I never had a Geocities account/webpage, but I remember many websites from the late 90s that used its generic website building capabilities. In a hilarious tribute to it being shut down by Yahoo today (surely one of their least successful purchases), xkcd, the fabulous web comic, has redesigned its site (presumably temporarily). Worth a look...
The Church of England and British plumbing have a lot in common. They were both invented a long time ago, barely function at all and resolutely refuse to be updated. OK, I'll grant that mixer taps are not frowned upon any more, but that concession was hard won. Maybe sometime in the next century Brits will be able to have electrical outlets in their bathrooms, or, God forbid, light switches that are inside the room and not pull-cords. Well, let's not go crazy.
The one thing we can rely on though, is that the Church of England won't have moved an inch, even as the walls crumble around it and British society finds it less and less relevant. Now relevant is a bit of a charged word. To be a relevant church these days is to be hip, cool, with it, and the C of E resists that mightily. And there are some bad things about being too "relevant". But to be irrelevant is ultimately fatal because you have absolutely nothing to offer the world at large.
The ongoing furore in England over the possible, sometime, maybe in the future possibility of the consecration of a female bishop is painful to watch. The hand-wringing, the endless concessions to those in the church who resolutely refuse to move into the latter half of the second millennium AD (or should that be the more PC CE?) makes me want to stab myself with a fork. Well, maybe not, but it is annoying.
Having come from my own Diocesan convention, where we began the process of saying goodbye to Bishop Nedi Rivera as she retires over the next few months, put the issue into focus for me. Nedi was the 12th female bishop consecrated in the Episcopal Church, the 1001st overall. I like to think of her kicking off that second thousand in fine style. I have worked closely and personally with Nedi in our youth program over the last four years and she is a fantastic colleague. Like most of us in youth work, she does whatever is necessary, regardless of whether it is a suitable job for a bishop or not. I've seen her flip viewfoils for the band when we were singing, all the way through liturgical development to deep small group discussions up to the official bishoply business of confirmation. She's a very capable leader, and there is no question that she can do the job of bishop extremely well.
I guess I just don't understand the objection to female bishops in this day and age. The argument is never that they can't do the job, of course. It's that the Bible says they just can't be a bishop (even though it doesn't) or tradition says they can't, which becomes rather a circular argument. Of course, advocates of tradition rarely eschew the use of cars, planes, trains, indoor plumbing, central heating (*), television, radio and all those other innovations that have come along in the last couple of centuries. (* OK - I'll grant that the Romans had a form of central heating way back when, but it got lost somewhere along the way, and anyway, I don't see the traditionalists advocating rebuilding Hadrian's Wall - yet...)
The church is the last bastion of patriarchy. For the traditionalists it all started going to hell when women got the vote. Then they got jobs, then they got elected to public office, then the boardroom. the only safe place through much of that has been the church, led, of course, by the Roman Catholic church worldwide. So it's no shock maybe that Rome is attempting to lure some traditionalist Anglicans into the fold. They do have rather a lot of job openings - celibate males aren't flocking to holy orders in quite the numbers they used to. There is no finer summation of that situation than that of the inestimable AKMA.
To wrap up a rather long-winded and rambling post, let me compare two approaches to the role of clergy in funerals in the UK. First, via Maggi, the views of an insensitive clod who somehow stumbled into holy orders:
"...the best our secularist friends (and those
they dupe) can hope for is a poem from nan combined with a saccharine
message from a pop star before being popped in the oven with no hope of
One parishioner, Amy Griggs, 34, said she was appalled by Father Tomlinson’s
opinion. “That means he stands at funerals pitying and effectively mocking
people who have poems read or put on their loved one’s favourite song,” she
said. “He is there to try to help people through, and if that means
listening to Tina Turner or James Blunt then so be it. We’re not living in
the past. If he doesn’t move on how can the Church be expected to survive?”
This ministry is so very precious.
Even amid the current tide of deaths, I need to pause to note the
privilege of standing beside so many people as I try to remind them
that God is with them too.
Having been through the loss of my lovely wife two years ago, I know which one of these I would want by my side in the midst of grief (and indeed I had my fantastic parish priest who takes her vocation as seriously and as beautifully as Kathryn does.)
I must say it was gratifying to see that Sunderland beat Liverpool 1-0 in the English premier league on Saturday. It was even more amazing to discover that they did it with what may be the weirdest goal ever scored in the history of organized soccer. There was a giant red beach ball sitting on the six yard line inside the Liverpool penalty area minding its own business until the game ball, coming from the other side, landed at Darren Bent's feet. Bent thereupon lashed the ball right at the goalkeeper, but with the beach ball in the way, the soccer ball went one way, the beach ball the other, and the Liverpool goalkeeper looked on helplessly as the only one that counted went in the net. Amazingly, the referee let the goal stand. But see for yourself...
OK, so youtube took down the video, but here's a still of the goalie's dilemma - big red beach ball or black and white soccer ball? D'oh! Too late!
With the voting done and the easy resolutions passed, there was only one minorly contentious resolution in the afternoon and that breezed by with the minimum of fuss. An amendment to add a whole bunch of marginally related stuff was defeated almost unanimously and the resolution passed. The keynote speake, Nathan Dungan, was excellent, speaking about healthy financial habits - something we should all revisit periodically. Maybe more on that later, but suffice to say that Share, Save, Spend is a better credo than See Money, Spend Money.
During the day, the mosquito net challenge came up numerous times. Two years ago Bishop Rickel challenged the diocese to raise enough money for one net per member - roughly 33,000 in total at $12 each. We are apparently only 300 or so short of that goal, so I took it upon myself to lead the charge to get there. We raised enough money from my parish delegation for 127 nets and by the end of convention we may have reached our goal. The nets are bought through Episcopal Relief and Development. That was a great way for me to end the day of business at least.
In the evening I attended the Theology Pub workshop and ended up having a great conversation with Bishop Rickel, his wife and a few others at a table. Theo Pub basically took over the hotel bar, and I can thoroughly recommend the practice.
It's totally refreshing to be at a church convention that lacks divisiveness but instead celebrates what we can accomplish together. In large part this is due to the tone set by our bishop.
Voting all done in one ballot. No really contentious resolutions. Inspirational address from Bishop Rickel and a long standing ovation for bishop Nedi Rivera as she is poised to retire. All by lunch on day one.
This weekend I'll be attending the Diocesan Convention for the Diocese of Olympia down in Vancouver, Washington. I'm not sure there are any momentous local issues (apart from the perennial one of making ends meet), but it will be good to meet friends from all across the diocese again. I'll maybe live blog or tweet anything of interest. We have a significant youth presence from my church (and all over the diocese) so it should be quite fun.