All have seen

All the ends of the earth
have seen the salvation of our God:
sing joyfully to God, all the earth. – Psalm 98:3

Monday, June 20, 2011

From Today's Morning Prayer: Psalm 2, Quare fremuerunt gentes

Camille Saint-Saëns: Quare fremuerunt gentes
il Concerto di Natale del Coro Polifonico di San Nicola, Pisa Coro Polifonico San Nicola di Pisa, Tuscan Chamber Orchestra; conducted by Stefano Barandoni

This is a boldly tempestuous rendition of Psalm 2, which is quite a tempestuous Psalm:
Why do the nations conspire
   and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth rise up
   and the rulers band together
   against the LORD and against his anointed, saying,

“Let us break their chains
   and throw off their shackles.”
Latin text and translation of Psalm 2 

Interestingly enough, it is a part of a larger Christmas Oratorio.

Of course, this should be no mystery; the plight of mankind lost in sin is an essential element of the Incarnation - and should be a part of any musical Christmas narration.  It's also present in Händel's Messiah.  Today, however, we don't tend to expect such in Christmas music.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The King's English: Sackcloth and Ashes

Jonah mosaic at St. Anne Melkite Church
Glen Scrivener writes over at The King's English:

Could Jonah be the most successful evangelist in the Bible?  In Hebrew the report of his sermon consists of 5 words.  And yet, in response, the 120 000 residents of Nineveh cover themselves in sackcloth and ashes and turn to the LORD.

Throughout 2011, Glen Scrivener has been calling our attention to various English language expressions which are largely due to the influence of the 1611 Authorized Version or "King James" Translation.  A delightful project indeed - allowing us not only to contemplate the beauty of the English language, but also important bits of theology and history which have since become obscured by many intervening layers of ideological sediment.  His blog is called The King's English.

This latest blog posting caught my attention in particular because of its appropriateness for the Anglican Communion today.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fabián Pérez Ximeno (16th C, Mexico): Kyrie from Missa de la Batalla

Ximeno (c1595-1654) was born in Mexico City; known as a composer and organist - maestro de capilla of the Mexico City Cathedral.  He's known for his antiphonal polychoral works.  This is the Kyrie (first movement) if his Missa de la Batalla (battle mass?) performed by Angelicum de Puebla, conducted by Benjamin Juarez Echenique.  Thanks to youtube user hotkikee, who posts some excellent renaissance and baroque sacred music from colonial regions (mostly South and Central America) on his channel.

R.I.P., Punk

Founder of Angle Park Exploitations and cultural commentator Martin Baumgartner alerts us to some clear evidence of culture "moving on":

Martin Baumgartner's moving commentary:

Well, I guess this makes it official. 1975 - 2011. RIP, Punk.
(O'Hare Terminal 3 Starbucks. She's stirring a chai.)

My own obituary:

You were a beautiful thing while you lasted. A bit vile and stinky yes, but many beautiful things are. You were more fragile than you seemed to be; we really should have noticed that more. But protecting you would have been an oxymoron, and would have only hurried your demise.

You were a cute baby skunk that got run over by a Macy's truck. You were a pale, skinny, nasal-voiced drama-queen beauty; squashed by a garantuanly obese paramour in his pursuit of things exotic and weird.

R.I.P., Punk
(The photo itself is the poetry here; not the parting words) 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Johann Kuhnau - Ihr Himmel jubiliert von oben

an Ascension Day Cantata  
"Therefore rejoice, you heavens
   and you who dwell in them!"
- Revelation 12:12

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Tanzanian reaction to possible episcopal election fraud; and US / African comparison

Possible election fraud in bishop of Tanzanian Anglican Church - arrest warrant for Primate of ACT. Very likely election fraud for American Presiding Bishop - virtually no one notices. What does this say of western Anglican church governance?

From Tanzania, we have news of a possible election fraud.  The province of Tanzania has been rent over the ethical question of the permissibility of condom use in the prevention of HIV/AIDS.  It was largely thought that the installation of a new bishop - the Rev. Stanley Hotay - for the Diocese of Mount Kilimanjaro would effectively end the division on this matter.

Unfortunately, it has become more complicated than this.  Some laypeople of the diocese have alleged that the age of Rev. Stanley Hotay was falsified.  There was a court order issued which was aimed at blocking Hotay's being seated as Bishop of the diocese of Mount  Kilimanjaro, pending adjudication.  I could not find the exact wording of the court order, but evidently it has prompted quite some drama in Tanzania.  Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa went forward with the consecration of the Rev. Hotay, though the Rev. Hotay was not installed as Bishop of Mount Kilimanjaro.  A warrant was issued for the arrest of Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa.  It has not yet been executed, police in Arusha replying to a reporter that they have not yet received the warrant.

It does sound like the situation is remaining peaceful.

“I don’t protest the court order, but the public should understand that someone is missing the point here… we actually honoured the order not to install the new bishop. What we did was to consecrate him as a new bishop… as of now he does not belong to any diocese,” said Dr Chilongani [Anglican Church of Tanzania Secretary General]. - The Citizen, " Police yet to arrest Mokiwa despite order"
Notes from the ground make it sound as if there's a little drama to the story.  An Episcopal Priest, the Rev. Dr. Douglas Richnow, reports that the police had been tracking Archbishop Mokiwa via his cellphone, and that he was advised to dispose of the SIM card.  We shall see how this story unfolds.

See also George Conger's excellent reporting on the matter for The Church of England Newspaper, here and here.

It is interesting to compare the current situation in Tanzania to the situation of the very likely election fraud in the TEC 2006 election.  Here, we have the election of a diocesan bishop being investigated by the government, because of alleged misinformation about his age.  The situation escalates to the issuing a warrant of arrest for the head of the church.  In the United States, the election of the very head of the church is marred by misinformation regarding her career - the false information that she was, for six years, dean of a school of theology.  Far be it from the government having interest in the likely fraud - the church itself fails to investigate, even though it had spent $200,000 on a committee tasked with nominating and vetting candidates.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New Zealand Anglicans: a call to consistently ethical behavior

Anglicans marginalize groups engaging in hate-speech about Muslims; they need to be more consistent about speech targeting other groups, as well.
What does the lack of critical engagement regarding the initial St. Matthew's 2009 media campaign have to say about the sensibilities of so-called "orthodox" Anglicans?

I'm surprised and saddened that New Zealand Anglicans feel they need to respond to a call made by St. Matthew's-in-the-City. It seems to me that St. Matthew's is best ignored (until such a time as it has shown that it has significantly changed). I don't wish to address the cause itself, but simply point out: if the cause is worth responding to, it should be carried forward by a different mouthpiece.  And as long as it's strongly associated with St. Matthew's, it is best ignored.

On the one occasion in which Glynn Cardy was able to manufacture a media storm guaranteeing that millions of the world's eyes would turned upon himself and St. Matthew's - Mr. Cardy chose to engage in hate speech.

From the sermon (note how he begins - "To make the news at Christmas ..." - Cardy clearly knew what he was doing):
"Christian fundamentalism believes a supernatural male God who lived above sent his sperm into the womb of the virgin Mary. Although there were a series of miraculous events surrounding Jesus’ birth – like wandering stars and angelic choirs – the real miracle was his death and literal resurrection 33 years later."

Cardy is encouraging us to classify a group of Christians as "fundamentalists" - as epistemologist Alvin Plantinga has noted, "fundamentalism" is a cognitively relatively empty word; but yet highly pejorative. "Fundamentalism" is always defined differently; one must look at context to see who the speaker is referring to. Amongst the things he associates with such fundamentalism are:
  • something having to do with the Virgin Mary
  • a literal resurrection
These "fundamentalists" are contrasted to "Progressive Christianity," which according to Cardy believes that the Christmas narrative is fictitious. It's common enough for groups of Christians to be perjorized and marginalized by referring to them as "Fundamentalists," but what's unique here is that Cardy actually goes so far as to teach his congregation and the world what those people believe. And he's teaching them that these people believe in divine sperm.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Jefferts-Schori and Corvallisgate: Electoral justice is also a “justice issue”

It occurred to me since that though The Episcopal Church is focused on "justice issues" as few churches ever have been - to many Episcopalians, it probably hasn't yet registered that electoral justice is also a "justice issue."
Why this election matters - and why it may be a lot worse than the Watergate scandal decades ago.
In 1973, many Americans were confronted with unpleasant news.  The President of the country they dearly loved was being investigated.  To many, the subject of investigation must have seemed odd and far-fetched: the question was being asked whether the President knew if a group of five men had broken into a building used by the Democratic Party as its headquarters, and whether he had engaged in activity to cover up the incident of this break in.  Many probably ironically wondered why Congress wasn't investigating the burglaries of their own homes, given how endemic burglary had become to American urban life.  The theft of an automobile or cash under one's mattress can have real and dire implications for a family's well-being; but what was alleged as stolen here was merely a party's “secrets.” No children go unfed because of such melodramatic news in the ongoing scuffle between political parties plotting to outdo one other in painting a brighter picture of America and winning America's votes.

But to the more perceptive, something much greater was at stake than five men breaking, entering, and stealing: what was at stake was a seemingly abstract issue we call “electoral justice.”  It's about polities which hold to democratic process, and the diligence they must maintain in preserving the fairness and honesty of elections.  It's about the consciousness that even when we elect a great man with great ideas, passion for justice, and loving charisma, who may very likely improve the lives of everyone – that if we do so  by means of a dishonest election, we are also undermining our very democratic sensibilities, and the principles which unite us as a people who live and work together.  And this seemingly abstract issue has very real consequences when we permit electoral injustice to occur with uncritical eyes: we begin to lose hope in fairness and transparency of governance, and are likely to slide into a form of political cynicism in which tyrants flourish – a situation in which the people so ruled have little say in things.

Katharine Jefferts-Schori, the first female Primate of the Anglican Communion, is a woman thousands of Episcopalians and other Anglicans have grown to love and appreciate over the last five years.  On the basis of her performance amongst Episcopalians, I have no doubt that were a vote to be held tomorrow for the office, that she would win by a wide margin.  Unfortunately, however, her election as Presiding Bishop was marred by a significant anomaly – one which might have begun innocently enough.  What is clear is that the end result of the election is a situation in which it is likely that the Presiding Bishop was elected under false pretenses, and in which significant election fraud very likely took place.  It is also clear that Jefferts-Schori herself knew this to be the case.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Matt Kennedy on knowledge of God vs. saving knowledge of Christ

This comes from a Facebook status update of Fr. Matthew Kennedy, an Anglican priest in New York, from about a week ago.  I found it worth deserving more attention and thought, and have thus taken the liberty of posting it here.  I think it's likely that you will find it stimulating further reflection, and that it's worth coming back to from time to time.

The NT logic is: saving knowledge of Christ alone leads to a true knowledge of God.  Problems come in contemporary universalist/inclusivist thinking when that logic is reversed so that it becomes: any kind of knowledge of God = saving knowledge of Christ.  Scripture never goes there. People are to be drawn to God through the proclamation of Christ because without Christ there can be no saving knowledge of God.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A great opportunity to excommunicate Mugabe

Cranmer and Peter Carrell have both written about what an opportune moment this is - during ARCIC III, an ecumenical gathering between Anglicans and Catholics - for the Roman Catholic Church to excommunicate Mugabe.

At the moment, it seems everything in the Communion is about ecclesiology and homosexuality.  The case with Mugabe and Kunonga is no exception - previously Anglican bishop of Harare, now excommunicated, but vying for control of the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe with Mugabe's support.  Kunonga initially claimed that the Church of Zimbabwe was ravaged by homosexuality, and because of this, purported to withdraw the diocese of Harare from the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe, creating his own church.  It was widely speculated that this was a nonsense claim, to rationalize moving the diocese in a grasp for power.  He is now strongly supported by Mugabe.  There has been a murder and a rape, death threats, much intimidation, and many put out of their churches.  Mugabe has ordered that in the diocese of Harare, church services are to be held under order by Kunonga.  Home church services are being held in defiance of the order, even though police are enforcing Mugabe's and Kunonga's wishes.  The situation has recently escalated.

This would indeed be a good time for Rome to excommunicate Mugabe.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Congregational singing

Though many congregations once knew how to sing in parts and read music, the art of congregational singing is being lost as many churches move to "praise bands."

One might notice that churches in films which are portrayed positively, tend to sing hymns in parts.  By pointing this out, I mean no judgment upon the vast majority of churches which don't; but simply: good congregational singing is in no sense something which estranges new people or visitors.  In fact, I'd think that it generally would be seen as a lovely thing by newcomers - as evidenced by mainstream media's selection of congregational singing for evoking positive images.  I believe "praise band" music to be popular largely because small children more easily understand it, its being so similar to the songs they hear on the radio and in shopping malls.  Unfortunately, praise band style music in many churches is likely to be experienced as odd by many newcomers, and is experienced by many as an acquired taste (and not always easily acquired).

Congregational singing in parts is, on the other hand, a beautiful demonstration of the harmonious diversity within the body of Christ, with the congregation itself being the main instrument of praise, rather then being like "back up singers" for the band standing in front.

This is a hymn sung by a Mennonite church.  Not bad at all for congregational singing.  It's part of Youtube user w3tno's collection of videos - mostly of congregational singing.  It is a valuable resource if your own congregation is interested in congregational singing - either to inspire them, or for listening to how other congregations have sung these hymns as an aide to learning them.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


As autumn rolls
brown with brown,
As unleashed leaves consummate
a slow gravity love

The wind snatches some
with a quickening life
And reels them around
in the rest of the light

Green leaves
would never dance so.

(ca. 1991)

A Trucker's Poem

Little feet, in the air;
little tail, stuck on the pavement.

Road kill, I pity you.
But not very much.

(ca. 1989)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

More ethnic cleansing in Sudan, open war on the horizon

Veteran journalist Arne Fjeldstadt reports on the current situation in Sudan, Sudan stumbles toward open war.  Tanks and troops from the north have occupied an oil-rich area, killing and burning.

Without an international peace-keeping force, the situation in post-referendum Sudan appears to be dire.

The Diocese of Europe in the Church of England approves the Anglican Covenant

I am very happy to read the news that the Synod of the Diocese of Europe in the Church of England has approved the Anglican Covenant.

The actual motion was:
"This Synod approves the draft Act of Synod adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant"

Unfortunately I can't find the text of what was actually approved by Synod on the site; presumably language here was clear and not qualified.

The votes:
Laity - In favour  20         Opposed 3     Abstentions 0
Clergy - In favour  21         Opposed 1     Abstentions 2
Bishops - In favour  2

An interesting address of Bishop Rowell:

Regarding pressure to hasten the process regarding women bishops in order to "get over it":
"We should not have to address polity and process at the same time."

"To try to provide resolution prematurely, so one side is victorious ... produces no resolution.  That is a recipe for increasing conflict and increasing anger."