Archive for September, 2008

Stephen Henthorne: On Where Bishop MacPherson Stands And The Direction of the Diocese of Western Louisiana For The Future

This is from my friend, Steve Henthorne.  It should be noted that the Bishop and Steve are also friends to give context to what he wites.  I also want to say that there are folks in my parish who ask me the same questions every Sunday.  Frankly, I am running out of answers.  In any event here is Steve’s piece:

It is often said that those who sit in the middle of the road awaiting change get hit from trucks coming from both directions. This Diocese of Western Louisiana has been in the middle of the road for quite sometime, and has suffered numerous hits from multiple directions. During this spiritual emergency those Bishops, and Lay Leaders, that have clearly taken a stand, one way or the other, are at least doing something. Those who continually hold to the middle of the road—blindly hoping for a better day, continue to subject the man and woman in the pews to a truly false hope that all will be reconciled. More, they continue to expose the souls of their flocks, by close association, to the mortal dangers provided by an apostate church.
Granted Bishop MacPherson has, on recent occasions, openly opposed those currently occupying the offices of leadership at the Episcopal Church at 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY, 10017. However he is perceived by many as still clearly clinging to the middle of the road, and have done so since the Episcopal Church took on the mantle of open apostasy in 2003. It could well be said that Bishop MacPherson has become the rallying point for a philosophy widely espoused in his Diocese; one of “well, as long as this mess doesn’t effect my parish church it doesn’t effect me.”
One might assume, and we can only assume because Bishop MacPherson has never clearly confirmed or denied, that his vision of the role for this Diocese is that of taking the steady course, the middle of the road course, serving as the good example and guiding light to the extreme elements in the Episcopal Church; now locked in mortal combat.  Bishop MacPherson’s and others’ hope possibly being that all sides will see their light shining forth, repent of their extremist ways, fully reconcile, sing “Kum By Ya,” have a group hug and re-establish the Episcopal Church as that comfortable spiritual sanctuary it once was.
All very laudable goals, no doubt; perhaps in year one, maybe in year two, encouraged by some positive sign from the extreme parties, but not in year five with no sign of change.  To continue to take the “wait and see,” middle of the road approach is extremely naïve, and dangerous. The Episcopal Church, as we knew it and loved it, is gone. The train has left the station, and it is on a one way journey. Sitting quietly in our pews, in the middle of the road, with our historical memorials gathered around us, and looking through our stained glass windows, isn’t going to bring it back; and the day will come when what happens outside our Parish Church doors will effect us—profoundly; even more than it already has.
St. Paul was concerned about the enemy within, the unbelieving in the Church. His warning command echoes down through the centuries to us—“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” – this is, do not be allied with unbelievers as to their way of life, or false worship. This is not a call to split theological hairs, seeing all who disagree with you as “unbelievers.” Church history is tragically full of this sort of thing. Neither is this a call to bar unbelievers from the fellowship of the assembled church. Church is actually the best place for unbelievers to be, because there they can hear the Word and be loved by the Body of Christ.
However, in the context here, St. Paul calls us to disassociate ourselves, and our souls, from complicity with those who would attempt to propagate a false Gospel within the church. Specifically, it means to sever the yoke with those who insinuate that reconciliation is not all of God. That we can make peace with God, that the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross, in which God “made him to be sin, who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God,” is not enough, but rather that there are rituals, experiences, and more modern beliefs, that will make our salvation secure. After all haven’t we progressed substantially in 2008 years? Surely the meaning of the Bible has changed with the times?
Today the fight isn’t really about sexual preference, the ordination of women, etc. Those are diversions. The real fight, yet to be really fought, is whether the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God or not. If it is, then all of the questions swarming around the diversions have been answered. If the Bible is not the divinely inspired word of God then we have far greater problems facing us than who wins the battle for the hearts and minds of the Episcopal Church.
As friends we may respectfully disagree, but if I were a Priest I would have to say to my Bishop and any flock assigned to me, that the Christian Faith is not all inclusive. There are two basic rules for membership: (1.) That we accept Jesus Christ as our one true Lord and Savior, and (2.) That we accept the Bible as the divinely inspired word of God.  St. Paul’s command means to reject liberal, moralizing, theories of atonement. It means to reject a bootstrap sentimentality—that if we do our best we will make it, and that good people will find a way. In truth, within the Church, it means that we can never allow those who hold such doctrines to be yoked with us in ministry.
St. Paul’s call to us is not to give those who would presume to lead and teach the church a pass because they are nice, theologically educated or gifted, related to us, or have grown up in the church. Countless churches have fallen from within because Godly leaderships have yoked themselves, and their congregations, with apostate beliefs and practices. A lot of damage has been done, and a lot of good people have suffered pain, over the centuries as the result of “ecclesiastical craftsmanship.” Both St. Timothy’s and St. James have felt that pain—-as have we all-individually.
So today, as we sing our majestic hymns, and affirm the Apostle’s Creed, we mustn’t imagine that we are immune. We and our churches, in this very Diocese, can decline very quickly if we yoke ourselves to unbelieving people who would aspire to lead us; the pious, disarming, smiling, and through the day to day-quite unbelieving.
Let me be very clear here. I’m am not listing Bishop MacPherson as one of those leaders. However, because of his consistent middle of the road stance, it could be perceived by both extremes within the Episcopal Church that he is giving tacit approval and support to one side or the other; or even possibly both at the same time.
Finally, a major consideration might well be, will you be here to see the end state of Bishop MacPherson’s approach, whatever that is, reached? What happens when he leaves? Is the Diocese being prepared to be more solidly positioned for the apostasies yet to come? As well to quote R. Scott Purdy, “Someone needs to proclaim the Gospel to the flock they were supposed to be shepherding.,”  who will feed the faithful in the future–when they aren’t being all that well fed now?
From my heart I can tell you that I miss my church as it was. I long for the litergy, the beauty, the history of what use to be. My soul cries out for someone to step up to the plate and restore my church. I believe that if Bishop MacPherson really asked every single member of every congregation in the Diocese that the majority would feel the same way. So, if I were a Priest, after five years of “wait and see.” I would be forced to tell Bishop MacPherson that I feel responsible for the safety of the souls of those in my charge, and if he wasn’t going to lead us out from under this oppression then I would have to give my flock the opportunity to unilaterally remove themselves. As a friend, that is a pain that I would not want for Bishop MacPherson.
I can say that my wife, my flock, has come to me as the spiritual head of the household, and told me that as long as the Episcopal Church remains apostate that she can not return to it. Please note here that as much as I miss the Episcopal Church, she loves it and misses it more. She was brutalized and crushed at St. Tim’s, and she prays daily for the souls there that are in mortal danger, because of their close association with the Episcopal Church Apostate. We both pray for Bishop MacPherson daily as well. We both deeply regret that we can’t continue to follow Bishop MacPherson down the middle of the road. We pray that he will understand, and forgive us, for that decision.
“Religion today is not transforming people; rather it is being transformed by the people. It is not raising the moral level of society; it is descending to society’s own level, and congratulating itself that it has scored a victory because society is smilingly accepting its surrender.” –A. W. Tozer (1897-1963).
BLD commentary on this piece:  I have to say that I agree with what Steve is saying.   It is year 5 with no end in sight other than the continued pace of litigation and the outright repudiation of the Anglican convenant by GC2009. I think Bishop MacPherson’s largest obstacle to leading the Diocese of safety (aka. out of the Episcopal Church) is his own loyalty to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.  Mind you, this is a Constitution and a set of Canons that the church doesn’t even follow when it comes to deposing bishops.  While I once shared (and probably still do, to some extent) Bishop MacPherson’s placement of importance on the C & C, I don’t think they still deserve his loyalty anymore in light of the process used to depose bishops of late.  The other problem is that if action is not taken quickly, GC2009 will be doing what it can to throw up further legal obstacles to leaving.
I can also state that I am personally beginning to question the continued wisdom of being part of some sort of conservative resurgency in the Episcopal Church.  However, I feel called to continue for the time being.  Heck, this raucus conservative was elected again to the court of review of Province VII, and I wasn’t at the synod because I was at the Kairos ad hoc committee on structure meeting in Orlando, FL.  I will probably always feel I can plow the field behind my Bishop.  But, what happens when he is gone?  What happens when the HOB just decides to depose him for some petty disloyalty like making the PB look bad in Tanzania, as that is the direction in which they are moving.

Word From Bishop MacPherson On The House of Bishops’ Meeting

Friday morning, September 19, 2008
Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury

To the Clergy of the Diocese, the Standing Committee, and members of Diocesan Council

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

This is being sent to you from the House of Bishops meeting in Salt Lake City, and is to provide preliminary words from me about what has transpired here. Many have no doubt read the House of Bishops voted yesterday to depose the Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Rt. Rev’d Robert W. Duncan, on charges of “abandoning the Communion.” The vote was by roll call, and consisted of 88 in favour, 35 against, and 4 abstentions. I voted in opposition to the resolution to depose.

Much time, in fact a tremendous amount of our time here was spent on this matter, which had been added to our original agenda. Also added was a “hearing” on this matter with the Council of Advice, and in my capacity as chair of this body, I presided over this 1-1/2 hour session.

There was much debate over the rightness of this entire allegation, and considerable opposition to the charge against Bishop Duncan. The resistance to the action being taken was centered more on what was seen as pre-emptive action pertaining to the interpretation of Constitution and Canons of General Convention (2006) and failure to provide due process. Without going into tremendous depth at this stage, I will state the pre-emptive action as applied to the canons, and failure for proper process, rest in the fact that Bishop Duncan was never Inhibited, nor did he have the right of trial made available to him. There is much more to be shared, and will be done later.

In the course of the session during which the charge was addressed, the Presiding Bishop’s ruling to depose was challenged, and I was amongst those to support this challenge, and this being based upon the irregularities stated above. This action failed as a two-thirds vote of the House was required to overturn. This was subsequently followed by a request for a roll call vote was asked for by nine bishops, myself included.

A question now is where this will lead, and this is unknown at the moment. What we do know is the Diocese of Pittsburgh will face many challenges, and sadly, challenges that will be disruptive to the ministry of the Church and proclamation of the Gospel in word and action. Our prayers for Bishop Duncan, his family, and the people of the diocese, are important and urged.

I must stop for now as I the remainder of the meeting is before me, and my flight home to follow shortly thereafter. I will however, close with a concern. The concern that I have is the fact that by this action, a dangerous precedent has been established as applied to the interpretation and execution of the Constitution and Canons of the Church. The danger in this is that it can, and unless terminated, will lead to the living out of a polity and governance in a manner that is not a part of our heritage nor the intent of the Canons as established by General Convention.

May we hold one another in prayer today and always, and not permit distraction to the ministry to which God has called us.

Faithfully in Christ Jesus,

+Bruce MacPherson

The Rt. Rev’d D. Bruce MacPherson
Bishop of Western Louisiana
and President of Province VII

A Word About The Financial Crisis – The Fed’s Money Is Not Tax Money

It is important to remember during the media hoopla that the Federal Reserve is NOT the federal government.  The Federal Reserve is a government chartered but yet privately owned bank, being owned by the member banks of the Federal Reserve System.  In short, it is complicated, but the AIG deal is not a government bailout, but an out of court receivership by the Fed as its largest creditor.  The Fed’s funds come from deposits made by private member banks and purchases of Fed stock, as well as fees and interest it charges on loans.  The Fed is self supporting and its excess funds are paid to the U.S. Treasury if the Fed chooses not to keep them. Does a government keep a balance sheet entry of paid in capital? Nope. Does the Fed? Yep.  In any event, it is a horrible misconception that the Fed’s money is tax money.  Well, it just isn’t.

Now, I am not a big fan of the Fed as it leaves bankers largely in charge of the economy, rather than the government, but we’ve tried this both ways in different times in the history of our country.  It also really bothers me that the government no longer produces paper money, but has the Federal Reserve issue Federal Reserve Notes, rather than gold certificates, silver certificates, or United States Notes that were issued by the Federal Government.  The reason this bothers me is that the Fed charges our government interest every time they want to increase the money supply; in short, the government makes a note to the Fed (known as a Treasury Bill) upon which the Fed issues more cash.  I think it is dumb to pay interest to a bank in order to issue a government’s fiat currency that’s backed by, well, nothing, but we’ve been doing this for almost 100 years.

However, joe taxpayer out there has no reason to get into a snit because the Fed loaned ITS money to AIG.  Its their damn business.  Now, if Congress wanted to do so, it statutorily has the right to buy back all stock in the Fed system for a nominal amount.  But, short of that, we as taxpayers don’t really have a say.

It is frankly amazing that our society is so completely in the dark, including the media and apparently our candidates for Presidency, about how all this stuff works.  It is not a government bailout if the government doesn’t do it.  The Federal Reserve is a bank and they can make loans.  The only scary part is that the money in your wallet is FRN’s which is now only something like 86% backed by the full faith and credit of the United States – FRN’s are now backed but such things as obligations owed by Maiden Lane, LLC, (which was formed to purchase Bear Stearns) and now 80% of the stock of AIG.

You might be surprised at what you find if you click here, here, and here.

If stuff in the Episcopal Church blows your mind, trying to learn about the Fed and how our monetary system works. See which one keeps you up at night thinking about it afterwords. Keep in mind that the Fed is a bank and is kinda just doing what banks do – make loans, make money. On the other hand, should we really let a bank be the sole issuer of legal tender in this country, and have the taxpayers pay them interest for doing so? This is what taxpayers should be ticked about, not the AIG loan. Getting whizzed about the AIG loan misses the whole big picture of the real mess we are in.

I’d really love it if someone out there would ask Obama and McCain whether either of them would abolish the Federal Reserve Bank. Their answers would certainly be a litmus test for my vote, and they don’t have to necessarily be pro or anti Federal Reserve. I would like to know if they really understand what is going on, especially since the economy is supposed to be the number one issue in this election.

Drying Out; Things Trying To Get Back To Normal

I’m going to the office today; trying to get back in the saddle with all that is going on.

Still looking for more rain around here, but it shouldn’t be anywhere near as bad as yesterday.

Andy and Austin may head back to New Orleans in a few days; their house is okay according to Charlene, who had to stay down there as head of security for the Galleria.

As of last night, parts of Alexandria were still flooded, and parts of Rapides Parish were way under water. Deville saw something insane like 19 inches of rain yesterday morning. Watching video of my city flooded was surreal.

LSU’s football game for Saturday has been canceled; that’s one for the history books. I may or may not have to go to Baton Rouge for a hearing tomorrow; I’m calling the ALJ today to find out. Opposing counsel is from New Orleans; I have no idea where she might be.

In any event, keep praying for us down here in Central Louisiana. Still a lot of folks without power and water.

Alexandria Flooded

Got a foot of water or so this morning as RAIN. It was as if my house was transported to Venice overnight.

Water is starting to subside. But it is not safe to go out. This rain, of course, will severely delay restoration of power in the city; the Parish is still mostly without power.

T.W. Thompson, a member of my church and recently retired prison warden, recently became the city’s director of public works. Pray for him; he was already exhausted after the last two days, and then to wake up to this. Oh, his responsibilities include DRAINAGE, just so my readers can get the picture.

Survived

Neighborhood looks like a bomb went off in places.  It is a mess.  Tons of powerlines and trees down.  More rain coming, which sucks.  They should have my power on soon, however.  Mom and Dad never lost power.  Internet via the office’s cellular card.  Office still has power AND INTERNET.  Ah, the wonders of a T3 line.

In any event, it was a rough storm but we really dodged a bullet; it could have been much worse.

Schools are closed until next week, as many are shelters.

Church never lost power, which is good since there were evacuees in the gym.

I am exhausted.  Spent the morning cleaning storm drains so our streets wouldn’t flood.  Rest of it is just stress and not sleeping well at all last night.

In any event, thanks to everyone for the prayers.  I think Angels started to tear apart that storm before it hit Louisiana.

Alexandria In A Hurricane Watch Area; Otherwise, Just Waiting To Get Nuked Back To The Stone Age For A Day Or So

Yay. Thanks to everyone who has sent emails indicating the lifting up of me, my family, and the rest of Louisiana in prayer.

The really dumb part about all this is two fold. I frankly feel like we just did this. Just three years ago we were stir crazy in our house twice when Katrina and Rita hit. Just ridiculous. No technology. That’s the thought that goes through my head. The second is that for all of man’s achievements, none of these achievements are immune to natural disasters. I mean, we still run our electricity above ground on utility poles in most places. Early 20th century technology; still using it.

I can’t wait to go out into my neighborhood with my shovel to clean drains. Yay, post apocalyptic preview.

In other words, this whole storm thing sucks.

Fr. Mike preached a sermon that they why question isn’t such a good one to ask during a natural disaster; we need to ask where and how regarding God in these instances.

I know the Lord is in this, and oh my goodness we seem so much more prepared this time. Louisiana and the Feds got their act together this time. Our church is a shelter for elderly folks from New Orleans from Covenant House; definitely pray for them.

I am in one of the two light pink parishes at the time I am posting this, just to give everyone an idea. The two parishes are Rapides on the left and Avoyelles on the right.