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A minor


Sunday, February 29, 2004

Inquirers/Confirmation Class

For the last three weeks, I've been going to the inquirers/confirmation class at Grace, taught by Father Riley on Sunday afternoons. Class is cancelled this week since Father Riley is out of town, presumably serving the Kansas Guard, so I thought I'd finally say a word or two about it here.

The first week, which I missed, was on polity. The next week: foundations of church history through the early Middle Ages. This was followed by more church history, this time covering the Reformation and the formation of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the US. Last week was on the development of the liturgy, from characteristics of the early church, East & West, to the various editions of the prayer book.

I've been most impressed with the class and with Father Riley's instruction. I've also come to see the benefits of having such classes for newcomers before they become voting members: people are informed and kept from joining too hastily and later regretting it or, worse, causing the church to regret receiving them. In the meantime, they can be baptized members with all the privileges of the church's ministry, except they can't vote, hold office, etc.

On the other hand, I don't see the importance of receiving a sort of second blessing from a bishop in apostolic succession, but I don't think this tradition is wrong either; it just needs to be exercised with great care, lest the church be divided into two more classes.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Saturday, February 28, 2004

The Liturgy Trap

I've been rereading Jim Jordan's The Liturgy Trap, which has been extremely helpful to me in evaluating certain liturgical practices at Grace. I've been going to Grace now nearly every Sunday since we've been back in Monroe, and I've been grateful for the opportunity to learn from these saints and, especially, to see an Episcopal church that still desires to uphold the authority of scripture.

Father Riley once told me that, based on his experience, on a scale of one to ten, one being Low Church and ten being High Church, he would put Grace at about a six or a seven. That said, it's definitely a bit higher than anything I've ever practiced in the past. For instance, when entering and exiting the pews it is customary for parishioners at Grace to make a bow, however large or small, toward the east wall where the the Lord's table or altar is. (Such bowing is indeed required for choir members, acolytes, readers, etc, as part of their choreographed procession & recession.) It is also common for people to cross themselves at Grace, though this is a practice which I've come to appreciate more and more, and thankfully with Dr Jordan's approval. Back to questionable practices, I think the worst thing I've seen at Grace occurred one day during weekday eucharist (where the theme is usually the saints of the minor feast & fast days): Father Riley began the service with a consecration of a new altar cloth. They had gotten a new tablecloth, and he had to go through a brief liturgy before it could be employed in the eucharist. And I said to myself, in disbelief, "Holy cow."

The subtitle of the Jordan book(let) is The Bible Versus Mere Tradition in Worship (emphasis mine). Very helpful thoughts on veneration, saints, succession, confirmation, etc, and though certainly written from a Reformed point of view, I do think it is fair and charitable toward Anglo-Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholics. Nonetheless, it would be strong medicine for many in those traditions. (Which is why I'm waiting a while until I give it to Father Riley. First, since he enjoys sociological research, I've loaned him The Sociology of the Church as an intro to Jordan. If he likes that, then I'll see if he's ready for The Liturgy Trap.)

At any rate, if these matters concern you, I recommend The Liturgy Trap, available from Biblical Horizons' catalogue.

jon :: link :: comment ::

The Passion

We saw The Passion Thursday night, thanks to the director of The Portico (a ministry of the local megachurch, First Baptist West Monroe, a.k.a. "First West"), who, of course, I met at Kinko's.

First of all, I'm no film critic. I've appreciated the reviews of Jon Barlow and Pastor Jeff Meyers, and have read other reviews, good and bad.

Second of all, I liked the movie. I'm glad I saw it. Several scenes were very powerful and gave a new, helpful perspective on our Lord's suffering.

Third, I'd be happy to never see Gibson's film again. In my opinion, the scourging scenes were over the top. I can handle violence, but I have no interest in seeing my Savior tortured perhaps beyond what He actually suffered, and all for dramatic effect. Convicting, yes. Emotive, yes. Factual, who knows? Sorry if I sound like a callous skeptic, but I offer my skeptical opinion nonetheless, for whatever it's worth.

"If it is possible, let this cup pass from me, yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt" (Matt 26:39). I thank God that this cup passed from me. Of course, I did experience seeing Gibson's version - but I know it's not the same thing.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


Kevin Branson has started a link-blog.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Monday, February 23, 2004


Our 19 month old son is hooked on the Wiggles. (For those of you who have somehow escaped this phenomenon, the Wiggles is Australia's most popular children's band. They have a show on Disney Channel as well as several videos and cds.) Multiple times a day Ethan asks to watch "dog" (his favorite character is Wags the Dog). He runs to hook up the DVD player himself and hands me the remote control. I've tried to fool him by putting on different cartoons or a show that I'm interested in, but he knows his Wiggles. Resistance is futile. I now have all the songs and dances memorized. I even find myself singing "toot toot, chugga chugga" in the shower. I am, however, thankful that of all the children's programs out there, Ethan chose one that I can stand to see over and over again. Come on, that Dora the Explorer crap is annoying!

jon :: link :: comment ::

Saturday, February 21, 2004

New Generations' Statement of Purpose

Since I don't have anything original to say these days (or, if I do, I don't feel like saying it), here's another quote, this one from the Statement of Purpose of New Generations Church in Monroe:

The specific purpose of the New Generations Church is to lead people to Jesus and membership in the body of Christ, to develop them to their maximum potential in Christ, and equip them for their ministry to believers and non-believers with an awareness that extends across all denominational, cultural, and geographical boundaries, in the church and the world, in order to praise God's name.
I met the pastor of this church today at Kinko's, and he seemed to be good, sharp guy. A black man who I'd guess is in his late-thirties/early-forties, he didn't order a ton of bulletins, so I'd also guess that the church is on the smaller side, and perhaps new.

If any of you Monrovians ever want to check it out, it meets at 1601 Adams Street every Sunday at 8:30am; Holy Communion (his word-choice) on the third Sunday; Bible study on Tuesday at 6:30pm.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Koivisto: Practical Suggestions
Again, the book is Rex Koivisto's One Lord, One Faith: A Theology for Cross-Denominational Renewal (Wipf & Stock, January 2003 [Victor Books, 1993]):
"As noted in chapter 1, perhaps the most fundamental change needed in Christianity today is a new understanding of the nature of the New Testament church, one that sees the local church as far broader than any single congregation - including all the believing congregations within an entire city or locality. Thus, all the local congregations of a city are seen as parallel to the house churches that made up the local city-church of the New Testament times. As such, the leadership of those congregations (regardless of polity or denomination) make up the leadership of the church in that city, even though they collectively exercise little or no oversight beyond their specific congregation. We urgently need to realign our thinking here." (275)


"Here are some practical suggestions for developing a local city-church outlook." (277)
Following is an outline summary of Koivisto's next five pages (277-282), in direct quotes:
  1. "First, participating (by financial or personnel support) in the ministries of parachurch organizations, such as Campus Crusade for Christ, Youth for Christ, The Navigators, and others can serve as an effective catalyst to smooth the connections of otherwise independent and non-networked congregations."

  2. "Second, it is necessary to bring people together.
    1. "The first priority in developing a sense of the city-church is to foster a spirit of unity and cooperation among church leaders. [...] Things are changing. Regional and city pastors are beginning to support each other, hold area wide worship meetings - even sharing pulpits and developing long-range prayer strategies. [...]"
    2. "In addition to getting the leaders together, Christians themselves within separated congregations need to get together. Interdenomiational activities need to occur, such as fellowship times, teaching, and worship times. One of the most exciting times in my area was a recent citywide worship service which involved over 13,500 Christians in a standing-room only crowd at the Portland Memorial Coliseum. [...] Great care must be used in these times to not let a specific model of worship predominate, whether it be a charismatic or a liturgical model. Elements from both can successfully be incorporated if handled with a great deal of prayer and careful planning. [...]"

  3. "A third element in developing a healthy city-church approach is to begin to identify and strategize on some of the unique problems in one's area. Of course, a key set of strategies must deal with evangelization."

  4. "Fourth, besides the core need of evangelization, local community problems need a corporate addressing by the church in the area. In larger cities, there are social problems such as gang proliferation, political corruption, and racial prejudice. Moral problems such as homosexuality and abortion activism must be challenged. There are spiritual problems such as the proliferation of cults, spiritism, and the New Age movement. And, there are intellectual problems such as secularism and humanism."
This section concludes:
"A united city-church can pray together much more effectively and spot areas for specific prayer and corporate action. Three years ago, Mission Portland, the rallying point for the unified effort in the Portland area, envisioned a prayer army of 5,000 prayer warriors to pray for the city. The number to date is 5,368 and climbing. And 18,500 Christians in the Portland area, despite their denominational differences, united to line up along major thoroughfares, recently, to protest abortion on demand by participating in a Life Chain. The secular press, although they disagreed with the stance taken, at least took note of the amazing number of participants. Christians were clearly not a fragmented minority, but a significant voice to be heard. That is the city-church — a microcosm of the church catholic — in action."

jon :: link :: comment ::

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Equinox Jazz Tonight

For any locals who might not know: Jeremy Davis of Equinox Jazz told me yesterday that his full big band orchestra will be getting together to play at the Blue Monkey Tavern tonight. (For non-locals, the Blue Monkey is in the same neighborhood as Auburn Avenue - and Grace, for that matter.) A band from Hattiesburg, MS - I can't remember their name, although I think it had "Vega" in it and I know Jeremy had good things to say about them - anyway, this Hattiesburg band will be opening around 10:30pm, and then EXO will start around midnight. Old man that I am, I wish it weren't so late, but after all it is the weekend of the Krewe of Janus' "Mardi Gras" parade (unfortunately both links haven't been updated, in classic Louisiana style), plus it's Valentine's Day. Cover charge is $5.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Friday, February 13, 2004

Interview Update

I had the interview this morning, and it could not have gone better. Thanks for your prayers.

Now I just have to be patient and see what happens. Three other persons have expressed interest in applying for the position, but they have yet to formally apply or submit resumes. Father Riley has set a deadline for resume submissions (although I'm not sure what that date is). At any rate, he may have three other applicants to interview, and then we'll see.

But, again, my interview couldn't have gone better. All thanks to our Lord,

jon :: link :: comment ::

Don't These Just Keep Getting Better & Better?

My names are Sheikh Abdul Rahaman. I am a descendant of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed and I have been an Imam for thirty years, and a Moslem Scholar all of my life.
Certain experience I had relative to my illness made me reconsider my belief system and at the end of my spiritual probe I concluded that not only was Prophet Mohammed in error about the submission of the personality of YEHUSHUA MESSAIKH called JESUS CHRIST by many, he has set a religion system in motion which would lead many and has led many to eternal damntion.
I now conclude that Yehushua could not have been a mere prophet if he had as history proofs
[sic] convincingly that he exercised overtly power over the supreme destroyer of life which is death.
Now as I write I am counting the few more days I have on earth haven
[sic] been diagnosed to have Prostrate Cancer to which cannot be remedied even by laser treatment, more so I find that I am ashamed to openly renounce my former belief in the teaching of Islam, neither can I declare the truth I now know.
[sic] stated this much, I will like to inform you that I have in my ownership from a means devoid of evil some fund, which I want to transfer to persons whom I believe will use the fund for the propagation of the truth which I am ashamed of.
This money amounts to Twenty Million Dollars in cash, I have sought out your contact because I know I can never give the money to any non-Islam faith in Arabia much more the believers in the MESSAIKH whom Islam dictates that Moslems abhor.
I do not know in what stance you will take this letter, I believe you may not take it seriously hence I will wait until you respond but if you can use this money for the further propagation of the truth I am more than willing to release it to you, and I will tell you how you will receive it safely and securely.
I will want you to consider this and get back to me.
I remain humbled by the truth.
Abdul Rahaman
23 Bin Suleiman Rd.
Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

jon :: link :: comment ::

Monday, February 9, 2004

Interview Tomorrow

At long last, I finally have an interview with Father Riley in the morning for the parish office position at Grace. I would be grateful for your prayers. Thankfully I have the day "off": I also have to take my car in for a minor repair (reverse lights) so it can pass Louisiana inspection, and then study for & take a math exam.

Update - Wednesday, February 11: Something came up for Father Riley and he had to go out of town for the morning, so the interview was postponed to Friday morning. The mechanic couldn't do the car repair while I waited - I'll have to leave it for a day or so - plus it's raining (and, for you non-Louisianans, by law no inspections are done unless it's dry), so we still don't have an inspection sticker. And the math exam...well, let's just say I'll be doing more homework so I can raise my grade with future quizzes & exams.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Wednesday, February 4, 2004

My Parents Watch Too Much HGTV

Before our move to Monroe, Jon and I sold most of our furniture in hopes of making the long haul across country less difficult. We have been here about 4 months now and still have yet to replace everything (who needs a kitchen table anyway?). It's been a slow process but hey, isn't that the way we Amoses do things? One of our finds was an ecru colored couch for a whopping $25. I had grandiose dreams of recovering it and ending up with a new fabulous piece of furniture. Yea right. Finding the right fabric (at the right price) took weeks. Then after the purchase had taken place, it had to sit around for another month or so...I like to call this the "simmering stage". I think I would have stopped there if my mother hadn't jumped to the rescue and started prying the old cloth off the couch. Wonder Mom then took the pieces home and used them to cut out the new panels. Another week or so went by and then, magic happened. Momma and Daddy (armed with hydraulic staple gun) tackled the couch and in a matter of hours, had most of it done. It's still missing the back side and cushions but I can already say without any hesitation that my couch is beeeyoootiful. I expended minimal energy and spent under $100. Now that's what I call a deal.

jon :: link :: comment ::

The Q Document
When we went to the Monroe Surgical Hospital for Hollie's ultrasound the other day, I was pleased to find a stack of donated books, free for the borrowing and/or taking. I picked up a novel that looked interesting, The Q Document by James Hall Roberts (pseudonym of Robert Lipscomb Duncan; New York: William Morrow & Co, 1964), which I've been enjoying a great deal. Following is a lengthy quotation for the few who would like to read it, especially since I'm not sure how many libraries have the book on their shelves these days.

Set in Tokyo, the main character, Cooper, is an American scholar of the early Christian era, on an expired leave of absence. The son of a Presbyterian minister, his faith has also expired after the tragic death of his wife and daughter, and he is employed by a British dealer in prostitutes and rare manuscripts. (How's that for a combination?) Father O'Connor, a Catholic priest who teaches at St. Justin Martyr College in Tokyo, is one of Cooper's only true friends in Japan, although their Friday lunches are hit-and-miss and their relationship somewhat distant.

"I've missed our meetings," Father O'Connor said, apparently finding the explanation acceptable. "I've thought about calling you but I didn't want to disturb your work. Are you finding anything of interest in the Baum-Brenner papers?"

"I don't know," Cooper said with a pause.

"Whether they're interesting or not?"

"Whether I should discuss it with you."


"Maybe because I'm in no mood to argue with you. To defend myself against a charge of heresy."

"I don't think you're a heretic." Father O'Connor smiled. "You're just in rebellion. But sooner or later you'll find that there's no sense in fighting and then you'll come around. And if you want to talk about your work, I promise not to give you any argument."

"I doubt that," Cooper said. "But I need your help, an Aramaic grammar if you have one."

"The documents are Aramaic?"

"Only the last one. The fourth document is Neo-Hebraic." He went on to tell Father O'Connor of the contents of the first three documents: the Roman soldier's letter which fixed the charge against Paul as murder, the letter from Paul to Timothy admitting it and rationalizing the act, and finally Luke's letter telling of the death of Paul and defending his actions. He added the results of the scientific tests run on the documents. To Cooper's surprise, the little priest did not seem the least bit perturbed. He poured his tea with a steady hand.

"That's very interesting," he said.

"You surprise me," Cooper said.


"I expected more of an outburst from you. You're not getting objective all of a sudden, are you?"

"Not in the least," Father O'Connor said. "And you may think I'm dogmatic but it's not that either." He sipped at his tea. "I suppose I'm like a lawyer who has been in so many courtroom fights that he really hears nothing new any more and therefore it's hard to really surprise him. That's something every young priest finds himself doing, acting as a defense attorney for Jesus Christ and the apostles and the Popes and everything he believes in, especially if he's in a position where he comes in contact with non-Christians. I've come in contact with some very bright atheists and I think I've heard all the arguments. Poor St. Paul is the most vulnerable of all because of his temper and his physical affliction. I've heard people call him an epileptic, a power-crazed madman, a rebellious Jew who created the Christ myth and founded a new sect all his own. I've read papers by scientists disproving the miracles and books by apologists trying to explain them away as parables and tracts by scholars proving that they were later interpolations put in by dedicated Christians who felt that Christ needed more deification."

"So you're convinced the papers I have are forgeries?"


"Even without seeing them?"

"Of course."

"And it doesn't worry you that they might not be?"

"Not at all," the priest said. "Because I know what the truth is and, if your documents contradict that truth, then they must be false. Now if they were in the hands of somebody else I might be worried, realizing that there are some people on the border line of faith who might be pushed backward if documents like this were advanced as authentic. But it seems quite clear that this is a perfect demonstration of God's methods, that these papers should be place in the hands of a man with complete integrity as a scholar and the skill to reveal the spurious. You might say, in a manner of speaking, that God has made you His advocate in this matter. It's quite perfect, don't you see? For instance, if I defended against an attack of this sort, nobody would pay any attention to me, but you're an impartial skeptic. And however cleverly these documents have been forged, you will find the weakness in them." He raised a hand for the waitress. "I must be getting back. I'm sure we have Dalman's Grammar of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic. I'll see what else I can scrape up and have them sent to you." (110-112)
Are any of you familiar with Hall/Duncan's other work?

jon :: link :: comment ::

Monday, February 2, 2004

Phrase, "Reformed Catholicity," Shows Up in All Sorts of Places

Way back when (on 9 December 2002, to be exact), I posted something from the FAQ page of St. Stephen's Traditional Episcopal Church, Flowood, MS (near Jackson). Here's a new FAQ from their updated page:

Are you Anglo-Catholics or Evangelicals?

We are evangelical in that we take very serious the Great Commission to preach the Gospel. It is our duty to not only Worship God in Spirit and in Truth, but to also take the Light of Christ into the World and to call out to the Lost with the Truth of Salvation in Christ alone, through Faith. We are Anglo-Catholic in that we believe that there is only One Church and it is 'catholic', namely holding all things together with one voice, mind, and heart, joined together by One Spirit. Our churchmanship, or ritual expression in worship is moderate - not exactly low and not particularly high either except on certain Feast Days in the Church year. Our catholicity is also our commitment to not fall into a modernistic rationalism, a self interpreting Church without regard to the teaching, tradition, and practices of the ancient Church. Word and Sacrament - Reformed Catholicity - the true 'bridge' Church or via media.
This answer commendably appropriates terms left and right (namely "evangelical" and "Anglo-Catholic"), but one of its more interesting features, to me, is the occurrence of the phrase, "Reformed Catholicity." The PPLN, the AAPC, St. Stephen's - where will "Reformed Catholicity" turn up next?

jon :: link :: comment ::

Anglo-Catholic History

By the way, what are the best sources for the history of the Oxford Movement / Anglo-Catholic tradition? I have read the Revd John D. Alexander's "What is Anglo-Catholicism? A Response in Six Parts" and found it to be a very helpful summary, but I'm looking for something more detailed.

jon :: link :: comment ::

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Eucharistic Prayers

Following are two of my favorite prayers - from the "before" and "after" of The Book of Common Prayer, Rite I:

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen. (337)


Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank thee for that thou dost feed us, in these holy mysteries, with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; and dost assure us thereby of thy favor and goodness towards us; and that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, the blessed company of all faithful people; and are also heirs, through hope, of thy everlasting kingdom. And we humbly beseech thee, O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen. (339)

jon :: link :: comment ::

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