28 July 2008

summer teaching

I work full-time at our church, but the powers-that-be allow me to do some teaching on the side at Tulsa Community College. This summer it has been a history class. It was quite stressful--it was a four-week class, four days a week, in an area (US History) that is certainly not my specialty. I would go to class at nine, then go to the office until early evening, plus pastoral calls or whatever, since for three of those four weeks the rector was out! Then it was home, eat supper, and start preparing for the next day until the wee hours of the morning.

One neat thing about the summer class that I didn't experience during the school year was students of other schools trying to earn some credits. One such student was a young man named Jonah who attends Berklee College of Music in Boston. Check out his video (he's on the piano):

23 July 2008

lambeth report from bishop peter beckwith

The Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, Bishop of Springfield (IL), speaks strong words about the Lambeth Conference:

“In my Bible study group I apologised for the behaviour of our province that has brought us to the brink of schism. Two hundred and seventy bishops are not here because they refuse to sit down with people who refuse to repent. Gene Robinson is a nice guy, but his lifestyle is not appropriate for a leader of the Church. Sure he’s a bishop, we ordained him. But that says something about our integrity. On the second day of our retreat, I had the feeling we were on the edge of a 10-storey building and the Archbishop of Canterbury was trying to talk us down without a safety net. He’s a wonderful guy, with a lot of integrity but he assumes everyone else has integrity too. The Episcopal Church is not representing the scriptural authority of Christ. In the Episcopal Church, the biggest lie of all is that sexual morality doesn’t matter, or that it’s changing, that God is doing a new thing. Yet prophetic voices in our history have always taken us back to basics. It will be very interesting to see how things develop here. Will enough be done to preserve the integrity of the Communion? We won’t hold together if we continue like this. It will end with a lot of fragments if this conference isn’t able to give a strong confident way forward. In the meeting with the Southern Cone, they were concerned to send a strong signal from this gathering that the Anglican Communion is going to stand for Orthodoxy. It was said in that meeting that the Western Church says things that are not Anglican and not Christian. But, as the Archbishop of Sudan has said, we can’t predict the future. We have to wait and see. The proof will be in the pudding. The time for procrastination and equivocation is over. ”

From here.

x-files--i think i want to believe

This weekend sees the release of the movie, The X-Files: I Want To Believe. When I first heard that this film was coming out, my immediate reaction was, "who called for an X-Files movie?" I have heard no hue and cry about the need for this movie, nobody lamenting the absence of Mulder and Scully on the TV, much less on the big screen. The show has been off the air for 6 years (with Mulder hardly involved the final two seasons), and the first film, which was released in 1998, wasn't great.

X-Files is a phenomenon that worked on the small screen, as episodes, but, in my opinion, did not work well on the large screen. At least when they released the first movie, the TV show was still being produced and the film fit into existing story lines. What now? They have to reintroduce the characters, catch us up, and only then can they tell a story. I don't know--I even found the trailer underwhelming.

And I liked the X-Files television show. The relationship of Mulder and Scully was really well done, especially when they didn't give it the old "Moonlighting" treatment and bury the show! More interesting was that Mulder and Scully harbored mirror versions of a skepticism/faith dialectic. Scully was a skeptic concerning aliens and the paranormal but had a deep Catholic faith. Mulder eschewed traditional religion but believed heartily in the existence of UFO's, psychics, etc. This double paradox was, in my mind, one of the best aspects of X-Files. It's hard to live that in a 90 minute film after being gone for several years.

22 July 2008

when the lambeth hits the fan

At the Lambeth conference today, Sudanese archbishop Daniel Deng Bul spoke openly about the necessity of Gene Robinson's resignation as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire.

Here is a portion of the statement:

"He should resign for the sake of the church," Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul told reporters at a once-in-a-decade summit of Anglican leaders.

"God is not making a mistake creating Adam and Eve. He would have created two Adams if he wanted," he said.

A quarter of the world's Anglican bishops have boycotted the Lambeth Conference in an angry war of words between conservatives and liberals over the ordination of Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the 450-year-old church's history.

"We are for the Anglican world and we want the Anglican world to remain united," the Sudanese archbishop said.

"Over 300 bishops have stayed away from this conference because of Gene Robinson," he added. "The norms of the Anglican communion have been violated."

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, decided not to invite Robinson to the Lmabeth Conference -- but he still came to the cathedral city on Monday to meet supporters on the fringes of the summit.

In a joint statement, Sudanese bishops accused North American church leaders of ridiculing Anglicanism and destroying its credibility by ordaining gay American clergy and blessing same-sex unions in Canada.

"We appeal to this Lambeth Conference to rescue the Anglican Communion from being divided," they said.

summer pictures

At Rebecca's birthday party July 4: Jonah, Elijah, Lily
Being Daddy to a baby girl is kinda awesome

Lily: 4th of July

21 July 2008

for greek geeks only

Back in ye olde HSBC days, Matt Johnson and I were mercilessly ridiculed as "Greek geeks." OK, maybe it wasn't so merciless [except for Julia--she was especially brutal :) ], but the label fit--you know we were geeked for it--NT Greek was at 6:40am, MWF--and, just to make it interesting, I had security duty Sunday night until 3am Monday.

Anyway, after several years of studying Classical and New Testament Greek, I'm still a Greek geek--use it all the time. So I was especially geeked to learn about the online Codex Sinaiticus Project. What is Codex Sinaiticus, you ask. Glad you asked. It is a 4th century Greek manuscript of much of the Bible, and is the oldest manuscript extant of the entire New Testament. Now these pages will be available to all for study and making huge posters for your wall.

Run, don't walk, to The Codex Sinaiticus Project -- goes online Thursday, July 24!

20 July 2008

silly americans...

When you go to Quiktrip for a fountain drink, you have a choice of crushed or cubed ice.

A choice. You can pick. Little ice or big ice?

Is it a sign that I am a true American that I have a preference? that I will wait in line to get cubed ice rather than crushed, even though my Pepsi is right next to the crushed?

19 July 2008


The Anglican Communion appears to be passing the point of no return towards real schism. The Lambeth Conference, the meeting of Anglican bishops once every ten years, has publicly stated it will not pass any resolutions concerning the current disaster, and all reports from inside say that it is the liberals drawing the conservatives further from orthodoxy, and not the other way around. For continuing coverage of Lambeth, I recommend especially TitusOneNine and Stand Firm.

Dean Robert Munday, of Nashotah House (an Anglo-Catholic/Evangelical Episcopal seminary in WI), offers this analysis:

Certainly, the Episcopal Church has been in a state of declining membership and increasing departures from historic, biblical Christianity for virtually the whole time I have been a member. But I always thought that the Anglican Communion would be the Episcopal Church's salvation, not that the Episcopal Church would be the cause of the Anglican Communion's destruction. I really never thought it would come to this.
Please read it all. Pray for the Anglican Communion--it will take nothing less than a sizeable miracle to stop the divorce proceedings.

17 July 2008

it's an ordination picture!!!

I've mentioned that one event during my blog vacation was my ordination to the priesthood in April. Despite the fact that we had been working toward this for years (almost a decade for me, and Rebecca has been right alongside for most of that), we walked away with virtually no pictures. We had given our camera to a parishioner who was there, but we had left the setting on "close-up," which meant that all our pictures were blurry (not his fault, of course). No fear, my grandfather had his camera. However, when I contacted him to see if we could get copies, he had lost his camera! AAAAAHHH!!!

Thanks be to God, Grandpa found his camera a few weeks ago and sent me the pictures he had. So here are Rebecca and me right after my ordination.

14 July 2008

another gafcon reflection (fr. gregg riley of western louisiana)

Bobby Jackson Kennedy is a parishioner of Grace Church, Monroe (in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, where Rebecca and I used to live and where I was Minister to Youth at the Church of the Ascension, Lafayette, for several years). He has interviewed his rector, Fr. Gregg Riley, who, like our rector, was a GAFCON pilgrim.

Here's a taste of the interview:

BJK: What is the next step for the Diocese of Western Louisiana and Grace Church?

GR+: Our Diocesan Convention meets in October and I sit on the executive council of the diocese. The Bishop has told me personally that after Lambeth, the executive council will meet in August. He will then give us his opinion concerning where things are and the options we have for the diocese. It is his desire that IF the diocese chooses to do something that we do it as a whole. I would also prefer that. Being realistic, whatever decision the diocese makes, if we decide to move as a diocese, there will be certain clergy, parishes, and laypeople who will want to remain in TEC. Likewise, if we don’t move as a diocese, there will be clergy, parishes, and lay people who don’t want to stay. That will be a reality after October. The bishop is wise enough, and intelligent enough, to know that is going to happen. No matter what happens at the convention in October, someone will not be happy. There is going to be movement, but the question is where.

Read the whole interview here -- a number of interesting things to hear about the reflections of that diocese and its leadership -- thanks for the interview, B.J.!

13 July 2008

the top 50 most influential figures in the anglican communion

The Telegraph, in the UK, has published a list of who they believe to be the 50 most influential figures in the Anglican Communion. Starting at #50 with The Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, an Anglican Communion Insitute fellow and professor of historical theology at Wycliffe College in Toronto, to #1, who else, the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, Dr. Rowan Williams, the list includes a wide variety of Anglicans from every theological stripe.

Of course there are many who would question persons and their ranking in this list, or who got left out--such as the lack of former heavy hitters across the theological gamut, like John Stott or Louie Crew. My personal favorites are the comments section that we all must endure in these uber-interactive days, where individuals lash out because Jesus isn't on the list (bad, bad Christology, but who said we Anglicans are theologians anyway), or they mention someone local that no one fifty miles away from there has heard of.

But the real bombshell in this poll comes in the Top Ten. The Telegraph, no friend of theological conservatives, testifies itself to the giant rift that liberal Anglicans in North America claim is only the schism of a few, when half of those listed in the Telegraph Top Ten attended GAFCON (#9 +Nazir-Ali, #8 +Jensen, #7 +Venables, #5 +Orombi, #3 +Akinola). 5 of the top 10 most influential Anglicans attended the conference designed to provide theological conservatives a viable place in Anglican Christianity.

For those who say that the GAFCON group is leaving Anglicanism, this poll demonstrates that the GAFCON adherents are not just a splinter group. For those who say that the GAFCON group is destroying Anglicanism, it is instead the actions of the "inclusive" "progressives" doing just that, shown once again in the recent CofE decision to consecrate women as bishops without providing safeguards for a significant minority in the church that does not believe women can be bishops. The other members of the Top Ten include radical liberals like +Jefferts-Schori and +Robinson, demonstrating that the most influential are by and large the most disparate in their views of Jesus, the Scriptures and the Church. No wonder we're in such a mess.

You know what Jesus said about a house divided against itself...

10 July 2008

the meaning of the jerusalem declaration (gafcon)

Dr. Briane Turley is an Anglican priest with a Ph.D. in Religious History who attended the GAFCON conference in Jerusalem. Oh, he's also my boss--he made me put this on my blog (just kidding--it's on most of the major Anglican sites already). To read the GAFCON final statement, go here.

In his watershed analysis of the rapidly emerging Christian movements in the Global South titled The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, religious sociologist Philip Jenkins discerned that, regardless of the paternalistic interpretations that Christian observers in Europe and North America may nurture, "the emerging Christian world will be anchored in the Southern continents."

A careful scholar, Jenkins relied upon the best available data while weaving his thesis. And it is for this reason that his work serves as one of the premiere harbingers of what has, seven years after he wrote, come to pass. Those of us familiar with Jenkins' work who attended the GAFCON in Jerusalem were very much aware that the event served, in many respects, as a sign that the future Jenkins so accurately described is now present with us.

GAFCON was a uniquely global experience. During my week in Jerusalem as I served as a delegate or "pilgrim" to the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), I often reflected on Jenkins' analysis. Individuals whose skin is darker than mine dominated every meeting, every worship service, and every foray into the Israeli countryside. Organized and orchestrated primarily by Christian leaders representing third-world Anglican Provinces, the conference and its place in history should not be underestimated by revisionist or orthodox Christians. The nearly 300 bishops representing 25 nations who turned out for the gathering oversee more than half the Communion's adherents and perhaps more than 2/3rds the active Communion. Much more than a demonstration of support for orthodox Anglicans in North America, GAFCON is emblematic of a Global South Christianity come of age.

The ironies surrounding GAFCON's issuance of its highly controversial Jerusalem Declaration are manifold. Consider, for example, the movement's affinities with liberation theology. Phillip Berryman recognized liberation theology in broadest terms as "an interpretation of Christian faith through the poor's suffering, their struggle and hope, and a critique of society and the Catholic faith and Christianity through the eyes of the poor."

For decades, Western liberals saw in the Global South a tool and an ally to help advance their radical social/political agenda. Third world churches that received the West's "generous subsidies" were, the liberals thought, duty bound to embrace Marxist inspired liberation theologies that would abet their own cosmology. A remarkably paternalistic class, these same liberals now feel betrayed by a Global South Christianity that has rejected Marx in favor of a conservative theological position.

Recent commentary regarding the "GAFCON rebels" published by Anglicans in the United Kingdom and North America indicates that the gloves have come off and that a head-on collision between what remains of well-monied Western revisionist Christians and the economically poor, disfranchised emerging Southern orthodox is inevitable.

Why, precisely, have Global South Christians rejected Western ecclesiological neopatrimonialisms? In effect, at Jerusalem the South declared that the colonialist methods of maintaining the Anglican Communion represent a catastrophic failure. Heretical Western bishops openly teach with impunity that Christ was a sinner and that he was not raised from the grave while theologically faithful bishops like Dr. William Jackson Cox are publicly disciplined and then jettisoned from the church. All the while, the Archbishop of Canterbury observes what is happening in silence or, on occasion, calls on Anglicans to continue "listening" or to participate in "gracious conversation."

Lean southerners have been "listening" to their well-fed, tony neighbors for a long time and as a matter of courtesy will continue to do so in the future. But as Episcopal Church leaders deposed priests by the score and drove biblically-focused congregations from their buildings, the Global South bishops grew steadfastly aware that the calls for gracious conversation, for bringing their "exuberance to the larger party" while their deadlines for clarity were being ignored were red herrings, obfuscatory techniques designed to buy time and hopefully fatigue the opposition.

The Western scheme has failed. Now fully empowered, well-educated, and shrewd, our third-world counterparts are serving notice that they are no longer willing to sit idly while Lambeth continues to engineer decadal stall tactics ( e.g., boundless gracious discussion sessions) designed ultimately to protect the worldly interests of an aggressively anti-orthodox American Episcopal Church.

The Western liberals seem incapable of recognizing the rapidly shifting paradigm occurring in their midst. Their ears now appear dull, their eyes dim (Isaiah 6). Having sloshed through their plans for the colonials over cocktails, few seem all that interested in listening to the narratives of their Global South neighbors. Few seem inclined to consider even the stories of martyrdom that many in Africa and Asia are able to share. Western liberals now find themselves in the unenviable position of explaining why they are unable to abide the third world's critique and the liberation they discovered in the Gospel. They must find ways to explain to them that they are not, indeed, the oppressors.

Whether they are heard or no, the economically poor of the third world have broken their shackles and will, in time, play a dominant role in the Anglican Communion. As Jenkins predicted, Christendom is increasingly finding its anchor in the Global South. Following GAFCON, it now seems plausible that, in due course, it will find its compass there as well.