Sunday, December 30, 2007

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

About those MDG's

It appears that China, India and Sub-Saharan Africa are poorer than previously thought.

Let Them Eat Steak

I've been reflecting upon what it means to be poor in America. In temporal and geographical terms, we have the wealthiest poor in history.

Don't believe me? Consider this. Currently the supermarket nearest me is selling USDA Choice Sirloin steak at less than $4 per pound. If a person were to make the foolish decision to live on nothing but sirloin steak for a year, the cost would be around $8 per day (Two pounds of meat). That comes to $2,920 on food per year. The poverty line in the US is $10,210 for a single person household. Our steak eating person would be spending 29% of their income on food.

Let's put this in perspective. Until the Industrial Revolution the lot of most of humanity was fairly miserable. In most countries over 95% of the population were peasants. In most cases they were bound to the land in some way. Often they were simply slaves, rarely did they own their land outright.

In pre-Revolutionary France, which was probably the most prosperous country in the world right before industrialization changed the world, the typical diet of a Frenchman consisted of barley or rye bread, pease porridge, assorted vegetables (onions and legumes) and very little protein and very little fruit. The French serf, and they were mostly serfs, raised wheat for cash to help pay the taxes and rents. Life was indeed brutish, miserable and short. To be poor was to be starving.

Of all of the people in Europe, the one's who could afford to have steak every meal were as follows: The King of France, The Ottoman Emperor (Sultan), the Czar of Russia, and the King of Spain. That's the full list. Steak every meal meant slaughtering a cow a day for an entire year. And even with that, the quality of meat was nowhere near as consistent or as good as the poorest of us can now attain.

All of this is not to say that there isn't poverty in America. There is. But it is to say that we have the wrong image of poverty in America. I see a lot of poor in my daily life. None of them are starving. Most of those I see are men who are unable to work due to mental illness or addiction. Most of the ones I don't see are the ones who are unable to work because they are too crippled or too feeble to work.

The typical homeless person is a middle aged man, who is the sole member of his household. Next time you see or hear someone advocating helping the poor, ask yourself "How does this person intend to help the wino down the street?" Because that is the face of true poverty in America. And I have yet to hear any real solutions for helping those who will not help themselves.

Friday, December 28, 2007

This will teach me to diss the Pope

What's your theological worldview?
created with
You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox


Roman Catholic


Reformed Evangelical








Classical Liberal


Modern Liberal



I’m always reluctant to discuss pride, as I have a full portion of it myself, but that is what we are seeing in the determination by 815 that anyone other than Anglicans get the use of an abandoned church building.

They are failures. All of the talk about how ‘numbers don’t matter’ and ‘quality over quantity’ can not hide the dwindling of the church that is under their care. Every time a church closes, that truth gets hammered home to the bishop of the diocese as well as the national office. When a viable church votes with its feet, I think that stings them even more.

The fastest growing diocese in the US is South Carolina. If I were leading a shrinking diocese, I'd want to know what's going on in South Carolina. But South Carolina may be problematic. Their current bishop is known for being a troublemaker.

So, why not study Tennessee? They are the number two fastest growing diocese. Why not have a commission go and study what these dioceses are doing right? It's the logical, responsible thing to do.

The gutsy, bold move would be to admit that they don’t have a solution, that their processes have failed. And to step aside. But their pride gets in the way and they can not do that. They are prepared to ask for Divine assistance, but they are not yet ready to listen to God’s advice, much less His commandments.

I do not know what God’s plans are. I do know that if He intends to renew the Episcopal Church, He will break our pride and our hearts first. My prayer is that the time will be short and swift.

{This post was first posted in an abbreviated form, here}

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Picture of the Week

I have to see this movie

Warning: This movie trailer is not work safe. It is not family friendly. You have been warned.

What song is this?

You'll know about halfway through, if you haven't guessed it before then. This is wicked cool.

Proud to be an American

Every time something like this happens, I thank my lucky stars I live in a country where the concept of freedom of speech has meaning. If Canada does not reform its rules against hate speech then Canada will deserve everything that happens to it as a consequence.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I was browsing over at Terry Martin's blog. He and his commenters spend a great deal of time vilifying Bishop John-David Schofield, especially in reaction to Bishop Schofield's announcement that he will no longer fund the vicar of St. Nicholas Church.

There are two aspects to this story they seem to totally ignore. First, it seems undisputed that the attendance at the church has fallen into the twenties. This is unsupportable in any denomination under any circumstances.

Second, and most importantly, if the Episcopal Church is serious about maintaining a presence in the Diocese of San Joaquin, then they should have already announced a determination to financially support the congregation. This has not happened. It may happen in the future, but that it has not happened shows just how inept the 815 leadership is. They have thrown away a terrific PR opportunity.

I think I know the reason for the lack of support. The accounts over at Rev. Martin's put the attendees at around 90 for that service. A church in crisis, facing a confrontation with a bishop, can only muster 90 odd people? That's pretty pathetic. And it bears out my belief that the support for the policies and practises of the Episcopal church are there because of habit, rather than conviction. Were the opposition motivated by true belief rather than other motives, the church would have been standing room only, with attendees milling around on the lawn.

Our opposition has command of the official organs of the church, with all of it's money and offices. But they lack the skills to use them properly and they lack the conviction to motivate the masses.

Addendum: To put things in perspective: If I really wanted to draw a crowd, I am absolutely certain that I could get at least 200 people together for a one-shot. I would have to make a fair number of phone calls, and I'd need to get organized, but I could do it. I suspect many, many people could get 100 people together for a single occasion. For a church to not be able to draw 90 is sad.

Be Still My Heart

Now this is Christmas the way it ought to be celebrated. I think that's the best Christmas tree I've ever seen.

Protect Yourself!

Build your own tinfoil hat today!

Listen to it All- Not!

Several of my favourite blogs have fallen into the nasty habit of linking to audio files. On the surface this can be a good thing. But there are problems in that habit.

First, an amazing number of audio files are in Real Media (rm) format. I loathe Real Media. I loathe Real Player and I loathe everyone and everything associated with them. They simply will not play well with Firefox. Either you register with Real Media for official, approved version of their latest adware or you have to download a freeware cracked version. Neither option is especially appealing. Windows Media Files can also prove problematic for the non-Internet Explorer user. I will not change my browsing habits to suit someone who is too lazy to switch to a superior format. (If that's not flame war provocation, I don't know what is). Firefox is better than IE in so many different ways that it isn't funny (more fuel to the fire!).

Second, unlike text, audio files require sustained listening. If the good bit that you want your readers to appreciate occurs fifteen minutes into the speech, tell them that. Until I stopped doing it, I wasted untold hours of time waiting for the punchline. It never hurts to give your readers the option to cut to the chase. Better still, type out the bit that amused, offended, provoked or challenged you.

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Meaning of Christmas

Read the first comment to the post.

A Lovely Gift

When I first moved to Atlanta I was lucky enough to see Tom Keys and the boys perform the "Cotton Patch Gospel" at the Alliance Theater. A truly wonderful, moving and thought-provoking performance. Over the years since, I think I've seen it three more times.

The play is drawn from Clarence Jordan's translations of the New Testament, rendering them into the modern Southern idiom. Clarence Jordan was also responsible for founding Koinonia Farm, which is where Habitat for Humanity got its start. The Cotton Patch versions don't travel well into regions outside the South and they are rapidly becoming outdated here, but I doubt either of those facts would upset Mr Jordan much.

Yesterday, we had a combined birthday present swap. My sister and brother-in-law gave me this.
Matthew is a very, very happy man today.

In Dulci Jubilo

The BBC is broadcasting 'A Service of Lessons and Carols" live starting at 10 am EST. The podcast may be found here. Many, many Public Radio stations will be broadcasting it as well.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Now is the Time to Dance

Friday Morning Palate Cleanser

The original is by Sufjan Stevens. He is well worth checking out if you've never heard of him.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Top Ten Reasons to be an Episcopalian

10. No snake handling.
9. You can believe in dinosaurs.
8. Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.
7. You don’t have to check your brains at the door.
6. Pew aerobics.
5. Church year is color-coded.
4. Free wine on Sunday.
3. All of the pageantry—none of the guilt.
2. You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized.
And the Number One Reason to be an Episcopalian:
1. No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.

Many people have seen the list. Many, including myself, have laughed at it. But when I was re-reading #3, something struck me. If the Episcopal Church is guilt-free, then it must be missing something else as well. As my readers know, I've been pondering Martha Stout's book for quite a while.

All mature humans are riddled with guilt. If you do not feel the heavy load of guilt from time to time, then you have what is known as sociopathy. Only sociopaths are truly guilt free. Being guilt free often sounds lovely to me, but there is a very high cost paid for that freedom. Sociopaths can not love. They can feel love for others or feel that they are being loved. They have an inability to stay on mission and tend to flit from one activity to another, mostly because of tedium and boredom. For humans, we can not be freed from guilt without being freed from love. For most of us, that is a bargain we gladly accept.

Institutionally though, if being an Episcopalian means being freed from guilt, doesn't that disconnect us from love as well? And doesn't being a guiltless church mean it is also loveless?

I know many good Episcopalians. I'm related to quite a few. But a Church with a guilt-free mindset is a Church in trouble. More on that to follow.

Hey, Whatever Works

Researchers have found that sex ed delays teenagers from having sex. It seems to be irrelevant what sort of sex education it is, as well.

Everyone else may be baffled by this, but I know why. When I was a teen, I found everything taught to me in school to be dull and tedious. For example, I loathed Jane Austin for years as she was required reading in the ninth grade. If you teach teens about sex, they will believe it to be dull and tedious.

Maybe we ought to teach them about drugs as well. Require instruction in Heroin and I can practically guarantee no one will ever become a junkie.

Not Really Much of a Shock says I'm a Kinda Dorky Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Let's Get Political, Political! I Wanna Get Political

Or maybe not. I was mulling over my primary choices. As an independent I'm basically free in my state to vote in either primary. Then something occurred to me. I don't like Ron Paul. Shocking but true, I know. Please allow me to explain. I don't like his name. He has two first names. In my line of work, people who have two first names and no proper last name are troublesome.

Second and most importantly he either sounds like a purveyor of coconut clad chocolates, which I can't have because I'm diabetic, or he sounds like a second rate porn star.

I don't know where my readers stand, but I refuse to support a man who makes obscene candies. Even if they do have coconut. Besides his candies would be little and sweaty and that's just plain gross.

I firmly believe that Presidential candidates should come fully equipped with proper last names and share any foods they may make.

For those who don't remember the seventies, the title of this article refers to this song.

Side note: Given that Hillary and Bill didn't inhale, would it really be safe to accept brownies from Senator Clinton?

Today the Third Grade, Tomorrow the World

You know, this explains a great deal about just what exactly that toy line is about.

Phrase of the Day

Oh, they're going with the pixie dust theory. Read the whole thing. Economics snark truly is the best kind of snark there is.

More Holiday Cheer!

I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

Merry Tossmas!

For the Spanish speakers, Feliz Navitoss

Finally a holiday I can celebrate with a clear conscience and joy in my heart!

Hat tip Dean Munday.

I wish it really were a movie

Heck, I wish George Martin would hurry up and finish it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


I've just finished reading some 42 posts from two separate mailing list (HoBD and Magdalen). The people who post on the lists are, in general, good people. They are caring people, good Episcopalians who are committed to what they see as the good of the church.

But most of them are not Christians. They think of themselves as Christians, but they are not. I know that the critique of the statement I just made is "who are you to judge"? I am a Christian. And I do not damn anyone. But part of being a follower of Christ is knowing who, based upon their words and actions, are also fellow followers.

My criteria: If you can say the Apostles and the Nicene Creed without reservation, without quibble or redefinition and mean them and practice them, then you are a Christian. It's the historic test. It's the traditional test. And not many of the leadership appear to qualify.

And so I'm depressed. I'd love to read a post affirming Christ's resurrection in real, historic and physical terms. I'd love to read an acknowledgment of what it truly means to be a sinner in a sinful world and therefore redeemed by the God's sacrifice. I'd like to know that the people I'm reading consider Rowan Williams' theology to be other than 'magical nonsense'.

Show Me The Money (Part 2)

Part 1 of the series appears here

The triennial budget approved by the 2006 General Convention (GC) allocated some $49,458,711 in expenses. Not bad for a church with an ASA below 600,000. That's about $82 per average attendee.

The budget as approved by the GC included $35,000 per year for the chancellor (the Presiding Bishop's (PB) legal advisor) and $100,000 per year for “Title IV Investigation & Trials"(Title IV) (this is the estimated cost of finding out about and punishing wayward clergy). Total legal expenses allocated for 2007 were $135,000. As a percent of budget legal fees and expenses were 0.3% of the total budget.

In March of 2007, the Executive Council (EC) met and revised the 2007 budget. Title IV expenses were increased to $300,000 for 2007. No breakout was given for the Chancellor, but the category under which he is paid (Office of the Presiding Bishop) was reduced from $1,673,113 to $1,636,999 for a total savings of $36,114. That's awfully close to the Chancellor's fee listed above. Additionally, two new items appear on the EC's budget. The larger of the two is a line entitled “Property Protection for Missions” (PPM) and the amount allotted is $500,000. The smaller item is “General Corporate Legal Fees” (GCLF) and the amount shown is $362,611. Total legal expenses were $1,127,611. As a percentage of the total budget, legal expenses were 2%, for an increase over the amount budgeted by the GC of 735%.

The November monthly statement for the Episcopal Church has just come out and there are some more interesting numbers. As of November, the Episcopal Church has spent $324,482 on Title IV expenses, $540,192 on PPM and $149,133 on GCLF for a total of $1,013,807. The first two items are significantly over budget, the latter is under budget by almost 60%.

Here's where I start speculating. I believe that GCLF represents what 815 thought they would have to pay Goodwin Procter based upon Mr Beers hourly rates. Mr Beers is no longer a partner at Goodwin Procter and does not have to meet any billing expectations any more. When the two spokes models for the EC said they were getting “extraordinary value” for their money, I believe this is what they were referring to. Mr Beers is billing far less than what the EC had budgeted. He's contributing some or all of his legal expertise to the church. I really hope they appreciate what a gift that is.

However, the year is not over yet and since the books were closed on November, San Joaquin has left the church. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see there are significant Title IV and PPM expenses that are about to be incurred.

Where is the money coming from? Apparently from the rest of the budget. Total expenses budgeted for the past 11 months should have been $47,615,973. Actual expenses have been $44,876,267, leaving $ 3,688,370. These savings are coming from just about every department and program. By comparison, this time last year 815 was $1,156,760 under budget. 815 has tightened its belt and I think they're accumulating a war chest.

To be continued

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Morning Palate Cleanser

Why I Love the Internet

Anything is available. Even infidelity offsets. What more could one want? It doesn't sound like an original idea though. Can't imagine where they got the idea from.

Advent Message

The Archbishop of Canterbury has published his Advent and Christmas messages. The Advent message contains his reflections upon the current crisis in the Anglican Communion as well as a proposed solution. Because his mind is vaster, more profound and wiser than mine, he has come up with a solution that I, for a million years, would never have put forward.

He wants the primates to break up into small groups to discuss the matter. He proposes to supply professional facilitators for this grave task. Apparently small groups are a yet unacknowledged part of our rich Anglican heritage, and all of our problems are caused by an unwillingness to embrace that tradition more fully. We must live into the small group dynamism.

Oh brother!

Addendum: The more I read the ABC, the more I'm convinced Sarah Hey may have been onto something when she wrote: "The alarming clarity with which Rowan Williams speaks here, though, leads me to believe that they interviewed a stand-in -- that, or he needs to be interviewed by young crumb-crunchers more often." Perhaps the reform that's truly required is that all of the assistants, aides and spokespeople in Canterbury need to be replaced by middle schoolers.

Remain Episcopal

Most news stories about the drama in the valley have either said a few churches wish to remain episcopal or the number five is used. Remain Episcopal itself is currently claiming three: Holy Family, St John, Lodi and St. Anne Stockton. Assuming that everyone who is attending those churches wishes to remain affiliated with the Episcopal Church, that gives Remain Episcopal a probable membership of around 330 (combined ASA of all three churches). The Diocese has an ASA of around 4000. So the Tories in San Joaquin are about 8% of the diocese.

I suspect there are more than that. I also suspect that, five years from now, if you added up the ASA's of the Rebel and the Tory churches, it would be below 4,000. I hope not. But the reality for both sides is that they are older, with fewer children than the population as a whole. Also there are current members for whom the cost of litigation, any litigation will be too high. They will move on and find a church with fewer lawyers.

Unless someone in San Joaquin shows a hitherto undemonstrated talent for evangelism, the numbers will dwindle.

Sidenote: Holy Family has grown since 2004. But, a lot of that growth is directly attributable to people joining it from a church that was closed. I do not expect that growth to continue in the medium to long term.

Top Ten Economic Myths

The folks at the Business & Media Institute have compiled a list of the top ten media myths about the economy. It even has video!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

One of Life's Little Ironies

Being the total slacker that I am, instead of writing the second installment of the litigation budget series, I was tidying up my downloaded files. I came across this press release from the group Remain Episcopal. I'm sure it's just an accident that the name of it is 'repressrelease11082007.pdf.'

Sometimes You Just Want to Sail Away

Quote O' The Day

"Hunting for whiny anti-nativity scene protesters over a baited field is legal in Ohio?

That's kinda cool!"

Tam goes yard!

Yet another reason

Not to live in France. A French court has just decided that Amazon must charge for delivery.

Philosophy (Not family friendly)

It's funny, but I graduated from college some twenty five years ago. I was a philosophy major. Many people think that philosophy is a useless major, but I have never found it to be so. I learned to think in college, and that has made a huge difference in my life.

Whilst studying philosophy, I fell in love with the thinking of a Franciscan friar named William of Ockham (hence the name of this blog). He is responsible, among other things, of the earliest formulation of Occam's razor. He also wrote some very nasty critiques of the Papacy, which Luther cribbed from later on. I'm still a bit of a nominalist to this day.

Which made my readings of the speech linked to here very painful. To be blunt the whole speech is bulls**t. Dr. Adams employs bad logic, false definitions, faulty reasoning and weak rhetoric to reach her predetermined conclusions. There is no intellectual honesty, no charity and scholarship in her thinking and in her speaking. I've read the foul thing twice now. I may fisk it later. But probably not. Every time I think about it, I recoil.

I may use it as a touchstone. If you like it, then you are in league with the devil. If you don't then you probably are not. That may be too uncharitable. But intentional perversion of God's gifts of reason and learning angers me more than anything. It's a flaw. I'm feeling a distinct lack of love and am sorely tempted to crib some of Brother William's works and use them against Dr. Adams.

Addendum: I am ashamed of this post. It is intemperate. I still dislike the sermon, and for much the same reasons, but I should never have written this. However, I made a promise to myself when I started this that I would never delete a post. So I won't. But for the record, I was most uncharitable. I apologize.

Because the refi market is so healthy right now

There's a move in Congress to kill it even more.

Sad News

Terry Pratchett has a rare form of early onset Alzheimers. There's a fairly long list of people that I'd rather have such a thing than Terry Pratchett.

815's Version of Revival

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What Women Do Not Know About Men

Kathy Shaidle has posted a very funny item about Mark Steyn. As part of it, she put up a Youtube video of Ann-Margret as part of her plan to distract her male readers. I esteem Ann-Margret greatly (Only Cyd Charisse, Anita Morris and Leah Thompson rank higher with me in cheesecake factor). Unfortunately, the clip she posted had Elvis. Any clip that has Elvis fails to distract men. If you're going to achieve maximum male distraction, you need to post this clip.


Now is the time at Billy Ockham when we dance.

Show Me the Money (Part 1)

This is part of an intermittent series about the cost of Episcopal litigation.

Who is David Booth Beers? He's currently the chancellor of teh Episcopal Church. He served at that post under the previous Presiding Bishop as well, so he's been doing it for a while. But who is he? Here are the facts:

He graduated from Trinity College in Connecticut in 1957. Trinity is a school with a long Episcopalian connection, although it is a non-denominational school. He graduated from Berkeley (University of California) Law School in 1960. He also earned an MA from there at the same time.

He was a partner in the Washington based law firm of Shea and Gardner until the firm was acquired by Goodwin Procter in 2002. Shea and Gardner was an establishment litigation firm. Mr. Beers was a litigator for them in the area of products liability. Shea and Gardner was acquired by the very large tony Boston law firm of Goodwin Procter in 2004. Mr Beers became a partner in Goodwin Procter after the acquisition. He became 'of counsel' to the firm in this year.

He is an active layman within the Episcopal Church and serves (or has served) on several charitable boards.

Here are some points that may or may not be obvious:

Mr. Beers is no longer a partner at the firm. "Of Counsel" is a term law firms use to cover a variety of relationships with the firm. In this instance, it likely means semi-retired. That would fit with the upsurge in litigation at 815 and Mr. Beers' age. I'm afraid it means he wishes to concentrate his formidable legal skills on serving this one particular client. His going 'of counsel' means that he has cleared his decks.

Also, Goodwin Procter has an unofficial goal of 1850 billing hours per year. This is usually applied to associates at a law firm, but partners who let their billing slip can expect to hear about it at firm meetings. For non-lawyers, 1850 hours billing per year means 2200 hours worked, or a 44 hours billed per week (66+ hours worked per week), with two weeks off for vacation. If Mr. Beers is giving the Episcopal Church a discount on his $600/hour fee, and I will explain why I believe that in a later essay, then he would have to step down as partner, given how much of his time the church is using.

Mr. Beers' legal experience is vast. But his area of practice was products liability for large corporations. In other words he defended equipment manufacturers and such when people were injured by their equipment. His accustomed roles are preventative and reactive. Under Bishop Griswold, I think we saw him being preventative. The constant use of the talking point about how "People leave the Episcopal Church, property does not" is likely as a result of his advice.

Bishop Schori has thrust him into a new role as a plaintiff's attorney. This time he is doing the suing. I'm certain he's up to it, but it is not a role he can be much used to.

A side note: Mr Beers is a very formidable opponent. He has had a distinguished legal career. But that does not mean he can not be beaten. Back in the day when I was in general practice in South Georgia we used to make mincemeat of white shoe lawyers at trial. Good litigators are rarely the top of their class in law school. Being raging egomaniacs, they tend to be with very small firms. Also, a local attorney almost always has an advantage over a large firm attorney from out of town. The big guy may have great resources behind him, but he will never know the lay of the land, and that advantage is a huge one.

Correction made to sentence about hours billed per week.

Will the circle be unbroken

Michelle Wright-Iris DeMent-Mairead Ni Mhaonaight

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More Bad News About Global Warming

It appears that global warming is impacting Antarctica's penguin populations. Somebody better send Al Gore down there in his private jet to correct that problem, pronto.

Anglican Beach Party

From the good folks at Hot Rod Anglican

Rethinking Censorship

I've always been keen on freedom of expression, but this video is making me rethink that position

Just When You Think They Can't Sink Any Lower

Our leaders in Congress prove how contemptible they really are. Apparently, it's okay to do anything you please, as long as you don't get caught. I know that many people are partisan and tend to vote along party lines. But I'm begging you. Unless you really and truly believe that your congressmen and senators are good, decent people who support most of the same policies you do, vote for the other guy. Voting for the incumbent just perpetuates the rot. The other guy may be an idiot, an offensive ideologue who's every viewpoint you despise, but he'll also be the one with no sense of entitlement or job security.

Arguably, the biggest public health issue isn't smoking or AIDS, it's Potomac Fever. And it's the wrong kind of fever at that.

Tuesday Funny

Monday, December 10, 2007

Benny Goodman Saves The World

I posted this over at StandFirm. I like it enough, that I'm gonna post it again.

You know, I’m struck by how one person seems to think that because the Episcopal Church behaves in a particular manner now, it has always done so.

It reminds of an eye opening experience I had in my twenties. I had grown up with big band music, and I associated it with elevators, because that’s where I had always heard it. It was slow, sweet and bland. Then a friend invited me to a party. She had hired a real live jazz band for the party. I heard “Sing! Sing! Sing!” for the first time played the way Benny Goodman played it back in the day.

Likewise, just because the Episcopal Church doesn’t do evangelism today, does not mean that that was always true. We used to be pretty good at it. In the not too recent past we were the fastest growing church in America (look it up!). We grew faster than the Mormons. The Episcopal Church had kudzu like vitality. That changed in the space of a few years.

And now the Episcopal Church is sedentary. But what we need is the Holy Spirit to play some jazz back into our souls. Some may say it’s too late, the old girl’s already in a walker and her feet can’t find the rhythm anymore. But I say, what the heck, let’s crank up the volume on the hearing aid and let ‘er rip.

I'm proud to belong to his church.

The softer side

Warning: This site will peg your cuteness meter. You've been warned

Blast From The Past

I know I'm only one of the three that loved this group, but it's a great song.

Proud To Be An American

Yet another, "go us" post.

Macleans, Canada's equivalent to Time or Newsweek is being sued for "Hate Speech". Have I mentioned recently how really fond I am of the First Amendment?

Advocates of restricting freedom of expression always maintain that it's only the ugly bits they want to eliminate. Be that as it may, there are two profound effects of that sort of thing. The first is a chilling effect of political expression on whatever subject is deemed to be ugly. Which is what is going on in Canada.

And the second is that the bigots aren't eliminated, they go underground. I much prefer to know what people really think, without regard to code words and such. In the war between honesty and manners, give me honesty every time. Every bigot who goes underground is one that can not have his or her beliefs held up to the light, examined and confronted. How can you even attempt to change someone's views unless you know what they truly believe.


This may come off as jingoistic, but I don't mean it that way.

I'm currently reading Wasting Police Time by PC Copperfield. He was, until recently a street cop in Britain (His blog is linked on the right). Recently he has outed himself and taken a job in Canada.

His book really makes me glad I live where I do. Not that I think the police are any better here, mind. DeKalb County has some of the laziest cops I've ever seen. In the eleven years that I've lived in this house, I think I've seen a patrolling cop car three times.

But, our laws are a lot different. On some levels criminals have it easier here. They can not be detained indefinitely, for example, without being charged. But we have a lot less bureaucracy and our government is a lot more local. Local government presents its own set of problems, but one happy effect of localization is that when the citizenry gets irate, changes get made quickly.

Also, we have more prisons. Which means that criminals get locked up for longer. Oddly enough there is a direct correlation between how many criminals are out on the street and how much crime there is. We cottoned on to that some fifteen years ago or so. The Europeans haven't yet. It takes a lot of digging, but if you can find some real crime statistics, then you'll get your eyes opened about just how much crime there is in the EU.

A digression. I'm not saying that French crime statistics are cooked. I'm saying that they have taken every Ronco kitchen appliance there is to their crime statistics. The French stats have been julienned, chopped, rolled, diced, sliced and beaten until they bear no resemblance to reality. Whole suburbs (banlieue) of Paris are "no-go" zones for police. No police, no crime seems to be the operative theory.

Back to the main point. Besides have a revolving door judicial system, the Europeans have an unreformed welfare system. I know that conservatives are supposed to hate Pres. Clinton, but I'm going to have to ask my conservative readers not to spit at the next sentence. This nation owes him a debt for welfare reform. In my opinion, that was probably the best thing he did as President. We have seen a near elimination of the permanent lower class, and that new social mobility has benefited everyone. Every European country has a permanent welfare (dole) class. They are useless. And they know it. And if you don't think that knowledge doesn't cause problems for society as a whole, I have a bridge for sale.

We do have our problems. There are still projects. There are still poor people. And shocking numbers of mentally ill, addicts and other cast-offs (Our society's treatment of severely mentally ill people is especially reprehensible). Unfortunately, the problems that remain are insoluble when seen from a distance. Which means that dealing with the dysfunctional members of society can only be done on a personal level, which gets expensive.

But, in comparison to the state of Britain, we're doing well. And with the dollar the way it is, it is just possible that more Britons will visit here and see for themselves.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Kant Attack Ad

Because I am a total geek

This is so going in my Amazon wishlist. Read a really great interview with Nathan Fillion here.

I Changed My Mind

This post was going to be all about the revisionist reaction to the Diocese of San Joaquin leaving the playground. But, the more I read the Swan of Newark, Terrible Terry, Screamin' Susan and the rest of that lot, the more I thought, why bother?

They are entitled to their tantrums. It's a free country and they may say what they wish. If you really want to see what they are saying, you can find links below as part of the revisionist bible, or over at RedStickRant.

Best quote so far

"Any country that halves the life expectancy of its population speaks for itself", Bertie Ahern, PM of Ireland speaking about Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

News we can use

Dong explains why buying cheap toilet paper is not necessarily the frugal thing to do.

Use of Force Justified or Not?

You decide

Saturday, December 08, 2007

San Joaquin

The Diocese of San Joaquin just voted to leave by clear majorities of the clergy and laity. These are historic times in the Episcopal Church.

I'm betting there are attorneys heading to Fresno from New York as I type.


We just had a new roof on our house. We are about to have a new furnace installed as well. Money is going to be tight around Ockham Manor for a while. Part of home ownership is that you have to deal with these issues from time to time. When you own your own home, you also have to deal with maintenance. One day this coming week, we will be in the yard cutting back some plants that have grown to close to our gutters.

One of the religious cliches of our time is the use of the phrase 'church home'. The idea is a fairly positive one. If one church is your church home, that is where you are comfortable. That is where you can rest and recuperate.

But churches, like houses, need maintenance. Every church vestry is well aware of how expensive a new roof can be. Or a new furnace. But homes, even church homes are not just about physical objects. Homes involve people. And where you have people, you have relationships.

I'm no expert in relationships. In our marriage, so far we've managed to get by. We've had some good times and we've definitely had some rough times. Mostly we've improvised as trouble crops up and that seems to have worked.

Churches involve many people, which can mean that the relationships get complex. Also, it is very rare for a church relationship to be anyone's primary relationship. So that if there is trouble with your son and trouble at the church, the church gets what time and attention you have left over after your son.

All of this blindingly obvious, but where trouble creeps in is with conflict resolution. In a marriage, how a couple deals with conflict is one of the keys to whether the relationship works or doesn't. And every couple knows that fights are inevitable. Some couples fight more than others. Some seem to do it on a schedule. But we all do it and trying to avoid a fight generally seems to make things worse.

Most churches I know deal with conflict by avoidance. Because we all think we have enough conflict in our lives, when it comes to non-primary relationships the desire to place potential conflicts on the back burner is very hard to resist.

The Episcopal church has definitely been avoiding trouble. I've been reading reports from the recent round of diocesan conventions. My diocese, the diocese of Atlanta, is probably fairly typical of those. The Bishop here spent more time discussing the current dissension than most.

Here is what he said:

"Before concluding this address, I would like to make a few comments concerning the state of affairs in The Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion. As you know, in September the House of Bishops met in New Orleans for its annual fall meeting. The Archbishop of Canterbury accepted our invitation to be present with us and we were joined by members of the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates of the Anglican Communion. The conversations were frank and clarifying, but gracious and productive. A spirit of goodwill pervaded the meeting.

After two days of conversation with our guests, and a workday in New Orleans to clear our heads, the bishops set about the task of responding to the requests of the Primates of the Anglican Communion expressed in the communiqué from their meeting last spring in Dar es Salaam. It is important to note that, although the Primates’ communiqué has been read by some as an ultimatum, our guests from around the Communion made it abundantly clear that they did not understand it that way. Nonetheless, in a spirit of generosity and humility, your bishops decided that we would try to respond faithfully to their requests, to the degree that we could, fully recognizing that we could speak only as the bishops of this church and that we could not speak definitively for our church apart from the General Convention. Naturally, there are those who believe the bishops wimped out and should have responded more forcefully. There are others who clearly believe that the bishops overstepped our authority. Frankly, I believe both such viewpoints are quite simply incorrect. The bishops were asked to clarify the meaning of the actions of the 2006 General Convention in response to the Windsor Report. We did exactly and only that. We declared absolutely nothing that was not already established, explicitly or implicitly, by the actions of the last General Convention. Many in the church are at odds with the decisions of the last convention with respect to the Windsor Report. Some believe the Convention went too far, others believe the convention did not go far enough. But, either way, I believe the bishops’ response to the Primates is an accurate reflection of where we are as a church at this time, as painful as that place may be for many of our people. Here it is important to note that, unlike most communications from the House of Bishops, which are termed “mind of the House resolutions,” we intentionally did not call our response a “mind of the House.” Your bishops are not of one mind on the church’s response to the Windsor Report any more than the church is of one mind. What we were able to do is to describe where we believe our church is at the present time. It is not a comfortable place for many of us and it is almost surely not the place to which the church will eventually land, but it is the place we find ourselves at this time. What is important for you to know is that by near-unanimous consent – with one dissenting and audible voice-- your bishops were able to agree, not on the issues, but on a response to the Primates of the Communion, a response that provides a clear and honest picture of where we are.

What concerns me is that much of the conversation seems to be framed in either-or categories and language. Needless to say, that’s not a very Anglican way of thinking! There are those who insist that the church plow full-speed ahead on any and all issues that can possibly be framed in gospel-justice terms and let the unity of the church be damned. The opposing position is just as clear: preserve the unity of the church and our participation in the Anglican Communion at all costs, even at the risk of losing our soul.

The problem is that polar thinking is always shallow thinking. Polar positions are always as weak as they are strong. The truth, dear friends, is we have a moral obligation to pursue both – justice and unity – and to pursue both of them boldly, faithfully and tirelessly. Justice without care for the unity of the church will be selfish, shortsighted, and shallow. Unity without justice is a sham, a shame, and a sin.

Finally, I want to tell you how distressed I am about the proposals before the conventions of three or four sister dioceses of our church that seek to amend their diocesan constitution and canons purportedly to make it possible for them to disregard the actions of the General Convention and to position themselves for realignment with a foreign prelate. In our church and in our Anglican tradition, not to mention the apostolic and catholic tradition of the whole church, a parish exists because it is in communion with its bishop as part of the bishop’s diocese geographically defined. In like manner, a diocese cannot exist apart from its establishment by the General Convention. Passing vestry resolutions to the contrary, or amending diocesan canons, does not change these ancient and well-worn ecclesial principles: Parishes are part of dioceses and dioceses are part of the church. That’s the way it works in the Episcopal Church. That’s the way it works in Anglicanism. That’s the way apostolic faith and order work.

Long before you called me to be your bishop, I understood that a large part of what a bishop does is to be a connector: to connect clergy and people with each other so that their experience of church is always larger than their local parish, to connect dioceses to other dioceses so that their experience of church is always larger than the local church, and to connect the church with the Anglican Communion and the ecumenical church catholic so that our experience of church is always as whole and as far-reaching as possible. To put it another way, we expect our bishops to be for us signs of unity toward which Christ calls his church by the power of the Spirit. So you can see why it would trouble my soul when I see some of my brother bishops who seem to be working against the unity of the church and plotting its destruction. I believe that as a bishop I have every right to my convictions, to argue my positions, to declare my loyalties, and when necessary, to be difficult to live with. But I also have a solemn obligation to stay at the table no matter how unpleasant the company, to live within the discipline of this church, and to do everything in my power to build up the family of God no matter how difficult that might be on some days. It breaks my heart to see bishops of this church, who took the same ordination vows I did, disregard their solemn obligations to our common life.

Deep in the psyche of Anglicanism is a profound respect for the conscience of an individual before God. I will honor, I will respect, and I will defend anyone – layperson, priest, bishop, or deacon – who for reasons of his or her own conscience cannot stay in communion with us. That’s a long held and deeply honored Anglican position. But no one, no one has the right – no bishop or priest, in particular – to let their conscience in any matter lord it over their parish, their diocese, or their church. I can easily imagine, friends, multiple lists of things that our church could do that would make me unhappy. I’ll fuss, I’ll whine, and I’ll be cantankerous, but I shall also be obedient. I find it hard to imagine that the church would ever do something that would so trouble my conscience that I could no longer find some way, however tenuous, to stay in the family. I can’t think of anything that would ever keep me away from the table of God’s generosity. Being a faithful bishop means leading the people committed to your care toward the fullness of the church, toward the richness of the tradition, toward that deeper unity that comes only from the Spirit of the Risen Christ. It never means pulling them apart or leading them away no matter what troubles you. "

What strikes me is how he totally avoids mentioning what the actual issues are. He uses process language to describe what happened without dealing with any actual content. Underlying the whole passage is the idea of pluriform and relative truth. That no one way is ever the right way. Not only is that patently false, it means that conflict never gets addressed and thus resolved.

The last three paragraphs describe his notion of what a bishop is. Nowhere is there leadership. Because a leader, leads. It's the root of the word. And to effectively lead a people, you have to have some idea of where it is you are going, whether it be Canaan or Atlanta. If anyone can tell me how a church can be led “toward the fullness of the church, the richness of the tradition”, I'd love to hear it. The processes described lead the churches he is in charge of towards avoidance of conflict, and nowhere else.

Avoiding conflict can result in a very peaceful church. After a while that sort of church usually begins to resemble another quiet place, a graveyard. More to the point, the best and brightest of a church, the ones who care about what church is truly about will not stick around for eternal process. In such situations Bishop Alexander wins by default.

That is exactly what has happened in the diocese of Atlanta. He became bishop in 2001. In 2001, the diocese had an average Sunday attendance (ASA) of 19,113. In 2006, ASA was 17,792, for a decline of -7%. To put things even further in perspective, in 2001 the population of Metro Atlanta (roughly contiguous with the diocese) was 4,187,003. In 2006 the population was 5,240,531, for a growth of 25%. In 2001, active Episcopalians comprised .46% of the population. Today, active Episcopalians are .34% of the metro population.

I do not have any numbers on how many are going to Anglican alternative churches. I do know that such churches have proliferated, going from two in 1986 to more than twenty in north Georgia. One such church, founded in 1987 (Church of the Apostles), reports 3,000 members. I do not know how that correlates to ASA or, indeed, how accurate the number is.

I think I know what is keeping the new migrants away from the Episcopal church. The diocese does not know what it is about. The diocese does not know what it is about because there is no discussion of ideas, only processes. And the discussion is restricted to process because the bishop does not want conflict. Very few people are attracted to a church that is committed to stasis.

I've seen the video for the Pittsburgh and the Fort Worth diocesan conventions. What struck me most was how un-Episcopalian the bishops were. They both discussed content. Of course, they framed the discussion in the best light possible, but even so, ideas were actually discussed. I suspect that the same will hold true today in San Joaquin.

I have also been struck by how accommodating the three bishops have been to dissenters. This is in stark contrast to the other bishops. Which leads me to an uncomfortable conclusion. If what you are about is the Truth, then you can let dissidents keep the property, because while it is material, it is irrelevant to what you are about. If you do not know the Truth, then the material becomes paramount, because that is all you are left with.

I do not like that conclusion. But my unease convinces me that it is likely true.

Note: This is a rough draft. I'm intending to flesh it out a bit more. I'm posting it in the hopes of getting some criticism. Either comment here or email me at mousestalker (replace the -at- with @).

Friday, December 07, 2007

The New Revised Episcopal Bible (beta)

I recently got a sneak peek at the new Episcopal Church Bible, soon to be rolled out a church near you!


Book of Inertia

1st Letter of Katherine to the Heretics
2nd Letter of Katherine to the Heretics
3rd Letter of Katherine to the Heretics
1st Louie
2nd Louie
Louie, Louie
Epistle to Chatham
Epistle to Pasadena
Epistle to Hammonton

Book of Tantrums

Revision: Changed title to post to make it punchier.

My First Anti-Bush Post

I generally try to stay away from Bush-bashing, not because I like the guy, but because it tends to be tedious and the lefties get way too over-wrought.


I saw this article and was somewhat appalled. As a real estate attorney, I'm somewhat aware of how interest rates are right now, I know something about sub-prime lending practices and adjustable rate mortgages. Now it appears that the freeze will be a reality.

Rate freezes sound like a great deal. And they are, for debtors. In the short term. The problem is that the purchasers of those debt instruments are being deprived of their property rights. And that is going to chill the repurchase market for home loans for quite a while. It's politically attractive because the people who benefit will know who to thank. However, everyone who borrows against their house from now to the forseeable future will wind up paying for it in the form of higher borrowing costs.

I know some of my readers will be wondering why, if it's going to chill the market, Countrywide is so keen on it. Countrywide does not hold the loans. They merely originate them. When you borrow from Countrywide, they resell your note to someone else. If the property goes into foreclosure, then the holder may be able to force Countrywide to buy back the note. Which leaves Countrywide owning property that is less than what it originally appraised for.

While this proposal will hurt Countrywide's origination business, it should substantially reduce their liability for loan defaults. So, in the short run, it's a very good deal for Countrywide. But how good a deal is it for the pension funds that are the major holders of ARM notes?


To get a handle on how things are for Countrywide, I decided to see how they did in October in Fulton County, GA (largest county in Georgia). Countrywide Home Loans, Inc recorded 47 security deeds for the month of October. In Georgia, mortgages are not typically used, so security deeds are. No one but real estate attorneys calls them security deeds though. Everyone else calls them mortgages.

Countrywide foreclosed on six properties during the same time period. So their business is down and they're having to buy back a fairly high percentage ( 13%) of the loans they are currently making. No wonder they're eager to stem the tide of foreclosures.

Obligatory Pop Song

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Hot Chocolate

I'm a chocoholic. So here's a little recipe that eases my cravings on these cold winter days (and nights)

1. Get some water very very hot.
2. Add cocoa powder to said water. Stir frantically. When the water is dark dark brown, stop adding cocoa powder.
3. Add about half as much Splenda as you did cocoa powder. This time stir frenetically.
4. Add the teansiest bit of salt. Just a few specks will do.
5. (optional) Add either vanilla or cinnamon or both. If you have a cold, try adding the merest drop of pepper sauce.
6. Stir kinetically.
7. Drink and enjoy.

This concoction has almost no carbs and no fat. It is Atkins friendly, Weight Watchers friendly and Matthew friendly.

Needless Provocation

I normally do not listen to Neal Boortz. Like so many talk radio types he indulges in a fair amount of needless provocation. On a slow news day a talk radio host might lead the hour with the statement "I like to kick puppies, what do you think about that?" and hope his switchboard lights up.

But I have been thinking about some things. I read this essay about a first year teachers experience in a Washington DC elementary school. One of the major changes over the past century is the steady decline in both discipline and educational standards. I'm starting to think that feminism is to blame.

I remember that Mr Boortz used to vilify feminazis, and probably still does, but I actually have a fair amount of logic on my side in this one. First, since women got the vote, both learning and discipline have declined in our public schools. Like it or not, that is unarguable. Just check out any high school syllabi from 1920 and compare with today.

But just because the changes coincide doesn't mean that there is a causal relationship. Migratory patterns in birds show a close temporal relationship with the popularity of skiing, but one does not cause the other.

In connection with women being granted voting rights is the rise in children's advocacy. The relationship there is direct. Children's advocacy groups typically advocate no corporal punishment. Once a school district bans corporal punishment, suits alleging child abuse skyrocket (I will supply cites later, but it's true). By and large these suits are not caused by actual mistreatment but from the largely accurate perception that school boards would rather settle than fight.

The threat of litigation causes school boards who are politicians, to back administrators that don't cause problems. The administrators who cause the least amount of trouble are the ones that cave in confrontations with voters (parents). Which mean that teachers receive little or no support from their employers. Teachers become unwilling to discipline problem children in any meaningful way.

Undisciplined children disrupt the classroom so no discipline means no time to teach. Which means that children either self-educate or they remain ignorant. I'm starting to believe that the unintended consequence of treating children as persons with rights is that they remain unlettered.

Second cause, and this is very much backed up by statistics. With other employment options open, the best and brightest women no longer wish to teach as a career. Education majors have been the stupidest and most ignorant college students, on average, now for decades.

I am not arguing for a repeal of the Nineteenth Amendment. And I certainly do not wish any group of people barred by law or custom from seeking the employment that would best gratify them. But, if the facts I've stated are true, if the situation is the way I fear it is, what do we do?

Why the Internet is wonderful

All of the hidden dirt and drama that went into the production of one of the all time favourite Christmas TV shows are revealed. Oh the scandal and the shame! Two warnings, the site yields pop ups (which Firefox blocked for me) and there's a lot more information than you probably ever wanted to know.

Good stuff!

Mailing List Watch

The major topic of discussion on the House of Bishops and Deputies mailing list is currently....... oil spills. Every time I read the spam that accumulates in my designated mail box from that list, I'm struck by how intemperate the leaders of the Episcopal Church are.

I know that any and all of my friends and acquaintances can discuss local issues such as oil spills without dire hints about Bush Administration malfeasance or incompetence. On a side note, I also know that we would never indulge ourselves in environmental cliches such as fragile and pristine. Every time I hear or read those words I want to throw Silent Spring at the utterer. And the hard back edition too, not the weeny paperback.

Our Leaders are actively looking for objects of their hatred. Much as I despise Spiro Agnew (and I do), the phrase "nattering nabobs of negativism" rings true when applied to these folks. The only way I can keep reading the bilge they spew is to invent nick names for the more egregious of the lot.

Which I will concede is not very Christ like of me.

I earlier asked the question How do you bring a sociopath to Christ? That question continues to haunt me.

Life's Little Ironies

Back in the day, I wanted desperately to be invited to beta test new games. Now that I've abandoned online gaming, I keep getting invitations to beta test new games. Life gets really funny sometimes.

Speed Kills

Not enough speed that is. Anyone who drives the Interstates around Atlanta knows that the only reason for the posted speed limits is revenue enhancement. The speed limits are routinely ignored by drivers.

Here's a Shout Out to Gene

I hope this helps with your wish to be a June Bride
Because I care. No really.....

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

And Bishop Schofield Replies

I posted a small piece about Bishop Schori's letter to Bishop Schofield. He has responded. Well worth checking out if you haven't read it already.

One note: The letter was posted on StandFirm at 2:08 pm EST. I'm willing to bet it was emailed to a number of parties at or before then. As of 5:41, the letter hasn't been acknowledged at ENS. Episcope is similarly clueless. The HoBD started to ferment about 20 minutes ago.

By contrast, the PB's missive was received by StandFirm at 8:34 on 12/3. It was posted at ENS at 6:40 on the same day. My point is that the official Episcopal media are slow.

I remarked a while back on another blog that I thought TEC hasn't caught up with the Internet age. I still think that.

Addendum: ENS finally reported the story at 6:11 pm. Of course, they don't quote it in full, although they do link to it. It's a wretched little piece of alleged journalism. Give me bloggers every time. Were Father Jake to fisk the letter, he'd do it right. He'd be wrong, but he'd at least get it done.

Comedy Classic Theatre

Warning: This is not safe for work. No, I'm not kidding. Yes I know it's Tim Conway. It's still not work safe.

Tesla Trouble

I've been keeping an eye on Tesla Motors. They are the company that's been developing an all electric sports car. Unfortunately, there's been a major shake-up going on over there. Given that it is a start up, firing the founder of the company is probably not a good sign.

Of Course, That's When I'm Most Dangerous

Police in Kansas tasered a naked, deaf man in his bathtub.

Because They Have Nothing Better To Do Dept.

Nurses in the UK are being told to turn their Muslim patients' beds towards Mecca five times a day.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


No bull.

Just cows and steers.

Yes, I know it's unkind, and it's probably not original.

The Next British Invasion

Check out their website.

My Next Car

Venezuelan Referendum

Maybe if Chavez had distributed milk cartons with his picture on them instead of belt buckles and such, he might have won. Just spitballing here. I know King Juan Carlos wishes Chavez was on a milk carton.

I hope he doesn't read blogs because he very well might try running the referendum until the voters get it right.

Letter to John-David

PB Schori has written a remarkable letter to Bishop Schofield. I've discussed it elsewhere at some length, but as this is the place where my editorial hand reigns supreme, I thought I'd fluff out my thoughts a bit more.

Firstly, it's an open letter. Unless it was emailed or couriered, the first Bishop Schofield would have known about it was when he read "Episcopal Life Online". The Episcoapl Church has been many things, but the one thing Episcopalians have been noted for is manners. These open letters are plain tacky.

Second, there is no concrete offer made. The letter asks (demands) that Bishop Schofield repent and change his ways. There is no offer on the part of Bishop Schori to do anything. She does not offer to come meet with him. She does not offer to discuss it over the phone. She offers nothing. This letter is no offer to effect reconciliation. It's designed to bolster Bishop's Schori's standing amongst her supporters and to paper the file in prospect of litigation.

Third, Bishop Schori is apparently unaware of the Arian vs Athanasian controversy. What she says in her final paragraph about San Joaquin's possible actions being unprecedented is simply not the case. It's also rather ironic given what the Episcopal Church has done and is doing by way of Women's Ordination, Ordination of practicing homosexuals, recognition of gay marriage, and communion without baptism. But who am I to quibble? That these self-same revelations are what is driving San Joaquin from the embrace of the Episcopal Church is apparently irrelevant.

In the spirit of the season, I say "Bah, humbug!"

It's About Time

Cory Doctorow is calling DRM terminally ill. Amazon and Wal-Mart are apparently putting the squeeze on the music industry to eliminate DRM software from their music. At this point the remaining holdouts are struggling Canute-like against the tide.

Women in Combat

Volokh Conspiracy, my favourite legal blog is having a great discussion about women in combat. Check it out.

It's a subject I'm interested in, but I don't really have a dog in that fight.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Canan Nan Gaidheal - Karen Matheson

This is from BBC's Transtlantic series. Well worth searching Youtube for the rest. Transatlantic was apparently a collabrative between Celtic (British musicians) and Country (USA) musicians. I haven't heard a song yet in the series that wasn't well done.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

How did I miss this?

News I can Use

I'm a type two diabetic. I control my diabetes through diet (no, really!) and through using two prescription drugs (Metformin and Glipizide). I normally do not link to anything by Instapundit because he has such a popular site that anything there has likely already been seen by everyone. This morning though, he linked to this. He calls it an anti-aging drug.

I've been hearing about Resveratrol for a while now. It's pretty pricey stuff. But if it can do half of what the hype says, then taking it might be worthwhile. I'm really torn about whether to try it or not.

In Georgia, you go to church. In Iowa, the church comes to you.

Just an amazing video.

Hat tip to Joshua Claybourne.

Addendum: Clifford over at Red Stick Rant has a great take on it.

Just because

This blog has gotten too cerebral. I give you all a cat fight, set to appropriate music.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

One of Life's Little Ironies...

I subscribe to the House of Bishops and Deputies mailing list. I do it under a separate account so GoogleMail doesn't get confused and overload my business email with spam. I'm not allowed to post on the list (being neither a bishop nor a deputy), but the posts do make interesting reading.

There's just one problem. GoogleMail treats every post starting a new subject (thread) by either Tom Woodward or Elizabeth Kaeton as spam.

I really can't comment any further on that. It's like being a five year old in a candy store with permission to have all the candy you can grab.

Will Hillary Step Up

and demand new restrictions on the sale of duct tape?

Millenium Development Goals

I think the main reason the orthodox in the Episcopal Church are so wary of the Millenium Development Goals has to do with the reverence granted them. No one is opposed to feeding the hungry, teaching the illiterate and such. But the MDG's are wholly secular. They were created by and sponsored by an organization that is wholly secular. That organization is also corrupt in a spectacular fashion.

Bad things happen when the Church gets involved with the State. For a church that used to be a state church such as TEC, the peril is greater. A good analogy might be the adulterous wife resuming an affair with the evil mustachioed banker while she is estranged from her husband. Not only is the affair wrong, but there is every chance she will sign over the deed to the ranch.

Similarly, TEC needs to keep her distance away from the UN. Certainly, do all the good works possible, but also not get drawn into the morasses the UN is prone to.

It would be far, far better to focus on God's law.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I don't support Ron Paul

But you have to figure videos like this will get him some votes

Strike Tips

My favourite advice columnist offers good, solid tips to the striking TV writers.

Friday Morning Palate Cleanser

Seven Deadly Sins (revised)

Proposed list of the seven deadly sins. To be offered by the movings of the Spirit at the next General Convention in 2009.

1. Narrow
2. Rigid
3. Fundamentalist
4. Conservative
5. Patriarchal
6. Breeding
7. Logical

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rowan Williams' Nightmare Outcome for the Anglican Communion

Rowan Williams Fantasy Outcome for the Anglican Communion

The Most Likely Outcome

Here's what triggered the series of videos.

The More Things Change

the more they stay the same

Credibility and Authority

The Internet has wrought great changes to how we perceive our world. There is a theory that we get and evaluate information based upon 'trusted sources'. That is we allow others to a certain extent to evaluate the credibility of the information we are presented. We give very little credibility to the drunk bum ranting about aliens in the sewers because we know that street people are often crazy, drunks are almost always wrong and we don't know the guy. So the sewer aliens are safe from our scrutiny.

On the other hand when our sainted, gray haired mother tells us that sister and her husband want to sell their condominium, we think that likely to be true. We trust our mother, it's exactly the sort of thing they would do, Mom's up on all the family news and she's a special confidant of our sister.

Television has used and abused our credibility filters for quite a long time. Commercials often dress actors up as doctors because we trust doctors. Actors who can sound especially sincere get hired for voice over work in commercials or as news anchors. Walter Cronkite in particular made his career on looking and sounding authoritative.

There is a more modern trend in credibility. Or rather in the mass destruction of it. Dan Rather assumed that he would have instant and overwhelming credibility because he was the CBS news anchor. What he ignored was the massive loss of trust for television news that had occurred throughout his tenure as anchor (and mostly not due to his actions). Talk radio and the Internet opened up new sources of information and the audience for television news shrank.

Rush Limbaugh enjoys a very large audience, but little credibility. I don't listen to talk radio, but I have friends who do enjoy listening to Rush even while they rarely agree with what he says. Likewise, I know an inordinate number of conservatives who listen to NPR.

On the internet, I visit both Kos, DU, HotAir, and Free Republic. I have Fox and CNN both bookmarked, as well as Youtube. I rarely grant instant credibility to anything I find on those sites.

There may be those who grant certain sources universal and unconditional credibility. But I suspect that the percentage of those who do is rather small and confined to the very young, the very old and the overly credulous.

Mostly what we grant is 'conditional credibility'. If there is a plane crash, I trust CNN to get the hard facts correct. That is, where the crash occurred, what make of plane, who the air carrier was and how many were injured. I do not trust them to report a U.S. Supreme Court decision accurately. I trust Eugene Volokh to construe constitutional law decisions. I do not trust him on kitchenware. Tony Bourdain is my kitchen guru, but I ignore what he says about religion. And so it goes.

Which brings me back to the doctor in the lab coat. Like it or not, we Americans are now a skeptical people. We are confronted on a daily basis with people who wear the symbols of knowledge or authority and we regularly dismiss what they tell us. The old ways of evaluating authority are dying or dead. Where this becomes important in religion is as follows.

I recently overheard a woman wearing a clerical collar bemoan that she was not given any respect as a pastor. As I understand it, she felt that she had the symbols of authority, but strangers upon meeting her accorded her no additional respect because of her station. She and her friend attributed it to the fact that she's a woman. I disagree. That may have been true twenty or so years ago, but in today's world we see a lot of people accoutered in symbols that no longer have meaning.

To an atheist or agnostic, a person in a clerical collar is a religious and to be treated as such. In other words, as a fraud or charlatan, or at best as a well-meaning fool. To a 'person of faith' the collar means that the wearer is also a person of faith, but not necessarily of the same faith. Which makes a bit of difference in a diversely religious country such as the United States.

Even assuming that we encounter an Episcopal priest, that doesn't mean that we grant the priest any additional authority or trust. Maybe in some earlier time, a new pastor was granted immediate credibility, but I doubt that is the case any more. Today, the clergy as well as everyone else must earn trust.