Thursday, July 31, 2008

A magical moment on the zinnias this morning. Is it a monarch?
There was so much insect life on the zinnias that we decided to delay spraying with pyola! I am engaged in a life and death struggle with Japanese Beetles all of whom feast on the zinnias or the roses. But when there are ladybirds or bees or wasps or other insects on the zinnias, I don't mind.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Unitarian Universalist Shootings in Tennessee

Two people died in the Sunday shootings by Jim Adkisson at the Tennessee Valley UU Church. So far, reports indicate that he is sane.

The reported sequence of events has Adkisson entering the UU church at around quarter past 10:00 a.m. on the morning of July 28, as the congregation’s children were staging a rendition of the musical "Annie Jr." Adkisson reportedly carried the shotgun into the church inside a guitar case, then pulled out the gun and blasted three shots into the crowd. Adkisson was then reportedly tackled and restrained by members of the congregation.

Witnesses said that Adkisson walked right past the young performers and aimed his shotgun directly at the pews before firing; the attack was so sudden that for a moment some in the congregation thought the noise from the gun was part of the show, reported the article.

Said UU member Marty Murphy, "We heard the first shot. It sounded like a bomb went off. We thought it was part of the program at first." Added Murphy, "The second shot is when everyone started calling 911 and telling everyone to get down." Another witness said that McKendry started toward Adkisson, who shot him down with a gun blast.


Police say 58 year old Jim Adkisson expected to keep firing until officers killed him. Instead church members tackled him and held him for police.

Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen says, "It appears that what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to attain a job.. His frustration over that. And his stated hatred for the liberal movement."

Police say they are investigating the case as a Hate Crime.

Joe Lauria on Huffington Post calls it an act of terrorism.

A report written by a Knoxville PD officer, Steve Still, who spoke with Adkisson, said that the alleged gunman had targeted the congregation of the Unitarian Universalist church "because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country," according to the article, which cited a document that had reportedly been obtained by news station WBIR-TV; continued the report, "and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country’s hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of media outlets."

David Gibson has a point:
Where is the religious community's voice on gun control? The numbers are staggering: 30,000 Americans die each year from gun violence, but gun control has not emerged as a significant agenda item for faith-based organizations. Why is it, in cases like this, that the Second Amendment of the Constitution trumps the First Amendment? Should we worship in the company of armed guards??

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Oral traits of Mark's gospel

Its ironic that the NRSV translation of Mark steadfastly retains instances of "euthus" in chapter one by translating them as "immediately" (v.23, "Just then" and v.28 "At once" are exceptions) but takes the opposite course when it comes to "kai," thus making it hard to recognize two oral traits of Mark's gospel. 1:6 for example has four instances of "kai" rendered by "Now" in the first case, "with" in the second and "and" in the third and fourth case. "Kai" is omitted from the translation of the beginning of vv.7, 9, 13, 16,19,21,22,23,27,28,29,31,35,37,38,40,41,42,43,44 where it plays a syndetic function. There's a lot to be said for Tyndale's version (below with verse divisions inserted--click the link for full text) and the KJV translation when trying to identify oral traits of Mark 1!

Chapter 1
1 The beginnynge of the Gospell of Iesu Christ the sonne of God
2 as yt is wrytten in the Prophetes: beholde I sende my messenger before thy face which shall prepared thy waye before ye.
3 The voyce of a cryer in the wildernes: prepare ye the waye of the Lorde make his paches streyght.
4 Iohn dyd baptise in the wyldernes and preche the baptyme of repentauce for the remission of synnes.
5 And all the londe of Iurie and they of Ierusalem went out vnto him and were all baptised of him in the ryver Iordan confessynge their synnes.
6 Iohn was clothed with cammylles heer and with a gerdyll of a skyn a bout hys loynes. And he dyd eate locustes and wylde hony
7 and preached sayinge: a stronger then I commeth after me whose shue latchet I am not worthy to stoupe doune and vnlose.
8 I have baptised you with water: but he shall baptise you with the holy goost.
9 And yt came to passe in those dayes that Iesus cam from Nazareth a cyte of Galile: and was baptised of Iohn in Iordan.
10 And assone as he was come out of the water Iohn sawe heaven open and the holy goost descendinge vpon him lyke a dove.
11 And ther came a voyce from heaven: Thou arte my dere sonne in whom I delyte.
12 And immediatly the sprete drave him into wildernes:
13 and he was there in the wildernes xl dayes and was tempted of Satan and was with wilde beestes. And the aungels ministred vnto him.
14 After Iohn was taken Iesus came in to Galile preachinge the gospell of the kyngdome of God
15 and sayinge: the tyme is come and the kyngdome of God is at honde repent and beleve the gospell.
16 As he walked by the see of Galile he sawe Simon and Andrew his brother castinge nettes into ye see for they were fysshers.
17 And Iesus sayde vnto them: folowe me and I will make you fisshers of men.
18 And strayght waye they forsoke their nettes and folowed him.
19 And when he had gone a lytell further thence he sawe Iames the sonne of zebede and Ihon his brother even as they were in the shyppe mendinge their nettes.
20 And anone he called them. And they leeft their father zebede in the shippe with his hyred servauntes and went their waye after him.
21 And they entred into Capernau: and streight waye on ye Saboth dayes he entred in to ye synagoge and taught.
22 And they merveled at his learninge. For he taught them as one that had power with him and not as the Scribes.
23 And there was in their synagoge a ma vexed wt an vnclene spirite yt cried
24 sayinge: let be: what have we to do with the thou Iesus of Nazareth? Arte thou come to destroye vs? I knowe the what thou arte eue that holy of god.
25 And Iesus rebuked him sayinge: hoolde thy peace and come out of him.
26 And ye vnclene spirite tare him and cryed with a loude voyce and came out of him.
27 And they were all amased in so moche that they demaunded one of another amoge them selves saying: what thinge is this? what newe doctryne is this? For he comaundeth the foule spirites with power and they obeye him.
28 And immediatly his fame spreed abroade throughoute all the region borderinge on Galile.
29 And forth with as sone as they were come out of the synagoge they entred into ye housse of Symon and Andrew with Iames and Ihon.
30 And Symons mother in lawe lay sicke of a fever. And anone they tolde him of her.
31 And he came and toke her by the honde and lifte her vp: and the fever forsoke hir by and by: and she ministred vnto them.
32 And at even when the sunne was downe they brought to him all that were diseased and them that were possessed with devyls.
33 And all the cite gaddred to gedder at the dore
34 and he healed many yt were sicke of divers deseases. And he cast out many devyls and suffred not ye devyls to speake because they knewe him.
35 And in the morninge very erly Iesus arose and went out into a solitary place and there prayed.
36 And Simon and they that were with him folowed after him.
37 And when they had founde him they sayde vnto him: all men seke for the.
38 And he sayd vnto them: let vs go into the next tounes that I maye preache there also: for truly I cam out for that purpose.
39 And he preached in their synagoges throughout all Galile and cast the devyls out.
40 And there came a leper to him besechinge him and kneled doune vnto him and sayde to him: yf thou wilt thou canest make me clene.
41 And Iesus had copassion on him and put forth his honde touched him and sayde to him: I will be thou clene.
42 And assone as he had spoke immediatly ye leprosy departed fro him and was clensed.
43 And he charged him and sent him awaye forthwith
44 and sayd vnto him: Se thou saye no thinge to any man: but get the hence and shewe thy silfe to ye preste and offer for thy clensinge those thinges which Moses comaunded for a testimoniall vnto them.
45 But he (assone as he was departed) beganne to tell many thinges and to publyshe the dede: in so moche that Iesus coulde no more opely entre in to the cite but was with out in desert places. And they came to him fro every quarter.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Purple Finch Update

The injured female purple finch plus male purple finch feeding together in our window box this weekend. She is doing well and clearly has support. We have been fortunate to provide food for them both.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Today's Guardian calls for clerihews. Since my brain is fried (along with my power board), this suits me just fine today.

So, how do you write one? Well, the first thing you need to know is that these poems are biographical, focusing on a specific detail of a well-known person so as to poke gentle fun at them. There are four lines of no set length, although the first two are usually short and the second two long. The first line is usually wholly or partly made up of the subject's name. These lines rhyme AABB, with portmanteau words and other linguistic innovations encouraged to achieve the rhymes. Although the results are (or at least meant to be) funny, Clerihews are rarely satirical and never abusive. Behind the wit, you can generally sense great admiration for the subject. If anything, most Clerihews are best seen as ironic eulogies.

It was a weakness of Voltaire's
To forget to say his prayers,
And one which to his shame
He never overcame.

-- Edmund Clerihew Bentley

"Walter Bagehot, editor of the Economist from 1859 to 1877, advocated
`animated moderation' in writing. And Sir Walter Layton, Crowther's
immediate predecessor, spent hours rewriting his staff's articles--so many
hours that one of his frustrated colleagues hit back with a clerihew:
Sir Walter Layton
Has a passion for alteration
Would to God someone could alter
Sir Walter."

St. Thomas Aquinas
Tried to incline us
To read through his 'Summa';
I'm afraid it's a bummer.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Computer woes: fried power board

Alas, the power board on my Mac burnt out recently and is being replaced. Not that I knew what had happened at the time...just that the battery wasn't recharging. But it did lead to the discovery of a nearby repair shop with very helpful guys who diagnosed the problem within five seconds. Replacing the part however is taking a wee bit longer...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Codex Sinaiticus on line today!

Parts of Codex Sinaiticus go on line today here. Here's a history of how the project came to be from AP.

In the past, anyone wishing to examine the document first hand would have had to approach the British Library "on bended knee," said Christopher Tuckett, a professor of New Testament studies at Oxford University.

"To have it available just at the click of a button is fantastic," he said. "You could do in two seconds what would take hours and hours of flicking through the leaves."

This 4th C text is the oldest complete text of the Septuagint and the NT. Its a good text to use instead of reconstructed Greek New Testaments for example because it establishes the state of an ancient text. There are English, German, French and Russian translations. Its very exciting to see Mark's gospel! Here's the opening. The ending of Mark is at 16:8.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Happy Feast of Mary Magdalene!

Our visiting priest on Sunday preached on John 21 (the gospel reading for the feast of MM) rather than the assigned gospel passage--bless him! And there are good reasons to do so.

The image is by Dr. He Qi at Wycliffe College, Toronto.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The only biblical passage celebrating marital sex: Prov 5:15-19

Reading Proverbs for a section in my book about the composition of same, I was fascinated to read of Proverbs 5:15-19 in notes from the Jewish Study Bible that this is the only passage in the Bible explicitly celebrating the pleasures of marital sex. And where does this occur in the lectionary???
"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame.."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

325 CE and why it matters--Derek Olsen

For anyone who missed it, Derek Olsen has a post worth reading on yesterday's Daily Episcopalian: AD 325 and why it matters. The subsequent comments also repay attention.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Library at Alexandria

From Delanceyplace.com 7/16/08-The Library of Alexandria

In today's excerpt--the legendary Library of Alexandria, located in Ancient Egypt, which made Alexandria the center of learning and knowledge for the entire Mediterranean world for over 600 years:

"Alexander the Great founded Alexandria in 332 BCE but hung around just long enough to lay out the basic street plan and get construction underway. When he died a few years later, one of his generals, Ptolemy Soter, took control of Egypt and made Alexandria his capital, building great palaces and temples, including a temple to the Muses (or Museum). His son, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, started the library, which was based in or next to the Museum, using Aristotle's personal library as its core. Ptolemy III Euergetes continued the work, determined to gather in the library all the knowledge of the world, and he instituted an aggressive policy of collection that involved acquiring scrolls, copying them and then returning the (inferior) copies while retaining the originals. He supposedly had every ship that passed through Alexandria searched for new scrolls and borrowed the entire scroll collection of Athens, willingly forfeiting his massive deposit in order to keep the originals. Eventually the collection [was reputed to have] numbered over 500,000 scrolls--700,000 by some accounts--making it, by a considerable margin, the greatest collection the ancient world had ever known. ...

"Along with the collection of parchment (and later vellum) scrolls, the Ptolemies paid for a permanent faculty of 30-50 scholars to live and work at the library, and over the centuries their number included most of the great names of antiquity, including Euclid (father of geometry), Eratosthenes (who calculated the circumference of the Earth), Archimedes (legendary discoverer of the lever, the screw, and pi) and Galen (the most influential medical writer of the next 1,400 years). ...

"The Library was probably not a big as legend contends. Historian James Hannam has calculated that storing 500,000 scrolls would require 25 miles of shelving, which in turn would mean that the Library must have been a truly monumental building. None of the sources mention such a gargantuan edifice, and since the remains of the library have never fully been excavated its full extent remains a mystery.

"Most telling, however, is the evidence from other ancient libraries that have left remains, which show that even those renowned for their wealth and breadth had collections numbering in the thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands. The finest library in the history of ancient Rome was the Library of Trajan, which probably contained around 20,000 scrolls, while the Library of Pergamon, arch-rival to the Alexandrian library, probably had around 30,000."

Joel Levy, Lost Histories, Barnes & Noble, Copyright 2006 by Joel Levy, pp. 28-30.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Standard (Kenya) publishes Kang'ethe Mungai's bold view opposing the Anglican Church of Kenya's boycott of Lambeth:

African church leaders’ conservative stance is understandable: Many minister to flocks that have very traditional views on homosexuality and largely low exposure to the latest scientific findings on issues of human sexuality and related issues. They are in the dark over simple and long-established facts of science like that biodiversity is the rule and not the exception in nature.

It is not so long ago in some of our societies that twin babies were put to death on the basis of weird traditional beliefs. In Tanzania right now, albinos are being hunted down by people who use their body parts in witchcraft. Such attitudes were also common in the West in the past.

Irrational discrimination of individuals manifestly different from us is primordial human nature. Racism, tribalism, xenophobia, sexism, bigotry, homophobia and related attitudes are the outward expression of this primitive nature, which is only kept in check by education and legal or other sanctions.

Like South African Anglican Archbishop and Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu, I believe the African Anglican Church should not be obsessed with disagreement over gayism at a time when other issues demand greater attention.

Bishop Robinson's Second Speaking Event in the UK

Bishop Gene Robinson is to visit St Rumwold in Bonnington, Kent this Friday evening to speak in the St Rumwold lecture series.

The parish has been a place of Christian worship since CE 796. The architecture and materials used in the construction of the church suggest a Norman date, but the size of the building is an indicator of a Saxon origin which may support the notion that it is the oldest church on Romney Marsh.

Here is a view of the nave looking east towards the chancel, largely unaltered other than a two light south window which was inserted at a cost of 28s 8d (pre-decimal currency) under the will of William Kynett in 1452. The three early Norman windows in the east wall are arranged in unusual positions, as is the double piscina from no later than the 13th century. With room for only 100 people, its all bound to be rather intimate!

St Rumwold, btw, was a child saint born in Northampton in c.600 CE. Here is a longer description in Butler's Lives of the Saints.

Psalm 150 is open on the bookstand articulating "Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!" and on the screen "Signs of the kingdom in perfumed roses." Mine are delphinium and zinnias...its the particular blue and the particular reds that play against each other so well.

Mark Vernon: I was a gay priest

The BBC has a good article today featuring Mark Vernon who was a priest in the C of E for three years. Here he talks about the tensions of being a gay priest:

A priest, though, is called to preach a gospel of love. So when you are gay, this gospel traps you. You must keep tabs on who knows about the most immediate way that God's love comes to you, which is to say with someone of the same sex.

This means that you internalise the charge of being an abomination. You live a lie. And like any lived lie, insidious psychological damage is the price.

After three years, I couldn't handle the pretence any longer. I left, even though I had ostensibly had an easy ride in the church. Moreover, I left an atheist, a loss of faith that came about for a number of reasons, though the pretence played a major part.

What we need in the wake of Bishop Robinson's visit to the UK is more of these statements in which the central message is clear: gay people are not an "abomination".

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mary Warnock on conceptual translation from the Greek

The New Statesman's report by Antonia Quirke of the Radio 3 programme, The Essay: Greek and Latin Voices (7-10 July, Radio 3, 11pm) - four short programmes on Plato -- includes the following useful point:

The elderly philosopher Mary Warnock told a story about how when she was young she used to go around with a book of Greek vocab, dutifully checking the meaning of each word she came across and thinking ("if indeed I thought at all") that, for every Greek word, there existed one exact English equivalent.

This worked until one day she found a description of a child's face as "chloris", which translates as "bright green" - surely odd. So she asked her brother, who explained that it was in fact the word used to describe "freshly opening leaves in spring. And I realised that chloris was not really a colour at all, but a word for clarity and freshness, suitable as a word for children." Hence Warnock's passion for Greek: its translation into English has to be conceptual.



View from the window where I write -- the purple finch on the left is stuffing its beak! I love the color contrast with a male goldfinch. A female purple finch (perhaps connected to the male purple finch) with a left wing injury has been appearing at the window feeder for about 10 days. She is surviving so far.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Gabriel Apocalypse

The "Gabriel Apocalypse" written on a stone tablet, has been known for some time. Line 80 has been recently reexamined: "It was written awkwardly with two letters unclear," Prof. Knohl said. Using other examples from that period, he deciphered the word "haye", which meant "you will live". The complete sentence read: "In three days you will live, I, Gabriel, command you."

As Prof Michael White says, the notion of resurrection is known from Second Temple Judaism but the notion of "three days" is new.
Knohl said that, together with other references in the script to a "suffering messiah", this was a clear reference to the return to life after three days, later depicted in the New Testament with Jesus' resurrection.

"This is evidence that the idea of a suffering messiah, put to death and coming back to life after three days was known to at least a group of Jews," Knohl told the gathering of scholars at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

So far, there's no definitive translation and other scholars are expressing caution about Prof Knohl's reading.

"What he suggested is fanciful," Diamant said. Devorah Diamant, a professor at Haifa University, said the script was not sufficient proof of Knohl's theory because some passages he referred to could be connected to other figures from the Bible and not necessarily the messiah.

Datura

Must confess that Datura (aka Thornapple) has a pleasant odor. The plant is strongly narcotic, but has a peculiar action on the human frame which renders it very valuable as a medicine. The whole plant is poisonous, but the seeds are the most active; neither drying nor boiling destroys the poisonous properties. The usual consequences of the poison when taken in sufficient quantity are dimness of sight, dilation of the pupil, giddiness and delirium, sometimes amounting to mania, but its action varies greatly on different persons.

BBC & Archbishop of Wales

Who knew? The BBC reports it first:-

Barry Morgan spoke as the world's first openly gay bishop...

Saturday, July 12, 2008

One of those glorious Maine days......

Friday, July 11, 2008

Anyone who doesn't know what perspective the Daily Telegraph (UK) has only needs to read this article. Note the misspelling in the headline for starters. Then the photograph is unflattering. As to the body of the text, if you read what KJS actually says, its not the same as the commentary. It is good however that she is quoted as pointing out that arguments against the consecration of women bishops are often just disguises for blatant misogyny ("some people just don't like women").

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Citizen from Dar-es-Salaam opines today that retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu are not helping by condemning President Mugabe. The same could be said of Archbishop Sentamu. In Kenya, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Ethiopia, opposition leaders to incumbents are imprisoned or incapacitated even when its clear they have won elections.

Rather than responding after every politically motivated crisis in Africa with condemnation, the UK needs to develop a long-term strategy of putting Africa on the road to real democracy, lasting peace and sustainable development.

The first step is to recognise that liberal democracy, which they are enjoying in the UK today, did not happen over-night, but it took centuries, during which King Charles was beheaded. Therefore, it is totally unrealistic to expect Africa, which is only 50 years, and Zimbabwe, which is just 28 years old, to practise perfect Western liberal democracy.

Secondly, it should be recognised that democracy cannot take root or flourish anywhere without effective democratic institutions. For that reason, the UK should put less emphasis on exporting Western liberal democracy and focus on helping African countries to develop independent judiciaries, state security forces and civil services, and most of all, an electoral commission.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Speech of Archbishop Alan Harper of Armagh, Primate of Ireland, "Holy Scripture and the Law of God" with reference to Romans 1

Holy Scripture and the Law of God in Contemporary Anglicanism in the light of Richard Hooker's "Lawes" by the Most Revd AET Harper, OBE, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

The speech was given at the annual conference of the USPG in Swanwick, Derbyshire from July 2-4. It opens with a proposal to revive parts of Richard's Hooker's writings:

Largely because of the centrality of sacramental theology to the debates of the last two centuries in Anglicanism, attention has been almost exclusively focussed upon Book V of “The Lawes of Ecclesiastical Polity” to the neglect of the Preface and the other seven books. This is unfortunate and a matter that requires swiftly to be remedied, especially in respect of the manner in which Hooker dealt with Holy Scripture, how is to be esteemed and how it may be interpreted: an issue central to our contemporary concerns. In particular, the crucial distinctions that Hooker makes between the whole body of scripture and what may be identified as the Law of God needs swiftly to be recovered. It seems, on the face of it, that such essential distinctions, which are central to the theological understanding of all things Anglican, have been allowed to disappear from view in the current ferment. Those distinctions were crucial in securing the Anglican position during the Presbyterian attacks of the 16th and 17th centuries specifically because those attacks were couched in terms of the biblical inappropriateness of the basis of Anglican polity. The arguments and understandings developed by Hooker in his day remain essential now to exploration of the scriptural dimensions of the current disputes amongst Anglicans.

It is no exaggeration to say that the debate within Anglicanism on the place of homosexuality in human society and the relationship of homosexual acts to the Law of God has become deeply visceral and that the quality of debate has suffered as a result. Furthermore, this specific issue has become the battleground upon which the authority and the interpretation of scripture within the Anglican tradition is being re-fought. Regrettably, most of the discussion appears to be taking place in ignorance of the earlier controversy and its outcome. However, the nature and the urgency of these matters are not dissimilar to those of the 16th and 17th century debate which gave rise to Richard Hooker’s magisterial treatise.

In Book III, chapter 5 Hooker makes this point: adjudications found in that type of Holy Scripture that is essentially narrative in character have application in the circumstances, situation and historical context in which they originally arose but are not, without additional and compelling warrant, to be assumed to have subsequent universal application. Rulings that may have applied and been deemed valid at one time and in one specific circumstance need not necessarily retain that applicability and validity at another.

Hooker distinguishes between the direct oracles of God and what might be called "by-speeches in some historical narrative or other." To distinguish between them, one has to apply reason as Paul himself did in the interpretation and application of Hebrew Scriptures.

Romans 1:18-27 is a good test case of the application of this principle. First, it is a denial or suppression of the truth visible in creation which has been set aside in favor of idolatry. Second, the created order reveals God's power and divine nature: the more we know and the better we understand the mechanisms of creation the better our insight into the power and divine nature of God through the things he has made. Third, God's wrath is directed against the suppression of that truth clearly visible in creation. Fourth, the "degrading passions" to which Paul refers involve the exchange of one thing for another. Also, Paul’s assumptions about what is “natural” and what “unnatural” are based upon the knowledge and understandings of the time, relying to a degree on the presuppositions of the Old Testament. If, on the basis of additional knowledge and the application of human reason, such assumptions and presuppositions are shown to be inadequate it will become an absolute requirement to re-visit the definition of what in this area may be described as “natural” and “unnatural”. Indeed, such an outcome would actually be consistent with the witness of Paul in Romans 1, for he is describing the suppression of what was natural and the substitution of what, in the case of those being punished, was unnatural.

The only thing about this passage reflecting a law of God is the requirement to recognize the truth about God and not to exchange such acknowledgment of truth and the worship that goes with it, for the lie that anything other than the God revealed in scripture and through the created order is worthy of recognition and worship. The rest of the passage is a "by speech" in a narrative context.

Romans 1, therefore, provides no declaration of the Law of God in respect of homosexuality and homosexual acts. Reference to such acts is what Hooker might call “by-speeches” in the context of an historical narrative and, as such, not a declaration of God’s Law. Furthermore, Paul, in his treatment of the issues, employs reason based upon the knowledge and presuppositions accessible to him in his day. These may be challenged if the knowledge base changes definitively. It is therefore inappropriate on the basis of Romans 1.18-17 and ff to judge or anathematize persons on the basis of sexual orientation. It will be necessary to scrutinize other sections of scripture in a similar way to discover whether elsewhere there may be established evidence of the Law of God in this matter and I have not attempted to do that in this essay. I remain committed to the view, however, that the tools of analysis which Hooker articulated are essential to our contemporary purpose and are especially relevant for the purpose of distilling the Law of God from the total corpus of Holy Scripture.

Finally, let us be clear on this: it has not yet been conclusively shown that for some males and some females homosexuality and homosexual acts are natural rather than unnatural. If such comes to be shown, it will be necessary to acknowledge the full implications of that new aspect of the truth, and that insight applied to establish and acknowledge what may be a new status for homosexual relationships within the life of the Church.

As for the aftermath, a spokesperson for the Church of Ireland clarified that the address calls for a mature discussion of the issue of homosexuality that draws upon both scripture and the results of scientific research using the application of traditional Anglican methods. Said spokesperson denied that Archbishop Harper was implying the approval of same-sex marriage.“The Archbishop does not call for a particular outcome [in the debate on homosexuality]. The Archbishop’s address draws no parallels between same sex relationships and marriage.”

There has been some fallout. Responding to Archbishop Alan Harper's controversial comments about homosexuals on Friday, the Rev Clive West said that he did not believe the Archbishop was guiding the church properly.

Mr West, a prominent evangelical member of the Church and former rector of All Saints church in south Belfast, said he believed many in the denomination shared his view.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence programme yesterday, he said of the Archbishop: "He's a bishop; he's a guardian of the faith but the question is: Is he guarding the faith or is he a false teacher? I think he's a false teacher."

But the Rev Patrick Comerford, director of spiritual formation at the Church of Ireland Theological College, defended the Archbishop and said it was "a disgraceful comment to come from a Church of Ireland priest".

In the wider context of Northern Ireland, this speech is playing out against the background of remarks by MP Iris Robinson comparing gay people to murderers. These remarks were made in the context of comments on an attack against a gay man, Stephen Scott, in the middle of June. The Belfast Telegraph comments on her remarks:

That fact is that her views are vastly out of step with modern society. Homosexuality is a fact of life. We do not expect Mrs Robinson and her ilk to celebrate it by taking part in the Gay Pride festival, but Northern Ireland is a better place for openly acknowledging and accepting gay life, rather than trying to drive it underground.

The issue of civil partnerships — often referred to as 'gay marriage' — is settled, but for those who disagree with it, the advantages can be summed up thus: stable human relationships, of whatever sort, make stable societies.

Mrs Robinson's comments may cause some discomfort for her husband, the new First Minister. His office has funded, and presumably will continue to fund, the Gay Pride festival. Any withdrawal of that funding would expose his office to a lawsuit under equality legislation and we trust Mr Robinson will not expose the taxpayer to any more expensive tomfoolery by Government.

It also noted that a formal police complaint has been made against the remarks.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The new face of Dionysus?

Alan Cumming is the new face of Dionysus (picture from the NY Times by Sara Krulwich) in a production of Euripedes' "The Bacchae" at the Lincoln Center festival in NYC. Charles' Isherwood's review points out use of David Greig’s casual, colloquial new version of the text (from a literal translation by Ian Ruffell) which puts a subtle emphasis on Pentheus’ horror of “real men” being “humiliated by women.” Not being there, I'll have to suspend my curiosity and catch it elsewhere. For those of you who are, this might be worth a visit.

Jeremy and Penny Lucas in Namibia

The Rev. Jeremy and Penny Lucas have just arrived in Namibia from the Diocese of Alabama where they will be for several years. Here's their blog. Jeremy will help to set up a three year clergy training program starting in January. Prayers and support for their work are underway!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

An adult male pileated woodpecker (red malar or throat-stripe on the male, not the female) on our morning walk and clematis in the garden.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Rev. Dr. Joanne McWilliam R.I.P. (Update: Obit added)


Joanne McWilliam died yesterday. She was unfailingly kind with good sense. While she could be diplomatic, she held her ground forthrightly. Her opinions were always worth hearing. She had a marvelous sense of humor and was quite self-effacing. And she loved dogs.

Dr. McWilliam was born and raised in Toronto, held degrees in history, philosophy and theology from St.Michael's College and was an honorary Doctor of Divinity of Queen's University. Professor Emerita of Religious Studies at the University of Toronto and of Theology at Trinity College, she was a former member of the Primate's Theological Commission. Cited as a pioneer among women in the academic study of theology, Prof. McWilliam was, among other achievements, the first woman to earn a graduate degree in theology from the University of St. Michael's College, the first ordained woman to be tenured in the Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College, the first woman holder of the Mary Crooke Hoffman Chair in Dogmatic Theology at the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church of the United States and the first woman president of the American Theological Society. A collection of essays is being written in her honor and much more about her life and scholarly contributions will now be said there.

Here's the obit. from the Globe and Mail.
Worth checking out is the website of the Chicago Consultation. The Chicago Consultation, a group of some 50 bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.


Common Yellowthroat warbler against Penobscot Bay in slight fog around 7pm. I'm learning to edit so this may not be shown to best effect.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Obama's Reach to the Religious

John Broder reports on Obama's reach to evangelicals in today's NY Times. Since this article is remarkably devoid of religious content, let's see what today's speech from Zanesville, Ohio by the Senator contains.

Update: here's the text of the speech.

From the Kentish Gazette: this picture of rape and poppy fields was taken near Stone chapel at Faversham by Kim Holborn, of Water Lane, Ospringe.