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.

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