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