My Breakfast with the Archbishop (and Lunch, and Dinner)
The Archbishop of Canterbury was not pleased when several Anglican bishops convened in Jerusalem without him, then announced that they would create a “church within a church” that will do their own training of ministers, because they don’t think that the wimpy leaders in Europe and America are theologically rigorous enough. This is just an extension of the simmering feud between the Gay Priest Faction–which hates it when you call them the Gay Priest Faction–and those who don’t trust any Church of England theologian born after the year 1832. One of the first people to condemn the conservative bishops was Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the United States, who called the statements out of Jerusalem an “emission” from an elite who consider themselves “the only true believers.” I really don’t think that can be the case, though, having recently met one of the ringleaders, Peter J. Akinola, who was seated next to me for three–count ‘em, three!–heavy Austrian meals during a conference in Vienna. And it takes a long time to eat an Austrian meal. Akinola is Archbishop of Nigeria and chairman of the Global South Anglican Communion, and he’s obviously a working-class guy, earthy and direct, really the opposite of elitist. (The formalistic pronouncements of Jefferts Schori, come to think of it, sound elitist in a prep school sort of way.) But anyway, I had several conversations with the archbishop during the Vienna Forum, which was held in a cool white tent on the manicured grounds of Castle Neuwaldegg. And this is gonna be hard to explain, but the conference was held under the protection of what are called “Chatham House rules,” meaning that no one is allowed to be quoted, in the hope that this will engender vigorous uncensored debate. So there was vigorous debate, and it was uncensored, and so I can’t quote anything Archbishop Akinola said to me. However, I do think I can quote what he repeated every time he would get excited. He would tell the story of something he didn’t like, and at the end of each story, his voice would rise and he would say, with exasperation, “Where was the church?” Sometimes he would say it twice: “Where was the church? WHERE WAS THE CHURCH?” These conservative bishops don’t think they’re taking over a denomination. They think the captains abandoned the ships long ago.
Adam to God: She Just Won’t Listen!
Okay, I’m gonna drop some bloody red meat into shark-infested waters here. I’ll just give you people the headline and you can take it from there: “Southern Baptist Scholar Links Spouse Abuse to Wives’ Refusal to Submit to Their Husbands.” The original comments are from Bruce Ware, Professor of Christian Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, who gave this sermon at the notoriously fundamentalist Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas, where pastor Tom Nelson has been relentlessly assembling a literalist rulebook for years. The above headline is on an article by Bob Allen, Managing Editor at EthicsDaily.com. But here’s the best part: Bruce, Bob and Tom are all basically in agreement that if the broads would just shut up and do as they’re told, they wouldn’t get beaten up so often. (Biblical citations are plentiful.) And, after all, who can argue with that?
What a Country!
This Friday night, direct from the pentecostal heartland (Springfield, Missouri), comes the “I Love America Celebration,” which has been claiming upwards of 100,000 attendees in recent years after starting out as a small gathering of James River Assembly of God Church in Ozark, Missouri, in 1997. Something called GOD TV (we’re not making that up) will be broadcasting over the Internet this super-patriotic blending of America and Christ that will feature an orchestra outfitted with 76 trombones (uh, wasn’t that a lie told by Robert Preston in The Music Man?), then an air show, a salute to the military, and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, who’s always sniffing after that pentecostal voting bloc. We were planning to stop by, but how can you be that close to Branson, Missouri, and not stop in to see the newest sold-out act, The Twelve Irish Tenors, eclipsing the records set last year by Noah the Musical?--although those statistics are a little bit like apples and oranges, since our all-time favorite Branson performer, Yakov Smirnoff, is taking the week off.
Sanjay Gupta Is Too Damn Cheerful
Dr. Sanjay Gupta–and, by the way, is he on every television news show on every network, at least seven times a day?–Dr. Sanjay Gupta says that religious faith can cut down on heart disease and infections, but the verdict is still out on cancer. There’s a chicken-and-egg problem here, though. Are religious people healthier because they believe? Or are healthier people more likely to be religious? Dr. Gupta thinks that maybe religious people are healthier because they’re “more optimistic,” and optimistic people take better care of themselves. What about us Negative Christians, though? What if you’re religious, but really really grumpy, like everyone at the Door? What if you’re so grumpy that you get mad when people say you’re religious? What if you occasionally use the f-word in the middle of Bible study? Do you have more heart attacks? And what about the Christian Scientists? Shouldn’t they be living to at least 300 years old by now? Just wondering.