Sunday, 30 March 2008

Wisdom worth repeating.

FranIAm posted this unforgettable quote, but some things are too important to leave hidden among the comments. Now how can we go about shouting this from the rooftops?

"Isn’t the problem with sexism, not what it says about women but what it says about God? Doesn’t sexism really imply that God is all powerful except when it comes to women, at which point the God who could draw water from a rock and raise the dead to life is totally powerless to work as fully through a woman as through a man?"
-Joan Chittister, OSB

This blog needs an anthem.

Lots of the real blogs have anthems, so (just like Israel wanting a king) I've been hunting around for something the Duck Noodle Gang can rally around here.

This is one of the leading contenders at the moment. Aside from it being a great song, I especially like the way Natalie Merchant disproves in just a few minutes the years of "teaching" we've endured that purports women can't bring a message of inspiration and leadership.

And how great is that woman's drum line??!!

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Archbishop Jensen & Scripture

Stop laughing.
I swear I have not made this caption up.
Click the link and read the article for yourself.
And then try to stop crying.

Friday, 28 March 2008

We live in interesting times.

Frequent visitor and honorary Duck Noodle Gangster Lapinbizarre left the following comment on a previous post:

"Did you notice the comment posted by 'Ren' (Renato Aguila) on Mark Harris's "Goodbye Network?" thread?

'The local Anglican seminary in Manila will, according to a reliable source, have a new dean who is close to Sydney in both theological and liturgical terms, is opposed to ecumenical dialogue especially with Roman Catholics, and is generally the kind who doesn't use incense in the Mass (and may not even want to call it that!).'

If true, suspect the gentleman will object to more than incense and the word "mass", but wondered if you have any background on what is going on in the Phillipines - it's less than a month since Mark Harris was over there getting an honorary doctorate, after all."

This is interesting, since I hadn’t heard of any Matthian moves into the Philippines, but as a tactic it sounds very familiar. It’s entirely in keeping with current “Strategic Ministry” policies, which are a curious evangelistic interpretation of Thatcher/Reagan’s “trickle down” economic theories. “Target tomorrow’s leaders” the dogma goes, “and tomorrow you’ll have the masses who’ll have followed them.” Except, of course, that after more than a decade this rhetorical tomorrow still hasn’t come. Sure it’s delivered factional control of Synod, but by God’s grace the hearts and minds of Sydney still appear happier embracing the GLBT Mardi Gras parade than they do neo-Gnosticism, and we’re still a long way from becoming a puritan theocracy.

In either case Ren is quite right; the Eucharist certainly isn’t called “Mass” around here. “Holy Communion” (although recently the ”Holy” part has started being dropped from church signage) or “the Lord’s Supper” seem to be the currently approved nomenclature. And genuflection at any point of the service is a sure sign of someone who’s never heard “the gospel”; how all this will sit with the rest of the Philippine church is anyone’s guess.

If Manila’s new Dean is indeed connected with Sydney then the silence is not so surprising. Just as local congregations are being kept in the dark about their new best friends’ Anglo-Catholic predilections, the Matthian vision of expansion and its accompanying triumphalism are being downplayed in dialogues with those beyond our evangelical borders. The Sydney satellite Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches’ web site reveals no forays into conservative (read “antediluvian”) Catholic dioceses such as Ballarat, which might upset the tenuous treaty formed to block the appointment of women bishops. The spearheads these congregations unquestionably represent are pointed firmly at those places which elsewhere in the world would be described as “broad church” and “moderate”. For now the “smells & bells brigade” (as they’re often referred to around here) seem off-limits, and making too much noise about a move into the Philippines might alarm Sydney’s strange bedfellows.

Sydney's brother in GAFCON: +Drexel Gomez

"Come, Bishop Jensen. Let us stand and speak of the splendour of our vestments. What will your brother be wearing when he arrives to join me in the Mass?"

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Another Sydney Blogger!

Someone else is speaking out in Sydney, and this time (shock, horror, gasp) they're a woman!

Not only that, but anyone who can say:

"Jesus never said blessed are those who are biblical scholars but he did say "blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness" and that the law and the prophets can be summed up in Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind and others as yourself."

... in what's only their second post(!) is off to a pretty good start.

Please take a moment to drop by Aussie Life and say hello to Melinda Menzies - women in Sydney like her need all the support they can get.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

The McDonald's difference.

Recently Sydney Anglican media has been looking at McDonald's, and discussing what the faithful of this fair city can learn from the way the Golden Arches structure and market their business.

It's sad that no mention is made of McDonald's refusal to discriminate against employees or customers on the grounds of gender, sexuality or marital status. I wonder how many burgers they'd sell if GLBT customers were routinely excluded? Or if divorced people were prohibited from purchasing fries and drinks, and women forbidden to rise above the position of assistant shift manager?

Aside from the fact that this sort of discrimination is illegal under Australian law, and the resultant fine substantial, my guess is Mcdonald's would be laughed into insolvency within weeks.

When Ronald McDonald has a greater commitment to justice and equality than the Sydney Anglican diocesean leadership is it any wonder they're no longer taken seriously?

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed.

To be perfectly honest, the past few days have been pretty exhausting. Partly that’s because the week began with a mis-launch while kite-boarding that left me getting dragged 50 metres in a move technically known as “doing a snow-plough”. I wasn’t hurt (memo to anyone interested in the sport: always wear an impact vest), but I still can’t clear my throat without getting sand in my mouth, and my back and shoulders feel like I’ve been a volunteer for students of the Charismatic Christians Amateur Chiropractors Association (Motto: “Crackin’ Bones Anyways the Spirit Lets Us”).

Which combined with the fact that my company is in the process of launching a new project that's more work than I could have dreamed possible, and the sleep-deprivation which all new parents whine about, hasn’t made for the easiest Holy week.

In all honesty too, the current lunatic rhetoric flying around the denomination I love has also been taking quite a toll: the sheer vitriol spouting from the orifices of people who should surely know better (how can anyone possibly spend that much time reading the bible and still miss the point so totally?) can grow wearying.

Good Friday had the bright point of my being asked to preach somewhere which must remain nameless: I explained to the Rector the risks he was running by asking me but he was adamant – which has touched me greatly. I’ve only preached on one other occasion since my breakdown and divorce, and the fall-out from that was substantial: naturally none of the complainants were in the slightest bit interested in what I’d actually said.

Still, even though more of than a few of the congregation recognised me from days long past, and were wonderfully supportive afterwards (never underestimate how many people here in Sydney don’t support the Matthian's gospel of exclusion), by the end of the day things were still feeling a struggle.

Saturday wasn't any better. “God” I was thinking by the afternoon, “if it’s all so important to You, fix things Yourself. Find someone else to bang their head on this wall – I’m tired of caring about everything.”

Mrs. Caliban (who’s tremendously insightful when it comes to such matters) surprised me with a bottle of cheap red and a bag of potato chips, which did wonders to improve things. Until there was a knock on our front door: it was the young couple from two doors up. They’d baked choc-chip cookies and were distributing them through the street as Easter presents.

They’re lovely people, who never complain when our dogs bark at their cats, and are always ready to stop and chat. They're certainly not what Sydney Evangelicals would describe as "Christian", nor do they attend any church, but they're always warm and welcoming, and a joy to meet. And they realise that Easter is a time of celebration in a way few church people I've ever met can comprehend, and were determined to share this joy with their community.

Not only were the cookies absolutely delicious (as is evidenced by there only being one left by the time I thought of taking a picture), but they whole incident completely lifted my spirit.

Their act of genuine friendship reminded me that Christianity really is something to celebrate: that humanity has been intrinsically changed by the incarnation of a God who died and was then resurrected, irrespective of how we may choose to understand that event. Just because the many of our society's religious elite choose to subvert that message into a means of alienating and rejecting others doesn’t mean the God who sings can be silenced. While the Pharisees are busy closing one gate God has already danced through another. And thus will it ever be.

So with the warm taste of chocolate in my mouth I resolved to keep blogging, and speaking out, and annoying the crap out of those who’d see the Gospel of Christ subverted into something which denies God’s power to forgive. To carry on just the same as most of you do: the strength and wisdom of so many of you who comment here never ceases to leave me humbled.

No matter how dreary the struggle may at times appear, the Spirit still moves across the land and waters: touching whoever has ears to hear, blessing just as the lesbian couple two doors up in turn blessed us, and empowering others just as these two “unchurched” women brought my family the most powerful (and sweetest) Easter sermon we’ve ever experienced.

Christ is Risen.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

It's Official!!

Christchurch New Zealand has a new bishop!

Family members living there report they can hear the celebrations among Sydney dissidents from across the Tasman.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Happy Birthday Noble Wolf!!!!

Yes, I know Brian's going to be terribly embarrassed by this, but he's too important a part of our community for an occasion like this to pass unmarked!

Everyone please hop on over to Noble Wolf's place and wish him all the very best. We love you mate - have a great one!

Oh and by the way, Brian very generously shares the day with some fellow called St. Patrick - so all the best to everyone celebrating that bloke's day as well.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Stop laughing; he's serious.

Credit goes to Sydney Anglican media for putting up audio clips of some of yesterday’s Chapter House meeting, and giving prime position to a lecture by Mark “Duck” Thompson on “The Anglican Communion”. That this has been made public shows Sydney is at least committed to maintaining some degree of transparency: as I’ve already said, credit to them for this. But just remember that’s the only credit anyone deserves; it's a truly nasty piece of rhetoric: that it purports to have been delivered in Christ’s name is a blasphemy.

Certainly, in one sense the talk is hilarious: does everyone know that the current problem began back during the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660? That, you should understand, is because "the re-establishment of the Church of England... ...was never a determined return to the reformed evangelical version of Archbishop Cramner" (01:40 – these numbers refer to the time-stamp at which the quote occurs in the clip, lest anyone accuse me of making this stuff up). So everyone’s been dancing to the wrong tune for the past 348 years. Wanting to roll back the clock is one thing, but isn’t this just a tad excessive?

Nor is it not explained how Sydney’s high-church GAFCON buddies are going to appreciate learning that even though this crisis began in the 17th century, “the seeds of the problem we face now lie in the 19th century: John Henry Newman’s infamous Tract 90” (02:12). So as good old sectarians have been screaming for more than a century, it's all Newman's fault. He paved the way for Gore’s Lux Mundi and Robinson’s Honest to God? Thompson’s reading list mightn’t be all that contemporary, but damn the boy enjoys painting with a wide brush!

Yet once I stopped laughing, which happened fairly early in the monologue, it became hard to keep from exploding with anger. In the Duck’s twisted logic those of us who see the Gospel as inclusive and empowering are the schismatics. Rather than mention such charming examples of pastoral love as +Schofield’s Christmas-morning email sacking one of his clergy, we’re told “ecclesiastical bullying of the orthodox has reached epidemic proportions in the Episcopal church, in Canada, and in other places as well” (27:18). And by "orthodox" the Duck means those who've decided to reject traditional Episcopal structures while still calling themselves "Episcopalian" - not those who are deternimed to take seriously God's love for humanity as revealed in Scripture and made manifest in Christ.

Indeed, it was long before the half-way point that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to last the distance. Half-truths and straw-men abound, and the faith of many, many deeply Christian men and women is consistently misrepresented.

The most nauseating aspect of the whole thing, however, is the Duck’s complete inability to consider the possibility that he may in any way be mistaken. About anything. In his world it’s those like him who are the victims – not the Gay and Lesbian people who’ve been systematically bashed, killed, vilified. It’s the fundamentalists who are being excluded and driven from the church, not those who’ve dared to make a stand for the God who brings wholeness and acceptance through Incarnation, Death and Resurection. When he says “the confiscated property remains in the hands of the heretical institution” (29:42) he’s ignoring century old notions of property and title, and even the U.S. legal system itself. For the Duck and his followers it’s theirs by right because the are right. And everyone, absolutely everyone, else is wrong. Period.

Listen for yourself if you’ve got the stomach to handle it. Just while you do so please remember that for us here in Sydney this isn’t some minority wingnut speaking: this is the head of the group which rigidly controls our Synod, and through it all appointments and spending. This is the Academic Dean of Moore College, where Sydney Clergy are almost exclusively trained: this is someone who lectures in systematic theology and church history. So please, pray for us here, and for all who are harmed by this kind of crap.

Please pray also that God might be merciful to the Duck and his cohorts, and by the Spirit’s power and grace lead them forward into a more authentically Biblical faith.

And for all those of you who’ve just started frothing at mouth because of the previous paragraph, here’s a little picture of your new best friend +Akinola to cheer you up. He's wearing the kind of “gospel” vestments you can expect to be seeing a lot of at GAFCON. Unlike Sydney, where obsessive fear of anything “popish” like chasubles has led to their prohibition, most of the “orthodox” to whom Thompson referred are quite fond of donning the occasional sacred bonnet and gown. Of course wicked "liberal Anglo-Catholics" like me don’t have any problem with it – but then again we’ve long been used to not being allowed to inject a little colour and wonder into our liturgy. Wonder if your new friends are going to be pushed around quite so easily?

Friday, 14 March 2008

Why women mustn't be Priests.

This afternoon, as Caliban's Dream warned, a meeting was held in Global Bible-Believer’s HQ (aka Sydney’s St. Andrew’s Cathedral). Since the promotions said “Everyone Welcome”, and since I am at heart really quite a simple & literal soul and figured this might even include me, I intended to go along.

After all, it’s not every day you get a chance to sit down with men who were invited to Lambeth and listen to men who weren’t invited explain why the men who were aren’t going. And why instead they’ll be going to a meeting with the murderous thug who is now Sydney’s very dear and special friend. All explained while the men who were invited to Lambeth nod their heads wisely in agreement, and young clergy desperately seeking the points neccesary to achieve their dream of a seat on Standing Committee ask leading questions (are those of you in other countries familiar with the expression “Dorothy Dixer”?).

Unfortunately the meeting’s time: 1:30 – 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, ultimately made it impossible for me to attend. Contrary to rumours, I'm actually blessed with reasonably gainful employment; and Friday afternoon is probably my busiest time of the week.

This hardly makes me unique. My guess is that this is the same for most working people. If the meeting had been scheduled to start at 6pm it would be far easier for people to have joined the enthralled throng hearing luminaries such as Dean Jensen address the topic of “Should we break fellowship? Why? When? With whom?”, or Duck Thompson explaining “What has happened in World Anglicanism to bring us to this point?”. Sure, a 6pm start would mean we’d have missed Friday night drinks, but since most attending would be Sydney Anglicans it’s a safe bet their colleagues wouldn’t have missed them too much. Pure-in-heart Matthians probably don’t join in office drinks very often anyway.

As I was unable to attend I asked Mrs. Caliban if she’d like to go along and take notes. But she just looked at me strangely, and asked if I’d forgotten to take my medication this morning.

Then she continued: "You know why they won’t let the bishops explain their reasons for not attending Lambeth for themselves? Because they won’t risk the chance that one of them might accidentally let the truth slip out. The real reason they’re not going is because the powerbrokers who lifted them this far up the food-chain have told them not to. And they've scheduled this meeting at a time which ensures as few people like you as possible can attend and try goading one of the bishops into saying this.”

She’s right, of course. Perhaps that’s why Matthians don’t permit women to speak in church, let alone be ordained as Priests. Women are too good at seeing through the spin.

P.S. I just checked the Anglican Church League’s site; the invitation to the meeting is still up, but the words “Everyone Welcome” have been removed. At least they’re being honest. This time.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

BlackStar has been Tagged!

Tag is a pretty good game, not as good as tug-o-dog or thump-chest, but still pretty good. Getting tagged by Grendel makes it even better.

These are the rules of the game we’re playing: better listen closely ‘cause you could be next.

1. You have to post the rules before you give your answers.
2. You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don't have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother's maiden name).
3. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person (or blogger of another species) for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they've been tagged.)
Let’s go!

My middle name is BlackStar. That’s the same as my first name: Dad says I’m so good they named me twice, just like the city his brother used to live in.

B is for Birdies, and chasing them is the Best game of all when you’re a Big, Black dog. It also stands for Broken ribs and jaw, which is what I had when I was first rescued, (that’s probably why I want to Bite Blokes in Boots), and Bowl, Bed and Babies, which are the most important things in our house (after Dad & Mum, of course). And I haven’t even Begun to mentions Bones. Bliss!

L is for Love, which changes Life. Not too mention Legs, which in my case are just the right Length and turn out when I’m resting. It’s a dachshund thing.

A is for Adventuring, which is what I do in the mornings with Dad and Missy Madam. My job is to run Alongside and Attack anything that looks Aggressive (like plastic bottles or birdies).

C is for ‘puter, which is a box thing Dad works on when he should be playing with me. It’s also for Cuddles. ‘Nuff said.

K is for the Kitchen, which is somewhere sort of like heaven. And Kites, which are really good things to chase that Dad plays with. When they’re flying I run around and bark at them, and then when they crash my job is to stop other dogs from chewing them.

S is for Silly. That’s what Mum used to call me, but then Fiver came along and she realised I’m actually quite Sensible. It’s also for Snout-rubs and Scratches, which make me feel So Special, and Splashing, Seagulls, and Slobber, which I do a lot when I’m excited.

T is for Tiny. He was my senior dog when Dad first brought me home from Doggie Rescue and I loved him almost as much as I love Dad. He was killed when we stayed at a Terrible place which didn’t care for us like they promised. Tiny and I we were separated and he was murdered because I couldn’t be near to protection him. I was Traumatised and although Mum had them closed down, she and Dad still can’t speak about Tiny without Tears. Afterwards I couldn’t eat if Dad wasn’t next to me, and if he left me for even just a little while during the day I would go all Trembly and couldn’t eat at all afterwards – not even Tasty cheese or Treats. In Two months I went from my usual Twelve kilos to 8 ½. Finally our friend Aunty Caroline who knows everything 'bout dogs suggested we ask another dog to join our pack and Doggie Rescue found us Fiver. He Tried so hard to cheer me up that eventually I recovered and Told him I’d be the senior dog now. This means he Tickles my Tummy when we snuggle up Together.

A is for Armpit. When Dad cuddles me I love sticking my snout into his Armpit. Sometimes in the night when I have bad dreams he holds me and I keep my snout there until I stop shaking. Mum says it must be awfully smelly, but I find it calmingly Aromatic. That's the kind of dog I Am.

R is for Running and Rolling, which are Really good things. Along with Rubdowns, Rabbit holes and Rodd Point, where I go swimming.

Ok, that’s 'nuff 'bout me. There’s more because Mum says that I’m just as complicated as Dad, but now it’s somebody else’s turn. So I tag Noble Wolf, BooCat, Rowan, and johnieb.

Yes, I know Grendel said I had to name one person for every letter in my name – but it’s not really a game unless you break some of the rules. Which is something else I’d have written ‘cept I’m not sure what letter it starts with.

What's so funny?

"... we need not fear ecclesiastical bully-boy tactics."
Anglican Church League President Mark "Duck" Thompson speaking in support of JI Packer.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Essentially extremely formal.

In responding to Do you live in the U.S. or Canada?, one commenter claimed the relationship between the Sydney Anglican Diocese and “independent” evangelical churches established in other diocese by (with only one exception) Sydney trained clergy is “essentially informal”. Perhaps that’s what those in the pews have been told, and it’s undoubtedly what Sydney would like the Bishops of those dioceses in which the plants have been made to believe.

But it’s not true.

In fact Sydney’s own documentation proves it’s very, very untrue.
A couple of years ago Sydney passed the Affilliated Associations Ordinance 2005 - “An Ordinance to provide for the affiliation of non-Anglican churches with the Anglican Church of Australia in the Diocese of Sydney". Whilst not exactly thrilling reading, it’s a fine example of how well the powerbrokers and their lawyers can draft a document when the circumstances require a little legalese.

Among the many privileges granted to affiliated churches are the right to attend synod (but not to vote), a general licence for Anglican clergy holding a position with one of these non-Anglican churches (and an open ticket back into the diocese when they’ve finished their time “planting”). As well as money: affiliated churches can participate in the Sydney Anglican Diocese Superannuation scheme, long-service leave is exchanged under a reciprocal agreement, and the churches and their staff are covered by Sydney’s insurance policies. Not to mention access to “administrative, secretarial and accountancy services provided by the Sydney Diocesan Secretariat”.

And the icing on the cake? These specifically non-Anglican churches are authorized under clause 9 of the attached schedule to “make reference to being affiliated with the Anglican Church of Australia in this Diocese”

A quick search of Standing Committee records shows 3 churches were affiliated under this ordinance on 11 December 2006 - The Point Community Church, Lakes Evangelical Church, and Albury Bible Fellowship. Doubtless there’s more to be found: nobody need look very far; on 28 January of this year in a curiously brief two-liner the Southern Cross website announced "The Lakes Evangelical Church and Maitland Evangelical Church are now affiliated with the Sydney Diocese, under the Affiliated Churches Ordinance 2005."

If these connections between Sydney and it’s satellites don’t qualify as a formal and close relationship, what does? Perhaps one written on parchment in blood?

Monday, 10 March 2008

Miss Madam had yoghurt for dessert...

... and Mummy & Daddy looked away for one moment...

Do you live in the U.S. or Canada?

Then relax, because Sydney's coming to save you.

The Jensens' are ready to launch your lifeboat. Click here and read this for an idea of the kind of propaganda being circulated about your good selves on this side of the world. And don't be deluded into thinking the problem has anything to do with people unable to grasp the concept of a God who blesses people with love in ways bigger than they can comprehend. Oh no; "The key concerns are the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ [and] the authority of scripture."

Right. Which is why we're now best friends with a murderous thug like +Akinola. Because he obviously understand the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture. Except perhaps for a few little bits, like "whoever lives by the sword will die by the sword", and "love your neighbour as yourself". Unlike you lot on the North American continent who have the temerity to acknowledge and bless those whom God has blessed.

Still, even though the rhetoric may be fierce, don't hold your breath waiting to see your rescuers any time soon:

However as Dean Jensen admits, the question is: "What is the best way to do that now?”

Which, for those who may be unfamiliar with Australian idiom, translates as "How much noise can we make without actually being pushed into leaving the Communion and losing our grip on all the lovely property and investments?"

Friday, 7 March 2008

It only happens to the best.

The unsurpassable Crystal at Boobs, Injuries, & Dr. Pepper has been travelling the path along which genius all too often drags one.

If you can spare a moment drop by and tell her how much we need her: brilliance of her intensity is too precious for the world to lose.

+Akinola: Sydney's dear friend in Christ.

Sydney's bishops will be boycotting Lambeth because of a fellow believer in Christ who lives in a loving, monogamous marriage with another believer.
Ok, so everyone's heard that by now.

But Father Jake has raised cause to reconsider the person the Sydney bishops chosen to make their new best friend.

Wonder if +Jensen & his "Bible-believing" bishops have ever heard of Aesop and his fable of The Farmer and the Stork? Or since that isn't "biblical", how about the commandment "Thou shalt not kill"?

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Help! The Romans are Coming!

World Youth Day will soon be here, and the Sydney Anglican machine is getting nervous about the looming Roman Catholic invasion. Or at least that’s what a confidential report to the clergy of Sydney’s George’s River region suggests, a copy of which just happens to have been leaked to the notorious Duck Noodle Gang. So now “confidential” probably isn’t such a good description any more; how about trying “idiotic” instead?

After an introductory quote lifted from the WYD web site explaining the event’s aims, things quickly move into attack mode:

“… there is a clear targeting of those already baptised (presumably as Roman Catholics). Note also the centrality of the sacraments and not the gospel of Jesus as we understand it.”

Well gee Cromwell: maybe that’s because they’re Roman Catholics? So might it kind of figure they’ll be more interested in Catholic perspectives than they are in presenting yours?

”Again note how while this gives the appearance of orthodoxy, the ‘ultimate witness’ stated here is more in line with the theory of the atonement stated by Peter Abelard - the moral influence view, which falls short of a comprehensive Biblical view of the cross.”

He doesn’t get it, does he? Roman Catholic theology and thought has been influenced by Catholic theologians - that’s kind of obvious for most people. Does he expect they’ll be quoting the latest tract from Matthias Media?

Still, Sydney diocese’s current obsession with theories of the atonement is interesting, given that when I was a student at Moore College “Atonement” was a 4th year elective only very few of us bothered with. This may have now changed, but there’s a whole generation of clergy out there who have never formally studied any of the alternatives to the official penal-substitutionary atonement party line. They may be quick to condemn alternate (or complementary) theories, but it's a certain bet most of them have little or no understanding of what they are – nor of the Biblical foundations upon which these theories were developed.

Abelard’s theology of “moral influence’ is actually central to neo-puritan piety – what Sydney convention is complete without a hearty rendition of “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”? This evangelical standard, along with much of the contemporary musical canon, is theologically far closer to Abelard than to Calvin – something easily overlooked when you’ve no idea of what Abelard actually said, nor why he said it.

”The music and the video clips are appealing and sufficiently ecumenical to fool anyone who does not think too hard about what they are a part of. This thought is reinforced by the fact that WYD seems to be militantly NOT using the title Roman Catholic World Youth Day. Moreover, one of their FAQ’s makes it clear that their invitation is to all youth. ”

Damn these sneaky Roman marketers: the Jesuits must be behind this one. How dare they invite ”all youth”! And note the depths to which they’ll descend in the process of this evil inclusivity: they’re even prepared to mislead the simple by “militantly” abbreviating the event’s title. Not like us - that’s why our outreach year (no manby-pamby “day” for us either) is called "Sydney-Anglican-Bible-Believing-Evangelicals-Opposed-To-Women-and-Gays-and-Lesbians-and-Divorcees –and-Anyone-Else-Not-Forgiven-Like-We-Are-Speaking-in-Church-(Even if they’re wearing a respectable business suit)-Connect -09". That is the name we’re using, isn’t it?

"This is a very large and well coordinated programme. For example, our local Roman Catholic scripture teachers have been undergoing training to equip them to be a part of WYD 2008 since last year."

Shock horror! Voluntary religious education teachers are actually being given training and support? What will those dastardly papists think of next? And how dare they approach the organisation of a major international event in a professional and well coordinated fashion!

"This programme is likely to appear very attractive to our young people, particularly those who are less discerning."

Yep, that’s right. These kids have only been part of our church since early childhood, so there’s every chance Rome’s talons will snatch them away from all they know and love. Especially the kids we think are stupid.

"Clearly the best defence against an inadequate gospel is the true gospel & so I suggest that the best local level response is to innoculate our people as best we may by clearly teaching the Bible. For example, opportunities come at every baptism and Lord’s Supper service. We can also use our small groups and our pulpits to teach clearly on the reformation doctrines and on how to read critically in the light of Biblical truth. I’m sure that we can think of many more ways to get the truth to our people!

There are already some helpful resources out there. "

No, I haven’t made this up: it’s a direct quote. Even more depressing is the fact that the Georges River region is relatively moderate. One can only imagine what the extremists are saying.

The “resources” referred to are prayer (mentioned last) and a whole showbag full of Matthias Media paraphenalia, along with a convenient link to their web site. All told just under a quarter of the document comprises advertising for this company’s wares, and included is the helpful suggestion that people purchase copies of the latest tract-de-jour for a paltry $13.00 a copy (bulk orders only) and give them away. Or else it you can buy a study series which:

"... explores what the Bible tells us about true salvation. The aim of the studies is to learn about how God saves us, why God saves us and what we are saved from. "

Just in case you forget when confronted by the awesome presence of Pope Benny and the World Youth Day Jets, and hey, it’s only $4.95…


I’m no fan of the Pope and his Vatican heavies – but I’ve many Roman Catholic friends with a deep and abiding faith in Jesus who feel the same way. I think it’s appalling that our state government is using public funds to subsidise a religious event which will openly discriminate against, and condemn, vast numbers of people whom God loves passionately. In fact the Pope and his Australian right-hand wingnut Cardinal Pell are probably about as far away from the image of Christ found in the gospels as it’s possible to get. The biggest problem, however, is that sectarian drivel like this shows that the “leaders” of my own church aren’t any better.

But don’t take my word for it. Download a copy of this “confidential” report for yourself by clicking here.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Happy Sydney GLBT Mardi Gras!

Kiss someone you love, because love is from God.

*Anyone concernedabout possible hygiene risks involved in the taking of this picture should relax: Fiver's immunizations are all current, so there's absolutely no risk of him catching anything from our little chap. ;-)