Saturday, April 05, 2008

Metaphor for 815

Just change Daffy Duck to your fave Piskie head honcho, watch and enjoy.

Rousing Anthem for the Hungover

I know most of my readers are teetotalers who go to bed promptly at eight o'clock every night, but for those few degenerates who tied one on last night*, here is something to get you moving again.

*There were plenty of reasons to tie one on though. The Georgia legislature finally called it quits for the year, there was the first of several decisions handed down in the Virginia lawsuits and it was the end of the work week.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Roman Nails

Hills of the North, a blogger from Rome, Georgia isolates and elucidates one key part of Judge Bellows opinion in the Virginia lawsuits.

I Taunt You a Second Time

There are several books which have had a profound impact upon my life, that in one sense or another were life changing. Some are genuinely profound (The Bible, St Augustine's Confessions, Pilgrim's Progress, All Quiet on the Western Front, Cyrano de Bergerac and Plato's Dialogues), others were more superficial (Atlas Shrugged, Stranger in A Strange Land, Lord of The Rings, and The Machine Stops). But those are all famous to one degree or another. There are two books that have influenced me profoundly that very few people have even heard of, much less read. The first is Propaganda by Jacques Ellul and the second is Psychological Warfare by Paul M A Linebarger. Both books are considered to be modern classics. They are both well written and quite deep. They were both written by intellectuals who were also men of action (M. Ellul was prominent in the Resistance in WWII, Prof. Linebarger was also a colonel in the U S Army who was in active service in both WWII and Korea). They were also both Christians and devout ones at that.

Propaganda is about just that, the unbridled advocacy of a position in disregard of the truth. Something with which attorneys are intimately familiar. Propoaganda can be factual. The best propaganda usually is. It can also be false, in part or completely. What it is is information presented for advocacy, that is to promote a position of some sort. M. Ellul strips away all of obfuscations that surround propaganda in its many forms and shows how dangerous it is to leave unchallenged. I think he would be dismayed and delighted at how the blogosphere has turned out in that regard. It's an important book. One more people should read. And I own it. I have owned it for over twenty five years.
(Taunt number one)

Psychological Warfare is a textbook written on the subject described by its title by one of the world's foremost practitioners of the art. In it he describes how to turn men's minds away from the cause for which they are fighting and over to ceasing to fight. Lest you think I'm indulging in hyperbole, Col. Linebarger came up with a method for persuading Chinese soldiers to surrender during the Korean War that produced more prisoners of war than any other cause. He was that good at his trade. The techniques he describes have been adopted by just about everyone currently in the business of altering and forming opinions. It is well worth reading if you want to know why a candidate or an advertising campaign or what have you has adopted a certian methodology. And I own it. I have owned it for over ten years.
(Taunt number two)

These are books well worth reading before you let your mind get shaped by the current thinking, the buzz, the trendy websites, shows or publications. They are well worth reading by everyone.

Episcopal Derangement Syndrome

Back in the Clinton Presidency, I had some friends that basically came unhinged at the very mention of the phrase "President Clinton". More recently, my neighbour across the street starts foaming at the mouth at the mention of "President Bush". He is a nice guy and a good neighbour, he just can not mentally handle our current President.

It would appear that the current litigation is affecting the Rev. Terry Martin, who blogs over at Father Jake Stops the World. In a comment thread, he wrote "So, Peter Akinola not only gets to terrorize Nigerians, he also gets to steal American property? I don't think so."

Unfortunately, it's neither his place, nor my place, nor your place, Dear Reader, to decide that issue. It is in the hands of a judge. Also, there having been no warrants sworn or criminal charges made, the use of the word theft in the preceding passage is inaccurate at best and libelous at worst.

I think perhaps the good reverend and his followers might want to take a break from the litigation and bake bread or walk a labyrinth or something. If any of them are here in Atlanta, they can use my garden and pull weeds. I've always found pulling weeds to be excellent therapy for any anger or frustration I might be feeling. Just drop me a line and I'll set you up with gloves and anything else you might need.

Oh and Bill Clinton was our President and George Bush is our President. Get over it.

Addendum: It appears that the Rev. Martin has a garden of his own, or practices some other excellent form of anger management. Kudos to him!

Friday Stress Relief

Because I like care, and stuff, here's a highly addictive site to help everyone decompress a bit and get ready for a relaxing weekend.

Warning: Highly addictive means just that. It helps to have the sound on your computer working. Manic mode is even more gratifying.

Friday's Rousing Anthem

This ought to get your blood going and put spring in your stride.

Anglicans 1, Episcopal Church 0 in the First Inning

The judge in the Virginia case has issued his opinion. There has been a division in the Episcopal Church as well as the Anglican Communion. The Virginia division statute applies. Further argument will be heard at the trial level as to whether or not the Virginia statute is constitutional.

I'm thinking 815 loyalists are likely going to have a bad day today. By way of consolation, I'd like to point out that this case will almost certainly be appealed, possibly even to the Virginia Supreme Court.

The bad news is that it's my personal opinion that 1) the statute was complied with, 2) there has been a division and 3) it is constitutional. Were I a betting man, I'd be wagering against the Episcopal Church here. That doesn't mean that the Anglican case is a slam dunk. Just that the odds are in their favour.

PS As of this morning there has been no official reaction from 815. When there is, news of their reaction ("we're disappointed and we're appealing") will likely be posted here.

Addendum: The ENS has released an article on the subject. I found it curious that the first and last sentences of the article are all about property.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Ending Musical Discrimination

I got an email from Dave saying I don't post any metal videos. So Dave this is for you. I really can't think of any musician that has more metal than this:

Good News about Islam

Recently, the Catholic Church reported there were more Muslims than Catholics. Which is true, by the way. However, there are more Christians than Muslims, which has not always been the case.

The Vatican never makes a splash about something without a reason. And now it's apparent why the Vatican chose to publicize its statistics.

Interesting images

Oleg Volk takes both beautiful pictures and thought provoking ones (sometimes simultaneously). A gun-control site picks up the images and calls them terrifying. Much commentary follows.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Anglican Chat Session

Chris Johnson over at MCJ has been kind enough to post the text of a chat session that was held recently. Mr. Johnson is and remains a comic genius.

Why I'm Glad I Don't Live In Canada: Reason 45

Fifteen year old daughter heads out to meet her drug dealer boyfriend. Father grabs her and pushes her in his car to thwart her fat headed plan. Father gets charged with assault. Two years later, an appellate court decides the father acted properly.

Sometimes, I think the ancient Romans had the right idea.

From the Great Nordic Musical Wonderland

OMG! I think I am in rock 'n roll ecstasy. This video is simply wonderful! Once again, Finland leads the way!

[H/T Rachael Storm]

Addendum: Other Finnish musical goodies you may have missed. Finland is such an amazing country. How shall we (the world) ever repay them for all the gifts they have given us?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What Can Disconcert the Supremes?

Fantasy baseball, apparently. Five of them participate in it and three have recused themselves from a case because of it.

From the same post, it appears that Sidd Finch, the legendary Mets pitching prospect is gunning for a comeback.


Mrs. du Toit has much to say about manners and the world, as well as the pursuit of beauty.

Beers Reveals Some Tidbits

Rick, a friend of mine had a tete a tete with David Booth Beers, chancellor of the Episcopal Church, a recent CLE seminar. Nothing really earth shaking, but the tidbits he let slip about his passion for the Episcopal Church are revealing.

Here's some further information.

Here's One of Them

Quicky version: St. Paul Visalia voted 160-97 to leave the Episcopal Church with the rest of the Diocese of San Joaquin. Forty or so of its members have left the church building to form a loyalist parish.

Editorial comment: I hope that both congregations grow and flourish. I wish them all well. It would really lovely if no litigation results from this, but I think we all know better.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Refresher on Stewardship and Such

In the year of my birth the population of the United States was 180,671,158. The membership of the Episcopal Church was 3,444,000. In 2006 (the last year we have current figures for) the population of the United States was 296,410,404. The membership of the Episcopal Church was 2,205,376.

I know most Episcopalian loyalists are going, "Ok, we lost 1,200,000 people in 45 years." That is where you are wrong. The population of the US grew by 64% in that time. The membership of the Episcopal Church ought to be 5,650,000. We lost 3,444,000 members. We lost 3/5's of our numbers. Where did they go? In a church that says everyone is special, everyone is important, everyone has a place, why are they not missed?

One would think that confronted with a catastrophic loss of members, the Episcopal Church would be desperate to recruit to reach out to evangelize and also to retain the members it already has. One would be wrong. The Episcopal Church is desperate to retain the property to which it has any form of legal claim, but that is all.

Here is a challenge: Tell me how much money the national church spent last year on actual, real live evangelism. Not on having conferences to talk about evangelism, but actually going around and talking to non-Christians about becoming Christian. Now compare that money to the amounts spent on property retention. If we had anything worth knowing, doing or hearing, we would be telling folks about it. We don't, so we aren't.

What are the priorities of the Episcopal Church?

To make my question personal, if you stopped going to your church, would anyone notice? Sometimes preachers ask that question to motivate you to make a difference. I'm asking it because it's likely that you wouldn't be.

What, again, are our priorities?

Please don't believe the platitudes, official line. Look for yourself where the money is being spent, really spent, not just nominally spent, and then tell me what the church's priorities are.

Never, Ever Pray For Justice

Cany, who seems rather pleasant, posted the following comment, below:
Matthew: couple of thoughts:

1. 3 of the members of the standing committee belong to churches that have voted to go south. they are, then, in the southern cone, not TEC. they must be a member of TEC to sit on the standing committee. therefore, at best, the standing committee has three members... cannot function.

2. the PB has a fiduciary responsibility to TEC... for assets. she cannot just turn away from that responsibility.

3. how the HOB issue will turn is unknown, but the VERY SAME process has been used in depositions of other bishops... and not a blink.

4. there are other churches, above and beyond the 18 that are staying with TEC in the SJDiocese who have still not decided what direction to take. members of churches who did leave to go south are migrating back to TEC.

5. Shofield left TEC, not the reverse. He has no right to assets in the church. Christ would not support thievery. There is no special commutation for bishops who act badly... and there shouldn't be. If a vestry embezzled funds, would we excuse that?

blessings, cany

Sounds reasonable, right? Unfortunately there are a few problems with Cany's message.

First is a mea culpa. I should know better than to post a 'woulda coulda shoulda' post. They can lead to all sorts of pernicious problems, such as conflation of timeline. At the time PB Schori failed to recognize the San Joaquin Standing Committee, it had six, not three, members. I'm sorry if I were less than clear about when the things I outlined should have occurred. That the churches they belonged to voted to go, could not have happened. Remember 'individuals can go, not churches, not diocese and certainly not property.' By the official stance of the Episcopal Church, those churches could not have left. The SC members therefore did not leave.

Secondly, as an attorney who mostly does real property, trusts, and estates, I am up on fiduciary responsibility. As the Presiding Bishop, the PB is first and foremost a bishop, one who has sworn to defend the faith, as well as uphold the canons and covenants of the Episcopal Church. There is a Bible verse that appertains to the theft of property, 1 Corinthians 6: 1-11. However, I think 'theft' is a rather strong word. Certainly, the national church has contributed little to no funds to the former Diocese of San Joaquin or its individual churches. The Diocese, or rather Bishop Schofield has legal title to the property. The Dennis Canon is an attempt, and the California Courts are about to decide how successful, to insert an equitable ownership claim by the Episcopal Church. There is also an equitable claim that could be made by the individual donors to the churches in question. The term 'theft' is therefore a prejudicial and un-Christian word to use as it is apparent to anyone other than a loyalist of either side, that there are facts and circumstances that can justify either parties position.

Third, the point is about prior behaviour. The claim is made that it justifies the current bad behaviour as it set a precedent. If you steal a dollar from me every day for a week, can you then claim when I catch you seven days later stealing again, that your prior behaviour established a precedent? The bishops in question did not and are not disputing the charges. Personally, I think Bishop Schofield is no longer an Episcopalian bishop. So does he. That still does not excuse a failure to follow proper procedure. And that is what all this is about. A failure to follow proper procedure. There is a widely shared perception that 815 has been cutting corners to achieve desired results (Compare and contrast the processes for approval of Bishops Lawrence and Johnston for example).

Fourth, I have yet to count eighteen churches forming the Diocese of San Joaquin. I put the count at twelve. I could be wrong, but I'm getting my information from their own website. I would love to receive any additional information as to what other churches have joined or rejoined the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. As for individuals moving back and forth between the two diocese, I don't think anyone is shocked or surprised by such happening.

Fifth, we are back to the 't' word again ("theft"). I would note in passing it is a crime in California to steal property. The value of the property in question is more than enough to cause the stealing of it to be a felony. I seem to have missed the news that criminal charges have been filed against Bishop Schofield. Please see point two, supra, about property theft and the proper reaction to it.

To hammer home my primary concern, I'm not interested in this because I'm a member of the Province of the Southern Cone. My perspective is that of an Episcopalian. I do not see how my church is diminished by the loss of certain real property in California. I very much do see how my church is diminished by a substantial number of former members in California.

That my church's leadership is more concerned about the loss of property that has been and is being used by the people that left, rather than the people themselves tells me that the leadership of my church's priorities are wrong. I do not mean a little wrong, I mean totally wrong. I get rather wound up when I think about this.

There is no justification for the 'don't let the door hit you on the arse on way out' attitude that I hear from the church loyalists. No justification. None.

When you cite Jesus as justification for not excusing theft, you run afoul of His own words. (Luke 6: 27-36). The problem is I keep hearing people clamouring for justice. No Christian ever wants justice, not ever. The true radical nature of Christianity is shown by its demand that we deal more than justly with others. We must deal lovingly, even when we are dealing with the unjust.
I fail to feel the love expressed in any of the positions taken by 815. On the other hand, Bishop Schofield, whose position does have some merit, has let it be known that churches who do not wish to break apart, may remain Episcopal. However much you may despise him, that is the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do for 815 as well.

On a meta note. As I alluded to above, I really don't care whether Bishop Schofield is counted as an Episcopalian or not. The same holds true for Bishop Cox. I do care, very much, about due process and fairness. A great deal of my concern stems from what is likely looming for Bishops Duncan, Iker and MacBurney. As Cany mentioned fiduciary responsibility, another concern stems from my fiscal concern that the church is spending its resources wisely. Adding together the sums spent or committed to be spent as a result of the San Joaquin morass as well the Title IV procedures and the ongoing civil litigation, the Episcopal Church has burnt through over a million dollars on all this. I'm just a humble attorney, I don't have anything close to a million bucks lying around.

Finally, it's patently obvious that no one at 815 has really done a cost-benefit analysis on all this. The Episcopal church is already closing more churches than it is opening. These churches are being sold to raise cash to support the hierarchy. As has been noted by others, the Presiding Bishop is dead set against any settlement with those who wish to leave. This includes disallowing buy outs of church property. How is that being fiduciarily responsible? How is that being fair, let alone loving?

The Gospels make quite clear that the one thing one should never ask for is justice. When we ask for justice, God looks at our own actions. As the confession makes quite clear, all have fallen short of the Glory of God. None of us ever deal justly. And therefore all of us are rightly condemned. I know all this is kind of new to progressives, but it really is all sound doctrine. I'm not running off the rails here. What we need to ask for is Mercy. And that is what we are all called to demonstrate. That is what we do not demonstrate in regards to our dealings with those who wish to leave.

I am seriously tempted to despair when I contemplate my church. We are not behaving justly. We do not exemplify Christ to the world. We repent of sins we did not commit, in times past. We fail to acknowledge the faults we do possess. And we love money and property more than we love our fellow Christians, with whom we disagree. We are not a church, where all are welcome. We are a clique, where if you hold the trendy opinions and agree with the cool kids, you get to hang out. And our circle of pals is going to keep shrinking because no adult really is very interested in joining a clique. Adults do care about learning about who God is, what God has done for them and how they ought to believe and behave as a result of that.

Perhaps we ought to sell the assets of the national church, convert it to cash and use the cash to feed the hungry in Africa and India. Perhaps we need to learn to live as a poor church. I know that we need to live as a humble church.

Property Law in Middle Earth

Jacob Kaufman has a great take on the true meaning and purpose of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

[H/T Volokh Conspiracy]

Pooh Personality

Your Score: Tigger

You scored 14 Ego, 9 Anxiety, and 19 Agency!

And as they went, Tigger told Roo (who wanted to know)
all about the things that Tiggers could do.

"Can they fly?" asked Roo.

"Yes," said Tigger, "they're very good flyers, Tiggers
are. Strornry good flyers."

"Oo!" said Roo. "Can they fly as well as Owl?"

"Yes," said Tigger. "Only they don't want to."

"Why don't they want to?" well, they just don't like it

Roo couldn't understand this, because he thought it
would be lovely to be able to fly, but Tigger said it was
difficult to explain to anybody who wasn't a Tigger himself.

You scored as Tigger!

ABOUT TIGGER: Tigger is the newest addition to the Hundred Acre Wood, and he lives with Kanga and Roo, because Roo's strengthening medicine turned out to be the thing that Tiggers like best. Tigger is bouncy and confident -some of his friends think he is a little TOO bouncy and confident, but attempts to unbounce him tend to be fruitless.

WHAT THIS SAYS ABOUT YOU: You are a positive and confident person. You feel capable of dealing with anything and everything, and funnily enough, you usually ARE. You don't worry about much, and you love to go out and find new adventures.

Your friends and family might sometimes be a little exasperated by your boundless enthusiasm. You don't like to admit your mistakes, and when you find yourself in over you head, you tend to bluff your way out of things. You would be surprised, however, at how happy the people around you would be if you would actually admit to a mistake. It would make you seem more human, somehow.

Link: The Deep and Meaningful Winnie-The-Pooh Character Test written by wolfcaroling on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test