Re: Thomas Lipscomb's The Peculiar Peculations of the PECUSA:
Thomas Lipscomb's frontal assault on the baleful machinations of the hierarchy of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States (PECUS) is at once a lamentation and a cautionary tale. Anyone who is remotely aware -- or cares -- about what has happened to "the Republican Party at prayer," also knows -- or should -- why this descent into the abyss came about. As an outside (Catholic) observer, I have read of the significant numerical decline in parishioners of "Mainline Protestant" religious bodies over the past two decades, so the drawing of a line in the sand by the Anglican bishops was, finally, of necessity, and a logical step for those who wish to salvage their faith from the corrosive impact of modernism. While it is humorous to read of the impact of "tree huggers, thumb suckers, bed wetters, homophiles" on PECUS, there is a progression taking place that should alarm adherents of any religion that calls itself one, and not a social service agency.
My personal introduction to what Mr. Lipscomb describes was sharply brought into focus in 1990, when I served at the U.S. Embassy to The Holy See. At an official Vatican reception one evening, my wife and a woman she had never before met were talking when the lady, in reference to a question about her husband, pointed to this man across the room. What was peculiar was that the man was wearing the vestments and collar of a Roman Catholic priest. At the time, there were literally hundreds of Anglican priests who had either made, or were requesting, their transfer into the Catholic clergy. In the course of the evening, the newly Catholic ordained priest described in full why he had made the move, much of which is covered in Mr. Lipscomb's article. But readers should also note that the Anglican bishops who are the prime movers in this action are not representative of the Anglican Church in the West. Years after leaving Rome, on a tour of the magnificent Anglican cathedral in Wells, I asked our guide, an older man, if there were any High Anglican services in the church. He responded in the negative, but I believe he muttered, "Isn't that a tragedy?" With each year, the impact of modernism continues to erode more of Christian bodies, and the Anglican Church is not the only victim.
I began by saying that Lipscomb's article is also a cautionary tale, for much -- far too much of what plagues the Western Anglican Church is seeping into the Catholic one. Am I an alarmist? I don't believe so, and here I do not only refer to recent homosexual (for that is what they are) scandals within the Church. To understand my concern, one should read, Rev. James Morrow's Preaching Life before calling me unnecessarily critical. Father Morrow -- not I -- wondered if the (Catholic) bishops of Britain were in "undeclared schism" with Rome regarding Catholic teachings on sexual morality. Further, when the Papal Nuncio scolded Morrow for his efforts -- which three times resulted in his being sent to jail -- at abortion factories. I will not repeat what I've written on these pages previously, but if Roman Catholics think they are immune to the conditions described in this article, I have but two words: think again!
-- Vincent Chiarello
"The meeting was hosted by the Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh and presided over by seven archbishops from the West Indies, South East Asia, and Africa."
You will not find that word, or a word similar to it, in the New Testament. Each congregation was to have its own bishops (or elders) to shepherd the flock. These men who met the qualifications for the Eldership (Timothy 3:1-13) were appointed by the congregation. Nothing more.
If a congregation had troubles, then local bishops dealt with it. Problem solved. If a local congregation turned away from the scriptures (it was prophesied that ravenous wolves would invade the Church) then it affected only that local congregation, isolating the disease. Hmmm, see any wisdom in this form of congregational government?
It seems that man has always tried to improve on that which is perfect. If the blind lead the blind, they will both fall into the ditch.
-- Kevin W.
Morgantown, West Virginia
Thomas Lipscomb questions, "...why, if the radical clerics shared such contempt toward these unfashionable tenets of faith, they hadn't left their unenlightened laity to more orthodox priests and moved on?"
He answered his question earlier in the piece: "And they control the lovely churches, seminaries, and the all-important church pension plan."
When motives are in doubt, look for the financial interest...
-- Jerry Shenk
Thomas Lipscomb's essay on the plight of the American Episcopal Church caused me to think back on the time when it was struggling so hard to become "relevant." I was a high school sophomore, and Richard Nixon was president. The 1928 version of the Book of Common Prayer had been replaced. It took only one service using this abomination for my father to decide that we would not be returning. My specific memory is of "passing the peace." Passing a kidney stone would have been less painful. Actually, my parents and I wound up passing bewildered looks and sheepish grins. This exercise was sheer idiocy and self-indulgence on the part of the church hierarchy. The church's current problems are of its own making.
-- Evelyn Leinbach
While it is something to have so many "leaders" of the church up in arms over the consecration of an openly gay bishop, let's not get carried away, okay?
First off, those American "leaders" protesting are certainly disingenuous, at least. As I did, each of the ordained "protesters" attended seminary, where they undoubtedly had gay classmates. Then they went to serve in diocese and parishes where they undoubtedly encountered gay colleagues in parishes, on vestries, committees, and commissions. What a surprise!
Now they get their unders in a twist when an openly gay man -- and in a long-term, committed relationship -- is consecrated? Give me a break!!
I would guess that all of those 'leaders" KNOW there are at least TWO gay bishops in the church now. Granted, both are retired, nevertheless they are bishops! One came out after retirement and the other has never come out, even though he has held some prestigious positions in the national church and is pretty uniformly respected by all.
Sounds like a lot of hypocrisy to me. How about to you?
If these "leaders" are so determined about this issue, then there are some other issues that need to be addressed with equal energy:
-How about alcoholic priests and bishops?
-How about priests and bishops who are sexually promiscuous with opposite sex parties?
-How about priests and bishops who are divorced and remarried -- I think that is one pretty clear statement of Jesus, isn't it?
-How about priests and bishops who have been known to dip into church funds for their own use?
-How about priests and bishops in inappropriate relationships with minors of either sex?
I have been active in the church for over thirty-five years and have seen pretty much all of it. And I have noted, to a great extent, that the same folks who protested equality for black folks fifty years ago, then equality for women, and then opposition to both the stupidity of the war in southeast Asia and now this fiasco in Vietraq are mostly the same folks upset by the consecration of Gene Robinson. What's that about?
Guess they have overlooked Jesus' summary of the law, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul, and love your neighbor as yourself." What do you think?
Certainly there are worse things in this world than loving someone, aren't there?
-- Ted Church
While I appreciate Thomas Lipscomb's point of view, I think the word "Protestant" in his title was used for reasons of "sound" rather than "sense." I am myself a self-described Anglo-Catholic priest with an ear for alliteration. We dropped the title "Protestant" some time ago, a fact of some delight to those of us who see Anglican life centered on Sacrament.
I might suggest that a true Anglo-Catholic would look to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral in the back of the Book of Common Prayer, rather than to the 39 Articles as he does. If I have proved the point of his peregrinations by positing this, I am pleased.
-- (The Rev.) W.H. Marchl, III, M Div.
New Haven, Connecticut
Thanks to Mr. Lipscomb for his article documenting the latest machinations of the religious left. Sadly, the religious left dominates the majority of churches today -- though, true, many of them are close to empty. Mr. Lipscomb pointed this out with his insightful comment, "...if success is dominating empty churches by driving out their congregations, they have succeeded...."
The religious left is easy to understand once one realizes that they believe that they, not God, should be in control of all things. If that sounds the same as the doctrine of the secular left's that's because it is. It seems that what many of the religious left believe to be inerrant is not that famous big black book but rather Mao's little red one.
-- R. Trotter
Having gone through almost fifteen years of war over-committed gay pastors and blessing same-sex marriages in the Lutheran Church (ELCA), I have met many a "Ted Church" in our ranks. While I merely point out that you cannot justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior, Mr. Church does poke at a tender spot the Church -- and yes, it is hypocrisy.
Heterosexual Christians have allowed themselves a great deal of elbow room in sexual moral matters. The ghastly practice of serial monogamy is just one. Open fornication among the young and adultery among the married is another. Indulging those who resort to abortion without daring to prick their consciences for the fear of offending their feelings reveals pure cowardice for the Christ-ordained task to warn against the deceptions of the Dark One.
Gays in the face of this reasonably ask: "Since you heterosexuals give yourself so much leeway, why not spare a little for us?" Why not, indeed?
Many Christians would grant homosexuals exactly what they want. More Christians simply don't want to face all the garbage and sin among heterosexuals such as themselves. Some remind us that not all love is holy. Others remember the complete story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. Jesus said to the woman that if none of the gathered sinners could cast the first stone neither would He. He then commanded her: "Go. And sin no more."
-- Michael William Dooley
DON'T MANDATE MEDICINE
Re: William Tucker's Let's Solve the Healthcare Problem:
William Tucker's prescription for "solving" the "healthcare problem" -- in effect, a massive federal takeover of the health insurance industry -- sounds like something right out of the Democrat playbook.
Mr. Tucker begins his article by begging the most important question -- whether or not there truly is a healthcare "crisis" in this country -- and then offers a big government solution to the "problem" that is breathtaking in its naivete. Specifically, after criticizing state legislatures for "sticking their noses" into the private insurance market and "responding to every petty lobbying group and 'mandating' their type of coverage," he blithely assumes that the exact same dynamic will not occur once Congress "mandates" the "no-frills" policy that Mr. Tucker recommends. In light of the current transportation bill (among other recent legislative travesties), the notion that Congress will be able to restrain itself in what it "mandates" in this area is untenable.
Why Mr. Tucker prefers to relocate the source of the political meddling he rightly condemns at the state level to the national government needs a great deal more explanation that he offers in this article. Moreover, his assertion that Congress can regulate the health insurance industry "without having the government take over the medical profession" fails to acknowledge the deep inroads Congress already has made in this area through the Medicare and Medicaid programs, which explicitly tell doctors what they can and cannot do to treat patients and how much they will be reimbursed for their labors (hint: less than they would command in the private market).
Frankly, it sounds to me like Mr. Tucker is in favor of a scheme of socialized medicine in this country. If so, he should be forthright in disclosing his policy choices, so they can be debated on the merits before Congress slides further down this slippery slope.
-- Steven M. Warshawsky
New York City, New York
William Tucker's "Let solve the Health Care Problem" proposal does nothing of the sort. New legislation won't work because "Healthcare" isn't the problem. The fact that people -- the actual consumer -- don't pay for healthcare is.
During and after the Katrina hurricane, Americans with help from the media complained about increasing/high gas prices. They/we complained because the retail cost directly affected us; the consumer.
What Americans pay for health insurance premiums is meaningless to the delivery of "healthcare." It is, however, a good barometer for what to charge for "Health Insurance" premiums.
Americans for the most part are detached from the reality of what a doctor visit, brain surgery, or a prescription really costs. Because it is predicated on a middle-man -- the insurance companies who supply not healthcare, but insurance. Doctors and providers only charge what they can to stay profitable after their operating costs, and the negotiated amount the "insurer" nets as part of the delivery.
The consumer is not connected to the cost of the product. We have no idea what "healthcare" really costs because the insured are paying for insurance, not healthcare.
-- P. Aaron Jones
Huntington Woods, Michigan
Mr. Tucker is right on one point and that is the complication of insurance plans, especially his. Seems to me I've heard this drivel before from someone else. I'm no insurance expert, and don't pretend to be, but I am a consumer. I am also retired from a major corporation and I have seen my insurance premiums go through the roof. Mr. Tucker in his dialogue has left out a major component in his calculations and that is the welfare angle. He's correct about his concerns over state meddling on insurance coverage, the inclusion of non-essentials as mandatory, and a couple other points but he left out the biggest factor in health cost and that is the cost shifting from welfare programs to the private sector, along with over-zealous regulation of hospitals and providers. Toss in premiums for malpractice and you have a disaster in the health care field. Now that too is probably an oversimplification of the problem but it probably is more accurate than Mr. Tucker would care to admit.
One thing really bothers me in his article and that is the attack he has mounted on ERISA. While I am no expert on that program, I do know because of it, my pension was saved when the corporation I was working for decided to "change" the pension program resulting in the biggest shaft to the working staff I ever saw. My medical benefits, however, were not protected under that program and I lost those last year due to the monthly cost being over half my pension for family coverage. I will say, individually, the cost was more affordable, (it quadrupled for spousal inclusion) in defense of the company, but that hardly matters when you're "retired" at 53 and still have kids under 18 to support. Yes, the "Wal-Mart crowd" may be voting Republican in greater numbers but that is because conservatives (and working stiffs) tend to shop where the bargains are. As for wanting to keep government programs... well, most of us really don't benefit from those programs that he is talking about.
Anyway, the bottom line is that the whole issue is very complicated and all Mr. Tucker has really done is point the finger at us old codgers as the cause of non-insurance for the young 'uns. That is unacceptable to me and a lot of other old codgers who have worked all our lives paying into the system and for others. Now it is our turn to reap some benefit of our labors and that isn't happening. That is the issue -- 'nuff said.
-- Pete Chagnon
"Congress should [mandate] health coverage." For Congress to mandate health coverage, it would need to employ the threat and use of physical force. This is immoral. The only justifiable use of force is against an aggressor, someone who has already used violent force against another human being. Not purchasing health coverage does not directly harm anyone except oneself. It is, therefore, immoral for the government, or anyone else, to mandate health coverage.
"Insurance really only works well when it is somehow mandated." This is not true. Insurance is simply a way of mitigating one's own risk over time. One pays health insurance because of the unbearable financial burden that a significant medical emergency might cause. If an individual judges that the cost of health insurance is too high then one has the choice, in a free society, of assuming the risk of being unable to buy a life-saving medical treatment when one might actually need one. Insurance is simply one of the many services available in the free market, and like any good or service in the free market, only works when both the buyer and the seller are in mutual and voluntary agreement.
Federally mandated health insurance would simply open the door for more intervention. What of the people that could not afford the newly mandated heath insurance? Knowing our government, the answer would be a combination of seizing money from productive individuals (through taxation) and imposing price controls on the companies that choose to offer the insurance. Once the government begins to use force against its citizens, the only result can be more invasions of our liberty.
Mr. Tucker, you were, however, right in one respect. The root of the health care problem is the government's forceful intervention in the industry. The solution is not more government, but a free society in which individuals can act according to their own will.
-- Scott Bennett
Speaking as someone who is self-employed and buys private health insurance, even though he says it doesn't exist, the flaw in Mr. Tucker's plan is that $500 a year wouldn't buy you much more than a bottle of aspirins so any co-pays or deductibles would put it completely beyond the reach of the roughly 45 million without health insurance. His basic argument about the nature of insurance pools is of course correct, so why not carry the argument to its logical conclusion and create one huge national pool with a single payer. Perhaps then we would no longer have the most dysfunctional and expensive healthcare system in the advanced industrial world. However, such logic is unlikely to accord with his doctrinaire position.
-- J. Ellis
OUT OF CONTROL
Re: Jed Babbin's Fear and Loathing on the Confirmation Trail:
"If the Senate hasn't by then confirmed Gordon England and if the McCain Gang of Fourteen doesn't vote to stop a filibuster of Alito, the Republicans may well lose control of the Senate. And, in truth, they should."
Mr. Babbin, with all due respect, I would argue that the GOP has not had actual "control" of the Senate since they took it back in the 2002 elections, if not before. I would be glad to listen to arguments to the contrary, but I don't see the GOP leadership in the Senate as willing or able to control their own RINOs or the Dems, either one. Sen. Harry Reid is more realistically running the Senate than Sen. Limp Frist is.
-- Ken Shreve
Jed Babbin's article was very illuminating concerning the lack of an agenda by the Democratic Party and Dean's admission of that fact. I have long held the belief that the Democrats have to obtain their script from the mainstream news media.
-- Ralph Suchomel
Peachtree City, Georgia
Mr. Babbin correctly sees the Alito confirmation battle as the ideological Armageddon the left has and is raging, with the NYT and other elite media providing cover for a potential filibuster. What surprises me is that more Americans have not chosen to contact their Senators to decry what the process has devolved into. The parading of the candidates to various Senators' offices for the photo op and the gratuitous comments is as sickening a sight that modern politics has been able to conjure up for some time. The Alito confirmation is indeed the make/break for the Republican majority. If Frist is unable to stop the "Gang of 14" from holding off the Constitutional Option & an unconstitutional filibuster does indeed occur, the Republican majority is finished. I think it's time that we remind our "Club Senate" friends that their membership can and will be revoked. This is the candidate we wanted and the battle we hoped for, so a gentle reminder would be most helpful. The message may have gotten out already, the "gang" appears to be down a few members and I'm betting McCain's presidential desire is so great, that he will not be so stupid as to allow a repeat of the 2000 primary defeat, courtesy of the conservative base. Even McCain learns from his mistakes, I think.
-- A. DiPentima
THE COURAGE OF GEORGE H.W. BUSH
Re: Barbara Anderson's letter (under "Leak Maestro") in Reader Mail's Running and Gunning:
"The thought of George I making enemies at the CIA is laughable. This is a man who made it his life's work to avoid confrontation."
When Mary Mapes was invited on mainstream networks during Veterans Day week to undermine our CinC, I couldn't remember these free American reporters being bothered by the Vietnam war "records" of Bill and Hillary Clinton, or John Kerry, anti-American activists. I couldn't remember these reporters celebrating the service of the two real WWII combat veterans, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, that ran against a real draft dodger, Bill Clinton.
"Cowardly" George H.W. Bush hardly made it his life's work to avoid confrontation, Ms. Anderson:
"On his 18th birthday he enlisted in the armed forces. The youngest pilot in the Navy when he received his wings, he flew 58 combat missions during World War II. On one mission over the Pacific as a torpedo bomber pilot he was shot down by Japanese antiaircraft fire and was rescued from the water by a U.S. submarine. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery in action."
He ''excelled at sports and studies at Yale,'' according to his bio, married a strong and able women and fathered and raised quite a family -- and did a few other confrontational things along the way, like run for President and win, in spite of our hostile, partisan, free, blind, press.
Re: The Prowler's Treacherous Waters:
Sirs: I love my spell checker. For Trent Lott, it offers Treat Loot.
-- Harold S. Cavanah
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