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seeking spirit


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Demagogy (also demagoguery) (Ancient Greek δημαγωγία, from δῆμος dēmos “people” and ἄγειν agein “to lead”) refers to a political strategy for obtaining and gaining political power by appealing to the popular prejudices, emotions, fears and expectations of the public — typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalist or populist themes.

Athenian democracy relied upon Demagogues in its political system. “These impractical [political] schemes reflect at once Plato’s discontent with the demagogy then prevalent in Athens and in his personal predilection for the aristocratic form of government”[1]

The early 20th century American social critic and humorist H. L. Mencken, known for his “definitions” of terms, defined a demagogue as “one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.”

As George Bernard Shaw said: “But though there is no difference in this respect between the…

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he who comes

Marina Abramović e Ulay – MoMA 2010
Her old lover comes to visit.
Sometimes I feel that I have a visit like this from my beloved.

At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed  ‘The Artist Is Present’, a 736-hour and 30-minute static, silent piece, in which she sat immobile in the museum’s atrium, while spectators were invited to take turns sitting opposite her.

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Undermining the Episcopal Church, Part I



Cheap Substitutions Are Not Acceptable
by the Rev. Thomas B. Woodward

Editor’s Note: With this essay, The Episcopal Majority launches a series of articles on the undermining of the Episcopal Church. Subsequent articles will address Biblical authority and interpretation, the participation of the laity in our worship and governance, and the dangers of a Christian morality.

The single most disastrous thing to happen in what some have called our “Anglican Agony” was allowing certain factions in the right wing of the church to define the dimensions of our debate. What has had little, if anything, to do with Biblical authority or interpretation has been framed in just those terms, and the result has been disastrous. What might have been part of our tradition of internal struggles has been turned into the undermining of the Episcopal Church. In fact, there has been very little discussion across the Anglican Communion concerning Biblical authority. Whatever real discussion about the Bible has occurred has been focused on Biblical interpretation, not authority – and that has not been so much a discussion as a hurling of accusations back and forth. While undermining or destroying the Episcopal Church may not have been the conscious intent of all those who now call themselves the “orthodox,” that has clearly been the effect of their actions – and it is past time to demand some accountability.

It’s Not Discussion; It’s Trashing

The most obvious attempts to undermine the Episcopal Church have been political, as with the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (“ACN”) yet-to-be-repudiatedDVD, “Choose This Day.” That video was produced to be used by the “orthodox” in visits to faithful Episcopalians, to draw them away from their parish churches into the web of the ACN vision of themselves as a necessary replacement for the Episcopal Church. The DVD consists of conversations with various Network leaders who denounce, denigrate, and disparage the Episcopal Church with one scandalous lie after another. Here are just a few quotes from the DVD:

  • The Episcopal Church is a forgery.
  • The Church has been hijacked.
  • The Episcopal Church and its leadership have embraced a foreign and alien and pagan religion.
  • Through the Episcopal Church God’s Holy Scripture was deliberately altered.
  • They [the Episcopal Church] have opted for revisionism – namely, the desire to reject the Christian faith and embrace a non-Christian religion.
  • They [the Episcopal Church] have consciously, deliberately repudiated Scripture and tradition and embraced a pagan religion.

Of course, all the while accusations have been hurled at us, the Episcopal Church has continued to reverence Holy Scripture, to teach the Christian faith in its fullness, to celebrate the sacraments handed down through the ages, to represent the moral and spiritual vision and life of Jesus Christ in the world we live in, and to embrace the entire creation as the focus for our mission and ministry. What occurs in our congregations and in our dioceses is what has happened decade after decade, generation after generation and century after century. How awful that our faith and life as Episcopalians is now being characterized as “pagan” by a movement that reflects the very worst of Biblical fundamentalism, Puritan moralism, and a recent wave that distrusts ambiguity, doubt, mystery, and the presence of the Holy in human experience.

In the End, It is the Trashing of the Incarnation

Whether the undermining of the Episcopal Church has been conscious or unconscious, intentional or unintentional, it must be confronted and identified for what it is. This and following reflections will focus on just that. This first piece will explore some of the damage done to our church’s basic understanding of life as sacramental.

We are being victimized by a sophisticated kind of “bait and switch” in which codes and rule books are being substituted for a faith based on the Incarnation. The attack is upon our understanding of life as sacramental.

I can’t think of much else that is more important than our understanding of the sacraments and of life, itself, as sacramental. In its simplest form, that understanding underlies our whole notion of love. Thus, Frederick Buechner notes that when we say that God is Love, part of what we mean by that is that all love comes from God. There is no other source. Love is not one of the things that we can manufacture or create – it all comes from God and, further, it happens through us, for the other. In Christian marriage, it is the love of God which flows through the husband for the wife and through the wife for the husband and which so overflows the couple that it begins to fill those whose lives are touched by them.

Grant them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 429)

Much of our understanding of healing is similarly sacramental. We believe that in the Laying on of Hands for Healing it is the sacramental presence of Jesus Christ in the hands of the one praying which is flowing through the healer into the body, mind, and spirit of the one who is sick. We have ritualized that in the sacrament of Unction, with the anointing with oil for healing. We believe that God works through oil in the ministry of his healing.

One of the most startling aspects of the Christian faith is the belief that the miracles of Jesus are not, at least in the usual sense of the word, miracles at all! They are signs of something basic in the universe, focused through one person in time and space. Jesus touches a blind man and through his hands a powerful personal force enters the blind man’s body, reconnecting lost connections, revitalizing dormant tissue – a sign of the basic sacramental nature of Christ’s presence in the world.

The world is sacramental. It is alive with the continual sacramental presence of divine love, healing, and reconciling power. And so important to this: nothing is just what it seems. Thus, a kiss is never just four lips in close(est) proximity. With a kiss I can manipulate, I can lie, or I can be an agent of the transmittal of love – that most precious of all forces alive in the universe. What is crucial for us all to understand is that we cannot create love with our lips, our hearts, our spleen, or any other parts of ourselves. God is love – and as Buechner writes so well, whenever love enters this world, God enters.

Over against this basic understanding of the world as sacramental, the so-called “orthodox” seek to reduce our ethics to codes and objectivity that have no relationship to the presence of Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit in our lives. As an example, the ethics of human sexuality is being reduced to body parts – to “who can do what with what, where and to whom?” The Christian vision of human persons in community and of human sexuality itself has to do with relationship and trust and fidelity. It has to do with patience, forbearance, forgiveness, sacrifice, and kindness: signs for St. Paul that relationships and communities have already been blessed by God.

We see this worked out in how we think about marriage. For us, unlike so much in Roman Catholic theology, it is not relevant in discerning whether a proposed marriage will be a Christian marriage that a couple be fertile or that all their sexual equipment is in full working order. What has been crucial in the Episcopal Church is that the couple dedicate all aspects of their life together to the glory of God and to God’s service – and that their life together is characterized by the qualities mentioned above and in I Corinthians 13 and Galatians 5.

I believe the standard now is that we believe that God has already, in a real sense, blessed this couple – and the priest will be calling down God’s blessing on the patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and all the other fruits of the Spirit that, through God’s presence, are already part of the life of that couple.

Against that backdrop of the sacramental presence of God in human relationships, the so-called “orthodox” speak of two people of the same gender, having all the marks of being blessed by God, having made all the promises of living a life of hope, forgiveness, fidelity, and faithfulness, simply as “sodomites.” Sodomites. Nothing else matters. For the “orthodox,” it is as if that word describes the totality of two people in their life together. There will be no room for the blessing of that which has already been blessed by God; instead, there is only a squashing of the sacramental presence of Jesus Christ in the loving embrace of two people touched by a love that could only have come from God.

As the voices of condemnation from the fundamentalist right grow louder, the codes of conduct based on ancient presuppositions and fear grow more rigid and have less and less to do with personhood. Our Biblical mandate to look for the signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the world is being overruled by their narrow vision of “who can do what with what, where, and to whom?” The next step, of course, will be for them to bring a strange kind of Biblical accountability to our married couples – branding those who engage in mutual masturbation, oral or anal sex as deviants, then sinners, and finally “sodomites.” The only couples fit for missionary service will be those solely devoted to the missionary position.

Hugh Hefner conferred a blessing on what was called the sexual revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. In so doing, he laid the groundwork for the undermining of the Episcopal Church’s understanding of human sexuality. At the heart of Hefner’s “Playboy Philosophy” was the belief that sexual pleasure was primarily for its own sake, without any necessary connection to a human relationship. The woman was an “accessory” for the man to use for his gratification, period. There was no mystery in his understanding of our human sexuality or personhood, no room for the sacramental presence of love in the Playboy Philosophy – and that terribly destructive way of looking at ourselves and our life together is at the heart of the “orthodox” formula for relationships that can be pleasing to God.

The Abuse of the Sacraments

God will bless what God will bless. And we are fools – and unfaithful fools at that – when we do not open our eyes and our hearts to recognize what and whom God has blessed. Further, we take everything beyond foolishness when we take the sacramental reality of same-gender sexual expression of faithful love and the sacrament of Holy Communion and turn them into means, occasions, or instruments of exclusion and punishment.

Certain Anglican primates will not share in Holy Communion with our Presiding Bishop, because she is the wrong gender or because she expresses her deep commitment to Jesus Christ in different images than they. Some bishops of the Episcopal Church exhibit the same shunning in meetings of the House of Bishops and at General Convention. Now we hear that these same bishops may not even attend the Lambeth Conference next year with one of their own, because he has a human accessory (partner) different from their own. These are not offenses against Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori or Bishop Gene Robinson; they are offenses against the sacramental presence of Jesus Christ in their office and in their ordained ministry.

This is not all about sex and human sexuality. It is about our understanding of the sacramental nature of all of life. When that kind of understanding and faith gets squeezed into codes and rules, it is no longer faith. St. Paul, at his best, noted that we are to work out our salvation by fear [respect] and trembling; he sensed the complexity and the richness of our faith. He knew, as our church has known, that our faith is rooted in a living relationship with an ever-present God, not in a rule-book or set of codes.

As I think about this struggle between sacramental presence and restrictive code and the attempted replacement of our faith by “orthodox” moralisms, the words of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel jump off the page:

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?”

I imagine the so-called orthodox would respond, “So what’s the problem?” Well, there is a problem with substituting cheap codes for grace and ostracism for engagement. Our church needs to keep our larder well stocked with fish and eggs and let those who would undermine our church take their serpents and scorpions elsewhere. This is not the time to accept any cheap substitutions.



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Author’s Note: Sources include Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, by Frederick Buechner (p. 50ff.) and “The Mystery of Sex” at Tom Woodward’s blog, Turning Things Upside Down.

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About the Author: Thomas B. Woodward is an Episcopal priest who has served the Episcopal Church over 42 years as university chaplain at a number of campuses and as rector of St. Paul’s, Salinas, California, John Steinbeck’s parish church. He has written two books for Seabury Press, Turning Things Upside Down and To Celebrate; his book, The Parables of Jesus Your Pastor Never Preached, is one parable short of completion. He served recently as a member of a Task Force appointed by Bishop Steenson (Diocese of Rio Grande) to assist the diocese in dealing with its conflicts constructively. He also serves as a member of the Executive Council’s Committee on the Status of Women. He and his wife, Ann, now live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.



POSTED BY LISA FOX AT 8/24/2007 12:55:00 AM 


Blogger Muthah+ said…

The issue is not biblical authority. The issue is not human sexuality. The issue is POWER as evidenced by the latest from ++Akinola cum Mimms. It would make no never mind to the fungelicals–or the romish wannabees. It is about who has the right to call the shots.

8/24/2007 3:49 PM
Blogger Michael Cudney said…

A beautifully written piece that needs to be widely disseminated.
Thank you.

8/24/2007 3:58 PM
Blogger Barbi Click said…

Thank God for you, Tom Woodward!
Thank you!
Barbi Click
Fort Worth (but on a journey at this time)

8/24/2007 5:15 PM
Blogger Mark said…

Right on!! Couldn’t agree more!! I’m a Fort Worth Episcopalian now attending an ELCA church because….well, I’m in Fort Worth. 


8/28/2007 3:30 AM
Blogger David said…

Mark wrote, “I’m a Fort Worth Episcopalian now attending an ELCA church because….well, I’m in Fort Worth.”

Heh. That says it all, doesn’t it ?

And the sad thing is that the national church doesn’t seem to give a fig about the loss of loyal, mainstream Episcopalians in places like Fort Worth or Dallas (my diocese). 

Oh mind you, you’ll get prayers and good wishes (and I appreciate both!), but if wishes were horses, then beggars would ride…

8/28/2007 10:50 AM
Blogger Lisa said…

This is a question especially for Barbi and Mark and David. And I mean it most seriously and humbly: What can we do for those of you stuck in Network dioceses? I have recently had some good, long, in-person chat with a parishioner from Fort Worth, and I am beginning to understand what life is like behind that iron curtain. But when I ask what we bog-standard Episcopalians can do — or what our national leadership can do — nobody has yet been able to give me anything specific. 

Give me … give our national church leaders … a list. And trust there are many thousands of us who would help you. Tell us how we can help beyond the prayers and good wishes which we do offer up daily. 


8/28/2007 9:50 PM
Blogger David said…

Well, I actually did that, Lisa. Sent a long email to a member of Exec. Council that I sometimes correspond with. It was discussed in one of their meeting recently, but I don’t know if anything came out of it or not.

My no. 1 thing would be for the national church to send someone appropriate down here to the mainstream parishes and offer, nay encourage, them to consider DEPO. And then – 1) follow-up with them through the completion of that process, and 2) guarantee that the clergy involved won’t be the subject of retaliation from their bishop. (a number of them fear for their jobs in that respect)

I know bog standard Episcopalians are loath to be rude & confrontational, and asking for DEPO feels like that – but it’s time to get over it. Way past time.

8/29/2007 9:27 AM
Blogger Cyrus said…

Our own Presiding Bp says the other side is very small so why use the language of this post? 

If they don’t amount to much, they can’t be really that loud – don’t we have the advantage in numbers, money, and theology?



8/30/2007 3:25 PM
Blogger Lisa said…

Cyrus, here’s my response to your question. I hope others will give their views. 

While it’s clear that the dissidents are a tiny minority in the Episcopal Church, they have resources and connections which allow them to magnify their voice out of all proportion to their numbers. Remember The Wizard of Oz? Same thing. Big booming public voice. Tiny little man behind the curtain. 

The reason I and others write as we do is because we must tell the truth again and again — and forcefully — to “give the lie” to the distortions and unfounded accusations they hurl against our church. 

You know the saying, Cyrus: “When good men keep silent ….”

8/30/2007 7:37 PM
Blogger Cyrus said…

Thank you for your kind words. I know I am biased and because of that, I pray that at least one side will rid itself of the harsh language. People of integrity can refute strongly without using quotes around the word ORTHODOX or referring to others as SO CALLED.

Thank you for this web site, I love it!


9/01/2007 10:00 AM
Anonymous magnolia from houston, a liberal diocese said…

i had a sarcastic response ready for this article because i was so deeply insulted by the language used here and in the comments. i deleted it because it wouldn’t have sounded very Christian like. as much as you all wish to demonize us just know that once we sat in the same pews together-and were friends and neighbours. 

what i will say instead is that in my opinion there is no more need for ‘conversation’. we really are at a point where a congenial separation is warranted. i wish you all the best of luck in your new religion and we will continue in our worship of the faith once delivered to the saints. please let us go with our ancestors who paid for our churches peacefully. your side is so wealthy and powerful what would it harm you to let us go as we wish? you do not care about the communion anyway. didn’t i see a bumper sticker not too long ago that said ‘The Episcopal Church welcomes you, the Anglican Communion not so much’. Why hang onto a relationship that you so obviously disdain?

1/11/2008 11:14 AM
Anonymous Anonymous said…

“I believe the standard now is that we believe that God has already, in a real sense, blessed this couple – and the priest will be calling down God’s blessing on the patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and all the other fruits of the Spirit that, through God’s presence, are already part of the life of that couple.”
–Needless priest — blessings already established on some landscape.
I know and am fond of a multitude of homosexuals but I think sometimes that homosexuality is the very essence of “false consciousness”; and I think that it is this variance in “conscience” that drives the split in the Anglican church.
Deeply Divided

1/29/2008 11:53 PM


Undermining The Episcopal Church, Part 2



Blasting Away at the Bedrock
by the Rev. Thomas B. Woodward

There are some things that are bedrock in any denomination or church. In the Episcopal Church, there are several things that are bedrock, among which are

  • the Book of Common Prayer;
  • our commitment to Scripture, tradition, and reason as determinative of doctrine; and
  • our insistence on the full participation of the laity in our worship and governance.

Bedrock is important because it gives us a place to stand when all else seems up for grabs. It provides us the safety and security necessary for our life in a terribly complex and often puzzling world. Bedrock also has allowed us over the centuries to be a church with incredibly varied and diverse people and perspectives. Without bedrock there is no security, no dependability, and no way to hold a diverse and sometimes doubting community together.

We in the Episcopal Church have never maintained that we are the True Church, nor have we claimed there is no salvation outside the Episcopal Church. What we say is that we are the church that rests on this particular bedrock – and in doing so we claim a unique place within the full Body of Christ, which is the fellowship of the baptized, whether Episcopalian, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, or Two Seed in the Pod Double Predestinarian Baptists. If the Episcopal Church is not for you, there are a number of faithful churches that can provide you with the spiritual support and challenge you need.

Sometimes a local Episcopal congregation must seem a little like Grand Central Station, with people coming into the church from one denomination at the same time others are leaving for different ones. Some come into us or leave us to become Roman Catholics for one reason or another, while their friends next door decided to join our church when they married or committed their life to a partner who was and remains an Episcopalian. There is a certain integrity in leaving one church for another, especially when the leaving is the result of prayer and consultation.

What is new in the Episcopal Church is that a group of people unhappy about parts of life within the Episcopal Church are not thinking of leaving, but of replacing the Episcopal Church with a church of their own making. Further, they are proceeding in a way that smears the existing structures and leadership of the church, reinvents its history and theology, disobeys its Constitution and Canons, and undermines nearly every aspect of its life. The people who are doing “a new thing” are those who are seeking to undercut or destroy the very bedrock of our church.

How Have They Done This?


Some of the greatest contributions of our church to the world have come through our profound reverence for Holy Scripture and our centuries of scholarship devoted to its study and translation. As new Biblical texts have been recovered, Episcopalians and other Anglicans have assisted in providing more accurate texts, and these have led Christians world-wide into a deeper understanding of Scripture. Churches and denominations from around the world have looked to us for leadership in the study and understanding of the Bible, as well as for steering a course between the equal dangers of fundamentalism and rationalism. We, with mainstream Anglicans, have understood Scripture to be profoundly meaningful and often nuanced and contextual.

What a shock it is now to hear the so-called “orthodox” claim that our centuries of study and scholarship are for nothing, because they have discovered the “one and only” interpretation of text after text that have traditionally been open to several different interpretations and meanings. Against the rich backdrop of centuries of scholarly contributions to the whole church, the “orthodox” have adopted a mantra of defending “the faith once and for all delivered to the saints” – a catch phrase meaning “what I very much want Scripture to mean and nothing else, ever.”

The repeated excoriation of our Presiding Bishop and other church leaders over the interpretation of John 14:6 has been perhaps the worst example of this reductionism and impoverishment of Scripture. This is the verse in which John has Jesus saying, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.”

Without a doubt, that verse and others in John were important in the early church as it sought to establish itself as different from the rest of Judaism. However, there is a whole body of parables, teachings, and actions of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, and Luke which clearly contradict the strict exclusivism demanded by the “orthodox” in their interpretation of the text.

In the past, Anglicans have been able (even eager!) to live with the tension of the different strands in the four Gospels on this and so many other issues in the Scriptures. What has changed is that the “orthodox” have turned that single verse, John 14:6, into a litmus test for faithfulness! If you don’t share their narrow interpretation of this text, “you are not just different – you are not a Christian!” And to think that up until just five or six years ago we all thought that “Christian” meant one who is attempting to follow Jesus as Lord. Now, for some, “Christian” means one who is following one fundamentalist understanding of what one Gospel writer believed about Jesus while others did not. If you think that is convoluted – it is.

When this kind of narrowness is coupled with a selective Biblical fundamentalism of choosing half-verses in isolated parts of the Bible to condemn homosexuality while discarding the other half of the verses, you have something quite different from what we have always known as an Episcopal or Anglican Church.

The “orthodox” are not the first group to cut and paste with the Bible. The heretic Marcion was the first. However, no one doing that in the past claimed to represent the Episcopal Church or anything like it.

I believe we need to say this clearly: if you can’t live with the whole Bible, accepting its authority and meaning with the assistance of tradition, reason, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you probably belong in a different church.

Let me state my concern succinctly: Those who attempt to impose the results of a cut-and-paste approach to the Bible on the Episcopal Church undermine what we are at our best. We did not accept Thomas Jefferson’s Marcion-like job of cutting and pasting the Bible when it was popular – and we won’t accept the current “orthodox” versions of it now.

Full Participation by the Laity

When we Episcopalians talk about our church to others, one of the things we most often mention is the central place of the laity in the Episcopal Church. Lay people are involved at every level of our church’s life. On a diocesan level, they control the church’s program through their votes at Convention. They also serve as a check on the bishop’s use of power through their membership on our Standing Committees. On both the diocesan and national levels of the church, nothing significant can happen without the assent of the laity. In the Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer, the laity is listed as the first order of ministry in the Episcopal Church:

Q Who are the ministers of the Church?
A The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.
(BCP, p. 855)

It is infuriating to note that over the past several years we have heard much about the power and privilege of bishops and primates from the wider Anglican Communion, but precious little from them about the central place of the laity in the governance of the church. Instead, we are told that “the bishops meeting at Lambeth Palace decided that the teaching of the Anglican Church is . . .” even though Lambeth is only bishops speaking with one another – and has never before been seen as a legislative body. They do not get to legislate in these matters without their clergy and laypeople. To pretend otherwise is to disregard the core of who we are as the Episcopal Church.

It is bad enough that some bishops want to turn the Lambeth Conference – which was intended as a collegial gathering for bishops to consult with one another – into a legislative body. Even worse, just in the last few years, the meeting of archbishops [called the Primates Meeting] has been described as an “instrument of unity,” when it is, in many ways, functioning to destroy our traditional unity. Our church, rich in democratic structure, is being asked to accede to the demands of a group that consists, not just of bishops alone, but of primates alone – no laity, no priests, and only one woman in the room (whom many of the men recognize only for the purpose of shunning her).

However, there is long standing tradition in the Anglican Communion that we don’t all have to be in lock step. In some parts of the Anglican Communion, the bishops do make the rules and define doctrine without consultation with anyone. In fact, it is the exception in the Anglican Communion to have bishops who are elected! To my knowledge, outside the Episcopal Church there is no province in which the bishops are accountable to anything like our Standing Committees. That is OK . . . for them. But it is not OK for some in the Episcopal Church who are uncomfortable with our democratic structure to demand that we turn our back on our own history and on one of our proudest possessions. It is not OK for them to attempt to replace our church with a monarchical model of authority that we rejected in our very founding! It is not OK for them to suggest turning our church over to a group of foreign prelates when that very structure was rejected in the very birth of Anglicanism itself.

The subtext of the Dar es Salaam ultimatum presented to our church by the unelected primates is this: “We demand that you act without your laypeople, just as we do, so you can be one of us.” The truth is that we are one of them, by virtue of our baptism; but they are demanding that we sacrifice much of the meaning of our baptism by jerking away the authority which our church vests in all the baptized!! We can be grateful to our House of Bishops for standing up, not just for themselves, but for the church as the body of all the baptized.

It is one thing to disagree about important matters, like the place of the laity in the life of the church – it is quite another to stomp on this part of our bedrock!

The Book of Common Prayer

A consortium of break-away groups of so-called “orthodox” Anglicans in North America have adopted their Common Cause Theological Statement, in which they proclaim their loyalty, not to the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church, but to the Prayer Book of 1662! [Click here to see the list of “Common Cause” partners and their theological statement.] Apparently they believe that heresy has ruled the Episcopal Church from our founding – in fact, even a century before our founding! They seem to believe we have had it all wrong for some 345 years – right from the beginning!

All that scholarship, all that liturgical renewal, all those gains in understanding of the Gospel through internationally known and respected theologians, essayists, teachers and spiritual guides is for nothing? Are they telling us it has all been the work of The Great Distractor? That, of course, is not what they say, but that is the only conclusion possible from what they say.

We can only wonder about the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and the theology that undergirds it at this time of our lives. Why would anyone go back to it as the source of doctrine, discipline, and understanding of the Christian life? Some may wish to read that early prayer book; click here for the online version.

Here are a few highlights of what the 1662 prayer book includes and which the Network and allied groups apparently want to impose upon the Episcopal Church.

  • The marriage service affirms the ideal relationship between men and women with “I N.take thee, N, to be my wedded husband, to love, cherish, and obey. . . ” There is no such requirement upon the husband, of course.
  • In the liturgy for the Churching of Women, women are to come into the church soon after childbirth so the church can pray away their uncleanness, giving further support to an ancient assumption of the innate uncleanness of women, with all the baggage that carries.
  • In the Commination, there is the plea that the public humiliation, punishment and repentance of sinners be reestablished in the church as spectacle. (While this would doubtless prove a boost to attendance near the beginning of Lent with people flocking to observe the degradation of noted sinners in the community, it would probably hurt attendance when newcomers discovered that they could very well be next for the ritual of public punishment and repentance.)
  • The Eucharist, far from a proclamation and celebration of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, reverts back to a Protestant Free Church memorial meal under the 1662 prayer book.

While there are some gems and some wonderful turns of phrases in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, it does not take much to see that the move to adopt that prayer book as the standard of orthodoxy for the Episcopal Church is an attempt to undermine that which us at our very best.

Further, one can only shudder at the concomitant resurrection of the Thirty Nine Articles as having authority over our life, but that is another story.

Let me say it again: It is one thing to disagree about Scriptural interpretation, the place of the laity in the governance of the church, and about the wisdom or faithfulness of reversion to a time of misogyny in the church; however, when some people – acting in the name of a false orthodoxy – demand that we repent of our vision and sacrifice our best to their narrow understanding of our faith and life, we must say “No! We will not allow our rich comprehensiveness in theology, liturgy, and governance to be undermined by your narrowing vision.” This is a time for faith, not fear. After all, Jesus said he had come to fulfill the Law, not to strengthen its hold on us. That is a vision worth living and worth protecting.

Author’s Note: I am especially grateful for the insight and editorial support of the people at The Episcopal Majority.

Editor’s Note: Future installments in the series on “Undermining the Church” will focus on spiritual adultery, the disregard and disrespect for the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church, and the ways a Christian morality can undermine and subvert the Church. These will be published at 3- to 5-day intervals in the coming days.



POSTED BY LISA FOX AT 8/29/2007 09:47:00 PM 


Blogger Lionel said…

This is one of the clearest justifications I have read for defending The Episcopal Church against those who would undermine it. This essay should be sent immediately to every bishop in The Episcopal Church. Each bishop should read it many times before the House of Bishops meeting in September.

8/29/2007 10:54 PM
Blogger Pierre said…

Tom, one quibble: some other provinces have standing committees or equivalent structures to serve as a check against unbridled episcopal dictatorship. Where we are absolutely unique is our notion of canonical residence of clergy. In all other provinces, the licensing system is used.
Keep writing!
Pierre Whalon

8/30/2007 7:45 AM
Blogger Rick D said…

Kudos to you for a thoughtful and well-considered piece.

8/30/2007 10:57 AM
Blogger John said…

I think that, from a historical point of view, one of Fr. Woodward’s points is understated, and that a fourth point needs to be included. 

That TEC insists of the full participation of the laity in worship and governance is true as far as it goes, but that understates the classical Anglican position: Anglicanism historically is not about lay participation, but about lay *supremacy*: +Rowan Cantuar. may be the personal sign of unity of the Anglican communion, but he is not the Supreme Governor of the Church in which he is Primate. That seems just one of those charming British quirks at this point–but men were hanged, drawn and quartered over the issue at the birth of Anglicanism. Given that trajectory, the TEC may believe in something more than lay participation, and to the degree that it settles for lay participation, it has backed off from Anglicanism.

The fourth, missing, point is that Anglicanism historically believes in the sovereign independence of the Christian church in each sovereign (“imperial” was the actual word used in The Act in Restraint of Appeals) nation-state: to appeal beyond the boundaries of England to the court of a foreign bishop (albeit the Patriarch of the West) was Praemunire. Whether that is a good, or even workable, system for the modern world is a different question, but it would require very careful argument, I think, to 
justify less-than-sovereign national churches without at the same time sawing off the branch we climbed out on in 1534. 

Not every Christian community needs to explain why it is not part of the Roman Catholic Church: but Anglicanism is obliged to do so, and that explanation has to begin with the history of the sixteenth century (including that century’s reading of earlier history), and in doing so it must rely on Royal (which is to say, Lay) Supremacy and National Sovereignty. If we say now that those ideas are wrong, we have confessed to schism, and have no reason for our continuing separation from Rome.

8/30/2007 4:19 PM
Blogger Scott+ said…

I started a paragraph by paragraph answer to this post. As I did this, I came to the conclusion, that much of what would appear to be summarily dismissed is the core for most Christians. This article to me is support of the repeat of the mistake of Pelagius. That is a secular concept of moral order is being forced into theology. 

As to the Primates request of the House of Bishops, it is clear that what is being requested is something that is within the scope of the House of Bishops. There is no request to any other body. The Bishops as a body have the right to stop the making of any Bishop. That is part of the structure of the Episcopal Church in the United States. It is the same with the United States, the House or the Senate can stop any bill. So please come down off the high horse that this is undermining the lay people.

8/31/2007 9:51 AM
Blogger Tom said…

Pelagius? Is that Pelagius as opposed to the cutting and pasting from parts of the Purity Code, parts of the Windsor Report, and parts of our tradition?

To the substance of your comment:

Scott, our bishops are well aware that while, technically, they can each assert what he or she will do over a period of time, they are also sensitive to two other things:

their life in the church and their authority are not separate from the people they serve. The are different from Cardinals in that sense.

it is not only WHAT they are being told to do by people outside their jurisdiction (primates who are not particularly anxious for our own guidance) but THAT they are being told what to do that is offensive and injurious to the fabric of our church and the Anglican Communion. 

When one acts within the lawful bounds of our Constitution and Canons, and out of deep conviction to what one knows from Scripture and one’s informed conscience, and out of a sense of God’s call to act in compassion and justice, what is the basis for people from another culture and tradition to ask us to violate:
our boundaries of Constitution and Canons,
our understanding of Scripture (remembering that we have a strong lineage of Biblical scholars,
our conscience,
our vocation to follow God’s call to compassion and justice?
Tom Woodward

8/31/2007 12:13 PM
Blogger Craig Goodrich said…

What is new in the Episcopal Church is that a group of people unhappy about parts of life within the Episcopal Church are not thinking of leaving, but of replacing the Episcopal Church with a church of their own making. Further, they are proceeding in a way that smears the existing structures and leadership of the church, reinvents its history and theology, disobeys its Constitution and Canons, and undermines nearly every aspect of its life. The people who are doing “a new thing” are those who are seeking to undercut or destroy the very bedrock of our church.

This is a very good description, Tom, but why do you use the present tense when it all happened around thirty years ago?

11/11/2007 3:08 AM

A New Moses or an Old Lemming?



Thoughts on the Fort Worth Statement
(by the Rev. Thomas B. Woodward and the Episcopal Church Institute) 

News from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is causing a considerable stir within the Episcopal Church and the World Wide Anglican Blogosphere. (Several references are provided at the end of this post.) Some on the “orthodox” side see Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker as the new Moses, leading the faithful out of a wayward and oppressive church into a land of plenty. Other “orthodox” are crying out to centrist and progressive parts of the Episcopal Church to save them from Fort Worth’s recklessness, saying, in effect: “Make TEC agree to Windsor, to the Primates, to whatever Covenant anyone devises – so Fort Worth will reconsider!” Most others will see Bishop Iker and his cohorts as Old Lemmings, leading one another over the precipice of the nearest ecclesiastical cliff.

Bishop Iker and the Executive Council of his diocese have announced their disdain for the Episcopal Church and their desire to disassociate themselves from it (even further than they did months ago). They note that “every attempt to find ‘an American solution to an American problem’ has failed.” That simply is not true. An American solution to this American problem was presented to Fort Worth by our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, in late November. The American solution was offered; but Fort Worth snubbed it.

The question that comes to mind is: “What was unacceptable to Fort Worth in our Presiding Bishop’s offer to them?” Is the problem that it was offered by a woman? Or is it that the primate appointed for the Alternative Primatial Oversight would be accountable to a woman? If it were on theological grounds, Bishop Iker should have informed his people that, contrary to those who have been misrepresenting and twisting her remarks, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori is firmly within the orthodoxy of the Anglican Communion and the church catholic. (SeeBishop Whalon’s remarks for one example countering the inappropriate and inaccurate attacks by the dissidents.)

The Episcopal Church Institute has informed The Episcopal Majority that it is prepared to offer a three-point American plan to keep the Diocese of Fort Worth within the Episcopal Church.

  1. Upon word from the Diocese of Fort Worth that it will accept Alternative Primatial Oversight from a bishop appointed by our Presiding Bishop on the condition that she will release that Alternative Primate (AP) from accountability to her, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will appoint the Primate of Canada to provide Primatial Oversight to Fort Worth.
  2. Given the objections of Bishop Iker and his disciples within Fort Worth to the ordination or consecration of women, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has consented [This is not public knowledge yet, so please do not pass this around] to be referred to by her middle name, nicknamicized as “Jeff.”
    This decision has come after considerable conversations with various theological committees which, together, concluded that because what is specifically male or female is not involved in the performance of any sacramental or sacerdotal action, that the only viable objection to the ordination and consecration of women to the priesthood or episcopate is that Jesus only called people with male names to the office of Apostle.Ipse dixit (and facto), “Jeff’s” orders can now be fully recognized within the dioceses of Fort Worth, Springfield, Quincy, Rome, and others.
  3. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth can invite one of the four members of the Episcopal Church Institute who are still in this country to consult with them about the meaning and importance of the consecration vows of Bishop Iker signed in the presence of his family, the bishops who consecrated him, and others, which read: “I solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church.”
    The consultant will also provide a detailed analysis of the notion of obedience within ancient and traditional Christianity, especially as related to priestly and episcopal vows, noting that vows of obedience were never meant to end with matters any of us would do on our own, anyway.

So What about Moses and the Lemming?

What Bishop Iker and his Executive Committee have forgotten is that, in their leaving the Episcopal Church, all diocesan property (real and personal) belongs to the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. Bishops, clergy, and laypeople who leave the Episcopal Church and its doctrine, discipline, and worship leave like Moses and his band – with a few loaves of unleavened bread – and that is all.

The Cathedral, the parish churches, the embossed stationery, vestments, pipe organs, plaques from community organizations, and probably even the episcopal vestments worn in the past by Bishop Iker – they all belong to the Episcopal Church. The crosier stays for the next bishop of Fort Worth. With that in mind, is this about Moses or the Lemming?

Property law in Texas is about the same as it is in New Mexico. Both Texas and New Mexico are “Deference States,” whose laws defer to the hierarchy in property matters. We went through this recently in New Mexico when the State Legislature was asked to change the basis of the law from deference to church hierarchy to deciding property matters on “neutral principles” (which holds in California). The change was rejected because the State does not want to get into the adjudication of church disputes. They said, in effect: You have a structure; let those at the top decide this. The bishop and Standing Committee of Fort Worth may leave as individuals with their nametags, but …that’s all, folks.

What is some foreign jurisdiction going to do with an Iker, several clergy, perhaps hundreds of parishioners with no money and no property? Is the new primate going to build new churches for this lot, buy new vestments for the bishop, provide cars, health insurance, and rectories for the clergy? Does that look like what Archbishop Akinola or any of the “Global South Primates” have been dreaming about?

If that weren’t enough, given that Fort Worth turned down a sincere and genuine offer of AlPO (Alternative Primatial Oversight) within the U.S., what overseas province would want to take a chance on its loyalty to a foreign jurisdiction when disagreements arose – money aside?

If this is a new Moses, it is a deceptive Moses – or, probably better put, a Lemming in Moses’ clothing. Our canon law is clear about property – and it is clear about who can leave the Episcopal Church. One entity that cannot leave is a diocese, no matter how hard they want to believe what isn’t true.

The Episcopal Church will continue to care for those who stay in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. Even if Bishop Iker, the full membership of all diocesan committees, as well as other clergy and laypeople leave the Episcopal Church, the diocese will remain with all its buildings and property to be used wisely and prayerfully by those who remain. The Episcopal Church will continue in Fort Worth.

Moses himself may have been the prototype Anglican of pre-Christian and pre-Reformation days, for he led a group of people with enormous differences amongst themselves into a strange and often baffling culture, eventually transforming it. His leadership was courageous, and it was open to a developing and increasingly complex faith in the God who was calling him and his people to be God’s people for the world. Moses and others have been known as the pioneers of our faith, as they have led the way forward into new ways of being God’s community and new ways of expressing God’s inclusive love for all creation. Lemmings, however, are not guided by such a vision, nor are they heedful of those who warn them of their own self-destruction.

As we look around our beloved church, we can often recognize the Mose figures and the lemmings amongst us. We pray for a common vision and for a future based on the inclusive love, righteousness, and passion for justice and mercy we have met in Jesus Christ.

About the Authors
The Episcopal Church Institute, patterned after the Anglican Communion Institute in Colorado (currently decimated after the departure of Don Armstrong and some impressive financial backing), comes down to four middle-aged guys in the Southwest with no website and too much time on their hands. Members of the Institute are Arthur Sargent, Pepper Marts, Bill Easter, and Tom Woodward.

Addendum: Two Episcopalians in the Diocese of Fort Worth have written about the latest statement. See Barbi Click’s “Posturing Imitators” and Katie Sherrod’s “Flying Chickens.”

Links and Background

On Wednesday, London Times columnist Ruth Gledhill managed to create quite a stir with her “scoop” that Fort Worth, Quincy, and three other dioceses to be named later were about to announce their departure from the Episcopal Church. When the dust settled and Fort Worth releasedtheir highly-touted statement, nothing of the sort had occurred. (If you can’t access the PDF file from the Fort Worth site, go here for an online version.) As the ever piquant Father Jake put it: “It appears the Diocese of Fort Worth has issued a statement, which can be summarized as ‘we want Alternative Primatial Oversight (AlPO), and we really mean it this time!'” Other worthies have already commented on the Fort Worth statement, including Episcopal Majority member Mark Harris, and Episcopal News Service now has a story here.

The Fort Worth statement is not being uniformly welcomed by the dissidents, as is evident in the comments (verging on in-fighting) here and here.

At the Network’s November 2005 “Hope and a Future” conference hosted by Bishop Robert Duncan and the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Archbishop Akinola urged the faithful to make their choice between scriptural fidelity and clinging to property: 

“Many of you have one leg in ECUSA and one leg in the Network,” declared Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria. “You must let us know exactly where you stand – are you ECUSA or are you Network?” . . . . Best-selling author and Southern Baptist pastor Rick Warren delivered the keynote sermon, during which he warned conservative Episcopalians not to fight over property. “It’s your faith, not your facilities,” Warren admonished. “Jesus didn’t die for buildings. He died for people, not a steeple.” [As reported by ENS and several other sources.]



POSTED BY LISA FOX AT 5/18/2007 08:19:00 AM 


Blogger David said…

A quick note on “Bishop Iker and the Executive Council of his diocese have announced their disdain for the Episcopal Church and their desire to disassociate themselves from it…”

The Dio of Fort Worth has held TEC in disdain since its inception in the 1980’s. There has never been a time in its history that Fort Worth has truly considered itself part of TEC…

5/18/2007 11:13 AM
Anonymous Anonymous said…

Just a quick question: If DFW amended their constitution by deleting the accession clause, how does that play in Texas?

5/18/2007 11:54 AM
Anonymous Anonymous said…

I guess I am flattered to be described as middle aged (although I would resent losing my senior citizen discount on airlines). In the interest of full disclosure, middle age is so far behind my rear view mirror, I can not even see its vague outlines. So far behind I have to struggle to decipher the “word verification,” and I remain absolutely clueless when it comes to choosing my identify: am I Google/Blogger? (I don’t think so), Other? (maybe) Anonymous (well not since I am signing this comment).

Arthur Sargent

5/18/2007 1:19 PM
Blogger TBW said…

In response to anonymous’s question: FW did not have permission to change its accession clause — I assume any judge would see through the ruse in a second.

A two year old can scream “You are not my parent!” to his father, but the screaming does not alter the relationship.
Tom Woodward

5/18/2007 2:10 PM
Blogger Lionel said…

Forget about solutions, what, exactly, is the problem?

5/19/2007 11:43 AM
Blogger Lauren Gough said…

If FtW leaves TEC (which it cannot do) can I then go to FtW and set up a church on my own as a missionary from TEC? I wonder if there is a bishop out there who would support a church planting in Ft. W?

5/19/2007 12:01 PM
Anonymous TomB said…

Hello, Tom W. Just curious about something. If TEC is changing its basic beliefs (I think you have to agree that they have undergone a change) then is it right for TEC to keep the tithes that have been given to support the spread of the ‘old’ beliefs? I believe that the ‘new’ TEC has changed the belief structure that they used to ‘draw me in’ to ECUSA. Doesn’t that make the right thing a refund of all those monies that have been donated to maintain the ‘historical’ church? (or is it OK to take my money to spread one set of beliefs, then turn around and spend it on another completely different thing?).

5/23/2007 11:13 PM
Blogger TBW said…

I think my parents and grandparents gave to the church in support of the ministry of Jesus Christ. That ministry has changed or grown from generation to generation. My grandfather believed that racial segregation in churches was godly. My father did, too, until he came to believe that the church had had that one wrong. He did live long enough to see the ordination of women in TEC. In his Episcopal Church world women were not permitted to serve on Vestries or to speak in church.

It has been my family’s experience that we are learning more and more about the will of God and we are coming to a deeper understanding of the ministry, teaching and witness of Jesus Christ. I am not giving a cent of “my” money to keep The Episcopal Church anchored in my present and another generation’s past. For me, that would be supporting a relationship with a dead god, not the Living God I know through Scripture and the Church.

Hope this helps — if it doesn’t, let’s keep at it. We “Doubting Thomas'” have to hold on to one another!!
Tom Woodward
Santa Fe, NM

5/26/2007 5:38 PM
Anonymous Malcolm+ said…

One of the four candidates for Primate of All Canada is the Rt. Rev’d Victoria Matthews of Edmonton. She had been nominated in the previous Primatial election but withdrew when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Many speculate she is the leading candidate. Thus, I guess the APO in the proposal would have to go to the Primate of Mexico, perhaps, or the Primus of Scotland.

Of course, My Lady of Edmonton was once known in a parish as “Father Vicky” if that helps.

Curiously, there are two bishopric names in the Anglican Communion that are repeated. There is a Bishop of Rochester in New York, USA and another in England. There are likewise two bishops of Edmonton – the one in Canada and the other a suffragan to the Bishop of London. The English Bishop of Edmonton is opposed to the ordination of women.

Life’s little ironies.

5/31/2007 4:52 PM

Read Full Post »

Founding Fathers 35 Quotes

1. “If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
~George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789

2. “Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.”
~George Washington, letter to Edward Newenham, October 20, 1792

3. “We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition… In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States.”
~George Washington, letter to the members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27, 1793

4. “The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
~John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” 1787-1788

5. “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams

6. “Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.”
~John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” (1787-88)

7. “We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for
honors and power we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.”
~John Adams, letter to Dr. Price, April 8, 1785

8. “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802

9. “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
~Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Horatio Spofford, 1814

10. “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

11. “I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, January 26, 1799

12. “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”
-Thomas Jefferson: in letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813

13. “Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual.
State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. We have solved … the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.”
~Thomas Jefferson: in a speech to the Virginia Baptists, 1808

14. “Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814,

15. “The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.”
~James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, “Essays In Addition to America’s Real Religion”

16. “And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”
~James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822

17. “Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance.”
~James Madison, letter, 1822

18. “Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.”
~James Madison; Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical

19. “It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force. Let us by all wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.”
~James Monroe, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1817

20. “When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obligated to call for help of the civil power, it’s a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”
~Benjamin Franklin, letter to Richard Price, October 9, 1780

21. “Manufacturers, who listening to the powerful invitations of a better price for their fabrics, or their labor, of greater cheapness of provisions and raw materials, of an exemption from the chief part of the taxes burdens and restraints, which they endure in the old world, of greater personal independence and consequence, under the operation of a more equal government, and of what is far more precious than mere religious toleration–a perfect equality of religious privileges; would probably flock from Europe to the United States to pursue their own trades or professions, if they were once made sensible of the advantages they would enjoy, and were inspired with an assurance of encouragement and employment, will, with difficulty, be induced to transplant themselves, with a view to becoming cultivators of the land.”
~Alexander Hamilton: Report on the Subject of Manufacturers December 5,

22. “In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced, and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind.”
~Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists (1771)

23. “That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forebearance, love, and charity towards each other.”
~George Mason, Virginia Bill of Rights, 1776

24. “It is contrary to the principles of reason and justice that any should be compelled to contribute to the maintenance of a church with which their consciences will not permit them to join, and from which they can derive no benefit; for remedy whereof, and that equal liberty as well religious as civil, may be universally extended to all the good people of this commonwealth.”
~George Mason, Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776

25. “A man of abilities and character, of any sect whatever, may be admitted to any office or public trust under the United States. I am a friend to a variety of sects, because they keep one another in order. How many different sects are we composed of throughout the United States? How many different sects will be in congress? We cannot enumerate the sects that may be in congress. And there are so many now in the United States that they will prevent the establishment of any one sect in prejudice to the rest, and will forever oppose all attempts to infringe religious liberty. If such an attempt be made, will not the alarm be sounded throughout America? If congress be as wicked as we are foretold they will, they would not run the risk of exciting the resentment of all, or most of the religious sects in America.”
~Edmund Randolph, address to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June
10, 1788

26. “I never liked the Hierarchy of the Church — an equality in the teacher of Religion, and a dependence on the people, are republican sentiments — but if the Clergy combine, they will have their influence on Government”
~Rufus King, Rufus King: American Federalist, pp. 56-57

27. A general toleration of Religion appears to me the best means of peopling our country… The free exercise of religion hath stocked the Northern part of the continent with inhabitants; and altho’ Europe hath in great measure adopted a more moderate policy, yet the profession of Protestantism is extremely inconvenient in many places there. A Calvinist, a Lutheran, or Quaker, who hath felt these inconveniences in Europe, sails not to Virginia, where they are felt perhaps in a (greater degree).”
~Patrick Henry, observing that immigrants flock to places where there is no established religion, Religious Tolerance, 1766

28. “No religious doctrine shall be established by law.”
~Elbridge Gerry, Annals of Congress 1:729-731

29. “Knowledge and liberty are so prevalent in this country, that I do not believe that the United States would ever be disposed to establish one religious sect, and lay all others under legal disabilities. But as we know not what may take place hereafter, and any such test would be exceedingly injurious to the rights of free citizens, I cannot think it altogether superfluous to have added a clause, which secures us from the possibility of such oppression.”
~Oliver Wolcott, Connecticut Ratifying Convention, 9 January 1788

30. “Some very worthy persons, who have not had great advantages for information, have objected against that clause in the constitution
which provides, that no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. They have been afraid that this clause is unfavorable to religion. But my countrymen, the sole purpose and effect of it is to exclude persecution, and to secure to you the important right of religious
liberty. We are almost the only people in the world, who have a full enjoyment of this important right of human nature. In our country every man has a right to worship God in that way which is most agreeable to his conscience. If he be a good and peaceable person he is liable to no penalties or incapacities on account of his religious sentiments; or in other words, he is not subject to persecution. But in other parts of the world, it has been, and still is, far different. Systems of religious error have been adopted, in times of ignorance. It has been the interest of tyrannical kings, popes, and prelates, to maintain these errors. When the clouds of ignorance began to vanish, and the people grew more enlightened, there was no other way to keep them in error, but to prohibit their altering their religious opinions by severe persecuting laws. In this way persecution became general throughout Europe.”
~Oliver Ellsworth, Philip B Kurland and Ralph Lerner (eds.), The Founder’s Constitution, University of Chicago Press, 1987, Vol. 4, p.

31. “Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity.”
~Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, 1791

32. “God has appointed two kinds of government in the world, which are distinct in their nature, and ought never to be confounded together; one of which is called civil, the other ecclesiastical government.”
~Isaac Backus, An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty, 1773

33. “Congress has no power to make any religious establishments.”
~Roger Sherman, Congress, August 19, 1789

34. “The American states have gone far in assisting the progress of truth; but they have stopped short of perfection. They ought to have given every honest citizen an equal right to enjoy his religion and an equal title to all civil emoluments, without obliging him to tell his religion. Every interference of the civil power in regulating opinion, is an impious attempt to take the business of the Deity out of his own hands; and every preference given to any religious denomination, is so far slavery and bigotry.”
~Noah Webster, calling for no religious tests to serve in public office, Sketches of American Policy, 1785

35. “The legislature of the United States shall pass no law on the subject of religion.”
~Charles Pinckney, Constitutional Convention, 1787

Read more: http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/07/04/35-founding-father-quotes-conservative-christians-will-hate/#ixzz2cQPlKOFk

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stress and depression

Stress and depression, linked in the brain 

Mice used in research

A new study in mice finds a molecular link between stress and depression. (China Photos / February 16, 2008)

By Jon Bardin Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2012

Scientists have taken a big step toward solving a longstanding riddle, identifying a key molecular pathway that leads from stress to depression.

It may come as no surprise that stressful life events often precede episodes of major depressive disorder. But what might surprise you is that, in general, scientists have had little understanding of exactly why that is.

The new study, carried out in mice and published this week in the journal Nature, makes significant progress toward that goal. The researchers, from the University of Washington, identified the missing link: a peptide called corticotropin-releasing factor, or CRF. CRF, they discovered, plays a nuanced role in an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, a region well known for its role in motivation, pleasure and social behavior.

Normally, the brain signaling pathways in the nucleus accumbens work like this: When something exciting or motivating happens, such as entering a new environment or receiving a new toy to play with, CRF arrives and binds to a receptor. This causes an increase in the release of dopamine-a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in making you feel rewarded or aroused by something interesting in your environment.

The researchers demonstrated this with a standard experimental design called “conditioned place preference.” They put a mouse in one of two connected cages and infused its nucleus accumbens with CRF. Then, the researchers moved the mouse to the other cage, and infused their nucleus accumbens with a placebo liquid. After that, they let the mouse choose which cage it preferred. If CRF was leading to dopamine release — and thus to a strong feeling of reward — the mouse should prefer the cage where it received CRF, even though in reality the cages are identical. That is exactly what they found.

The scientists then carried out the central experiment: They stressed the animals out by forcing them to swim in water numerous times over a two-day period, which has been shown in the past to not only be stressful but to lead mice to have symptoms of depression. Then they tested the ability of CRF to cause dopamine release in the brains of the stressed-out mice.

Incredibly, they found that the effect was completely gone: CRF no longer had an impact on the release of dopamine after stress. In fact, when the scientists repeated the cage test, they found that CRF actually caused the mice to want to spend less time in the cage, meaning the molecule had actually become aversive. The effect lasted for more than 90 days, suggesting it mirrors the long time-course of depressive disorder.

In other words, a chemical cascade that normally makes you feel good had been twisted to make you feel bad.

You can read a summary of the study here.

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Lovely story

Greening Spirit

People take lots of kinds of journeys throughout life, to places geographical, emotional, spiritual, internal, difficult, joyful, perplexing, mysterious or unknown – as ever journeys can be.  There are journeys we are on as individuals and journeys we are on as societies. The impact of a journey can be as powerfully and immediately transformational as a meteor strike, or it can be as soft and beckoned as the gradual morning dawn.

A series of steps and encounters during my life has brought me to an unexpected place of feeling a powerful need to advocate for a people that have been so much a part of my life that, in the naiveté of my own acceptance of them, I did not fully realize were/are fighting and dying for their basic human rights and dignity on a level of global cultural genocide.  They have never, not a one, ever asked or sought…

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watching ohio


Election protection in Ohio (and America) isn’t over

Election Integrity

by Harvey Wasserman | November 18, 2008 – 9:21am

by Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman

As the sun sets on Bush 2, it is clear that a very thin line of electoral protection preserved Barack Obama’s victory in Ohio–and the nation.

And it’s no accident the vote count battle for a Columbus-area Congressional seat still rages.

The GOP’s 2008 electoral strategy again emphasized massive voter disenfranchisement and rigging the electronic vote count. The twin tactics very nearly gave Ohio to McCain/Palin, and threatened to set precedents capable of winning them the national election.

Prior to the 2004 vote, Republican Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell stripped some 308,000 Ohio citizens from the registration rolls in heavily Democratic districts. This mass disenfranchisement alone may have accounted for the 118,000-plus official margin that gave George W. Bush a second term in the White House.

After the 2004 vote, Blackwell disenfranchised another 170,000 voters in heavily Democratic Franklin County (Columbus).

But in 2006, Democrat Jennifer Brunner was elected to replace Blackwell. Ironically, the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal civil rights lawsuit filed against Blackwell over 2004 election irregularities has carried over, making Brunner the defendant (we are plaintiff and defendant in that suit). As a result, negotiations between Brunner and election protection attorneys have been on-going since she took office.

In the lead-up to the 2008 elections, the GOP tried yet another massive voter purge. Through the “caging” technique of sending unsolicited “do not forward” junk mail, GOP operatives obtained by returned mail the names of some 600,000 registered Ohio voters. Some were serving in Iraq. Also, the GOP once again fought to purge voters for “inactivity” as they sought to eliminate voters who hadn’t voted in four-years as opposed to eight, even if they voted in state and local eletions..

The GOP demanded the right to disenfranchise these voters. But Brunner directed that each was entitled to notice and an individual in-person hearing.

As Greg Palast and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., have reported, the GOP used similar caging throughout the US, aimed at millions of likely Democratic voters.

The GOP also went after 200,000 new Ohio voters whose registrations showed minor discrepancies. Included were variations in social security and drivers’ license numbers, or changes in middle names, nicknames and addresses.

But Brunner fought to protect these names from GOP challenge, and was upheld by the US Supreme Court, who refused to hear the GOP case prior to the election.

Based on projected demographic and voter turnout statistics, the elimination of these four-fifths of a million voters (some 5.4 million votes were counted in Ohio 2008) could have shifted a 200,000-vote victory for Obama to a 40,000-vote triumph for McCain. This projection is based on a conservative estimate that 80% of these targeted voters vote Democratic and 50% would have turned out to vote.

Partly in response to pressure from election protection activists, Brunner also facilitated early and absentee voting. Polling stations opened by September 30 throughout the state. Despite GOP efforts, a full week was available to those who wished to register and vote at the same time. As least 25% of Ohio’s voters cast their ballots prior to Election Day. By most accounts these votes went overwhelmingly for Obama. The Columbus Dispatch reported that Democrats outvoted Republicans 12-1 in early voting.

Brunner also tried to make paper ballots available to all voters who wanted them. Under often dubious financial arrangements with a direct conflict of interest as a stockholder, Blackwell installed Diebold electronic voting machines designed to account for as many as half Ohio’s 2008 votes.

But the GOP-controlled legislature manipulated the finances behind the push for paper ballots. Ohio’s 88 counties eventually provided enough of them for at least 25% of the voters. But so many voted early that reports now indicate there were ultimately enough paper ballots at the Election Day polling stations for nearly all who wanted them.

Other GOP attempts at disenfranchisement also fell flat. When the Republican sheriff of Greene County attempted to prosecute 304 students (many of them African-American) for “voter fraud” he ignited a massive public outcry. At issue was the common confusion over whether a student will vote at home or at college. Under widespread attack, the sheriff backed off. But students at public universities and liberal arts colleges throughout the rest of the state reported GOP harassment.

Despite widespread attempts to avoid them, there were 186,000 provisional ballots cast in Ohio 2008, some 40,000 more than the 141,000 cast in 2004 (16,000 of which have never been counted). Independent observers reported on-going confusion about the use of provisional ballots, largely attributed to poor pollworker training.

A federal database used to check driver’s license information went down for nearly three hours on Election Day due to what the Ohio Department of Public Safety said was “a large fiber-optic cable being cut in Texas.”

Despite an increase of 319,000 registered Ohio voters in 2008 over 2004, the official turnout was actually lower. Barack Obama received 22,000 fewer votes than John Kerry. John McCain got 317,000 fewer than Bush. Election protection experts attribute this to a selective GOP padding of the 2004 vote count, especially in three heavily Republican southwestern counties where irregularities and improbabilities abounded.

An observer in Miami County reported that a Republican election director illegally forced recently-moved citizens to vote provisionally. In Franklin County, pollbooks wrongly identified 35,000 voters as provisional. Four black voters in Fairfield County reported being purged despite stable long-term residencies. The Republican-connected company Triad, infamous for its secretive work on central tabulators in 2004, emerged in the majority of Ohio counties as the keeper of electronic pollbooks for the boards of elections.

While these and other irregularities bruised the election, there were far fewer than reported in 2004. The presence of hundreds of well-trained and equipped election protection volunteers throughout the state seem to have staved off any GOP attempt to repeat the massive disenfranchisement that gave the 2004 Ohio vote count to George W. Bush. Key Ohio polling stations were graced with independent election observers appointed by the Green Party. Independent video-the-vote teams, nonpartisan election observers, and Obama supporters were placed outside the polls documenting all that happened. With an apparently workable distribution of voting machines and sufficient paper ballots as a backup (along with a clear sunny day) the horrors of long lines in Ohio’s 2004 election were avoided in 2008.

The Ohio vote count also seems to have been successfully protected. In Licking County, a voter reported that his paper ballot was put in a bag without an envelope. In Youngstown, Joyce Stewart reports being given a paper ballot that had no place to choose a president.

E-voting machines in three Columbus precincts double-counted votes. In heavily Democratic Lucas County, four out of eight e-voting machines in precinct 20, recorded no votes for president, while recording far higher vote counts for such minor offices as county coroner.

The poll judge in Columbus precinct 25G tried to have legitimate exit pollers arrested. In Trumbull County, Warner Lange observed that “all of the votes cast using a paper ballot between the hours of 6:30am and 8:15 am are invalid because none of the voters were asked, as required, to sign the pollbook.”

In Hamilton and Franklin Counties (Cincinnati and Columbus) early and absentee ballots were not counted on Election Night, as originally planned. It took three hours after the polls closed for Union County election officials to get their ballots scanned. Terry Grimm reported that “everything was wrong” coming from the Summit County town of Barberton, causing a delayed tabulation.

Kevin Egler in Portage County reported that after 2800 votes were scanned on election night, a “corrupted card signal” came out, forcing election officials to start the vote count over.

Ultimately, despite Brunner’s attempts to get rid of them, hundreds of thousands of votes were again cast and counted on electronic voting machines with no paper trail and no way to do a reliable recount.

But missing this time was an electronic theft apparatus under the control of Blackwell and Karl Rove.

On Election Night 2004, Blackwell e-mailed Ohio’s electronic vote count to a basement in Chattanooga, Tennessee that also housed the servers for the Republican National Committee. The tally “miraculously” shifted from Kerry to Bush between 12:30 and 2 am, ultimately giving Bush a second term.

The data was handled under a state contract funneled by Blackwell to Michael Connell, a shadowy Bush family IT specialist who programmed the official Bush-Cheney website in 2000 and 2004.

On the day before the 2008 election, Connell was forced to testify under oath under cross-examination by King-Lincoln-Bronzeville attorneys Cliff Arnebeck and Bob Fitrakis. Among the questions at issue was whether Connell left any “Trojan Horse” programs in place in the Ohio electronic vote count structure through which he could have hacked the 2008 outcome.

There has yet to be a definitive answer to that question, or to what he actually may have done to the 2004 vote count. But, for what it’s worth, Karl Rove did shift his predictions from a McCain victory to one for Obama shortly after the federal court agreed to force Connell to testify.

There may be much to celebrate in the apparent legitimacy of the Ohio 2008 vote count.

But half the state’s ballots are still slated to be cast on electronic voting machines whose source codes remain under private lock and key. There is no guarantee Ohio voters will have universal access to paper ballots in future elections. In direct violation of federal law, no fewer than 56 of Ohio’s 88 counties destroyed all or most of their federal election records after the 2004 election, making a definitive recount impossible. There have been no state or federal prosecutions.

The “minor” irregularities and attempted voter disenfranchisements observed in Ohio 2008 were repeated throughout the US, and could easily resurface in future elections if they are not again thoroughly observed.

And in Columbus, the Republicans are right now suing Brunner to throw out thousands of provisional ballots cast in a Congressional race still in hot dispute. Incredibly, the GOP is operating on inside information fed it by Franklin County assistant BOE director Matt Damshroder.

Damshroder accepted a $10,000 check in his BOE office from a Diebold representative. The check was made out to the Republican Party. Damshroder was given a one-month paid suspension for this in 2005. With Democratic assent, he remains a key player in the vote count that will determine whether heavily Democratic Franklin County could be stopped from sending its first Democrat to Congress since 1980.

Nationwide the GOP successfully disenfranchised millions of likely voters in Election 2008. Easily hacked, un-monitorable e-voting machines are still spread throughout the United States. The opportunities to steal future elections that are certain to be far tighter than 2008 remain readily available.

Much has been learned in the Bush era of the Unelected President. There is simply no doubt that the thousands of volunteers who worked tirelessly to protect the election of 2008 in Ohio and throughout the nation in fact prevented the GOP from stealing yet another one.

But unless this administration implements automatic voter registration, universal hand counted paper ballots, the total elimination of electronic voting machines, expanded windows for voting and a far more secure system of impartial citizen observation, the specter of still more stolen elections will haunt our democracy.

Indeed, we will still have to wonder if that’s what we really have here.

Bob Fitrakis & Harvey Wasserman’s four co-authored books on election protection include HOW THE GOP STOLE AMERICA’S 2004 ELECTION & IS RIGGING 2008, and AS GOES OHIO, both available at www.freepress.org, where this article first appeared. Their next and final book and movie on the topic are in the works. Their radio shows are broadcast at WVKO 1580AM, central Ohio’s Air America affiliate.

About author

Harvey Wasserman is co-author, with Bob Fitrakis and Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO?, just published by the New Press. He is author of SOLARTOPIA! and HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE U.S., available at www.harveywasserman.com.


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