Archive for April, 2012

Confessing Anglican Leaders gather in Capital with Democratic Dry-Rot

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

By Julian Mann, Virtueonline

Orthodox bishops in the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, meeting this week in London, are gathering in a capital city where the Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson has just banned this statement from London buses: “Not gay. Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it.”

Such censorship of these advertisements, responding to the earlier “Some people are gay. Get over it.” campaign by the highly politically influential homosexualist lobby group Stonewall, is disturbing enough. But the reasons Mr Johnson has given for the ban in the UK capital city are even more alarming.

His latest rationale frighteningly exposes the dry-rot in the edifice of democratic freedom.

At a mayoral hustings last week at St James’s Piccadilly, Mr Johnson declared that he banned the ads on London buses by Christian groups, Anglican Mainstream and Core Issues Trust, because “the backlash would be so intense it would not have been in the interest of Christian people in this city”.

His initial stated reason for banning the posters was his desire to protect Londoners from being exposed to the suggestion of gay therapy: “London is one of the most tolerant cities in the world and intolerant of intolerance. It is clearly offensive to suggest being gay is an illness someone recovers from and I am not prepared to have that suggestion driven around London on our buses.”

Whilst his latest reason at the hustings does not contradict his earlier one, it is a significant development. It emits an even stronger whiff of democratic putrefaction.

What ‘backlash’ exactly against Christians is Mr Johnson afraid of? Is he concerned that the bus ads would have unleashed violent disorder against the Christian community? Church services disrupted? Vicars jostled? Or worse?

And a backlash by whom? Gay stormtroopers?

Or was he worried that Christians might get upset by people disagreeing with the idea of gay conversion?

A Queer Road To Atheism

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

I’m linking to a short bio by Dick Hewetson, a former Episcopal priest.

Just a few observations and a question:

—It appears that this man functioned as an Episcopal priest for nearly 15 years, while not believing even in the existence of God, much less the tenets of the Christian faith. Indignation for the people whom he deceived and hurt and who trusted him is hardly the right word for my thoughts on this conman functioning as a priest.

—My, isn’t he perfectly shallow!

—Note that he was a deputy to General Convention and a participant in Integrity. Perfect.

—And to my questions: how many Episcopal priests do you think have functioned as conmen and conwomen over the past 50 years?

Is it possible that, of the rectors and bishops you and I have sat under there were such people as Dick Heweston, and that that explains their clueless, shallow answers to questions, their clear lack of knowledge about the Christian faith, their revisionist and deconstructionist rhetoric about Holy Scripture, tradition, and reason, their vague, waffling sermons, and their feckless, failed parish leadership?

I wonder.

Incompetence and failure is one thing. All of us are incompetent in one way or another and all of us fail.

Being simply a fraud and huckster, like the Duke and Dauphin, is quite another.

Britain’s Christians are being vilified, warns Lord Carey

Monday, April 16th, 2012

By John Bingham, Telegraph

Lord Carey says worshippers are being “vilified” by the state, treated as “bigots” and sacked simply for expressing their beliefs.

The attack is part of a direct appeal to the European Court of Human Rights before a landmark case on religious freedom.

In a written submission seen by The Daily Telegraph, the former leader of more than 70 million Anglicans warns that the outward expression of traditional conservative Christian values has effectively been “banned” in Britain under a new “secular conformity of belief and conduct”.

His comments represent one of the strongest attacks on the impartiality of Britain’s judiciary from a religious leader.

He says Christians will face a “religious bar” to employment if rulings against wearing crosses and expressing their beliefs are not reversed.

Lord Carey argues that in “case after case” British courts have failed to protect Christian values. He urges European judges to correct the balance.

Read here

Lisa’s Blog: You’ve got mail. ‘Who’s hating now?’

Monday, April 16th, 2012

‘What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.’ Jesus (NIV, c. 1984)

Dear Readers,

AM’s sponsorship of the bus campaign (‘Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it’) has elicited a flurry of email. We understand that these are highly charged issues. However, as recent events demonstrate, the politically-correct orthodoxy is such that we are not allowed even to present another point of view for debate. Not only are we legally censored, but the social opprobrium heaped on campaigns such as ours means that most duck the issues; it is too costly. But by so doing they fail to understand how much the status quo has shifted, nor how the alleged haters of the past have been replaced by ‘the new haters’. In order to ensure that readers understand the current status quo, ‘critical’ email will be posted for them to read for themselves. It is vital they ‘come out’ or be permanently silenced.

See for example, Mark Smout’s email: Subject: Just seen your new bus ads and it appears you’re a bunch of massive expletive deleted. I know some people will be hoping you enjoy slow painful deaths while god watches, lazily expletive deleted over the desperate situation you find yourselves in. (Replace god with the name of any other mythical character as you see fit).

The purpose of this email is to cause you as much offence as your advert has caused me. If you want someone to cure take a long hard look at yourself, you’re clearly expletive deleted sick in the head!

Sent from my iPad, whilst gently fingering my expletive deleted.

Job done?

Making noise, not arguments

Monday, April 16th, 2012

By Jennifer Roback Morse, MercatorNet

In my work as a social conservative, I have been puzzled by some of the rhetorical strategies of my opponents. Sometimes I feel my head spinning, as if I have been going around in circles, with no obvious conclusion in sight. I have been seeking the key to understanding them, a Rosetta Stone that will allow me to translate what otherwise appears to be mere hieroglyphics.

I think I am finally getting a handle on it. The lifestyle left doesn’t actually make arguments. They just make noise.
Over at Think Progress, there is a case in point, involving Yours Truly.
The occasion for this particular episode is my response to being included in the GLAAD “Commentator Accountability Project.”
Evidently, the folks at GLAAD feel a need to inform the media that I am not worthy of being interviewed. In response, I wrote an article entitled, “Why Opposing the Gay Lobby is Not Anti-Gay.” The folks over at Think Progress came up with this headline “NOM: Opposing Gay Rights Doesn’t Make Someone Anti-Gay.”
Do you see what they have done? They have slipped in an unstated assumption that the “gay lobby” = “gay rights.” Anyone who disagrees with the gay lobby automatically, always and everywhere, opposes gay rights. Put it another way: they have turned an important and debatable question into an unquestioned assumption.

FALLS CHURCH, VA: 3,750 Anglicans Worship at the Historic Episcopal Church for Final Easter Services

Friday, April 13th, 2012

By David W. Virtue

It was a bitter sweet day for 65-year old the Rev. Dr. John Yates. Bitter because a long drawn out legal battle was finally coming to an end, and the day was soon coming when he and his flock could no longer stay in property they had loved and cherished, learned, listened and spiritually grown up in, having contended for several generations for ‘the faith once for all delivered to the saints.’ It was sweet because the transition was going relatively smoothly with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

Yates himself was ebullient with joy as he stood before his flock of nearly 4,000 evangelical Anglicans on Easter Sunday, many of whom had been with him for his 33 years of ministry at The Falls Church. Now, three decades of gospel ministry in a church founded in 1732 was finally coming to an end. Crowds were so dense at six services that there was standing room only. Services were videoed to overflow locations. A CANA bishop told VOL that he and his wife were forced to stand at the back of the main sanctuary; there were simply no seats available.

Tears of loss might have been expected as emotions ran high, but it was not so. Yates was ebullient with resurrection joy at the Spirit that filled the worship space on Sunday morning. “It was a joyous time, he preached five different sermons, something he had always wanted to do…it was all magnificent,” Senior Warden, Sam Thomsen told VOL.

“In the main sanctuary and the overflow accommodations in the Fellowship Hall, 3,160 people attended in three services where the usual capacity is 850, and the Fellowship Hall was maxed out. The remaining 800 attended one of the other three services, two of which were in the historic church.”

Virginia became the nation’s epicenter of Episcopal parish battles for the soul of Anglicanism. More than a dozen parishes, some mega church size believed The Episcopal Church had gone too far and had fallen off the cliff over the place and authority of Scripture and unscriptural innovations on human sexuality. It was a bridge too far for this and many orthodox Episcopal congregations around the country.

Here in Northern Virginia the heaviest price was being paid with tens of millions of dollars worth of properties. Yates knows that the eternal destiny of his people transcends buildings. The loss of one soul is more heart wrenching to God than bricks and mortar and a theologically corrupt and morally compromised denomination. With millions of dollars having been spent on legal fees and fruitless appeals to the courts, it was nearing time to move on.

Yates came to The Falls Church in 1979 when it had a congregation of 500. 33 years later the church can boast nearly 4,000 members with eight clergy and a staff of 60. The church’s annual budget is $6 million. No small achievement. His is one of the top five most successful parishes in The Episcopal Church of nearly 7,000 congregations. The church’s outreach in many directions is spectacular.

Among its many ministries, the church initiated an exciting church planting effort called Timothys program. It selects talented young men who have finished seminary and are interested in church planting to go through a testing process for three years to see if they are made of the right stuff to start a church of their own. A strong faith and entrepreneurial skills are a must.

Today several church plants have been established within 10 miles of The Falls Church with more are planned, some geographically further afield. Gracious in defeat, Yates noted, “Having served as rector of the Falls Church Anglican since 1979, I have witnessed first-hand this congregation’s spirit of generosity to the local community and beyond.

“We continue to exemplify Christ in this way. Our congregation rearranged its worship schedule to provide an Easter service time for local Episcopal worshippers despite litigation that has been brought against us.

“The death and resurrection of our Lord this Holy Week reminds us us that even though we are facing legal obstacles, He continues to work through the Christ filled hearts of our congregation. Our prayer is that this historic site will continue always to be a place where the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and lived.”

The properties with an estimated worth of $25 million plus some $3 million in liquid assets (but no interest) are currently scheduled to be turned over to the diocese.

Falls Church has already been the recipient of substantial ecumenical support. “When word went out that we would have to get out, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington graciously made space available and offered us an auditorium of a local Catholic high school for our main worship services. It can seat 1,400”, Thomsen told VOL.

“We have three locations for worship available to us in all. An Arlington County Middle School will allow us to use their attractive auditorium and the staff has gone out of its way to be helpful. Three Baptist churches have given space and other support and the Presbyterians have offered help. There are scheduling issues as we have multiple services but these will not stop us.”

There are signs and indications that the challenging circumstances have already spiked church attendance. “This Easter Sunday had the largest attendance on any single day we can remember,” Thomsen said. “We hope and pray that we can carry that forward.”

The continuing Falls Church Episcopal parish of the diocese drew some 350 in its service in the historic church, which filled the structure that George Washington helped to build. Half of them may have been visitors in support of the congregation, VOL was told.

The Speed of Change in the Republic of Rights

Friday, April 13th, 2012

by Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.

couple“I grew up in Kansas. When I began my book Render Unto Caesar in 2006, I had in my mind the America I always knew—or thought I knew. But that America, I admit, has been passing for fifty years, and probably longer.”
—Charles Chaput, September 2010

The Catholic thinkers, in the past century or so, argued that the Church’s tenets and principles are basically compatible with the intellectual framework of the Founding Fathers. Indeed, contrariwise, they argued that the American Founders discovered their basic principles, knowingly or not, from the Catholic tradition. One can dispute this assumption. Many of the founding principles, on further examination, were modern in origin even though they could look like holdovers from the earlier traditions of ethics, law, and metaphysics. Moreover, the present understanding of American culture has little to do either with the founding fathers or classical tradition.

Nothing is more volatile than the word “rights” and basing one’s political philosophy on its shifting premises. The intellectual “justification” for current and increasing attacks on the Church, insofar as they have any substance, is founded on this charge: the Church is against human “rights.” The word’s modern usage is from Hobbes, not Aquinas. It means that, because of individual autonomy, for whatever I need or want, I have a “right.” Since everyone else has the same “right,” yet disparate “rights” conflict, government is set up to adjudicate who gets what. The government’s own criterion for enforcing this or that “right” is based on the same principle: whatever it decides is law. The failure to notice the dangers of such an understanding of “rights” is coming home to haunt us.

Many writers and thinkers are struck by the rapidity with which the Catholic Church itself, from being relatively comfortable in Zion, has suddenly come under fire as the object of ever-increasing government control and cultural ostracism. It finds itself having to resort to “freedom of religion” and “freedom of speech” in a world in which such “freedoms” are either ignored or simply contradicted. The reason for this change is that the Church is now perceived as the principal obstacle to establishing a fully “rights-oriented” political society. This is evidently the goal of the Obama administration as revealed in its ever more invasive “decrees.” In this “rights” republic, in lieu of any dramatic action of the Supreme Court, the sole arbiter and definer of what “rights” mean is the state and what it decrees and enforces.

Many Catholics profess to be surprised by this sudden drawing of the logical conclusion to what Mary Ann Glendon called “rights talk.” Many Catholics so want “rights” to mean what they claim it means that they blind themselves to what the intellectual history of the word does mean and imply by this enigmatic term. All through recent decades, the provisions of freedom of speech and freedom of religion have been used against the Church. It was held to be against free speech and free religion. The irony today is that it is the Church that finds itself appealing to these standards over against an administration which claims the same standards. The decrees that the Church finds contrary to “rights” are precisely the ones said to be based on “rights”—abortion, contraception, sterilization, gay marriage, the works.

Numerous writers in recent years have pointed to the decay of the American family. Since the time of Aristotle’s response to Plato’s famous proposal of communality of wives and children, the family has been looked on as a bulwark, not enemy, of the political order. But there has always been in modern utopian and Marxist thought a strand that saw the elimination of the family as the key to a successful social order. What would take the place of the family?–schools, health agencies, bureaucratic employment institutions, welfare under another name. Most of these extreme notions are proposed in the name of common good and human dignity.

We’re All Rome Now

In his essay on Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, Allan Bloom remarked: “The corruption of the people is the key to the mastery of Rome.” We need only to change the name of the capitol city to suspect that this observation applies to almost every democratic entity, including our own. And what is striking is that it is precisely a corruption that in almost every way concerns, touches upon, or affects the family by the institution of policies that are put forth in the name of modern “rights.”

I began these remarks by citing a brief comment of Archbishop Chaput. What struck him was the rapidity of the change in this country from the land that he “thought” that he knew. It is said by several historians of civilization that once the core principles of a culture are corrupted, the decline of that society is precipitous. The will to acknowledge the problem or the failure to see the consequence of “rights” once put into effect portend a paralysis of the good.

Since much of the culture has now accepted as “human rights” the issues that the Church has taken a firm stand against as themselves unnatural and immoral, it follows that the effects of these “rights” will henceforth dominate the public order. Single parent families, in virto families of one or another parent, free “health” service to effect abortion, contraception, euthanasia, and fetal experiment will all be available. Opposition to these issues will not be seen as “free speech,” but as “hate language.” No discussion will be allowed largely because the government understands implicitly the tenuousness and lack of validity to its own positions. The government will claim the “right” to define what religion is.

Many, if not most, religions will go along with this cultural pressure and fact. To oppose it invites marginalization and probably legal persecution. In any case, in the name of “human rights,” the government will assume control of both the public and familial orders. No longer will we find any recognition of an order of truth that is independent of the state’s own definition of itself.

Is this concern for the rapid decline of the culture far-fetched? I think not. Even a year ago, few would have suspected the rapidity with which the Church has become an object of direct political concern over its own teachings and doctrines. It will get worse if the present government and its general principles remain in power. This observation goes against the grain of many, especially of those who agree with the government’s principles and decrees. But the logic of decline and fall is already in place. We cannot stop erroneous principles from taking effect except by acknowledging their falsity. Otherwise, they carry themselves and those who hold them to their logical conclusion.

The Speed of Change

It can be delayed, but not stopped until we recognize where the problem lies. It lies in the rejection, implicit or explicit, of the nature and centrality of the family. In a sense, we have here an ancient issue. But it is now ever so present. The Catholic Church is admired for what it stands for. The Catholic Church is hated for what it stands for. The reason for this paradox lies in the logic of reason.

Etienne Gilson remarked that once we lay down our first principles, we no longer think as we may but we think as we can. We are seeing the “logic” of “rights” being carried out before our very eyes. The undermining and elimination of the family are no accidents. They follow from certain premises, the premises that place our private good at the center of reality. The rapidity of change means, I suspect, that “it is later than we think.” We are not at the beginning of the change but, as Archbishop Chaput intimated, at the end. That is why is seems so rapid. Little is left to oppose it.

Tagged as: Church, culture, family, Julius Caesar

The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.

By Rev. James V. Schall, S.J.

Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., teaches political science at Georgetown University. His latest book, The Mind That Is Catholic, is published by Catholic University of America Press.