Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy winter solstice to you, too ...

The GOP wishes you a happy holiday. You heard right. Not "Merry Christmas," but "Happy Holidays." Not that I have a problem with someone wishing, or indeed, having a happy holiday. 15 years ago that statement meant pretty much what it said; a happy holiday.

The problem today is the subtext that has been added over the course of 15 culture war-filled years. Vehement protest over the "exclusivist" nature of wishing one a "Merry Christmas" has led to the substitution of "Happy Holidays" in its place. Odd too, isn't it, that histrionics of this kind usually issue from the preachers of "tolerance". Apparently, "live and let live" is something for everyone else to abide by--everyone else but the multi-culti cheerleaders, that is. Thus, when organizations such as Walmart or the Republican party makes use of the phrase "Happy Holidays" in a public setting, it does so in full knowledge of the current cultural context.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing offensive about the phrase "Happy Holidays," but I think it's unnecessary and a little silly for the GOP to bow to the gods of political correctness. Seen in the light of the recent mid-term drubbing, it would seem that this is tantamount to swinging at a slow pitch and missing completely. It wouldn't hurt the GOP to tout its "traditional" credentials after an election in which many diehard conservatives stayed home. Granted, posting "Merry Christmas" on wouldn't reverse President Bush's stance on immigration, but it would be a nice gesture--a signal that the politics of hypersensitivity have no place here.

As 2008 draws closer, and the Democratic slate of contenders looks ever more formidable, it is vitally important that the GOP gets its head straight. Fortunately for all of us, Republican ineptitude isn't the end of the world. I stopped in Walmart today during my lunch break; as I headed toward the exit, I distinctly heard the greeter wish me a "Merry Christmas." I thanked her and wished the same.


Bell-ringers are prime suspects

Comment from Britain

Heard the one about the Tory shadow minister who wanted to dress up as an elf in Santa’s grotto? (Well, they are all going green.) Sadly the punchline is not as funny as the Lib Dem MP lending a hand to the Cheeky Girl. Tim Loughton, the Shadow Minister for Children, was prevented from displaying his elfin charms at a charity children’s Christmas party, because he had not been vetted by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). Welcome to the spirit of Christmas present, where Santas, party helpers, choir members and bell-ringers can all come under suspicion of being undercover perverts, and children must be protected from an honourable, but unvetted, elf.

A report entitled How the Child Protection Industry Stole Christmas, published by my friends at the Manifesto Club, lists seasonal horror stories from around the country. A fat old man offering children gifts if they sit on his lap in a cosy grotto — that’s “grooming”, isn’t it? So Santa often has to be vetted, and even then probably won’t be allowed to put children on his knee, ask for a kiss or do anything more than shake hands under bright lights and even CCTV cameras. All it needs now is for the Santas to claim that they cannot have chubby children on their knee anyway because of health and safety regulations.

Elsewhere, unvetted volunteers are barred from some Christmas parties, photographing Nativity plays is frowned upon, and some churches require all adults in mixed-age choirs to be vetted. Oh succumb, all ye faithful. As for those notorious church bell-ringers they not only need CRB-vetted supervisors, but also parents must be informed that an adult may touch their child’s hand, and young campanologists are given warning not to wear anything “overtly provocative”, presumably in case it rings somebody’s bell.

As Josie Appleton, the report’s author, says: “This isn’t about ‘PC gone mad’. Sadly, these procedures have become entirely normal in schools, churches and community centres across Britain.” Whatever the intentions, the effect can only be to spread bad will and mistrust towards all men. One mother selling letters from Santa on eBay even assures customers: “The magic of Christmas is here . . . I am CRB-checked.” Magic!



The politically correct agenda of The Episcopal Church is being used to shut orthodox people up under the guise of tolerance when, in fact, liberals and revisionists tolerate anything except those they disagree with.

Consider the following: A godly Anglo-Catholic and evangelical priest from the Diocese of San Joaquin is duly elected the new Bishop of South Carolina. Within days of his clear win-on-the-first-ballot victory, a group calling themselves Via Media, announce that they think he is unsuitable for the job and write letters to the church's bishops demanding that they refuse him consents. Lawrence's sin? He is a true believer who is not buying into sodomy, homogenital priests and same-sex unions fictitiously disguised as 'gay marriage'.

They laughingly raise the issue of his "manner of life", without seeing the incongruity that the duly elected homogenital Bishop of New Hampshire V. Gene Robinson's "manner of life" might, at the very minimum, be questionable. Heaven forbid that anyone should question the new darling of the left's surrogate for sexual dysfunction.

So the Via Media, a laughable knock-off of the true Via Media hope, and presumably pray, that Lawrence will not get consents, so they can, with their new found political clout, make sure that a "moderate" will get elected, and then begin their long drive to overturn the diocese's mostly orthodox clergy. Will it work? Time will tell.

Then a group of liberal/revisionist bishops in California go after the Anglo-Catholic bishop of San Joaquin John-David Schofield saying he "abandoned the communion" of the church and filed presentment charges at him. They were ultimately thrown out, but not before the good bishop had a few sleepless nights wondering what exactly he had "abandoned".

The irony is that it is the four or more bishops in California who have abandoned the faith, while it is Bishop John-David Schofield who is upholding it!

And more recently the new "pin stripe trousered" One (see the New York Times photo) Presiding Bishop, Mrs. Schori tells that same bishop if he thinks he can take his diocese out of the Episcopal Church he has another think coming.

She accused him of "spiritual violence" saying that he had taken vows three times over to uphold the "doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church!"

She then says, "If you now feel that you can no longer do so, the more honorable course would be to renounce your orders in this Church and seek a home elsewhere. Your public assertion that your duty is to violate those vows puts many, many people at hazard of profound spiritual violence. I urge you, as a pastor, to consider that hazard with the utmost gravity." There is so much hubris here you could scrape it off a cathedral wall.

The truth is, there have been a growing number of bishops who have been doing "spiritual violence" to the Episcopal Church for the past 40 years including Pike, Spong, Walker, Charles, Robinson, Bennison, Shaw and Griswold, to name but a few, and their "spiritual violence" has lead to empty pews and now possibly, a departing diocese.

Spong's 12 Theses is a total departure from the "doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church" as to be laughably Unitarian, Pelagian and Gnostic all wrapped up in one package. And two presiding bishops, Browning and Griswold both turned a blind eye to him, with Griswold saying at one point, during his nine years, that Spong had actually brought people into the church with his inquiring mind, forgetting perhaps that he gutted his own diocese during his tenure at the Diocese of Newark.

Mrs. Schori links the doctrine and discipline of the church to property, a truly giant step forward into ecclesiastical thin air. Here is what she says: "As you contemplate this action (leaving the TEC), I would also remind you of the trust which you and I both hold for those who have come before and those who will come after us. None of us has received the property held by the Church today to use as we will. We have received it as stewards, for those who enjoy it today and those who will be blessed by the ministry its use will permit in the future."

So to uphold the doctrine and discipline of the church is to make sure that all properties remain in the TEC! Really. What a giant stretch of the imagination. Has any bishop or archbishop in history ever made such a claim? Is the Dennis Canon above Holy Scripture?

If what she says is true, what is Mrs. Schori going to say to, or do with, bishops like John W. Howe (Central Florida) or James Stanton (Dallas) who have already let parishes go without a fight, to other ecclesiastical jurisdictions? Why is she not writing to them? If these are diocesan matters, and properties are held in trust for the diocese and national church she will need to litigate against every diocese that has ever let a parish go without a fight.

Presumably dioceses like San Diego and Los Angeles are safe because they are litigating, often repeatedly, to keep or get back those parishes that have left the Episcopal Church.

Schori: "Our forebears did not build churches or give memorials with the intent that they be removed from the Episcopal Church. Nor did our forebears give liberally to fund endowments with the intent that they be consumed by litigation."

And the church's forbears would never have tolerated a Spong or Pike either. If they knew what was being preached from pulpits today they would roll over in their graves. Can you imagine the Rt. Rev. Samuel Seabury (1729 -1796), the first American Episcopal bishop and the second Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA, listening to the whine of a Louie Crew or V. Gene Robinson over legitimizing homoerotic behavior!

And who is doing most of the litigating? Would Mrs. Schori care to explain how J. Jon Bruno (Los Angeles) is repeatedly going after three parishes in his diocese and where the money is coming from, or that Charles Bennison, (Pennsylvania) a rank revisionist is selling closed churches and using the money to fund a war chest to go after two orthodox parishes!

And where was the victory for the Diocese of Pennsylvania in closing St. James the Less? Mrs. Schori's says properties are for "those who will be blessed by the ministry its use will permit in the future." The truth is there isn't going to be a future for that parish. The entire parish left with the priest. The doors of St. James have closed forever. Bennison's efforts to jump start the parish has already failed. He now has to pay for the church's upkeep, so Philadelphia's elite, who lie buried in the graveyard, are not disturbed by a church-turned-boutique.

The Executive Council recently appropriated $100,000 for the church's task force's work on fleeing parishes, with the group also obtaining a further $25,000 co-opted from an insurance company that could be used to help those liberal and revisionist diocesan priests go after orthodox priests and parishes.

And what will Mrs. Schori say to Bishop Peter James Lee (who has already cut a deal with one parish) when he cuts a deal with two multi-million dollar parish estates so he doesn't have to face endless litigation?

Will she be firing off threats of presentments to other orthodox bishops across the country that cut deals with fleeing parishes? Where will it all end? What will she do if Bishop Duncan says the Anglican Communion Network is now the formative unit of a 10th province if Global South Primates initiate a new structure for orthodox Episcopalians, that they promised to do in Kigali and reaffirmed in Virginia recently, and give Duncan the nod to go ahead under their protection. And guess what, they are not asking Rowan Williams for permission.

They probably realize that his visit with the Pope bombed and they have even less respect for him now. Is the Archbishop of York just waiting in the wings for the top job? A number of British commentators think so.

Mrs. Schori is clearly a continuation of Frank Griswold but in pin stripe trousers, and she has nailed her ultra-liberal colors to the TEC mast. She has no theology worth talking about. One priest described her theology as variously Pelagian, Marcion, Gnostic, Pluralistic and Universalist. She has reduced everything to Millennium Development Goals. One writer says Mrs. Schori has replaced the catholic notion of "faith once for all delivered" for a "faith du jour", and nobody has blinked.

But political correctness and its twin sister liberal intolerance was also visible over the issue of women's ordination. At first it was brokered in on the back of the Civil Right's movement without any theological work being done. Twenty five years later it is now mandatory, no bishop will ever obtain consents unless such a bishop approves. The consciences of Anglo-Catholic priests and some Evangelicals were simply stomped on.

The Rev. Dr. Laurie Thompson, Dean of the School of Doctoral Studies at the Ambridge, PA based Trinity School for Ministry said that while liberal bishops will not send their seminarians to be educated at T(E)SM they do accept graduates from TSM. But, observed Thompson, TSM's students are increasingly wary of submitting to a non-supportive authority.

Finally, any notion of liberal niceness, and 'why can't we all get along', or 'go in peace to love and serve the Lord' has forever evaporated. Mrs. Schori has demonstrated that her oceanographic background with squid and octopi has taught her that having multiple tentacles to squeeze orthodox bishops was indeed the right background for her new job.

All that remains to be seen is how fast orthodox bishops can escape her clutches, or be cut off, before they themselves are squeezed to death in her liberal, tolerant embrace.


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