Christmas can never come too early. . .

Jac Zagoory staple removers

I want one of these, I really do.

Add a touch of wild animal to your desk with one of these Jac Zagoory Staple Removers ($80-$100). Made from heavy, durable pewter, these unique office helpers feature the visages of a number of animals, including a bear, t-rex, elephant, shark, donkey, lion, hippo, snake, gator, and gorilla, each intricately detailed and properly proportioned so the “teeth” of the tool match the teeth of the animal.

But which to choose? Check them all out.

South Carolina clarifies disassociation from TEC

From the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, a statement written by the Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall Harmon, theologian for the diocese [boldface is mine]:

The Episcopal Church (TEC) has made an attack against our Bishop and Diocese, in the midst of efforts for a negotiated settlement, which has fundamentally changed our common life. You may have heard or read about this over the last week but it is vital today that we all understand what has occurred and what it means as clearly as possible.

For many years the diocese of South Carolina has opposed the primary theological direction of the national Episcopal Church (TEC). As TEC leadership has moved away from the claim of Jesus’ uniqueness, the authority of Holy Scripture, the meaning of marriage and the nature of what it means to be human, we have had to be more steadfast in our defense of these truths, and more vocal and strong in our opposition to TEC’s disavowal of them.

In the past few years this conflict has escalated to the point where in 2011 charges were brought against Bishop Lawrence (and later voted down in Committee), and where the 2012 General Convention placed an unbiblical doctrine of humanity into the Canons of the Church. The doctrine, discipline and worship of TEC were all fundamentally changed in a fashion most of our clergy cannot and will not comply with. Bishop Lawrence and a majority of our deputation left the Convention before it concluded as a result.

Ever mindful of protecting the Diocese and its parishes, its leadership had in place resolutions which would become effective upon any action by TEC. As a result of TEC’s attack against our Bishop, the Diocese of South Carolina is disassociated from TEC; that is, its accession to the TEC Constitution and its membership in TEC have been withdrawn.

On Monday of this past week, the Bishop and the Diocese learned that the attack had taken place. The Diocese of South Carolina is no longer part of TEC as a result of TEC’s actions. We will now have a special Diocesan Convention on November 17th to iron out the necessary changes to our Canons and Constitution, and begin to discern the best way forward into a new Anglican future. We are all now in the valley of decision, whether we have desired it or not. That reality was not within our control.

We are still the Diocese of South Carolina, holding the faith of the apostles which was handed down to us. This radical step was taken to protect our parishes and their gospel witness. We believe that though the future has much that is unknown, the God who has faithfully led us by his grace to this point will take us where he wants us to go.

We encourage you to pray for the Bishop, Standing Committee, and diocese in a focused way between now and the special Convention. Please read the diocesan website, and the documents it provides, as carefully as possible. Because the situation is so unusual, we know there will be many questions. Please take them to your parish leaders and, if you wish, to members of the diocesan staff or Standing Committee so that we all may be as clear as we can about what has transpired.

To him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or imagine, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be all glory now and forever. Amen.

Check it out.

Election 2012: Things that make you go hmmmmm. . .

So this is purely anecdotal, but I think Facebook postings can reflect what’s happening at large, if you have a wide enough variety of friends that you aren’t just in a bubble. And I have noticed something interesting over the past week. For the past month or two, my die-hard progressive friends have been posting things like this:

But all of a sudden last week, I started seeing less of those and more of this:

Are progressives preparing themselves for a Romney victory? Are they realizing they might still want to be friends with those they have been insulting over the past few months, especially if their man loses? Interesting.

The rise of childless Americans

The future belongs to those who show up.

Where does that leave us today? With one final, scary thought. What if our new reality—the fact that a fifth of Americans no longer bother to have children at all—exerts its own pull on our demographics? There’s some data from Europe and the Far East to suggest that once a critical mass of people choose to remain childless, their example influences young adults and alters their behaviors and expectations. To give you just one example, Germany has had a higher degree of childlessness than America, and for a longer time. In a 2006 survey of fertility aspirations, 23 percent of German men said that having no children was the ideal form of family life. Think about that for a moment. And now think about what it means for a civilization to have a quarter of its men not interested in having any children at all.

It calls to mind a deeply profound point from Christopher Caldwell’s recent profile of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán. Confronting his country’s demographic crisis, Orbán said:

Demography is the key factor. If you are not able to maintain yourself biologically, how do you expect to maintain yourself economically, politically, and militarily?” he asks. “It’s impossible. The answer of letting people from other countries come in …that could be an economic solution, but it’s not a solution of your real sickness, that you are not able to maintain your own civilization.

The reason we care about fertility numbers and demographics is because this—our civilization—is exactly what’s at stake.

Bishop Martins of Springfield in support of Bishop Lawrence

Episcopal Diocese of Springfield
From Bishop Dan Martins of the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, in response to actions taken against Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina by the national church:

Many of you have heard the sad news that broke yesterday about the Diocese of South Carolina. Bishop Mark Lawrence was informed via telephone call from the Presiding Bishop that the Disciplinary Board for Bishops has certified his “abandonment” of the Episcopal Church by supporting actions his diocese has taken that allegedly undermine a presumed obligation to acknowledge the hierarchical authority of General Convention and the Presiding Bishop. Under the canons, the automatic result of this finding is that Bishop Lawrence is “restricted” from exercising the authority of the ministry to which he has been ordained, and a special meeting of the House of Bishops will be convened to adjudicate the matter and, if a majority agree with the Disciplinary Board, to permanently depose Bishop Lawrence from the ministry of the Episcopal Church, declaring the office of Bishop of South Carolina to be vacant.

As a result of this development, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina has announced its intention to ask a special convention of the diocese to approve its disaffiliation from the Episcopal Church. One can plausibly assume that Bishop Lawrence and the great majority of clergy and laity in the diocese have no intention of honoring the “restricted” status of his ministry. As for how the diocese will attempt to maintain a connection to the Anglican Communion, that can only be a matter of conjecture at this point.

Of course, we know from the experience of recent years roughly how the scenario will play out: the Presiding Bishop will convene an extraordinary “convention” of “loyal Episcopalians” from within the diocese, which will announce that it is the legitimate continuing Diocese of South Carolina, and choose a Provisional Bishop. Then that bishop and diocese, along with attorneys representing the Presiding Bishop, will spend millions of dollars suing in secular courts to recover control of church buildings and financial assets. To this point, the reorganized dioceses and the Presiding Bishop have been generally successful in their legal efforts (though important cases in Texas and California remain undecided). However, there is already a history in South Carolina that heavily favors those who will continue to actually occupy those properties.

This is a very serious, and a very disturbing, turn of events. Bishop Lawrence is a longtime personal friend, and a man whose intellect, love for our Lord, and passion for the gospel is without peer. While I am not fully on board with the some of the positions taken and decisions made by the conventions of the Diocese of South Carolina, and while I could find reasons to criticize the tone of much of the rhetoric coming from their direction, I am in essential theological sympathy with the witness made by that diocese as it has attempted to remain faithful to historic Anglican–which is to say, historic Episcopalian–faith and practice in a time when the majority in our church appear to be turning away from that tradition. More to the point, it strains every notion of common sense to apply the charge of “abandonment” in this case. This is a provision that is in canons to make it expeditious to deal with a priest or bishop who has openly decamped to another ecclesial body, or none; a cleric who stops showing up for meetings, stops worshiping as an Episcopalian, and disavows any association with the Episcopal Church. By contrast, since I became a bishop in March of last year, Mark Lawrence has attended every meeting of the House of Bishops except one, which a great many bishops also missed because it was held in Ecuador. He was present at General Convention. He has continued to lead a diocese that uses the Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer in its worship. He has abandoned nothing, and to accuse him of doing so is ludicrous on its face.

There is much more that needs to be said, and many more implications of these events that deserve to be unpacked. I am in consultation with colleague bishops from the fellowship known as Communion Partners. I am not in possession of all the relevant facts, but am working to get them. The situation merits deep reflection and earnest prayer. The greatest tragedy, of course, is the discordant witness this makes to a broken world hungry for good news. We rightly shed tears of sorrow, begging for the grace of repentance and amendment of our common life. Lord, have mercy.

South Carolina fires back. . .

Episcopal Diocese of South CarolinaThe Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina responds to the allegations by the national church against Bishop Mark Lawrence:

Anglicans have been worshiping in South Carolina since its establishment as a British Colony. From the beginning, they have defended and upheld the doctrine, discipline and worship of the faithful generations who came before them. That freedom is now under direct assault.

As a founding Diocese of the Episcopal Church, we have taken steps in recent years to defend our freedom of worship and order of gathering. On Monday of this week (October 15), the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence (14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina) was informed by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church that a disciplinary board had certified that he was guilty of abandonment of the communion of the church – that he had, in effect, by his words and actions, left the church. We believe that these actions of the Episcopal Church are both invalid under the Constitution of the Episcopal Church of this Diocese and violations of rights and freedoms which all Americans hold dear. We emphatically reject them, as well as the attempted restriction upon the ministry of our Bishop.

An Assault on the Bishop

This action is a deplorable assault upon the Bishop of this Diocese. The attack came in the midst of negotiations whose stated intent was to find a peaceful solution to our differences with the Episcopal Church. It involved a process in which there was no prior notice of the proceedings, no notice of the charges against him nor any opportunity to face the local accusers (who remained anonymous until today).

Also deeply concerning is the fact that all of the stated reasons for “abandonment” were known nearly a year ago, when an earlier attempt to remove him failed. This second attempt is double jeopardy of the most egregious sort and is contrary to the very canons they have used. Worst of all, canons that were originally meant for the removal of clergy who had well and truly “left” the church are now being used to purge a Bishop who has diligently sought to keep his Diocese both intact and within the Episcopal Church.

An Assault on the Diocese

These actions, however, are not just an attack upon Bishop Lawrence. They also represent an assault on this Diocese and its congregations. Two of the three actions that the Episcopal Church claims prove his abandonment are in fact actions of the Diocesan Convention. These were actions of the entire Diocese, all its parishes and missions, expressing together in duly elected convention what they needed to remain in the communion of this denomination. In effect, the Episcopal Church has said it does not care what the parishioners of this Diocese, who are its sole supporters, have to say about their own future. The final action for which the Episcopal Church claims Bishop Lawrence was found guilty was for confirming, by the release of quit claim deeds, that our congregations own their own property.

Abandoned

Bishop Lawrence’s actions have been taken to protect the integrity of the Diocese and its parishes. In the exercise of his freedom of speech, he has stated his personal good faith beliefs concerning the theology and polity of this Diocese. The parishes of this Diocese have repeatedly joined him in expressing those same beliefs. The actions taken by the Episcopal Church make it clear that such freedom of expression is intolerable to them. It is this Diocese and its Bishop who have been abandoned; left behind by a denomination that has chosen a radically different path from that of its founders. For that reason, we have disassociated ourselves from the Episcopal Church and will meet again in Convention on November 17th to consider further responses to these actions by the denomination we helped found. By God’s grace, we look forward to many more generations freely exercising the faith first brought to these shores so many generations before us.

South Carolina’s special convention will be held Saturday, November 17, to respond to TEC’s action against +Lawrence and to include any “relevant constitutional and/or canonical changes”  at St. Philip’s Church with registration from 8:30 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. The Call to Convention will be at 10:00 a.m.

Also, check out AnglicanTV and Anglican Ink for past interviews with Bishop Lawrence (as well as lots of other good stuff).

Cool Hunting Friday v 2.17

The Hop
Okay, this is just too cool:

3. Hop

Named after obedient bell staff, the hands-free Hop is a new way of carrying luggage. The prototypical suitcase contains three receivers that are honed through your smartphone, allowing it to follow you remotely.

Check it out.

Pro-Romney ad on “act of terror”


Hey, I like it.

KJS and TEC: Jumping the shark…together

broken episcopal shieldI hoped they wouldn’t do it, but I should have known better (well, actually, I did, but hope springs eternal). The Disciplinary Board for Bishops of The Episcopal Church (TEC) has certified that Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina has abandoned The Episcopal Church by certain actions.

Of course, this event is just one part of the long and winding unraveling of TEC as the church has, under its presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, gone out of its way to purge itself of any traditional, orthodox Christian voices. (And yes, I do know that a church usually takes the feminine pronoun, reflective of being the Bride of Christ, but in this case that doesn’t apply. Not only has TEC become post-Christian in its outlook, but since they support and advocate for same-sex marriage, completely oblivious to any biblical understanding of the institution, pronouns obviously mean little to them; they’ve neutered marriage so using the pronoun “it” fits right in.)

I’m not going to go through what this means and what happens now. For complete coverage of all of that, check out TitusOneNine and Stand Firm (for good commentary, check out the Midwest Conservative Journal and for the legal perspective, check out the Anglican Curmudgeon).

But I find two events listed on the timeline posted by the Diocese of South Carolina intriguing:

September 18, 2012: Disciplinary Board of Bishops (DBB) apparently certifies abandonment on three charges, two of which were previously dismissed on November 22, 2011. (Attachment B) (Certification received on October 15 is unsigned.)

So why is the DBB considering charges that had already been dismissed? This is like being tried for the same crime twice; it’s double jeopardy all over again. Did the presiding bishop request that the DBB review these charges until they came up with the result she liked? (And I know DBB here stands for the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, but when I first saw it, I thought David Booth Beers—and I think I would be right.)

October 15, 2012: Call is moved up at PB’s request one hour to noon. During the call PB states that she received certification of abandonment from DBB on the 10th, that she will be sending Bishop Lawrence a restriction of ministry, that they are still willing to meet on Monday, that she desires this be kept confidential for the time being. …

Why the request that this be kept confidential? She should be shouting from the rooftops that she’s finally got +Lawrence. She already tried to deny him his election as bishop so this should be what she’s been dreaming of. I can understand her wanting to control the roll-out of this announcement, but why would she think Bishop Lawrence would acquiesce to her schedule?

I know these are small matters in the overall picture, but I think they are reflective of the morass that TEC has become. The charges brought against +Lawrence relate to legalities, and dubious legalities at that, not to anything theological or doctrinal (oh, that’s right, I forgot, ever since Bishop James Pike, TEC has had no doctrine).

It’s all about the power at this point, and the presiding bishop wants more.

I think KJS and, with her, TEC just jumped the shark.

Keep the ball rollin’ . . .

And the media tries its best, as illustrated by just a few stats on the performance by CNN’s Candy Crowley, moderator of last night’s second presidential debate:

So there ya go–the media at its finest, keepin’ the Obama election ball rollin’ along.

Keep the ball rollin’
Keep the ball rollin’
The name of the game is love…

No, the book is not dead

Courtesy of Ghirardelli Architetti
I think this is so lovely.

From ArchDaily:

A simple gesture like opening the pages of a book became the inspiration for Ghirardelli Architetti in their design proposal for the Daegu Gosan Public Library Competition (South Korea)….

Check out all the pictures.

What type of Facebook user are you?

There are two main types of Facebook users, as far as I’ve been able to figure. And with this being an election year and most of us unable to resist posting our political preferences on our Facebook pages, we’re going to reveal ourselves not as Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, etc, but as either displayers or engagers.

Displayers are those people who love to show what they think or feel or believe, but don’t want to respond to any comments about their posting. Now some actually just really don’t want to get into it—they post what they find supporting or interesting or funny, and they don’t really care to discuss it.

But then you have the passive-aggressive displayers. They post the most partisan articles, slogans, photos, etc. and while they may respond to those who agree with them (kind of an online group hug), they rarely respond to those who disagree.

At the extreme end of the passive-aggressive displayer mode, you have those who actually delete any negative or less than positive comments under their politically charged posts, yet leave up all of the adulatory comments. So you have friends who may post pictures or stories from places like One Million Strong Against Mitt Romney in 2012 or Too Informed to Vote Republican and, if you’re conservative and write something to counter the post, even though you’re a “friend” and haven’t said anything “mean” or “derogatory,” down the rabbit hole your comment goes.

The other kind of Facebook user is the engager, someone who wants others to comment on his post and wants to respond back. I find this type of user much more interesting because you can have an actual debate or discussion with them. Others join in and sometimes you actually learn something.

But at the extreme end here is the belligerent engager, someone who posts the most partisan articles and slogans seemingly just to provoke a reaction he can then berate you about. Usually various forms of vulgar language are involved and it soon becomes obvious to all of his “friends” that this type of Facebook user is just trying to make himself feel bigger and better than he really is. And it quickly becomes boring as well–how many times can you respond to “You’re just a big, fat f**k” before you decide the “conversation” is over?

USCCB responds to inaccurate statement of fact on HHS mandate

Whoops, guess the Catholic bishops are not too happy about Vice President Biden’s dissembling during the debate last night (although, strangely, they don’t say who said this–trying to be politically neutral? Hey, a fact’s a fact: Biden said it, he needs to own it):

Last night, the following statement was made during the Vice Presidential debate regarding the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force virtually all employers to include sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion, in the health insurance coverage they provide their employees:

“With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.”

This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain “religious employers.” That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to “Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,” or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.

HHS has proposed an additional “accommodation” for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as “non-exempt.” That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation “to pay for contraception” and “to be a vehicle to get contraception.” They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.

USCCB continues to urge HHS, in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.

For more details, please see USCCB’s regulatory comments filed on May 15 regarding the proposed “accommodation”: www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/upload/comments-on-advance-notice-of-proposed-rulemaking-on-preventive-services-12-05-15.pdf

Check it out.

Who shares your values?

The VP debate: The partisan divide

Just a sampling of comments from facebook friends on their perception of last night’s vice-presidential debate (comments made both during and after debate). Do we just see what we want to see?

Obama supporter (OS): Joe is kicking Eddie Munster’s ASS!!!

Romney supporter (RS): It bugs me that Biden keeps calling Ryan “my friend.” I find him as fake as his hair implants and fake smile. I’ve had enough. Bye Bye Biden!!!

OS: Ya got him on the ropes Joe. Take ‘im down.

RS: It is embarrassing to think [Biden] is our Vice President. Hopefully not for much longer.

OS: I hope Barack is taking some notes tonight. THIS is how you put the liars’ feet to the fire in a debate. Style AND Substance. Yes indeed.

RS: Here’s why Ryan won this debate. Not that it will matter on Monday, but for the next few days, this is what undecided voters will replay in their heads. Watch the clip.

OS:
RS: What’s the takeaway going to be? Cranky Uncle Joe is rude to polite young man, or noted idiot lies about not voting for Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

Actually, I think Michael Barone says it best:

The instant polls: CNBC had it Ryan 56%-36%, CBS Biden 50%-31%, CNN Ryan 48%-44%, AP Ryan 51%-43%. Not nearly as one-sided as the instant responses to the first presidential debate in Denver. My sense: Biden pumped up partisan Democrats, but failed to win over the voters who are taking a serious look at Romney at a point when he is up in national polls.

Although note that the AP poll figures may be incorrect.

Ace: Obama did not do that badly

So I could say my extended absence has been due to our moving and unpacking all gazillion boxes (which have been in storage for two years) and deciding where everything should go (should the dining room table go here or here?) and finishing up uncompleted house projects (yes, I do need a closet) and becoming more involved in local “happenings”—and that would all be true.

But I could also say that it has been due to a slight feeling of unreality about the presidential election, and because I haven’t had the time (because of the move) to think this feeling through, I haven’t had a clear direction. And then I read Ace and everything fell into place:

Let me suggest something that many conservatives realized after the debate: Obama did not do that badly. For Obama. He was the same listless, droning, exhausted-of-ideas scold we have seen for at least two years now (and maybe three).

He was Obama. This is what he is. He is not quick-witted. He is not, as I think I saw Mickey Kaus note, a wonk. He has never been a wonk, a detailed-policy guy.

He is a guy who speaks vacuously of hopes and dreams and change and fairness.

He always has been.

The problem, for the liberals, is not Obama. This is what you bought. This is your guy. It wasn’t his A game, but it was something close to his B+ game.

The problem was Romney, who was commanding, fluent, reasonable, articulate, sharp-witted, warm, occasionally funny, full of ideas, full of facts, full of thoughtful, detailed criticisms of Obama policy (who the hell expected him to bring up, as an afterthought, Dodd-Frank’s failure to specify what a “reasonably qualified” mortgage applicant was, and how that chilled lending? Obama sure didn’t!), and, therefore, ultimately, full of qualification for the job and yes, full of gravitas.

That’s the problem.

Not Obama. I repeat: This is who Obama is. He has never been this brilliant intellect and keen policy analysts liberals have, in their BubbleWorld, dreamed him as.

The problem is not that Obama is or was awful. The problem is that he is what he always is — adequate and hardly ever more — and Romney is actually on top of things, an accomplished executive with a winner’s thirst for victory an an A-student’s understanding of what victory requires.

So part of the extreme emotional deflation of people like Sullivan — who only a few years ago called me a “frothing Caesarist” (I take that to mean a lickspittle for a Man on a White Horse) — is due to their having invented in their minds a conquering hero, an Eternal Champion, a Mussolini-like figure of incredible prowess in all matters including sexual (“Mussolini breaks a new horse every day, and a new woman every night,” an old Fascist saying went).

And he’s never been that. He’s been a very average politician, whose only above-average skill is giving a scripted, TelePrompTed address to people who already support him.

So for people like Sullivan, this is a bit of a bitchslap to their entire fantasy worldview, the day they saw Obama As What He Is rather than What They Fantasized Him To Be.

And they’re shocked by this. They feel their psychical mooring-lines stretching to the break.

This is partly Obama’s fault, of course. He encouraged this.

But it is much, much more the fault of people who pride themselves on being skeptical realists who permitted their minds to run to the magical and to the (frankly, blasphemously) religious….

The fusion of religion and politics has in fact been every bit as deleterious as the liberals always warned us.

It’s just that they were the ones who actually fused God and President.

I long for the days when elections were not about Salvation, and the Press Corps were not Acolytes, each vying to prove their devotion unto their Prophet….

And all I can say is “yes, absolutely, once again Ace nails it” (no, not in that way). But read it all yourself, there’s lots more.

TEC: When the day of evil comes

Way back in the day (2006 to 2008, to be exact), I had the blog innocent as doves. My purpose there was to cover “traditional Anglican worship in San Diego, Southern California, and around the world, as well as any other subjects that happen to catch my interest.” It was great fun to write and included numerous interviews I did for Anglican TV with various Anglican and Episcopal clergy.

But the end result of my taking my Christian faith seriously was that my family ended up leaving the Episcopal Church. I outlined our journey in six posts:

I mention this as part of a eulogy for The Episcopal Church in the United States. TEC, having now “slipped the surly bonds” of any recognizable biblical comprehension with the actions of its just completed 77th General Convention, is now adrift in cultural relativism and unmoored from biblical understanding. I can see no way in which it can remain part of the “one holy catholic and apostolic” Church after these actions.

Pseudo-theology and political entanglements result in there being no there there. So the number of church members will continue to decline, the empty churches will continue to soak up financial resources, the litigation against those trying to escape the skewed theology will continue to offer a picture of unchristian behavior by church leaders. Only a few dioceses (the Diocese of South Carolina, I hope, being one) will continue to preach and praise the traditional Christian faith, and those dioceses are only safe until they need to call a new bishop–when that happens, all bets are off.

(Yes, I did change the picture here from earlier–this image seems much more appropriate.)

For all of those staying in the Episcopal Church as a witness against the heresy and unbelief found there, St. Paul offers his wisdom on relying on the Lord:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(Ephesians 6:10-17)

Protecting consciences, or what I found in my church bulletin today

From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

USCCB Nationwide Bulletin Insert June 2012
WHY CONSCIENCE IS IMPORTANT

During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Americans shone the light of the Gospel on a dark history of slavery, segregation, and racial bigotry. The civil rights movement was an essentially religious movement, a call to awaken consciences.

In his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. boldly said, “The goal of America is freedom.” As a Christian pastor, he argued that to call America to the full measure of that freedom was the specific contribution Christians are obliged to make. He rooted his legal and constitutional arguments about justice in the long Christian tradition: “I would agree with Saint Augustine that ‘An unjust law is no law at all.’… A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”

Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified. Every effort must be made to repeal them. When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience, are at stake, we may need to witness to the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.

The church does not ask for special treatment, simply the rights of religious freedom for all citizens. Rev. King also explained that the church is neither the master nor the servant of the state, but its conscience, guide, and critic.

Catholics and many other Americans have strongly criticized the recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. For the first time in our history, the federal government will force religious institutions to fund and facilitate coverage of a drug or procedure contrary to their moral teaching, and purport to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit an exemption. This is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide such coverage even when it violates our consciences.

What we ask is nothing more than the right to follow our consciences as we live out our teaching. This right is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith? Without religious liberty properly understood, all Americans suffer, deprived of the essential contribution in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that religious Americans make every day.

What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society—or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it.

What can you do to ensure the protection of conscience rights?

  • The U.S. Bishops have called us to get informed, pray and advocate. To send your message to HHS and Congress telling them to uphold religious liberty and conscience rights, go to www.usccb.org/conscience today! Thank you for joining the effort to end this unprecedented government coercion.
  • The Bishops have called for a Fortnight for Freedom – June 21-July 4. Please go to www.fortnight4freedom.org for more information on this important time of prayer and action!

Cool Hunting Friday v 2.16


Just one of the best book openings in literature.

2. Redesigning Dickens

In celebration of the Victorian novelist’s 200th birthday, GraphicDesign& recruited 70 eminent graphic designers to interpret the first page of “Great Expectations”. The creative juices of the talent pool yielded “Page 1: Great Expectations“, a collection of creative type jumbled with complicated infographics, QR codes and vintage illustrations.

And page 1 of Great Expectations says:

My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.

I give Pirrip as my father’s family name, on the authority of his tombstone and my sister – Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape of the letters on my father’s, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of the inscription, “Also Georgiana Wife of the Above,” I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly. To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine – who gave up trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle – I am indebted for a belief I religiously entertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state of existence.

Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad impression of the identity of things, seems to me to have been gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain, that this bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this parish, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond, was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip….

Read it all.

N.C. catholic bishops on the Marriage Protection vote

Marriage Protection vote in North CarolinaAll but seven of N.C. counties voted overwhelmingly in favor of the marriage amendment May 8. (Source: N.C. State Board of Elections)

A quick look at those in light blue (counties that voted against the Marriage Protection amendment) and I see (starting from the far west):

  • Buncombe County: home to Asheville, the largest city in western North Carolina who delights in holding herself up as the enlightened beacon in the midst of backwoods bumpkins
  • Watagua County (northeast of Buncombe): I have no idea what’s going on here
  • Mecklenburg County (way south of Watagua): home to Charlotte, a major metropolitan area
  • Orange, Durham, Chatham, and Wake counties: well, that’s Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill–what did you expect?

From the Catholic News Herald:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With a heavy turnout at the polls, North Carolina voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman by a 3-to-2 margin.
From the Catholic News Herald:

In unofficial results calculated late May 8 by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, 1,303,952 people — 61.05 percent — voted for the amendment while 831,788 people — 38.95 percent — voted against it.

The amendment read, “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.” It enshrines the definition of traditional marriage in the state constitution, elevating it from what has been state law since 1996.

Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte and Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, who were at the Vatican May 8 for their “ad limina” visits, had both championed the amendment, which they said would prevent any arbitrary redefinition of marriage.

Marriage, they reminded Catholics, is based in natural law by God and instituted as a sacrament by Jesus Christ. It binds together a family, the fundamental building block of all societies, and provides the most stable and nurturing environment to raise children….

Ever since the amendment was put on the ballot by the Republican-led Legislature last fall, the bishops had urged Catholics to vote for it. They communicated with parishioners in print and online diocesan news media, TV and radio ads, parish bulletins and postcards, billboards and yard signs, and letters read from the pulpit during Masses the weekend before the vote.

The bishops had said the vote presented an opportunity to explain the importance and sanctity of traditional marriage in the Church and in society.

In a joint letter read at all Masses May 5-6, the bishops wrote, “We are for marriage, as we believe it is a vocation in which God calls couples to faithfully and permanently embrace a fruitful union in a mutual self-giving bond of love, according to his purposes. It is not only the union itself that is essential to these purposes, but also the life to which spouses are called to be open, the gift of children.”

Their efforts ran parallel to the campaign by Vote For Marriage NC, a nonpartisan coalition of churches, groups and individuals that organized public support for the amendment, which even at the start of the campaign last fall was considered widely popular among North Carolina voters. Each diocese also donated $50,000 to the Vote for Marriage NC campaign for its advertising blitz and voter education efforts….

Read it all.