Sunday, December 28, 2008

Global Warming? Not This Globe

Christopher Booker of the UK's Daily Telegraph writes yesterday:

2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved

Looking back over my columns of the past 12 months, one of their major themes was neatly encapsulated by two recent items from The Daily Telegraph.

The first, on May 21, headed "Climate change threat to Alpine ski resorts", reported that the entire Alpine "winter sports industry" could soon "grind to a halt for lack of snow". The second, on December 19, headed "The Alps have best snow conditions in a generation", reported that this winter's Alpine snowfalls "look set to beat all records by New Year's Day".

Easily one of the most important stories of 2008 has been all the evidence suggesting that this may be looked back on as the year when there was a turning point in the great worldwide panic over man-made global warming. Just when politicians in Europe and America have been adopting the most costly and damaging measures politicians have ever proposed, to combat this supposed menace, the tide has turned in three significant respects.

First, all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. Last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.

Ever shriller and more frantic has become the insistence of the warmists, cheered on by their army of media groupies such as the BBC, that the last 10 years have been the "hottest in history" and that the North Pole would soon be ice-free – as the poles remain defiantly icebound and those polar bears fail to drown. All those hysterical predictions that we are seeing more droughts and hurricanes than ever before have infuriatingly failed to materialise.
Even the more cautious scientific acolytes of the official orthodoxy now admit that, thanks to "natural factors" such as ocean currents, temperatures have failed to rise as predicted (although they plaintively assure us that this cooling effect is merely "masking the underlying warming trend", and that the temperature rise will resume worse than ever by the middle of the next decade).

Secondly, 2008 was the year when any pretence that there was a "scientific consensus" in favour of man-made global warming collapsed. At long last, as in the Manhattan Declaration last March, hundreds of proper scientists, including many of the world's most eminent climate experts, have been rallying to pour scorn on that "consensus" which was only a politically engineered artefact, based on ever more blatantly manipulated data and computer models programmed to produce no more than convenient fictions.

Thirdly, as banks collapsed and the global economy plunged into its worst recession for decades, harsh reality at last began to break in on those self-deluding dreams which have for so long possessed almost every politician in the western world. As we saw in this month's Poznan conference, when 10,000 politicians, officials and "environmentalists" gathered to plan next year's "son of Kyoto" treaty in Copenhagen, panicking politicians are waking up to the fact that the world can no longer afford all those quixotic schemes for "combating climate change" with which they were so happy to indulge themselves in more comfortable times.

Suddenly it has become rather less appealing that we should divert trillions of dollars, pounds and euros into the fantasy that we could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 80 per cent. All those grandiose projects for "emissions trading", "carbon capture", building tens of thousands more useless wind turbines, switching vast areas of farmland from producing food to "biofuels", are being exposed as no more than enormously damaging and futile gestures, costing astronomic sums we no longer possess.

As 2009 dawns, it is time we in Britain faced up to the genuine crisis now fast approaching from the fact that – unless we get on very soon with building enough proper power stations to fill our looming "energy gap" - within a few years our lights will go out and what remains of our economy will judder to a halt. After years of infantile displacement activity, it is high time our politicians – along with those of the EU and President Obama's US – were brought back with a mighty jolt into contact with the real world....

Read the rest of Booker's column here. (Hat tip to Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor Mail.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Grand Duke's Conscience

"Amid many more apparently momentous events, very few people have been aware that a small and very lonely but brave battle for something at the core of Christian civilization has been fought and lost by, of all people, a Grand Duke, in, of all places, Luxembourg.

"The Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg has lost executive veto power on legislation for doing, quite legally, what a constitutional ruler is apparently not supposed to do -- exercise his conscience on behalf of his people."

Thus begins a fascinating article, "The Grand Duke's Conscience" by Hal G.P. Colebatch over at The American Spectator last week. The teaser on TAS's homepage today reads, "Luxembourg's head of State pays a price for upholding civilization." Indeed. Read it and weep.
Grand Duke Henri refused to sign into law a bill legalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide, which would allow doctors to kill terminally people who asked repeatedly and had the consent of two doctors and a "panel of experts."

This follows the experience of neighboring Holland, where voluntary euthanasia has rapidly expanded so that involuntary euthanasia -- i.e. murder -- has been barely, if at all, punished in cases where only the barest fig leaf of rationalization has been offered and consent has been problematical at best. Victims of the Dutch euthanasia laws have reputedly included children and people suffering from transitory depression, as well as people unable to communicate their wishes on the matter.

Luxembourg's prime minister backed the bill even though his own Christian Social People's Party opposed it. It was passed with the predictable support of the Greens (who all over the world seem to have a rather favorable attitude to legalizing killing people) and the Socialists, by 30 votes to 26.

As a result of the Grand Duke's opposition, Article 34 of Luxembourg's constitution has been changed by the Parliament to strip him of veto power. When Parliament votes on the third reading of the euthanasia bill, the Grand Duke will be forced to enact it. The price of obeying his conscience and religious faith has been that he has been reduced to a pointless cipher.

Constitutional monarchs are not supposed to make waves or intervene in politics, but this is a matter on convention and prudence, rather than law. The English Constitutional commentator Walter Bagehot claimed a Constitutional Monarch had three rights: the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, and the right to warn. Bagehot's commentary, however, is not law, even in Britain. It is rather a description of the way things have come to work in Western constitutional monarchies. Actually, constitutional monarchs and their representatives in different countries have on occasion shown that they can be more than the ventriloquist's dummies of politicians.

In Spain in 1981 King Juan Carlos moved effectively to end an attempted anti-democratic coup.

In Australia in 1975 the Queen's representative, Governor-General Sir John Kerr, used the undefined and unjusticiable "reserve powers" to sack the shambolic and scandal-ridden Whitlam Labor Government and call an election. Although Sir John Kerr's action was controversial, it has never been seriously held by constitutional experts that he acted illegally. There is no reason for supposing that the British monarch does not have similar reserve powers to intervene as a last resort in Britain (the powers are unjusticiable and cannot be defined or limited by a court because the circumstances in which they might be used cannot be foreseen), but this has perhaps been felt too delicate a matter to explore much.

In Italy in 1943 the constitutional monarch King Victor Emmanuel finally sacked Mussolini, but had left it too late to save himself or his throne -- he had rubber-stamped Mussolini's crimes for too long when the going was good, including failing to protect his Jewish subjects from Mussolini's Nazi-aping anti-Semitism. In Denmark, on the other hand, King Christian X is widely credited with having inspired resistance to Nazi anti-Semitism during World War II, despite Denmark being occupied by a German Army.

Bagehot argued that the great benefit of a monarchial system is that it makes the ideals as well as the workings of government widely obvious. A monarch without virtue, moral strength and the courage of convictions and conscience, or -- which perhaps comes to the same thing -- the ability to exercise them, undermines the system and institution.

It would seem, as journalist Michael Cook has pointed out, that Grand Duke Henri believed that he could not decline personal responsibility for allowing fellow citizens to be killed, no matter how much political pressure was applied. Cook added: "But even a Grand Duke is a man, not a machine. Had he signed the euthanasia bill, his fellow-citizens could easily have thought euthanasia is consistent with democracy and human rights. But it is not.… It cheapens human life and corrupts the medical profession. It has immense potential for abuse."

The Grand Duke's stand appears to have achieved nothing except to have lost him and his heirs a constitutional prerogative and to have reduced him to a mannequin. It may, of course have served as an example of moral courage to inspire his country's citizens, but we will probably not know the political results for some time.

Meanwhile, I am reminded of a Punch cartoon published in the First World War, featuring Grand Duke Henri's relative, the King of the Belgians, in which, after German forces have conquered Belgium, the Kaiser tells him: "You've lost everything."

The king replies: "Not my soul."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

No Mutual Joy: Response to Newsweek

The cover story for Newsweek magazine's December 15 issue is "Our Mutual Joy," or as the cover puts it, "The Religious Case for Gay Marriage," where Newsweek's religion editor Lisa Miller claims to put forth a Biblical argument. Oh, that she could have written it for the ELCA's Task Force on Human Sexuality, which was unable to do that despite having all the theological resources of the Lutheran Church at its disposal.

There have been several, uh, reviews of Ms. Miller's article in the Christian media. The quickest, most web prominent Lutheran reaction was by Mollie (Ziegler) Hemingway over at, with two articles, "Sola scriptura minus the scriptura" and "What's the Standard." Now there is an ELCA pastor's response made available by Lutheran CORE in pdf form. Pastor Jenkins acquits himself well and I highly recommend you read it.

No Mutual Joy: Response to Newsweek
by Pr. Jonathan L. Jenkins
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Lebanon, Penn.
Advent 2008

Even many religious conservatives want to be persuaded that they can believe in the Bible and support homosexual marriage. Lisa Miller (Newsweek, Dec. 15) raises their hopes in her opening sentence: "Let's try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does." Religious conservatives would like to be taken at their word, for a change.

But the writer does not try. She says there isn't any biblical definition of marriage, and the very idea is ridiculous. "Would any contemporary heterosexual married couple... turn to the Bible as a how-to script? Of course not..." Apparently Miller hasn't heard about the countless numbers of couples around the world who benefit from doing exactly that!

"First, while the Bible and Jesus say many important things about love and family, neither explicitly defines marriage as between one man and one woman." The writer never explicitly defines what she means by "explicitly defines." However, the very first time the Bible speaks of human beings, the command to marry and bear children is made "explicitly." (Genesis 1:27-31): "So God created man (adam — in Hebrew) in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth...'"

Humankind is not created "male or female," nor does God first create them "male and female" only to decide later on that the man and the woman could also marry and have children. God creates marriage in the very act of creating humanity, in Genesis 1.

Genesis 2 "explicitly defines" marriage as one man and one woman — not with a "dictionary definition," but by relating a story that draws a conclusion. The LORD God made the woman from the rib of the man "and brought her to him" like the proud father of the bride (Genesis 2:18-25). "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother, and they become one flesh." "One flesh." One flesh in sexual union, one flesh in babies, one flesh in family life — the one flesh that is human history, from generation to generation. Even marriages that do not give birth to children exist in accord with, rather than in opposition to, this definition.

Another "defining" moment is Jesus' rejection of divorce as a violation of God's original intention (Mark 10:6-9): "But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.' ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'" Jesus makes "one man and one woman" a matter of principle: "So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate." A husband and wife need all the support they can get to maintain a stable marriage in which to raise the next generation. To depict gay relationships as comparable is to blur society's vision of the common good.

Does Jesus ever speak against homosexuality? "Yes" is the answer, despite repeated claims to the contrary. Jesus himself proscribed homosexual practice when he condemned not only "fornication" (porneia - in Greek) and "adultery" (moicheia - in Greek), but also the licentiousness" (aselgeia - in Greek) that elsewhere includes homosexual relations (see Mark 7:21-22 and 2 Peter 2:7).

Miller accuses religion of bigotry: "Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, but in custom and tradition (and to talk turkey for a minute, a personal discomfort with gay sex that transcends theological argument)." If so, Jesus is included in the indictment, too. In his teaching on sex and marriage, Jesus, the Jewish rabbi, never departs from the Scriptures of Israel. The Gospels are consistent with the remainder of the New Testament, in which some of Leviticus' laws are reaffirmed and reapplied to the new life in Christ.

"No sensible person," asserts Miller, "wants marriage — theirs or anyone else's — to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes." On the contrary, the apostle Paul's instruction to husbands in particular, that they "should love their wives as they do their own bodies," has transformed marriages for the better (Ephesians 5:28).

The writer's gratuitous insult exposes the vast difference between the church's way of reading Scripture and her own. A helpful term for her approach is "historicize": she reads "history" in order to "relativize" its claim on the present. Miller historicizes Genesis 2, for example, when she quotes Dr. Segal: "If you believe that the Bible was written by men and not handed down in its leather bindings by God, then that verse was written by people for whom polygamy was the way of the world." ‘That was then, this is now' is how she reads the Bible.

Her approach imposes severe restrictions on the ways in which Scripture informs its hearers: "We cannot look to the Bible as a marriage manual, but we can read it for universal truths as we struggle toward a more just future." Even a casual reader of the Bible quickly recognizes, however, that "universal truths" are uncommon. The "universal truths" are tightly woven into a particular story. Indeed, the "universal truths" are specific promises and specific commands to a specific people, Israel.

Instead of timeless wisdom that applies to every time and place, the church reads Scripture for the narrative that now includes us among the people of Israel's God. To us, ancient, as well as contemporary practices are brought into focus through the lens of the whole story, from beginning to end.

Writers like Miller historicize the Bible in order mute its authority: "The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it's impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours." "Rules" are not the main subject of the Bible, as Miller ought to know, and their "face value" depends on their location in the narrative. The degree to which the ancient world is unlike our own must not be underestimated — or overstated, either. Miller's helter-skelter selection of examples is devoid of context and begs the question of continuity and discontinuity.

From the first page of Scripture to the last, marriage is the "gold standard" — the reality principle by which all sexuality is evaluated. Biblical prohibitions against fornication, incest, pedophilia, bestiality, adultery, lust, divorce, and homosexuality are made from the standpoint of marriage. The fact that monogamy did not become the norm in the Christian world in the 6th century is no more to the point than the fact that Christians regularly fall short of the norm. The "one man and one woman" norm must be received anew in every generation, and in our generation is under intense assault from several directions.

The most important question to ask writers like Miller concerns Jesus. Is Jesus alive or dead? The answer is decisive to the reading of Scripture. It is difficult, if not impossible to receive "inspiration" from a rabbi who has been dead for 2,000 years. But the church believes that Jesus is alive and is coming to complete his Father's kingdom on earth as it already is in heaven: therefore Scripture inspires us to know and to live for the world's true and ultimate good. Is Jesus alive, or does Miller historicize Easter, too? It's hard to tell what Miller believes, in view of her remark about what Jesus "would" do "if Jesus were alive today." The church believes the future belongs to Jesus: that makes Scripture relevant, no matter how old it is.

Miller correctly points out that Jesus "preaches a new kind of community, a caring community of believers, whose bond in God superseded all blood ties." So, too, she draws attention to the promise that in the resurrection there is no need for marriage, because life will be eternal and death will be no more (Matthew 22:30). But it is a spurious argument to defend homosexuality on this basis.

Marriage is a living image of the one-body-and-Spirit union of Christ and his bride, the church. St. Paul explains, "‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church." Marriage prefigures the final consummation — "I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven as a bride prepared for her husband" (Revelation 21:2).

The strongest consideration is one the writer never considers: human frailty. We live in a world divided by sin and death, as well as circumstance. There might be social value in civil unions — independent of gender — that would extend practical benefits to unmarried friends who desire to form a legal association. Domestic partnerships could grant rights having to do with visitation, taxes, inheritance, and insurance benefits. Such voluntary associations could be beneficial to groups of widows, celibate clergy, or single persons in the absence of family — relationships that do not depend on sexual desire. At least it is worth some discussion. Domestic partnerships are friendships, not marriage and would not endorse behavior that many Americans deem wrong. It's true, as she says, Jesus "does not want people to be lonely and sad" — but Jesus does not want people to sin, either.

All of us know that this response to Newsweek will be dismissed as "homophobia," but such dismissals are unpersuasive and have lost their power to intimidate — as a majority of the citizens of California recently demonstrated.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Throwing Shoes

I may be off base here. Nevertheless, when I heard the news report of the Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at President Bush and the -- initially unbeknownst to us -- terrible insult that action conveyed, what came to mind was Jesus' sending of the apostles in the first part of Matthew 10. In particular, this:
As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
Might not throwing a show be symbolic of shaking off the dust from one's feet? I do know that Pr. Harry Wendt's excellent Crossways courses teach us to read Jesus' parables and other Biblical stories being attentive to Middle Eastern customs and attitudes, which have not changed all that much since Bible times. Seems to me that we can read this the other way, too--look in the Scriptures to get a better idea of a Middle Eastern culture about which even our nation's "experts" seem to be clueless.

I know of pastors who, having been terribly abused by their congregations (that happens way too often) who finally leave that parish under awful circumstances, leave a pair of shoes in the parsonage as their final message to that community.

Anyway, given that this reporter is being raised up in Iraq as a folk hero of some sort, one way the United States could respond to this grave insult would be to bring our soldiers home, packing everything with them -- leaving all their shoes in that land as they depart.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Francis Beckwith, writing "Same-Sex Marriage and the Failure of Justificatory Liberalism" last Wednesday at First Things On the Square, the context being the passage of California's Proposition 8 and the rage and anger in response:
But then the initial argument, offered to the general public several decades ago—the call for the wider society to be tolerant of homosexuality—was something of a ruse. Many of us were under the impression that the requirement of tolerance entailed that citizens were in fact permitted to offer negative or positive judgments about the objects of their toleration, and in some instances shape policy consistent with those judgments. After all, one does not tolerate that with which one agrees; one embraces it. One can only tolerate that with which one disagrees. This is why the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles is misnamed. One ought not to be merely tolerant of one’s fellow human beings; one ought to embrace them as persons with intrinsic dignity made in the image of God. Of course, what these persons believe and practice for a variety of subjects—including religion and human sexuality—are the proper objects of tolerance.
Read it all here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Question No One Wants Asked

How do I counsel a celibate homosexual pastor who asks me to explain how the Word of God can be changed by an ELCA convention when he or she has spent a life time struggling with this issue and has resolved it in a different way than has the church?
The question was voiced publicly by Bishop Thomas A. Skrenes of the ELCA's Northern Great Lakes Synod at the Conference on Sexuality held October 24-26, 2002, in Kansas City, sponsored by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau and can be found published on page 44 of the book of that conference, Christian Sexuality.

Six years later, the question remains ignored.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lutheran History Lesson

Following is a fuller version of a post of mine over at ALPB Forum Online last August.

The Organization of the Synod in California

The Organizers of Synod
Five missionary pastors, widely scattered in communities far separated from one another, felt the need of conference and mutual encouragement. Accordingly two days after Easter, on March 31, 1891, they assembled in the First English Lutheran Church in Los Angeles, which had been dedicated just one year previously. These five faithful and efficient men were Rev. O. C. Miller of San Francisco, Rev. C. W. Heisler of Los Angeles, Rev. W. S. Hoskinson of Sacramento, Rev. Philip Graif of Oakland, and Rev. E. R. Wagner of San Diego. In addition, the Rev. M. W. Hamma, D.D., temporarily living in Los Angeles; Rev. A. C. Wedekind, D.D., for many years pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church of New York City, residing in National City, Calif.; and the Rev. Wm. Uhl, a pioneer pastor in the middle west, were present at this initial meeting and added dignity and valued assistance in effecting the organization.

Laymen Present
The following laymen were present as representative of the congregations: John Everding, a prominent manufacturer from San Francisco; William Bosbyshell, a retired business man of Los Angeles; Frank P. Davidson, principal of the San Diego high school; and William Moller, a merchant from Oakland.

At this first convention, seven sessions were held. Two of these meetings were in the evening when discourses were delivered by the visiting ministers. During the business sessions, a constitution was adopted, committees were appointed on Home Missions, Church Extension, Education, Examination and Apportionment. The following officers were elected: President, Rev. O. C. Miller; Secretary, Rev. W. S. Hoskinson; Treasurer, Mr. John Everding. Dr. Hamma was elected delegate to the next meeting of the General Synod. and F. P. Davidson, lay delegate.

This Synodical convention must have created a favorable impression upon the community for the "Evening Express" of that period contained the following comment: "The proceedings of the Synod are very harmonious, and all present are actuated by a zealous Christian spirit, together with a loyalty to the progressive denomination which they represent."
From The Fruitage of Fifty Years in California, a history of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of California, Rev. John Edward Hoick, D.D. (published c. 1942 "by the Authority of the Synod") pp. 40-41

Friday, December 05, 2008

ELCA at Chaos Manor

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America hit Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor Mail (scroll to the end of the day) yesterday when a ELCA layman from Southern California cc'd a letter he'd sent to someone at the ELCA headquarters in Chicago. Exactly what set off Col. Haynes I cannot tell. Perhaps it is the plea released earlier this week for us to sign on to this letter to President-elect Obama "calling for climate justice" (whatever the hell that is). That's the best I can do via Google for something new, though ELCA voices have been parroting the "climate change" mantra for some time. (See the Shellfish blog's articles Hanson: "Spiritual Blasphemy" from last summer and "Call Me Ishmael" or "Gore-d Again" from over a year ago for examples.)

Anyway, read the reaction of an ELCA layman to his church's enthusiasms, as it appears on "the original blog."


The ELCA is once more meddling in an issue that is far above your pay grade as ecclesiastics. Clearly, you have to be accepting a premise that you and all ELCA staffers can not evaluate the truth of yourselves ... namely that "Global Warming" is human induced ... if it is, indeed even happening at all. Contrary to what you are basing your latest excursion into non-ecclesiastic issues on, there is ample and well founded scientific evidence in support of a view contrary to the IPCC ... the International Panel on Climate Change of the UN. The most straightforward way to expose yourselves to a scientifically sound source of contrary information is to Google "NIPCC", to reach the Non-Governmental IPCC, here:

How can this be possible? How can a prestigious UN authorized scientific inquiry be in error?

Well, go and see at NIPCC.

Before you do that, permit me to point out an example of a similar mass misapprehension that has now apparently slunk off the public stage without even a polite goodbye.

I speak of the so-called "Hydrogen Economy",,, remember that one?

Not more than a year or so ago that was going to solve all our air pollution problems, make us independent of foreign oil, in fact, make us independent of hydrocarbon fuels, basta, period!

Our esteemed governator here in CA was going to install a number of hydrogen filling stations on our freeways to help the "HE" along.

What happened?

An "inconvenient truth" rose up and smote the HE right out of the nation's awareness.

It would require far more energy from non-hydrogen energy generation to produce the hydrogen than the hydrogen could ever produce by being burned in turn. Now that's a law of physics that you will not find in the Bible, but that is woven into the reality that is God's Universe.

And where was all that energy going to have to come from?

Why by conventional power generation, including coal, petroleum and of course, a vast new investment in nuclear power plants. But did the once so enthused media sources formally announce the "Death of the HE"?

Of course not. That would be too embarrassing, and would generally undermine their credibility.

So, please, before our ELCA is once again led down a dead end garden path by a new array of enthusiastic dunderheads, at least expose yourselves to the hard facts available on the Internet that counter the dominant but false propaganda that has persuaded you and so many other well meaning, scientifically under-educated, enthusiastic would-be do-gooders that they will contribute to saving our precious world by ceasing what they are not doing: causing Global Warming. Please note:

Even if there is Global Warming (and that is also unproven) it does not automatically follow that it is human induced. Realize that in the '60s of the last century the threat was global cooling, and we were regaled with a flood of articles predicting an imminent "little ice age", and about the same time the "Club of Rome" was predicting world wide famine if the world population rose above 5 billion souls... it is now estimated at 6.5 billion.

One interesting example of an argument against the HIGW claim is this: When the same computer simulations used to support the claims of coming HIGW are applied to conditions say, 100 years ago, they fail to properly predict the actual global weather that was subsequently recorded.

Do yourselves, the ELCA as an organization and all of us parishioners a favor and open yourselves to the possibility, just the possibility that we are all being deceived.... yet again. Well, almost all!

And when you have confirmed that, think about concentrating in the future on the proper business of the church, and avoiding a vain search after virtue by climbing aboard the bandwagons pursuing solutions to every purported, claimed catastrophe that looms up in our so-gullible media.

Very sincerely yours,
William E. Haynes
St Paul's Lutheran Church
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Thanks, Col. Haynes. Though be prepared to be ignored. Any dissident minds at 8765 W. Higgins Road or have been pretty much sent to places where they can have no influence on the ELCA's public voice.

And for the rest of you, Chaos Manor is linked on my other blog and is highly recommended by Pastor Zip. And for Earth's sake and yours, don't sign this letter; its science is worse than its theology.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Follow-up: +Ackerman in Springfield

Posted yesterday on VirtueOnline is a brief report from comments by Bishop Ackerman to VOL regarding his call in Springfield.
"I am an assisting bishop and I have no intention of performing any canonical or sacramental acts in the Diocese of Springfield.... I will do spiritual retreats for clergy but nothing that would interfere with the fact that I have retired from The Episcopal Church. This position does not require consents from the House of Bishops."

Bishop Ackerman told VOL that he and his wife are selling their home and will shortly move to Texas where he plans a ministry revolving around Dove Tracts, writing and spiritual direction.
Doing what he enjoys... His "retirement" will be a blessing to many, though I will very much miss his presence in Peoria.

A Year Later

It was a year ago that my urologist gave me the news. The biopsy of my prostate gland -- I'd had a PSA of 11.3 -- showed cancer. My "Gleason score" was 3+3, or 6, and it showed on both sides of the gland. Dr. B. gave me a lot of information to read, for I was going to have some decisions to make about my treatment. But given my relative youth, he thought my best choice was to remove the prostate -- that clearly removes the source of the cancer and, unless it had already spread beyond the gland (which didn't appear to be the case), and offers the best chance of no re-occurrence.

I looked at all the options, but surgery was my ultimate choice and that was done shortly after Easter. So far, the cancer is gone. My strength and endurance are getting closer to where they were before the surgery.

I'm still overwhelmed by the offerings of prayers on my behalf during this last year. Thank you. And thank God.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

+Ackerman to Springfield

The Living Church is reporting that Bishop Keith Ackerman, who retired as Bishop of Quincy last month, has been called to serve as an assisting Bishop in the Springfield Diocese.
The Rt. Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield, said the Presiding Bishop’s office had been notified that the new position would become effective Dec. 1....

Appointments to assistant bishop positions require consent from the annual synod of the diocese and a majority of the House of Bishops, but the position of assisting bishop, which is not defined in the canons and constitution of The Episcopal Church, is at the discretion of individual diocesan bishops unless otherwise constrained by local diocesan bylaws.
I'm guessing that this call can be something like my mother's 20-some years of service as a teacher's aide. The holder of a lifetime teaching credential from her teaching days before I was born, the principal at Hamlin St. School several times sought to bring her on staff as a full teacher. Mom wasn't interested. As an aide she got to teach children -- which she loved doing -- while not having to worry about all the other things teachers have become responsible for.

Now Bishop Ackerman can be a Bishop -- preaching, teaching, administering the sacraments, dwelling in the word and prayer -- and leave the administrative minutiae to others. May the Lord bless his new ministry.

Monday, November 24, 2008

CCET: Vatican II's Continuing Challenge

Hat tip to my friend Dwight P. at Versus Populum, who breaks the news that the next conference of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology is Vatican II: Its continuing Challenge to All Churches, June 8-10, 2009, at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D. C. "Speakers will discuss the continuing significance of the Council for such issues in Church life as ethics, worship, ecclesiology (I can't wait!), ecumenism, and others," he writes.

The keynoter is Prof. George Lindbeck, Professor Emeritus of Historical Theology at Yale Divinity School, who was an official Lutheran World Federation observer at all four sessions of the Secoond Vatican Council.

Other presenters include
  • Amy Laura Hall, Duke Divinity School
  • Paul Gavrilyuk, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn.
  • Nicholas Healy, St. John's University, Queens, N. Y.
  • Matthew Levering, Ave Maria University, near Naples, Fla.
  • Karen Tucker, Boston University, and
  • Michael Root from Southern Seminary and CCET's Exec. Director.

    The CCET Conference has been a must on my calendar since my first one in 1994 and it is one of those places where serious theologians (especially some younger ones) and parish pastors meet. Like Dwight, I can't wait.
  • Saturday, November 22, 2008

    What Might This Mean?

    So, what might the ELCA Church Council's determination mean?

    On one hand, it seems perfectly fair. After all, the standards for ELCA ministers were established by the ELCA Church Council by an action that only required its majority vote. Thus, as I have often reminded folks over the last several years, the ELCA could at any time change them by a simple majority already! As a matter of parliamentary procedure it's no big
    deal that the 2009 Churchwide Assembly could also change them by a simple majority.

    And for those who recall that the 2005 Churchwide Assembly needed a 2/3rds majority to accept the Task Force's recommendations to change the standards to formally permit openly practicing gay to serve as pastors or other rostered leaders, that was accomplished by some pre-assembly parliamentary sleight-of-hand engineered by the Office of the Presiding Bishop -- a wise move on Bishop Hanson's part to hold off splitting the ELCA over this issue at the time.

    On the other hand, the Churchwide Assembly could vote 99.44% to change and .56% to hold the line, and any rule change -- while it would certainly happen -- would still be illegitimate. Why do I say that?

    1) The Task Force was unable to present any theological justification for permitting actively gay clergy. This after having all of the resources of the ELCA and her theologians and other scholars available to the Task Force which was tasked to do precisely that -- make a theological case for its recommendations. Of course, this presupposes that a Lutheran church would make important decisions only after considering Lutheran theology.

    2) Some things simply aren't up for a vote. Call me old fashioned, but the witness of the Old and New Testaments outvotes a 2/3rds majority of the Church Council, or the entire CWA, or even of all the voting members of the ELCA.

    Furthermore, I still remember standing on the floor as a volunteer at the 2001 Churchwide Assembly in Indianapolis (where the current sexuality study was instigated) wanting to scream to then-Presiding Bishop Anderson, "Rule it out of order!" Why? Because even if this were a matter subject to a vote, an ELCA Churchwide Assembly -- which is mandated to be at least 60% lay -- has no confessional authority to change the teaching of the church. And this is changing the church's teaching. But even a theologian as astute as H. George Anderson was caught by the democratic ideology that, for several generations, has been undermining our teaching of the Faith.

    Finally, what this means is that, unlike in 2005 or 2007, Presiding Bishop Hanson (who didn't openly support the ordination of practicing gays until the 2006 Hein-Fry lectures) is now prepared to let the chips fall where may. It is more important that the ELCA be opened to the so-called "full inclusion" of gay and lesbian persons (by enabling those in same-sex relationships to formally serve under call), even by a slim majority, than to keep the ELCA together as one church. This Church Council action tells me that he is now willing to risk losing a lot of churches and pastors over this.

    There is still the chance that saner heads will prevail. Synod Councils, Synod Assemblies, and the Conference of Bishops (or, at the very least, several Synod Bishops) could stand up and call for making this a 2/3rds vote, as could the Assembly itself. Lutheran CORE and other faithful ELCAers have our work cut out for us, because for the moment, the ELCA's leadership is now clearly committed to advancing the GLBTQ agenda rather than building the church.

    Lutheran CORE Report on CWA Rule

    From Lutheran CORE yesterday afternoon:

    ELCA council says
    majority enough
    to change
    sexuality standards

    by Mark C. Chavez
    Director of Lutheran CORE
    November 21, 2008

    The ELCA Church Council decided at its meeting Nov. 15-17 in Chicago to recommend a simple majority vote at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly on recommendations from the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality and the ELCA Church Council regarding the rostering of practicing homosexuals as pastors and ministers.

    The Constitutional and Legal Committee of the Church Council had voted unanimously prior to the meeting, with some abstentions, to recommend a two-thirds vote on all resolutions or memorials that relate to the subject of the social statement on sexuality, including the rostering proposals. The committee gave four reasons for recommending a two-thirds vote:
    1. It sets a clear rule for all matters and heads off potential confusion and ambiguity.
    2. Since the social statement needs a two-thirds vote all matters relating to it should also require a two-thirds vote.
    3. If the council wants the Churchwide Assembly to move toward communal discernment, then a two-thirds vote helps move the Churchwide Assembly in that direction.
    4. The Church Council (and Churchwide Assembly) will have to deal with the rules anyway, so the committee's recommendation was a starting point for discussion.
    During the council's discussion of the committee's recommendation, an amendment was offered to lower the bar from two-thirds to 60 percent, but that amendment was overwhelmingly defeated.

    Next an amendment was offered to delete the two-thirds rule, thereby making it a simple majority decision. After much discussion the council approved the amendment 19-10, with one abstention.

    Council member Mark Helmke, from San Antonio, Texas, then offered an amendment to restore the 2005 Churchwide Assembly two-thirds rule, which applied to changes in existing ELCA policies (the 2005 rule was narrower in scope than the two-thirds rule recommended by the Constitutional and Legal Committee).

    A council member requested a written ballot (not normally used) for the vote on the Helmke amendment. The amendment was defeated 18-14 with two abstentions.

    The Constitutional and Legal Committee did very good work. The committee's arguments for the two-thirds rule were articulate and logical, and the committee demonstrated great care for the well being of the ELCA.

    However, a clear majority of the council wants the ELCA to approve of rostering practicing homosexuals as soon as possible -- this was stated in the discussion -- and voted for a simple majority rule even though the decision flies in the face of all the council's other priorities.

    Most of the council meeting was taken up with serious matters -- how to reverse the steady decline in benevolence from congregations to the synods and churchwide organization; how to reverse the steady and accelerating loss of ELCA members; what to do about the worst ever drop in average worship attendance; how to increase the multiracial and multicultural composition of the ELCA; how to move toward communal discernment at Churchwide Assemblies so there is less vying for votes and outcomes with winners and losers; and how to strengthen ecumenical relationships.

    The majority on the council that is dead set to get the ELCA to change its standards for ministry is apparently willing to sacrifice just about everything to attain its goal.

    The ELCA suffered a big loss in benevolence after the fiasco in 1993 with the first draft of a social statement on human sexuality and ELCA leaders know it could happen again if the 2009 assembly approves ordaining practicing homosexuals.

    The council heard a report from churchwide staff and a consultant about a possible five-year major initiative (appeal for funds) in conjunction with the ELCA's 25th anniversary. The consultant said that in working with the churchwide staff it was clear that the major initiative would need contingency plans for the possible outcomes of the 2009 assembly. He said the ELCA could be a very different church after next August, a clear reference to the decision on rostering practicing homosexuals.

    Does the majority on the council not realize that by pushing its homosexual agenda it could lead the ELCA into deeper financial troubles?

    Every other denomination in North America that has approved of practicing homosexuals as ministers has suffered huge membership losses -- 30 to 50 percent. Most have done nothing more than approve of the equivalent of a local or synodical option. Does the majority on the church council think that the ELCA will be the exception and not suffer a huge membership loss?

    The Rev. Stephen Bouman, executive director of the Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission churchwide unit, told the council that the ELCA's new mission congregations have not thrived, especially those connected with ethnic strategies. He said that thus far "ethnic strategies are just words" in the ELCA. Action and results are needed.

    ELCA Secretary David Swartling reported that most of the increase in the multi-racial composition of the ELCA is the result of marriages -- in other words, not drawing in new members and families who are not Caucasian.

    Does the majority on the church council not know that non-Caucasian people -- Christians and people of other faiths -- overwhelmingly disapprove of homosexual behavior?

    If the ELCA changes its standards for ministry it will make it all the more difficult for ELCA congregations to reach Latinos, Asians and African Americans, not to mention immigrants from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Is the majority on the council willing to sacrifice its multicultural and multiracial goals for the sake of one narrow goal?

    The Church Council is disturbed by the divisive votes of recent Churchwide Assemblies, but the surest way to increase the divisiveness is to lower the bar to a simple majority for very important decisions. The Legal and Constitutional Committee had it right -- raise the bar higher, not lower. Is the majority on the council unable to see that its decision will make assemblies even more contentious and divisive?

    The Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox churches have made it very clear that their relationship with The Episcopal Church is severely ruptured because of the local option by diocese that exists in The Episcopal Church. Lutheran churches in the Lutheran World Federation in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America have made it very clear that if the ELCA and other Lutheran churches approve of homosexual behavior, the unity of the Lutheran World Federation is at stake.

    Does the majority of the council not know that its single-minded focus on homosexuality may well undermine more than 50 years of ecumenical work and cut off the ELCA from most of the Christian churches in the world?

    Perhaps the most tragic dimension of the majority's decision is the certain damage that will be done to ELCA congregations should the ELCA change its ministry standards. Many congregations will lose members and many will be deeply divided -- some already are.

    The majority on the council is concerned about pastoral care for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, but seemingly oblivious to the overwhelming pastoral care that will be needed for millions of members and thousands of congregations should the majority on the council have its way.

    More follows...

    ELCA Council Recommends 2009 Assembly Rules

    From the ELCA News Service yesterday afternoon:

    ELCA Council Recommends 2009 Assembly Rules, Acts on other Topics

         CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) recommended rules of procedure to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, focusing discussion on votes related to social statements and recommendations from a task force report, both of which will be considered at the next assembly.
            The Church Council is the ELCA's board of directors and serves as the legislative authority of the church between churchwide assemblies.  The council met here Nov. 14-17. Assemblies are held every other year; the next is Aug. 17-23, 2009, in Minneapolis.
            The council's actions related to a proposed social statement on human sexuality, currently in the final writing stages, and a separate report with recommendations on ministry standards.  Both documents are being prepared by a task force. They will become public Feb. 19, 2009, and will be transmitted by the council with recommendations to the 2009 assembly for consideration.
         The social statement was requested by the 2001 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The 2007 Churchwide Assembly requested the task force report and recommendations. That assembly asked the task force to "specifically address and make recommendations to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly on changes to any policies that preclude practicing homosexual persons from the rosters of this church." The ELCA maintains a roster of its ordained clergy and three rosters of its lay ministers: associates in ministry, deaconesses and diaconal ministers.
         The council recommended the 2009 Churchwide Assembly retain rules that require a two-thirds vote to adopt social statements and amendments to the ELCA Constitution and Bylaws, both required by the ELCA Constitution.  It declined two proposals to recommend that a two-thirds vote be required to adopt recommendations or resolutions related to a task force report.  If the assembly agrees, only a simple majority will be needed for such proposals under Robert's Rules of Order, unless the proposals call for constitutional or bylaw changes, said David D. Swartling, ELCA secretary.
         The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, abstained from voting on the rules because he chairs the assembly, he told the council. Swartling reminded the council that the churchwide assembly has the final say on its rules of procedure.
         The council heard a variety of reports and took several actions:
    + The council received an update on the work of the Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality.  At its March 27-30, 2009, meeting here, the council will consider the proposed social statement on human sexuality with implementing resolutions, and the report on recommendations concerning possible changes to policies regarding ELCA rosters.  The council will transmit those documents with its recommendation to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.  From April to June, the church's 65 synod assemblies will discuss and respond to the proposed social statement and implementing resolutions, and the report on the church's rosters.
    + Hanson described as "turbulent" and "expectant" the current environment in the church and in the world.  He challenged the council and other church leaders to exhibit "generous, faithful and fruitful" leadership, by sharing resources and imagining "how to put them to work for the sake of the gospel and God's mission in the world."  He called for "evangelical, missional and imaginative" leadership by letting go of any resistance to claiming "evangelical" as part of who ELCA Lutherans are; and he called for a deepening of faith practices in light of recent reported drops in average weekly worship attendance.
    + Swartling said the financial giving total from ELCA congregations reflected a slight increase from 2006 to 2007.  According to his written report, total receipts were $2.82 billion in 2007, up 2.5 percent or $68 million. Total assets of ELCA congregations are more than $20 billion.  Swartling reported a decline in average worship attendance of 211,043 or 13.4 percent over the past six years.
    + The council amended the ELCA Manual of Policies and Procedures for Management of the Rosters to allow newly ordained clergy to serve their first calls as mission developers starting new ministries.  The church may authorize lay people to serve in ministries of Word and Sacrament where ordained clergy are not available; and another amendment to the manual says such people serving in long-term ministries will enter the ELCA candidacy process for ordination.
    + The council recommended the 2009 Churchwide Assembly call for development of a social statement on the topic of "justice for women in church and society" for presentation to the 2015 Churchwide Assembly.  The recommendation came from the ELCA Church in Society program unit.
    + The council recommended to the 2009 Churchwide Assembly that the assembly accept an implementing resolution as the basis for a full communion relationship with the United Methodist Church (UMC).  Earlier this year, the UMC General Conference adopted the proposal.
    + The Rev. Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl, former bishop, ELCA South Dakota Synod, has been named ELCA coordinator for the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI), effective Dec. 15.  The council previously authorized preparation for a potential Lutheran malaria initiative education and fundraising campaign.  With the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) and Lutheran World Relief as LMI partners, an LMI fundraising campaign is expected to be considered by the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
    + Carlos Peña, ELCA vice president, Galveston, Texas, told the council he is willing to serve another six-year term as vice president of the ELCA.  In his report, Peña said he is "grateful for the time spent in this position" and "willing to accept the decision" of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly as "God and the assembly see fit."  The assembly is scheduled to elect a vice president, a layperson who serves as chair of the council and as an ELCA officer.
    + The council called on the U.S. Department of Defense to ensure that the Eucharist be available to military personnel each week with a presiding chaplain who is recognized by the ELCA and Episcopal Church.  The department considers non-Catholic Christian chaplains "Protestant," a category that includes clergy who are unfamiliar with the eucharistic liturgy.
    + The council adopted a revised policy document for the acknowledgement of independent Lutheran organizations (ILO). Organizations that function as umbrella organizations are expected to provide information about constituent organizations, and each must meet the criteria for ILO status.
    + The council received an update on the work of Lutheran Disaster Response (LDR), a collaborative ministry of the ELCA and LCMS.  The Rev. Kevin A. Massey, LDR director, said 2008 marks the 20th anniversary of LDR.  He said the anniversary occurs in one of the "worst years" for natural disasters in the United States, with a record number of tornadoes and the "most property damage" from hurricanes sustained since 2005.
    + The council received the initial report of a 12-member communal discernment task force it established in April to explore ways for the ELCA "to engage emotional and divisive issues, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and make difficult decisions as a church body in ways that will increase mutual trust, build respect for each other as the body of Christ, and deepen spiritual discernment."  The council encouraged planners of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly to review preliminary recommendations of the task force, and it approved provisions for the task force to continue through August 2011.
    + The Rev. M. Wyvetta Bullock, ELCA executive for administration, reported that the leaders of the church's three financial services units -- Board of Pensions, Foundation and Mission Investment Fund -- have been discussing ways to "coordinate the practices" of the units without changing their structures.  The council received an implementing resolution and joint operating guidelines adopted by each unit's board.
    + The Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, executive director, Evangelical Outreach and Congregational Mission (EOCM), reported that EOCM is placing a staff person in each of the church's 65 synods to work with bishops to strengthen ELCA congregations and grow local ministries.
    + Kristi S. Bangert, executive director, ELCA Communication Services, introduced the new ELCA brand mark, which contains the ELCA emblem, the name of the church and its tag line, "God's work, our hands."
    + The council approved an initial current fund spending authorization for fiscal year 2009 of $82,447,200, which is $527,200 more than the $81,920,000 proposed by the ELCA 2007 Churchwide Assembly.  For the ELCA World Hunger Program, the council approved a revised spending authorization for fiscal year 2008 of $22.7 million, which is $2.7 million more than the $20 million proposed. Christina Jackson-Skelton, ELCA treasurer, said world hunger income through September is $2.6 million above what was anticipated this year.  The council also approved an initial spending authorization of $20.6 million for the World Hunger Program for fiscal year 2009.
    + The council heard an update on a "feasibility study" to determine the possibility of a fundraising effort or "churchwide campaign" that embodies the church's three expressions -- congregations, synods and churchwide organization.  A proposal for a possible churchwide campaign is to be brought to the March 2009 council meeting for transmission to the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.
    + The council received and reviewed a draft of a churchwide strategy on HIV and AIDS.  A strategy is to be presented for consideration to the March 2009 council meeting.
    + The Rev. Mark A. Cerniglia, Columbia, S.C., was appointed to fill a vacancy on the program committee of ELCA Multicultural Ministries.

    For information contact:
    John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or
    ELCA News Blog:

    Commentary will follow...

    Saturday, November 15, 2008

    What Do They Want?

    Continuing the line of thought from my previous post... Olmsted writes,
    What we’re looking for, in my opinion, is validation.

    We want the state to affirm that our relationships are equal to heterosexual unions, but we reject the state’s response as inadequate, because it is lacks the societal imprimatur of marriage.

    In fact, what is lacking is the psychosocial approval inherent with the association of the religious bodies that have traditional overseen this realm.

    I could have sworn that my coming out as a gay man, my inner self-affirmation, came about precisely as a result of the rejection of the principle whereby what I thought of myself was a function of what society or the church said was right and good.

    Aren’t we barking up that same tree now? If we claim to know our relationships are equal to theirs and as sacred, why are we insisting on their benediction?
    This morning while reading the October issue of Touchstone, I took note of David Tubbs' review of Prof. David M. Halperin's 2007 book What Do Gay Men Want? entitled "Sodom on Itself." Prof. Tubbs notes that the book isn't particularly about same-sex marriage, but it offers some insight into gay liberation. He writes,
    The book is an extended essay, and among its purposes is a defense of male homosexuals from the charge of dangerous, and potentially suicidal, conduct during the AIDS epidemic. Halperin is candid about the promiscuity of many gay men, even those in "committed" relationships, and he would seemingly (his arguments are sometimes maddeningly qualified) resist any attempt to "domesticate" them.

    He argues that the key variable is whether the sexual partners have the same "serostatus." Thus, two men who are HIV-positive (or HIV-negative) should not automatically be criticized for having sex without condoms, even if they are stranger to each other.

    He also argues that heterosexual men and women deserve equal criticism for risky sexual behavior, pointing out that "gay sex" accounted for only one-third of the new cases of AIDS repported in the United States in 2005. (He knows that American homosexuals do not constitute anything like one-third of the population, so the problem with this argument will be evident to may readers.

    Acknowledging the realities of the "gay" life, Halperin admits that some men may not know if they are HIV-positive. A homosexual man who is regularly tested for AIDS—say, once every three or four months—may also regularly have "unprotected" sex between tests and be coy about revealing his behavior to others, including his live-in partner.

    Halperin is loath to criticize such men. He insists that sexual intimacy without a condom is more pleasureable, and that homosexual men are not "crazy" to accept the risks. Much depends on individual temperament, including a man's tolerance for risk and the motives for his behavior. Crucially, he rejects—as naïve and "antiquated"—an unfailing use of condoms as the best strategy to eliminate the spread of AIDS.

    This matter takes us to the heart of the book. Halperin wants to promote some kind of comprehensive inquiry into the inner lives of male homosexual—their "subjectivity," or (less pretentiously) "what gay men want," with special reference to their propensity to engage in risky sexual behavior.

    Psychology would seem to be well suited to answer such questions, but homosexual people widely distrust it. As an academic and therapeutic discipline, psychology long deemed a romantic attraction to persons of the seme sex as illegitimate or abnormal desire. For that reason, Halperin wants to go elsewhere.

    The inquiry he favors should avoid the "judgmental" tendencies of psychology and not assume that gay men engage in risky behavior from low self-esteem, doubts about their sexual identity, or a dangerous impulsiveness. Instead, researchers should try to discern their motives for engaging in risky sex and affirm those motives.

    Above all, researchers ought to recognize that these motives can be "transgressive" in roughly the same way that queer theorists say the entire "gay" life is trtansgressive. By this, Halperin means an unwillingness or refusal to be "proper and good." His views amount to a deep disdain for traditional sexual ethics and the moral norms needed to sustain marriages and families.

    If public health officials recognize the legitimacy of transgressive motives and impulses, Halperin argues, they can devise kmore workable strategies against the spread of AIDS. The goal is not "safe sex," but "safer sex." The latter, naturally, is more permissive than the former.

    Halperin's program to conquer AIDS through "safer sex" rests on his reading of other queer theorists and his review of much social research, but the weakness of the book's central argument should be plain. Put aside his high-brow references to Michel Foucault, psychoanalytic thought, and gay "subjectivity," and you will find a very egalitarian liberal.

    When defending risky sexual practices, he sometimes writes as a rugged individualists, a man who accepts the consequences of his actions and has no need to curry favor with the public. Yet he cannot ignore the American public.

    He cannot ignore it because it allegedly owes gay men substantial resources to stop the spread of AIDS, as well as approval and support for their way of life. It owes them, he declares, "support for a vibrant, sophisticated and safe gay sexual culture as well as . . . reliable, appropriate, and practical information about how to prevent HIV infection."

    Is this reasonable? Since he promotes and applauds "transgressive" conduct meant to destroy real marriages and stable families, why should the body politic extend its hand to him and his peers? What does it owe them? Halperin would at one moment spit on that hand, and in the next moment grasp it for support.

    For the reasons that Buckley gave, it is hard to know if Halperin speaks for a majority of American homosexuals. But "queer theory" is increasingly respectable, as evidenced by the publication of this book by a prominent state university press.

    Despite the weakness of the book's main argument and its endorsement of sexual anarchy, Halperin and his allies may be winning the war to define marriage. This portends grave consequences for the rest of us—but perhaps for them as well.
    Alas, the entire review is not (yet?) online, but you can find it in the October 2008 issue of Touchstone magazine.

    Think of that as you digest reports of demonstrations in our streets (and church conventions).

    Proposition 8: The Wrong Battle?

    Okay. Central Illinois is in many respects a different world than was the San Fernando Valley in which I came of age. But the debate over California's Proposition 8, where voters used the initiative process to reverse the state's Supreme Court's legal creation ex nihilo of same-sex marriage, has projected the perspective that gay men and lesbians would be content if only they could get married.

    Now, setting aside for the moment that homosexuals have been marrying and raising families for as long as there has been homosexuality and marriage -- it's just that they did it the old-fashioned man-woman "thee I shall wed" way, and either setting aside their homosexual desires and performing spousal/parental duties or finding, uh, quiet ways of satisfying such desires, even with the full knowledge of the spouse -- so the debate isn't about the right to marriage at all, but the redefinition of marriage (on which I've posted earlier)...

    ...the "gay community" with which I was acquainted, whether it be the more "mainstream" perspective that one could catch reading The Advocate or various community/school lesbigay advocacy groups or "faith based" groups such as Lutherans Concerned was generally hostile to the institution of marriage. Sure, every once in a while someone would propose same-sex "marriage," but that was guaranteed to get a huge negative reaction from within the GLBTQ community. Now the passage of Proposition 8 (reversing a "right" created only 6 months ago) was turning into the new Stonewall or Christopher Street. Has the lesbigay mind on marriage completely and suddenly changed?

    That's when Google News came to the rescue and the headline "Prop 8 – Did We Fight The Wrong Battle?" appeared on my screen. It's an op-ed published Monday by the poet Marc Olmsted in the cyber newspaper, "West Hollywood's ONLY newspaper - ONLY ONLINE!" And by the sixth sentence, traditional lesbigay thought had made its re-appearance.
    Prop 8 – Did We Fight The Wrong Battle?
    Monday, November 10, 2008 – Op-Ed By Marc Olmsted, West Hollywood

    First of all, let me make it clear that I was against Prop 8.

    I contributed money toward its defeat, volunteered in campaign offices in Silverlake, and attended a pre-election rally in West Hollywood Park where I watched two close friends tie the knot.

    I believe that it is wrong and unfair that we are not granted marriage equality. I wanted us to win.

    So it may seem utterly bizarre that I’m questioning the cause entirely. (To be fair, I’ve had these doubts all along but decided to put them aside for the sake of unity.)

    I don’t think we’re looking for the protection of the law.

    We have most of what we need with domestic partnership or civil unions, and with a fraction of the money spent on No on 8, we could certainly have pushed for any changes required to make sure we were according the same de facto rights under those agreements as under marriage, at least on the state level.

    What we’re looking for, in my opinion, is validation.

    We want the state to affirm that our relationships are equal to heterosexual unions, but we reject the state’s response as inadequate, because it is lacks the societal imprimatur of marriage.

    In fact, what is lacking is the psychosocial approval inherent with the association of the religious bodies that have traditional overseen this realm.

    I could have sworn that my coming out as a gay man, my inner self-affirmation, came about precisely as a result of the rejection of the principle whereby what I thought of myself was a function of what society or the church said was right and good.

    Aren’t we barking up that same tree now? If we claim to know our relationships are equal to theirs and as sacred, why are we insisting on their benediction?

    Other questions: Does any of us truly believe that of the 18,000 gay couples who have been married in California so far, the same proportion of them won’t be seeking divorce in 5 or 10 years as the straight couples wed at the same time?

    Have you spent some time with someone going through a divorce lately? Is this what we want?

    And what of our capacity, as the most gifted of tribes, to be on the cutting edge of developing entirely new paradigms for modern relationships?

    Why are we seeking to imitate them instead of setting an example that they can imitate?

    What I propose we pioneer is the contractual and renewable civil union, which would work like this. A couple would choose a time period with which they were comfortable—3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years, or life, for the absolutely certain.

    For that period, they would have all of the benefits of marriage. At the end of the term, they would be required to renew their contract at City Hall—hardly a burden for any couple who wants to remain together, in fact, a great way to reaffirm and strengthen their bond.

    If either or both chose not to continue in the relationship, the union would lapse. Any parental obligations would remain whatever the spousal status, but sparing the children and the partners from the burden and stigma of divorce.

    Of course parents that break up will always be difficult emotionally for children, but parents lapsing into unpartnered status would certainly be more likely to encourage a transition into friendship than the present adversarial atmosphere of divorce, in which the rupture must be sought out.

    I contend that there is a significant proportion of the heterosexual population that would find a renewable contract a highly preferable alternative to the one-size-fits-all option they are faced with now if they want the legal and social benefits of marriage.

    Anyone who has lived through divorce, whether as a child or as a spouse, wants nothing more than to avoid it again.

    I can easily see a state of affairs where the civil union alternative eventually becomes the norm, as society finally recognizes legally that two human beings well suited to a partnership for life are far more the exception than the rule.

    The passage of Prop 8 is a disappointment, but for us, it is also an opportunity. Marriage as it is presently constituted is a pre-21 century institution that lacks the flexibility and realism required of the modern age.

    I say we stop approaching the powers that be demanding a place at the table. It’s time to build our own table and let them come to us.
    No, Marc, it's not bizarre at all -- to anyone who is familiar with the discussion of marriage in GLBTQ circles from more than 3-4 years ago. Alas, as in so much that passes for debate on all sorts of issues in our culture, (political, religious, etc.) key, relevant history is forgotten or suppressed.

    Or ignored. To be continued in a later post.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    QC Times: Episcopal Property Conflict?

    From today's Quad City Times:
    Episcopal Church split might turn into conflict over property

    By Deirdre Cox Baker | Monday, November 10, 2008 11:12 PM CST

    Fallout from the weekend decision by the Diocese of Quincy, Ill., to leave the Episcopal Church of the United States may include litigation over millions of dollars’ worth of property and assets.

    “We pray there will be no litigation,” the Rev. Ed den Blaauwen said Monday. Den Blaauwen, the rector of Christ Church in Moline, is also the newly appointed vicar general of the diocese that is now aligned with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina.

    Church resources would be better used for Christian activities than in the courts, he added.

    The Episcopal Church will protect its history and heritage, said the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop of the national church in New York City. Church officials will not give away property to a foreign province, he said, adding, “This is our heritage and, more than that, the heritage of those who have not even come our way yet.”
    Well, given TEC's recent history, particularly since the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop, such a hard line is not surprising.
    The Episcopalian [sic] Church still exists in the Quincy Diocese, Robertson stressed. “Our first concern for followers is that they know that our church continues,” he added.

    New alignments

    Lines are being drawn in the church between liberal or moderate factions and traditional or conservative ones. Arguments center on the national church’s decisions to allow women in the clergy, which occurred in the 1970s, and to promote an openly gay minister to a bishop’s post in 2003.
    Well, those are the flash points that reveal a deeper division over the place of the Scriptures and Christian doctrine in the Church's contemporary witness. But what do you expect when describing a debate over fundamental Christian truth in only one or two sentences?
    The schism widened when the national church appointed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to the job. The Quincy Diocese, which numbers 24 churches (including those in Moline, Rock Island, Silvis, Geneseo and Kewanee) and 1,800 members, has never allowed women or gays to be part of the clergy.

    “We are working to assist in the reorganization of diocesan affairs,” Schori said. It now appears that four churches, including St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Peoria, Ill., the largest in the diocese, will continue to align with the Episcopal Church....
    Yes, that fits with some reports I heard. Things are going to get, uh, interesting here in Peoria.
    ...A new alignment called the Common Cause partnership is working to establish an Anglican province in the United States, according to the Rev. John Spencer, the press officer for the Quincy Diocese. That would include the alignments with the Southern Cone and other U.S. churches that have aligned with an organization including Anglican churches in the African nations of Nigeria and Rwanda.

    The timeline for the new organizational structure would involve some kind of provisional recognition in late December or early January, he said. Formal approval of the new North American Anglican Province may come by early February, after the worldwide Anglican council meets in Egypt.
    Read it all here. A prayers that cooler heads might be found and prevail.

    Sunday, November 09, 2008

    Quincy Realigns

    This is official, from the Diocese of Quincy
    The Diocese of Quincy, Peoria, IL
    November 8, 2008

    Contact information:
    Fr. John Spencer, Media Officer
    The Diocese of Quincy
    Cell: 309-264-7489

    For Immediate release
    November 8, 2008

    Diocese of Quincy Realigns With South American Province

    The Annual Synod of the Diocese of Quincy’s meeting November 7-8 in Quincy, Illinois, has voted by strong margins to realign itself with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, breaking its ties with The Episcopal Church in the US. On two key votes more than ¾ of the clergy and lay deputies voted in favor of the realignment.

    The move came after several years of prayer and discernment about the diocese's relationship with The Episcopal Church. Many in the Quincy Diocese, both clergy and lay people, have been at odds with the national leadership and other dioceses over the authority of the Bible, church order and discipline, and the church's moral standards and teaching on Christian marriage.

    On the vote to disaffiliate from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, 75% of the clergy and 82% of the lay deputies voted in favor. On the subsequent vote to realign the diocese with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone the vote in favor was 92% in the clergy order and 87% in the lay order.

    "This decision was not made lightly," said Fr. John Spencer, press officer for the diocese. "We have talked and prayed about this for a very long time. But we take our relationship to the Anglican Communion very seriously. Since 2003, over half the Provinces of the Anglican Communion have been in a state of broken Communion with The Episcopal Church. By realigning with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, we are now back in full communion with the majority of over 75 million Anglicans around the world."

    Canon Ed den Blaauwen, incoming President of the Standing Committee, said the focus of the diocese will remain on mission. "Our churches and our diocese will continue in mission and ministry locally and around the world. We feel much at home under the oversight of Archbishop Gregory Venables, Primate of the Southern Cone, who has warmly welcomed us into affiliation with that Province," den Blaauwen said. "We are once again back in full fellowship with our brother and sister Anglicans."

    Shortly after the votes were taken, Canon den Blaauwen, who acted as chairman for the Synod, read a letter from Archbishop Venables welcoming Quincy as a member of the Province of the Southern Cone.

    Bishop Keith Ackerman who retired from leadership of the diocese on November 1, spoke to the gathering Friday afternoon just before the synod convened. Quoting the Epistle of Jude, he encouraged them to remain faithful to the Gospel of Christ and the historic faith of the Christian Church as they considered the momentous decisions before them.

    "While the votes show there was very strong support for this decision," Fr. Spencer said, "we realize this was not a unanimous decision." By a separate action, the synod made provision for a nine months grace period during which a congregation or member of the clergy might consider withdrawing from the diocese in order to stay in the Episcopal Church. "It is a matter of allowing everyone to follow their consciences in these very difficult times, without recrimination," Spencer said.

    - 30 -
    Pastor Zip missed the discussion and votes, but from conversations I had with friends after my arrival both pro and con moving from TEC to the Southern Cone, the report on Episcopal Life Online seems accurate:
    During the 45-minute debate on the resolution to leave the Episcopal Church, some speakers suggested that they could have a greater witness by "working from within," but the majority of speakers expressed disgust at the Episcopal Church, saying that what they were leaving did not represent the church they had been born into or once joined.

    The final speaker, a woman who was not fully identified, said "We need to make a choice. Is Jesus Christ our Savior or not?"

    "I don’t feel like I’m leaving TEC, instead I feel like I am moving forward. I am convinced that by not leaving TEC, I will brand myself with the same heretical views of those who are running TEC now. This is the end. Right here. Today," she said.

    The resolution said leaders of the Episcopal Church and actions of its General Convention "have failed to uphold the teaching and authority of Holy Scripture, have challenged or belittled core doctrines of the Christian faith, have refused to conform to the agreed teaching and discipline of the Anglican faith, have refused to conform to the agreed teaching and discipline of the Anglican Communion, and have rejected the godly counsel of the leaders of the Communion."
    The sermons preached at the Synod -- at Evensong by Bishop Peter Beckwith of the neighboring Diocese of Springfield shortly after the vote and at the Eucharist the next morning by Quincy Bishop-retired Donald Parsons -- wrestled with what the Synod had done, both pointedly lifting up that faithful Anglicans in the US, while deeply opposed to the leadership and direction of TEC, remain divided over staying in vs. leaving the Episcopal Church, at least as long as it remains the province of the Anglican Communion in the United States. Hopes are that a new, more orthodox province will be established fairly soon for North America.

    Quincy is the third Episcopal Diocese, following San Joaquin (in central California) and Pittsburgh, to seek refuge in the Southern Cone, which is Anglican province covering Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. The Diocese of Ft. Worth will be voting to join them later this week.

    Saturday, November 08, 2008

    It's Rudy Lugo Stadium

    From Saturday's Los Angeles Daily News;
    Canoga Park shows dedication to late coach Lugo

    By Gary Miereanu Special to the Daily News

    Seventy years of Canoga Park alums poured into the school Friday night for a homecoming game filled with emotions that resonated far beyond the Hunters' final winning tally.

    The crowd of approximately 4,000 - including SRO stands on the home side of the field - paid open tribute to Rudy Lugo, dedicating the field in the name of their late head football coach, and retiring his No. 80 from his mid-60s playing days - the first football number to be retired in Canoga Park High history.

    "The first time I saw the 'Rudy Lugo Stadium' (sign), I was taken aback," said Christopher Lugo, the late coach's son who now serves as a Hunters assistant coach. "I've been running on this field ever since, well, since I could walk. I'm very honored to have this stadium named for him, and to work at the same place he did. I know he's with me, watching me, helping me, and that makes this dedication that much more special."

    Alums from 1938 to 2008 attended the game, including members of Canoga's City Championship teams from 1969 and 1981. But in a clear sign of the times, there was no candlelight ceremony - rather, the Canoga's student body president asked for everyone to open their cell phones, raise them over their heads in order to create an illuminated honor.

    In between the festivities, there was a football game. Junior tailback Tom Wilson rushed for 300 yards and two touchdowns to lead Canoga Park (5-4, 4-1) to a 30-14 victory over Grant (4-5, 3-2) in East Valley League play.
    Read it all here. Oh, and just to show how we can keep in "in the family," Gary Miereanu is Canoga Park High Class of 1978 (one year behind me) when he wrote for what was then the only weekly newspaper in the LA Unified School District, the Hunters' Call. And I've known Gary he and my sister started Kindergarten together when I was in Grade A-1.

    And then there's Bill Plaschke's column in Thrusday's LA Times sports section:
    It was a wonderful life for Rudy Lugo

    Poor Rudy Lugo.

    For nearly 40 years he coached on a football team that never sent a player to the NFL, never brought him a national honor, never even gave him a parking space.

    For nearly 40 years he worked in an office with bars over the windows, lived in a home where kids trampled the lawn, hung out at a church where he prayed in darkness.

    Poor Rudy Lugo.

    As the head coach at perennially modest Canoga Park High in a cluttered corner of the San Fernando Valley, he lived a life as regionally invisible as the greasy garages and doughnut shops that surrounded him.

    He was on television once. He made the headlines never. He earned a $3,500 stipend for teaching kids to play a sport that most of them would never play again, in a city that would never make any of them famous.

    Poor Rudy Lugo.

    He died of cancer two weeks ago, and Canoga Park will never be the same.

    "It wasn't like the town lost just another person," former player Ricardo Hernandez said. "It was like we lost a member of our family."

    At his funeral, mourners spilled out of Our Lady of the Valley Church and huddled on the front lawn watching monitors.

    After the service, when the hearse drove Lugo around the Canoga Park High football field for the last time, dozens of players and fans rushed back to salute him.

    At the school, students randomly hung signs on hallways and doorways, teenage writings filled with honor and angst.

    "Rudy was much more than a coach," one read. "He was a man who dedicated his life to us kids."

    In the downtown streets of this 70,000-person suburb, folks stepped out of thrift shops and bakeries to remember him.

    "Best coach and teacher ever," said Felisha Ibarra, who works at a wireless store adjacent to a sidewalk plaque dedicated to Lugo. "It's like everybody around here has been affected by him in some way."

    For the two weeks since his death, "Mr. Canoga's" booming voice has not been silenced, but replaced by those who speak in his honor.

    Listen to the sobbing middle-aged construction worker who, while spending one football season in a juvenile detention center, received an inspirational letter from Lugo that he still holds today.

    "We knew our father touched a lot of people," said his daughter Melissa. "But to actually see all this . . . we had no idea."
    Read the entire column here.

    Rudy Lugo Night at Canoga High is also covered here on the CPHS website, while tributes to Coach continue to show up on the Memoirs section of school's website.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    State and Church

    Pastor Zip and his Congressman-elect, Aaron Schock, shortly after his victory speech last night. Age 27, Aaron will be the youngest member of the 111th Congress of the United States.

    He replaces Ray Lahood, who chose to retire at the end of this his sixth term. His predecessor was Bob Michel, who was first elected in 1956, serving 19 terms and as Minority Leader of the House from 1981 until his retirement after the 1994 election. An earlier Member of Congress from this area was Everett Dirksen, first elected in 1932 and serving through the 1946 election. In 1846, this area's MC was a young lawyer named Abraham Lincoln.

    Pastor Zip voted shortly before 3 pm, asking (has he usually does) how many people had voted so far that day. "Almost 160," replied one of the poll watchers. That's a good number in my precinct, where 161 (of 731 registered; 26 cast early or absentee ballots) showed up the entire day in 2006 general election. Voting is low in this precinct; running at a little over half the rate of voters as the rest of this city.

    Thursday, October 30, 2008

    +Ackerman and Forward in Faith

    More on Bishop Ackerman's retirement from Forward in Faith, one of the reasserter/traditionalist groups in the Anglican Communion:
    Bishop Keith Ackerman will remain as President of Forward in Faith North America
    Oct 30, 2008

    Further to the announcement yesterday of his retirement as Bishop of Quincy, The Right Reverend Keith Ackerman SSC wishes to make it clear that he will be remaining in office as President of Forward in Faith North America. Indeed, it is his intention during his retirement to devote himself more fully than has been possible hitherto to this ministry.

    Stephen Parkinson
    Forward in Faith International

    Bishop Ackerman Retires

    Just caught this shocking news a few minutes ago on Stand Firm:
    The Right Reverend Keith L. Ackerman, VIIIth Bishop of Quincy, has announced to the Standing Committee his retirement as Diocesan Bishop effective November 1st, 2008. Bishop Ackerman has reached this decision after much thought and prayer. The Bishop and his wife Jo conferred with his physicians, many trusted friends, and the Standing Committee before making this decision.

    While Bishop Ackerman is retiring from his administrative duties as executive officer of the Diocese, he plans to remain in the area of the Diocese for some time and will make himself available, under arrangement with the Standing Committee, to perform Episcopal acts and provide spiritual counsel to members of the Diocese, as have Bishop Donald Parsons and Bishop Edward MacBurney, the VIth and VIIth Bishops of Quincy.

    Under diocesan canons, the Standing Committee will continue to act as the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese, as they have since the Bishop’s sabbatical began in late August. Day to day operations of the diocese will continue to be handled by the various officers and department heads.

    Bishop Ackerman wants to assure everyone that he has no intention of abandoning the diocese but will continue to provide spiritual and pastoral support as asked by the Standing Committee.
    According to TitusOneNine, this is a message from Quincy's Standing Committee.

    Bishop Ackerman has been on sabbatical since the Lambeth Conference, and has not been in the best of health for well over a year. I won't even begin to speculate on the meanings of this. The Quincy priests I know love and respect him very much and cherish his ministry. How well they have been prepared for this, I don't know -- but there was no hint of anything like this at the Peoria Deanery's pre-Synod convocation a week ago Sunday.

    Observers will note that the agenda of the upcoming Synod (the end of next week) includes votes to disassociate from The Episcopal Church and associate with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone until a new, more orthodox Anglican province is established for North America.

    As for my personal regard for Bishop Ackerman, click the Quincy category label on the right column. And do join me in prayer for a godly bishop and and a faithful diocese. This is very difficult news. Yet we remain in Christ's care.