Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Worries about Gustaf gottcha down? Never fear - McCain and Palin are here (almost!)

Hat tip to Marcia for the picture from 'Daily KOS'

Presumptive Presidential Nominee, Senator John McCain and his choice for VEEP, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin are already on the case, with a plan to visit the Gulf Coast today before the Republican National Convention begins in Minnesota on Monday.

In North Jersey, immediately after our local meteorologist appears on television and says three magic words "possible snow storm," everyone heads to the grocery store for three things: milk, bread and toilet paper. Don't ask me why. It's just what we do.

Unless, of course, it's the first storm and then we also stop at the hardware store and buy snow shovels and ice melt - whether we need them or not.

In the South, immediately after the National Weather Center says "possible hurricane," apparently, the two words that are hot on everyone's lips are "bottled water."

Of course, they also head to the hardware store and get great sheets of plywood, along with hammer and nails to protect their windows, which, near as I can tell from pictures of the devastation afterward, plywood on windows helps about as much as ice melt on snow.

The report is that McCain and Palin are bringing good old fashioned American "Can Do" Spirit - along with some cases of bottled water.

What a huge change from the almost-previous administration, right? Wow, that old man and inexperienced woman are really brave, courageous and bold. I'm so impressed!

Gee, I guess a vote for them is really a vote for change, huh?

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Update: To read what some women are saying about Lady Sarah, visit this site and check out what Whoopi Goldberg, Marlo Thomas, Joan Ganz Cooney and Sheila Nevens are thinking.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


I've been working on 'family stuff' after being totally verclempt with the announcement of "That-Ain't-No-Lady" Sarah Palin as the presumptive Republican nominee for VEEP.

You only have to look at McCain as he watches Palin to know that he's scared to death of her. Just look at the pained expression on his face. Well, that, and the way he pulls on his pinky finger as she talks.

I must say, however, that the McCain strategy worked in this way: He and Lady Sarah have totally stolen the thunder from Obama's amazing acceptance speech. The only thing on the news is the shock waves of the VEEP selection and NOT Obama's speech.

Pity, because it was wonderful - made me feel proud to be an American again. Oops, wasn't that the same line that got Michele in trouble?

I think THIS clip from The Colbert Report is all that needs to be said about the VEEP selection. Let's just have a good laugh and get over it and on with it, shall we?

After all, I think that's all it was really meant to do.

I mean, otherwise, it would be HUGELY insulting to women and McCain did this because he wants the vote of women.

Right? Somebody tell me that's right. It's just a little birthday joke on McCain's 72nd birthday yesterday, right?.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thank you, Del Martin

For all you have done. For all you have been. For the ways you will continue to inspire.

So many of us would not be where we are today without your witness and courage, the love you shared with your beloved Phyllis, your bride of 72 days.

You not only made us think about 'the love that dare not speak its name,' you drew deep from that Well of Loneliness and nourished us to find our own voice and add our voices to yours.

The consolation and hope I have is that you and my mother - and so many other mothers and fathers - are having crucial conversations in heaven about the truth in front of the One who is The Truth.

May you rest in peace and rise in glory, dear woman.

You will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Dignity of Difference

I've been reading "The Dignity of Difference: How to avoid the Clash of Civilizations" by Jonathan Sachs, Chief Rabbi of the UK.

I was wowed by him at Lambeth when he talked about the nature of covenant. You can read his address here. I swear, if he had said, "Drop your nets and follow me," 3/4 of the auditorium would have left with him. Swear. In fact, double pinky swear.

He is writing, post 9/11, from a context of a concern for globalization. He writes about religion and politics. He argues that we must do more than search for common human values. The global future, he says, will call for something stronger than earlier doctrines of toleration or pluralism. It needs a new understanding that the unity of the Creator is expressed in the diversity of creation.

I devoured this book at the beach today in one sitting. Yeah, it's all that.

I'm still digesting it, but I wanted to share one piece - one Really Great Idea - with you that I think speaks to us on so many levels it makes my head spin.

This is from the chapter, "Exorcising Plato's Ghost," in which he talks about the "mistaken and deeply dangerous" idea that, as we search for truth or ultimate reality we progress from the particular to the universal.

"Particularities are imperfections, the source of error, parochialism and prejudice. Truth, by contrast, is abstract, timeless, universal and the same everywhere for everyone."

He continues, " . . . Western religion has been haunted by Plato's ghost. The result is inevitable and tragic. If all truth - religious as well as scientific - is the same for everyone at all times, then if I am right, you are wrong. If I care about truth, I must convert you to my point of view, and if you refuse to be converted, beware. From this flowed some of the great crimes of history and much human blood."

"It is time," he says, "we exorcised Plato's ghost, clearly and unequivocally. Universalism must be balanced with a new respect for the local, the particular, the unique."

He argues, " . . . that the proposition at the heart of monotheism is not what it has traditionally taken to be: one God, therefore one faith, one truth one way. To the contrary, it is that unity creates diversity."

He uses this "most haunting of the saying of the Jewish sages - a story they told about the creation of [hu}mankind.":

Rabbi Shimon said: When God was about to create Adam, the ministering angels split into contending groups. Some said, 'Let him be created.' Others said, 'Let him not be created.' That is why it is written: 'Mercy and truth collided, righteousness and peace clashed' (Psalm 85:11).

Mercy said, 'Let him be created, because he will do merciful deeds.'

Truth said, 'Let him not be created, for he will be full of falsehood.'

Righteousness said, 'Let him be created, for he will do righteous deeds.'

Peace said, 'Let him not be created, for he will never cease quarreling.'

What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He took truth and threw it to the ground.

The angels said, 'Sovereign of the universe, why do You do thus to Your own seal, truth? Let truth arise from the ground.'

Thus it is written, 'Let truth spring from the earth' (Psalm 85.12).

Sachs continues: "This is an audacious theological interpretation. God, it suggests, was in two minds before creating humankind. Yes, humanity is capable of great acts of altruism and self-sacrifice, but it is also constantly at war. Human beings tell lies and are full of strife. God takes truth and throws it to the ground, meaning: for life to be livable, truth on earth cannot be what it is in heaven."

". . .Truth on the ground is multiple, partial. Fragments of it lie everywhere. Each person, culture and language has part of it; none has it all."

"Truth on earth is not, nor can it aspire to be, the whole truth. It is limited, not comprehensive; particular, not universal. When two propositions conflict it is not necessarily because one is true the other false. It may be, and often is, that each represents a different perspective on reality, an alternative way of structuring order, no more and no less commensurable than a Shakespeare sonnet, a Michelangelo painting or a Schubert sonata."

"In heaven there is truth; on earth there are truths. Therefore, each culture has something to contribute. Each person knows something no one else does. The sages said: 'Who is wise? One who learns from all men.' The wisest is not one who knows himself wiser than others: he is one who knows all men have some share of the truth, and is willing to learn from them, for none of us knows all the truth and each of us knows some of it."

See what I mean?

There's lots more (this is just Chapter 3), but I think this is enough for tonight.

I'm still digesting.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The President of the 'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits' put a few more cracks in the glass ceiling tonight, shining the light of unity on the Democratic National Convention.

She asked her supporters if they voted for her or to address the critical issues that face our country, articulating them one by one, and then told the audience that a vote for Obama is a vote for action and change on those very issues and concerns.

She proved that she is not only a pioneer, but a leader.

She was intelligent, articulate, passionate, inspiring and absolutely crystal clear:

"We don't need four more years of the last eight years."

And if that wasn't clear enough, she said:

"No way, no how, no McCain!"

Say what you want about her, but after tonight, there's really only one thing to say:

What a class act!

You can watch her here.

Well, duh!

Women demonstrate at the White House, Washington, DC, 1917

On August 26, 1920 - eighty-eight years ago today - the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was certified by Bainbridge Colby, Secretary of State in the administration of then President Woodrow Wilson.

The Amendment reads simply enough - in two paragraphs containing thirty-nine words:

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the Untied States or any state on account of sex. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

I can hear my daughter's response to that: Well, duh!

They don't realize that their own grandmother, who was a first generation Portuguese-American, was three years old when she was guaranteed the constitutional right to vote.

It does seems perfectly obvious, doesn't it? It is impossible to them that while the activism began earlier, the American suffrage movement officially began in 1848 at the first Women's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, NY. One of their resolutions was to condemn the application of scripture to keep women on an unequal footing in America.

I'll get back to that in a minute.

If you're doing the math, it took seventy-two (72!!) years from the official initiation of the Suffrage Movement before women were guaranteed the right to vote, a right they already had in that same Constitution.

The preamble of the Federal Constitution reads:

"We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

I don't know. What do you supposed was the stumbling block? I'm thinking it had something to do with the idea of "domestic tranquility."

On May 21, 1919, the amendment passed the House of Representatives; the Senate followed two weeks later.

Wyoming was the first state, in 1869, to allow women the right to vote. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, which was the number required to ensure certification of the ratification.

However, some states, like Maryland, didn't ratify the amendment until 1941 and didn't get around to sending in the paperwork until 1958.

I suppose I should be amazed, but I fear my time in the church has prepared me to look at those facts on paper and simply, sadly, shake my head.

In researching this issue some years ago, I found this "pastoral letter" from the Massachusetts Congregationalist Clergy, dated August 1837. It addressed the issue of Sarah and Angelina Grimke, who were anti-slavery activists in New England.

Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:

"We invite your attention to the dangers which at present seem to threaten the female character with wide-spread and permanent injury.

The appropriate duties and influence of women are clearly stated in the New Testament. Those duties and that influence are unobstrusive and private, but the souce of mighty power. When the mild, dependent, softening influence of woman upon the sterness of man's opinions is fully exercised, society feels the effects of it in a thousand forms. The power of woman is in her dependence, flowing from the consciousness of that weakness which God has given her for her protection, and which keeps her in those departments of life that form the character of individuals and of the nation.

There are social influences which females use in promoting piety and the great objects of Christian benevolence which we cannot too highly commend. We appreciate the unostentatious prayers and efforts of woman in advancing the cause of religion at home and abroad:--in Sabbath-schools, in leading religious inquirers to the pastors for instruction, and in all such associated effort as becomes the modesty of her sex; and earnestly hope that she may abound more and more in these labors of piety and love.

But when she assumes the place and tone of man as a public reformer, our care and protection of her seem unnecessary; we put ourselves in self-defence against her; she yields the power which God has given her for protection, and her character becomes unnatural. If the vine, whose strength and beauty is to lean upon the trellis-work and half conceal its clusters, thinks to assume the independence and the overshadowing nature of the elm, it will not only cease to bear fruit, but fall in shame and dishonor into the dust.

We cannot, therefore, but regret the mistaken conduct of those who encourage females to bear an obtrusive and ostentatious part in measures of reform, and countenance any of that sex who so far forget themselves as to itinerate in the character of public lecturers and teachers.

We especially deplore the intimate acquaintance and promiscuous conversation of females with regard to the things "which ought not to be named"; by which that modesty and delicacy which is the charm of domestic life, and which constitutes the true influence of woman in society, is consumed, and the way opened, as we apprehend, for degeneracy and ruin. We say these things, not to discourage proper influences against sin, but to secure such reformation as we believe in Scriptural, and will be permanent."

Note: The "things which ought not to be named" was a reference to the women's speeches which detailed the subjection of slave women, who had no right to marry, to the sexual demands of their masters and overseers. The clergy thought such truthful talk was unnatural and against God's ordained purposes for women.

It is no surprise, really, that once the discussion began about women and race, the issue of sex and sexuality, rape and domestic violence surfaced.

It is no surprise, really, that the suffrage and abolitionist movements were led by many of the same people - Susan B. Anthony and Fredrick Douglass were together at the Women's Conference in Seneca Falls in 1848.

It's no surprise, really, that the bible was used as the primary weapon to deter both movements.

The Biblical traditions of slavery and misogyny are deeply rooted in the system of patriarchy - also understood by some who read the bible as "natural law." Both the abolition and suffrage movements challenged this with an understanding of "natural rights."

It became clear that God's natural social order, as understood in the Bible, ran contrary to the ethics of liberty as they emerged in the modern world. Morals of liberty and equality clashed with the Bible's social order.

The argument was framed in terms of "natural law" verses "natural rights."

Hmmm . . . wherever have we heard this before?

If you have ever paid attention to the rhetoric of the religious right you know that, in their world view, it's a slippery slope from the disobedience of the "natural law" into the chaos of "social disorder." Start giving "natural rights" to women, and before you know it, you'll have to do that for people of color. And, if you do that, you'll have do to it for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Before you know it, you will find that there are Communists lurking around every corner.

The strategy hasn't changed even though it has been a failed strategy in every rights movement since the middle of the 19th century.

And yet, the strategy persists. Why? Because it is the 'natural default' position of of fear. Get back to "basics". Return - or, "submit" to the natural law of God's will for us. Follow the Ten Commandments closely and everything will return to 'normal'. Develop an "Anglican Covenant" and domestic tranquility will return to the Household of God.

In the presidential election of 1872, Susan B. Anthony cast an illegal vote. She was arrested, tried and then fined $100 but refused to pay. In 1873, she gave a speech which ended with these words:

"The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens; and no state has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of the several states is today null and void, precisely as is every one against Negroes."

Susan B. Anthony died in 1906 after five decades of tireless work and fourteen years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Ever since, "domestic tranquility" has never been quite the same.

I suspect Ms. Anthony might give a similar speech today concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. And, I suspect, her answer would be the same as the response my daughters would give:

"Well, duh!"

UPDATE from my friend, Byron Rushing:

Don't forget New Jersey for the first--although it was taken away: New Jersey on ratification of the US Constitution and joining the Union placed only one qualification on adult general suffrage — the possession of at least £50 cash or worth of property. Of course she had to be single or a widow (sort of like the qualifications for sainthood!) 'cause all married women's property belonged to you know who.

See "Reclaiming Lost Ground: The Struggle for Women Suffrage in New Jersey" by Neale McGoldrick and Margaret Crocco :

"Because the New Jersey Constitution did not specifically exclude women (or blacks), many widowed or unmarried women, some black men, and at least one black woman who met the property qualification voted in local elections. Fifty pounds was not a prohibitive sum, and estimates suggest that 95% of the white males could meet the property qualification. Married women could not meet the property qualification for voting because all their property automatically belonged to their husbands, unless they could prove that the had received fifty pounds as a 'gift.' According to some reports, about 5% of the landowners were women, which in not surprising given the number of widows following the Revolutionary War."

"Two Burlington County Women, Iona Curtis and Silveria Lilvey, appeared on the voting lists in 1787."

"Estimates suggest that as many as 10,000 women in New Jersey voted in some years between 1790 and 1807 when they lost the vote as a result of an act of the legislature."

And see

Monday, August 25, 2008

Michele Obama

Two questions:

Wasn't she terrific tonight?

Why isn't she the presumptive Democratic nominee for President of the United States?

Oh, and PS. BTW: I hope that after Barack gives his acceptance speech, Michele gets to ask the girls, "Well, how do you think Daddy did?"

You can watch it here.

The Girl Effect

Check out this video. It's really important. G'won. Do it. Here. Or, there. You won't be sorry you did. Promise.

The Girl Effect: The powerful social and economic change brought about when girls have the opportunity to participate in their society.


Because when adolescent girls in the developing world have a chance, they can be the most powerful force of change for themselves, their families, communities and nations.

But while those 600 million girls are the most likely agents of change, they are invisible to their societies and the world.

So what can you do about that?

If you're ready to learn and do more, head over to

A Word In Time

Image: 'La Palabra el Tiempo" by Gregg Chadwick

I encourage people to read the Open Letter made by the "Conservative Think Tank", Covenant Communion to the issues raised in Bishop Bob Duncan's email to Bishop Gary Lillibridge. You can find it here.

I have written to some of the signers of this Open Letter who also serve with me on HOB/D - the House of Bishops/Deputies Listserv.

I have asked two issues of clarification on the first point. I'll let you know when I get a response. Meanwhile, if you have other questions, please do ask them.

We live in curious times that are getting more and more curious.

Bishop Duncan's Point #1
: The first difficulty is the moral equivalence implied between the three moratoria, a notion specifically rejected in the original Windsor Report and at Dromantine.

The Open Letter States: "Actually, it is largely American and Canadian liberals that have implied a moral equivalency between the two."

Issue #1: Besides being really, really ("We didn't start it, they started it."), it is confusing. There are three moratoria, yes?. The Open letter talks about the 'moral equivalency between the two'. Which two? The two having to do with allowing the sacramental rite of ordination/consecration to the episcopacy

AND - the pastoral liturgical rite of blessing the covenants between two people of the same gender (who, BTW, happen to be baptized) -

OR - one of those two as compared with the historical ecclesiastical immorality of incursion by one bishop into the diocesan boundaries of another bishop?

In truth, all I have ever heard from my North American colleagues on both sides of the aisle is outrage that the three moratoria are held together as being morally equivalent.

Let's put the right shoe on the right foot, shall we? It is The Windsor Continuation Group and the Archbishop of Canterbury who have offered - and continue to offer - the three together, the implication being that they are equal.

Can you clarify this statement for me? To your collective intelligent minds, which "two moratoria" have moral equivalency?

Issue #2: The Open Letter goes on to ask: "Who will be the first to display an act of Christian charity and self-giving on behalf of the Communion at this critical turning point in the life of the Communion?

Well, as ordained and lay members of this church, you are, no doubt, very proud to note that TEC has already taken the lead in terms of "Christian charity and self-giving on behalf of the Communion".

Since 2006 General Convention, TEC has been in a period of official moratorium with regard to bishops and standing committees approving the consecration of elected LGBT bishops. Do I really have to mention hold-your-nose-and-vote B033?

Yes, of course, resolutions do not have the binding authority of canon. And, yes there are high hopes that this will be overturned in 2009, but the reality is that the present status is one of 'official moratoria' in this specific regard.

I know it is a matter of some controversy, but the truth is that, despite the more than a decade of effort to the contrary, there is, presently, no authorized liturgical rite of blessing in TEC for the covenants made by people of the same gender.

Yes, there are bishops (thanks be to God), who utilize the rubric in the Book of Common Prayer (page 14) and continue to provide and/or condone ("authorize") their clergy to preside at these liturgical rites.

Yes, there will undoubtedly be resolutions presented - yet again - to General Convention in 2009 to ask TEC (yet again) to ask the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to develop rites to bless the covenant made between two people of the same gender.

If - IF - that happens, the liturgical rite will be brought back for approval at General Convention 2012. Since this rite will need to be approved by two successive General Conventions, this will not be a reality in our church until, at the earliest, 2015 - seven years from now. Who is self-giving to whom?

I have no doubt there will be resolutions for the expansion of the Rite of Marriage to deal with those two states (CA and MA) hwo presently have - as well as the anticipated states (CN and NJ by the end of 2008) who will have - legalized the civil right of marriage for people of the same gender.

However, there are (and, I will say it again just to be clear) no officially authorized by TEC for rites of blessing covenants of people of the same gender.

Admittedly, this does not follow the 'spirit' of the request from the ABC or the WCG, but it does follow the 'law', such as it is in the Anglican Communion, of their request.

Meanwhile, the "modern innovation" of diocesan incursions continue to be a reality, despite the historic catholic tradition of the church.

Can you clarify the basis of your question about who will take the lead for me?

I have other thoughts and questions, but let's start with these two issue from this first point.

(That link again is:

Beaches and the British

I had a wonderful Sunday with the grandchildren, MacKenna and Abby. They are Beach Bunnies, sure and true, just like their Nana. The surf was very rough yesterday, probably because Fay is still kicking up her heels in Florida, but it was perfect Sand Castle weather.

We had a GREAT time.

We came home and, after showering, fixed supper together. I am in complete awe of the appetite of a two year old. Well, when you feed her all of her favorite foods. If you don't, well, God help you!

After they left, I watched The Good Shepherd. I had seen it a few years ago when it first came out and, except for the obviously stellar performances by Matt Damon and De Niro (and watching Angelina Jolie smolder), I left mostly confused.

It's not exactly an easy plot to follow. Then again, following three generations of secret Yale societies as a feeding ground for the C.I.A. through two World Wars, the Rise of the Cold War, and the Presidency of JFK in two and a half hours is not going to be an easy story line.

It was still a difficult plot to follow - one has to follow the dialogue very carefully. Thankfully, Matt Damon's character defines the word "reticent."

Here's one of the take-away lines I didn't hear the first time 'round, but one that may be a keeper, especially for the weeks and months ahead.

Matt Damon's character, Edward, is told: "The British are a civilized people. They don't eat their own. They pay other people to do that for them."

Hmmm . . . . does history bear that out or is that just De Niro having a go at the Brits?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's all Buffy's fault

NOTE: I don't know. What do you think: Has the church lost its relevance for modern women?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer slaying church attendance among women, study claims
The old-fashioned attitudes and hierarchies of churches are causing a steep decline in the number of female worshippers, according to an academic study.

By Martin Beckford, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Telegraph UK
Last Updated: 10:24AM BST 23 Aug 2008

The report claims more than 50,000 women a year have deserted their congregations over the past two decades because they feel the church is not relevant to their lives.

It says that instead young women are becoming attracted to the pagan religion Wicca, where females play a central role, which has grown in popularity after being featured positively in films, TV shows and books.

The study comes amid ongoing controversy over the role of women in all Christian denominations. Last month its governing body voted to allow women to become bishops for the first time, having admitted them to the priesthood in 1994, but traditionalist bishops have warned that hundreds of clergy and parishes will leave if the move goes ahead as planned.

The report's author, Dr Kristin Aune, a sociologist at the University of Derby, said: "In short, women are abandoning the church.

"Because of its focus on female empowerment, young women are attracted by Wicca, popularised by the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

"Young women tend to express egalitarian values and dislike the traditionalism and hierarchies they imagine are integral to the church.

"Women's ordination, as priests and now bishops, has dominated debate and headlines – but while looking at women in the pulpit we have taken our eyes off the pews, where a shift with more consequences for the church's survival is underway."

Her research, published in a new book called Women and Religion in the West, cites an English Church Census which found more than a million women worshippers have left churches since 1989.

Over the past decade, it claims, women have been leaving churches at twice the rate of men.

In addition, the census is said to show that teenage boys now outnumber girls in the pews for the first time.

Dr Aune says the church must adapt to the needs of modern women if it is to stop them leaving in their droves.

She believes many women have been put off going to church in recent years because of the influence of feminism, which challenged the traditional Christian view of women's roles and raised their aspirations.

Her report claims they feel forced out of the church because of its "silence" about sexual desire and activity, and because of its hostility to single-parent families and unmarried couples which are now a reality for many women.

But it also says changes in women's working lives, with many more now pursuing careers as well as raising children, mean they have less time to attend church.

Dr Aune believes churches must now introduce services and activities that fit in better with modern's women's schedules, such as Saturday morning breakfast clubs.

She said: "Gone are the days when the mother was at home during the day and had time to visit the church's coffee mornings and mother and toddler groups.

"With the pressures women face, churches must adapt to make themselves more accessible."

Christina Rees, chairman of the pro-women bishop campaign group Watch, said the report highlighted the damaging effect that traditionalist attitudes within the Church of England are having on women.

She added that the introduction of female bishops will lead to a renewed interest in the church among young people and women in particular, despite the opposition to the historic step from Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals who believe scripture and tradition teach that bishops must be male.

Ms Rees told The Daily Telegraph: "What this research reveals is that a lot of people are put off by traditional stances and attitudes. We still have a long way to go before women, particularly young women, feel as included in the church as men do.

"I'm absolutely convinced that when we have women as bishops that it will send out a very clear message that women are as valued as much as men."

The Church of England declined to comment.

Ethan Bortnick

Just a little inspirational something for a lazy Saturday morning.

Thanks to Doug, whose mission it has been to keep me laughing and inspired.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Breaching the Ocean

It was hard to miss them.

There, about 20 –30 feet from the shore, was an orange kayak with two passengers, male and female, in yellow life vests. That outrage of color with two long, dark paddles bobbed on the water like a strange, tropical fruit having come to us from some even warmer clime.

What really caught the eye, however, was the pod of plain brown and gray-black Bottlenose Dolphins which surrounded the kayak, difficult to see, at first in the steel gray water.

What an amazing site!

It’s not an unusual occurrence, mind you. The Delmarva Peninsula is one of the primary East Coast breeding grounds of the Bottlenose Dolphins. The TV show “Flipper” made them popular, assigning them mystical, magical powers of cognition and communication.
Oh, they are smart and they are entertaining – it has been said that only the dolphin and the human, of all God’s creatures, enjoy a sex life, so we share a sense of the delight which comes from the absurd – but they are, first and foremost (and also unlike many of their human counterparts), predators.

They mostly eat small fish, but they have also been known to attack porpoise – quite viciously, I might add. We’ve been out on a canoe at the Delmarva State Park, one of their primary breeding grounds, and I can attest to the fact that they can be quite nasty in temperament, especially when they are not up to entertaining tourists who come to gawk as they mate or care for their young. Then again, who can blame them, really.

Having said that, there are reports of seeming altruism and heroism. It wasn’t long ago, I remember, that a newscast gave an account of a dramatic rescue of four lifeguards swimming off the coast in New Zealand who had been approached by a Great White Shark. A group of Bottlenose Dolphins, apparently sensing danger to the swimmers, reportedly herded them together and surrounded them for forty minutes, preventing an attack from the shark.

There was no such drama yesterday. It was just pure entertainment as the dolphins circled the kayak, making squeaking and squealing noises through their blowhole. They did seem to be trying to communicate something to the humans in the kayak. Perhaps it was merely ‘hello’. Perhaps they were bidding them to come into the water to play on the surf as the tide began to shift into low. They slapped their fins and tails on the water, like an invitation to ‘Come’.

It didn’t take too long before their antics began to draw the attention of a small crowd on the beach.

We all watched in rapt enchantment as the dolphins circled the small kayak, playing with the man and woman who seemed extraordinarily still, their paddles in their hands, suspended at the same perfect horizontal point above their craft.

The tide started to heave suddenly, making its shift to low, and the waves picked up. The dolphins saw this as an opportunity for fun and several began to breach the water, jumping over the crests of the waves. Other dolphins stayed near the craft and squeaked and squealed and slapped the water in seeming appreciation.

Someone asked, “Are they being trained to do that?” Someone else responded, “No way! They do that naturally.” A little kid was heard asking, “Daddy, are we at Sea World?”

The sea gulls laughed as answer to his question.
Yeah. It was that magnificent.

The entire scene must have lasted ten, maybe twelve minutes, but time seem to have been suspended in one magical moment which possessed no beginning or end . It just was. And, in my memory and I suspect the memories of all who witnessed it, it still is.

I believe such moments come into our lives as a gift to lift us out of the ordinary and turn our vision toward something greater than ourselves. We find our fragmented lives like two beings in a small boat out on a vast ocean not far from the safety of shore.

Joy, uninvited and unexpected, comes and surrounds us. Like a balm sent from heaven, our grief and sorrows are instantly salved. The tide shifts suddenly to low and our worries and anxieties are inhibited from entering into deeper waters of dread or fear.

In the breaching of the ocean, heaven has come near.

For one glorious moment we understand. We know. And, it is enough.

It is in - and for - such moments, I am certain, that 'The Song of the Three Young Men' was written.

Benedicite, omnia opera Domini

Glorify God, O springs of water, seas, and streams,*
praise and highly exalt God forever.
O whales and all that move in the waters.
All birds of the air, glorify God,*
Praise and highly exalt God forever.

Glorify God, all you works of God*
praise and highly exalt God forever.
In the firmament of the Almighty, let God be glorified,*
praised and highly exalted forever.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

And, the poster of the week . . . .

(Hat tip to Doug who is really working hard to make sure I laugh while on vacation)

Don't you just hate it when you can't remember how many houses you own? I don't know about you, but I simply wouldn't know what I'd do without my staff to keep track of these things for me!

Sign of the Week

Hat tip to Michael Povey
( Click on picture to enlarge - No comments from the peanut gallery, please.)

Presbyterian Pastor Back in Court

By Daniel Burke, Religion News Service

A Presbyterian minister who officiated at a lesbian wedding in 2005 is heading for church court again, two years after charges against her were dismissed on a technicality.

The Rev. Janet Edwards of Pittsburgh will again face possible expulsion if convicted by the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Pittsburgh Presbytery.

Edwards will appear before the commission Oct. 1, to answer charges that she defied her ordination vows and Presbyterian Church (USA) rules by officiating at the Pittsburgh wedding of a lesbian couple in 2005.

"I am trying really hard to speak clearly about how what I did reflects Jesus' love and justice, and so I hope the permanent judicial council acquits me," Edwards said.

The PCUSA allows ministers to perform same-sex unions as long as they are not equated with traditional marriage. Edwards says her church's positions on gay relationships are recommendations, not binding laws.

Similar charges against Edwards, who is a direct descendant of famed Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards, were dropped in 2006 after prosecutors missed a deadline to file charges.

The Rev. James Yearsley, a Presbyterian minister from Tampa, has re-filed the charges against Edwards, according to Presbyterian News Service. Seven other ministers and six elders have joined the complaint as "co-accusers," PNS reported.

Earlier this year, the PCUSA's high court dismissed charges against another minister who performed same-sex weddings, ruling that the ceremonies were not marriages.

Translation, please (and, thank you)

"Black Boat" by Henry Gasser

I am deeply grateful for "Padra" who wrote me off line and sent me these English words to the Portuguese Fado "Barco Negro" - Black Boat - (see below) which she, herself, translated for me.

It's interesting, but I found that my own translation was not so far off from "Padra's" and, as she notes, saudade itself doesn't really require it. It's not about the words so much as the story and the sound of the soul, which Mariza captures so beautifully.

This has given me courage to finally make the commitment to (re)learn Portuguese this fall. I'll be doing the research for courses nearby to my home and signing up for a course today or tomorrow. Strangely, I feel my heart soaring, even as I write this.

And thanks so very much to JCF who sent this link to hear both Amalia and Mariza sing. I feel so very blessed by your generosity.

"Barco Negro"

In the morning I was afraid that you found me ugly/
I woke up, trembling, as I lay in the sand/
But immediately your eyes said no/
And the sun penetrated into my heart.

I saw afterwards, in a rock, a cross (trouble)/
And your black boat was dancing in the light/
I saw your waving arm between the sails as you loosened them/
The old women of the beach say that you are not returning.

They are crazy! They are crazy!

I know, my love/
That you did not arrive to leave/
Since everything, all around me/
Tells me that you are always with me.

In the wind that tosses sand in the glasses/
In the water that sings, in the dim fire/
In the heat of the bed, in the empty seats/
Inside my breast, you are always with me.

The translation is not precise, but fado, like saudade itself, probably doesn't require it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


This is an example of fado - the sound of saudade - that my grandmother used to sing. This is Mariza, one of the more modern, independent fado singers.

The YouTube of Mariza singing 'Barco Negro', an updated and personalized version of the classic fado first made popular by Amalia Rodrigues, my favorite fado artist.

Amalia's voice is closer to the memory I have of my grandmother's voice. She always wore the classic black dress and black shawl of the fado singer. You can see in the YouTube video performance below that Mariza has the black shawl, but her black dress has daring flashes of red.

Mariza's hair is also something of a scandal for the traditional Portuguese. In her album, 'Transparente', she sings of her grandmother's "hooded eyes and kinky hair", laying bare the open secret of intermarriage between Portuguese and Africans (Mozambique and Azores), and stirring great controversy in her hometown of Lisbon.

I also selected this video because Mariza gives a brief synopsis of the song before she begins to sing. The words, in Portuguese, are below. I'll ask Padre or Luiz to help me translate.

If this is your first time to hear fado music, I hope it won't be your last.

It's the next blog entry below. Enjoy!

De manhã, que medo, que me achasses feia!
Acordei, tremendo, deitada n'areia
Mas logo os teus olhos disseram que não,
E o sol penetrou no meu coração.[Bis]

Vi depois, numa rocha, uma cruz,
E o teu barco negro dançava na luz
Vi teu braço acenando, entre as velas já soltas
Dizem as velhas da praia, que não voltas:

São loucas! São loucas!

Eu sei, meu amor,
Que nem chegaste a partir,
Pois tudo, em meu redor,
Me diz qu'estás sempre comigo.[Bis]

No vento que lança areia nos vidros;
Na água que canta, no fogo mortiço;
No calor do leito, nos bancos vazios;
Dentro do meu peito, estás sempre comigo.

Mariza - Barco Negro


From The Common Cause Partnership Website.

Bishop Duncan Shares Concerns on Windsor Continuation Group

A letter by Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the Common Cause Partnership, to Bishop Gary Lillibridge of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas has been made public. In that letter, dated August 11, Bishop Duncan put in writing concerns of the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, Quincy and other members of the Common Cause Partnership caused by the suggestions of the Windsor Continuation Group for dealing with divisions in the Anglican Communion. Bishop Duncan had initially shared these concerns with those present at the Lambeth Conference of Bishops.

The August 11 letter was forwarded with permission by Bishop Lillibridge to members of the Windsor Continuation Group and subsequently leaked to liberal activists and published online and via email on August 18.

“I am happy to publicly acknowledge this letter and my description of the concerns we in the Common Cause Partnership have about the proposals of the Windsor Continuation Group. Nonetheless, it is disturbing to discover that at least one member of the Windsor Continuation Group, a body that is supposed to be working for reconciliation in the Anglican Communion, so quickly leaked private correspondence in an attempt to gain some passing political advantage,” said Bishop Duncan.

The members of the Windsor Continuation Group are:

The Most Revd Clive Handford, former Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East (chair)
The Most Revd John Chew, Primate of South East Asia
The Right Revd Gary Lillibridge, Bishop of West Texas
The Right Revd Victoria Matthews, former Bishop of Edmonton
The Very Revd John Moses, former dean of St Paul's, London
The Most Revd Donald Mtetemela, Primate of Tanzania

They will be joined as a consultant by:

Dame Mary Tanner, Co-president of the World Council of Churches

and assisted by:

Canon Andrew Norman of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Staff and
Canon Gregory Cameron of the Anglican Communion Office

The Common Cause Partnership

* American Anglican Council
* Anglican Coalition in Canada
* Anglican Communion Network
* Anglican Mission in the Americas
* Anglican Network in Canada
* Convocation of Anglicans in North America
* Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas
* Forward in Faith North America
* Reformed Episcopal Church

The speculation about who leaked Bishop Duncan's memo and why by the boys and girls in Viagraland is fascinating and, more importantly, quite instructive.

What's really "disturbing" is the reference to "liberal activists" - like that's a bad thing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Illegal Border Crossing - Part Deux

Note: My colleague, Paul Ambos, deputy from the Diocese of New Jersey, has kindly given me permission to reprint his reflection here.

If you haven't already, do read Bishop Duncan's email immediately below.

Paul writes:

Bp. Duncan's second point is, shall we say, "disingenuous":

Bishop Duncan writes
: "The second is the notion that, even if the moratoria are held to be equally necessary, there would be some way to "freeze" the situation as it now stands for those of us in the process of separating from The Episcopal Church. The three dioceses of Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth have taken first constitutional votes on separation with second votes just weeks away. We all anticipate coming under Southern Cone this fall, thus to join San Joaquin. This process cannot be stopped -- constitutions require an automatic second vote, and to recommend against passage without guarantees from the other side would be suicidal."

Paul Responds: First of all, the constitutions of neither Pittsburgh (Art. XV) nor Forth Worth (Art. 19) (Quincy's constitution and canons are not available online)
specifically in terms "require an automatic second vote" on a constitutional amendment. As a matter of basic parliamentary procedure, no main motion(such as a motion to confirm an amendment to a constitution) is _required_ to be voted on. It may be withdrawn, amended, postponed indefinitely,referred, tabled, not reached prior to adjournment, or even never moved.

Furthermore, Bp. Duncan's history on this particular amendment is troubling. The particulars have been posted by the Rev'd Dr. James Simons, a rector "committed to orthodoxy" and a member of the Pittsburgh Standing Committee in his blog,.

Three weeks prior to the November 2007 diocesan convention he met with a group of diocesan clergy, including Fr. Simons, who specifically rejected the bishop's plan for realignment and who intended to voice their opposition at the convention.

"The Bishop asked us to do two things: first, not to speak out against the resolution and secondly, to vote for it even if we didn't want to realign. His reasoning was that a strong majority vote would provide an impetus for the Presiding Bishop's office to negotiate with him, especially over issues of property."

"Even though the group was prepared to issue a statement before the vote,stating our opposition to it, when the Bishop's request was taken back to the group we decided to honor the request. None of us spoke out against the resolution to realign, either before or during convention, and I assume that some in the group voted for it as well."

Following the convention he again met with Bp. Duncan to advise that his group needed to issue a statement opposing the plan to leave TEC. "The Bishop said he understood this and asked if we could wait until March 1st in order to provide time for him to negotiate with the Presiding Bishop's office." Shortly thereafter, Bp. Duncan was charged with abandoning the communion of the church, it became clear that no "negotiations" ever would take place, and so the twelve conservative priests issued their statement at the end of January 2008.

I cannot know if Bp. Duncan made the same request to lay representatives to vote contrary to their conscience on the 2007 constitutional amendment as he made to these clergy. To "honor" such a "request" may have been foolhardy, but to make it in the first place, particularly to clergy over whom one has authority, is reprehensible and the very opposite of "a wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ."

As Mike Russell has recently pointed out, a "fear-based ecclesiology" lacks
legitimacy in the Anglican tradition.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Memo from +Duncan: Four Imperatives for Non-Compliance

An interesting memo from Bob Duncan which is being circulated by some who are concerned.

Is Ft. Worth going to Rome or Southern Cone? Is an "automatic second vote" really necessary? Can votes or conventions be rescheduled or postponed in order to consider compliance with the WCG and ABC's strong request for moratoria?

Someone recently described the activities of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh and Quincy and the Windsor Continuation Group as being rather like watching a slow motion fight between aged, toothless cats.

I find myself scratching my head and asking why anyone who claims that his deposition (rumored to be on the agenda for discussion at this September's HOB's meeting), is "unfair" would be putting this kind of stuff in email dated August 11 which can - to wit - be so easily reproduced and distributed.


From: Duncan, Bob []
Sent: Monday, August 11, 2008 12:35 PM
Subject: Windsor Contiuation Group Concerns

Dear *******,

It was very good to be with you at Lambeth. I especially appreciated the time we spent together looking at the relationship between the Common Cause Partners and the Communion Partners, as well as considering issues that are before the WCG.

I thought that you might appreciate hearing from me about concerns the approach of the WCG has caused for me and for all the Common Cause Partners.

The WCG proposes "cessation of all cross-border interventions and inter-provincial claims of jurisdiction." There are at least four serious problems with the thinking surrounding the work of the Windsor Continuation Group in this regard.

The first difficulty is the moral equivalence implied between the three moratoria, a notion specifically rejected in the original Windsor Report and at Dromantine.

The second is the notion that, even if the moratoria are held to be equally necessary, there would be some way to "freeze" the situation as it now stands for those of us in the process of separating from The Episcopal Church.

The three dioceses of Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth have taken first constitutional votes on separation with second votes just weeks away. We all anticipate coming under Southern Cone this fall, thus to join San Joaquin. This process cannot be stopped -- constitutions require an automatic second vote, and to recommend against passage without guarantees from the other side would be suicidal.

The third reality is that those already separated parishes and missionary jurisdictions under Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Southern Cone (including Recife) will never consent to the "holding tank" whose stated purpose is eventual "reconciliation" with TEC or thevAnglican Church of Canada. (It was obvious to all at Lambeth that the majorities in the US and Canada have no intention of reversing direction.)

The fourth matter is that the legal proceedings brought by TEC and ACC against many of us have been nowhere suspended by these aggressor provinces, with no willingness to mediate or negotiate though we have proposed it repeatedly, not least since Dar es Salaam.

For your information, I have written to John Chew and Donald Mtetemela in a similar way. I have also written to the Global South Primates who signed the open letter dated 3 August.

I hope this finds you well. As I pledged when we saw each other, I will do what I can to keep you informed of thinking among the Common Cause Partners, and will do what I can to see that any solutions imagined include both the Communion Partners (on the inside) and the Common Cause Partners (most of whom are on the outside of TEC, or on their way out.)

Blessings to you and yours,


Funky Font Makes Big Splash in Salisbury

Note: saw this story in the Telegraph UK.

At first I though, "No way! Not it staid old Briton!" Then I remembered that the dean of the cathedral is a woman - June Osborne - one of the best preachers in UK and one who is rumored to be among the first appointed to the episcopacy (when that finally happens).

Here. Enjoy!

by Michael Wright
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 16/08/2008

In cathedrals, time passes slowly; change is anathema. It is not just the bishop's sermon that can seem to last for eternity. Words echo. Light travels more sedately, filtered through stained glass.

Our great churches themselves, many of which took hundreds of years to build, are symbols of permanence and stability. They can be dustily remote places, too, where faith has fossilised and visitors gawp, clutching their guide books with a kind of disconnected awe.

Hats off, then, to Salisbury Cathedral, which is about to witness one of the most radical alterations in its 750-year history, with the introduction of the largest working font - and arguably the largest permanent art installation - in any British cathedral.

More than this, when the Archbishop of Canterbury baptises the first Christians in it on September 28, Salisbury's new font will also be the only one that flows with "living" water. In other words, instead of being a static basin, the new font - designed by Britain's most distinguished water sculptor, William Pye - will be a gushing, splashing attention-seeker in its own right.

"This is a font, not a water feature," insists June Osborne, the Dean of Salisbury, who has nurtured the project from the start. "It's not just something pleasing and aesthetic to have around. It's an invitation to all our visitors, whether they're Christians or not; a statement, as they come in through the door, of the Christian conviction of life after death. The font is a reminder that they have entered not just a historic building but a sacred space. They're on holy ground."

Osborne observes that water is a "hugely important" symbol for Christians, with baptism the gateway to membership of the church. So it is perhaps surprising that, for at least the past 200 years, Salisbury Cathedral has not had its own permanent font. Instead, a small Victorian object - neo-gothic and portable - has been kept in a side chapel and wheeled out for baptisms.

The need for a new font was, therefore, glaring. An easy fix would have been to have some faux-medieval object carved in stone, with one of those forbidding metal lids on top, as seen in most large parish churches in Britain. Instead, thanks to the determined inspiration of both Osborne and Pye, a historic opportunity to create something new and daringly beautiful for the cathedral has been seized.

Pye's creation is unlike any other font, anywhere in the world. Cruciform in shape, the 10ft wide vessel, filled to its very brim with water, will stand on a massive square base clad in Purbeck freestone, to match the dark Purbeck marble of the cathedrals's slender columns. From a spout at each of its four corners, water will smoothly and continuously overflow in perfect cords or filaments, through gleaming bronze gratings in the stone floor.

While some may argue that Salisbury's new font is a vigorous demonstration of the church's energy and willingness to move with the times, others are not so happy. Indeed, as David Barke, 67, a surveyor and self-professed "old fogey" who has been a member of the congregation for more than 40 years, observes: "Many of us who love this place are wary of change for change's sake. Even the repainting of the organ pipes a few years ago caused a frightful rumpus."

Nevertheless, gentle persuasion has triumphed over fierce principles. It helps that the £180,000 cost of the project has been entirely funded by donations. It helps, too, that the final design, to be installed in a few weeks, represents the culmination of an ongoing 10-year project through which, little by little, Salisbury's parishioners have gently been introduced to the idea of a new and permanent font in their midst.

Every few years, a different water sculpture by Pye has been set, temporarily, in the nave: to test the water, so to speak, and - in so doing - to pour oil on troubled ones. Never can Nimbys have been so nimbly thwarted.

"I would say 90 per cent are in happy anticipation, five per cent are nervously expectant and five per cent are probably apoplectic," says Pye. "It would be very boring if it was just ignored. This happens with a lot of public art; after the fuss, people don't notice it any more." There seems little danger of this at Salisbury, where the new font will be a large and unmissable feature at the north porch crossing, its four spouts silently running with a ceaseless supply of gleaming water.

"Some people will use it, like the Trevi fountain, and throw coins in it," says Osborne, with a smile. "And others will see it, and they will cry, because it will remind them of God's unconditional love for them." Whatever the case, there is every chance that this spectacular new creation will be part of the fabric of Salisbury Cathedral for at least the next three or four hundred years. "It's there forever," says Pye, quietly. In cathedrals, time passes slowly; change is anathema, after all.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Michael Phelps: Super Olympian

And, guess the first two words he spoke when he and his team huddled after he led them to win the eighth Olympic Gold Medal in one Olympic Series - a new historic Olympic record?

"Thank You."

Now, there's an Olympian!

Quote of the Day

Don't put an age limit on your dreams.

Dara Torres, 41 year old Olympian swimmer, winner of eight Olympic medals.

Covenants of Fate and Covenants of Faith

Note: I think there is much fine gold in this piece. I hope, in these days when everyone is doing their own post-Lambeth post-mortems, that we don't forget these wise words from Chief Rabbi, Sr. Jonathan Sacks.

I think this is also important to read this as we consider Mark Harris' essay "Is it time to step back?" wherein he proposes a time-certain time out from participation in instruments of - while maintaining our membership in - the Anglican Communion.

The Relationship between the People and God

Monday 28 July 2008

Address from Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, at the Lambeth Conference

The Archbishop of Canterbury invited Sir Jonathan Sacks Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, to address the Lambeth Conference on Monday 28th July 2008. Sir Jonathan was accompanied by his wife, Lady Elaine Sacks and their daughter, Gila Sacks.

Sir Jonathan's address was greeted by a standing ovation and his responses to questions posed by the audience were frequently greeted with prolonged applause.

Text of the Address

Friends -- this is for me a profoundly moving moment. You we have invited me, a Jew, to join your deliberations, and I thank you for that, and for all it implies. There is a lot of history between our faiths, and for me to stand here, counting as I do the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York as beloved colleagues, is a signal of hope for our children and the world they will inherit.

Many centuries ago the Jewish sages asked, who is a hero of heroes? They answered, not one who defeats his enemy but one who turns an enemy into a friend. That is what has happened between Jews and Christians: strangers have become friends. And on this, I think the first occasion a rabbi has addressed a plenary session of the Lambeth Conference, I want to thank God in the words of the ancient Jewish blessing, Shehecheyanu vekiyemanu vehigiyanu lazman hazeh. Thank You, God, for bringing us to this time.


You have asked me to speak about covenant, and that is what I am going to do. We will discover not only a transformative idea, one that changes us as we think of it; not only a way forward for faith in the 21st century. We will also find ourselves better able to answer the question: what is the role of religion in society, even in a secular society like Britain.

And let's begin our journey at the place we passed on our march last Thursday, in Westminster. It was such a lovely day that I imagine meeting up with my granddaughter on the way back and taking her to see some of the sights of London. We'd begin where we were, outside Parliament, and I imagine her asking what happens there, and I'd say, politics. And she'd ask, what's politics about, and I'd say: it's about the creation and distribution of power.

And then we'd go to the city, and see the Bank of England, and she'd ask what happens there and I'd say: economics. And she'd say: what's economics about, and I'd say: it's about the creation and distribution of wealth.

And then on our way back we'd pass St Paul's Cathedral, and she'd ask, what happens there, and I'd say: worship. And she'd ask: what's worship about? What does it create and distribute? And that's a good question, because for the past 50 years, our lives have been dominated by the other two institutions: politics and economics, the state and the market, the logic of power and the logic of wealth. The state is us in our collective capacity. The market is us as individuals. And the debate has been: which is more effective? The left tends to favour the state. The right tends to favour the market. And there are endless shadings in between.

But what this leaves out of the equation is a third phenomenon of the utmost importance, and I want to explain why. The state is about power. The market is about wealth. And they are two ways of getting people to act in the way we want. Either we force them to – the way of power. Or we pay them to – the way of wealth.

But there is a third way, and to see this let's perform a simple thought experiment. Imagine you have total power, and then you decide to share it with nine others. How much do you have left? 1/10 of what you had when you began. Suppose you have a thousand pounds, and you decide to share it with nine others. How much do you have left? 1/10 of what you had when you began.


But now suppose that you decide to share, not power or wealth, but love, or friendship, or influence, or even knowledge, with nine others. How much do I have left? Do I have less? No, I have more; perhaps even 10 times as much.

Why? Because love, friendship and influence are things that only exist by virtue of sharing. I call these covenantal goods -- the goods that, the more I share, the more I have.

In the short term at least, wealth and power are zero-sum games. If I win, you lose. If you win, I lose. Covenantal goods are non-zero-sum games, meaning, if I win, you also win. And that has huge consequences.

Wealth and power, economic and politics, the market and the state, are arenas of competition, whereas covenantal goods are arenas of co-operation.

Where do we find covenantal goods like love, friendship, influence and trust? They are born, not in the state, and not in the market, but in marriages, families, congregations, fellowships and communities -- even in society, if we are clear in our minds that society is something different from the state.

One way of seeing what's at stake is to understand the difference between two things that look and sound alike but actually are not, namely contracts and covenants.

In a contract, two or more individuals, each pursuing their own interest, come together to make an exchange for mutual benefit. So there is the commercial contract that creates the market, and the social contract that creates the state.

A covenant is something different. In a covenant, two or more individuals, each respecting the dignity and integrity of the other, come together in a bond of love and trust, to share their interests, sometimes even to share their lives, by pledging their faithfulness to one another, to do together what neither can achieve alone.

A contract is a transaction. A covenant is a relationship. Or to put it slightly differently: a contract is about interests. A covenant is about identity. It is about you and me coming together to form an 'us'. That is why contracts benefit, but covenants transform.

So economics and politics, the market and the state, are about the logic of competition. Covenant is about the logic of co-operation.

Now I want to ask, why is it that societies cannot exist without co-operation? Why is it that state and market alone cannot sustain a society?

The answer to that is an absolutely fascinating story, and it begins with Charles Darwin.

Darwin hit a problem he could not solve. I understand from Darwin that all life evolves by natural selection, which means, by the way of competition for scarce resources: food, shelter and the like.

If so, you would expect that all societies would value the most competitive, even the most ruthless individuals. But Darwin noticed that it isn't so. In fact, in every society of which he knew, it was the most altruistic individuals who were the most valued and admired, not the most competitive. Or, if I can put it in the language of Richard Dawkins: a bundle of selfish genes get together and produce selfless people. That was Darwin's paradox, and it lay unsolved until the late 1970s.

It was then that three very different disciplines converged: sociobiology, a branch of mathematics called games theory, and high-speed computer simulation. Together they produced something called the iterated prisoner's dilemma.

To cut a long story short, what they discovered was that though natural selection works through the genes of individuals, individuals -- certainly in the higher life-forms -- survive only because they are members of groups. And groups survive only on the basis of reciprocity and trust, on what I have called covenant, or the logic of co-operation. One human versus one lion, the lion wins. Ten humans versus one lion, the humans are in with a chance.

It turns out that the very things that make Homo sapiens different – the use of language, the size of the brain, even the moral sense itself -- have to do with the ability to form and sustain groups: the larger the brain, the larger the group.

Neo-Darwinians call this reciprocal altruism. Sociologists call it trust. Economists call it social capital. And it is one great intellectual discoveries of our time. Individuals need groups. Groups need co-operation. And co-operation needs covenant, bonds of reciprocity and trust.

Traditionally, that was the work of religion. After all, the word 'religion' itself comes from a Latin root meaning 'to bind'. And whether we take a conservative thinker like Edmund Burke, or a radical like Thomas Paine, or a social scientist like Emil Durkheim, or an outside observer like Alexis de Tocqueville, they all saw this, and explained it, each in their own way. And now it has been scientifically demonstrated. If there is only competition and not co-operation, if there is only the state and the market and no covenantal relationships, society will not survive.

What then happens to a society when religion wanes and there is nothing covenantal to take its place?

Relationships break down. Marriage grows weak. Families become fragile. Communities atrophy. And the result is that people feel vulnerable and alone. If they turn those feelings outward, the result is often anger turning to violence. If they turn them inward, the result is depression, stress related syndromes, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse. Either way, there is spiritual poverty in the midst of material affluence.

It doesn't happen all at once, but slowly, gradually and inexorably. Societies without covenants and the institutions needed to inspire and sustain them, disintegrate. Initially, the result is a loss of graciousness in our shared and collective lives. Ultimately, it is a loss of freedom itself.


That is where we are. And now let's go back to where it all began.

In the ancient Near East, covenants existed in the form of treaties between tribes or states. They had little to do with religion. To the contrary, in the ancient world, religion was about politics and economics, power and wealth. The gods were the supreme powers. They were also the controllers of wealth, in the form of rain, the earth's fertility and its harvests. So, if you wanted power or wealth, you had to placate the gods.

The idea that there could be a covenant between God and humanity must have seemed absurd. If you had told people there could be, between the Infinite and the finite, between the eternal and the ephemeral, a bond of love and trust, I think they would have said: go and lie down until the mood passes.

If you had added that God loves, not the wealthy and the powerful, but the poor and the powerless, they would have thought you were mad. But that was the idea that transformed the world.

Covenant is a key word of Tenach, the Hebrew Bible, where it occurs more than 250 times. No one put it more simply than the prophet Hosea, in words we say every weekday morning at the start of our prayers:

I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will know the LORD.

A covenant is a betrothal, a bond of love and trust. And it was the prophet Jeremiah, who in the name of God so beautifully spelled out the result:

I remember the devotion of your youth,
the love of your betrothal,
how you were willing to follow me into the desert,
through an unknown, unsown land.

Covenant is what allows us to face the future without fear, because we know we are not alone. 'Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me.' Covenant is the redemption of solitude.


There are three covenants set out in the Bible's opening books of Genesis and Exodus. The first, in Genesis 9, is the covenant with Noah and through him with all humanity. The second, in Genesis 17, is the covenant with Abraham. The third, in Exodus 19-24, is the covenant with the Israelites in the days of Moses. None supersedes or replaces the others. And without going into details, I want to look at one significant distinction between two types of covenant.

For this insight we are indebted the individual I regard as the greatest Jewish thinker of the 20th century, a man whose name may not be familiar to you, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik.

Perhaps the simplest way of approaching the idea is to ask: when did the Israelites become a nation? The Mosaic books give us two apparently contradictory answers. The first is: in Egypt. We read in Deuteronomy 26: 'our ancestors went down to Egypt and there they became a nation'. The second answer is, only when the Israelites left Egypt and stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, where they became, in the words of Exodus 19, 'a kingdom of priests and a holy nation'. Now these two answers can't both be true -- or can they?

Rabbi Soloveitchik's answer is that both are true, but they involve two different kinds of covenant. There is, he said, a covenant of fate and a covenant of faith, and they are very different things.

A group can be bound in the covenant of fate when they suffer together, when they face a common enemy. They have shared tears, shared fears, shared responsibility. They huddle together for comfort and mutual protection. That is a covenant of fate.

A covenant of faith is quite different. That is made by a people who share dreams, aspirations, ideals. They don't need a common enemy, because they have a common hope. They come together to create something new. They are defined not by what happens to them but by what they commit themselves to do. That is a covenant of faith.

Now we understand how it was that the Israelites had two foundational moments, the first in Egypt and the second at Sinai. In Egypt they became a nation bound by a covenant of fate -- a fate of slavery and suffering. At Sinai they became a nation bound by a covenant of faith, defined by the Torah and by God's commands. That distinction is vital to what I have to say today.

Why is it that no-one made this distinction before Rabbi Soloveitchik, in other words, before the second half of the 20th century? The answer lies in one word: Holocaust.

At the level of faith, Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries were deeply divided. But during the Holocaust they shared the same fate, whether they were Orthodox or non-Orthodox, religious or secular, identifying or totally assimilated. What Rabbi Soloveitchik was doing, within a deeply fragmented Jewish world, was to rescue a sense of solidarity with the victims. Hence his concept, always implicit within the tradition but never spelled out so explicitly before, of a covenant of fate even in the absence of a covenant of faith.


Now that we have made this distinction, we can state a proposition of the utmost importance. When we read Genesis and Exodus superficially, it seems as if the covenants of Noah, Abraham and Sinai are the same sort of thing. But now we can see that they are not the same kind of thing at all.

The covenants of Abraham and Sinai are covenants of faith. But the covenant of Noah says nothing about faith. The world had been almost destroyed by a flood. All mankind, all life, with the exception of Noah's Ark, had shared the same fate. Humanity after the Flood was like the Jewish people after the Holocaust. The covenant of Noah is not a covenant of faith but a covenant of fate.

God says: Never again will I destroy the world. But I cannot promise that you will never destroy the world -- because I have given you free will. All I can do is teach you how not to destroy the world. How?

The covenant of Noah has three dimensions. First: 'He who sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God, He created man.' The first element is the sanctity of human life.

The second: Read Genesis 9 carefully and you will see that five times God insists that the covenant of Noah is not merely with humanity, but with all life on earth. So the second element is the integrity of the created world.

The third lies in the symbol of the covenant, the rainbow, in which the white light of God is refracted into all the colours of the spectrum. The rainbow symbolises what I have called the dignity of difference. The miracle at the heart of monotheism is that unity up there creates diversity down here. These three dimensions define the covenant of fate.

There is a famous prophecy in Isaiah 11, that one day the wolf will lie down with the lamb. It hasn't happened yet (though there is the apocryphal story of a zoo in which, in a single cage, a lion did lie down with a lamb. How do you do that? a visitor asked. The zookeeper replied: 'Simple – you just need a new lamb every day').

There was, however, one time when the wolf did lie down with the lamb. When? In Noah's Ark. Why? Not because they were friends, but because otherwise they would drown. That is the covenant of fate.

Note that the covenant of fate precedes the covenant of faith, because faith is particular, but fate is universal. That, then, is Genesis 9: the global covenant of human solidarity.


And with that, I come to the present. We are living through one of the most fateful ages of change since Homo sapiens first set foot on earth. Globalisation and the new information technologies are doing two things simultaneously. First, they are fragmenting our world. Narrowcasting is taking the place of broadcasting. National cultures are growing weaker. We are splitting into ever smaller sects of the like-minded.

But globalisation is also thrusting us together as never before. The destruction of a rainforests there adds to global warming everywhere. Political conflict in one place can create a terrorist incident in another, thousands of miles away. Poverty there moves consciences here. At the very moment that covenants of faith are splitting apart, the covenant of fate is forcing us together -- and we have not yet proved equal to it.

All three elements of the global covenant are in danger. The sanctity of human life is being desecrated by terror. The integrity of creation is threatened by environmental catastrophe. Respect for diversity is imperiled by what one writer has called the clash of civilisations. And to repeat -- the covenant of fate precedes the covenant of faith. Before we can live any faith we have to live. And we must honour our covenant with future generations that they will inherit a world in which it is possible to live. That is the call of God in our time.


Friends, I stand before you as a Jew, which means not just as an individual, but as a representative of my people. And as I prepared this lecture, within my soul were the tears of my ancestors. We may have forgotten this, but for a thousand years, between the First Crusade and the Holocaust, the word 'Christian' struck fear into Jewish hearts. Think only of the words the Jewish encounter with Christianity added to the vocabulary of human pain: blood libel, book burnings, disputations, forced conversions, inquisition, auto da fe, expulsion, ghetto and pogrom.

I could not stand here today in total openness, and not mention that book of Jewish tears.

And I have asked myself, what would our ancestors want of us today?

And the answer to that lies in the scene that brings the book of Genesis to a climax and a closure. You remember: after the death of Jacob, the brothers fear that Joseph will take revenge. After all, they had sold him into slavery in Egypt.

Instead, Joseph forgives -- but he does more than forgive. Listen carefully to his words:

You intended to harm me,
but God intended it for good,
to do what is now being done,
to save many lives.

Joseph does more than forgive. He says, out of bad has come good. Because of what you did to me, I have been able to save many lives. Which lives? Not just those of his brothers, but the lives of the Egyptians, the lives of strangers. I have been able to feed the hungry. I have been able to honour the covenant of fate -- and by honouring the covenant of fate between him and strangers, Joseph is able to mend the broken covenant of faith between him and his brothers.

In effect, Joseph says to his brothers: we cannot unwrite the past, but we can redeem that past – if we take our tears and use them to sensitise us to the tears of others.

And now we see a remarkable thing. Although Genesis is about the covenant of faith between God and Abraham, it begins and ends with the covenant of fate: first in the days of Noah, and later in the time of Joseph.

Both involve water: in the case of Noah, there is too much, a flood; in the case of Joseph, too little, a drought.

Both involve saving human life. But Noah saves only his family. Joseph saves an entire nation of strangers.

Both involve forgiveness. In the case of Noah, God forgives. In the case of Joseph, it is a human being who forgives.

And both involve a relationship with the past. In the case of Noah, the past is obliterated. In the case of Joseph, the past is redeemed.


And today, between Jews and Christians, that past is being redeemed. In 1942, in the midst of humanity's darkest night, a great Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, and a great Chief Rabbi, J. H. Hertz, came together in a momentous covenant of fate, called the Council of Christians and Jews. And since then, Jews and Christians have done more to mend their relationship than any other two religions on earth, so that today we meet as beloved friends.

And now we must extend that friendship more widely. We must renew the global covenant of fate, the covenant that began with Noah and reached a climax in the work of Joseph, the work of saving many lives.

And that is what we began to do last Thursday when we walked side-by-side: Christians, Jews, Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Zoroastrians and Baha'i. Because though we do not share a faith, we surely share a fate. Whatever our faith or lack of faith, hunger still hurts, disease still strikes, poverty still disfigures, and hate still kills. Few put it better than that great Christian poet, John Donne: 'Every man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.'

Friends, if we look at Genesis 50, we will see that just before Joseph says his great words of reconciliation, the text says: 'Joseph wept.' Why did Joseph weep? He wept for all the needless pain the brothers had caused one another. And shall we not weep when we see the immense challenges with which humanity is faced in the 21st century -- poverty, hunger, disease, environmental catastrophe. And what is the face religion all too often shows to the world? Conflict -- between faiths, and sometimes within faiths.

And we, Jews and Christians, who have worked so hard and so effectively at reconciliation, must show the world another way.: honouring humanity as God's image, protecting the environment as God's work, respecting diversity as God's will, and keeping the covenant as God's word.
Too long we have dwelt in the valley of tears.

Let us walk together towards the mountain of the Lord,
Hand in hand,
bound by a covenant of fate that turns strangers into friends.
In an age of fear, let us be agents of hope.
Together let us be a blessing to the world.


Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks has been Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew congregations of the Commonwealth since September 1, 1991, the sixth incumbent since 1845.
Widely recognised as one of the world's leading contemporary exponents of Judaism, Britain's Prime Minster Gordon Brown, said of him (May 2003): "The Chief Rabbi is not just a distinguished scholar but a distinguished spiritual leader and a globally respected ambassador for the Jewish community here in Britain. He is respected in every continent because he has done more than anyone in Britain today to focus our attention on the needs and challenges of community in the global world."

Prior to becoming Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Sacks had been Principal of Jews' College, London, the world's oldest rabbinical seminary, as well as rabbi of the Golders Green and Marble Arch synagogues in London. He gained rabbinic ordination from Jews' College as well as from London's Yeshiva Etz Chaim.

His secular academic career has also been a distinguished one. Educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he obtained first class honours in Philosophy, he pursued postgraduate studies at New College, Oxford, and King's College, London. Professor Sacks has been Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex, Sherman Lecturer at Manchester University, Riddell Lecturer at Newcastle University, Cook Lecturer at the Universities of Oxford, Edinburgh and St. Andrews and Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. He is currently Visiting Professor of Theology at Kings' College London. He holds honorary doctorates from the universities of Bar Ilan, Cambridge, Glasgow, Haifa, Middlesex, Yeshiva University New York, University of Liverpool, St. Andrews University and Leeds Metropolitan University, and is an honorary fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and King's College London. In September 2001, the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred on him a doctorate of Divinity in recognition of his first ten years in the Chief Rabbinate.

A notably gifted communicator, the Chief Rabbi is a frequent contributor to radio, television and the national press. Each year before Rosh Hashanah he delivers a message to the nation on BBC Television. In 1990 he delivered the BBC Reith Lectures on The Persistence of Faith. He is the author of many books, including most recently:From Optimism to hope (2004); To heal a fractured world (2005) and the Home we bild together (2007)

Born in 1948 in London, he has been married to Elaine since 1970. They have three children, Joshua, Dina and Gila and three grandchildren.

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