Wednesday, March 31, 2010

TRM Ordo Autumn 2010

9 - Requiem (black)
10 - Edmund James Peck, Apostle to the Inuit (red)
11 - Our Lady on Saturday (white and blue)
12 - TRINITY XV (proper 24) (green)
13 - St Cyprian of Carthage (red), I Evensong of Holy Cross
14 - Holy Cross Day (crimson) (proper p. 422)
15 - Our Lady of Sorrows (blue and white) (Sacramentary 2628)
16 - St Ninian of Galloway (white)
17 - Requiem (black)
18 - Founders, Benefactors, and Missionaries of the Church of Canada (white)
19 - St Theodore of Tarsus (white)
20 - TRINITY XVI (proper 25) (green), comm. John Coleridge Patterson
21 - St Matthew the Evangelist (red) (proper p. 423)
22 - Requiem (black)
23 - Requiem (black)
24 - Requiem (black)
25 - St Sergius of Moscow (white)
26 - TRINITY XVII (proper 26) (green)
27 - Lancelot Andrewes (white)
28 - Requiem (black)
29 - Michaelmas (white or gold or best) (proper p. 424)
30 - St Jerome (white)

1 - Requiem (black)
2- Our Lady on Saturday (white and blue)
3 - TRINITY XVIII and St Francis' Eve (proper 27) (green) Blessing of Animals
4 - St Francis of Assisi (white)
5 - Requiem (black)
6 - Requiem (black)
7 - Requiem (black)
8 - Requiem (black)
9 - Our Lady on Saturday (white and blue)
10 - TRINITY XIX (proper 28) (green)
11 - Requiem (black)
12 - Requiem (black)
13 - St Edward the Confessor (white or yellow)
14 - St Teresa of Avila (white)
15 - St John of the Cross (white)
16 - St Ignatius Loyola (white)
17 - TRINITY XX (proper 29) (green)
18 - St Luke the Evangelist (red) (proper p. 425)
19 - Holy Protomartyrs of Canada (red)
20 - Requiem (black)
21 - Requiem (black)
22 - Requiem (black)
23 - St James of Jerusalem (red)
24 - TRINITY XXI (proper 30) (green)
25 - Requiem (black)
26 - Alfred the Great (white)
27 - Requiem (black)
28 - Ss Simon & Jude (red) (proper p. 426)
29 - James Hannington and Companions (red)
30 - John Wycliffe and Jan Hus (red)
31 - REFORMATION DAY (red) (Intercommunion concelebrations encouraged) (proper p. 326, FAtS); I Evensong of All Saints

1 - All Saints' Day (white and red) (proper p. 427)
2 - All Souls' Day (black) (proper p. 429)
3 - Richard Hooker (white)
4 - Saints of the Old Testament (white)
5 - St Elizabeth (white) (Sacramentary 2818)
6 - Our Lady on Saturday (white and blue)
7 - SUNDAY IN THE OCTAVE OF ALL SAINTS (proper 32) (white and red)
8 - St Willibrord of Utrecht (white or yellow)
9 - Requiem (black)
10 - St Leo the Great (white)
11 - St Martin of Tours (white)
12 - Charles Simeon (white)
13 - Our Lady on Saturday (white and blue)
14 - TRINITY XXIV (proper 33) (green)
15 - Samuel Seabury (white or red)
16 - St Margaret of Scotland (white)
17 - St Hugh of Lincoln (white)
18 - St Hilda of Whitby (white)
19 - St Elizabeth of Hungary (white)
20 - St Edmund the Martyr (red)
21 - THE REIGN OF CHRIST (best) (Benediction follows Mass) Solemnity of Title in the Diocese of Montréal
22 - Requiem (black)
23 - St Clement of Rome (red)
24 - Requiem (black)
25 - Requiem (black) (In the Order of the Holy Cross, the feast of James Otis Sargent Huntington) (white)
26 - Requiem (black)
27 - Our Lady on Saturday (white and blue)
28 - THE FIRST SUNDAY IN ADVENT (purple or dark blue)
29 - Advent Feria (purple or dark blue)
30 - St Andrew the Apostle (red) (proper p. 430)

1 - Advent feria
2 - Advent feria
3 - St Francis Xavier (white)
4 - Nicholas Ferrar (white)
5 - THE SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT, comm. S. Clement of Alexandria
6 - St Nicholas of Myra (white)
7 - St Ambrose of Milan (white)
8 - The Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (white and blue) (lections FAtS)
9 - Prophets of the Old Testament (red)
10 - Advent Feria
11 - Our Lady on Saturday (white and blue)
12 - THE THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT (rose) (Litany in Procession is omitted)
13 - Advent Feria (purple or dark blue)
14 - Simon Gibbons (white)
15-17 - Advent feria (purple or dark blue)
18 - Our Lady on Saturday (white and blue)
19 - THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN ADVENT (purple or dark blue)
20 - 23 Advent feria
24 - Vigil of Christmas (purple) (Sacramentary no. 1053)
25 - Christmas Day (white or gold or best)
26 - FIRST SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS (white) (proper p. 276)
27 - St John the Evangelist (red)
28 - Holy Innocents (red) (proper p. 398); Ordination of Ludmila Javorova, 1970
29 - St Thomas Becket (red)
30 - Christmas Feria (white)
31 - John West (white); Vigil of the Naming & Circumcision of Jesus (purple and white) (Sacramentary no. 1112)

1 - the Octave Day of Christmas, being the Naming & Circumcision of Jesus (white) (proper p. 277)
2 - SECOND SUNDAY OF CHRISTMAS (white) (proper p. 278)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Emancipation Day (August 1)

Proper 2153 in the Sacramentary.

I have obtained a lovely little gem: a leaflet from a Procession and Solemn High Mass of St Charles Stuart at St Bart's. I hope to find some way to scan it.


Protestant thought tends to bristle at the Incarnational implications of the Marian cult. But what could be more Incarnational than a peasant girl in Palestine bearing her Redeemer and thereby being made "More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim"?

(In the Anglican Gradual & Sacramentary that seems to have been more or less adopted by the SCP, the Saturday Mass of Our Lady is titled the "Votive Eucharist of the Incarnation).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hooker on arbitrary law, from the Masoret blog

A scholar of the writings of the Anglican divines on halakha has a pair of posts worth reading on chukim - laws or mitzvot having no immediately evident rationale but deemed binding in Judaism by virtue of their divine origin. I found this a timely read given the current same-sex controversy, which is at one level about what place, if any, such laws have in Christianity (hence the hitherto unanswered refrain of the proof-text-weary, "But what's wrong with homosexuality?")

For Good Friday

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Passiontide picture treat

From St Mark's, Locust Street (the other Anglo-Catholic church in Philadelphia!) courtesy of Davis D'Ambly.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ms Coulter Goes to Ottawa

Currently the blogosphere is reeling over an incident at the University of Ottawa, where Ann Coulter was unable to participate in a forum due to "security concerns" (protesters disrupting the event). Inevitably perhaps, the spectre of what the Bishop of Willesden recently called "the illiberal liberal canard" over at the SOF boards has loomed large. There's nothing the hard right loves more than a self-avowed champion of tolerance is caught in the act of intolerance!

I once attended a service at the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto with family members who are active there. In the sermon, the minister grappled with precisely this paradox. How do progressive folk respond to intolerance without stooping to it?

It's unfortunate that this incident is being used to portray Canada as an effete socialist state feeble on free speech protection. Let's be real here. This is a university campus, a place for reasoned discourse. Thinkers left and right are free to come and express their views: that's academic integrity. But that same integrity obligates us to maintain the intellectual and ethical tenor of the university. No one is hucking tomatoes at George Grant or William F. Buckley Jr here. Ann Coulter is a trash columnist, who has dedicated her career to perpetuating exactly the sort of hollow taking-points political pseudo-debate she professes to deride. She has as much place addressing a community of scholars as does Maury Povich.

Perhaps more importantly, as the provost of the University noted in today's Toronto Star, Canada's conception of free speech is not the same as the USA's. (I know, it never ceases to blow their minds that there are other governments in the world, but it's true. We've got a homemade constitution and everything). Whereas the American formulation is pretty much unbridled (in the rugged individualist tradition they have inherited), our constitutional tradition sees free speech not as an end in itself but as a means to "peace, order, and good government." Indeed, the possibility of overriding provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms when weighing conflicting rights against each other (say, those of Arab UofO students who might not take kindly to being called "ragheads") is built right into the Charter itself (the "reasonable infringement" clause of section 1). Coulter was warned in advance of the relevant law, and how did she respond? She called for an investigation of the provost for "promoting hatred of an identifiable group" (conservatives!) in the letter. And the poor schmuck was just the messenger: it's not as though he crafted the law. Apparently Coulter objected to the implication that as a Conservative she was automatically more likely to commit hate speech (apparently the notion that the concern was based on her actual past comments and not merely hypothetical didn't occur to her).

On a right-wing American blog that happened to be my first Google result on the story, one commenter accused another (who had not taken up the mantle of St Ann's martyrdom) of not representing "all Canadians," just "the socialists," which I found odd given that Americans of that political persuasion tend to consider "all Canadians" to be "socialists." (If universal health care is creeping socialism, someone better call the red squad on the Tories!) The authors of the blog also took issue with the protesters for not being equally vocal in opposing Israeli Apartheid Week (because apparently calling attention to the dismal and unjust conditions in which Palestinians live is tantamount to denial of the Shoah).

Canadian students are exasperated. (As much as student union leaders fondly hope for a Nanterre in the streets of Ottawa, it is Canada after all: exasperated is as far as it usually goes). In the midst of an economic crisis that we didn't cause, it's an insult to bring in an apologist for the broken system to spout racist, misogynist, and heterosexist polemics in our own backyard. Good on the students of Ottawa U for defending the integrity of the academy. Perhaps there is hope for our student movement after all.

Comments on "Same-sex Relationships in the Life of the Church: the Traditionalist [sic] Response"

Note well what is not in their argument, namely any treatment of the question of scientific evidence about homosexuality. This is odd for several reasons: 1) its treatment was part of our mandate, and 2) it features prominently in popular arguments in favor of the blessing of same sex relations. We would hazard the guess that the data in its ambiguity and inconclusiveness were not helpful to their argument.

Actually, it’s not odd at all. Many liberals chafe at the notion that the scientific aetiology of homosexuality is central to their argument, and the corollary implication that its absence would hurt said argument. And the data are not nearly so “ambiguous” as the authors would have you believe. While the nature of this aetiology, and the various roles of hormones, birth order, and neurology, continue to be investigated, its existence is not seriously questioned at this point. And the scientific question most pertinent to the theological debate, whether sexual orientation is chosen, has been definitively settled in the negative.

There is, of course, an irony in the abstract use of God’s mission to the Gentiles, since it is in the service of a cause which continues to tear at the communion we have as Anglicans from all the nations of the earth.

Again, there is "of course" no irony at all here. The admission of Gentiles to the Church was indeed a “communion-breaking” issue in its day and the “reasserters” of the time considered “inclusion” as unwarranted and ill-advised as do their spiritual descendants today. The comparison is actually quite apt - uncomfortably so for the conservatives, it seems.

Note what a radical change in biblical exegesis this will bring about. We are warned against readings that would constrain the work of the Spirit in the missio Dei. Surely, attention to what the words actually say should constrain readings; otherwise, it is hard to say that it is reading we are doing at all. An important part of the Scripture serving as a canonical authority for the Church is that it can guide, critique, and indeed constrain the judgments and decisions of the Church. This power to address the Church is clearest in cases of “repugnance” (see Article 20 of the 39 Articles), where a matter in question stands in direct contradiction to the plain sense of a passage, interpreted in keeping with the whole witness of Scripture. We will show that such is the case before us. It is precisely at this point that the debate over homosexual behavior, while it may not be (to use the unhelpful language of the Righter trial) “core doctrine,” does become a prime occasion for a debate over a doctrinal issue of great importance, namely the authority of Scripture itself.

This is another conservative canard. No one is proposing a “radical change” in the way we read Scripture. The liberal case is on the contrary that if we are to be consistent in our reading of Scripture, we are obligated to accept this innovation as we have others in the past; that is, same-sex unions follow from the way we already tend to read Scripture. (Recall that all Christians interpret Scripture: a "liberal" is merely one who is honest about it). Moreover as Anglicans and not fundamentalists we know that the “plain sense of the passage” is not always the most relevant one, or even all that “plain!” (I for instance am often perplexed at how reasserters can be so casual about prescribing celibacy for homosexuals in light of Mattew 23:4, which seems to me quite “plainly” to preclude such blithe pronouncements).

If God has acted, as it is suggested in the missio Dei argument of the liberals, who are we to contend with God? For its advocates, the matter is already settled. So they naturally feel they must proceed, without waiting on more debate and regardless of consequences.

In fact, no one is as preoccupied with “culture” as the conservatives, at least in the sense of “going with the flow.” Certainly none of the gay Christians I know are seeking to subvert the Church’s mission of prophetic and countercultural witness. “Culture” seems to be a buzzword with which conservatives can dismiss facts on the ground that contradict the divine fiat of Scripture. So the simple, observable fact that there are gays and lesbians in the Church whom the status quo harms, not fitting conveniently into their narrative, is simply sidestepped as non-scriptural and therefore irrelevant.

...the Jerusalem Council specifically forbids porneia, that is, “sexual immorality.”

What the authors present as a straightforward translation is in fact a specious gloss on their part. There is no patristic warrant for the “conservative” innovation (!) of expanding the sense of porneia to include homosexuality per se. The work of Friar Tobias is illuminating in this regard.

Mark 10. Here Jesus tells us of the nature of marriage, between a man and a woman, as ordained by God “from the foundation of the world.” In so doing, he quotes both Genesis 1 and 2. Yet, inexplicably, the liberal side continues to insist that Jesus avoided citing the former, and they find in this imagined avoidance evidence against what they call “complementarianism.” This is simply inaccurate.

Complementarianism is what is “simply inaccurate.” Perhaps liberals have been lazy in arguing against it; I do not know. It shouldn’t matter, though, as it is the weakest argument in the traditional arsenal and shouldn’t even be on the agenda at this stage. The sexes clearly are not as a matter of fact “complementary” in any meaningful or demonstrable way. It may be a lovely symbolism but more than symbolic arguments are needed for an issue like this. (Indeed, female members of Christian communities – as opposed to religious orders - in the Episcopal Church may marry husbands [or wives?]. No one denies them this prerogative on the grounds of the symbolism of their marriage to Christ). What Genesis does make clear is that “it is not good for man to be alone.” It is the conservatives who want to add an “unless” to that statement by restricting its scope to God's heterosexual children.

Galatians 3:28 The liberals read Paul’s statement that there is no more “`male and female’” in Christ as a warrant for same-sex marriages. However, this ignores the context of the passage, and the rest of the Pauline witness, and so amounts to proof-texting. Paul is, quite simply, not talking about marriage. While in Judaism, only the free, Jewish male could contribute to minyan in the synagogue, now all stand together and equally in prayer in the ekklesia. Indeed, when it comes to salvation, there is no difference between male and female. Neither Paul nor we would suggest anything different, and so the use of this passage in a discussion of marriage amounts to presenting a straw man.

There is nothing in this analysis of the passage for a liberal to disagree with! It is because of our belief that such human distinctions as gender are abolished in baptism that we support SSM. The authors concede that “when it comes to salvation, there is no difference between male and female” yet by wishing to draw precisely such a distinction when it comes to the sacraments, of paramount importance in the economy of salvation, they are indeed “saying otherwise” than Paul. So although they characterize the liberal argument as a “straw man,” I take them to have in fact granted it, as their “rebuttal” simply reiterates the position they are supposed to be criticizing. And since this passage is perhaps the most crucial one from the liberal perspective, why are we arguing again?

Romans 1 and 11. As to the former, the liberal argument ignores what the passage in question actually says. They focus on the criticism of the Gentiles as being oversexed, but they ignore that fact that the passage refers directly to the sameness of same-sex relations, including lesbian relation (so excluding the suggestion that Paul had only pederasty in view).

In contrast to conservatives, who as Jeffrey John explains focus on the lesbian bit, taken out of context, and tend to lose sight of the overall arc of “what the passage in question actually says.” Let’s call this one a tie.

The reader may tire of all this exegetical debate, and may wonder what is really at stake; the answer is “a great deal.” The liberal argument would at the outset have the reader understand their proposal as a modest addition to the traditional understanding of marriage, which remains intact. But as the case continues, we see that a major reinterpretation is envisioned.

It’s highly presumptuous for our opponents to tell us what our argument is. Gay couples just want to get married, like everyone else. We are not trying to ditch the Bible, Creeds, sacraments, ministry, or anything else. We want the “traditional understanding” expanded, not destroyed. But conservatives have to resort to fearmongering and invoking visions of pagan eucharists and polyamorous nuptial masses and unitarian Presiding Bishops if they are to convince the “mushy middle” that the sky is falling and same-sex unions are a hill worth dying on, because their arguments on their own do not sustain their conclusion. Same-sex marriage is certainly a less radical innovation than divorce. In fact, my own views on divorce remain considerably more conservative than my views on same-sex unions. More conservative, in fact, than the views on the same subject of many, like the present Bishop of Winchester and many evangelicals in the Church of England, who lobbied for a more “compassionate” approach to the divorced but while vociferously opposing the extension of the same courtesy to gays.

That's not to say that there is nothing of import at stake here. There is - for gays and lesbians. For others, the question is largely academic. A conservative "victory" would indeed be a hollow one; what profit is it to them to deny others the sacraments?

Procreation is identified as “what the human being shares with the animals,” as if this were a slight on us; for all the talk of bodiliness the argument here has a gnostic tinge.

Oh please! The body is important, and redeemed by the mystery of the Incarnation, but it is not all-important. To characterize the liberal suspicion of the conservatives’ arbitrary anatomical requirements for marriage as “Gnostic” or “anti-breeding” is absurd. The importance of procreation as a Scriptural theme doesn't justify the conservatives' morbid obsession with genitalia. Once again, lacking a sound argument, they are left with recourse to name-calling. We could just as easily turn around and call them Donatists for their preoccupation with episcopal sex lives.

The liberal argument claims for itself boldness, and so we need to track its trajectory, since some of its implications will be different from what we might assume. One such example is the idea of monogamy inherited from the tradition, which turns out to be a vestige, in its two-ness, of the biological fact of conception, and so tied implicitly to the now demoted procreation. If marriage is now really about mutuality and self-donation, would there not be all the more of these in polyamory?

No. I don’t know any gay Christian who views monogamy as a “vestige” or the next bridge to cross.

Second, this is not the proposal of some small addition to an otherwise stable institution. The problematic “male-female symbol system” requires a radical change. The inherited notion was a “warrant for patriarchal violence.” Marriage itself is now to be understood, for all, to be based on mutuality and self-giving regardless of gender.

Actually, that is precisely what this is. Indeed, traditional understandings of gender roles have changed radically, but within the context of heterosexual marriage most of these changes have been accommodated with the Church’s sanction and little controversy - the ship has already sailed. Brides no longer pledge obedience to their intended in the marriage service. The question is once again whether we are to be consistent and follow these changes to their logical conclusion. As the liberals note in their own “response” within the same report: “Our expansion of marriage … retains scriptural principles of moral discipline, nonconformity to the world, witness to Christ, sanctification, and holiness.” The conservatives have not demonstrated why, of two models with these properties, theirs is to be preferred.

At the outset of our dialogue, the traditionals offered as a key diagnostic issue, the following question: are same-sex relations an effect of the fall or a blessing of creation?


Yes, all sexuality as we know it in the world reflects the Fall. So, as one author has pointed out, does wearing clothing. In the next world, we are told, there will be no marriage. But, despite the keenness of evangelicals, they are not there yet!

Yes, marriage is nonetheless a blessing of the fallen but still beloved image of God reflected (however imperfectly) in creation. This is not a contradiction of the previous point, but is instead closely intertwined with it. It is a creative, mysterious tension that the Church has lived with for 2,000 years, and the people of Israel for millennia before that.

So the question is mal posée, a false dichotomy. Given their inability at the outset to formulate the right question, how can we trust the conservatives to yield the right answer?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Reasserters: it's your time to shine

In a previous post, I wrote of the tendency of "conservatives" to talk past the actual objections of "liberals" in their arguments, instead being content to allow Leviticus and St Paul to speak for themselves. So now I'm going to open up the floor. I do not moderate comments except on posts more than two weeks old, and that is only to avoid Cantonese spam attacks. Moreover, I allow anonymous comments as long as they adopt some distinguishing pseudonym, again only so that I can tell if I have one "anonymous" on a given thread, or five. Fallacious arguments will be discounted but not deleted. So here goes:

In 4096 characters or less: What is the morally relevant distinction between opposite- and same-gender relationships?

This doesn't mean "One has Biblical approbation and one does not." (No Anglican of any flavour takes the Bible as her strict guide for marriage. We have, after all, come to regard it as either a sacrament or a sacramental, in either case an "innovation" on St Paul's grudging allowance of it as a next-best choice for the incorrigibly horny). It could thus be stated alternatively as: Why, in your opinion, does God approve only of marriages that involve a penis and vagina?

Take 'er away!

American isolationism and health care reform

Watching the debates on the various incarnations of health care legislation in the United States, something was nagging at me. Ultimately, I identified the question: do they realize how absurd they sound to the rest of us?

This question may be a rhetorical one: the American collective mindset is fairly autistic. Likely, the rest of the world's population doesn't register in this as in so many other issues. This after all is the country that continues, along with Burma, to hold on to the incomprehensible imperial system (how many furlongs to a mile? Buggered if I know) and instigated the Second Gulf War against blissfully unconcerned with the position of the international community.

Likewise, the United States is an outlier in the developed world in not having a single-payer system. The principle behind the system is fairly straightforward: no one should have to choose death or bankruptcy when a family member falls ill. Private insurance is not a panacea since many if not most people either cannot afford it or do not qualify. And out-of-pocket expenses especially for things like surgery can be exorbitant. (I understand that there is in fact some provision in the US for government aid to "low-income" families, but government definitions of the term tend to be rather optimistic. Certainly my own family is not reckoned as "low-income" for government purposes, but neither could we access private insurance and I imagine we'd have exhausted our lifetime budget for out-of-pocket health care expenses by the time I, the eldest child, reached school age).

And so while, in Canada for example, we might have some empathy with the raging controversies over issues like abortion and same-sex marriage (which were had here recently enough) the idea that the above should be anything but a no-brainer is astonishing. But the United States, of course, was founded on small-government principles, and the right to property - and implicitly by extension the free market - enjoy constitutional status. And so it really is an epic battle for them, because they have to weigh two constitutional imperatives ("life" and "the pursuit of happiness" - a Lockean euphemism for property) against one another. And that I think illustrates precisely what is wrong with the United States: it's a system where unbridled capitalism is such a sacred cow that something as fundamental as the right to adequate health care can be demonized as "socialism." (Indeed, the way politicians on the Right spoke of "socialized medicine" you'd think that the Democrats were proposing genocide rather than simply the United States' belated entry into the civilized world).

And so while Nancy Pelosi, who certainly has odd ideas about Catholicism, took a lot of flack for invoking St Joseph, her detractors are no more "pro-life" than she is. Insofar as they oppose legislation that would save many more children's lives than would the prohibition of their own hobby horse, they can only claim to be "anti-abortion." And the Catholic Church requires much more of its faithful in order to be genuinely "pro-life." (Indeed, on Fr Z and kindred spots on the blogosphere, there seemed to be as much mincing outrage from sacristy queens over the Speaker's fudging of the liturgical nomenclature as to the political content of her talk, which would be entirely recognizable to Dorothy Day and was in no wise outside the mainstream of Catholic social teaching).

Monday, March 8, 2010


In many ways, "affirming" Catholic Anglicans are the heirs of the Tractarians: continuing to believe the Church of England both Catholic in heritage and purged of error, opposing Erastianism, and conforming to the authorized liturgy of the province.

The Rose Maniple's Charge to General Synod 2010

Nearly 40 years ago, delegates from across North America converged on Chicago to found Integrity in order to lobby for the interests of gay and lesbian Anglicans at a time when the Church's traditional approbation of their family life was for the first time being called into serious question by critical Biblical and theological scholarship. In the intervening decades, we have waited patiently as we have been used as a political football for the fomenting or prevention of schism. Reams of theology have been printed, latterly in these very virtual pages, but before me by such writers as Norman Pittenger, Rowan Williams, Jeffrey John, and Tobias Haller. These arguments remain unanswered by the hard-right, which prefers to sit from its comfortable perch of the fictitious "plain meaning of Scripture" rejecting any efforts at meaningful conversation.

In the American church, reactionaries who had made no legal overtures against actually heretical bishops like Spong and Pike made the Righter case a hill to die on. In the Church of England, they blocked the appointment to the episcopate of a gay priest living by the very obligation of celibacy they insisted as the norm, putting paid to any credible claims of non-prejudice. (One regular contributor to the Ship of Fools forums is the current Bishop of Willesden, who is often lauded by Shipmates as a humane, moderate Evangelical. If so, the CoE must be quite a different place as in Canada objection to a celibate gay bishop would have no basis in our discipline and far from being moderate would be a mark of the batshit lunatic fringe).

For their efforts to make the lives of their gay and lesbian members a little easier, the Canadian and American churches have been rewarded with cross-border interventions. The enormous evangelical St John's, Shaughnessy, the largest Anglican church in Vancouver, along with others degenerated into geographical schizophrenia and set themselves up under the province of the Southern Cone. (At last check, the people and clergy of St John's have yet to relocate to Latin America as such a canonical move would according to the Southern Cone's own constitution and canons obligate them to do). Prospective reformers have been warned that a "moratorium" is necessary to preserve unity: the mistreatment of gay and lesbian Anglicans must be resolved at a latter date as to do so now would imperil the Communion. Yet those bishops who have followed the moratorium have not seen reciprocal compliance from the "Global South." On the blogosphere, the reasonable frustration of gays and lesbians is characterized as militant rage, while opponents freely write all manner of invective against "priestettes" and "sodomites." (N-word or No n-word, the Mad Priest can't hold a candle to David Virtue for off-colour rhetoric).

Documents such as the Chapman memo and statements from the American Anglican Council show that in fact despite their benign protestations the ACNA crowd intend to supplant the ACoC and ECUSA as the Communion's presence in Northern America with a pure, heterosexual church. They are not invested in the "dialogue" that our national church has painstakingly attempted to conduct. They made up their mind. Similarly, other groups of Anglicans have sought refuge in special canonical accomodations erected by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.

As it stands, the Anglican Church of Canada nationally recognizes that same-sex unions are holy, and allows the Nuptial Mass to be offered for same-gender couples provided the Nuptial Blessing proper is omitted. This is akin to the manner in which marriages are solemnized by deacons. Thus our situation is not the same as the Roman Catholic Church's, where any attempt to amend the canonical basis of marriage in such a way would fail owing to that body's ongoing prohibition of all same-gender relationships. We are instead in a kind of limbo, a temporary one that cannot be sustained for much longer. In fits and starts the past two general synods have paved the way for a nationwide enabling resolution. Moreover, Canon 21, On Marriage in the Church, does not seem to bar same-gender marriages as such although it assumes an opposite-gender composition.

This year, synod delegates assembling in Halifax will likely be asked to vote finally on the future of gay and lesbian Anglicans in Canada. Please remember that these are real people whose lives are being debated, and have been with no apparent end in sight for decades. Canadians favour evolution over revolution, and our church has been spared much of the invective levelled at our Episcopalian brothers and sisters in the United States because of our cautious approach. The Canadian church has tried in good faith to accomodate and engage with dissidents, but that good faith has not been returned. Eventually the bandage will have to be pulled. Some will leave the Church, although most who are inclined to do so will already have availed themselves of the multiplicity of jurisdictional options now available to like-minded churchmen. If they have chosen to die on this hill, let them die on it, for any amount of churchianity is yet dead without charity. These dissidents will not suffer if an enabling resolution is passed. Gays and lesbians, however, cannot be expected to remain indefinitely, providing the bulk of "manpower" in the Church while formally excluded from full participation in its sacramental life. Many have already been lost to secularism and alternative religious traditions and are likely too disillusioned to be coaxed back. But as synod delegates you now have the opportunity to do the right thing: some will scorn and deride you for taking such an action but do not lose heart, for history will vindicate you. In 50 years, when the controversy over same-gender marriage has expired, those who left to form an all-heterosexual ecclesiastical club in the ACNA will be remembered with the same infamy as their spiritual forebears who formed their own "Anglican Orthodox Church" (how's that for a Holy Roman Empire construction!) in order to be free of the evils of racial integration. Which side will the Anglican Church of Canada wish to be on?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Mystery Worshipper goes to shul

A few months ago I accompanied a friend of mine who was raised in a secular Jewish family and has been looking for a congregation to visit. We first tried out Kabbalat Shabbat, the Friday evening vigil of the Sabbath, at Congregation Darchei Noam, Toronto's Reconstructionist synagogue. While we received a warm welcome, a hearty vegetarian supper, and a lengthy introduction to the building from a gentleman active in gay and lesbian Jewish causes, we were a bit put off by the guitars and hippie-beaded kippahs: it all seemed rather like the United Church of Judaism. As my friend remarked to me afterward, "But I like tradition."

And so our next destination will be at the other end of the spectrum: we shall go to First Narayever Congregation, downtown Toronto's largest shul. Founded as an Orthodox congregation prior to the Great War, it experimented with gender-neutral services using the modern Orthodox Birnbaum edition of the prayer book in the 1970s. In the 80s the "alternative" congregation moved upstairs and became the main congregation, the old guard dispersing to other nearby congregations such as Kensington Market's Congregation Anshei Minsk and Shaarei Tzedek just down the street from St Mary Mag. Today they continue to adhere to a traditional understanding of Jewish law save for the full participation of women in prayer and the celebration of same-sex marriages. They are unaffiliated with any Jewish movement but describe themselves as "traditional-egalitarian."

After that, I suppose we will have to check out Holy Blossom Temple ("the reformiest of the Reform!" as it has been described to me, but a Toronto institution nonetheless). Their original building downtown is now St George's Greek Orthodox Church. I've been inside only one Conservative synagogue, Beth Tzedec, but there's another one that's not so far from me. I'd be curious to visit the Minsker, but I don't know if I'd be comfortable having to be seated away from my friend during an unfamiliar religious service.

But what makes these guys fascinating to me is that they seem rather like spiritual cousins of Affirming Catholicism, and a model for success. In a sense, finding a congregation where the rabbi can marry same-gender couples and perform bat mitvot and prints a form in the congregation newsletter for members to fill out in order to authorize him to sell the leaven in their homes, strikes me as analogous to my dream of a female-priest celebrating a Pontifical High Mass for a same-gender wedding. Perhaps the closest to this vision is the Church of the Advent of Christ the King in San Francisco, where a Missa Cantata is offered in ad orientem in Latin according to the Standard Book of Common Prayer.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Off-topic: thoughts in electiontide

During the campaign, New York has touted itself as the slate of "change." That seems like a fair demand, and indeed the promise of change swept the United States in their last presidential election. But Students First has a team with a clear record of delivering change, and a New York federation would hinder some of these advances.

(The following will be irrelevant to most regular readers: I'm in effect producing this article for export - Ed.)

New York wants to invest in the bottomless pit of Lunik, which has expended an inordinate sum without yet coming into existence. They want longer hours on the shuttle, while Students First has already been fighting for this service tooth and nail. They promise to "open up" the student union to greater transparency. The fact is that most of the union's proceedings are open and most students don't bother to show up. They want a student transit pass: members of Student First have already succeeded in negotiating the student MetroPass deal and continue to advocate for us at a municipal level. They promise a greater focus on equity issues, but Students First has a vibrant diversity of perspectives and doesn't need to resort to tokenism. A federation led by New York will not make united campaigns for students' interests a priority. Efforts like the Drop Fees campaign aren't just noise made by coffeehouse intellectuals. They matter to real working students, the student working two jobs and waiting for her OSAP to come in so she can meet the rent while paying the highest tuition in Canada because the province has reduced funding for post-secondary education and wants us to make up the difference. Students First represents only the most affluent students at York, those who don't need to worry about paying off their student debt and who can afford to spend evenings congregated in a sports bar.

Voting for your friends because they're popular flies in high school, but it's unsuited even to us lowly undergraduates. A vote for Students First is the perfect Pascalian wager: a small effort that promises a great reward. Don't get swindled by high-tech graphics. Choose real change.

(This article is written in my personal capacity, and I am not a member or representative of any campaign team).