Anglican Samizdat

January 31, 2010

Anglican Church of Canada’s Vision 2019: exciting plan for the future or a bunch of tired clichés?

Filed under: Anglican Church of Canada — David @ 6:03 pm

Judge for yourself from the vast interest shown on the Vision 2019 discussion board:

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Living the Vision in the Diocese of Niagara

Filed under: Diocese of Niagara — David @ 3:07 pm

Like other Anglican Church of Canada dioceses, the Diocese of Niagara is in financial difficulty. Not only are numbers dwindling in its parishes, but whole parishes are departing for ANiC (5 so far), the diocese has to pay close to $400,000 in legal fees for suing departed parishes and now, finally, has to come up with back payments (around $54,000) for its invasion of ANiC parish buildings during the last 2 years.

It isn’t surprising, then, that Bishop Michael Bird is scrounging for cash: he has asked parishes that have not managed to pay their diocesan assessment to take out a line of credit loan – so that the diocese doesn’t have to – to pay their assessment. Since, contrary to common sense, ethical fairness and Christian compassion, Bird has always claimed ownership of the ANiC parishes buildings, he cannot be expecting parishes to use their buildings as security for the lines of credit. In the lawsuits against ANiC, Bird has attempted to lay claim to wardens’ personal assets, so he probably expects corporations to use their personal assets to secure the loans.

Anglican wardens in the Diocese of Niagara are scrambling to transfer all personal property to close relatives and there has been a run on replacement front-door locks.

January 30, 2010

Our main concern is not terrorism, but “ugly words”

That is what a UK counter-terrorism expert thinks:

Police should not focus on skin colour or religion when profiling for stop-and-searches as there is ‘no single terrorist profile’, a senior counter-terrorism officer said today.

John Yates, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner for Specialist Operations, said police need to take a ‘flexible and dynamic’ approach to profiling in order to stop suspected terrorists

He warned that al Qaida regularly changed tactics to keep a step ahead and called for security staff to use their experience to apply stop-and-search powers ‘sensitively’.

He said the failed Detroit plane plot at Christmas had reopened the debate on ‘profiling’, which he labelled an ‘ugly’ word.

Yates goes on to recommend a quota system for airport searches: for every bearded Muslim questioned, three white little old ladies must be strip-searched. In this way, the world will be kept safe from the horror of ugly words.

Osama bin Laden places the final nail in the coffin of global warming theories

Filed under: Global Warming — David @ 12:58 pm

The well-respected climatologist, Osama bin Laden dispatched this warning from his high-tech weather monitoring station deep in a cave somewhere in the mountainous region of Afghanistan:

“Speaking about climate change is not a matter of intellectual luxury — the phenomenon is an actual fact,” the tape says according to al-Jazeera. “All of the industrialized countries, especially the big ones, bear responsibility for the global warming crisis.”

“George Bush junior, preceded by [the US] congress, dismissed the agreement to placate giant corporations. And they are themselves standing behind speculation, monopoly and soaring living costs.”

“They are also behind ‘globalisation and its tragic implications’. And whenever the perpetrators are found guilty, the heads of state rush to rescue them using public money.”

Having set the world straight on climate change, George Bush, large corporations, industrialised countries and globalisation, Osama will be focussing his energy on US health care reform; it will be called Osama-care.

A shake-up is coming to the Diocese of Montreal

Filed under: Diocese of Montreal — David @ 12:52 am

The Diocese of Montreal, having lost 45,000 members between 1981 and 2001, is dwindling in much the same way as the Diocese of BC.

A consultant has been hired to find out what can be done; her report says, among other things:

As is her wont, Myrlene Boken does not recommend the closing of any churches in the Diocese of Montreal, preferring to leave the final decision up to parishioners.

But she makes no bones about considering some churches more strategic than others. Her report divides the slightly under 100 churches in the diocese into five categories.

She considers 50 churches – a little more than half – to be in strategic locations and another dozen in “second-level locations” that “round out our coverage of the mission field” but, for example, would not be a priority for replacement if they burned down or needed major repairs.

Another eight are in “tertiary” locations, generally buried in residential neighbourhoods and often dating from the 1950s and 1960s. They often benefit from dedicated local members and leaders even today, so Ms. Boken’s suggestion that the diocese not devote important resources to them could be controversial.

There are 18 “final generation” churches, generally in rural areas and some of them almost “family chapels.” They have few prospects for the future but Ms. Boken thinks it would often cause unnecessary hard feelings to force them to close. (A few of these are already on the way to being wound up by local parishioners.) Finally, there are a half-dozen tourist sites in the Laurentians that she thinks can play a useful role with summer student placements.

Although Boken does not recommend the closing of any churches, she does seem to think that it would not be a bad thing if half of them burned down. And that, after all, is what you pay a consultant for: creative thinking.

As comic relief, in the same issue of the diocesan paper, Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas, a professor at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. rambles on about “God’s mission in a changing world and church”, drawing on a Marxist political theorist for inspiration. His most profound insight is this:

In light of the new Pentecost, Christians in general, and Anglicans in particular, are beginning to ask ourselves: How much does the translatability of the Gospel and the missiological imperative of inculturation inform our worship and common life as Christians today?

Scarcely a day goes by without an Anglican acquaintance piously murmuring in my ear his concern about “missiological imperative of inculturation”.

With Professor Douglas helping to push them over the edge, I’m quite sure that the Diocese of Montreal will soon be following the example of the Diocese of BC and closing churches. Those that don’t burn down first.

January 29, 2010

Saruman’s Doppelganger

Filed under: Islam — David @ 7:26 pm

Sheikh Yassin was killed in an Israeli air strike in 2004; I just came across an old photo of him:

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I knew I had seen him before: Saruman with a tea-towel on his head:

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I wasn’t sorry to see he met an untimely end since he not only resembled Saruman (well, the film version) physically, but theologically.

Conversations with Kingsley Amis

Filed under: Books — David @ 4:47 pm

I arrived at Swansea University as a student a few years after Kingsley Amis left, which was a shame because I would like to have met him. I’ve never much cared for the output of his increasingly obnoxious son, Martin who seems to think euthanasia booths for the aged are a good idea. Considering Martin Amis is 60, one would think that the instinct for self-preservation would deter him from advertising such boorish ideas; he grew up in a less civilised time than his father, of course. Kingsley Amis showed little interest in his son’s work, apparently,

Kingsley Amis had a keen eye for the absurdity of the cherished ambitions of the elite, although in his personal life he was not averse to indulging them. His novel “Stanley and the Women” particularly appealed to me; by today’s standards it was rabidly misogynistic – it’s main proposition was that all women are mad, a notion that resonated with me greatly at the time. It must have been a phase I was going through. He didn’t much like Dylan Thomas, but I forgave him that.

I was thinking of plagiarising one of Amis’s bon mots for this blog: “If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing”.

A new book, “Conversations with Kingsley Amis”  has just been published; I am looking forward to reading it (hint for birthday present).

Dawkins for bishop

Filed under: Atheism — David @ 1:02 pm

Richard Dawkins has written a characteristically emotional anti-Christian philippic in the Times:

Where was God in Noah’s flood? He was systematically drowning the entire world, animal as well as human, as punishment for “sin”. Where was God when Sodom and Gomorrah were consumed with fire and brimstone? He was deliberately barbecuing the citizenry, lock, stock and barrel, as punishment for “sin”.

“Oh but that’s the Old Testament. No one believes those stories literally any more. The New Testament is all about love.” Dear modern, enlightened, theologically sophisticated, gentle Christian, you cannot be serious. Your entire religion is founded on an obsession with “sin”, with punishment and with atonement. Where do you find the effrontery to condemn Pat Robertson, you who have signed up to the odious doctrine that the central purpose of Jesus’s incarnation was to have himself tortured as a scapegoat for the “sins” of all mankind, past, present and future, beginning with the “sin” of Adam, who (as any modern theologian well knows) never even existed?

George Pitcher reckons that Dawkins is not only an embarrassment to thinking atheists, but is an effective recruiting tool for Christianity. He has a point; ten minutes of Dawkins’ rodomontade in an Alpha course would drive out any doubts lingering in the mind of a potential believer.

Pitcher would prefer to make him a bishop:

As I’ve said before, Dawkers is a great recruiting officer for faith. He repels tolerant atheists and inspires uncommitted inquirers to look further into what he so ludicrously and entertainingly misrepresents. I think he should be made an honorary bishop.

Rowan Williams and the “R” word

Filed under: Rowan Williams — David @ 10:46 am

From the Times:

The whole world, and not just Britain, is broken, with continents such as Africa feeling forgotten and uncared for, the Archbishop of Canterbury said in the heart of New York’s financial district yesterday.

Any money men who might have happened in to Trinity Wall Street to shelter from the snow would have found a different sort of chill as Dr Rowan Williams delivered his lesson.

Standing at the lectern of the famously wealthy US Episcopal church, which lies at the head of Wall Street, the leader of the Anglican Communion condemned the “straw man” of self-interest.

His theme was that financiers, wordsmiths — in fact anyone in the Western world connected in any way with economic reality — should look at themselves in the mirror and repent.

It is hard to argue with Rowan’s assessment of Western money moguls whose modus operandi is grounded in avarice, self-interest and utilitarianism. However, Rowan’s asking secular financiers to repent stands in stark contrast to his response to heresy in the Anglican church where, instead of repentance, he seeks “conversation”.

Born-again Christian says he killed abortion doctor to save lives

Filed under: Abortion — David @ 12:01 am

An interesting defence:

In an impassioned plea before a US court, a born-again Christian argued on Thursday that he had killed a prominent abortion doctor because he wanted to save the lives of unborn babies.

Scott Roeder, 51, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of first-degree murder in the May 2009 slaying of Dr George Tiller in the foyer of a Kansas church.

Instead in an unorthodox move he is seeking to convince jurors that he is guilty of the lesser offence of voluntary manslaughter, because he honestly believed he was saving people from greater harm.

George Tiller performed late-term abortions: he aborted babies after the 21st week of pregnancy, babies that have the potential for surviving outside the womb.

Now, if Roeder had killed a madman with a gun threatening babies in a nursery, he would be a hero; is his murder of Tiller substantially different?

January 28, 2010

New details on Obama’s health care reform

Filed under: Politics — David @ 11:36 pm

Diocese of BC: 10 second evangelism training

Filed under: Diocese of BC — David @ 11:21 pm

More on the Diocese of BC’s plan to close 13 churches:

The diocese of British Columbia has announced a plan to close 13 churches in a dramatic restructuring. While the plan is a response to declining church attendance, Bishop James Cowan says it goes beyond cost-cutting, asking how the church can best focus its resources to carry out its mission as well as rebuild for the future.

Another aspect of the plan is to make the church, including the laity, more outward-looking and able to engage in evangelism. When asked whether traditional Anglican reserve might be an obstacle to this, Bishop Cowan acknowledged that “Anglicans are reserved. And they have this image of evangelism that is the televangelist.” In fact, he said, the kind of evangelism he was referring to has a “10-second training session, which is ‘Would you be interested in coming to church with me?’”

The obvious answer to that last question for most people is “no”. If Cowan were planning a blitz of Alpha courses with thorough leadership training – and he believed what the Alpha course teaches to be true –  his plan could have some chance of success. As it is, his evangelism will probably be reminiscent of the infamous Decade of Evangelism; in the Diocese of Niagara it was run by the nebulochaotic Canon Michael Patterson. The first nine and a half years were spent in trying to decide what the word “evangelism” means and the last 6 months in wrapping things up.

Anglican Church of Canada: PWRDF slashes 2010-2011 budget by 26%

Filed under: Anglican Church of Canada — David @ 6:19 pm

From the Journal:

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has cut its 2010-2011 operating budget by 26 per cent.

In 2012, another 10 per cent will be cut in a bid to end deficit budgeting  and replenish its monetary reserve.

“As a result of the budget reductions, program delivery costs must be reduced,” said Cheryl Curtis, PWRDF executive director, in an email to staff at the Anglican Church of Canada’s national office in Toronto.

Consequently, several staff have been laid off and a number of positions restructured.

Anglicans have poverty justice, eco-justice, climate justice and now, finally: poetic justice.

Atheists against postage stamps

Filed under: Atheism — David @ 4:54 pm

Atheists are running out of things to complain about:

An atheist organization is blasting the U.S. Postal Service for its plan to honor Mother Teresa with a commemorative stamp, saying it violates postal regulations against honoring “individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings.”

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is urging its supporters to boycott the stamp — and also to engage in a letter-writing campaign to spread the word about what it calls the “darker side” of Mother Teresa.

Atheists are keen to present the appearance of being better people than Christians; perhaps they feel they can’t compete with Mother Teresa and having her photo on a stamp will make them look really bad; poor dears:

He said the Foundation’s campaign stems from concern that the abundance of humanitarian work done by believers will overshadow that done by atheists.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation informs us:

The history of Western civilization shows us that most social and moral progress has been brought about by persons free from religion. In modern times the first to speak out for prison reform, for humane treatment of the mentally ill, for abolition of capital punishment, for women’s right to vote, for death with dignity for the terminally ill, and for the right to choose contraception, sterilization and abortion have been freethinkers, just as they were the first to call for an end to slavery.

This curious concoction of meaningless pap is heartening, in that it reinforces my conviction that those who like to trumpet their freedom from religion are themselves slaves to ignorance and irrationality.

What we really need is a Freedom From Illogical Atheism Foundation.

January 27, 2010

More priests abandon the Diocese of Niagara for ANiC

Filed under: Diocese of Niagara — David @ 9:22 pm

Rev. Vicky Hedelius and Rev. St. Clair Cleveland of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Hamilton announced to their congregation last Sunday that they will be leaving the Diocese of Niagara to join ANiC; they will be starting services in St. John’s United (an evangelical church) this coming Sunday. Two thirds of the congregation has gone with them. They turned in their licenses on Monday morning and were immediately received by Bishop Don Harvey.

Thank you both for having the integrity and guts to stand up for the Gospel.

Living the vision in Niagara.

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