Saturday, March 26, 2016

Holy Saturday As We Wait

Holy Saturday As We Wait

Yesterday one man died
And so the hope of many with Him.
Weeping and wailing women cried.
No longer the day bright, but dim.

On the next darkened morning, the week's first day,
The Magdalene, bereft, in grief at her loss,
Visited His tomb. Empty. "They took Him away,"
She told her apostle brother who stood at the cross.

Her teacher nowhere to be found,
At His empty tomb she gives answer to a nearby gardener:
"They have taken Him from where He was bound."
Not knowing, Magdalene speaks to her pardoner.

Imagine the Magdalene's heart
Once full in presence of Absolute Love,
Empty, she thinks, being apart
And distant from Truth above.

The gardener inquires, "Woman, why do you weep?"
She asked, "Have you taken Him away?
Where does He now keep?"
"Mary", then gently did the Gardener say.

A lump in her throat, her ears heard clearly.
From her weeping she turned to sing.
"Rabboni, Rabboni, with all my heart I love dearly,"
She reaching with arms, He cautioned "Do not cling."

"I must ascend to my father" for man's sin just bore.
It was Mary, the first to greet the Risen Lord.
With death conquered and no more,
Christ and His purpose completed, one accord.

Glenn Beck, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and GOD

Glenn Beck, American Politics, and God

A few days ago in this Holy Week, I was driving to an appointment in the morning. Hardly do I listen to the radio while driving, but on this particular morning I turned on my car radio and began listening to Glenn Beck. So, I just listened. It took a few days later for me to realize what Beck had said.

Before writing this short piece I checked the blogosphere and Internet-based magazines to see if those sites had commented on what Beck said. They did. They have. But, I have decided not to read them because I want no outside influence on my thinking and what I am about to write.

I write about my impression of what Beck talked about. I have not found a recording of his particular show to make sure I heard what he said. I simply have an impression of what he said.

Glenn Beck so much dislikes Republican candidate for president Donald Trump that he verbally positions his favorite candidate for president, Ted Cruz, as the only person “pure enough” to become the President of the United States. How did he do that?

By way of comparing the lives of the two candidates and their “preparation” for the presidency. In a nutshell Ted Cruz has been preparing himself for this moment and thus becomes, in a way, anointed for the job.

Beck preceded his comparison by talking about God. He discounted any criticism of him and his religion as not being Christian, because, he said, he is like any other Christian. Perhaps! Who can say? But Beck seemed to be setting himself up as the appropriate representative of the Sovereign Creator in order to make life comparisons between Cruz and Trump. In other words, Beck presented his argument as pure logic suggesting that if you are a Christian you will follow his line of reasoning.

To Beck Cruz and only Cruz has led an exemplary life worthy enough to be elected President. Trump, on the other hand, has led a sleazy, manipulative, and low-morals life. The result of Beck’s comparison is that no American Christian should vote for Trump because – and this is my impression of Beck’s intent – God, too, would not like for Trump to become President of the United States.

God, for His purposes, chose Isaac and not Ishmael; Jacob and not Esau. God chose Moses, a murderer. David, a despicable person, was made King of Israel by God. Beck used the heretical tactic of Pelagianism to promote Ted Cruz over Trump – meaning Cruz has “earned” the American presidential honor. Perhaps God favors good Christians over lapsed Christians.

Candidates for political office certainly need to “earn” the trust of the voters. But voters have varied beliefs, differing sets of logic, personal assumptions, and dissimilar preferences. This is the political realm. Does the spiritual realm have anything to do with the political? Certainly the Sovereign Creator knows what is happening. Beck's comparison, however, suggests an "anointing" of Cruz based on right Christian living. That's his opinion, an opinion intended to influence voters.

Logic is conditional and finite. Logos is infinite. God will do what God will do.

For this instance in Beck's argument of "good-living" logic favoring Ted Cruz, I must say “You can never trump God!”

Monday, March 21, 2016

Anglican Church in North America Leadership and Russian, Greek, and Protestant Churches

The formerly nascent Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is expressing itself as an ecumenical juggernaut. Formed out of the failures inherent in Anglicanism’s loose structure and biblically-errant teachings, specifically in the Anglican Communion’s western provinces throughout the past 50 years, the ACNA is forging its way by building ecumenical relations around the world.

The ACNA and its episcopal leadership hold no interest in changing traditional and historical norms and doctrine as practiced in Christianity over the centuries. This biblically-focused Anglican province is interested only in preaching the Gospel and spreading the good news about Jesus Christ.

Many biblical scholars and preachers have noted over the centuries that the Book of Acts should be re-titled the Books of Acts of the Holy Spirit. The ACNA’s leadership is open to the Spirit and is submitting itself to the work and power of the Spirit: it is a House-in-Action. This is a time in history when the church must act and act in a wholly biblical and evangelical manner.

ACNA Archbishop and House of Bishops
ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach is seizing the moment. There is no time waste. He and the well-coordinated House of Bishops are in the midst not only of planting new churches, specifically in the United States and Canada, but they are opening ecumenical doors with other denominations and communions at – in an ecclesiastical timeframe – a rapid pace.

The Protestants
Since 2010 when Archbishop Emeritus Bob Duncan was the ACNA’s primate or leading bishop, talks began with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). This dialogue project is remarkable in that the LCMS had never before engaged in ecumenical dialogue with non-Lutheran denominations. The young North American Lutheran Church (NALC) and the ACNA are close to completing formal recognition and reciprocal liturgical agreements.

Certain Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist conversations are active as well. Within the “Anglican-oriented” world there are several jurisdictions, which for multiple reasons, left structural Anglicanism and formed their own churches and jurisdictions. ACNA is talking with several of those churches. Additionally, there are non-Anglican churches migrating toward “traditional Anglicanism” and seeking alignment or recognition.

The Russians Are Coming … The Russians Are Coming
What about the Orthodox Church? ACNA Archbishop Beach was invited by Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) to attend the Orthodox All-American Council in 2015. Bishop Tikhon also introduced Beach to Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Department of External Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church. Bishop Hilarion is also Metropolitan of Moscow.

The meeting with Metropolitan Hilarion eventually led to a trip to Moscow by Archbishop Beach, ACNA Ecumenical Officer Bishop Ray Sutton, and other ACNA bishops, where they met with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Kyrill. Those meetings were covered in various church media including the Connecticut- and internet-based Anglican TV. If this initial engagement with the Russian Orthodox Church and its potential results were not enough excitement, consider the Ecumenical Patriarch of all Eastern Orthodoxy.

Greek Orthodoxy Openings
Archbishop Beach inherited a House of Bishop well-versed in international affairs. One example is ACNA Bishop Paul Hewitt and his delegation of laypersons and clergy who traveled in 2014 to Athens and Constantinople-Istanbul. There, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew assigned one his bishops, a theologian and seminary professor, as protocol officer and dialogue partner.

A Juggernaut?
There are at least two definitions of juggernaut. One is negative and destructive, and the other defines a huge, powerful, and overwhelming force or institution. ACNA is not hegemonic but it is already a strong, traditional Christian institution. It is small in comparison to other Anglican provinces, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Eastern Orthodox churches. But they have become an influential institution and are creating new and lasting ecumenical relationships. They make things happen.

From the point of view of the leaders of the Anglican Church in North America, it appears that they have asked themselves, “Why wait?” They are actively planting churches and they have embarked on a forward, Christ-centered, ecumenical journey. Since they are working in the Spirit, who can stop them?

Lest we think that Archbishop Beach and his House of Bishops are “going it alone,” think again. The Anglican Church in North America was given life through the senior archbishops or primates in the Anglican Communion’s Global South and formed through the Global Anglican Fellowship Conference (GAFCON). And if ACNA is demonstrating gospel hegemonic leadership, it is acting not on its own. It is part and partial of  the larger fellowship.

A New Day Coming?
Many have witnessed the Anglican fabric tear apart rapidly in recent decades. Some have deemed this decline as opening opportunities for renewal: time also for an Anglican “realignment.” The Anglican Communion might disintegrate as we have known it historically. And it could very well be replaced by the new and wholly different Anglican Fellowship with faithful, biblical, orthodox ecumenical partners.

Worth Earlwood Norman, Jr. is a biographer and historian. He is also publisher of Archdeacon Books. Retired from EDS Corporation, he is a deacon in the Anglican Diocese of the South (ACNA) and lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

Friday, March 18, 2016

An Ecumenical Reach

An Ecumenical Reach

Imagine how much energy it must take
To meet with ecumenical leaders here and abroad.
Image for Christian witness sake
A global unity of Gospel not flawed.

A nascent church in the northern hemisphere
Emerged from the global south,
With blessings from primates Anglican mere,
A proclamation through the Gospel's mouth.

At its birth a needed constitution
Was enabled from an Allegheny hill
And ratified without Gospel substitution
With a plain old lone star ritual and quill.

Without its initial leadership of high quality
The nascent ship, almost sunken.
A clear vision, discipline, and polity,
Floated the ship, it did not bob, it was done can.

After a blessed five-year renewal
Like a relay; time to pass the baton
To another with plenty of fuel
Advancing ecumenical action anon.

Quickly it became evident
A broad vision and reach were in store,
To commune with those far and closely resident
And push open wide the ecumenical door.

An American, a Russian, both primates and cosmopolitan.
The nascent Anglican, the now-mature OCA,
And Saint Basil's Metropolitan.
Hmmm, there's something in the air, I say.

A Moderate

A Moderate

Is it possible to be a moderate,
Even if independent, democrat or GOP?
Any breathing human without doctorate
Has a belief system for all to see.

Take a person of faith or religion
Who holds to a set practice or book.
It may be open or hidden
To aliens something difficult to brook.

One book authorizes killing,
Ridding unbelievers for some good.
Adherents who are quite willing,
Remove perceived infidels where they once stood.

Is this authorization extreme or moderate?
Is their book the standard for all?
Veering from its content opens the gate
Fearing even their own demise – blood, guts, and gall.

If beheadings are standard in their book,
Its believers not deemed extreme,
For they are the faithful who take
Seriously the book and its theme.

Politically correct leaders seek tolerance.
Knowing nothing of realities in words.
“Moderation and forbearance,”
They say is what tolerance affords.

What some call extreme
Is actually the faith’s norm.
A moderate is complete fantasy or a dream
No matter what the verbal form.

Suppose there are “moderate” Jews,
And “moderate” Christians, too.
How then do they spread the news,
To their “extremists” they never knew.

A faithful, moderate Jew
Cannot be;
A middler Christian will not do.
True faith never undulates as the sea.

The moderate Jew knows no Torah,
His messiah and temple, empty dreams.
His bloodline bleeds pure aura,
But his eyes no Star of David gleams.

The moderate Christian has no Cross,
The Resurrection not so spectacular.
The blood of his Savior seems lost,
With a moderate, a person secular.

Seeking moderate believers is futile,
They must abandon their Meccan faith.
For its fundamental belief is brutal
Conversion, the Prophet saith.

Neither moderation nor the moderate
Can hold faith in mid-way form.
Moderation itself is nothing.
Find the faith through total reform!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Little Sisters, Ave Maria University, ACNA Chaplains' Bishop, and SCOTUS

The Affordable Care Act is to be tested again beginning March 23, 2016 in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), this time by the Roman Catholic Church's religious order of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has allowed that religious-affiliated organizations not to provide contraception to their employees, but requires such organizations to sign papers documenting their objection to this part of the Act. Such an objection would force the insurer or some other healthcare plan insurer to provide the birth control coverage. This alternative is also objected to by Little Sisters.

The furthering of an explanation of the issue by SCOTUS brings into the debate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as in the Hobby Lobby case. Provision by the organization (Little Sisters, in this case) of no-cost contraceptive to employees is a mandate of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Little Sisters' objection to the mandate on religious conviction is what will be argued.

Ave Maria University and the Anglican Chaplains Jurisdiction of the Anglican Church in North America have filed Amici Curiae brief for the upcoming court hearing.

In the "Summary of Argument" the amici curiae states that "The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy is part of the Anglican Communion, the world's third largest Christian Communion with over 85 million members. ACNA's endorser, Bishop Derek Jones, is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and decorated fighter pilot who served 27 years and helped lead the development of the joint military religious affairs doctrine.

"Ave Maria University ("AMU") was founded in 2003 in fidelity to Christ and His Church in response to the call of Vatican II for greater lay witness in contemporary society. ...

The amici curiae are organizations with extensive experience concerning the free exercise of religion in the United States. ..."

Any interested observer can see that the Little Sisters religious convictions would be violated if the HHS mandate is held. Also, one can see how a Christian military chaplain, an officer, would be placed in serious jeopardy of violating military conduct should the mandate be held by SCOTUS.

The court, in accepting this case, combined at least six other suits: (1) Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington v. Burwell; (2) East Texas Baptist University v. Burwell; (3) Zubik v. Burwell; (4) Priests for Life v. Burwell; (5) Southern Nazarene University v. Burwell; and (6) Geneva College v. Burwell.

Five of the eight justices are Roman Catholic: Chief Justice John Roberts; and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy, and Sonia Sotomayer.

Let us pray for ACNA Bishop Derek Jones, the leaders of Ave Maria University, and their legal counsel of record, Scott W. Haylord, Professor Law at Elon University, that their argument will be received as sound, reasonable to the Court, and faithful to their convictions. Therefore, finding in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor and other dedicated Christians.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Donald Trump and University of Illinois-Chicago Event

On Friday evening, March 11, 2016, a presidential candidate was scheduled to deliver a speech in a building on the urban campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. Things did not go right, or did it?

According to television news coverage, apparently the people who wanted to hear Donald Trump speak did not have that opportunity because an organized and successful disruption campaign trumped (pun intended) the scheduled political rally. Shouts of "we won, we won" were heard and reported by the media present on the streets. So, who won? Consider the following items.

Item #1: The University of Illinois-Chicago is one of most radical, left-leaning universities in Chicago if not the nation.

Item #2: "Former" anarchist and founder of the Weather Underground, Bill Ayers, is a "distinguished" professor at University of Illinois-Chicago.

Item #3: Bill Ayers and President Obama were/are friends, certainly they were former political associates. One can consider Ayers expert in rallying students toward radical-left purposes.

Item #4: Chicago has a history of violent demonstration. Many people remember the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the violent demonstrations outside the convention arena as well as some scuffles inside the convention center. Remember when reporter Dan Rather was shoved around?

Item #5: Donald Trump and his campaign leadership team, for certain, had to have been aware of the four items listed above.

Could it be that the Trump campaign concluded, well in advance of scheduling the rally at that particular venue, that such a disruption could occur? I think so.

One should understand that free speech was violated last evening - the Trump campaign was not allowed to exercise its First Amendment right to free speech.

What happened last evening occurred not in fascist Italy or Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s; it was staged in the United States of America, a continuing constitutional republic in the 21st century.

Keep in mind the end result of last evening's event as you read the definition of FASCISM from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Fascism is "a way of organizing a society in which a government
 ruled by a dictator controls the lives of the people and in which 
people are not allowed to disagree with the government; 
a very harsh control or authority.

One can speculate that this organized disruption had the backing of or was instigated my the group known as move-on dot org. Certainly one can speculate collusion by George Soros and his million$ in that event.

I have written earlier in this blog of the inevitable result of a continuance of liberal-progressive policy/governance: eventually liberalism runs out of targets to attack and therefore is consumed by a strong-man, a dictator, a totalitarian.

Given the media coverage following last evening's disruption, liberal-progressive politics was on ugly display - and the demonstrators were true to their beliefs for all of America and the world to witness.

I believe that the Trump organization was brilliant in that it knew that a disruption of that magnitiude might very well happen. So again, who won?