Enough is Enough

So while the Catholics are baptising the children of unrepentant, flagrant fornicators, the Anglicans have a whole other thing going on. At least this is in the news.

The Anglican Communion has been split in two like the veil in front of the Holy of Holies. I can’t believe it has taken so long to happen. There have been ruptures and breakaway groups and flying bishops, both across diocesan lines in England and across intercontinental lines in America. Now we are talking about at least half of the Communion saying enough is enough.

They are finally having the testicular fortitude and intellectual honesty to start referring to a false gospel.

Robert Pigott, religion correspondent for the BBC, gets it. The rift is not about homosexuality.

In reality, the dispute centres on how strictly Anglicans should interpret the Bible, and whether, for example, it should be read as ruling out active homosexuality as a sin.

Homosexuality is simply the presenting issue – the human behaviour that exposes radically different approaches to the Bible, and helps to make this such a fundamental dispute.

It is not coincidental that the same bishops who are promoting the normalisation of gay “marriage” are also the ones who don’t believe in the Resurrection or the exclusive claims of the Gospel. After all, the Presiding Bishopette of the Episcopal Church doesn’t believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation. She’s echoed by Bishop Marc Andrus of California, who told the BBC,

The only need is that which St Paul expressed, that each of us should be ready to give witness to the faith that is within us. St Paul saw no need to seek to convert, but simply to make clear the origins and the dimensions of one’s own faith. God leads each of us in the spiritual path that leads to communion with the Divine.

So Jesus, whoever he might be to you, is a way, a truth, and a life, but everyone comes to the Father (or Mother, or whatever God or Goddess is to you) using the path of their own choosing. The Bible does talk about taking a path of our own choosing.

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

Indescriminate Baptism

I like Charlotte Church. I bear her no personal animosity in any way. I just thought I ought to say that before I continue.

Charlotte and her boyfriend Gavin Henson had their daughter Ruby baptised today. Their other child was present in utero. When I first saw the headline in the news, I assumed that the baptism was in a building belonging to the Church in Wales – the Welsh component of the Anglican Communion. After all, Anglicans take a wide range of views on the propriety of certain types of relationships. If they are willing to marry gay couples in London, it does not seems unreasonable to suppose they might baptise the child born out of wedlock to two people living very openly (as celebrities do) in fornication.

But no, it was a Roman Catholic church with, one must presume, a Roman Catholic priest, using, again one must presume, a Roman Catholic rite of baptism. In 1980, Pope John Paul II approved of the “Instruction on Infant Baptism” promulgated by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It specifically addresses the Dialogue Between Pastors and Families With Little Faith or Non-Christian Families:

In fact the Church can only accede to the desire of these parents if they give an assurance that, once the child is baptized, it will be given the benefit of the Christian upbringing required by the sacrament. The Church must have a well-founded hope that the Baptism will bear fruit.

How can the Church have assurance that the child will have a Christian upbringing when the parents have no regard for the sacrament of marriage? I have no problem with the baptism of children born out of wedlock, if their parents have subsequently gotten married. Otherwise, how can the parents acknowledge at the font their duty to raise the child to keep God’s commandments?

Charlotte wants to have six children by the time she is 32. She has not indicated when, along the way, she plans to enter into the sacrament of marriage. But like I said, my problem isn’t with Charlotte. She is living in perfect harmony with the spirit of the age and that is the life she has chosen.

My problem is with a church possessing valid sacraments demonstrating a very unguarded approach to their administration and sending a message that the church has given up on the exclusivity of marriage as the valid relationships within which to engage in sexual relationship and raise children.

Making Space for Religion

It’s not often that you see something positive in the interaction between religion and the state these days. I was surprised to see that Barnet Council in North London is introducing a special parking permit for religious leaders on official business. Parking in any part of London can be a nightmare and when space can be found, fees can be outrageous.

In many areas residential parking is restricted to residents. For those making house calls this can be particularly problematic. The new permit will allow priests and other Christian ministers as well as Rabbis and spiritual leaders of other religions to park in resident spaces.

As you can imagine, parking for worship services can also difficult in some areas. Barnet Council will consider applications for the special permits for these situations.

The permits will cost £40 per year, but compared to the normal parking costs combined with the increased availability of spaces, these seems like a pretty good deal.

Summer

We’re coming into the home stretch of the school year. Three more weeks. All the reports have been written and most of the marking has been done. Now there’s lots of administrative stuff to fill the time, including all of the planning for the new year.

It’s during these long summer days that I’m most jealous of American teachers and their three months off. You can get a lot done in three months. We get six weeks. June would be such a nice month to spend at leisure, reading in the garden, writing a book, or working on an advanced degree.

June is almost over. The longest day of the year has passed, and now we begin to ever-shorter journey to the depths of winter. Yes, it’s all downhill from here.

Banning Father’s Day

I was just going to write about how thousands of primary school children in Scotland were banned from making Father’s Day cards this year. Then I found out that the same thing happened at the school of an Unnamed Child in the heart of England. It’s probably even more widespread.

This has been done, as they said in Scotland, “in the interests of sensitivity” because of the growing number of single-parent households and children living with a mother and her lesbian partner. I’m hoping there’s none of the latter at the Unnamed Child’s school, as it is in direct violation of the dogma of the Church that runs the school.

Let’s set aside for a moment the children living in Gomorrah situations, as these are thankfully still less than normative. The sensitivity is really over the fact that 25% of children live with a single parent. They don’t want to make the children uncomfortable if they don’t have a father. And herein lies the specious reasoning.

Everyone has a father. I know that science and the Labour government are working to change that, but for now – and certainly for any child of school age – it took a sperm and an egg. Some children may have lost their father through death. This is a terrible thing, but this has always been the case and Father’s Day has never been cancelled because of it.

It is true that there are in increasing number of children who don’t know their father. This may be because their mother doesn’t know who the father is. Or it may be because the father has been marginalised. I know of more than a few cases whether the mother has simply cut the father out of the child’s life.

In most cases, however, the child knows who the father is and even has some sort of relationship with the father, even if his is not resident in the same home. It’s these father’s who get cut out of Father’s Day. As Matt O’Connor, founder of Fathers For Justice, said: “I’m astonished at this. It totally undermines the role and significance of fathers whether they are still with the child’s mother or not. It also sends out a troubling message to young boys that fathers aren’t important.”

Alastair Noble, education officer with the charity Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE), said: “This seems to be an extreme and somewhat absurd reaction. I would have thought that the traditional family and marriage are still the majority lifestyles of people in Scotland. To deny the experience of the majority just does not seem sensible.”

An Unnamed Woman often suggests that rant too often about the “ought” instead accepting the “is”. (That is my terminology, not hers.) I was once told that I will never be successful unless I give up my pre-modern principles and accept the the ways of the modern world.  Perhaps this is true. But despite the 25% of families with a single resident parent, there are still 75% who have both parents resident. There are still most of the 25% who have a dad somewhere.

Most of all, there is still a need to remember that fathers are just as important as mothers.

More Christian Persecution in Burma

Being a Christian in Burma has never been an easy thing. This year is has gotten even more difficult.

First, the Karen and Karenni people were hit by Cyclone Nargis. Then the Burmese junta blocked aid especially to these two predominantly Christian ethnic groups.

Now there is a rat infestation in the mostly Christian Chin State. This is completely unrelated to the ravages of the Cyclone. Chin State is in the north of the country. This plague hits twice each century and is caused by the flowering of bamboo. The explosion in the rat population results in the consumption of all of the food supplies.

The junta will provide no aid and will allow no outside help. They are quite pleased that starvation in setting in. More information is available in the Telegraph.

Post-Apostolic Asceticism

I think the Peter and Paul fast starts tomorrow. I don’t know. I lose track. My menalogion software is on the computer that’s not working so well.

If there is one thing the Orthodox Church likes to do, it is fast. I’m not sure why there is so much fasting. Apparently following fasting rules suited to an ancient Mediterranean culture makes us more spiritual.

The only truly Apostolic fasting is the Wednesday/Friday fast days. Great Lent started as a recommended discipline for catechumens who would be baptised at Pascha, though the very early Church may have fasted for 40 hours in preparation. The Christmas fast could not have preceded the origins of the Christmas feast. The Dormition fast and the Apostles Fast are more recent.

The number of fasting days varies from year to year, depending on the date of Pascha. And early Pascha cuts short the normal time after Theophany and extends the Apostles’ Fast. In 2010, by my rough calculation, there are 195 fasting days. By fasting days, I mean days when meat is not allowed, so I’m including Cheesefare week. For a carnivore such as me, any day without meat is a day of severe asceticism.

This leaves 170 normal, regular, meat and potatoes days. Fasting seems to lose it value if it is actually more of the norm than normal eating. And when a fast and a feast conflict, the fast wins. The feast of the Annunciation is an example of this. This is the true feast of Incarnation, but it is trumped by Great Lent.

Observed more strictly than I am able, Orthodoxy seems like a vegetarian religion with occasional omnivorous moments. If our sacramental theology says that all of creation is sacramental and that everything we eat is sacramental, because we bless it and it is a gift from God, why do we spend so much time not eating it?

The Rising Tide of Death

It’s time once again to reveal the latest status of the geno-suicide of abortion in this country. How many of our own did we kill last year? In England and Wales there were 198,500. That does not include those discarded with the Morning After pill.

That really wasn’t the big news though. The overall number goes up every year. This year it was a 2.5% rise.

The biggest rise is in the number of abortions procured by under-14s. This has increased by 21% over the last two years. At the same time, the overall teen pregnancy rate has fallen slightly, so in real terms this is an even higher percentage of babies otherwise protected in the wombs of younger mothers now being snuffed out.

The killing goes on unabated.

Assumption of Risk and Passing the Buck

It’s a terrible tragedy and highlights the attitude of dependence on the Nanny State.

The inquest into the death of 9-year-old Billie Clayton has made national news. I’m not sure why, other than the fact that her father is a TV news presenter and she was very photogenic. There are, after all, about 1500 drowning deaths in the UK each year. It is the nature of the media that the beautiful children of articulate people are never just one in 1500.

Ian Clayton blames his daughter’s death on the lack of regulation in the canoe hire business. He wanted to take his twin 9-year-olds out on the River Wye. He rented a canoe from a little start up business in Hay-on-Wye. They had life jackets. There was nothing defective about the canoe.

Ian Clayton’s bad choices cost his daughter’s life. It was his responsibility to know whether he could handle a canoe and two primary school-aged children in one Britain’s major rivers. He should have enquired about the conditions on the river. It was his responsibility to know whether the children could handle themselves should things not go as planned.

He wanted to paddle down the River Wye. He had a duty of care to his children to know whether it was safe and weigh up the probabilities of trouble. He failed in that duty.

The owners of the canoe company have carried a terrible sense of guilt, of which they probably can’t rid themselves, even if it is undeserved. While they may be overcome by their emotions, they did not have a duty of care beyond what they provided. But more important from a public policy standpoint, the State does not have a duty of care to impose one on them.

Life involves risk. Usually it’s calculated risk. Sometimes you calculate correctly. Sometimes you don’t. When you miscalculate, you take responsibility. You don’t ask the State for a new calculator.

Year End

Reports are finally in. There will no doubt be a load of correction that will eventually appear in my tray, due to a combination of typographical errors and disagreements over grammar.

Reports always present that dilemma between being postive and telling the truth. I tend to err in favour of the latter.

There are still a lot of admin things to do before the end of the year. There are Departmenal Development Plans, documents to justify capitation, and the list goes on.

Overall, the year is winding down. Folks just want to finish out the year with as little trouble as possible.

And You Think Petrol Is Expensive

What if you got an electricty bill for £90,454,217?  That’s what happened to Alison Turner of Cambridge.

Burning Liquid Gold

At the half-way mark, I took a break last night from report writing to have a pre-Father Day’s dinner at our favourite Chinese buffet in Gloucester. It’s a bit of a drive, but even with petrol prices what they are, we love it. It costs a bit more in the evening, but that’s when they bring out the good stuff.

And speaking of petrol prices, we needed a bit of fuel to get back home, so we pulled into a relatively reasonably priced BP garage. £20 bought 16.82 litres of petrol. To translate that for Stateside readers who are paying nearly $4.00 a gallon, we bought 4.44 gallons for a mere $42.60 (at yesterday’s tourist rate for buying sterling). Yes, your calculator is working correctly: that’s $9.59 a gallon. I’m just glad we were buying unleaded gasoline rather than diesel.  The same amount would have cost $49.04 or $11.05 a gallon.

Not Happy

I’m just taking a break from report writing and marking long enough to say I hate today.

Saturdays in June are some of my favourite days of the year. They are the longest days of the year outside of the weekdays when most people are occupied with their employment. June is also the best weather month in Britain. My family is out enjoying the day. I can’t even sit out in the garden. I’m writing reports.

This sucks.

Now back to reports. . .

Limited

With a combination of report writing on a massive scale and a laptop that is wigging out on me, my posting may be severely limited over the next few days.

People of the blogosphere, I shall return . . .

Posted in Life. Tags: . 1 Comment »

Confused

My friend Greg recently offered a few reflections on Barak Obama by email. I post them here with his permission:

I’m a little confused, so let me see if I have this straight about the Democratic candidate for President of the United States:

His father was a Kenyan black Muslim. We have seen pictures of his African “family” (ahem).

His mother is a Kansan white atheist. Um… okay. Where are the pictures of his white mother and his white grandparents who raised him?

His father deserted his mother and him when he was very young and went back to his family (Whose family?) In Kenya?

His mother married an Indonesian Muslim and took him to Jakarta where he was schooled in a Muslim school.

His mother returned to Hawaii and he was raised by his white Kansan grandparents? When ?

He later went to the best high-dollar schools. How?

He lives in a $1.4 million dollar house that he acquired through a deal with a wealthy fund raiser. How?

He (ahem) “worked” as a civil rights activist in Chicago… so he has never held a productive job.

The presidency is not a civil rights post, nor is it subject to affirmative action set-asides.

He entered politics at the state level and then the national level… where he has — at best — minimal experience.

He is proud of his “African heritage” … but it seems that his only African connection was that his African father got a white girl pregnant and deserted her.

I didn’t know that sperm carried a “cultural” gene. Where is the pride in his white culture?

For over 20 years and until very, very recently, he and his wife were members of an “Afrocentric” church that hates whites and Jews, and blames America for all the world’s perceived faults… and he repeatedly covered up for the pastor and the church until it was politically expedient to denounce them.

He claimed that he could not confront his pastor, but he wants us to believe that he can confront North Korea and Iran. Hmmm…

Okay, I think I see how he could be a “uniter” and bring us together. I think the “hope” is that he keeps yammering about is he hopes no one will unite the pieces until after the election.


Like I said, I am confused… but I think I’m starting to get things sorted out.

Outside

It was quite a beautiful June day here in Merry Ol’. I spent the morning with the children while the Unnamed Woman was a bit poorly in bed. I marked exams in the sunshine while they played in the garden.

They ran in and out of the house several times, and then they ran in and never appeared. Despite the weather, the draw of the TV became too much. There was much complaining when I turned off the cartoons and ushered them toward the door.

The younger child protested, “I’m boring outside!”

64th Anniversary

On this day in 1944, approximately 2,500 Allied soldiers lost their lives as the invasion of Normandy began. I have twice visited the beaches at Omaha and Utah, the bombed out batteries at Pointe du Hoc, and the graves at Colville-sur-Mer. I still marvel at the bravery of landing against the withering machine gun fire.

It should be remembered that there were German soldiers who did not believe in the Third Reich and Poles forced by the Germans to fight in Ost battalions against the Allies. Many of them were also killed.

For those who gave their lives for the freedom of others, may their memory be eternal.

Capitalism at Work

I’m an unrepentant capitalist. I think the spirit of capitalism is exhibited in Jeff Ferris and Dan Hilliard.

Hilliard owns and Ferris manages a restaurant in Owen Sound, Ontario. I’ve been to Owen Sound and it’s a lovely place. The restaurant is called Nathaniel’s. I’m not sure why it’s called Nathaniel’s since neither of them is named Nathaniel, but perhaps they thought it sounded more posh and sophisticated than “Jeff and Dan’s”. But they can call it what they like: that’s capitalism.

Jeff and Dan have standards. They want their waiting staff to look a certain way. Male employees cannot wear earrings. Female employees can’t shave their heads. Standards are standards. Customers have certain expectations.

If a female employee comes in with a shaved head, they lay her off and send her home for three months. That’s what they did to Stacey Fearnall. She shaved off her long red hair to raise money for a cancer charity. After all, her father died of cancer, her cousin has cancer, as does her best friend’s husband. She raised CN$2,700 for the shave.

When Stacey was told to leave Nathaniel’s, the press found out. Freedom of the press is a good thing. The local paper wrote it up. Then the big Toronto papers picked it up, as did the CBC. So did the Daily Telegraph here. And of course it hit the blogosphere. Now everyone knows that Jeff and Dan have standards.

And the great thing about capitalism is that just like Jeff and Dan have standards, so does the public. The dining out public. And captialism being what it is, the public has lots of choices of where to eat in Owen Sound. And they are not choosing Nathaniel’s.

Jeff and Dan are in for a long dry summer. That’s the great thing about capitalism.

Running Mate

I’ve been busy with marking, so I haven’t had time to write much. The only thing that brings me out of the woodwork briefly is the Obama candidacy, now that it appear to be a lock.

Hillary has made it clear that she would like to be on the ticket, even if it is as second banana. This isn’t surprising since it’s a heartbeat away from the Presidency and everyone knows just how many hearts have stopped beating by being positioned to close to the Clintons.

However, regardless of the personal danger involved in choosing Hillary, I think there is really only one obvious choice for Obama. Not that I want the Democrats to win in November, but if I were one of the three VP pickers, I would be telling Barak that he needs John Edwards. He’s as liberal as Hillary – not that this really matters in a VP candidate – but he doesn’t have the baggage of high negatives.

He’s a Southerner to balance out Obama’s Indonesia/Hawaii/Illinois/Kansas mother and Kenyan father background. This is better than Hillary’s Illinois/Little Rock-but-never-really-Arkansan/New York residential trail. Obama may play well in Peoria, but he’s also got to win Plains, Pascagoula and Poteet.

Police Enforce No-Go Area for Christians

I was on the verge of writing about how Robert Mugabe has banned open-air prayer meetings in the run-up to the run-off election in Zimbabwe. Then I came across something closer to home – about 60 miles from my home.

Arthur Cunningham and Joseph Abraham were handing out tracts in Birmingham. Abraham is pastor of Grace Bible Fellowship Church in Saltley. Cunningham is also in full-time ministry. They were sharing the Gospel with four young Muslims. That’s when the trouble started – not with the young people, but with a police community support officer. PCSOs are not sworn cops, but wear uniforms and work for the local police forces. They interrupted the conversation and began berating the preachers.

When the PCSO realised that Cunningham was an American ex-pat, he started on at them about Bush and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. (The Telegraph and BBC say that both are American, but according to his church website, Abraham is Egyptian and Muslim by birth.) If it had ended there, we would just have a case of extreme unprofessionalism from a member of West Midlands Police. But, of course it didn’t.

When the preachers didn’t take his bait, the PCSO got even more aggressive. According to Cunningham, “He said we were in a Muslim area and were not allowed to spread our Christian message. He said we were committing a hate crime by telling the youths to leave Islam and said that he was going to take us to the police station.” He didn’t. PCSOs don’t have powers of arrest. Of course he knew that. He was just harrassing them.

But he wasn’t done. He decided to try and scare them away. “You have been warned. If you come back here and get beaten up, well you have been warned”. Now if the only person who was aggressive and abusive to them was the PCSO, who was threatening to beat them up? Was he going to do it? Did he have people who would?

West Midlands Police have refused to apologise to Cunningham and Abraham. Their spokeswoman said, “The investigation concluded that the PCSO acted with the best of intentions when he intervened to diffuse a heated argument between two groups of men.” She said the unnamed PCSO had been offered “guidance around what constitutes a hate crime as well as his communication style”.

So in other words, West Midlands Police acknowledges that their employee wrongly accused the preachers of a hate crime. Their investigation obviously also concluded that PCSO did not communicate in an appropriate manner. Nonetheless, they refuse to apologise.