Friday, November 20, 2015

Has America Sold Her Christian Soul?

The ISIS/ISIL/IS (could we please agree on a convention, folks? -- see below) terrorists in Paris have finally pushed America over the top, it would seem.

Well, let the reader decide. Here are just the straight facts:

1. The President proposes to increase the number of refugees authorized to immigrate here by up to 100,000 per year by 2017. This year alone, at least 10,000 will come from Syria.

2. More than 96% of the Syrian refugees the President and the State Department are bringing in identify themselves as Muslim.

3. Since over 70% of the civilian mass murders in recent times have been carried out by Muslims; since ISIS/ISIL/IS proclaims itself to be the re-establishment of the ancient Islamic caliphate; and since ISISILIS (let's just call it that: pronounced I-SIS'-I-LIS, to rhyme with syphilis) has announced its intention to bring Paris-style terrorism to these shores, many Americans think that to bring tens of thousands of Muslims into America from a country where ISISILIS operates is a particularly bad idea.

4. The Republicans in the House, led by their new Speaker Paul Ryan, have introduced a bill that supposedly requires the Government to check all new Syrian emigrants before approving them for travel to the US and resettlement there. The bill is a sham, because its vetting requirements are mostly meaningless, impractical to carry out, and may be evaded with a simple certification.

5. The President, however, is not one to allow the House Republicans to show him up as unconcerned for America's safety. He has announced he will veto the Republican bill -- before he even has seen what it will finally say -- because his administration is already taking the necessary steps to protect usAnd the media, as usual, are right behind him.

6. At the same time, the chief religious denominations in the US are also joining in castigating the Republicans for trying to put limits on the resettlement of Syrian Muslims -- even if some of the immigrants might prove to be terrorists traveling incognito. That is just the price we will have to pay for our upholding Christian principles of charity toward all strangers -- "be not afraid!"

7. Other religious groups and House Republicans -- a definite minority in both places -- point out that it is a little hypocritical for the majority denominations to speak of "simple Christian charity", because it is precisely the Syrian Christians who are being persecuted and driven out of their traditional regions. At the same time, the State Department, pursuant to Obama's direction, absolutely refuses to open up any refugee resettlement slots for Christians.

8. President Obama and the major Christian denominations say that admission to America must never be based on any kind of "religious test" -- regardless of the fact that our immigration laws require that a refugee's religion be taken into account, since one of the most prominent forms of persecution in refugee areas is religious persecution: just as Syrian Christians are, as you read this, being persecuted and driven out of their homes by Syrian Muslims.

9. Evangelical Christians add that they do not need any of their fellow Christians rescued, as they are already "eager to share their faith with [the non-Christian] new arrivals."  So the suffering Christians should apparently just go on suffering, as far as their evangelical brethren are concerned.

10. Meanwhile, as all this takes place, Obama's unilateral changes last year to immigration enforcement policy are allowing over 80% of those already here illegally to stay without fear of deportation.

The end result is that President Obama and his State Department, joined by the media and major Christian denominations, want only Syrian Muslims brought into the country, regardless of their backgrounds. The House Republicans, meanwhile, want to be seen as opposing this policy while also doing nothing  to stop it, or to help Syrian Christians. All of them do not want the immigration laws enforced as written -- if doing so would mean that most Syrian Christians would qualify for resettlement here. The Christians, as a consequence, are left to perish.

As Dave Barry always says, you cannot make this stuff up.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Credit Where Credit Is Due

It becomes progressively more and more difficult to find worthwhile stuff about which to blog or comment these days. My erstwhile denomination, the Episcopal Church (USA), has sunk into the mire of blasphemy and irrelevance, and is not even worthy any more of notice. My country is headed by an utterly self-absorbed, pusillanimous and law-breaking President, whom neither his friends nor his enemies will rein in. It has a Congress consisting largely of people so absorbed by their need to get re-elected that they are afraid to have any principles, and consequently are beneath contempt. And it has five Supreme Court justices who simply mock the law and their function as the tribunal of last resort in a putative democracy, and see nothing wrong with making up the law as they go, while openly flouting their contempt for the rule of law.

There remain, I am glad to report, a few voices of sanity in this chaos of lawlessness and cowardice. These voices have the courage to say what they know to be right, to be heedless of the consequences of their standing up for the right, and to press their case for unvarnished truth without ceasing, all in the teeth of implacable hatred and opposition.

That said, it is rare enough when these voices recognize and acknowledge each other.

The always excellent Touchstone Magazine, well worth its reasonable price of subscription and a continuing source of inspiration and refreshment, has published just such a tribute -- from one notable Christian voice of sanity to another. One of its long-time senior editors, Dr. S. M. Hutchens, has written a fine tribute to the crucial role played in our country today by none other than -- yes, you heard me correctly -- Rush Limbaugh. Here is a key extract:
I have a personal interest in what Rush says and how he is treated because the more I listen to and about him, the more I am frightened by the venom and mendacity of charges brought against the sanity and simple goodness for which he stands as a national symbol, his faults notwithstanding. Christians who speak ill of him should in justice recognize him as an ally, for if he sinks, they will sink with him, and for the same reasons. Where the hatred of his accusers, fortified by absolute faith in the rectitude of their madness, is not constrained by law and superior force, it will surely lead to persecution, eventually bloody, because that is the way of the world. Hatred must have a victim to charge with its own sins, and to visit with the appropriate punishments.
Be sure to read the entire brief essay. And while you're at it, consider supporting such voices of sanity by subscribing to Touchstone Magazine.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Ave Imperator, Te Morituri Salutamus

This page contains links to all the posts I have put up about the current sad state of the so-called Anglican Communion. "So-called"? Yes: it is certainly no longer a "Communion", because it has very little in common, and most of its members are not talking to the rest. And it can no longer be called "Anglican", because while that term may once have taken its meaning from the doctrines and worship of the Church of England, that body's ever-dwindling membership, too, is no longer of one mind on just what its doctrines and worship should be.

The page of Anglican posts will soon contain a link to this one -- and that may be its last.

After all, I feel a bit like the Cheshire Cat -- as the meaning of "Anglican" fades away, so does any role for an "Anglican Curmudgeon." Having left the Episcopal Church (USA) on account of its adoption of blasphemous marriage rites, I no longer even have a formal tie to the wider Communion -- not that the tie was all that firm, anyway, once V. Gene Robinson received a miter and ring in 2003. Those of us who remained in ECUSA after that date, as well as any who are bravely trying to stick it out still, may fairly be described as clinging to the faintest wisps of the beauty that once was there.

There is talk of a reckoning that will be demanded at the forthcoming gathering of the Anglican Primates in Canterbury next January (n.b.: not a "Primates Meeting" as such, or one of the former, now-failed Instruments of Unity, but just a gathering that has no structure in advance). The Primates of GAFCON and the Global South will be there, along with -- at the former's insistence -- the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America. This alone should serve to distinguish what will take place from what has gone before.

But what are the possible outcomes of such a gathering? Let's be logical, and list all the possibilities (within reason):

1. In response to a passionate appeal from their orthodox brethren, the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada repent of their waywardness, resubscribe to the tenets of Resolution 1.10 from the 1998 Lambeth Conference, and humbly apologize to their peers. Can we all agree that this possibility will never happen? -- and not just because ECUSA can act only through its General Convention, which will not be in session again until the summer of 2018. It will never happen while the current crowd of liberal revisionists are in charge of the great majority of Dioceses, and they are prepared to run through all of ECUSA's trust funds before they will be forced to make any meaningful changes. (And before that happens, their proclivity for blasphemy will pollute the Book of Common Prayer.)

2. In response to a passionate appeal from their orthodox brethren, the Episcopal Church (USA) and the ACoC speak the truth to the assembled Primates: they are not about to change, and will continue on what they maintain is their "inclusive" course. This is almost certain to take place at the meeting. The question then becomes: what will the other Primates do in response?

a. Nothing, except take another sip of tea and keep talking. Knowing what we know of the Most Rev. Eliud Wabukala, this will never happen. He and the other GAFCON Primates will demand that the Archbishop of Canterbury discipline the renegades by "disinviting them" from all future Communion-wide functions and events. (He can do this with regard to the Lambeth Conference and the Primates Meeting, both of which convene at his invitation. But he has no ability to control who comes to the meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council, which controls its own list of who are its constituent members.)

b. In response to the GAFCON Primates demand (see 2.a above), Archbishop Welby agrees that he will no longer invite either ECUSA or the ACoC representatives to either the Primates Meetings or the Lambeth Conference. The gathering will then break up; the representatives of ECUSA and the ACoC will leave, along with their supporters from ten or so other provinces. (The Archbishop of Canterbury cannot legally operate the formal mechanisms of the British charitable corporation called "the Anglican Consultative Council" -- with its corresponding role in the Anglican Communion -- without them, however, and so he will most likely stay in a formal relation with them through that body.) The rest may remain to discuss future agendas -- or they may go home, too, and postpone further action to another day.

c. In response to the GAFCON Primates demand (see 2.a above), Archbishop Welby refuses so to discipline the renegade provinces. The gathering will then definitely split up, and the majority of the provinces present will depart for home. Those remaining (the twelve or so provinces described in 2.b. above) will continue to meet, and may meet as often as they wish in the future, but without the majority of provinces ever again attending. The minority will claim control of the organs of the Anglican Communion, and so will keep that name. The majority will organize under a new structure, with a modified name. Whether they will maintain any kind of relationship with the see of Canterbury is extremely doubtful, in my opinion -- what would be the point, once he made it clear that he would not do what they asked?

d. In response to the GAFCON Primates demand (see 2.a above), Archbishop Welby waffles, in a bid for more time and to keep all the parties talking. This is ++Welby's most likely response to GAFCON's demand, in my opinion. His goal will be to work out the terms for a "two-tiered" Communion, with the one tier consisting of those not in communion with ECUSA or the ACoC, and other tier consisting of the remaining provinces. Even if he were to succeed in this goal, and keep all the Primates around long enough to achieve it, notice how similar the outcome would be to that sketched out in Scenario 2.c above: the only difference would be that the first tier would stay in some kind of "communion" with the see of Canterbury. And if Canterbury decides to stay in communion with ECUSA and ACoC, then the outcome will be like that sketched in 2.b. above.
Indeed -- notice how similar the final outcomes of all of the last three scenarios are. The UK charity that represents the "Anglican Communion" as such will remain in place, because it is a perpetual corporation, and it is under the more-or-less permanent control of the minority revisionist provinces. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the legal head of that charity, and so will remain in formal relation with it, no matter what the majority of Anglican provinces decide to do. And since that majority will decline to play any part in an organization in which the revisionist minority are also members, they will also have to organize as a new entity, regardless of what the revisionists do (short of repenting, which will never happen).

I conclude from this analysis that the Anglican Communion is almost certainly headed for a formally divided future -- one that reflects in fact the pro forma division which has been in existence ever since the Windsor Report and Dar-es-Salaam. Whether or not it remains a single but two-tiered entity, or becomes two entirely separate organizations (the old one, controlled by the minority, and a new one formed by the majority), will be up to the GAFCON / Global South Primates and how much they value an ongoing relationship with Canterbury. And that outcome will probably be determined by how well Archbishop Welby manages the first few hours of the meeting next January.

Either way, it looks like it is curtains for your Curmudgeon. Just as I am done with ECUSA, I will not have anything to do with an ongoing Anglican entity which allows ECUSA -- in all its blasphemous ugliness -- to be a member. And as I mentioned, if the minority retains the legal right to the control of the British charitable corporation, the new organization will probably not even call itself "Anglican."  I may not even bother to cover the demise, if it follows the most likely path sketched above. But stay tuned for a while longer, because the whole scenario is in God's good hands.