Sunday, February 27, 2011

Thoughts toward a Lenten discipline

“The spiritual director should not reduce his attention to the internal life because of external occupations, nor should he relinquish his care for external matters because of his anxiety for the internal life. Otherwise, he will either ruin his meditation because he is occupied by external concerns or else he will not give his neighbors what he owes to them because he has devoted himself to the inner life only.” St. Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule II:7

Gregory was writing for clergy, and expected them to be more complete in spiritual balance than the laity. That is, he left more room for lay people to specialize in service to God, usually in the "active" life of family and neighborly goodness, while expecting clergy to be both "contemplative" for teaching insight and "active" as role models.

The Ash Wednesday liturgy of The Book of Common Prayer 1979 has the leader call the people to disciplines both active and contemplative:

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the
observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance;
by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and
meditating on God's holy Word.

This is worth thinking about before Lent. Am I fussing around with to much busy work, and needing to be still for prayer and study? Or is it time to get down to action and apply the things I've been reading and praying about, especially in terms of serving others' needs?

Lent is a great opportunity to rediscover the purpose and priorities God has for our lives, and to contend for them against the distractions of the world, the flesh and the devil.

"We serve a Lord who has let us down twice"

Anglican Down Under: Improvising

Anglican blogger in Christchurch, New Zealand grapples with the big questions after the earthquake.

"How do those who name Christ as Lord and Saviour bear witness in this crisis? We serve a Lord who, on the face of it, has let us down not once but twice. The gospel in a nutshell could be described as 'the best is yet to be' but right now life has gone from bad to worse. Certainly we need to draw on our experience of lament and find new resources as one body of Christ in mission to our fellow citizens. How do we sing the Lord's song in a place of terror where over twenty people have died in our cathedral and another three people in Durham St Methodist church?

We may need to improvise in our theology. Dig deep into Scripture, mining Lamentations, Habbakuk and Revelation for words from God which address calamity and crisis. This is a time for faith like that found in Israel and on Patmos. When human sight suggested evil was present and God was absent, faith obstinately refused to let go of the idea that the God of Israel existed and remained committed to fulfilling covenant and promise."

Read it all and don't miss the picture and description of a funeral under the current conditions there.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Episcopalians & Anglicans: "Stand in the place where you live?"

There's really no place to look for Christian coherence in North American Anglicanism, whether in the Episcopal Church or dissenting bodies in the Anglican tradition.

I caught a comment from Texas Episcopal Deacon Phil Snyder, with whom I was blessed to have dinner when he passed through Sioux Falls awhile back. He observes how traditional Anglicans failed to unify in their dissent from the Episcopal Church's errors, and created an array of fiefdoms with no clear path to unity.

Responding to another person's suggestion that the array of dissenting groups is like the various Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions in America, Phil replies,

"I don’t really have a dog in the Eastern Orthodox fight. Their overlapping jurisdictions are the result of immigration and not set policy. I wish they would organize an American Orthodox Church that encompasses all the EO communities and allows for local language/custom, but keeps the Tradition of one Bishop per area. But, as I said, I don’t have a dog in the fight and if I were to express that to some of my EO friends, they would kindly ask me to 'butt out' and to deal with my own issues within TEC and the Anglican Communion.

However, I do have a dog in the Anglican fight. There is nothing the ACNA [Anglican Church in North America, an umbrella organization for dissenting groups] constitution that references that the overlapping judicatories are anything but permanent. There is no plan that I am aware of to combine them all into one diocese per area with one bishop per area. A goal of this occurring 'some day' is not a plan. A plan has dates and milestones.

So, the EO do get a pass because that was a natural result of multiple church members immigrating to the US and taking their Churches and Customs with them. The opposite is true of ACNA. The US congregations and dioceses went looking for them [overseas Anglican Bishops] to come to the US to provide Episcopal Oversight as they [the dissenters] left TEC [The Episcopal Church]."

But TEC hardly gets a pass. Apart from the absurd departures from Christian consensus practiced by denominational insiders, there is their just plain vindictive hatred of those who disagree with them, as nicely documented in a two-part series by an outside observer:

"The Episcopal Church is not doing everything in its power to keep the property of departing parishes and dioceses simply to sell it off and pay the bills. Because if money was the primary motivation then the Episcopal Church is going about it all wrong. Millions spent each year on legal fees suing parishes and dioceses to keep said property? And refusing even to let those departing parishes to buy back the property? Indeed on one occasion selling the parish property to a Muslim group for one third what the Anglican parish would have paid?

The primary motivation has to be something like spite. Because it is costing the Episcopal Church millions of dollars each year to pursue this policy."

And then there are the ineffectuals like me, dissenting from the excesses but really doing nothing of any systemic impact. I don't for a moment see myself as some sane alternative to extremes.

A number of Episcopal/Anglican commenters, looking at this mess from their particular camps, will say something like, "Well, while I don't agree with that group's approach, I am sure there are sincere Christians in their ranks." I'm afraid that's about the best we can do for now - peek out of our blown up bunkers to see if there might be other survivors in the debris field.

Passing the Peace?

"...not all our relationships will be restored, not even with the genuine extension of forgiveness or confession of our own inappropriate actions. Conflict resolution requires the active participation of both parties." Larry D. Ellis, Forgiveness

More downfalls of Christian blogging

Thanks, Costly Grace/Archer of the Forest. I was already fretting about my blogging after reading Jesus's words at Evening Prayer tonight:

"Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. " (Matthew 6:1)

A public service announcement from Steve Buscemi


Hey, still room on that charter bus this Tuesday, March 1st, to help prepare Fargo against anticipated spring floods. Leave a comment here, email me (address at top of the blog) or kidnap your own spouse and send me a message (lil' Fargo humor for you there) if you can put in the long day.

But get in touch ASAP if you can go - the bus leaves Sioux Falls at 7 a.m. on Tuesday.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Diocese of South Dakota's new outreach to at-risk Reservation youth

The initiative is spelled out on Page 1 of the current Church News. The ministry will begin on the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Reservations.

The Diocese of North Dakota, which also serves Standing Rock, has a successful youth ministry based on the Young Life program. Participants in that ministry are providing counsel and support for the SD initiative. A good article on the origins of that program is here; a benefit of the ND approach has been the calling forth of several Lakota clergy from the communities served.

The annual report of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's Tribal Health Administration notes that the "Tribe has a high rate of suicides that is double the national average."

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's Reservation includes Ziebach County, the poorest county in the United States.

The two year start-up budget for the new ministry is $342,627. The Church of All Angels in Spearfish, SD, has offered a $100,000 matching grant, and so far the Diocese has raised 30% of this. My parish's Vestry will consider support at its March meeting.

To find out more, call the Diocese at (605) 338-9751 or email office(dot)diocese(at)midconetwork(dot)com ; Donations can be sent to:

Standing Rock/Cheyenne River Youth Project
Diocese of South Dakota
500 S. Main Avenue
Sioux Falls, SD 57104-6814

Care to sandbag with me in Fargo on Tuesday?

Sanford Health, who employs yours truly p/t, has chartered a bus to take volunteers to Fargo, ND, this Tuesday (Mar. 1) to help sandbag against the expected spring floods. Heavy snow fall means lots of water in the river during the thaw - last year's floods were pretty harsh on the city.

If you have the inclination and availability, let me know ASAP (you need not work for Sanford but seat reservations are required).

The bus leaves at 7 a.m. on Tuesday from the Sanford Medical campus in Sioux Falls. We are scheduled to arrive in Fargo around 11 a.m., sandbag from then 'til 3 p.m. (a box lunch is provided), and get back to Sioux Falls around 7 p.m.

Please pray for Fargo - and for slow thaw in all cities that could face floods this spring.

When words don't mean what they say, how do you build credible relationships?

Toronto gay blessings do not breach the moratoria on gay blessings, ACC rules: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 18, 2011. « Conger

Just another episode in the Anglican Communion becoming a balkanized mess.

Doesn't really matter what "side" of an issue you are on. When leaders say one thing and do another, when common language is manipulated by factions, when public statements are undone by bureaucratic fiat, you have mistrust and polarization that is all but impossible to undo.

"While conservatives have not disputed the intellectual merits of Canon Mark McIntosh of the Diocese of Chicago or suffragan Bishop Linda Nicholls of Toronto, their appointment by the ACC [Anglican Consultative Council] has prompted criticism for undoing the strictures put into place by Dr. Rowan Williams [Archbishop of Canterbury] last year against the participation of members of provinces in breach of the communion’s moratoria on gay bishops and blessings...

...In his Pentecost letter of May 28, 2010, Dr. Rowan Williams stated that members of provinces that were in breach of the moratoria would no longer participate in the communion’s ecumenical dialogues.

'Provinces that have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion and recently reaffirmed by the Standing Committee and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order should not be participants in the ecumenical dialogues in which the Communion is formally engaged,' Dr. Williams wrote."

The ACC and the Archbishop of Canterbury are two of Anglicanism's four "instruments of unity." When your "instruments of unity" work at crossed purposes and don't even have a common language, what do you have?

Set aside your politics and consider the cultural insight

OK, be warned. I am going to link you to a conservative blog where a conservative guy is trying to distinguish between conservative and liberal movies.

I honestly don't care if you skip most of it, but Kurt Schlichter's final riff on "Casablanca" really made sense to me. Here he isn't talking so much about political assumptions, but about very human ideas of what is most important and how that is conveyed on film. Yes, he's talking about "our civilization's survival" by the end of it, but the fight he's describing in this bit is not with external enemies, it's with ourselves.

[Rick: We’ll always have Paris. We didn’t have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.
Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.
Rick: And you never will. But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.]

Let’s assume there is still a director out there who would allow that many lines of dialogue in a row without a shaky camera jump cut. Even then, we’d still get Victor Laszlo as an uptight, probably Christian, creep with the unreasonable expectation that his wife not start banging another man just because she finds him sexy. Instead of sending her away, Rick would probably tell off Mr. Jesus J. Stickuphisrear, then he and Ilsa would jump on the plane together. Let other people deal with the Nazis – inconveniences like honor and duty just get in the way of validating one’s own feelings! Plus, they’d probably cast Ashton Kutcher as Rick and Katherine Heigl as Ilsa. And switch the location to Vegas. And change the Nazis into CIA agents. And make Sam into a streetwise hustler played by 50 Cent, who could also do a hip-hop version of As Time Goes By that somehow incorporates the phrase “my bitches.”

No, the fact is that sometimes your problems don’t amount to a hill of beans, that you have to make hard choices and do the right thing even where – gasp! – it might make you feel bad. Casablanca is easy to take because of great actors, a great script, and a great story, but its message is strong medicine. And, as we enter a second decade of (open) warfare for our civilization’s survival, it could not be timelier.

The sad thing is, I could see Hollywood making a crap version of "Casablanca" like the one he's making up here. Think that 1995 Demi Moore "Scarlet Letter." h/t Sarah

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Rant" nails the problem in the old "mainline" churches

Clifford pokes those dark eyes and sharp teeth up from the murky waters 'round Baton Rouge to propose a drinking game, played with some resolutions passed by a church bureaucracy:

Team One, you take a shot of Crown Royal at the words, 'gender', 'sexual', 'orientation', 'government', 'Millennium Development Goals'.

Team Two, you down the Crown at the words, 'Christ', 'Jesus', 'God', 'Lord', 'evangelism', 'Christian'...

...That's 12 shots each, Team One. Some of you should probably sit down - you're looking a bit wobbly.

OK, Team Two, now's your chance. You only need 13 shots to take the game, and we're talking a Christian church here, so this should be a cakewalk for you guys.

"Christ": Sorry, no matches.
"Jesus": Awwww... nothing there, either.
"God": Nope. Looking like Team Two is getting a bit parched.
"Lord": And another strike-out.
"Evangelism": Nothing there. Sorry. One last chance, Team Two, but it's an easy one and should puts some points on the board. Ready?
"Christian": ...Nothing! Bad luck Team Two. You've been shut out...

UK madness: false tolerance devours the tolerated

Not content with imposing homosexuality on unsympathetic businesses and institutions, UK elites are now considering moves to punish gay-themed businesses for not catering to straights.

Ed West's piece in The Telegraph suggests that maybe, just maybe, we ought to tolerate some social prejudices and exclusions until simple human contact and persuasion can make changes.

"The Equality and Human Rights Commission is examining whether 'gay-only' guesthouses breach new laws designed to prevent people being treated unfairly in the provision of goods or services...

Discrimination exists in every aspect of life, whether it’s age ('no more than two children allowed into the shop') class ('no workman’s overalls') or sex, and in every branch of commerce where businesses attempt to attract a particular demographic and avoid another. [In attempting to regulate this]the law becomes a series of contests between identity groups. The only winners are lawyers and government officials.

The irony is that, under our equality laws, the Stonewall Inn could have been shut down on discrimination grounds, while the hiring of West Indian and Pakistani workers in the 1950s and 60s would have broken racial discrimination laws. It’s time we claimed the word 'discrimination' back for its original, morally neutral meaning, starting with a declaration that the state should start discriminating between what is and isn’t its business."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Why we are still legislating abortion in SD"

Voices Carry blog

Representative Steve Hickey's report from the Statehouse in Pierre describes the current legislation, which passed the House and is now with the Senate. It requires actual physician input, medical information and a waiting period before an abortion can be performed.

It came out in the hearings that it is harder to get a vasectomy than an abortion under current law.

What closes the argument for me is this: those of us who oppose abortion assert, "This is wrong because it is destroying a human life;" those who defend abortion won't engage that point, as though it is not relevant.

Instead, they throw up a cloud of issues - women's autonomy, medical professionalism, privacy, sexual liberation, theocracy, choice, convenience - and if those don't seem to sway us they throw f-bombs and other garbage (I've been on the tag end of such).

Their array of issues is not a string of points supporting a coherent argument; they are a cloud of misdirection and disengagement from the central question of whether or not abortion takes a viable human life.

And that reality tells me that they are wrong.

SD hunters donate tons of meat to feed the hungry

News : Sportsmen feeding SD - Capital Journal Pierre, SD newspaper since 1881

98,000 lbs. in 2009, and game meat is much healthier than most of the stuff you buy in the store.

Blessings on this voluntary and abundant program.


Costly Grace: For the Feast Day of Saint Polycarp (Part 1 of 3)

Fr. Ryan Hall offers three podcasts honoring a great early Christian bishop and martyr.

Why forgive?

"And we do this [forgive] so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs." II Corinthians 2:10-11

Holy bitterness or bitter holiness

She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?” Ruth 1:20-21

The little Book of Ruth has been part of Morning Prayer this week. Naomi, whose name in Hebrew means "pleasant," tells her neighbors to call her Mara - "bitter" - after a series of tragedies.

How could she perceive things any other way? She could not possibly see the glory of the plan set in motion by her bitter days.

Naomi/Mara drags into Bethlehem with nothing left except the hope of support from some old clan ties - and the companionship of her widowed daughter-in-law, Ruth.

What kind of epic spoiler could God have revealed to Naomi, to let her know who Ruth would be? Ruth, not of proper Jewish birth but pagan, will become the ancestor of Israel's great King David.

David, bearing genetic information of Jew and Gentile alike, receives God's promise of an everlasting heir upon his throne. Over centuries of waiting, this becomes the people's hope of the Messiah, God's anointed deliverer and ruler - a promise kept and a hope fulfilled in another birth in Bethlehem. Jesus, with the "genes" of all humanity and God, is born among David's descendants to deliver the whole human race. Ruth, who arrived in Bethlehem only because of Naomi's bitter days, is his earthly ancestor, too.

Naomi's painful days as Mara are essential to what Christian's call salvation. Her lament does not have the heroic beauty of the Virgin Mary's "Yes" to the angel, but Naomi's bitter trudge into Bethlehem is just as much part of God's plan to save fallen humanity.

Who knows what holiness and glory is growing, albeit concealed, in the bitter seasons of our lives?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The assumed risk of missionary efforts

The murder of four Christians by Somali pirates is a tragedy. Some will call for governments to get tough on the pirates, and governments should be forceful in protecting travel and commerce on the seas. But Christians must temper our anger in this case, remembering,

+ Missionaries assume the risk of serving in dangerous, even hostile environments.

+ It does not honor Christ to preach in his name, then call for violence against those who reject the message. He chastised his followers for suggesting such an approach.

+ Many missionary efforts have become most fruitful in the wake of martyrdoms. In Uganda, martyred missionaries and converts "bought the road with their blood." The early Christian Tertullian said, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."

+ Some in our overheated, polarized world will use this to push the "clash of Islam and the West" theme, but in this case the pirates were likely nominal culture-Muslims (pretty much the dominant religious stance in Somalia) and the missionaries were probably not known to be such when seized as hostages.

Scott and Jean Adam, Phyllis Macay and Bob Riggle. Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon them. May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

Dear God: Why doubts creep in

Notions of a good, provident God who honors human generosity certainly get shaken by news like this:

"In the aftermath of the September temblor, Diocese of Christchurch Bishop Victoria Matthews challenged Anglicans there to raise $100,000 for earthquake relief in Haiti in thanksgiving that no one was killed in the quake. The magnitude-7 Jan. 12 Haiti quake killed [between] 250,000 and 300,000 people. To date, only a small percentage of the rubble has been cleared away and a million people still live in makeshift camps. In the end, the diocese raised just more than US$120,000, which was disbursed via several major aid agencies."

That's the same thankful, compassionate and generous Christchurch that just suffered another earthquake, this one a killer. The same Diocese whose Cathedral is heavily damaged.

Yes, there is the Christian spirituality of giants like Mother Teresa, who could find the closeness of Christ by walking with suffering people. Christchurch, from that perspective, is much closer to Port au Prince via today's disaster than by last year's distribution of relief money.

But we know that Mother Teresa had her seasons of doubt, too:

"Lord, my God, who am I that You should forsake me? The Child of your Love — and now become as the most hated one — the one — You have thrown away as unwanted — unloved. I call, I cling, I want — and there is no One to answer — no One on Whom I can cling — no, No One. — Alone ... Where is my Faith — even deep down right in there is nothing, but emptiness & darkness — My God — how painful is this unknown pain — I have no Faith — I dare not utter the words & thoughts that crowd in my heart — & make me suffer untold agony."

Episcopal News Service details devastation of New Zealand earthquake

Episcopal News Service - NEWS

"Residents of Christchurch, New Zealand's second-largest city, are searching through the rubble left by a magnitude-6.3 earthquake that struck on Feb. 22 just before 1 p.m. local time, killing at least 65 people and damaging many buildings, including the Anglican cathedral.

It was the second time in five months that Christchurch has been rocked by a major earthquake...

...Archbishops David Moxon, Brown Turei and Winston Halapua, and Standing Committee of the General Synod/te Hinota Whanui of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia were meeting in Rotorua, New Zealand, about 140 miles southeast of Auckland on the country's north island when they received news of the earthquake.

'We, along with so many other people in this country, immediately turned to prayer for all those who are so seriously affected,' they said in part in a statement posted on the Anglican Communion News Service website.

'We have also contacted our wider Anglican Communion around the world and asked them to pray with us. We reach out in this prayer to the people of the city of Christchurch and the wider Canterbury region, asking the God of all the earth to give everyone the strength and endurance that they need to survive and to recover.'

Seismic experts classified the Feb. 22 quake, which struck at 6:51 p.m. Feb. 21 EST, as part of a continuing 'aftershock sequence' of the Sept. 3 magnitude-7.0 quake that struck outside of Christchurch. The U.S. Geological Survey said that this quake did not happen along the same fault as the September temblor. The USGS noted that there have been numerous aftershocks since September, but this one was the largest to date, more that half a magnitude unit larger than the previous largest aftershock."

Winter Sunrise

Our street this morning. Believe it or not, that rising sun was presiding over temps around zero.

The bright sun suggests warmth, but in deep winter the most achingly cold days sport bright sun and clear skies. The coldest nights are studies in starry beauty.

Cloudy days are actually more "temperate" much of the time, as the clouds hold some of the warmth closer to the earth.

Out of the city, on the true Plains, a rancher blogs,

"Snow and cold. Below zero this morning. I used the tractor this morning as I needed to push some snow around the bales and clean off the driveway. Must be at least 8 inches, maybe more. Didn’t drift too bad.

Yesterday I throwed some little square bales in the back of the pickup and Cindy went with me, up west where the horses are. We broke and scattered the bales and Cindy drove."

It's beautiful here, in a decidedly "look, don't touch" kinda way.

NYT: some interesting data on blogging

Blogs Wane as the Young Drift to Sites Like Twitter -

The headline (the link) isn't totally accurate to the content of the article.

It's true that blogging is less relevant to young people, who favor rapid fire social media like Facebook and Twitter,but

"While the younger generation is losing interest in blogging, people approaching middle age and older are sticking with it. Among 34-to-45-year-olds who use the Internet, the percentage who blog increased six points, to 16 percent, in 2010 from two years earlier, the Pew survey found. Blogging by 46-to-55-year-olds increased five percentage points, to 11 percent, while blogging among 65-to-73-year-olds rose two percentage points, to 8 percent."

And it's true that blog readership in the U.S. has slowed, but

"Blogger, owned by Google, had fewer unique visitors in the United States in December than it had a year earlier — a 2 percent decline, to 58.6 million — although globally, Blogger’s unique visitors rose 9 percent, to 323 million."

h/t TitusOneNine

Monday, February 21, 2011

How are Oprah or PETA better than Michael Vick?

There are reports that NFL Quarterback Michael Vick pulled out of a scheduled appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show because "animal rights" activists wanted to "confront" him about his conviction and prison term for dog fighting.

Vick was convicted and spent the better part of two years in prison for conducting dog fights and for abusing and killing dogs. He lost his job as QB of the Atlanta Falcons, lost product endorsement contracts and was rightly vilified for his cruel acts.

He was exposed and punished, both by public institutions and private businesses. Yet some are angry that he has returned to the NFL, with the Philadelphia Eagles. Some want a very high profile media venue "to confront him," and a big time media power sets it up. Why?

One of the things we frequently hear is that "people are turned off to church because Christians are so judgemental." Well, if that is what you believe, tell me what you have when Oprah, one of your post-Christian icons, a media host all about feelings, "sensitivity" and some higher consciousness we are supposed to admire, decides to hold a public "confrontation" of a neighbor who's already done prison time for the crime? What is your great improvement to humanity when you legally deprive a person of freedom and property and still bring on "activists" to impose an open-ended trial by ordeal?

Just how does an offender re-enter the sensitive, non-judgemental society of Oprah and PETA?

What Jesus said to the religious leaders way back when should send a shiver up the spine of any of us - religious or not - who present as "moral" or "important" persons in any time or place:

"For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger...You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? " (Matthew 23:3-4,33)

Best way to read the Bible?

catholicity and covenant: The KJV and the Anglican settlement

h/t Jason Ballard's blog, "A Tribe Called Anglican" (in my Useful Links to the right) for linking to this article.

It touches on several subjects, one of which is Anglicanism's reliance on the ordered, public reading of the Bible - reflecting the community's gathering around the Scripture as reflected in the Jewish Tabernacle and Christian history prior to the printing press.

I was taken with this look at formative Anglican writer Richard Hooker,

"Hooker contrasts this with the Puritan view that "the profit of readinge [Scripture] is singular, in that is serveth for a preparative unto sermons" (Laws of Eccleisiastical Polity 22.7). This view he holds to be 'poore ... cold ... hungrie' alongside the Church's tradition of the ordered reading of Scripture:

'It hath bene a commendable order, a custome verie expedient, or an ordinance most profitable ... to reade the word of God at large in the Church' (22.18)."

Now, I don't discount the private reading of Scripture one bit. In fact, it is necessary in a world where we don't all live within walking distance of a village church or live on schedules that allow us to come together very easily, or in settings where public gatherings will be targeted by hostile forces. Even the Preface of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer assumes a special importance for clergy to read and meditate upon the Bible daily in order to better impart the Word to the people.

The Church Calendar, its Lectionaries (assigned readings for certain days), Bible study groups, daily liturgies or other communal engagements are so important if the Bible is to have a formative impact upon the church. Scripture needs to be heard more often than just the one or two Sundays per month that many members actually show up at the church today. This traditional or "Catholic" order serves as one way in which the church protects the people from factional or eccentric individual interpretations and misapplications of Scripture.

It needs also be said that the high place of Scripture in the public worship, thought and practice of the church is a Reformed (or "Protestant") priority, over against an unchallenged "clericalism" - be that of an actual clergy order or a Liberal Protestant assertion of "definitive scholarship" - any elite that imposes an un-Biblical agenda upon a Scripture deprived people.

Goin' Coastal: Denver Post thinks like NYC or L.A., mixes up fly over authors

Regional Nonfiction, 2/20/11 - The Denver Post

Although identifying the book Prairie Republic as "regional," the Mile High MSM credits authorship to John E. Miller rather than the actual author, Jon K. Lauck. Here's the review as it appeared on Feb. 20 (highlights mine):

History is constantly changing. A generation ago, the "new" Western historians rejected the John Wayne Manifest Destiny idea of westward expansion. They emphasized the crass nature of opportunists, who were greedy for gold and land, happy to annihilate native inhabitants, who treated minorities and women like, well, minorities and women.

"Prairie Republic" rebuffs that view of history, at least in South Dakota. Author John E. Miller posits that settlers in that state were Christians who put the good of the many ahead of their own interests. They rejected class conflict, he writes, in favor of Christian ideals, putting aside "irresponsible freedom" in favor of building communities safe for women and children.

Scholars might consider this a "Little House on the Prairie" view, but then, Miller is a Laura Ingalls Wilder scholar.

Lauck, whose academic background is in history, is a staffer for Senator John Thune (R-SD).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Revolving debt usury "a great thing for South Dakota"

From today's Sioux Falls Argus Leader Business Journal. It's a fact that the financial growth and well being of Sioux Falls specifically and South Dakota generally came from various state and federal actions that allowed SD to host revolving debt businesses. Employment, service sector businesses, and certain government revenues and services all hinged on decisions that allowed usurious lending.

...Citibank opened a credit card center in February 1981 in Sioux Falls, which jump-started the city's financial services industry...

...Thomas Reardon moved that the association propose that regulated institutions be removed from the usury limit. Reardon's brother-in-law, Pierre banker Chuck Burke, seconded the motion. Hajek learned years later that Reardon had arranged to have Burke second the motion to keep the proposal alive...

...The slightly stunned bankers left the meeting wondering whether they really could sell the idea of eliminating usury rates on banks. However, bill sponsors were found, and the measure passed the first house without much fanfare and was cruising to approval.

About this time, Citibank contacted Gov. Bill Janklow and expressed interest in potentially moving its credit card operation from the restrictive regulatory environment of New York. Janklow and the Legislature enthusiastically obliged the company by approving technical legislation that would allow Citibank to do business in South Dakota...

..."Looking back 30 years, it's been a great thing for South Dakota."

U.S. "worst of the worst" by several socioeconomic measures

Click on chart to enlarge.

In yesterday's NY Times.
h/t fb friend Kristinn

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The confirmed Christian life

Most Episcopalians/Anglicans are baptized as children and make a mature affirmation of faith in the presence of a Bishop and God's people at Confirmation.

Today's reading from I Timothy 6 is a succinct and powerful description of what that confirmed Christian life should be about:

"Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

Friday, February 18, 2011

The duress of Episcopalians/Anglicans in North America

Thoughtful piece from the Covenant blog, which expresses views of those seeking to navigate a way between heresy (false teaching) and schism (separation) in the Episcopal Church.

Benjamin Guyer reflects on the recent selection of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church to a global Anglican body:

"The spiritual and pastoral strain in North America is beginning [NPA note - I think we're about half past 'beginning'] to crush people – and not just any people, but faithful people. I see it, I hear it, I read it, and each of these to an increasing degree. Faithful Anglicans who have broken faith with no facet of Creed, Scripture, or Tradition are beleaguered in North America. They cannot trust the Global South/GAFCON, for its bishops will shamelessly split orthodox dioceses from within. Yet faithful Anglicans cannot trust the leadership of the American Episcopal Church, either. As events of recent years suggest, adhering to Communion norms is a minority position in the American Episcopal Church which brings very, very few tangible rewards. Indeed, it only brings long-suffering. Dioceses have broken, parishes are withering, and yet some strive to remain faithful. Do the Primates not know this? If so, why do they not praise it, and why have they elected a Primate whose own leadership has proactively made things worse?"

Challenging & correcting church members

Sometimes God hits one over the head with a message. Earlier this week, "forgiveness" loomed large, popping out in my daily Bible readings, on TV and in other ways.

Last night, I was reading Gregory the Great's Book of Pastoral Rule, and encountered this:

The spiritual director should be a humble companion to the good and firm in the zeal of righteousness against the vices of sinners... By no means is it the case that leaders are prideful when they inspire fear... (II.6)

Praying the Morning Office, I read this:

As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear. (I Timothy 5:20)

Totally counter intuitive to most church's opinions of "being pastoral," which means to rationalize manifest sin and keep the shrinking membership happy and around for another week.

What's scary for me is that God doesn't put out these insights without a purpose... who am I going to be called upon to forgive (meaning who's going to hurt me or what hurt from the past will be dredged up), and what church member(s) am I going to be asked to correct?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Prayer for Local Government

Because there are tough questions and struggles all over this land...

Almighty God our heavenly Father, send down upon those who hold office in this State (or, Commonwealth, City, County, Town, Area) the spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice; that with steadfast purpose they may faithfully serve in their offices to promote the well-being of all people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer 1979

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sudan's Bishops to work for church unity across new national border

Anglican Communion News Service - Digest: "We will remain one united church", bishops tells Sudan.

"As the people of Southern Sudan have voted for secession with the South becoming a new nation from 9th July 2011, we would like to assure the Christians of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan that the ECS will remain as one united church as part of the 80 million worldwide Anglican Communion. The church is one body; God has no borders. We will not abandon each other regardless of the political geographical boundaries.

We pray that Almighty God will help us foster unity, peace and democracy as exhibited by all Sudanese and witnessed by the whole world during this referendum process. We must all embrace the spirit of self-sacrifice, hard work, respect for one another, tolerance, and honesty as we endeavour to build the two new nations. Unity in diversity is our strength."

You can provide direct support to their efforts by supporting educational efforts in Christian communities in South Sudan. You can give to help teachers in the village of Pajut or to help a South Sudanese teacher earning his degree in Nairobi, Kenya.

Use my PayPal port to the right or email me for more info.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fox's "House" raises some interesting questions about forgiving

Last night's (Feb. 14th) episode of House featured a patient who could remember every moment of her life. (No spoilers here as to the eventual diagnosis).

This raised interesting questions about how her super memory influenced her ability to relate to others, especially those who had hurt her in the past.

She seemed unable to forgive, which led a doctor to wonder if she was choosing to give greater weight to bitter memories than sweet ones.

What if our memories were, indeed perfect? Would that make us objective and rational in our judgements, or would other forces in our makeup be able to slant our interpretations of accurate memories?

Jesus speaks one of his many emphatic commands to forgive in one of today's lessons:

‘Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.’

St. Benedict applied this passage to the preservation of community life in his Rule for Monasteries (Ch. 13),

The Morning and Evening Offices
should never be allowed to pass
without the Superior saying the Lord's Prayer
in its place at the end
so that all may hear it,
on account of the thorns of scandal which are apt to spring up.
Thus those who hear it,
being warned by the covenant which they make in that prayer
when they say, "Forgive us as we forgive,"
may cleanse themselves of faults against that covenant.

Hannah Arendt, a post-Holocaust political philosopher and not a Christian, nevertheless heard in Jesus' teachings the power to forgive and set humanity free from the "irreversibility" of actions and consequences. "Irreversibility and the Power to Forgive" was a chapter of her book The Human Condition, nicely excerpted by another blogger,

"Without being forgiven, released from the consequences of what we have done, our capacity to act would, as it were, be confined to one single deed from which we could never recover; we would remain the victims of its consequences forever, not unlike the sorcerer’s apprentice who lacked the magic formula to break the spell...The discoverer of the role of forgiveness in the realm of human affairs was Jesus of Nazareth. The fact that he made this discovery in a religious context and articulated it in religious language is no reason to take it any less seriously in a strictly secular sense."

What are the forces within us that rebel against the liberating potential of forgiving? Always a worthwhile question for our troubled world.

Last night's Confession: "against our neighbor"

Sometimes familiar words of our liturgy arrest us with fresh or renewed insight.

Last night, I was barely into Evening Prayer when the call to Confession hit me:

"Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor."

I'm more of a "Rite I" guy, I suppose. More at home with "Let us confess our sins unto Almighty God." That's theologically correct, of course, all sin is ultimately a rebellion against God's plan and design.

But last night I found myself really caught by the words "and our neighbor." It was striking to say, "I did X to this person, and didn't do Y for this one." It was more acute, more real and more painful to my heart.

Jesus, asked for "the Great Commandment," put love of God and love of neighbor together. In our Gospel last Sunday, he connected our worship with reconciliation to our neighbor,

So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

It's honest to confess, "I was feeling sorry for myself and did not see your blessings today, O Lord." Yet that's incomplete without, "And while feeling sorry for myself I ignored Z's need for my attention and compassion." The Spirit searches our heart for both.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Good coverage of the South Sudanese community in Sioux Falls

New nation has some in S.F. longing to go home to Africa | The Argus Leader |

"'There are many people, especially the husbands, who have already gone back,' Mai said. 'They look for work. They want to help build South Sudan.'"

You can help them. Use the PayPal port on the right of my page or mail checks to

Church of the Good Shepherd
2707 W. 33rd St.
Sioux Falls, SD 57105

You can give to support teachers at the the new school in Pajut, South Sudan (built as a cooperative project with the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota)


You can help a South Sudanese student complete his Education degree in Nairobi, Kenya.

Ziebach County, SD - America's poorest

A look inside America's poorest county -

"At a time when the weak economy is squeezing communities across the nation, recently released census figures show that nowhere are the numbers as bad as here - a county with 2,500 residents, most of them Cheyenne River Sioux Indians living on a reservation.

In the coldest months of the year, when seasonal construction work disappears and the South Dakota prairie freezes, unemployment among the Sioux can hit 90 percent."

The Cheyenne River Mission is served by the Diocese of South Dakota's Northwest Deanery. Please remember these churches in your prayers.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

"But I say to you..."

My sermon outline for 6 Epiphany, Feb. 13, 2011. Based on the Gospel of the day.

I. When our parish speaks of “putting Jesus first,” it is because of what Jesus reveals in our Gospel today

A. Jesus places himself first,
1. ahead of all tradition – “you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times… but I say to you”
2. ahead of all God-given laws, even the X Commandments – “you have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not murder… You shall not commit adultery…’ But I say to you”
3. ahead of all social and cultural norms – “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate…’ But I say to you”
4. ahead of all spiritual practices – “Again you have heard it said, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord…’ But I say to you”

II. What authority does Jesus cite for these radical sayings?

A. Himself
1. He does not claim a new revelation from God
2. He does not critique the old laws
3. He does not present a list of new laws
4. He does not make any case or argument for his position
5. He simply says, “I say to you”

III. What are the implications of what he is doing in this passage?

A. He speaks as God, claiming in himself all authority over everything.
1. C.S. Lewis, "Mere Christianity":
People often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say.

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg--or else he would be the Devil of Hell.

You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

B. Because he is divine and we are not, our attempts to follow him will always be marked by misunderstanding and even failure.
1. The Confession: “We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.” I suspect that few of us need to stretch very much to say that.
2. His demands for inner purity and renunciation of anything that we put ahead of him make us shake our heads in disbelief. None of us meet his standard of righteousness.

IV. What, then, is the good news of “But I say to you”?

A. Let me put it this way: We have heard it said, “Your anger is as bad as murder and your lust is as bad as adultery, and you should be cutting off parts that cause you to sin.” But Jesus, on his own authority, says to us… "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."(John 6:51). He is the living bread that makes us new within, his is the flesh that is broken for sin.
B. When we come to the altar for Communion, he doesn’t hand out tracts, or gold stars for good behavior, or mark us with a red pen for flaws. He gives us himself.


"Jesus is coming - look busy!"

That was a gag wall poster I remember seeing at St. James', Newport Beach, back in my SoCal incarnation.

It came to mind as I was reading Henri Nouwen's Can You Drink the Cup?, which spells out some of what that poster was getting at (author's emphases included):

"When we are committed to do God's will and not our own we soon discover that much of what we do doesn't need to be done by us. What we are called to do are actions that bring us true joy and peace. Just as leaving friends for the sake of the Gospel will bring us friends, so too will letting go of actions not in accord with our call.

Actions that lead to overwork, exhaustion, and burnout can't praise and glorify God. What God calls us to do we can do and do well. When we listen in silence to God's voice and speak with our friends in trust we will know what we are called to do and we will do it with a grateful heart."

Two Sioux Falls Churches vandalized in same weekend

Church of the Holy Apostles (Episcopal) and Hilltop United Methodist Church, both on Bahnson Avenue, were broken into and vandalized during the first weekend of February.

From Holy Apostles' facebook page:

On the night of February 4th, our Church was broken into and severe damage was sustained. The toilet and sinks in the women's bathroom were completely smashed, as well as the urinal in the men's bathroom.

The fire extinguisher downstairs was ripped off the wall along with the bracket holding it in place. It was then taken into the kitchen and discharged inside cupboards, over plastic silverware, paper plates, napkins, cups etc. The refrigerator in the kitchen was opened and the fire extinguisher sprayed inside. In the maintenance room we found several boxes of soda and juice missing. Both fridges were left open.

There was attempted forced entry into the sunday school rooms, and the vestry. The doors were severely damaged and must be replaced.

In order to gain entry they smashed one of the windows in the basement, and to add to the shattered glass they took fluorescent tubes and shattered those on the tables.

Upstairs votives were overturned, and the handle to the office door was broken. The door also took heavy damage. The holy water stoop was broken and the bowl holding the water was shattered. That one crucifix that's a mirror was shattered. The glass frame of a poster near the inside of the door was shattered. Some of the powder from the fire extinguisher made it's way upstairs as well.

The Spirit newsletter from Hilltop says that the vandals went through every room of the facilities, using a pry bar to open locked doors. A number of computers and musical instruments were stolen, a can of paint was sloshed around in one room, and coffee was poured over the sound mixer board in the sanctuary.

Please pray for these congregations, and for change of heart for the vandals and thieves.

Vote for me 'n' Bundy

It's like this, our parish youth & kid leader entered me in a Christianity Today contest (this link goes there) matching clergy faces with celebrities... she decided (rightly) to pair me with Ed O'Neill (currently Modern Family on ABC but best loved as Al Bundy on Fox's Married With Children - a show of which my late dad and I were both devotees).

Now, she's got this right but she didn't submit my most Bundyesque picture. Yeah, she got the receeding hairline, the nose & bags under the eyes, but there are better ones out there...

So go vote on principal. Don't let me get beat by the Joel Osteen/Tim Allen pairing somebody posted (yeah, it's good).

Random cruel and tasteless thoughts

Although Christians have an array of positions on the matter, many of our leaders and bodies have come out for the abolition of capital punishment.

The reservation I have is: What will the world then do about the people who make movies for the SyFy Channel?


"Waterboarding" can be stopped. It is no longer necessary. We have a downstairs room here and will gladly contract with the government to let captured terrorists be sleep deprived and subjected to loud, repetitive quotation of movie lines and song lyrics by our autistic son.

He will break them.

And you wonder why I am snarky sometimes.

News anchor Laurie Dhue reveals alcoholism, Christian healing path

The news became public at an event hosted by columnist Cal Thomas. Dhue was speaking on her faith in Christ, and opened up about how he has helped her in her recovery.

According to Thomas, this news was intended only for the invited guests, but got out on the internet.

Dhue was interviewed by NBC's today show:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lent/Easter/other offerings help South Sudan!

I have changed the PayPal widget to the right of this page, and will keep it changed for some time. Instead of gifts to the blog, please consider gifts that will go to direct support of Christians in an emerging nation.

The people of South Sudan see education as a key to a better future for their new country, and I am supporting a couple of initiatives. I welcome your contributions if you are so moved -

To help pay teachers in the new school at Pajut, South Sudan


To help a South Sudanese student complete a teaching degree

All gifts will be handled through my parish operating budget and so will be fully accounted and tax deductible. You can use the PayPal feature or you can send checks to

Church of the Good Shepherd
2707 W. 33rd St.
Sioux Falls, SD 57105

Use the PayPal memo line or write on the check whether your offering is for "Pajut Teachers" or "Teaching Degree" so your gift is properly applied.

God bless you! I will be blogging updates and news.

Bob Ellis - "Democracy in America Springs from Christianity"

From Bob's Dakota Voice blog.

He exposes the problem of revisionist history, which tries to establish what it thinks should have happened rather than what did.

The student of history need not be a Christian and is free to be overtly hostile to Christianity, but primary sources should not be edited in order to create a de-Christianized myth of American history.

As Alexis De Tocqueville says in the quoted section of his work,

"I do not know whether all the Americans have a sincere faith in their religion, for who can search the human heart? but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions. This opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belongs to the whole nation, and to every rank of society."

Even free thinkers like Thomas Paine, who was critical of the Christian religion, could speak the language of the Bible and draw positive moral arguments from it. Biblical allusions and phrases filled public discourse until only a few decades ago.

It is not so today; even Christian researchers like George Barna find Biblical and theological illiteracy in the churches themselves. But that only points to changes in progress, not a redefinition of what was - and what was formative and worth recalling as a healthy challenge to new truth claims and newly minted myths.

Where Christian blogging inevitably gets into trouble

Have nothing to do with stupid and senseless controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. II Timothy 2:23-26

This passage from the Daily Office reminds me that blogging uses controversies (even stupid, senseless ones) to attract looks. Staying mired in quarrels makes it easier to find material and readers.

A blog is not all that effective for conveying kindness or patient, gentle correction - indeed, it is not well suited to building the kind or relationship that allows for such depth of conversation.

A blog can be a forum for apt teaching, and sometimes a well turned phrase or fresh presentation of an idea will help a reader escape the devil's snares.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lenders, Legislators endorse obscene phone calls, privacy violations and violence

As expected, HB 1223 & HB 1224, which would have placed some restrictions on the antics of predatory "payday" and "title" lenders in South Dakota, were killed in the House Commerce and Energy Committee.

Lined up to speak against the bills were:

Michael DeMersseman, Dollar Loan Center
Dan Henderson, Money Central Incorporated
Brett Koenecke, Commercial Financial Services Association
Mark Aguilar, Consumer Lending Alliance
Doug Abraham, SD Bankers Association

and then there was the roaring silence of South Dakota's mainstream news media, which reported on all kinds of other legislation, some of it empty sybolism, rather than the actual rip-off and intimidation of citizens.

Now, it is to be expected that lenders would line up against perceived threats to their profits, and that's democracy at work. But what's worth noting is that a substitute version of HB 1224 was offered, which read

No person engaging in the business of payday loans or title loans may engage in any conduct the natural consequence of which is to harass, oppress, or abuse any person in connection with the collection of a debt. Such conduct includes:

(1) The use or threat of use of violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person;

(2) The use of obscene or profane language or language the natural consequence of which is to abuse the hearer or reader;

(3) The publication of a list of consumers who allegedly refuse to pay debts, except to a consumer reporting agency;

(4) The advertisement for sale of any debt to coerce payment of the debt;

(5) Causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number;

(6) The placement of telephone calls without meaningful disclosure of the caller's identity.

This was defeated by a unanimous voice vote of the committee.

Props to those who took a stand for the people of South Dakota by sponsoring and supporting the legislation:

Representative Steve Hickey
Senator Joni Cutler
Greg Boris, South Dakota Voices for Children
Betty Oldenkamp, Lutheran Social Services

The defeat of the bills is not the end of the story, except for this legislative session. There is much to do, in and out of the Statehouse, when it comes to shining light on some very dark places. Stay tuned.

via Rep. Hickey's fb wall:

Lenders implicated in military stress suicides.

Dollar Loan Center founder caught in prostitution sting.

& via Madville Times (link at right):

The U.S. Military is cracking down on payday and other predatory lenders around bases.

The strange moral universe of the usury state

I caught another article on Sioux Falls based First Premier Bank's 79.9% interest rate credit card. You know, the humanitarian effort to help people with "bad credit,"

"I had an accident on a motorcycle, went through bankruptcy to pay for medical expenses and my credit went to hell in a hand basket, so I was looking for credit cards for people with bad credit" Riss said.

They granted her a card with a $300 limit -- typical for new customers -- and a starting rate of 29.9%, which Riss said she considered decent given her credit score.

But about six months after opening the card -- at the end of 2009 -- she received an unwelcome surprise in the mail.

"I about had a heart attack when I got a disclosure notice saying that my starting rate of 29.9% was going up to 79.9%," said Riss. "It was ludicrous. Talk about a highway robbery."

At that same time, First Premier Bank launched a new credit card with the sky-high 79.9% rate.

The card proved popular with consumers, said First Premier Bankcard CEO Miles Beacom, but the performance was bad: "A lot of the people ran up the card, defaulted and went directly to charge off."

As a result, they dropped the rate to 59.9%. "We also tested it at 23%, 33%, 45%, but 59.9% is the one that shows the best performance and where the organization can market the product," he said.

"Where the organization can market the product"? What usurers essentially say is, "Hey, we just want to stand on rooftops and throw bags of money down to everybody. But really, really bad people just keep messing us up. You know, those bad people who don't want to roll with us when we raise their rate from 30% to 80%. And then there's that bad government,"

[Said First Premier CEO Miles Beacom,] "Before the new regulations we had the ability to hold specific individuals accountable for their own actions by charging these fees," he said. "Now we must spread this risk out among all our customers through higher APRs."

That's right, before last year's credit card reform act, revolving debt, "two cycle billing," hidden fees and charges for products nobody ordered ordered ("well, you didn't actually decline our special identity protection plan") didn't mess with anybody, except borrowers who didn't pay enough for lenders to profit on their revolving debt for a few decades. But now that government got involved, these afflicted lenders have to spread the hurt to everybody.

Except guess what? In 2008, when the new regulations weren't even a gleam in the government's eye, there were other baaaaaaad forces messing with the credit card companies' munificent desire to give money away,

The jump in credit-card charge-offs is linked in part to the credit crisis now in play. As banks have tightened lending standards, they have mostly done away with the once-popular roll-over options — usually at 0% introductory rates — that allowed borrowers with delinquent accounts to get new cards elsewhere. Larkin believes all that bad credit is going to surface quickly and could have a similar impact as the mortgage crisis has had on banking.

But credit-industry analysts shake those prognostications off, noting that the number of dollars involved in credit cards loans versus mortgages is substantially lower.

“Defaults on $2,000 or $5,000 in credit-card debt are entirely different than someone defaulting on a $500,000 mortgage,” said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for

“I’m skeptical that the magnitude of credit quality is going to be as severe as some say,” he added.

The average credit-card debt is $2,200, according to the Federal Reserve. On a revolving basis, there was roughly $970 billion owed on credit cards at the end of July. However, because many people use credit cards for the rewards programs and pay off their debt each month, it’s unclear how much of that total is actually outstanding.

What’s more, as delinquencies rise — and they will because of the weakness of the economy — credit-card issuers will take steps to stem the tide. That will include cutting credit off from problem borrowers and tightening restrictions on new cards.

That's right, they can't give away all that free money because of housing market pressures. It's the economy, stupid.

Usurers love to shovel shame. There would be no problems if borrowers were responsible for their own debt. That's the 'murican way, like Jesus or somebody said.

Except when you read what usurers say about their actions, they are like amoral little kids. It's the deadbeats' fault. It's the government. It's the housing market. He hit me first. She's lying! I wasn't even there!

The people who market credit cards market other financial products. If one area is weak, they simply find a way to generate more profit in another. That's fine, that's prudent. But they need to be honest about it and not act like their credit card business is some philanthropic stand alone, victimized by the rest of us.

It's tough. South Dakota is not an easy place to grow an economy, and the conscious decision to let usurers set up big time shop here isn't going to be reversed without lost jobs and a lot of money no longer flowing into the state.

But revolving debt usurers, if we accept their proposition that borrowers are simply irresponsible, economically illiterate louts, are really no different than pimps or drug dealers. They market a "product" that is morally questionable and certainly not good to the stupid customer, the stupid customer's family or even the stupid customer's community in certain cases.

South Dakota hasn't made up its moral mind.

Is the state a libertarian theme park ("Ayn RandLand")? Then why stop at unregulated usury? Let Deadwood have prostitutes and small towns their narcotics production. Let Planned Parenthood market its "service" and do business outside of Sioux Falls. Repeal the "one man - one woman" marriage thingy.

Or is South Dakota New Jerusalem on the Prairie? If that's the case, then why build an economic base on usury - a practice that God has cursed?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cuts to SD help for elderly and disabled detailed in letter

I have a copy of a February 4th letter from four SD officials - Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Amy Iversen-Pollreisz, Doneen Hollingsworth and Pam Roberts, the Secretaries of the Dpts. of Social Services, Human Services, Health and Labor, respectively. They are responding to questions from Shelly Pfaff, Executive Director of SD Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities.

The Secretaries spell out programs which face cuts or elimination under the Governor's recommended budget. For about another month, the Legislature will be in session so there is still time to work for changes.

The details are below - first a couple of important thoughts about what to do with them.

As many Christians heard in our churches last Sunday,

...if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.

God's concern for the afflicted is a constant in Scripture, and so our hearts should be open to those in need and our minds active with ways to satisfy them.

The New Testament is also specific about prayer for those in public authority, so do pray for all in our state government who are grappling with a budget deficit. Pray especially before flaming at anybody. This is not an evasion of action. As venerable Christian civil rights and justice advocate John M. Perkins says, "Prayer is not a substitution for action; rather, prayer is a preparation for an action through which God will use us." Seek wisdom and a right heart before flailing away.


10% reduction of Medicaid reimbursement to hospitals, doctors, and other medical providers.

10% reduction of Medicaid to nursing homes/assisted living facilities. As was pointed out at last Saturday's Legislative Coffee in Sioux Falls, this not only challenges the level of care available to seniors, but in small towns where such facilities are the largest employer this will mean lost jobs and the attendant economic strain on those communities.

5% cuts in Medicaid payments to pharmacies, senior meal programs, and long term care in home services.

10% reduction for community mental health, substance abuse services and residential treatment for youth.

Elimination of food sales tax refund program, graduate medical ed. program.

Reduced funding for methamphetamine treatment services, senior companion/caregiver support groups, child care quality initiatives, child care subsidy payments, Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) and employment/training program.


10% rate reduction for community support providers

5% reduction for personal attendant care services for quadriplegics

Elimination of autism grant for USD Center for Disabilities to consult with children and adults with autism

Elimination of funding to educate/train professionals working in community support

Elimination of optional traumatic brain injury (TBI) Medicaid-funded services

Reductions to vocational rehab and independent living budgets, including programs for the blind


Discontinue latent TB reporting and follow up for low risk patients

Discontinue lab testing for mycology and non-TB mycobacteria


SNAP work program provided in fewer counties, although benefits will not be reduced. Recipients in certain counties will no longer be required to complete community service, job training, job search or work requirements to receive benefits

"Pay day" (predatory) lender bills rushed to committee - contact members of the legislature ASAP

My sources say that opponents got the two bills into committee quickly, before much press on their behalf could be generated. They will be heard tomorrow (Wed., Feb. 10) at 10 a.m. This probably spells defeat for HB 1223 (imposes fee and restricts customer abuse by lenders) & HB 1224 (caps the interest rate these lenders can charge), but confronting usury in South Dakota will take awhile.

Still, let members of the House Commerce & Energy Committee hear from you (you can email them right at that link), especially if you've ever been caught up in pay day or title loan situations.

Also, contact the sponsors of the Bills, Rep. Steve Hickey and Sen. Joni Cutler, if you have info or statements supportive of the bills.

"Now I am a first class citizen in my own country."

BBC News - South Sudan backs independence - results

"We are going to take to the streets and celebrate until dawn," said Peter Deng, a youth leader. "All us here grew up during the war, so we are so happy to be celebrating our freedom in peace."

Many in the south have already privately been celebrating the results, which have filtered out in recent days.

"This is what happens when you oppress and marginalise a people for over 50 years," said Puok Dieu, who fought in the civil war. "One day those people will rise up and say: 'It is enough.'"

"The results of the referendum mean I am free today," said Abiong Nyok, a housewife. "Now I am a first class citizen in my own country."

Also, Al Jazeera reported that the Khartoum government in the North will accept the result:

The results, displayed at an announcement ceremony in Khartoum, revealed that out of 3,837,406 valid ballots cast, only 44,888 votes, or 1.17 per cent, favoured the status quo of unity with the north.

The event in the Sudanese capital was attended by Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, and Salva Kiir, the southern leader.

"Today we received these results and we accept and welcome these results because they represent the will of the southern people," al-Bashir said on state television.

"But we are committed to the links between the north and the south, and we are committed to good relations based on co-operation."

His comments reflect the economic dependence between the two: southern Sudan, which is rich in oil, cannot export its oil resources without using a pipeline that runs through the north.

h/t Ryan A on fb for Al Jazeera article

Monday, February 7, 2011

Our young men and women gettin' all prophetic

That title is a riff on Joel 2:28.

One of the blessings of lo these six years of middle age in Sioux Falls is my contact, both through a diverse and vital local Christian presence and via the internet, with some exciting young Christian leaders.

Shel Boese is a church planter/pastor of Mercy Church (CMA) right here in Sioux Falls. He keeps up on the world so well with his 8-track tapes, word processor, cordless phone and other newfangled technology those young people have.

Today he shared research out of Baylor University that overthrows the sloganeering about Christianity's evaporation from America. He quotes from an article summarizing the research:

"Those who argue that a new American landscape is emerging—one in which the conservative evangelicalism of the past few decades is losing numbers and influence—are simply ignoring the data.

Membership in the mainline denominations declined 49 percent from 1960 to 2000; membership in evangelical denominations increased 156 percent in the same period.

Fully one-third of Americans (approximately 100 million) affiliate with an evangelical Protestant congregation. Indeed, evangelicals remain the numerically dominant religious tradition in the United States."

Shel comments frequently on the need to get Christianity out of its codependent chaplaincies to right or left wing politics. He does so with solid theological grounding, real life ministry and a fearless approach to ideas. He isn't the left's fantasy of "emerging Christians," which seem to be a projection of dying Liberal Protestantism on younger people, or the right's boogey man of an amoral MTV reality show loser.

Via internet, there's Carson Clark in Texas, who just wrecks all kinds of ideological pigeon holes while helping start up Anglican ministry around Waco.

Sunday he posted his struggle with "Conservative" Christians who "will question your salvation if not come right out and say you’re going to hell if you vote for Democrats... (and) have trained up a young generation that excels at cultural critique but utterly fails at cultural creativity."

But before you flame or get smug (depending on your ideological camp), just last month he posited the case for supporting a Tea Party presidential candidate in 2012.

These young Christian voices really refresh me. I don't always agree with their positions (indeed, they are against an ideology that would require me to do so). They remind me that we represent the Father "of the living, not the dead;" the Savior whose work is "to make all things new;" the Holy Spirit of "new birth." The aging and failing of systems - even church systems - is just part of our temporary labor in this world. There is always a future in faith.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Can worship ignite the light?

This was the conclusion of Sunday's sermon outline:

How can our worship ignite the light?

A. The entrance rites (the part we miss dawdling in the parking lot or gabbing with the usher) call us out of the world and into the presence of God.

B. The lessons and sermon give us the Word to take in and carry out (both senses of "carry out").

C. The Creed calls us to the secret wisdom that gives spiritual power. There's little "practical application" stuff here - it is affirmation of the holy mysteries that the church proclaims.

D. The prayers invite us into works of compassion, goodness and power – putting our hearts and minds where God wants them.

E. The confession calls us to God's mercy and to peace with one another. The exchange of the peace is not intermission, it is an action to show the sincerity of confession and willingness to reconcile with others.

F. The offertory places our life and labor in the light at the altar, where Christ's great work for us is proclaimed, remembered and mystically received.

G. The Holy Communion makes us one body, mystically connected to God and one another and shining with the light of God that fills us by the life of Christ we share.

H. Saying thanks, receiving a blessing and being dismissed sends us out to let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven.

S(o)uper Sunday

Adjusting the light

From this week's Gospel:

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Yes, we are the light.

But notice the next verse - a light is lit and then placed, it doesn't ignite itself or select its location. We are "the light" because we've been lit up and placed in particular settings. It's not our own doing.

Our good works are not the light; they are illuminated by the light of God ignited within us. When our light is lit up and set in the right place, our works become visible as God's own.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. II Corinthians 4:3-6

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Two burials

Two burials this week. One had 5 people at a graveside; the other had a standing-room-only church. Both were remarkably the same: love, grief, a serene if sober hope in the words of faith from the Book of Common Prayer, and even some laughter in the tears of thankful remembrances of lives perceived as gifts from God. Only some externals differed; both services were the same.

The rough edge of Christian blogging

"Accordingly the spiritual director should be discerning in his silence and profitable in his speech, otherwise he might say something that should have been suppressed or suppress something that should have been said. For just as reckless speaking leads someone into error, so indiscreet silence leaves in error those who might have been instructed. For often, reckless directors, who fear to lose human favor, are afraid to speak freely about what is right. And, according to the voice of the Truth, they fail to attend to the care of their flock as shepherds and instead act as mercenaries. This is because they flee and hide themselves in silence whenever a wolf approaches. Thus, the Lord scolds them through the prophet, saying: 'Dumb dogs, who cannot bark' (Isaiah 56:10). Again he complains, saying: 'You have not gone up against the enemy nor have you built a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the Lord' (Ezekiel 13:5). Indeed, to 'go up against the enemy' is to oppose worldly powers in the defense of the flock. And to 'stand in battle on the day of the Lord' is to resist, out of love of justice, evil persons who oppose us. For if a shepherd fears to say what is right, what else is it but to turn his back in silence? But certainly, if he puts himself before the flock [so as to protect them], he 'builds a wall for the house of Israel' against its enemies." Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, II.4

Friday, February 4, 2011

Winter Sundown

I seldom get home in time to catch any of the setting sun lighting up the snow, and even these pics are a few minutes too late to do justice.

Special Needs Families: chance to be heard in Sioux Falls

An announcement rec'd by email, followed by a few personal comments:

There is a 9:00 am meeting being set up for this Saturday, Feb 5, at the SF Holiday Inn City Center in the Burgundy Room for our local legislators to talk with area providers and families of people with disabilities (or developmental disabilities). It would be good to arrive between 8:30 and 8:45.

It would be great if parents, family members or self-advocates could come and be a part of this discussion/show support to show how much a 10% cut would affect us and our families.

We need to be a strong presence in the legislators minds this year more than most or we will have consequences beyond repair.
We need to tell our stories and we NEED to be HEARD in Pierre!

11 provider agencies will be addressing the legislators. I also believe Parent-Connection is involved.
I believe Districts 9, 11 and 12 will be the main panel, but in the previous Cracker-Barrels, other legislators attended as spectators.

Personal comments: Services that help special needs kids, adults and their families are more precious than I can say. I know we are in a tough budget time, and self-reliance is the watchword, but if I might try to open just a bit of a window on our lives:

We are not lazy or irresponsible people. We are often exhausted people and our looks show it.

Self-reliance means coming up with the income to support our loved ones, then coming home and trying to run what amounts to a clinic. Few if any people have the mix of high paying job and high medical/therapeutic skill to pull that off without help.

Moralizing about our efforts can sound like a curse. Most of us, when our kids first began to act "different," heard comments like, "You just need to get that kid in line. I would have fixed that with a swat across the butt." Believe me, if something that easy would fix our lives, we would have been swattin' years ago.

We truly, truly appreciate the sacrificial generosity of others, given privately or through public programs. None of it "solves" our struggle, but it sure makes it easier to pull off.

So anything, absolutely anything that can be preserved in the way of special needs funding in this state will be a blessing to many hard working, responsible families.

"Accepted, respectable and legitimate" are not all they seem

Theological Theology: Theses for a new reformation in the Anglican Communion

"A longstanding temptation facing the churches has been a longing for acceptance, a sense of respectability, and an acknowledgement by those with power or influence that they have a legitimate place in contemporary society. Such a temptation has often led to an accommodation to elements of the contemporary secular agenda. In all of this the words of Jesus are easily forgotten: '... because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you' (Jn 15:19; 17:14). The church will always be a despised minority in a world arraigned against God. Nevertheless, despite such opposition, even the power of death will not prevail against the church that Christ is building (Mtt. 16:18). Though we ought not to seek the animosity of the world, or indeed provoke it by our own arrogance or folly, we need to remember that vindication and legitimization will only come on the day we are invited to 'enter the joy of our master' (Mtt. 25:21, 23)."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

South Dakota Payday Lender Bills heading for Committee; Iowans seek action as well

HB 1223, which helps the strained state budget via a registration fee on those who impose excessive loan interest on the people, and HB 1224 which seeks to temper excessive interest, have received first readings in the House and are now referred to the House Commerce and Energy Committee.

Please contact legislators on that Committee and let them know that you are concerned about predatory lending gimmicks in South Dakota. In these tough financial times, we don't need our neighbors with short term needs trapped in long term debt. Track the bills - those who protect the predatory lending business generally try to kill such legislation in community, before it can get to wider public debate.

Iowans are mobilizing against predatory lending, too:

Groups join to push Iowa Legislature to approve limits on payday loan interest

Anglicans: Is "coming to the table" enough, or does Jesus care about the result?

A piece by UK Evangelical Anglican Charles Raven points out the manipulative misdirection of appeals to "family conversation" as the primary work of the church:

"Why this preoccupation with interminable and inward looking dialogue? What about a passion for reaching the lost, for faithful teaching and preaching, for the glory and honour of Jesus Christ? However sincere or even passionate the Primates may feel themselves to be, this is actually ‘dishonest conversation’ which displaces the gospel and is spiritually dangerous. Fundamentally, this is because ‘conversing’ has come to replace ‘confessing'...

... Part of the art of this debased conversation is to use the language of domesticity with words like ‘family' and ‘table’ in the foreground. So Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of the Anglican Church in Burundi said that the absences from the meetings were 'very understandable. But what we have to understand is that the Anglican Communion is like a family.' In the same briefing from the Episcopal News Service, Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori comments 'Conversations can be difficult with anyone. If we’re not willing to continue in conversation, there’s not much opportunity for healing or reconciling. We need to come to the table.'"

Even a dysfunctional, destructive family can compel its members to come to gatherings (think of some nightmare holiday gatherings people describe). But Jesus had this to say about what constitutes his family:

While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.Matthew 12:46-50

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Radical attendance drop shows Anglican Primates Mtg. in "disunity"

A significant boycott of the recent Anglican Primates (Presiding Provincial Bishops) Meeting in Dublin, Ireland is a radical change from the four preceding gatherings that had maintained amazing unity and charity in the face of controversy, but could not endure constant betrayals of trust by single-agenda members.

The global Anglican Communion was an effort at international Christian witness, based less on institutional machinery than on "bonds of affection." The most exciting catalyst of this global identity was the breakdown of Western Colonialism, which resulted not in the collapse of Anglican Churches in the former colonies and missionary districts, but in their emergence as vital, growing Provinces led by indigenous clergy and lay people.

To foster the bonds of affection that would balance Provincial identity and leadership with global interdependence, four "Instruments of Unity" emerged. These are the Archbishop of Canterbury as "first among equals", the Lambeth Conference to which he invites all Anglican Bishops every ten years, an Anglican Consultative Counsel (ACC) which gathers Provincial delegates for coordinating common action, and the Primates Meeting, which gathers the Archbishops (or Presiding Bishops) of the 38 global Provinces.

The Primates meeting had potential to be the most representative and effective body. Anglican Primates are elected by the people of their Provinces, so they are a representative body and, as chief pastors of Provinces, are called to protect faith and order in their churches. The Primates meeting seemed to be the instrument least likely for bureaucratic manipulation on the one hand (compared to the ACC or the politically appointed Archbishop of Canterbury) or unwieldy chaos (the several hundred bishop Lambeth Conference) on the other.

Sadly, the Primates Conference just concluding in Dublin, Ireland has been an instrument of profound disunity, with 15 Primates representing most of the world's practicing Anglicans (mainly in Provinces that used to be colonies) absent, at least half and probably more of these protesting the refusal of the body to honor and act upon its prior agreements.

Certain of the Primates have gone to great length to break the bonds of affection and achieve this profound disunity. To show how badly and abruptly this has happened, one need look at the meetings of the last 8 years:

2003 - after the regular meeting in Brazil, with most all of the Primates present, it was determined that there was significant concern over the push by the Episcopal Church (USA) and some allies to a) consecrate and thereby mandate the presence of actively homosexual Bishops in Anglican bodies and b) break from the shared Anglican and global Christian teaching on marriage to make same-sex union ceremonies.

The Archbishop of Canterbury called for a second, emergency meeting, which was held that year in London. Almost every Primate was present to grapple with the growing controversy. This meeting generated a statement that the pending consecration of a non-celibate, gay bishop in the U.S. would damage the Communion, and called for "restraint." Presiding Bishop Griswold of the Episcopal Church signed on to that, then flew home and consecrated the gay bishop just the same.

The next meeting, held in Northern Ireland in 2005, still drew almost all of the Primates. Only three did not attend: Burundi's due to a death in the family; Hong Kong's due to illness and North India's, who was responding to a natural disaster in his Province. This meeting's final Communique continued to use gracious language, reaffirmed the earlier position of the Primates, and called for Provinces to refrain from gay ordinations and blessings "to restore the full trust of our bonds of affection across the Communion."

The situation escalated as Bishops in the U.S. and Canada continued to consecrate active gay and lesbian clergy and permit blessings of same sex unions. Numbers of Episcopal and Church of Canada clergy, laity and even entire congregations and a few dioceses began to leave these denominations to form alternative Anglican bodies.

Still, the 2007 meeting, held in Tanzania, again stayed close to full attendance (the Primate of Wales was unable to attend) as the leaders tried to find some kind of stability on which to build a way forward. 14 newly elected Primates, including Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori of the Episcopal Church, were on hand, as was the Archbishop of York, included to represent the Church of England so that the Archbishop of Canterbury could emerge as more of a presiding and unifying figure.

The meeting issued a Communique which stated, "At the heart of our tensions is the belief that the Episcopal Church has departed from the standard of teaching on human sexuality accepted by the Communion..."

The 2007 Primates meeting called again for the cessation of same sex ordinations and blessing rituals, for foreign bishops to stop crossing into the Episcopal Church and Canada to support dissenters, and for a cessation of lawsuits, which Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori was implementing as the Episcopalian response to dissenting clergy and congregations.

The situation continued to deteriorate but still, at the 2009 meeting in Egypt, all but four Primates attended (Pakistan, North and South India due to scheduling conflicts and The Philippines due to visa difficulty.) The leaders still attempted to hang in together, despite three previous meetings devoted to the controversy and consistently ignored or broken commitments coming out of them.

In Egypt, the Archbishop of Canterbury continued to campaign for an "Anglican Covenant," which would give Provinces the choice to opt in or out of some broad principles of faith and practice. The pointed language and specific demands of the earlier meetings were increasingly muted or eliminated. By this point, a large body of the majority Anglican leaders had participated in a 2008 "Global Anglican Futures Conference" in Jerusalem, drafting a more concise and specific statement of Anglican Christian commitment.

Today, less than 8 years after the 2003 emergency Primates Meeting, 15 of the Primates are no-shows. There is loss of trust and a sense that words and efforts are meaningless - that the Episcopal Church in particular will act unilaterally against the mind of the Provincial leaders and global Anglican witness.

The Episcopal Church continues to decline, with its membership the oldest among U.S. denominations and its internal reports showing no reliable sources or patterns of growth. In an Anglican Communion of some 80 million members, only about 700,000 Episcopalians attend services on an average Sunday. The gay bishop consecrated in 2003 downsized his diocese, spent most of his time at gay movement and media events, and recently announced his retirement after less than a decade in office.

A lesbian bishop was consecrated, and some gay and lesbian couples have had high profile ceremonies, including a recent lesbian union worded contentiously as a variation on the Prayer Book marriage rite.

So, a small, affluent, socially homogeneous inner circle of a very small denomination indulges its fancies at the cost of a diverse, global Christian fellowship - a fellowship whose leaders hung in with misrepresentations and broken commitments while trying to maintain bonds of affection. That is, until this 2011 Anglican Primates Meeting in Dublin.