Monday, March 30, 2009

Vote Early, Vote Often, Vote Anglican

The Diocese of Niagara has completed its 134th Synod. The best indication of what it all means is probably the Bishop's Charges to the Synod, since the synods are organized so that those attending don't really decide anything. The Bishop is articulating a new Vision for the diocese. Every new bishop implicitly says that the tenure of the previous bishop was been one of status quo and stagnation, although the predecessor takes no offence knowing it's all part of the game. As far as I can figure out, he has decided to turn the diocese into a political party run by treacly and trendy management principles, except they aren't trendy any more because as always these people are years behind what's current in these things.

In his first charge the Bishop retroactively endorsed Barack Obama: the US Presidential election, we witnessed another new door opening and the breaking down of barriers that has sent ripples of hope and promise not only across the United States but around the entire world.
+Bird begins to lay out his platform. His organization will be competing with the NDP and Green parties:
It is a challenge to us all to reclaim our prophetic voice in a troubled and broken world and to lead the fight against poverty, violence and injustice that continues to pervade our communities and our society. As part of this aspect of our work together there is a strong challenge to embrace the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of 2001...
He expands on this idea in his second Charge, delivered the next day;
We are beginning to dream and imagine a church in such a way that when people throughout Southern Ontario think of the work of Poverty Reduction, or Environmental Sustainability ....they think of the Anglican Church and the Diocese of Niagara.
He missed the boat on the environment stuff. The Green Party has grabbed that niche for itself, and unlike the Anglican Church of Canada, it has been growing. I would think a bishop's vision should be that when people thought of Godly living, of people whose lives showed the sign of the attempt to be like Jesus, of humility, honesty, and self-sacrifice they thought of the Anglican Church of Canada, but those days are long past. It should be noted that "Poverty Reduction" is a term of art. It has nothing to do with giving alms to the poor, or giving time to food banks, homeless shelters and the like. It stands for a distinct and Leftist form of political agitation:
Poverty Reduction(or poverty alleviation) is any process which seeks to reduce the level of poverty in a community, or amongst a group of people or countries. Poverty reduction programs may be aimed at economic or non-economic poverty. Some of the popular methods used are education , economic development , and income redistribution . Poverty reduction efforts may also be aimed at removing social and legal barriers to income growth among the poor.
The Prophetic Social Justice Component of the vision was discussed in the presentation on Excellence in Ministry. It's interesting that the consultants used in this process are from the Church of the Redeemer in Toronto. That is the church where open homosexual James Ferry was deposed some years ago, now a centre for pro-homosexual agitation. (I'm now a little cautious about telling people that I used to attend that Church lest they get the wrong idea.) Among the goals of this process is to "Educate Laity and Clergy with respect to justice issues." Those whose politics are different than the bishop's need to be indoctrinated. And about worship? "Inspire Christian social activism through worship."
It is not just that all this is at best irrelevant to Christianity. It is such thin gruel to anyone who knows the Gospel. Even if I shared the leftist vision I would have no desire to be involved with this organization, knowing as I do that if this program is examined for results next year, it will be found to have accomplished exactly nothing. Ir is a vehicle of left agitation for those who don't want to suffer the burden and pain of working in and constantly losing elections. Even though the scales have fallen off my eyes, even though I realize that the diocese has been inhabited by this spirit at least since the time of +John Bothwell and probably before, my first reaction is always to recoil in shock when I read things like the proceedings of the 134th synod of the Diocese of Niagara. In some sense I'll never quite assimilate, at an emotional level, what has happened to the Anglican Church of Canada.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Green Shift

Anglican Bishop of Niagara Michael Bird, who some claim is a successor to the Apostles, has issued a pastoral letter, Caring For Creation, as part of the buildup to the diocesan synod this weekend. (They really ought to title of these things in Latin. At least something about them would be impressive.) It illustrates both the theological vacuity and utter futility in action of the modern Anglican Church:
This is the time of the year when we are perhaps most mindful of the wonder and beauty of God’s creation. Caring for creation is at the heart of who we are as a people of faith.
Now there are a lot of things one could claim to be "at the heart of who we are as a people of faith" and get away with it. Furthering the Glory of God; the blessed life and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; transforming ourselves through the Holy Spirit into people who live like Jesus, etc. But "caring for creation": isn't one of them. +Bird shows himself immediately to be the kind of person who writes things without seriously thinking about them, and throws out phrases like "at the heart of our faith" when he means that something is very important. If caring for creation were at the heart of the faith, we should start devoting our time, energy and money to the Sierra Club or the Green Party, which at least is growing, unlike the ACoC.
Throughout the ages, however, our concern for creation has drifted to the sidelines of our Christian witness.
No citations from the Fathers of the Church there to demonstrate how "our concern for creation" was once at the centre of our witness. He needn't waste his time trying to find any.
. Yet many, like theologian Christopher Lind who spoke at our Synod in 2007, have not forgotten this
important mark of how we live out God’s mission and are calling us to reclaim and renew our role as custodians of creation.
Here are some extracts from Mr Lind's presentation to the 2007 Synod :
Earth has a collective identity and a collective voice, capable of rejoicing in delight and groaning in sorrow. In order to hear the voice of Earth, we have to listen for it. Maybe the voice of Earth is a little bit like ‘body language’ – a communication without words; or maybe it is like the language of whales and other animals. They do communicate. We just have to learn their language!

Earth and its components not only suffer from injustices at the hands of humans, but actively resist them in the struggle for justice.

We're getting beyond trendy environmentalism here, into something really creepy. Back to +Bird:
In Niagara, caring for creation has become an important part of how we will pursue excellence in ministry
through prophetic social justice-making.
It is so painful to hear leftist jargon. bandied about in the place of the language of Christianity. OK here's the heart of the faith, an arena for prophetic social justice-making. Just what does the bishop direct his flock to do:
The first is Earth Hour on Saturday, March 28 at 8:30 p.m. It’s an hour in time where we, as a people of faith, symbolically turn off those things in our lives - televisions, computers and lights – which contribute to
the production of green house gases by the electricity they use from non-renewable sources of energy...I echo this call and urge all Anglicans in Niagara to observe Earth Hour. For more information, visit KAIROS’ website( and learn this relates to their Re-Energize campaign.

Last year, I wrote to you in response to a motion from Youth Synod asking me to declare one Sunday per year (near Earth Day) for Anglicans in Niagara to walk, cycle or carpool to church. This year Earth Sunday falls on April 19. I hope all parishes will go one step further this year and observe Earth Sunday in some way
through their Sunday liturgies. As part of my Earth Sunday plans, I’ll be reducing my carbon footprint by using my hybrid car as little as possible and by walking to my host parish that Sunday. I urge all of you throughout our great diocese to also reduce your carbon footprint on Earth Sunday as way of demonstrating your commitment to care for creation.

That's it. That's the taking up of the Cross that this religion requires. One hour of turning things off and taking a nap, and stick a reference to the environment into the Prayers of the People. These are people who hold a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.

In the last federal campaign the Liberals ran on their Green Shift, an environmental program headlined by a carbon tax. With disastrous results. The attempt to make this new social gospel the means of the vivification of the ACoC will have the same fate. But give Stephane Dion this: he was willing to stand up for what he believes, and pay the cost of his discipleship.