March 31, 2010

National Poetry Month 2010

April is National Poetry Month, a good time to take a poet to lunch or to open that book of poetry sitting on your bookshelf. As usual, the Academy of American Poets is offering a poster for the occasion (click on the image below for a larger view):

National Poetry Month 2010 poster
Of course, I have a vested interest in April’s celebration, as I am a poet of sorts. I won’t quibble about what sort of poet I might be, but it is probably safe to say that my oeuvre is eclectic. You can read my poetry on Lionel Deimel’s Farrago.

Last year, I wrote a poem called “National Poetry Month 2009.” It’s hardly 2009-specific, however, so I recommend reading it to get you into the mood for 2010’s National Poetry Month.

March 30, 2010

Two Tiers

A recent item in the Church of Ireland Gazette reminded me of an issue related to the proposed Anglican covenant I have been meaning to write about. Now seems a good time to do so.

The Gazette story reports on a talk given by the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev. John Neill, to Dublin’s Marsh Society at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. According to the story’s headline, Neill fears the emergence of a two-tier Communion. He ruefully admitted, however, that this is what might develop. Might, indeed!

Of course, virtually no one admits to thinking that a two-tier Communion, of whatever configuration, is a desirable thing. (Actually, this is not quite true. When I first read that Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams had suggested that some churches of the Anglican Communion might be consigned to second-tier status, my reaction was, “Where do we sign up?”) It is ironic, therefore, that the proposed Anglican covenant practically guarantees a two-tier Communion in the short run and makes a two-tier Communion likely—assuming the Anglican Communion survives at all—in the long run.

Rowan Williams has suggested that the Communion ultimately could be divided into those churches that have adopted the covenant—members of the real Anglican Communion, I suppose—and those hanger-on churches who have failed to sign on to the covenant, members of the second tier, with a status that is somewhat unclear.

The draft, however, includes an unusual provision in paragraph 4.1.6:
This Covenant becomes active for a Church when that Church adopts the Covenant through the procedures of its own Constitution and Canons.
Conventionally, an agreement among multiple organizations requires, if not adoption by all potential signatories, then at least adoption by a majority of them before the agreement is put into effect. For example, Article VII of U.S. Constitution reads:
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
Whereas it makes perfect sense for an individual Anglican church to subscribe to many of the affirmations of the covenant, implementation of the provisions of Section 4 by one or a small number of churches is problematic. For example, when the first church adopts the covenant, what meaning should it attach to the phrase “relationships among the covenanting Churches” in paragraph 4.1.2? In any case, once a small number of churches have subscribed to the covenant, they will have taken on certain mutual obligations not shared by other churches; a two-tier covenant is now in place.

We run into more serious problem when we look at Section 4.2. According to paragraph 4.2.2, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion monitors the functioning of the covenant “on behalf of the Instruments [Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Conference, Anglican Consultative Council, and Primates’ Meeting].” But then we have paragraph 4.2.8:
Participation in the decision making of the Standing Committee or of the Instruments of Communion in respect to section 4.2 shall be limited to those members of the Instruments of Communion who are representatives of those churches who have adopted the Covenant, or who are still in the process of adoption.
My interpretation of this—I don’t claim that this view is unassailable—is that, as of now, all members of the Communion are “still in the process of adoption,” since there has been little time for any church to consider adoption seriously. One could ask the question when the process of adoption begins and suggest that, at the moment, hardly any church is in the process of adoption. This view makes it more difficult to figure out what churches are in which category at any moment. I am inclined to think that the “process of adoption” ends when a church adopts or rejects the covenant. But what if a church simply stops any consideration of covenant adoption?

Assume that a handful of churches have adopted the covenant. The provisions for handling disputes and ambiguities—see my earlier essay, “Section 4 Decoded”—are now in play, and all Communion churches, assuming none has actually rejected the covenant, can participate.

Can a church that has adopted the covenant object to the action of one that has not? I would not think so—not on the basis of covenant violation, at any rate—as the latter has not signed on to the obligations that Section 4 is intended to enforce. There would seem to be some temporary safety for The Episcopal Church here. Of course, one covenanted church may object to the actions of another. Apparently, The Episcopal Church, assuming it has neither adopted nor rejected the covenant, may participate in the dispute-resolution process set out in Section 4. Is it obliged to do so, even though it has not adopted the covenant? Is it reasonable for a church to participate in enforcing obligations it has not itself adopted?

Since a church can participate in the dispute-resolution procedures of Section 4 by virtue of being “still in the process of adoption,” can it maintain this status indefinitely? What if The Episcopal Church draws out the adoption process, say, by considering only a few paragraphs of the covenant at each General Convention. Because no time limit has been imposed on adoption—such a time limit has become common for proposed amendments to the U.S. Constitution—The Episcopal Church can seemingly remain at the table—remain in the first tier, if you like—without ever having to subscribe to the provisions of the covenant. Is this the best of both worlds? (Don’t get me wrong here. I am not proposing this strategy. I would prefer to see the church reject the covenant at its earliest opportunity.)

Actually, I suspect that the “still in the process of adoption” provision of paragraph 4.2.8 is largely to avoid disenfranchising the Archbishop of Canterbury, himself an Instrument of Communion, before the Church of England considers adoption. What if the Church of England rejects the covenant, however, perhaps by concluding that it cannot legally subscribe to it? How are we now to interpret references to the Archbishop of Canterbury in the covenant?

No doubt, when Archbishop Neill gave his talk, he imagined an eventual state in which the covenant was adopted by a majority of the Communion churches. Assuming that the Church of England is among the adopters, the covenant makes sense even if only three or four churches fall into a second tier by rejecting it. But what if 19 churches reject it? What if 35 churches reject it? Is there a point at which we declare the covenant a failed idea and scrap it completely? Apparently not. A two-tier Communion with nearly all churches in the second tier is at least a theoretical possibility.

The adoption process for the covenant is, at best, fuzzy. The document has been presented as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, but some churches may attempt to adopt the covenant with reservations. I have no idea what that might mean. Alternatively, attempts could be made to amend the covenant in accordance with Section 4.4. Curiously, in paragraph 4.4.2, it is noted that amendments must be adopted by “three quarters of ” the “covenanting Churches.” It is unclear what churches, based on their adoption or non-adoption, can participate in the amendment process. It is at least conceivable that the first church to adopt the covenant could also amend it unilaterally.

The bizarre provision of paragraph 4.1.6 represents an attempt to push the covenant forward. (Some Communion churches seem to have severe impulse control problems.) It has, as we have seen, strange and—to many, surely—undesirable consequences. It would make a lot more sense for the covenant to become effective only when half (or perhaps two-thirds or three-fourths) of the Anglican churches have agreed to it.

Much of the discussion of the covenant has been about whether we can subscribe to the doctrines set forth at the beginning and whether we can live with the mechanisms of Section 4. I submit that the covenant was written by too many theologians and ideologues and too few lawyers and logicians. In some serious respects, the covenant draft is simply asinine. We should say so and be done with it.

No Anglican Covenant

March 29, 2010

Misguided Editorial

Now that the Rev. Canon Mary D. Glasspool has received the needed consents, her consecration as a suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles (and that of the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce) is scheduled to take place on May 15, 2010. As is usually the case, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori is to be the chief consecrator.

The Living Church, which is, no doubt, gravely disappointed both by Glasspool’s election and her subsequent confirmation by the wider church, has published an editorial suggesting that the Presiding Bishop should allow someone else to be chief consecrator. The editorial concludes with the following paragraph:
We ask the Presiding Bishop to consider exercising her own gracious restraint on May 15 by not presiding at the consecrations of Mary Glasspool and of Canon Glasspool’s sister bishop-elect, the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce. We do not ask this lightly. We ask it as a simple acknowledgment that, even if the Episcopal Church has decided the time for gracious restraint has passed, the importance of graciousness in dissent never expires.
Presiding Bishops usually, but not invariably, participate in episcopal consecrations. The Living Church editorial cites consecrations for which the Presiding Bishop was absent. Notable among these is that of Mark Lawrence as Bishop of South Carolina. In that case, Jefferts Schori was indeed gracious, stepping aside knowing that neither the diocese not the bishop-elect seemed fond of The Episcopal Church generally or the Presiding Bishop in particular. (Little graciousness—or even simple respect—was shown the Presiding Bishop when she subsequently attended a meeting with the bishop and clergy of South Carolina, however.) Presumably, both the Diocese of Los Angeles and the bishops-elect want the Presiding Bishop to be present in this case.

The argument in the editorial is a bit hard to follow, but I will try to capture it here. The editorial acknowledges that it is usual for the Presiding Bishop to “take order for the consecration of bishops” (a peculiar term of art embedded in the Episcopal Church canons). It even acknowledges, albeit obliquely, that Jefferts Schori played no substantive role in the church’s decision to make Glasspool a bishop.

The Living Church notes, however, that Jefferts Schori is a member of what is now being called the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. That that body issued a statement last December taking notice of the Glasspool election and reiterating, inter alia, a call for “gracious restraint” with respect to the consecration of partnered gay bishops.

Then comes this non sequitur in the editorial:
Nevertheless, even a rudimentary grasp of Jesus’ admonition to “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’” (Matt. 5:37) highlights a conflict between the Episcopal Church’s rhetoric of reconciliation and autonomous actions. Leaders of other Anglican provinces have good reason to think that for some Episcopalians, words have become symbol systems in which today’s yes becomes tomorrow morning’s no.
The essay seems to be suggesting that, as a member of the Standing Committee, the Presiding Bishop necessarily subscribes to its December declaration. By taking part in Glasspool’s consecration, she is therefore being duplicitous. This is nonsense.

One would actually like to know how statements like the one from the Standing Committee are decided upon. Bodies such as the Standing Committee and Parimates’ Meeting take place in secret, sometimes behind armed guards. Anyone who believes that Katharine Jefferts Schori actually approved of the December statement, however, is surely delusional. This is equally true about the various communiqués coming from the primates since October 2003 and Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishops (both Frank Griswold and Katharine Jefferts Schori). If there is any insincerity going on here, it is the lack of denunciations of the various pronouncements by our Presiding Bishops once the meetings out of which they have come are concluded.

A certain Anglican politeness seems to have led to the understanding that, when a body like the Primates’ Meeting issues a communiqué, any suggestion that there might be a minority opinion is unseemly. This is analogous, it might be argued, to the actions of a board of directors of a nonprofit corporation. Decisions of the board are expected to be supported by all directors, and serious dissent requires resignation. This analogy is defective, however, because (1) the primates’ or members of the Standing Committee have no real power to wield, and (2) not all members—certainly not the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church—have the power to bind their churches. The Presiding Bishop’s role in these Anglican bodies is more akin to that of the United States’ United Nations ambassador. Jefferts Schori’s failure openly to dissent causes unnecessary anxiety among Episcopalians and inappropriate expectations elsewhere in the Anglican Communion. It is, in other words, seriously dysfunctional.

Under the circumstances, participating in the consecration of Glasspool is a significantly more honest response by the Presiding Bishop than would be not participating. Moreover, the Presiding Bishop has a duty to participate, whereas she has no similar duty to the Standing Committee or to the Primates’ Meeting.

I am all for graciousness, of course, but not at the expense of sincerity. The Living Church editorial is not so much about encouraging graciousness as promoting hypocrisy. Oh, and Matthew 5:37 is about avoiding oaths, not about sincerity, and certainly not about graciousness.

Cornell Bridges Get Ugly

I returned to Pittsburgh yesterday after visiting my son and daughter-in-law in Ithaca, New York, for a few days. My son recently began graduate study in winemaking at Cornell University, and the school was on its spring break last week. I had never before been to the Finger Lakes region of New York, so we did a lot of sightseeing.

One of the most unusual and picturesque features of the Cornell campus is the deep gorges that run through it. They are crossed by a number of vehicular and pedestrian bridges. (See campus map here.) As a fan of both scenery and bridges, I had to have a look.

Alas, all has not been well at Cornell of late, and I am not referring to its basketball team. Apparently, there have been six student suicides this year, and students seem to have developed the distressing habit of jumping off bridges into the gorge below. (See New York Times story here.)

Concerned about this trend, Cornell took advantage of spring break to install tall, chain-link fencing on its bridges. (See New York Times story here.) One can understand this response, of course, but it is difficult not to see the new fencing as an architectural travesty. The fences may prevent students from jumping off bridges, but Cornell students, even depressed ones, are likely imaginative enough to find other ways of doing themselves in if they are so determined.

The fencing mars the view of the gorge and creek below, not to mention giving the bridges the look of prison- rather than campus architecture. Happily, the wires at the tops of the fences are plain strands, rather than barbed- or razor-wire. One could surely climb over the fences, though not easily or inconspicuously.

According to the Times, Cornell is considering less obtrusive suicide-prevention barriers. I must say, however, that the installation of the current fencing does not seem at all temporary.

Cornell footbridgeA wire-cable suspension footbridge over Fall Creek, one of the longer and more interesting of the Cornell bridges. One can clearly see the fencing rising above the suspended trusses. The view is from a path that runs down the wall of the gorge. (Click photo for larger image.)

Memorial on bridgeTurston Avenue Bridge over Fall Creek. A wilting memorial bouquet can be seen here below the bridge railing. The silver pipes are posts for the eight-foot chain-link fence newly installed on the bridge. Beebe Dam is in the background. (Click photo for larger image.)

March 22, 2010

Heat and the CPU

When I established this blog, I expected that a large proportion of my posts would involve computers. Somehow, that never came to pass. That makes this post an exception.

I have seen many problems with personal computers over the years. More often than not, software is responsible, whether code in the operating system, an application, or software whose presence is unknown or unwanted. Hard drives, which depend so heavily on mechanical components, are probably the most trouble-prone hardware components. CPUs, the true “brains” of computers, are surprisingly reliable. CPU problems can be hard to recognize.

Perhaps the biggest enemy of your computer’s CPU is heat. Modern processors generate a surprising amount of heat, and the failure to dissipate that heat effectively can lead to the processor’s slowing down or even to outright processor failure. Given that excess heat can be so damaging, it is surprising that more computers do not provide the ability to monitor processor temperature.

Several factors can cause heat problems. One of these is fan failure. Computers use fans in various configurations to move heat out of the computer’s case, and a non-functioning fan can cause the CPU to run hot. Sometimes, the first sign of trouble is that the computer has become quieter than usual, a common symptom of a fan that isn’t working.

Alas, symptoms of heat buildup are usually more subtle. A computer could be running slower than usual because the processor is too hot, but it could also be running slower because some application is misbehaving, because too much software is running at once, or because some piece of malware is sucking up all available CPU cycles. Software is the most common culprit when a computer is sluggish.

My own computer, i.e., the one I use most often, has been slow of late, and I suspected that software was indeed causing the problem. The CPU has often been running at or near 100% capacity, and I have been trying to understand why that should be so. Programs like Outlook and Firefox just seemed to be using more processing resources than they should. Yesterday, my computer began shutting itself down and, upon rebooting was telling me that overheating was the cause of the shutdown. Clearly, it was time to open the case and take a look at what was going on.

It took but a few minutes to discover the problem. My computer does not have a fan atop the CPU (or its heat sink), so that wasn’t the problem. The large fans that move heat through the case were running, so they weren’t the problem either. When I moved the green plastic duct that directs the output of one of the fans toward the CPU’s heat sink, I discovered that the heat sink was properly seated on the processor. (Heat sinks sometimes become dislodged, often during some maintenance operation.) What I did discover, however, is that I could not even see the fins of the heat sink; they were covered by a thick layer of dust. Clearly, the dust was blocking air flow across the fins and causing the CPU to overheat. I cleaned out the dust, and everything seems back to normal. As I write this, my CPU usage is running at about 30%, a dramatic reduction resulting from faster processing at a lower temperature.

Let this be a warning to you, particularly if your computer, like mine, sits on the floor. Computers that sit on the floor—and few “desktop” computers actually reside on desktops, it seems—do tend to pick up a lot of dust. I do open my computer’s case from time to time, and I do clean out some of the dust. The duct that directs air to the heat sink isn’t transparent, however—perhaps it should be—so the dust buildup on the heat sink was hidden from view, a problem I only now understand.

Do you know if there is sufficient air circulation through your CPU’s heat sink?

March 20, 2010

New and Improved (Over the Last Version)

The Archives of the Episcopal Church has come up with a new PDF version of the 2009 constitution and canons of the church.

In February, I complained about the initial version that was posted by the Archives in my essay “New and Somewhat Worsened.” In particular, that version of the 2009 governing documents did not have bookmarks, a convenient feature of the 2006 version. The latest file, which has replaced the old one, does have bookmarks, as do the PDF versions of individual sections (Constitution, Title I, etc.) also provided by the Archives. The files are still not tagged PDFs, nor do they offer a fast Web view. (See earlier post for details.)

The Web site of the Executive Offices of the General Convention does not yet offer the new files. Also, that site causes the PDFs to open in a separate program (i.e., Adobe Reader), rather than in your browser. (I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.)

In case anyone is interested, I have made a version of the new PDF of the constitution and canons (plus Rules of Order for the General Convention). I have incorporated fast Web access, and the file opens with the bookmarks showing, which makes access of particular content very easy. You can get it here. My file is not lots more convenient than the one from the Archives, but it is perhaps a bit more convenient.

Well, Duh!

Anglican Journal ran a story a few days ago about resolutions being prepared for the upcoming General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. That story included the following:
Bishop Michael Ingham of the diocese of New Westminster gave notice that the [proposed Anglican Communion] Covenant “will not assist the churches to grow together in unity.” He said his diocesan council expressed concern that the Covenant could be used in a punitive way against member churches who have taken actions to which other provinces object.
Ya think? (The above paragraph concluded with this reminder: “Some churches in the diocese of New Westminster have been authorized to bless same-sex unions since 2003.)

No Anglican Covenant

March 17, 2010

A Question of Ordination Vows

In response to my last post, “Reviving Cursillo, Follow -up,” a discussion developed with the Rev. David Wilson, a former Episcopal priest who left The Episcopal Church following the October 4, 2008, vote of the diocesan convention to “realign” the diocese with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. That discussion can be read here.

I am continuing that discussion in this post to circumvent the constraints of length and (especially) formatting that apply to comments on this blog. In other words, I want to make what I have to say easier to read.

The Issue

In a March 15 post, Fr. Wilson wrote:
I was converted, confirmed and ordained in the Episcopal Church and I served it as faithfully as I knew how in the parish, in the diocese and nationally for 27 years. Finally, I concluded, it was no longer the same church I joined in 1981, it did not hold to or teach the same gospel in which I believed. Sadly, it had left me so I had to leave it.
I have heard the mantra of “my church left me” many times from those who have left or who have threatened to leave The Episcopal Church. I probably heard it first from Bishop Robert Duncan. I thought some clarity on this issue was in order. I suggested that leaving the church and taking your parish with you was improper and could be explained only in one of three ways:
  1. Your interpretation of your ordination vows is radically different from their plain and obvious meaning and intent;
  2. You believe that you have a higher commitment that allows you conscientiously to act contrary to your ordination vows; or
  3. You acted without integrity.
I invited Fr. Wilson to pick his justification or suggest a fourth I had not considered. He chose the latter option, citing a passage from the ordination service for a priest (page 526 of the Book of Common Prayer):
The Bishop says to the ordinand

Will you be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them? And will you, in accordance with the canons of this Church, obey your bishop and other ministers who may have authority over you and your work?
About this passage, he wrote:
“As this Church has received them” is that small but important phrase and it all hinges on that. I am as faithful today as I was when I was asked to answer that question to the received doctrine, discipline and worship of the Church. It is not I who has revised the doctrine, misapplied or ignored the discipline and disrespected the worship.

My Response

Questions are important, of course, but every courtroom lawyer and every public relations consultant knows that answers are even more important. The ordinand answers the bishop’s question as follows (also from BCP, p. 526):

I am willing and ready to do so; and I solemnly declare that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church.
This answer is required by Article VIII of the church’s constitution, which reads, in part (emphasis in original):
No person shall be ordained and consecrated Bishop, or ordered Priest or Deacon to minister in this Church, unless at the time, in the presence of the ordaining Bishop or Bishops, the person shall subscribe and make the following declaration:
I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of the Episcopal Church.
That the ordinand’s answer differs somewhat from the question asked by the bishop reflects a liturgical choice to avoid making the service unduly repetitious.

Notice that the so-called oath of conformity is to the “Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship” of the church, that is, the doctrine, discipline, and worship as they are now, not as they were “received” at some unspecified time. The doctrine, discipline (especially), and worship of The Episcopal Church have and will continue to change over the years. The disciplinary canons of Title IV, for example, received a major overhaul at the last General Convention, and all clergy will operate under the new rules, irrespective of the rules that were in place when they were ordained. (What would a judge say to a defendant in criminal court who argued that the law under which he or she was indicted is irrelevant, since it was passed after his or her birth?)

“The church left me” is, I assert, no defense for a priest’s decision to leave The Episcopal Church and to take a parish, its congregation, and its resources with him or her. There is nothing in the constitution and canons of the church to justify such action. Every priest, however, has agreed to be bound by the “discipline” of the church, which, in the latest Title IV revision is defined explicitly in Canon IV.2 (emphasis in original):
Discipline of the Church shall be found in the Constitution, the Canons and the Rubrics and the Ordinal of the Book of Common Prayer.
In particular, the new Canon IV.3 indicates that proceedings can be brought against a priest for “knowingly violating or attempting to violate, directly or through the acts of another person, the Constitution or Canons of the Church or of any Diocese.” Certainly, causing property to no longer be used for the benefit of The Episcopal Church, as specified by the Dennis Canon (Canon I.7.4), would seem to violate that canon.

Justifying the actions of the Rev. David Wilson and other Episcopal clergy in leaving the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and forming the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh from its assets and congregations cannot be justified by the plea that “my church left me.” Any credible justification—I doubt there is one—must necessarily be more complex and convoluted.

March 12, 2010

Reviving Cursillo, Follow-up

This is a brief follow-up to my last post on the project of reviving Cursillo in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Yesterday, ten lay and ordained Cursillistas, including Bishop Kenneth Price, met for 2-1/2 hours at the diocesan office in Monroeville. We shared our Cursillo experiences and discussed the future of Cursillo in the diocese. I found the airing of our personal histories encouraging. Those of us who have been a part of Pittsburgh Episcopal Cursillo have had remarkably similar experiences and hold similar views about Cursillo’s successes and failures in our diocese. This shared understanding will help us plan for the future with confidence. I was also pleased to learn that some members of our group had experienced Cursillo elsewhere, thus bringing broader perspectives to our discussion. One participant, for example, played a role in establishing a formal Cursillo organization within The Episcopal Church. Others had attended Cursillo weekends sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church, including an event conducted in Spanish, the native tongue, as it were, of Cursillo.

It is not necessary to recount everything that was discussed in the meeting, but I do want to list some of the major decisions that were made by the group. Most importantly, perhaps, we agreed that we want to reinvigorate Cursillo in the diocese, and, when we can, begin to sponsor the weekend events for which Cursillo is best known. We were each given a copy of the pamphlet “Strategies for Restarting and Renewing Cursillo Movements in Dioceses” from National Episcopal Cursillo, and this booklet informed our discussions. In particular, based on advice in “Strategies,” we designated a temporary governing board of three people. We assigned tasks and set a date for our next meeting. We also set a date for an Ultreya—a kind of reunion and pep rally—to be held in mid-June [a correction to my original post—sorry]. This will be our first gathering of the larger Cursillo community. We will take our time and plan carefully for future events. We do not expect to be sponsoring a Cursillo weekend for at least a year.

We left the diocesan office with a sense of accomplishment, and most of us adjourned to a nearby Mexican restaurant for more fellowship, sharing, and an overdue meal.

Meanwhile, In the Other Diocese

The Rev. David Wilson, a Cursillo leader who is now in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, left a comment on this blog about “Reviving Cursillo.” He questioned some statements I had made in that post. I thought I had been misunderstood, but it was also clear that I was not aware—and am still not aware—of all the relevant facts. A little research gave me a better appreciation of the history of the Cursillo movement and understanding of what is happening in the Anglican diocese. I hardly wanted to engage in a long-running on-line dispute with Fr. Wilson, but I did want to correct the record and share something of what I had learned from my research. If you have not done so, you may want to read Fr. Wilson’s comment and my response.

Since the congregations of the Anglican Church in North America are not in The Episcopal Church and are not in dioceses led by Episcopal bishops, they cannot participate in Cursillo under National Episcopal Cursillo. ACNA has therefore created an analogue of National Episcopal Cursillo called Anglican 4th Day of North America. It has not done so under license from the Roman Catholic Church, which holds the rights to the name “Cursillo, so A4D, which seems to be Cursillo in all but name, cannot use that name. This certainly causes National Episcopal Cursillo no grief and, I suspect, the Roman Catholics have no problem with the arrangement either. (Anyway, this is not my problem.)

I have hardly done a complete review of the A4D Web site, but it does seem that A4D has its act together. I was disappointed that many of its publications, even those delivered free electronically, are not directly available from that Web site. One important document can be read by the casual visitor, however, and that is “The Anglican Fourth Day Handbook” dated (both) December 4, 2009, and December 5, 2009.

“Handbook,” I think, gives some insight, if any more is needed, into the orientation of ACNA, which seems to combine the extremes of Protestant theology and Catholic polity. Below, I have reproduced two brief sections of this document, taken from is pages 7 and 8. Although I will not comment further on “Handbook,” I have highlighted text I found particularly interesting. Make of this what you will.

Fundamental Beliefs of the A4DTM Servant Community

As A4DTM affiliate members we believe in being a part of the One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ; we believe and confess Jesus to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no one comes to the Father, but by Him.

We accept and uphold the authority of Scripture (Old and New Testaments) and accept them to be the inspired Word of God, containing all things necessary for salvation, and to be the final authority and unchangeable standard to Christian faith and life.

We confess as provided by most certain warrants of Holy Scripture the historic faith of the Church as declared in the Apostles‟ and Nicene Creeds.

We receive the 39 Articles of Religion (Year 1571) as expressing the fundamental principles of authentic Anglican belief.

We seek to be obedient disciples of Jesus Christ our One Lord and Savior.

We accept The Book of Common Prayer as set forth by the Church of England in 1662, together with the Ordinal attached to the same, as a standard for Anglican doctrine, discipline, and worship.

We accept the original intent and methodology of the Cursillo movement which includes 15 talks and 5 meditations; including the full expression of the sacraments as found in the context of the historical, orthodox, Anglican Tradition.

We continue in the tradition of keeping with the essence and core principals found in the original Cursillo methodology/movement.

Goals of the Anglican 4th Day
  1. To build Christian fellowship, raise up empowered Christian leaders, so the church can reach the world for Christ Jesus.
  2. To allow for an appropriate opportunity for pilgrims to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ (to be born-again), to call the wayward back to the Lord, and for each person to be filled with the Holy Spirit during the three-day weekend or other A4D activity. A4D is intended to make saints and apostles. Saints are people who know God, who know His love and grace, and who live their lives from this relationship. Apostles are saints who have the mission to share that same knowledge with others." Thus A4D is committed both to making saints (believers with “a vibrant faith in Jesus”) and apostles (those on a mission and way of life for others to evangelize their communities and transform their environments).
  3. To claim the world for Christ as Christians and to build His Kingdom on earth through the transformation of the environments (family, church, neighborhoods, marketplace, etc.) we encounter in our daily lives and to move into new environments the church is not presently reaching. The 4th Day Servant Community shall live out its faith daily (Piety, Study, Small Group Accountability with Apostolic Action) using the tools taught during and after the three-day weekend.
  4. To exist as “Fourth-Dayers,” as believers, and servants to assist the Body of Christ, the Church, in its mission - to know Christ Jesus and make Him known to others (Matthew 28:18-20). The A4D servant community is called to be a public friend of Jesus Christ in the marketplace in which we sojourn daily and to stand firm in our Biblically-centered Christian Faith. (Luke 12:8-10).
  5. To witness to the world both in and outside of the Church as a servant community under the authority of the Church’s leadership. To minister to the least, the last, and the lost. To increase the capacity of the church to serve locally, nationally, and internationally.
  6. The A4DTM community and all of its activities are to be open and transparent to all in the Church.

March 9, 2010

Reviving Cursillo

It has been more than 20 years since I was a candidate at a Cursillo weekend in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. That weekend was a blessing, though not an unmixed one. There were both very Catholic and very Protestant elements of the experience that made me uncomfortable, and some of the people on the team made me very uncomfortable indeed.

Two things helped me through that weekend and helped me get the most out of it. One was the advice I was given beforehand, which I described in a talk I gave to a Cursillo crowd a few years later:
I was told the weekend would be a good thing, but, like most of you, I didn’t have a clear idea of what it was all about. I also had been told to take away from it whatever seemed useful and to not worry about the rest. Oh, and I had been told I would probably hate the music.
I did hate the music, by the way.

The other saving grace was the presence of a priest who was notably more liberal than the other clergy involved in putting on the weekend. I had someone I could talk to openly and without embarrassment.

Despite some ambivalence toward Cursillo, I have served on several teams that have run weekends, and I think I made significant contributions to the success of those programs. Under former Pittsburgh bishop Robert Duncan—in a diocese, Cursillo operates under the auspices of the bishop—I saw Pittsburgh Episcopal Cursillo become increasingly conservative and devoted, cult-like, to its sponsor. Unsurprisingly, I found myself not being invited to be a member of Cursillo teams.

When the followers of Bob Duncan (who had, by that time, been deposed by The Episcopal Church) voted to remove the Diocese of Pittsburgh from its parent church, most of those active in Cursillo in the diocese left The Episcopal Church and, necessarily, the Cursillo movement within The Episcopal Church. I am still receiving e-mail messages about events sponsored by “Pittsburgh Episcopal Cursillo,” but that name is a misnomer. The events are products of the “Anglican” Pittsburgh diocese lead by Archbishop Robert Duncan and conducted, no doubt, using funds and materials properly belonging to our Episcopal diocese.

In these circumstances, reviving Cursillo in the Episcopal diocese has been on the to-do list of rebuilding activities to be accomplished, though it has been the responsibility of no one in particular. No more. Cursillista Celinda Scott—Cursillo uses lots of funny words that are a product of its Spanish beginnings—who recently rotated off the Standing Committee, asked and received permission from that body to begin a revival of Cursillo in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. An initial meeting to chart a path forward has been announced by the diocese. It will take place this Thursday at the diocesan office, and Bishop Kenneth Price, a Cursillista and provisional bishop of the diocese, will be in attendance.

Cursillo could have a bright future training leaders in our diocese, and I hope that it can become a centrist, non-political player in the rebuilding of a strong Episcopal presence in Southwestern Pennsylvania. There is much work before us.

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Links of Interest:

March 8, 2010

Migration Nearly Done

Blogger’s tool for migrating blogs to Blogger servers apparently did not take into account blogs whose home pages were given nonstandard names. The old name of my home page was blogger.htm, a bad choice on my part, though what seemed like an innocuous one when I created my blog eight years ago. Blogger renamed my home page to the more conventional index.html. After migration, if someone tried to reach the blogger.htm page, a “page not found” error was displayed. Blogger has not fixed this glitch in its tool, but I discovered a workaround.

Blogger allows me to specify a place to look if a requested file cannot be found. By specifying such a directory and placing a file named blogger.htm in it that redirects the visitor to the proper blog home page, I can now send visitors who tried to go to to the proper place.

Please note that the canonical address for Lionel Deimel’s Web Log is The address will work, probably indefinitely, but it will take you a moment longer to find the proper page with that address.

One still cannot reach the blog using URL This remains the only outstanding issue related to the blog’s migration to Blogger. This issue may or may not get resolved. I consider it only a minor matter.

March 7, 2010

Question for the Third Sunday in Lent

At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.’

— Luke 13:1–5
Today’s sermon at my church emphasized that, because of sin, we all die.

This raises a question, however. Why do animals die?

March 5, 2010

Problem in Blogroll Listings

Someone pointed out to me that my blog’s home page cannot be reached from many blogrolls. This is because its address is coded there as, which used to be the address of the blog’s home page. (The blog could be reached at because the directory containing blogger.htm also contained a file, index.htm, that redirected to blogger.htm.)

The recent migration to a Blogger server changed the home page to the more standard index.html, but Blogger doesn't redirect to Because of this, clicking on the name of my blog on such a blogroll causes Blogger to display a “page not found” message.

Please be aware of this if you encounter a blogroll that does not link properly to this blog’s home page. (The link to the most recent post is likely to work, by the way.) If you have a blog with my site on a blogroll, you should edit my blog’s listing if you can.

Blog Printing Problems

As noted in an update to my last post, I am having a problem printing blog posts from Firefox when the text is long enough to require the printing of multiple pages. I have had similar problems with Firefox’s printing from other sites, and I had developed a certain pride that my own Web pages did not manifest the problem. Well, you know what they say about pride.

My printing problem only showed up in the past few days, and it was unclear whether it had anything at all to do with the migration to a Blogger server. I have now discovered that the problem does not occur with all versions of Firefox. Firefox 3.5.8 running under Windows XP prints my blog pages just fine. I “upgraded” to Firefox 3.6 recently, however, and that version does not print long posts correctly. I now have to do what I have often done in the past when Firefox does not print correctly, namely, switch to Internet Explorer for printing. Internet Explorer has never manifested the same problem.

It is possible that there is a workaround that I could incorporate into the template I use for Lionel Deimel’s Web Log, but a modest research effort has not found one. In fact, the blog Blogger is using to guide customers through the migration process uses a template closely related to mine, and it, too, suffers printing abnormalities under some versions of Firefox. Rather than trying to outwit a misbehaving Firefox, I am going to spend my time on less frustrating projects.

If you have trouble printing one of my blog posts from Firefox, switch to Internet Explorer (or some other Web browser) and print from that application.

March 4, 2010

Are We Done Yet?

This post is to determine if the migration has worked properly. If you see it, it probably has.

UPDATE (3/5/2010, 10:24 AM ET): The blog is now on a Blogger server, and it appears that all graphics and comments are in place. The files on the old server are still there, but are no longer accessible. Moreover, references to a very old address for the blog,, are being properly redirected. The remaining problem is getting and to take visitors to the same place. The management software provided by my Web hosting service makes it difficult to make the necessary DNS changes. I am working on this problem. At least one of two addresses should take you to the blog, or Of course, if you cannot read this, this advice may not be helpful. Since the URL that works may change, however, perhaps this update will indeed be useful. I hope that, in the end, either address will work.

UPDATE (3/5/2010, 10:58 AM ET): I’m waiting on my hosting service to solve the DNS problem referred to above. A couple of glitches have actually been solved by the switch to a Blogger server. For some reason, the search box on blog pages has lately been nearly invisible because its background has been the same color as the toolbar at the top of the page. The server change has fixed this, so it is now more obvious how the blog can be searched. Another problem had cropped up before the migration, and this one has not been fixed. If one tries to print a post from Firefox, only the first page prints properly. I have noticed this on other blogs, and I am trying to find an appropriate fix for it. Posts seem to print properly from Internet Explorer.

Beginning Transition

More than a month ago, I warned, in “The Coming Transition,” that Lionel Deimel’s Web Log would have to be switched from being hosted on the same Web server as Lionel Deimel’s Farrago to being hosted on a Blogger server. If all goes well, the change will be transparent to you, the reader: all pages will retain their current URLs, and all links will work as they do now.

Blogger has provided (a week and a half late) software to help make a smooth transition, and I am hoping that it works as advertised.

I will be beginning the transition today. I may finish today; I may not. During the transition, this blog may temporarily disappear (or not). Whatever happens, please bear with me. Since it is impractical to post the status of the transition here, you may check it on the home page of Lionel Deimel’s Farrago. Look at the box in the upper right corner of that page. I will keep the status as up-to-date as possible. If it seems momentarily wrong, check back a bit later.

Comments left while the transition is underway should be retained, but, should anything go seriously wrong, there is a possibility that they could be lost.

If anyone wants to conduct a prayer vigil for a smooth migration, you have my blessing.

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March 3, 2010

Future Thoughts

The AP article to which I called attention the other day (see “Mainline Status Report on Gay Clergy”) was a reminder that mainline U.S. churches are not as large as they used to be. It also suggested that mainline churches are moving, albeit at varying rates, toward the full acceptance of LGBT persons in the ranks of the clergy.

A USA Today opinion piece by Oliver Thomas I read after I found the AP story got me thinking more deeply about religious trends. “Where have all the Protestants gone?” suggests that mainline churches have not been as marginalized as some would have us believe. According to Thomas,
The conventional wisdom has been that the more conservative Catholic and Evangelical churches simply won over the hearts and minds of the American people. And, if there is a culture war, these more liberal Protestant groups surely must have lost.

But not so fast. Just look at what these mainline Protestants have championed: racial justice, equality for women, food stamps, rights for the disabled, reproductive choice and so forth. American law and society have embraced nearly every one of their issues down the line. We have largely become the inclusive, pluralistic society that these more liberal Protestant Christians envisioned.
Thomas sees the success of mainline churches as having inadvertently encouraged the growth of a spiritual-but-not-religious demographic. On the positive side, however, the churches’ embrace of gay rights and environmental concerns appeals to the young and unchurched. While not predicting a bright future for Episcopal, Lutheran, and other churches, he doesn’t rule out such a development.

Thomas is right to point out the societal transformations in which religious communities played an important role. That very success unleashes other forces that tend to undermine those communities, however. This can be seen most easily in the political sphere, where trends play out at an accelerated rate.

Barack Obama was catapulted into office by a widespread and intense desire for change—a desire for more liberal national policies by some and a desire for an alternative to the secrecy, deception, and insensitivity of the Bush administration by others. A year after he took office, however, President Obama has few legislative or diplomatic successes to his credit, though there is hope that, over time, he will indeed score significant achievements. But, for now, his approval rating is below 50%, and the Tea Party movement, which deplores every political development of the last hundred years, threatens to become a force to be reckoned with. This is an example of its being much easier to energize Americans with a throw-the-bums-out message than it is with a stay-the-course theme.

What has happened in The Episcopal Church has much in common with the current political scene. It is a lot easier to incite passion for a return to “the faith once delivered to the saints”—Anglicans Online recently suggested that this phrase usually means “the church one experienced in childhood”—than it is to maintain passion for an ongoing, long-term program of reform. The cry for “orthodoxy” in The Episcopal Church—now increasingly a cry from outside the church—comes from a reactionary movement that clings to a romantic view of the past because its adherents cannot abide either the inevitability or the uncertainty inherent in their view of the future.

The reactionary movement itself advocating a return to “orthodoxy” views things differently, of course, as can be seen clearly in a recent address by Archbishop Robert Duncan reported by David Virtue. (Don’t miss Mark Harris’s devastating critique of this confused speech.) According to Duncan,
This could be the Anglican Century in North America accountable to Scripture, Tradition, the Holy Spirit and the transformation of society. There has never been a movement so well positioned at the beginning of an era multiplying congregations fueled by the Holy Spirit. It is the Anglican moment and if we are faithful we should prove to be an Anglican century.
The deposed Bishop of Pittsburgh is fond of suggesting that he is the new Martin Luther, and he sometimes gets carried away with his rhetoric. Luther, of course, was a reformer, not a religious Luddite, and the future tends to be unkind to reactionary movements. I doubt the twenty-first century will, in any way, be the Anglican century, but I am certain it will not be the Duncanite century. Does anyone truly believe that, in, say, 50 years, homosexuals will not be fully accepted in American society, with the same rights long enjoyed by white, Protestant, males? Or that mainline churches will not fully approve of their inclusion?

Admittedly, we cannot view history as displaying the monotonic progress of humanity. Both the Middle Ages and contemporary Republicans illustrate that society sometimes moves backwards. That movement, however, is always and inevitably reversed. Barring nuclear war, collisions with comets, eruptions of super volcanoes, and environmental catastrophe, I am comfortable in predicting a happier future for The Episcopal Church than for the Anglican Church in North America. Even The Episcopal Church is probably too conservative for our century to be the Episcopal Church century, but, with effort and the Holy Spirit, it will, I hope, remain a force for good in our society.

March 2, 2010

Anglican Communion Covenant Forum

A lot of insightful remarks are appearing on the Web about the Anglican covenant, and it is increasingly difficult to keep up with the flood of words, much less provide commentary on it. I just finished watching a video from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and I want to recommend that readers watch it without much further analysis from me. In the video, which lasts a bit over an hour, three panelists give their views on the draft covenant before the Anglican Communion. The panelists are Ms. Sara Lawton, Dr. Rod Dugliss, and the Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers. The moderator is Dr. Daniel Joslyn-Siemiatkoski.

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Here are just a few ideas I copied down while watching the video:
  1. Sections 1 and 2 are difficult to object to. Problems start with Section 3 and, particularly, Section 4.
  2. Section 4 represents the “meat” of the document.
  3. There is little role for the laity in the mechanisms described in the covenant draft.
  4. The current draft is less doctrinal that previous ones. The draft is, in the end, political.
  5. It is not clear at what point the covenant, as it is adopted by provinces, becomes the Anglican Covenant.
  6. The organization of the Communion embedded in the covenant draft looks much like the organization of the British Commonwealth.
  7. It is not clear how well implementation of the covenant processes will allow for the work of the Holy Spirit.
  8. There is a danger that, as soon as the covenant is in place, The Episcopal Church will be ousted from the Communion and replaced with the Anglican Church in North America.
View the CDSP forum for yourself. The discussion is thought-provoking.

No Anglican Covenant