"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company." Mark Twain

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Conservative? Really?

There is, I'm sure, much interest in the new Archbishop in the Province of Southern Africa. Tonight I read that the Livinig Church is calling him a conservative on issues of human sexuality. This is from the Diocese of Gramstown paper Umbuliso August-September 2007

Bishop Thabo writes…. Amazing Grace
Dear People of God

This year marks 200 years since Wilberforce’s campaign for the abolition of slavery bore fruit. A book by Eric Metaxas, Amazing Grace, is an accessible read printed on glossy paper and bigger print. The history in it is not glossy but provides a biography of Wilberforce. In the ten hour plane from Spain I also watched the film Amazing Grace, and as I complete this article, I am humming the song, Amazing Grace, it is brilliant film.
He was a prophet who spoke into his situation, though not as radical as some would have wanted him to be in today’s context. However, speak he did to the slave masters and system that upheld the practice of slavery: “Thus says the Lord”, as in Ezekiel 37.
The laws of our global world have legislated against the practice of slavery for many years but slavery still happens in many other different forms. There is explicit slavery, for example human trafficking, conscripting children, killing those whose sexuality is different to ours as happened this month in Soweto, kidnapping and killing children. There is also systemic slavery, for example neglect of rural development or lack of intentionality in rural development so that the poorest of the poor are rendered desperate, xenophobia, dependency, consumerism, Mugabe and Sudan’s enslavement of their people, neglect of the integrity of creation, stigmatising the HIV positive, domination of other nations and people and substance abuse, the list can go on and on. . .
What does the Lord require of us, what does Leviticus 19:33-34 say about treatment of those different to us? How did Jesus deal with difference, marginalisation and those enslaved by laws, pharasaic attitudes and those caught in adultery? What does Paul say about the law and those who are in Christ? God is love, we are created in love. With this knowledge, what are we to proclaim to God’s world, enslaved by all the abovementioned and many more?
Wilberforce never kept quiet, he declared “thus says the Lord. . .” He obviously said this out of deep conviction that Christ has triumphed, that out of baptism we are made new, united with Christ, out of a deep spirituality that does not encourage interiority only but is expressed where God’s people are in pain and unable to hear God’s comfort and release boldly proclaimed.
I was privileged to be among Bishops from 51 dioceses of the USA, Canada and Africa who met in El Escorial, Spain, for a week. We broke bread together as Cleopas and his companion did on the road to Emmaus. We wrestled with the word of God as it challenged our varied contexts, and how our this wrestling has affected the Communion and muddied the water, and how we could through our partnership bring mission back to the centre of our pilgrimage and journey as the Anglican church. In a special way God’s grace filled and guided our time together.
I invite you, the people of God in this diocese to accompany me, rooted in scripture, our tradition, and deep spirituality that seek to be involved in God’s world, to walk with those who are struggling to understand the word of God (Luke 24:13-35), those who need to hear and touch God’s compassion, (Is 40:1-11) and share our faith with those in turbulence (Matt 14:22-33), and finally to pray for our Communion, that it may not seek cheap grace, but know God’s amazing grace in our times.

May God bless you all as you proclaim “thus says the Lord” in all your varied situations, especially to those that seek to enslave God’s people. May you never tire of working and praying without ceasing for all these issues.


Umbuliso August/ September 2006
Bishop Thabo writes…. The Anglican Communion
Dear People of God

Three leaders, reflecting from provincial, national and international Anglican contexts, recently wrote the following articles: our Archbishop Ndungane, “The Heartland of Anglicanism”, 10 July 2006; Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, “Challenge and Hope for the Anglican Communion”, 27 June 2006; Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria “The Road to Lambeth”, a statement by the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, 30 May 2006. They can be found on the diocesan web site, http://www.diocesegrahamstown.co.za/direction/archstatements.htm
At the heart of these articles is: What form of governance, structures and corporate identity should the global Anglican Church assume, and who should call the shots?
Archbishop Williams provides a theological rationale, and concludes by advocating a Covenant: a voluntary contractual tool for those who desire global association. Archbishop Njongo advocates a genuine return to what has traditionally served us best, and reaffirms that power should reside in Synods: We are “synodically governed and episcopally led”. Archbishop Akinola perceives a crisis that should lead to severance if Biblical teaching on homosexuality is not obeyed. All three leaders cite Scripture, and like us all believe that Scripture is the point of departure, even with varied hermeneutical approaches.
Biblical passages that are cited are: 1 Cor 10:17, “Hold together in the Lord as we are renewed by the Spirit”. Keep the tradition (1 Cor 11:23) in the spirit of charity (1 Cor 13:14). Archbishop Rowan appeals to the “unmediated authority of the Bible”. Archbishop Akinola states that in I John 1:6-7 and Jer 6:16 a choice is offered, and repentance is needed, or let’s depart.
The questions that I want to pose is, should these three views necessarily be mutually exclusive? Are they not reflecting the various stages of our journey, as we seek to define our global Anglican witness and identity currently?
Archbishop Desmond Tutu always says, “God has not finished with us”, suggesting that the structure and the form of global Anglican witness is not yet complete and final, as is God’s revelation completed. It should not be determined especially and exclusively by our current leaders only. Current leaders should know that they hold this Anglican global witness in trust for those who will follow them. We need to be asking questions: What type of world are they living in? What type of Anglican witness would they like to see, given their contextual differences, similarities and longings?
Perhaps these three articles can be placed within a broader framework: i.e. historical (distinctiveness of structures over time), structural (interrelatedness within Communion), value-laden (social justice concerns), non-dogmatic (varied perspectives) and action-oriented (responding to pressure groups)1; or these three broad areas: Traditional, liberal and radical. However, in debating framework, structure and power, we must never lose sight of the needs of our local context, the needs of the poor, the marginalised, the imprisoned, the HIV-positive, an end to war, global peace etc, for we are commissioned by God to go into that context and minister.
Pray for our fragile Anglican Communion.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Athens Klan Counter Protest on YouTube

Here is a video that was posted by a local Police dispatcher, and here is a local news story explaining a little more about it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Can New Orleans Save the Anglican Communion?

It is my firm commitment, and has been for some time that the Bishops of the Episcopal Church do not have nearly enough fun. Now it appears that they will meet in what is one of, if not THE, greatest cities in the world to talk about Church. I have little confidence that they are looking to me for help in this current situation, but, if they were this is what I would tell them. SKIP YOUR MEETINGS AND GO LISTEN TO SOME JAZZ. STOP BEING SO SERIOUS AND EAT SOME ETOUFFEE. GET OUT OF THE HOTEL AND MEET THE PEOPLE OF GOD. Ok enough yelling but I'm serious. Part of the problem with the Episcopal Church is that it takes itself so seriously all the damn time. The higher you go on the ladder of hierarchy the more serious people become. I had a professor in seminary who is now the Bishop of Southern Ohio who told our class that each order of ministry should be more subversive than the one that preceeded it. Deacons are least subversive, Priests more and Bishops the most subversive order of ministry. By the nature of their position, i.e. not having a parish, they should be able to say and do things that others would never think of doing. Here is my question, Is there anything more subversive than laughter? Is there any better way to subvert your own seriousness than to laugh at yourself? Here is a modest proposal rather than having more and more meeting to deal with our "problems" I think we should call off all meeting for about 5 years. That's right, no diocesan conventions, no General Conventions, no Executive Council, no House of Bishops, no primates, no Lambeth, no ACC, no meetings at all for 5 years. You might ask what this is meant to accomplish, and the answer is absolutley nothing. It is not meant to accomplish anything. Our world is already too worried about accomplishment and getting things done. Part of the reason we are in this state is because every time the "Big People" get together at a meeting everyone runs around and goes crazy. Every meeting is deemed a failure because to one group or another "nothing was accomplished" My question is where are we trying to go? What are we looking for, and why do we think that a group of mostly white, mostly straight men who meeet in New Orleans without enjoying the City could give it to us. If any bishops or people with connections to bishops look at this site please look at this link to find other things to do in NOLA

Monday, September 17, 2007

Southern Paradox

I have said many times that growing up and living in the South is like living in a paradox. How is in that the same part of our county that gave us Tennessee Williams and Flannery O'Connor also gave us the KKK and New Coke. We got Martin Luther King Jr. and Strom Thurman. I mean really this place can make you crazy. This past weekend was a perfect example.

About 11am I went to the 100th B'day party for a wonderful parishioner named Ms. Bebe Gish she is a lovely woman and carries herself with such style and grace. This is a photo of her and the Bishop taken Sunday during his annual visit.

It was a grand party. Jazz band on the front porch, mimosa's great food, letters from the President, Governor, and Mayor. Friends from all over the country. It was all good.

Then at 2:30pm close to 300 people met at three local Churches to go and silently protest the KKK coming to Athens. Here is the story. Yes, it was the real Klan, specifically the Church of the National Knights of the KKK from Indiana. They brought about a dozen hate filled fanatics to protest illegal immigration and various other "problems" in our country. About 200 other local residents showed up to scream and engage the Klan. Our group, for the most, part kept its vow of silence. Here are some of the photos from Saturday. I will add more when I get them. All total there were close to 500 people that showed up on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to send messages to the Klan. Some of those messages were as hate filled as anything the Klan would say. Our message was clear. Unless we begin injecting more love into the world we have no chance. We must interrupt the downward spiral of hate.
I will post more photos when Blogger decides to start working again. J

Friday, September 14, 2007

With you always

Okay I never post and then today I post twice, well I am out of work. My friend Brian who Jeremy mentioned earlier in this blog sent me this picture from a man named Larry Van Pelt who says in his website that The enclosed images are from 11x14 pencil drawings that are the result of an undertaking that began when I was 50 years old. I was awakened in the middle of the night with a clear, vivid impression that the Lord wanted me to do some special drawings -- drawings depicting ordinary people in their everyday environment . . . . with one important addition: the presence of Jesus Christ and His involvement in those routine activities.

It was also clear that the task would be allotted ten years to produce results -- an important consideration, considering the fact that I had never drawn anything before, had no training in drawing, and had never really been interested in drawing. You can read and see more here "Here"
So maybe I need to re-think my other post....or not.

Clowns as the children of God

I do not as Jeremy says, “Hate clowns.” I hate bad clowns. I do not mean evil clowns like Pennywise from the book and the movie “IT”. I am talking about clowns who do not understand what their job is, that they are not here to scare the little children, towering over them in their multicolored tallness who just want a hot dog at the hot dog stand as their older brother shoves them forward ever closer to those big red shoes, nose and mouth……….(pant, pant sigh) Okay that might be a little specific but you get what I mean which is that the clowns who are silent and looming and trying to do what?

I am not sure. Perhaps entertain us? That is not the job of clowns, clowns are here to call the question, not make it easier, I dislike clowns who play at it rather then see a real task before them.

What I do know is that I admire the clowns of Knoxville because they did what proper clowns do they point out the silly, stupid and dangerous things that we do as human beings. The ancient people had clowns to point out our failing (the Hopi and Haida Indians) and that is what a bunch of white tutued women screaming WIFE POWER and my favorite White Flour can magically expose a scary hate filled group into what they truly are, FOOLS.

So to re-cap: Bad clowns are bad.
Evil clowns (see picture) are also bad
Culturally expressive clowns (who talk) are good

I know have to go to therapy for post clown trauma posts.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How to deal with the Klan

I know that I have taken a rather serious approach to the Klan coming to Athens. But I really appreciate the creativity of people who use humor to deal with hate. This counter protest was just up the road in Knoxville TN. The story shows that there are many different ways to respond to the Klan and if I had seen this before I began planning our Silent Witness we very well may have brought on the clowns. This would have been to the great dismay of my friends Michele and Brian who HATE clowns. I have been trying to get them to reject this hate and love clowns but it may be too much for them. On occasion they may admit that clowns are beloved children of God, but only when and if they reject all make-up, stop piling into small cars and generally give up their evil ways.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

CNN Klan Report

No Laughing Matter

This weekend the Klan is coming to my town of Athens, Alabama. In the past I might have ignored these crazy people and just let them get away with their hate. This time is different. Coming back to the South after three years in New York has changed my perspective. I realized while living up north that most people think Alabama is a hotbed of KKK activity, that under every bed or in every closet their is a white robe just waiting to be pulled out. I realized that most people get all of their information about the South from the TV and that most of the news from the South is bad and usually includes some type of Klan rally. With this new perspective I am now completely unwilling to let this rally go by without a response.
So we have decided to hold a Silent Witness of LOVE. Here are some articles in local papers about it from the Huntsville Times, Decatur Daily, Athens News Courier and here.
I have been reading and meditating on the words of King and Gandhi for years and each of them decided that they would not allow hate to have the last word. "“The ultimate measure for us is not where we stand in moments of comfort and convenience—but where we stand in times of challenge and controversy!” MLK Jr. These are those times. Please keep all of us in your prayers this weekend as we make our stand against hate.