations,” discussed the problem of narcissistic rage among some of his clients:

A number of both female and male homosexuals had politicized their feelings about homosexuality. Not only their gender was idealized, but also homosexuality as well. Homosexuals, they held, were more sensitive, more humane, more refined, and more moral than heterosexuals. “If straights were as peace-loving as gays, the world would be a better place,” was an often expressed sentiment. Underpinning this grandiosity was the narcissistic rage. If I did not mirror their idealization, I would quickly experience this rage in the form of character assassination, threats, or hasty terminations. [7]

If a person who self-identifies as lesbian, gay, or transgendered seeks help with other psychological difficulties (which, as numerous, large, well-designed studies have shown, are more common among LGBTQ self-identified persons) and is challenged by the therapist to explore the roots of his problems, the person may react with narcissistic rage, going so far as to demand that the therapist be punished.

Anne Lawrence, a post operative male to female transsexual, in an article entitled “Shame and Narcissistic Rage in Autogynephilic Transsexualism,” acknowledges the problem of narcissistic disorders among transgendered and warns therapists to be sensitive lest they trigger “narcissistic rage.”[8] All therapy with members of the LGBTQ will be compromised because a soon as the therapist touches on the key issues, he risks becoming a target.

Adding “gender identity and expression” to anti-discrimination laws cannot satisfy the envy that drives narcissistic rage, but will force the entire society to walk on eggshells for fear of being labeled homophobic, heterosexist, transphobic haters.

[1] Anne Lawrence, “Becoming what we love: Autogynephlic transsexualism conceptualized

as an expression of romantic love,” http://www.annelawrence.com/twr/becoming_what_we_love.pdf

[2]Thorin25, “Crossdressing is about Envy,” http://healingcd.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/crossdressing-is-about-envy/

[3] Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition, p.670.

[4]Sam Vaknin “Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited, “ http://samvak.tripod.com/faq18.html

[5] Heinz Kohut, (1972) “Thoughts on narcissism and narcissistic rage,” Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 27, 360–400.

[6] Alice Dreger, (2008) “The Controversy surrounding The Man who would be Queen, Archives of Sexual Behavior, 37: 366-421

[7]Gerald Schoenewolf, “Gender Narcissism and its Manifestations,”

http://www.narth.com/docs/1996papers/schoenwolf.html

[8] Anne Lawrence, (2007) “Shame and Narcissistic Rage in Autogynephilic Transsexualism,” http://www.annelawrence.com/twr/shame_&_narcissistic_rage.pdf

New Growth as Anglicans Gather to Select Leader

Friday, June 20th, 2014

By Jeffrey Walton
http://juicyecumenism.com/

The Anglican Church in North America gathers for its 2012 Provincial Assembly in Ridgecrest, NC. The denomination has reported significant growth since it’s 2009 launch (photo: ACNA)

Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) have encouraging news as they convene this evening to begin the process of selecting a new leader: a growing flock. The fledgling denomination, launched in 2009, has seen membership grow by 13 percent to 112,504 members and attendance by 16 percent to 80,471 attendees.

The numbers contrast with the U.S.-based Episcopal Church that many ACNA members departed from, which has declined in its domestic dioceses from 2,006,343 members in 2009 to 1,894,181 members in 2012, the most recent reporting year. Episcopal Church domestic attendance declined from 682,963 in 2009 to 640,142 in 2012. The Episcopal Church Center usually releases updated statistics for the previous reporting year in the autumn.

In releasing statistics, the ACNA officials note that 74 percent of congregations completed reports. In an attempt to provide a complete picture, the denomination provides two statistical totals: “reported” figures and “projected” figures that substitute median averages for congregations that did not report. In the Episcopal Church, officials roll over previously reported statistics for non-reporting parishes until new ones are received. In the case of both the “reported” and “projected” figures, ACNA posts growth, which is strongest with the “reported” figures.

Archbishop Robert Duncan is concluding a five-year term as the denomination’s top official and will step down next week at the Anglican Provincial Assembly held June 25-28 at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. The province, which aspires to be a part of — but is not formally recognized by – the worldwide Anglican Communion, unmistakably bears the fingerprints of Duncan, a longtime leader in what has been referred to as the “Anglican Realignment.”

The outgoing leader has steered the Anglican Church towards aggressively planting new congregations, especially in urban centers and college towns. Since 2009, the church has seen a growth of 40 percent in net congregations, from about 700 to 983 in 2013. In contrast, church planting efforts in the Episcopal Church have nearly ground to a halt, with overall parishes dropping from 6,895 in 2009 to 6,667 in 2012.

In addition to an emphasis on reaching un-churched people, Duncan traveled extensively during his term in order to build closer relationships with overseas Anglicans. The denomination now asserts that provinces representing the majority of the roughly 80 million Anglicans in the world now recognize ACNA, substantially broadening the group from the initial nine overseas provinces that recognized it in 2009. The church has also promoted and grown the Anglican Relief and Development Fund, an agency that completed development projects worth in excess of $5.6 million over the last seven years. The group has also channeled over $1 million to meet urgent relief needs.

ACNA took part in ecumenical dialogues with the Orthodox Church in America, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Messianic Jewish groups and the Polish National Catholic Church. The denomination helped launch the Common Ground Christian Network, an ecumenical partnership of evangelical denominations and organizations (including IRD).

Duncan served as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh from 1996 until he was deposed as a bishop in the Episcopal Church in 2008. Named a bishop of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone (Spanish-speaking South America) after his removal, Duncan was again elected Pittsburgh bishop after the diocese voted to depart the Episcopal Church weeks later.

In 2009, Pittsburgh joined with three other former Episcopal Church dioceses and several convocations of churches sponsored by the Anglican provinces of Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and the Southern Cone to launch ANCA. After voting to launch the new Anglican “province in formation,” Duncan was installed as its first archbishop by Benjamin Nzimbi, archbishop of Kenya.

The denomination’s path has not been without conflict: in 2010, the Anglican Mission in America (AMIA), a founding organization of ACNA and part of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, announced it was transitioning to “missionary partner” – a lower level of affiliation with ACNA. Eighteen months later, the AMIA experienced a crisis when its officials unilaterally severed their connection with the Rwandan church, forfeiting ACNA missionary partner status. The dispute was partly resolved when two-thirds of AMIA congregations opted to affiliate with ACNA by directly joining its dioceses or through a new Rwandan-sponsored missionary jurisdiction. The remaining third of AMIA congregations recast themselves as a mission society with connections to the Anglican Church of Congo.

Many ACNA congregations that departed the Episcopal Church have also endured litigation over disputed church properties with their former denomination. while Duncan has acknowledged the pain of the past split for many congregations and the difficulty of contentious litigation, he has encouraged congregations to prioritize evangelism and not to dwell on past disputes.

ACNA is not the only church to emerge from denominational strife over scriptural authority and human sexuality. Following a 2009 vote by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to liberalize teachings on marriage and sexuality, hundreds of congregations departed to found the Lutheran Church in North America (NALC) or join the already-existing Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC). Following a 2010 vote to remove a requirement that Presbyterian clergy remain chaste in singleness or practice fidelity in married life, scores of congregations have departed the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to join the new Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO) or the already-existing Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). Both the ELCA and PCUSA have witnessed similar numeric declines to the Episcopal Church, with traditionalist groups in the PCUSA expecting further departures if the denomination changes teaching on marriage at the governing General Assembly gathered this week in Detroit.

Adrian Hilton: The importance of cultural self-belief

Thursday, June 19th, 2014
questions on a blackboardAdrian Hilton is a conservative academic, theologian and educationalist.

I’ve noticed over many years in the classroom that when students enter the physics or chemistry lab, they expect to be taught facts, and the teachers duly oblige by providing copious evidence from textbooks. But when those same students come to me to consider matters of theology, politics and philosophy, they generally take the view that they can choose what they like best, because just about everything that Hilton goes on about is mere opinion or speculation, if not total fabrication. If it feels good and brings serenity, it must be good and serene. Whatever they choose to believe is true, and truth is consecrated in the mind, just above freedom.

And so Plato’s ‘Form of the Good’ is meaningless, for goodness is “defined by the individual for the fulfilment of self” (according to Psychology Today). Conservatives have no values but those which “promote dog-eat-dog individualism, ruthless competition and the supremacy of private profit” (according to Owen Jones). And the belief that God raised Jesus from the dead is “delusional” (according to Richard Dawkins). You only have to hear Dawkins gasp with incredulity that anyone could be so dim-witted to believe such tosh to appreciate how difficult it is to incorporate the myths of faith into our increasingly secular plausibility structure. It is the eccentric and esoteric belief of a cultic community that prefers to sing with the musical spheres rather than thrash out simultaneous equations.

It seems that I’m concerned with evangelical fairy tales. God is profane, if not toxic, and his kingdom is purely religious, supernatural, spiritual and subjective. The gospel is divorced from reason: it is about human feelings and private experience. It can have no political significance or serve any earthly purpose. What, after all, is the meaning of sin in a society where morality is relative? Where there is no sin, there is no need for salvation. And where there is no need for salvation, there is no need of a saviour. Nietzsche is proven right: “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.”

Education has become obsessed with technological advance, material possession, scientific consumerism and economic purpose. Instead of inculcating virtues and moral values, we teach our children that they have the right to pursue happiness and live as they please. All problems are solvable, and those which remain are simply waiting upon humanity’s future mastery of the relevant facts. Man has the power to remake the world in his own image and according to his own design, and so all supernatural agencies are summarily dispensed with.

Students are subjected daily to an almost continuous bombardment of ideas, images, slogans and stories which presuppose a plausibility structure radically different from the Christian understanding of human nature and destiny. But we ignore these at our peril. It is not for nothing the daily school assembly (or “collective worship”) is supposed to be “broadly Christian”. It may have been originally conceived and set out by RA Butler in 1944, but the requirement was reiterated in the Education Reform Act 1988, the Education Act 1996 and the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 – under both Conservative and Labour governments. The intention was and is to inculcate values and a moral worldview because a task of government is to propagate national identity and sustain culture by reinforcing character and a communal disposition.

The law is otiose, of course: it is largely ignored by many headteachers and governing bodies, and Ofsted don’t bother inspecting it any more. But the school assembly ought to remain “broadly Christian” not because we are concerned with inducing belief in God or enforcing the worship of Jesus, but because our Judæo-Christian heritage is the basis of understanding every aspect of our culture and national history. It is woven into our notions of justice, our economic values, our understanding of liberty, the purpose of law and the pretext for war. Through the prism of modernity, it even informs our understanding of secularity, humanism and atheism.

To treat others as we wish to be treated and to love our neighbour as we love ourselves are “broadly Christian” teachings, and our Christianised grasp of Hellenised ethics is intrinsic to that breadth. The “broadly Christian” school assembly is sacred in a secular kind of way, not least because it probes our understanding of purpose, morality, and virtues such as resilience, honour and loyalty. It gives space for abstract cosmological reflection beyond what we see, hear and touch. It may not define life or explain suffering, but it opens up the possibility of eternal significance.

But communication of the meaning of “broadly Christian’” has to be in the language of the receptor: it has to be such that it accepts, at least provisionally, the way of understanding things that is embodied in God-less language. There is no place for unthinking dogmatism: the only way that “broadly Christian” numinosity may be apprehended is if children can stumble upon its light in genuine contextualisation. Only then can their hearts and minds be opened to an understanding of the sacred and the virtues of self-regulation and delayed gratification. And only then will they come to know the paternity of their culture, and the meaning of their artistic, philosophical and social selves in collaborative judgment and wholesome cooperation.