Thursday, August 31, 2006

Evangelist Fails (Badly) to Walk on Water

From WorldNetDaily (I hope this is apocryphal, but suspect it isn't):
An evangelist who tried replicating Jesus' miracle of walking on water has reportedly drowned off the western coast of Africa.

Pastor Franck Kabele, 35, told his congregation he could repeat the biblical miracle, and he attempted it from a beach in Gabon's capital of Libreville.

"He told churchgoers he'd had a revelation that if he had enough faith, he could walk on water like Jesus," an eyewitness told the Glasgow Daily Record.

"He took his congregation to the beach saying he would walk across the Komo estuary, which takes 20 minutes by boat. He walked into the water, which soon passed over his head and he never came back."

The New Testament records the story of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee as he approached his disciples in a boat.

"And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea." (Matthew 14:25)

Okay, one more time. Let’s get this right. We’re not Him! It’s not “What would Jesus do?” It’s “What does Jesus want me to do?” The answer is probably not “pretending that I’m Him!”

This “if I just have enough faith” bilge is causing more grief to people that can be measured. Folks are actually being told by some of these heretics false prophets loonies word-of-faith preachers that whatever bad happens to them is because they lack faith. Got cancer? Your faith is weak. Your daughter died of an overdose? Your faith is weak. Halitosis? Forget the Listerine; you gotta have faith, man! And people actually seem to buy it – probably as the result of decade upon decade of really bad catachesis.

Where did this nonsense come from? I first encountered it watching big-hair, pancake-makeup, hollering nut jobs preaching on the cable channels, and thought it was just another wacko fad that would disappear faster than you can say “Holy Inquisition.” Instead, it seems to be spreading. I’ve actually heard variations on it from Episcopal and even Catholic sources.

Faith is faith in the cross, and faith in the cross is acceptance of the cross. If faith makes you healthy and wealthy, then where the heck are the apostles? What’s that you say? Oh yeah, except for John, they were martyred. And John got exiled. Guess they just didn’t have enough faith.

Sorry for the rant, but really, now! The ghost of Charlie Darwin lurks around every corner, waiting to naturally select the unwary out of the gene pool. That’s pretty insensitive, I suppose, and I hope the Rev. Kabele is in the presence of the Lord, but I also hope his congregation learned something from the demonstration. Remember, the same Lord who said our faith could move mountains also said, "It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble." (Luke 17:2, NASB). Sometimes, the millstone seems to be optional.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Trashing Teresa

From The Australian:
The church is facing another onslaught from filmmakers.

After the furore of the controversial account of Jesus in The Da Vinci Code, it is now having to contend with an allegedly blasphemous account of the life of Saint Teresa of Avila.

Geraldine Chaplin heads the cast of Teresa: Death and Life, a feature film about one of the world's greatest Christian figures.

Saint Teresa was a mystic who said that Christ frequently conversed with her, and four centuries after her death her writings are revered as spiritual masterpieces. But filmmakers do not do spirituality as easily as sexuality and, in exploring the saint's sex life and virginity, they now find themselves being accused of treading sacrilegiously.

The film was denounced on Thursday by Benedicta Ward, a nun and reader in the history of Christian spirituality in the theology faculty at Oxford University, who wrote the introduction to a recent edition of the saint's most celebrated work, Life. On being told about the film's content, she said: "It's just imagination.

"The stress on her virginity and her sexuality are entirely modern interests as if she were living now," she said. "That's not fair.

[…] "It seems strange if they're treating her as a saint you pray to, but are inventing things about her."

The film, made by Spanish, French and British companies, has been written and directed by Ray Loriga […]

Asked whether he expected it to be controversial, he said: "There was controversy in the 16th century and I'm sure it can arise now.

[…] "So far, everybody has been careful not to touch on certain uncomfortable subjects - her sexuality, her relationship with God, which was so close, nearly 'skin-to-skin'.

"These subjects were considered scandalous then and have not been studied much.

"They'll probably seem scandalous now, which does not say much for the progress made by the Catholic Church over the past centuries."

He added: "This is the 21st century and I think certain opinions about Saint Teresa, such as the question of her virginity, could change."

He claimed that these questions had to be seen "with a more courageous view".

Benedicta Ward was less than impressed, asking: "What does skin-to-skin with God mean?"

Good question.

Why do we, who live in a minute slice of human history that is strangely obsessed with sexual matters, presume that those who lived (or will live) in other times must have been preoccupied with the same concerns that preoccupy us? There is a certain arrogance involved in the belief that our peculiar societal neuroses are somehow the measuring rod by which all other ages are to be judged, and that the people of those times are obligated to live down to our standards. Any failure on their part to do so might make us look less than wonderful, and that is intolerable because we, after all, are “modern” and they aren’t. C. S. Lewis referred to this attitude as “chronological snobbery.”

Having read some of St. Teresa of Avila’s works, my personal suspicion is that she would be less scandalized by what these jerks want to make of her life than she would be amused by it (and them). I look forward to someday hearing her comments on the matter, assuming we still have both the inclination and capacity to be sarcastic in heaven.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Most and Least Prayerful Colleges

Princeton Review, examining America’s colleges for 2007, has come up with a list of schools at which students are most and least likely to be caught engaging in prayer.

The top 20 top schools where the Students Pray on a Regular Basis are:
1. Brigham Young University (ah, those Mormons)
2. Wheaton College
3. Pepperdine University
4. University of Notre Dame
5. University of Dallas
6. The Catholic University of America
7. Hillsdale College
8. College of the Ozarks
9. University of Utah
10. Texas A&M University-College Station
11. Baylor University
12. William Jewell College
13. Calvin College
14. Furman University
15. Grove City College
16. Valparaiso University
17. United States Air Force Academy
18. Samford University
19. Auburn University
20. Brandeis University

Notice that three of the twenty (in bold) are in the Great and Sovereign State of Texas.

Moving to the Evil One's side of the stadium, those schools where Students Ignore God on a Regular Basis are:
1. Reed College
2. Bard College
3. Bennington College
4. Lewis & Clark College
5. Sarah Lawrence College
6. Eugene Lang College -The New School for Liberal Arts
7. Emerson College
8. Simon's Rock College of Bard
9. New College of Florida
10. Vassar College
11. Marlboro College
12. Hampshire College
13. Oberlin College
14. Macalester College
15. Wesleyan University
16. Beloit College
17. Skidmore College
18. Grinnell College
19. Pomona College
20. Pitzer College

None of which are in Texas. The red-state vs. blue-state distribution, though far from exclusive, is telling.

Interestingly, those ranking as “least prayerful” are likely to rank high for the presence of Birkenstock-Wearing, Tree-Hugging, Clove-Smoking Vegetarians and Students Most Nostalgic For Bill Clinton, while the more Godly locations rank high in Alternative Lifestyles Not an Alternative and Students Most Nostalgic For Reagan. Who would have thought?

I do not have complete confidence in the lists, since they probably vary on a day to day basis. The University of Texas (Austin), for example, undoubtedly ranks much higher in the “prayerful” category when I give my exams! On the other hand, were I teaching at, say, Reed, perhaps my lectures would be more likely to inspire the casting of voodoo spells than to encourage prayer.

Some Odd News for the Day

Saddam Forced to Watch South Park:
Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is being made to watch his appearance in cult cartoon South Park while he is behind bars.

The deposed leader on trial in Iraq was featured in the movie spin-off as the lover of the devil. South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut featured Hussein and Satan attempting to take over the world together.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone said US Marines guarding the former dictator during his trial for genocide were making him watch the movie "repeatedly".

Okay – I didn’t have a problem with roughing up captured terrorists, but this may be going too far.

Were Hitler and Stalin Possessed?
Adolf Hitler and Russian leader Stalin were possessed by the Devil, the Vatican's chief exorcist has claimed.

Father Gabriele Amorth who is Pope Benedict XVI's 'caster out of demons' made his comments during an interview with Vatican Radio...

Works for me.

Postman Fired for Revealing How to Stop Junk Mail
When postman Roger Annies told residents on his round how to avoid junk mail he considered it part of customer service.

But bosses at the Royal Mail - which makes millions of pounds a year from unwanted post - were less than impressed with his dedication.

They immediately suspended the 48-year-old father of two, who has worked as a postman for the more than 10 years, and he is now facing the sack.

Proving once again that no good deed goes unpunished.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Who Really Does Run the Asylum?

I’ve believed this about the current struggles in the Church for a long time, but Mark Shea says it a bit more eloquently than I ever have. (BTW - I frequently disagree with the good Mr. Shea on matters political, lest this be considered a matter of blind agreement.)

I should know this from my catechism and from Scripture, but I still find myself amazed by it. What I mean is this: analysIs of the behavior of theological liberals such as the TEC never quite goes where you think it will. You get all the normal hand-wringing from them about the Perils of Christianist Theocracy and all, the pro-abort claptrap, the gay brownshirts on the march, the Babel-like attempts to create a kingdom of the Imperial Autonomous Self and call it the will of God (or the Goddess, or Whoever). But then, repeatedly, you get this bizarre and fashionable tendency to bow, scrape and crawl before Foaming Bronze Age Islamic Thugs as though there is no contradiction at all.

What can possibly account for this? An organization that routinely produces battalions of fainting, Victorian Lady Novelists that cannot even breathe in the presence of a couple of Piskies who don't share their enthusiasm for gay marriage will suddenly fall all over itself to have wine and cheese celebrations for guys who want to hang homosexuals and impose the chador on every woman in the world.

Looked at from the perspective of politics, money, culture, feminism and all the other earthly perspectives, I can make no sense of it. But looked at from the perspective of revelation, I begin to wonder again if the old saint didn't know what he was talking about when he said, "For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens" (Ephesians 6:12). Viewed from that perspective, the common cause is clear: so long as you are an enemy of Christ, we can deal.

I have a notion that as history progresses toward the Parousia, we shall see more such strange bedfellows […]

[…] The Devil is the Ape of God. And so we see scenes like this repeatedly as mortal foes drop all their quarrels in their lust to kill Him:

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 And they watched him, to see whether he would heal him on the sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man who had the withered hand, "Come here." 4 And he said to them, "Is it lawful on the sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?" But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out, and immediately held counsel with the Hero'di-ans against him, how to destroy him. (Mark 3)

And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then, arraying him in gorgeous apparel, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other. (Luke 23)

Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" 15 They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar."
(John 19)

In every case, you find people doing things that are utterly inexplicable via normal human "follow the money" analyses. But when you look at it from the perspective of Paul, things fall into place. It would appear that the real war taking place is not a culture war, but a spiritual war. I am inclined to think that what took place during the first coming will take place again as we approach the Second. Weird and unexpected alliances that make no sense except that irreconcilable parties put aside their differences in order to attack Christ and his Church…

The Reds used to refer to the “inherent contradictions” of capitalist society, which they thought would lead to its inevitable demise. The real inherent contradictions are intrinsic to the Evil One and to those who make him their captain, who subordinate everything to their rebellion against God. I wonder if that is what hell is like – the total breakdown of the grace-rejecting individual into competing, self-contradictory hatreds that tear each other to bloody shreds, endless day after endless day, forever and ever and ever. I wonder, but I’d really rather not find out.

The Gospel's Free, but the Book's Gonna Cost You

From The Denver Channel:
A full-size reproduction of The Saint John's Bible will be available for pre-order beginning Sept. 1, for $115,000.

Orders placed after June 30, 2007, will cost another $15,000.

The Saint John's Bible is the first handwritten and illuminated Bible commissioned by a Benedictine monastery since the printing press was invented.

It's scheduled to be completed by December 2008.

The Saint John's Bible Heritage Edition will contain the same seven volumes as the handmade original, as well as an extra volume of commentary.

The original will be two feet tall and three feet wide and nearly 1,100 pages.

Only 360 reproductions will be available.

Each copy will be signed by Donald Jackson, the artistic director of The Saint John’s Bible.

Proceeds will help pay to preserve ancient Christian texts and create a permanent home for The Saint John's Bible.

Only $115,000? Maybe I’ll get two and keep one around for the next time I need to come up with a wedding present. Hopefully, it’s a better translation than the NAB or I wouldn’t pay $1.15 for it.

Something strikes me as just being a little off about this. I certainly applaud the proceeds going into text preservation, but using the money from purchase of the bible to make a home for the bible itself seems a wee bit circular. There’s certainly nothing wrong with producing an illuminated manuscript as great art, but is it really the function of a monastery to produce high-dollar bibles for wealthy collectors? It’s not like they’re actually going to read them. Or am I just being a whiny, cantankerous old coot? I have noticed that that last possibility becomes less and less theoretical with each passing year.

As a follow-on to this project, perhaps they might consider putting together a special Episcopal Mainline Protestant edition. It could be custom-illustrated with full-color portraits of Adam and Steve, of Jesus with Buddha and Krishna, of the great miracle where Jesus convinces 5000 people to share their lunches, and of the Resurrection Experience where the apostles come to realize that the dead Jesus can live on in their minds. Leave out the Deuterocanon, of course. Maybe replace Tobit with the Gospel of Judas.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Morons Vandalize Church Looking for Holy Grail

From the Daily Mail (UK):
Until recently, the 14th century church was a place to enjoy some peace and contemplation.

But now things have radically changed for St Luke's Church in the village of Hodnet, Shropshire, with visitors lured by claims that it is linked to the Holy Grail mystery.

The completely made-up from whole cloth Holy Grail mystery.

And some, it seems, will go to any lengths to discover the beautiful church's secrets - even if it means taking a hammer and chisel to the walls.

The Reverend Charmian Beech blamed a pair of 'Da Vinci Code-style' treasure hunters for causing thousands of pounds worth of damage as they searched for clues to help them find the Grail.

Stonework was chipped off in four areas inside her church as the offenders tried to remove blocks from the walls to see what is behind them, she said.

The chief suspects are two shadowy Italian men who visited the church that day.

I’m going to write a complaint letter to Opus Dei. It seems you can never find an albino killer monk when you need one.

Mrs Beech said: "They have taken a hammer and chisel and gouged great big bits of the stone wall.

"Any deliberate damage to a holy place is a serious offence so we are really upset.

"Normally we are delighted to receive so many interested visitors but we are now having to review our security measures and install a surveillance camera."

St Luke's does not feature in Dan Brown's book the Da Vinci Code, which explores theories that Jesus married Mary Magdalene, that the couple had a child, that their bloodline still exists and that the bloodline is the 'Grail'.

The thriller focuses on the idea that the figure of St John in Leonardo Da Vinci's painting The Last Supper is really Mary Magdalene.

In the wake of the hype surrounding the worldwide bestseller and the recently released film version, St Luke's has become a magnet for Grail hunters because of its 150-year-old stained glass window which features a feminine looking St John.

Some theorists claim the clean-shaven figure is really a depiction of Mary Magdalene.

Another theory about the Grail is that it is the cup which, in the Bible, Mary Magdalene used for the perfume with which she anointed Jesus' feet before wiping them with her hair.

Assuming it was indeed Mary of Magdala who was the one who performed that deed. Scripture is silent on that particular question.

Historian and Arthurian legend expert Graham Phillips, whose books include The Search For The Grail, claims to have discovered what could be this artefact hidden in a statue in Hawkstone Park near St Luke's Church and discusses links with St Luke's Church on his website.

That won’t be the Holy Grail, but perhaps Mr. Phillips has found Jimmy Hoffa.

The offenders who struck at St Luke's on August 11 climbed onto a window sill below the stained glass window, causing £800 damage to a nearby organ pipe in the process, before chipping away at the wall.

They then chiselled away at three other sections of wall in other parts of the church. It is estimated the total damage to the stonework will cost 'thousands' to repair.

Mrs Beech dismisses the Jesus and Mary Magdalene marriage story as a "complete myth" and is adamant the figure in her stained glass window is St John.

She is keen to trace the two Italian men, a father and son, but believes they have now returned to Italy.

"They were in the church at the right time and I would like to ask them some questions,' she said.

"It is very mysterious because it happened in the middle of the day last Friday. We had a lady in the church working on a flower arrangement and the bell ringers were in the church as well."

Of the two Italians, she added tongue-in-cheek: "Who knows, maybe they came over from the Vatican."

The pair did not break in or steal anything.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Lichfield said: "The Da Vinci Code is fiction, and while it's a very exciting read it's wrong to use that as an excuse to vandalise a very ancient and important church."

A Police spokesman said: "We were informed that some stone blocks had been tampered with in the church and we are appealing for any witnesses."

I think the good people of St. Luke’s should sue Dan Brown for the damages. There have been many discussions of the cost of heretical teachings in the mainline Protestant churches of the West. Here’s a case where you can actually put a dollar figure on it. I suggest everyone send this article to the next person you hear say, “It’s only fiction!” The world is full of nut jobs who think The DaVinci Code is a documentary. If you think it’s “just fiction,” then please tell me: When was the last time you heard of vandals going through the English countryside ripping apart old furniture after reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?

St. Luke, St. John, and St. Mary Magdalene, pray for these morons who pollute your memory!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Saint Joseph the Realtor

From Heartland News:
Cape Girardeau, MO - If faith can move mountains, surely it can move homes. If you're having a tough time selling your home, why not call on St. Joseph. A statue may be the answer to a home sellers prayers. The claim is: Call on him. He's the only realtor you'll ever need.

The door is slamming shut on a sellers market. Housing sales are no longer blowing through the roof, leaving many paying more attention to the outside of the home.

David Hulshof is a father at Saint Vincent de Paul in Cape Girardeau where a statue of Saint Joseph hangs on the church walls. "Our Catholic tradition has, and continues to be, the patron saint of the home with Mary, and the care of the child, Jesus," explained Hulshof.

When all else seems to be failing, some weary home sellers look for heavenly intervention. "Anytime you have a situation where you find yourself a little bit anxious, even in some cases, desperation, you're looking for any angle that you can get," said Hulshof.

In the past six months, statues have been flying off store shelves. Home owners bury them in their yards. "They talk about him being upside down because that's a difficult position for him and the house will get sold a little quicker," said Hulshof.

There is no hard and fast rule, but there are number of ways Saint Joseph's blessing claims to fall upon the household, upside down, right side up, in the rear, front, 3 feet away, 12 inches deep, away from the house, towards house. Once he's buried, comes the faith of asking, believing, trusting, thanking, moving the statue, and sharing the experience. "Their home is sold not because of burying him in the ground, but because of the prayer and patience, said Hulshof.

Father David wants to be absolutely clear that this practice is not an official teaching of the Catholic Church. The important thing to remember is that the power is in the prayers and devotion to him, not in the burial practice.

I first heard of this bizarre practice years ago. I don’t know what to make of it. On the one hand, it is such rank superstition as to approach classic pagan idolatry and occult magical practices. On the other hand, I have known a number of people who have done it and swear that it worked. I can’t help wondering if God in His mercy sometimes honors misplaced but child-like faith, in spite of really bad theology.

I’m sure as heck not advocating a laissez-faire approach to heretical teachings. If the Church doesn’t identify and suppress such things, the faithful soon have nowhere to turn for the truth. A glance at my former denomination shows the end result of accommodating deviant doctrines – befuddled, splintering congregations and sheep with no shepherds. But it’s a little bit different when you just have some oddball ideas floating around the general population. I would expect the clergy to use this as an opportunity to gently instruct their congregations in what is and isn’t real – that prayer to the saint for his intercession is appropriate, and devotion to God’s saints is a form of praise and honor to God Himself, but burying upside-down statues is a little over the top. At the individual level, however, I suspect the Lord is more concerned with whether we’re seeking Him than whether we have each and every doctrine exactly correct. Perhaps His response is something like, “Your brain may be a bit addled, my child, but your heart’s in the right place. We’ll get the brain sorted out in due time.” I hope so, because I’m sure I don’t have it all quite right myself.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rent an Excommunicant Priest

From Florida Today:
A Catholic priest’s decision to join a national organization promoting a married priesthood has resulted in his excommunication, officials said.

Bishop Victor Galeone, spiritual leader of the Jacksonville-based Diocese of St. Augustine, excommunicated the Rev. Rouville M. Fisher on July 26. It was the first excommunication since Galeone became bishop in 2001, The Florida Times-Union reported.

The action disqualifies Fisher from performing or participating in any church rites, but it does not strip him of his lifelong Catholicism, said diocese spokeswoman Kathleen Bagg-Morgan.

Fisher was excommunicated because he joined Rent A Priest, an organization of Catholic priests removed from ministry because they married, The organization provides priests to perform baptisms, marriages and other sacraments for lay people who are often estranged from the Catholic Church.

A notice printed this month in a parish bulletin said Fisher is offering priestly services outside and apart from the Diocese of St. Augustine and is in violation of the directives of the bishop.

Fisher, 57, said he is merely doing what the Holy Spirit called him to do when he became a priest in 2002.

“That’s why I see my ministry as — reaching out to those who has been disenfranchised,” Fisher said.

Fisher has been married and divorced and raised two children and ran an insurance business. He said he plans to remarry soon.

He says his problems with the diocese began when it learned of his plans last summer.

Fisher was removed as associate pastor at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church. He previously served at Christ the King parish in Jacksonville.

Of course, we all know that “doing what the Holy Spirit called us to do” is entirely a matter of personal experience and has nothing to do with the historical tradition and teaching of the Church. And if you choose to walk away from the teachings of the Church, then you are a victim who has been "disenfranchised."

This isn’t meant as a cheap shot – I really don’t understand. If you as a layman are “estranged from the Catholic Church,” or if you as a priest want to marry, have kids, divorce, and remarry – why don’t you just join the Episcopal Church? You’d be perfectly welcome in the vast majority of ECUSA / TEC / whatever dioceses around the country, and your “life experience” would probably be considered a plus. For a priest, leaving the Catholic Church as a dissident would no doubt get you bonus points at most Episcopal seminaries. Why the insistence on engaging in pretend Catholicism? Just who is it you're trying to fool?

I guess my other question is – if the guy has been married, had kids, and gotten divorced, how could he have still been functioning as a Catholic priest before the current brouhaha anyway? If all that wasn’t enough to get him excommunicated, what difference does joining “Rent A Heretic Priest” make? Seems like the theological equivalent of double parking while you rob the bank.

If you rent a priest, do you have to fill him up with bread and wine before you return him? And is it a good idea or a bad idea to sign up for the optional damnation insurance before you drive him out of the rectory?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Historic Icon Stolen

From The Guardian (UK):
Police set up roadblocks and launched helicopter searches Saturday for a 700-year-old religious icon that was stolen from a monastery in southern Greece. The Icon of The Virgin Mary, which is credited with miracles, was reported missing Friday at the Orthodox Christian monastery of Elona, near the town of Leonidio, 185 miles southwest of Athens.

“This is the worst thing that could happen to us, our church and our religion,” said Metropolitan Bishop Alexandros of Mantineia and Kynouria.

Alexandros described the icon, which measures 16 by 20 inches, as “priceless.”

Alexandros said he believes the robbers had used climbing equipment to reach the monastery, which is built into the face of a cliff.

I would definitely not want to be these guys in front of Jesus at the Final Judgement. “Nice picture you have there, fellows. Gee, it looks an awful lot like Mom. Funny, I don’t recall you guys being particular friends of hers. Did you paint it yourselves?”

In addition to its value as art, a wonder-working icon of this nature – perceived as a window into heaven - is of incalculable value to our Orthodox friends as a portal for God’s grace into the world. For a Westerner, it would be rather like someone stealing the entire shrine of Lourdes and leaving a hole in the ground. Sure, people could rebuild the site and put in new baths, but it’s not the same thing!

Pray for these revolting vermin, that their hearts might be turned by God's grace shining through that which they have stolen. Sorry if that’s insufficiently charitable; it’s the best I can do at the moment.

New Webring for Continuing Anglicans

Please notice the link to the Continuing Anglican Webring underneath the list of bloglinks in the sidebar. This is a growing list of websites associated with continuing churches and bloggers, set up by Continuing Home (to whom much appreciation is due). I encourage all to browse these sites, and to add their own as applicable. During our particular transient slice of history, that which is known as Continuing Anglicanism is an alphabet soup of individual denominations and dioceses with far more in common than holds them separate. Even the smallest movement towards union and communion is a step in the right direction, lest we all wind up schisming and separating into that ultimate Protestantism of “The Church of Me and You and I’m Not Really Sure About You.”

And, while you’re perusing the sidebar, how about scrolling on down and adding yourself to my Frappr map of visitors to this lowly site? You won’t start getting spammed, and no large hairy guy named Bruno the Beast will show up at your door to demand money.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Are you going to Hell?

From The Weekly World News:
Chances are, you're going to Hell, says a Bible scholar.

"Ninety-nine out of 100 people are damned," says Jacob L. Pinewood, professor of divinity at Holy Moses College in Jarvis, Australia.

"My research indicates God hates us. That's why He made His rules so ridiculous that the average person will never get into heaven."

But you may be one of the lucky few, says Pinewood, author of the handy guide So, You're Going To Hell. According to Pinewood, if you answer: "I sayeth yes," to any of the following situations, you should pack for a warm climate when the Grim Reaper calls your name.

You're going to Hell if you:

* Can name 10 beers but not one of the Ten Commandments.

* Think WWJD stands "What Would J.Lo Do?"

* Are a whoremonger.

* Can't stand harp music.

* Wear white after Labor Day.

* Have built a shrine to Michael Jackson, even a small one.

* Have severed heads in your freezer.

* Have occasionally asked God to damn something for you.

* Have considered selling your soul for a Mercedes convertible.

* Sometimes use the Lord's name in vain, especially when you can't find the TV remote or stub your toe in the dark.

* Have watched a movie with graphic violence, brief nudity, sexual themes or adult language.

* Use the F word more than once a day.

* Felt powerful and satisfied after squashing an insect.

* Have engaged in sexual acts for reasons other than procreation.

* Have undressed people with your eyes at family reunions.

* Don't understand what's so bad about alcohol since it makes you feel so good.

* Ever fell down because you drank too much. "The Bible says, 'Thou mayest swayeth on thy feet,' " says Pinewood.

* Ever laughed at or imitated a mentally or physically handicapped person. "This is especially difficult as the rule includes midgets with big heads," says Pinewood.

* Ever had a bath or shower with someone of the opposite sex.

* Ever had a bath or shower with someone of the same sex.

* Are a homosexual, transsexual, heterosexual or metrosexual.

* Ever rolled your eyes at the mention of Mother Teresa.

* Make a practice of stepping on sidewalk cracks.

* Belong to any organized religion. "Every religion believes the members of every other religion are going to hell," explains Pinewood. "And since you can only belong to one religion at a time, it's a Catch 22 situation."

* Covet your neighbor's wife, husband, car, house, donkey or any of their household appliances.

Of course, they left off the big one - you know you're going to hell if you write articles for one of the tabloids!

Frankly, I suspect I would get every bit as accurate a presentation of Christianity from "Dr. Pinewood" at Holy Moses as I would from ETSS or most of the other mainline (and half the Catholic) seminaries in this country. And yes, that is a very sad commentary.

Regarding the Weekly World News, it is certainly the best of the tabloids, focusing far less on the pecadillos of Hollywood stars and far more on two-headed, mutant, man-eating badgers. Back in my lab days, when my boss was promoted to a named professorship, I bought him a subscription to the Weekly World News. Every week, it showed up in his campus mailbox., addressed to "Dr. Jon D. Nameless, Benjamin Nameless Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, etc." They were wonderful - little got done in the lab on the day the Weekly World News showed up!

Some years later, working for my current company, I got in a dinner discussion with one of the Big Bosses about our divergent opinions of the New York Times, with which Commie dishrag newspaper he was totally enamored. I decided to get him a subscription to a news source of equal journalistic value, so - you guessed it. Every week to his office address.

I always thought it must be a really fun job to write for the tabloids. I have read that it pays quite well, since - once someone has hired on at a shop like Weekly World News - their journalistic career is effectively over. Unfortunately, I can't help thinking that a practicing Christian might run into the occassional ethical dilemma. Pity...

Naked Rain Dancing

From Nepal News:
Dozens of rural women in the southwestern district of Kapilvastu have stripped naked and ploughed their fields in a desperate attempt to appease the rain god following continuous draught.

[...] Reports said the women made high-pitch cries, which is part of the ritual, as they worked in their fields. No men were allowed around during the naked ritual.

[...] Paddy plantation has been badly affected in Terai areas due to insufficient rainfall this monsoon. The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology in Biratnagar has said only 149 mm rainfall was recorded in the month of June in Terai region as against the average of 321 mm previous year while there was 354 mm rainfall in July as against 528 mm of last year.

Okay. I am not advocating pagan rituals, and this one frankly sounds a little Lovecraftian. Living in Austin, the Barking Moonbat capital of Texas, however, I am surprised a similar event has not been officially sponsored by the City Clowncil Council as a "Festival." This summer has had little or no rain, and August has been largely 100+. The giant cockroaches are knocking on the door at night asking for water, and the deer are draining my water gardens. Even the geckos on the back porch ceiling are looking a little scrawny.

There is one question I have as a (former) professional biologist which I cannot get answered. If it is this dry, how come we have so many mosquitoes? Where the heck are they breeding? It looks like they are coming out from under some groundcover, but it is pretty dry under there as well.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

More Apologies for Light Blogging

I am still snowed under at work. (I haven't made it to Wednesday mass in a month and probably won't make it tonight. I am sure Abuna Don at Our Lady's is convinced I've abandoned the faith.)

Spiritual Tools

From the Letters to the Editor column in the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier:
I am concerned for those who feel marginalized and threatened by the recent decision of the Diocese of South Carolina to eschew the new doctrines of the national Episcopal Church USA. To quote a former president: "I feel your pain." I am, therefore, offering a new and improved line of tools for the spiritual do-it-yourselfer.

First, an improved plumb bob. Traditional plumb bobs are heavy and dangerously pointed at one end. If dropped on one's bare foot, it would be quite painful.

The new, improved plumb bob is made of tissue paper and is blunt ended. It does sway a bit in a breeze, but it should be good enough for government work.

Second, a new builder's level. Traditionally made with a spirit tube containing an air bubble meant to be aligned between two marks, this tool can be tedious to use. Getting that pesky bubble exactly in position can be frustrating and time consuming. The new level dispenses with the "spirit." Simply hold until it looks level to you.

Third, the new customized ruler. Traditional rulers are arbitrarily calibrated to what many consider a restrictive standard of 12 inches to the foot. The new and improved custom ruler will be provided per customer preference - six inches to the foot, 13 inches to the foot, or the English system can be replaced altogether.

Having spent the week working with these new tools, one may feel the need to renew the soul. The traditional Bible, however, contains many passages that cause discomfort and trouble for the seeker. The new Bible has all such passages removed. Unlike the cumbersome old Bible, it is easy to carry, can fit easily into a shirt pocket and can be gone through in minutes.

I hope these offerings will be well received so that we can all just get along.

I almost forgot. Included with every order will be spiritual ear plugs, which will allow one to hear even the faintest siren call of the world but will muffle the sound of a roaring lion.

Not to worry. I'm sure, it's not dangerous.

(I have omitted the author’s name in order to keep him from getting any more hate mail than he has already signed up for.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Adultery, Canonicity, and Inspiration

Jimmy Akin has an interesting discussion of the Pericope Adulterae – the story of the woman taken in adultery from St. John’s gospel.  Most modern scholarship (and quite likely most first and early second century scholarship if we could ask them) considers this passage to be a later addition to John.  In some manuscripts, it appears in different places, and it even appears in one old manuscript of Luke.  

Jimmy A.’s response to a reader question had to do with the canonicity of the passage for Catholics – namely, that it is.  What I find interesting is the implication the passage has for the relation between Scripture and the Church.  I frequently hear some on the conservative (for lack of a better word) side of biblical arguments refer to the inspiration of scripture as applying to the original manuscripts as written – the autographs.  On the liberal side, I have heard people who wear their collars backwards actually stand in front of God and everybody and say, “The Church wrote the bible and the Church can change it if it wants to.”  In other words, inspiration is whatever the clergy gets together and decides it is at any particular moment in time.

The reality seems to be a bit more subtle.  If inspiration is truly a property of the autograph alone, then the story where Jesus says "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her," can be safely tossed from the Bible.  Virtually everyone agrees that John didn’t put it there, so out it ought to go.  I know I am oversimplifying the “conservative” position for the sake of blog brevity, but I believe the logic holds.  Canonicity should reflect inspiration, and inspiration applies only to the original text.  Ergo, if it’s not in the original text, begone!

Anybody who reads this blog knows I’m not going to turn around and defend the liberal side.  The obvious consequence of “The Church wrote the bible and the Church can change it if it wants to,” is that the clergy can have a block party, get drunk, and insert into the words of Christ “Verily I say unto you, adultery, schmadultery.  Girls just wanna have fun,” and we would have to accept that as the working of the Holy Spirit.  The guy I heard claim the authority to change scripture was Episcopalian.  Article 6 of the 39 Articles of Religion of the Episcopal Church states that “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation.”  If I get to rewrite the scripture, I therefore have the authority to redefine that which is necessary for salvation.  Seems a wee bit presumptuous to me.  Oversimplified, but again – I believe the logic holds.

In reality, the approach taken by the Church through history has been the best one.  Inspiration is indeed determined by the Church through the action of the Holy Spirit, but once determined it becomes part of the deposit of faith and can’t be changed willy nilly by human agency.  The pericope stays part of the inspired canon because the Church acting in council – under the protection and guidance of the Spirit – included it in the generally accepted version of the Gospel of John.  It doesn’t really matter if it was added later or was written down by someone else; it has been recognized as authentic.

Since any orthodox perspective of God does not see Him as capable of self-contradiction, the passage is there forever.  We can’t add to the inspired text because it has already been defined for us.  Neither can we subtract from it.  We can better refine the definition of the Canon – that is what Catholics will claim was done by the Council of Trent in establishing the deuterocanonical books as scripture.  Theoretically, I suppose we could add more books to the canon  – after all, the Orthodox and the Ethiopians consider more texts canonical than does the Western Church.  I don’t see any reason why a future Ecumenical Council couldn’t add them as well, but I will defer that question to more informed heads than mine.  What we can’t do, IMHO, is go around changing what we already have, because it has been defined by the Spirit through the Church once for all.

Inspiration isn’t a property of the text, and it’s not a property of the Church.  It’s the property of the Spirit Himself, who acts through the Church and doesn’t go around changing His mind.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Man Dies Opening Grenade with Sledgehammer.

A Brazilian man died on Tuesday when he tried to open what police believe was a rocket-propelled grenade with a sledgehammer in a mechanical workshop on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

Another man who was in the workshop at the time of the explosion was rushed to a hospital with severe burns, a police officer told Reuters. The workshop was destroyed and several cars parked outside caught fire.

Police found several unexploded army issue rocket-propelled grenades in the workshop. They believe the ammunition had been brought there by scavengers wanting to sell them as scrap metal, but they also are investigating a possible link to Rio's heavily armed drug gangs who often raid military bases.

Any comment I might make would be both insensitive and superfluous. Please offer a prayer for the repose of this guy’s soul.

Of course, since it’s a Reuter’s story, perhaps we should await confirmation. Perhaps the victim was just opening a Pepsi can, and Reuter's added the grenade explosion to increase visual interest.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

New Church Dumps Religion

From The Daily Telegraph (UK):
For those who are curious about Christianity but disillusioned by the institutional Church, there is a novel solution - drop the religion.

The Rev Ian Gregory, a cleric well known to readers of The Daily Telegraph for launching the Campaign for Courtesy in an attempt to improve manners, has embarked on a new project which he calls "Christianity without religion".

Out goes the "archaic mumbo-jumbo" of church services and the "silly arguments about things that don't and shouldn't matter"; in come chats about anything that makes you feel good and the world's first dedicated "laughter room" because "laughter is as important as prayer".

If it feels good, do it!

Mr Gregory, a congregational minister who retired last year after 20 years, is launching the radical experiment in an unused chapel in Cheadle, Staffs.

He said that he had recently realised that much of his ministry had missed the point.

"I look back on the past 20 years and think, what the Dickens was I doing? I now advise people who are bored with church not to go," he said.

I can’t help wondering what the heck you were doing as well.

"People are fed up with religion. The bar-room talk is that it causes too much trouble in the world. But people are intrigued by spirituality and by figures such as Jesus and Buddha."

Of course, Jesus and Buddha are pretty much the same. Especially Buddha.

The traditional Sunday morning service will be replaced by "coffee and laughter" - videos of classic comedy films during which people will be able to come and go or read the Sunday papers over tea and toast.

Why bother? Don’t they have cable TV in England?

Mr Gregory, a colourful figure who prefers bright ties and a trilby to clerical garb, will then be available to people for "one to one personal consultations" and "healing prayers".

He will also launch a course devoted to people's self-image and confidence, with sessions entitled "Have you a right to be happy?" and "The art of conversation."

In a concession to more traditional religion, he will hold Christian worship on some Sunday afternoons, which will consist of a mixture of hymns, prayers, readings and discussions.

There! See! We are inclusive!

Mr Gregory said that religion-free Christianity was first promoted by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian who was hanged by the Nazis in 1945 for his part in a plot to kill Hitler.

"He saw the way people were disillusioned with church, but attracted to Jesus Christ," said Mr Gregory. "I'm convinced that Jesus Christ had profound and important things to say to people, but they have got lost in squabbles and worries about church buildings.

Bonhoeffer must be spinning in his grave.

"The politics has taken over and the message has been obscured."

The Church of England has been experimenting with new ways to attract people back to the pews, but none so extreme that they dispose of institutional religion altogether.

If it’s too extreme for the COE, you know it’s gotta be pretty far over the edge.

The Rev Mark Ireland, the Church of England Missioner for the Diocese of Litchfield, wondered whether Mr Gregory's church was proclaiming the "good news of Jesus Christ" in what he was doing.

"People are very interested in the good news but not so interested in church," he said. "We have to accommodate that. But church is an indispensible part of the package. Being part of a worshipping missionary community is how we encounter God."

At last, someone shows the courage of their convictions. The Reverend Mr. Gregory has taken the logical step and unapologetically formed the “Church of Me” as opposed to the Church of God. If the Eucharist is a recapitulation of and participation in the One Sacrifice of Christ, then Mr. Gregory’s services could be seen as the recapitulation of and participation in the original sin of Adam and Eve – the elevation of oneself and one’s desires to the status of God. “Self-image and confidence” – that’s what we need. Not some “archaic mumbo-jumbo” about sin and salvation. I guess I need a coach instead of a Redeemer. One suspects that the Church as the spotless Bride of Christ doesn’t get much play in this theology.

It is unfortunate that Catholic dissidents and the leaders of liberal Protestantism can’t be as clear and open about their beliefs and intentions. After all, their theology is about the same – just wrapped up in scripture quotes and “Christianese” to provide deniability when they are confronted. Mr. Gregory’s church will probably suffer the same fate as, say, the Episcopal Church in the USA. It may find some popularity and notoriety to start with, but it will likely soon fade into obscurity. A “Church of Me” is ultimately about as satisfying as a Thanksgiving tofurkey. It may have the right shape, smell, and color, but sooner or later you want some real meat.

The saddest sentence in the original article? Mr. Gregory “is launching the radical experiment in an unused chapel in Cheadle, Staffs.” What can be sadder than an unused chapel.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Sorry for Light Blogging

Got over the strep, but into a stretch of 12+ hour days and weekends.  God bless the private sector; nothing like job security.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Apres Nous, le Deluge

The following post appeared on Thoughts of a Regular Guy:
I seem to recall Senator Rick Santorum predicting this when the sodomy case, Lawrence v. Texas was decided. He took quite a bit of flack for it, too (H/T: Drudge):

It was probably not a defense the court had heard before.

A suburban Cleveland man accused of sexually assaulting nine disabled boys told a judge Wednesday that his apartment was a religious sanctuary where smoking marijuana and having sex with children are sacred rituals protected by civil rights laws.

The admitted pedophile offered a surprising defense Wednesday to 74 charges of rape, drugs and pandering obscenity to minors.

Appearing in an Ohio court for a pretrial hearing, Phillip Distasio, 34, of Rocky River, Ohio, said he was a pedophile.

He told the judge, "I'm a pedophile. I've been a pedophile for 20 years. The only reason I'm charged with rape is that no one believes a child can consent to sex. The role of my ministry is to get these cases out of the courtrooms."

Distasio, a self-professed pagan friar, is representing himself on 74 charges. He said he's the leader of a church called Arcadian Fields Ministries, and that some of his congregants are among the victims in his case. [Emphasis added.]

We're told by abortion advocates that 13 year-old-girls -- and younger -- can consent to an abortion. If that is granted, why should not boys of similar ages be able to consent to sodomy? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?And he's a pedophile. If we can't condemn homosexuals, who claim to be "born that way," why should we condemn pedophiles, who claim to be "born that way"? Our society is so pedophilia-phobic!
He’s right – as a (in)famous radio talk show host likes to say, “Words mean things, and ideas have consequences.” We hear lots of arguments and counter-arguments about “slippery slopes.” I think it’s a bad metaphor. We haven’t crossed onto a muddy downhill grade we could fall down, which implies risk; we have broken a dam, which implies disaster. It’s not a question of “if we’re not careful, decision A might lead to decision B.” It’s much simpler and much worse than that. We have blown the dam that used to hold back the flood of wickedness. The downstream villages are swept away sequentially, and no amount of care or nuance will protect the next town from falling victim to the flood.

God promised he would never again destroy the world by flood. He never said he’d keep us from taking a shot at it ourselves.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Scary Religion of the Week

Excerpted from here.
[…] There recently was private alien contact; not with government leaders who are showing all signs of madness as they prepare for global nuclear warfare, but with the world's most skilled psychic/remote viewing team. They are our son Aaron C. Donahue and Maj. Edward Dames.

Well, as long as they are skilled remote viewers, I guess it must be true.

[…] Dames and Donahue say the Earth's already sick ecology will not survive a global nuclear war. When the planet dies, all life here also dies.

Okay – a bit tautological, but I’ll let it slide.

Donahue believes the alien that presented itself to him may be Luciferian. That is, it was either Lucifer or it came from a race of beings that is Luciferian in origin.

Uh-oh. Now we’re getting interesting.

He also believes Lucifer is the progenitor of the human race. The work involved the planting of alien DNA within the body of a male animal, possibly a type of ape, that roamed the planet. Within three generations the first thinking human came into existence. His name was Adam.

Interesting phraseology. Leaving aside the claim itself, “progenitor” is not the same as “creator.”
Lucifer (according to this scenario): “Nyahahahaha! I will create man by genetic engineering of an ape!”
God: “That’s my ape. If you’re going into the creating business, start by making your own ape.”

Adam's first wife was an ape named Lillith. Donahue said DNA is taken from bone marrow, which explains the ancient Bible story of how Eve, the first woman, was created from Adam's rib. She was the creation of further DNA manipulation.

Adam must have been really hard up. BTW, in some (thoroughly unbiblical) Jewish legends, Lilith was not a terribly nice person.
Some say that God created man and woman in His own image on the Sixth Day, giving them charge over the world; but that Eve did not yet exist. Now, God had set Adam to name every beast, bird and other living thing. When they passed before him in pairs, male and female, Adam-being already like a twenty-year-old man-felt jealous of their loves, and though he tried coupling with each female in turn, found no satisfaction in the act. He therefore cried: 'Every creature but I has a proper matel', and prayed God would remedy this injustice. God then formed Lilith, the first woman, just as He had formed Adam, except that He used filth and sediment instead of pure dust. From Adam's union with this demoness, and with another like her named Naamah, Tubal Cain's sister, sprang Asmodeus and innumerable demons that still plague mankind.“

[…] Donahue says he has been aware of a spiritual war that has been raging in the astral for some time, and the disagreement seems to be centered on what is to be done with the humans. Life forms in fourth, fifth, sixth or other more complex dimensions fear us for the power we are capable of generating if we ever get the two halves of our brains working the way they were meant to be. We would become like gods, with the ability to create or destroy other life forms and possibly entire universes with mere thought.

This is Genesis 3, rephrased in pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo to make it sound new.

And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:2-5, RSV)

No surprise then that Lucifer has many enemies.

I always thought the problem was that he had too few enemies.

No surprise then that other aliens seem to have penetrated our world, planted DNA of their own, and created humanoid slaves, religious belief systems, and other devices designed to enslave the human race and prevent us from accomplishing our full potential.

[…] And therein lies the genius of Lucifer. He apparently has allowed the fear-based religious system to exist and grow on our planet as a way of rooting out the weak minded. He wants only the fearless to follow him into the next world.

[…] There will be room for about 200,000 humans to go into the next world and start over. Donahue says he believes only about 144,000 will actually take the ride.

Ah, the Church – designed by aliens to lead the weak-minded away from the truth. I’m sorry, but in terms of strength of mind, I will put Paul, Augustine, and Aquinas up against any three contenders for the “Luciferians.” Matter of fact, I’d stake my life on it.

The scary thing is that there is a small fraction of the population that actually believes stuff like this. In a nation of three hundred million, that small fraction represents a pretty large number of souls. 144,000 is probably a low estimate.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

(Brit) Schools Told Don't Teach Right from Wrong

Excerpted from The Times (UK) Online:
SCHOOLS would no longer be required to teach children the difference between right and wrong under plans to revise the core aims of the National Curriculum.

Instead, under a new wording that reflects a world of relative rather than absolute values, teachers would be asked to encourage pupils to develop “secure values and beliefs”.

The notion of relative values is thus established as being universally true.

The draft also purges references to promoting leadership skills and deletes the requirement to teach children about Britain’s cultural heritage.

So "Who we are, how we got to be that way, and why?" gets replaced with "Who cares?"

Ministers have asked for the curriculum’s aims to be slimmed down to give schools more flexibility in the way they teach pupils aged 11 to 14.

[…] The present aims for Stage 3 pupils state: “The school curriculum should pass on enduring values. It should develop principles for distinguishing between right and wrong.”

The QCA’s proposals will see these phrases replaced to simply say that pupils should “have secure values and beliefs”.

I believe Hitler had “secure values and beliefs.” So does Osama Bin Laden.

The existing aims state that the curriculum should develop children’s “ability to relate to others and work for the common good”. The proposed changes would remove all references to “the common good”.

The requirement to teach Britain’s “cultural heritage” will also be removed. The present version states: “The school curriculum should contribute to the development of pupils’ sense of identity through knowledge and understanding of the spiritual, moral, social and cultural heritages of Britain’s diverse society.”

The proposals say that individuals should be helped to “understand different cultures and traditions and have a strong sense of their own place in the world”.

[…] Professor Alan Smithers, of the University of Buckingham’s centre for education and employment research, said: “The idea that they think it is appropriate to dispense with right and wrong is a bit alarming.

A bit alarming indeed. Ta ta, Britain. It was a nice 940 years.

Pretend Priesting in Pittsburg

From AP:
Twelve women from throughout the United States lie prostate before the altar while participating in a ceremony Monday, July 31, 2006, in which eight will proclaim themselves priests and four deacons in Pittsburgh. The ceremony won't be recognized by the Catholic church, which has a 2,000-year tradition of an all-male priesthood. Similar ceremonies conducted by the group Roman Catholic Womenpriests have been held before in other countries, and most of the participants have been excommunicated. It's the first time the group is holding a ceremony in the U.S. The ceremony took place on a riverboat cruise of the three rivers in Pittsburgh.

I feel a song coming on.

Left a good church in the city,
Listenin’ to a man every Sunday Morn.
‘Cause I never found it just or fair men
Get to be the priests just ‘cause the way they was born.

Heretics keep on tryin’,
Virgin Mary keeps on cryin’.
Ordainin’, ordainin’, womyn on the river.

Tried to change the Church with protests,
Holdin’ up banners and a-singin’ my hopes.
But I never saw the backside of the altar
Till I hitched a ride with a riverboat Pope.

Heretics keep on tryin’,
Virgin Mary keeps on cryin’.
Ordainin’, ordainin’, womyn on the river.

If you come down to the river
You can genuflect while I’m sayin’ the Mass.
Jesus may not show up; you may wanna throw up;
I don't give a dam because I’m havin’ a gas.

Heretics keep on tryin’,
Virgin Mary keeps on cryin’.
Ordainin’, ordainin’, womyn on the river.

My apologies to Creedence Clearwater revival. By the way, the original text really does read that the women lie prostate, not prostrate. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them had prostates, but I assume that’s a slip of the keyboard.

A High-Caliber Liturgy

A preacher's wife was arrested after police say she pulled a gun on her husband because she allegedly was upset over text messages he had sent to a member of a church youth group.

Tammy Estes surrendered to law officers at the Pentecostal Church of God in Newport after a brief standoff at the church Sunday evening. No one was injured.

She was taken to the Jackson County Detention Center. She was expected to be arraigned Monday.

Police say a church service had just begun when Estes pulled a gun on her husband, preacher Larry Estes, about 7 p.m. According to congregation members, she was upset over messages Larry Estes allegedly exchanged with a youth group member and she demanded he admit infidelity.

[…] Larry Estes was hired as the church's minister more than a year ago. He also is the owner of DaBoyz Plumbing.
Read the whole article at

At long last, we have a valid reason for doing the service versus populum (facing the people) instead of ad orientem (facing East). If your back’s to the congregation, you'll never know when to duck.