Friday, November 26, 2010

Naval Centennial Grey Cup Wager Benefits Charity

REGINA – The 2010 Grey Cup game has a special significance for the Canadian Navy. Coincidentally, the Canadian Navy and the Saskatchewan Roughriders are both celebrating their centennial. Furthermore, the Montreal Allouettes are from the same city as the Navy team that won the Grey Cup in 1944.

To mark the occasion the frigate HMCS Regina and Regina’s Naval Reserve Division HMCS Queen have made a wager with the frigate HMCS Montreal and Montreal’s Naval Reserve Division HMCS Donnacona. Each has put up $250 to be donated to a charity in the winning city. A similar wager prior to last year’s Grey Cup game resulted in a gift of $1000 to the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Donnacona’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Kim Kubeck, is very confident. “In 1944, Donnacona became the only Navy team to win the Grey Cup. It’s only right that another Montreal team should repeat the victory in the Navy’s centennial year.” An Allouettes repeat would cause $1000 to be donated to Hospital Ste Justine, another children’s hospital.

Her opposite number in Regina sees things a little differently. “The Riders and the Navy share a centennial, and the Riders have always been very good to the Navy,” according to Lt.-Cmdr. Corey Thiemann. “As the Commanding Officer of Queen, I want to see the Riders crown their centennial year with a Grey Cup.” A Rider victory would cause $1000 presented to the Hospitals of Regina Foundation to support paediatric medicine.

In addition to the charity donation, the losing frigate will fly the Grey Cup champion team’s flag for one full week, while the Commanding Officer of the losing Naval Reserve Division will wear the winning team’s jersey on a subsequent training night.

HMC Ships Queen, in Regina, and Donnacona, in Montreal are two of 24 Naval Reserve Divisions across Canada. Their mission is to provide trained sailors for Canada’s Navy, and to provide a naval presence in their home cities.

HMC Ships Regina and Montreal are Halifax Class Frigates stationed in Esquimalt, B.C. andHalifax, N.S.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Free Market Explained

For a change from all the ecclesiastical politics, here is Tommy Douglas - voted the Greatest Canadian, the grandfather of Keifer Sutherland - explaining how the free market works.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Anglican Covenant - I'll lay me down and bleed awhile.

The poem itself dates back to the 16th century, and it has become almost a derivative cliché in Canadian politics when a candidate or a leader finds the tide against them. But it was Tommy Douglas who first brought the phrase to the Canadian consciousness when, after 17 successful years as Premier of Saskatchewan, he was defeated by Regina voters in his first election as federal leader of the newly reorganized New Democratic Party.

"Fight on my men!" says Sir Andrew Barton,
"I am hurt, but I am not slain;
I'll lay me down and bleed awhile,
and then I'll rise to fight again.

Earlier today, the Church of England General Synod approved the first step towards adopting the proposed Anglican Covenant. Technically, the matter before Synod today only sends the Covenant to the dioceses for consideration, and there were certainly many speakers in the debate who indicated they would vote for the Act even though they were far from convinced of the value of this Covenant - and for some, of any Covenant.

Those of us who are active in the No Anglican Covenant Coalition would have loved nothing better than to derail this Act today. We didn't get our wish. Our statement on the matter is here (warning - .pdf).

My Church of England colleagues can be proud of the fact that the Covenant is now a real issue with English churchfolk.

The CofE establishment will not be able to get this passed on a nod and a wink, with no real debate or discussion, as they so clearly hoped. They will be forced to square the circle of their odd narrative: that the Covenant is absolutely vital but doesn't really change a thing.

Earlier today, I felt a strong desire to "lay me down and bleed awhile." I looked for video of Tommy's speech from that night in 1962. It's just as well I didn't find it, for on reflection, I have remembered an even better speech to highlight.

Why is the Archbishop afraid of an honest debate?

It's been a very busy day, and I haven't had the time to blog about the developments in the No Anglican Covenant Coalition's campaign.

We issued a release yesterday (warning - .pdf) emphasizing the importance of having a real debate about the proposed Anglican Covenant prior to today's vote at the Church of England General Synod.

It appears that the establishment do not agree. The Archbishop of Canterbury used his presidential address to the Synod to dismiss Covenant critics without answering a single one of the concerns that have been raised. He blithely repeated the meme that the Covenant has no impact on the autonomy of member churches, completely ignoring the concerns repeatedly raised about the "relational consequences" referred to in Section 4. (Terry Martin, who blogs at Father Jake Stops the World helpfully reproduces the list of "relational consequences" as described in the Lambeth Commentary on the Covenant (warning - .pdf) which include insignificant acts like suspending voting rights in the Communion, revoking membership in the Communion and demanding that other provinces individually suspend intercommunion with the blacklisted provinces. No, nothing punitive there.)

So, instead of making a compelling case FOR the Covenant, Dr. Williams has joined the former Secretary of the Covenant Design Group, the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion Office and the Communion's Director for Unity, Faith and Order in offering up insulting condescension. No compelling case for. No honest response to the legitimate concerns of a range of Anglicans. Simple dismissal.

I swear, I couldn't tell if I was listening to Rowan Williams or to Glenn Beck.

Of course, one can take some solace from the fact that the Communion establishment have come out with all guns blazing. We have forced them to abandon their original plan of sneaking this through quietly, and we have rendered them feart that we may actually have the capacity to hand them a serious setback.

Here's the thing. It seems to me that there are all sorts of decent and honourable people who support the Anglican Covenant because they honestly believe (whatever reservations they may have) that this is the best way forward. They aren't evil, nasty people. I just think they're wrong.

So let's have a debate.

Whoever has the rights of it, an open and honest debate is only a good thing.

I just don't understand why Rowan Williams and the people around him are so determined to avoid one.

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light,
look favourably on your whole Church,
that wonderful and sacred mystery.

By the effectual working of your providence,
carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation.

Let the whole world see and know
that things which were cast down are being raised up,
and things which had grown old are being made new,
and that all things are being brought to their perfection
by him through whom all things were made,
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Covenantskeptic developments

We launched the No Anglican Covenant Coalition just over two weeks ago. About ten days earlier, two progressive Church of England organizations, Inclusive Church and Modern Church, had run ads (warning - .pdf) in English church media decrying the Covenant.

Since then, it has been a flurry of activity - including some frankly bizarre antics from a handful of Covenant supporters. They should perhaps consider that namecalling is not the best way to persuade people.

Whatever else may be said, at least now the Covenant is being discussed and debated - although the satirical Mr. Catolick (see below) suggests that putting a complicated piece of business before a newly elected session of the Church of England General Synod is both unprecedented and manipulative.

This week, The Guardian is running a series of articles on the question Should the General Synod sign up to a document that might change forever the Church of England? Today's provocative piece by Simon Sarmiento suggests that is a waste of time and money since it won't accomplish any of the things it is supposed to accomplish. He also mentions something quite disturbing - that some bishops have been advised that bucking Lambeth on the Covenant will "harm their promotion chances." Coalition members have heard of similar dire advice (warnings? threats?) to ordinary clergy who have questioned the value of the Covenant.

To date, I have neglected to mention that the Coalition has also established a blog, in addition to our website. In the most recent entry, my fellow Canadian, Canon Alan Perry, takes on the assurance offered by the Lambeth establishment that section 4.1.3 of the Covenant protects the autonomy of the members churches of the Communion. Canon Perry - who has actually studied canon law - suggests that this is pure bunkum.

A month ago, it appeared that the Anglican Covenant would go through on a nod and a whisper - exactly the way Lambeth Palace wanted. Thanks to a band of obstreperous skeptics, the Covenant is now being discussed, debated and dissected. That can only be a good thing.

Now, as promised, we have Mr. Catolick.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Relational consequences

Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan, the Anglican Communion's Director of Unity, Faith and Order, has issued a statement - distributed through the Anglican Communion News Service - responding to recent criticisms of the proposed Anglican Covenant. The last two weeks have seen a flurry of critical articles and blogposts - and not all of them from members of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition.

In her statement, Canon Barnett-Cowan does make one very valuable suggestion:

[F]or any Anglican or Episcopalian to be able to properly enter into a discussion about the Covenant it is vital that they first read it for themselves here.

Well, one can hardly disagree with that. Of course, the comment itself is a devious bit of spin, repeating the misleading meme that Covenantskeptics clearly haven't read the final draft of the Covenant and that therefore our criticisms can't be taken seriously. It's actually quite an insulting comment - though I suppose we should be grateful that she hasn't called us fascists.

Alyson, I assure you that I have read the Covenant. I've read it and I find it appalling - and more than a trifle disingenuous.

Canon Barnett-Cowan then answers the criticism that the Covenant constrains the autonomy of member churches by pointing to the convenient fig leaf of section 4.1.3, which does clearly say:

. . . mutual commitment does not represent submission to any external ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Nothing in this Covenant of itself shall be deemed to alter any provision of the Constitution and Canons of any Church of the Communion, or to limit its autonomy of governance . . .

To my mind, this is the single most disingenuous piece of the entire sorry process. Nothing limits autonomy, we are told. "Trust me."

Nothing limits autonomy . . . until we get to sections 4.2.5 and 4.2.7, where the newly rejigged Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion is empowered to recommend:

. . . [R]elational consequences . . .

These relational consequences may include limiting the offending church's participation in the various bodies of the Anglican Communion. You will recall, as a child, being told that you were free not to eat your turnips - but that in consequence you wouldn't have any pudding. Now tell me that you didn't feel a trifle threatened by a sanction intended to constrain your autonomy.

Over the past few weeks, even absent the Covenant, we have seen the Archbishop of Canterbury unilaterally (and perhaps illicitly) imposing relational consequences on the Episcopal Church, for pushing the boundaries on issues of human sexuality and on the Province of the Southern Cone of America for uncanonical border crossings. (One also notes that Cantuar was only prepared to act against the smallest of the poaching provinces, letting Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda off scot free. Not only are relational consequences imposed unilaterally, they are imposed arbitrarily and capriciously.)

Relational consequences, of course, is a euphemism for sanctions. To suggest, therefore, that the Covenant does not impinge on the autonomy of member churches is highly disingenuous. Where international Anglicanism once held autonomy and interdependence in creative tension, we see autonomy eviscerated and interdependence replaced with centralization.

Now, while Canon Barnett-Cowan doesn't go there, certain other Covenant apologists have made much of the fact that the Standing Committee does not impose, but merely recommends these relational consequences.

In order for one to take solace in this, one would need to have slept through the past few years of Anglican history. In Lambethspeak, recommendation does not mean what it means elsewhere in the English speaking world. A recommendation from a duly constituted Anglican Communion committee has (or at least very nearly has) the force of law.

The clearest and most unambiguous example of this is the Anglican Covenant itself, which arose originally as a recommendation of the Eames Commission in the Windsor Report. From that point to this, no official body of the Communion has had a serious discussion about the merits of the recommendation, or whether the recommendation should be accepted or rejected. Instead, by executive fiat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, it was determined that there would be an Anglican Covenant come hell or high water. By executive fiat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, a Covenant Design Group - heavily tilted towards those who openly sought the sanctioning or displacement of the Episcopal Church - was established. By executive fiat of the Archbishop of Canterbury the present draft of the Covenant was declared to be the final "take it or leave it" version. By executive fiat of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the relational consequences are being imposed even without the Covenant having been adopted.

I will agree with Canon Barnett-Cowan that people should read the Anglican Covenant. But I would caution people that the Covenant should not be read in isolation, and must not be read without a realistic understanding and appraisal of the context in which it was written.

It is clear to all but the willfully blind that there is a hunger for the centralization of authority in the Anglican Communion - and that the pressure for an Anglican Covenant arises from this hunger. It is likewise clear that the power to recommend and to impose relational consequences, having been established, will be expansively exercised - for it is already so.

Monday, November 15, 2010

By the Numbers

The number of Church of England clergy proposing to seek admission to the Anglican Ordinariate:
That number as a percentage of CofE clergy:
The number of people David Virtue falsely claimed to be the total membership of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition:
The real number of people involved in launching the No Anglican Covenant Coalition:
The number of people signed up to the No Anglican Covenant Coalition in less than two weeks:
The number of people who Like the official No Anglican Covenant Facebook Page:
The number of times so far this month that supporters of the Anglican Covenant have violated Godwin's Law in the pages of the Church Times or on the BBC:
at least 2
The number of responses usually received on a Church Times Question of the Week:
~200 to 250
The number of responses received last week when they asked if the Church of England should reject the proposed Anglican Covenant:
The percentage of respondents who wanted to reject the Anglican Covenant:
The percentage who did not want to reject the Anglican Covenant:
The percentage who, having been frightened by the hysterical rhetoric of the Bishop of St. Asaph, were presumably checking under their beds for fascists:
The percentage of the Anglican Communion's bureaucratic infrastructure that is financed by North American Anglicans (excluding donations from the mostly American Compass Rose Society and from Trinity Church, Wall Street):
~36 to 38
The percentage increase in the Anglican Communion's expenditure on Travel and Subsistence between 2008 and 2009:
The percentage increase in the Anglican Communion's expenditure on Accommodation and Meetings between 2008 and 2009:
The total increase expenditure in those two areas in GBP:
In US$:
In C$:
The percentage of Simple Massing Priests who question the financial propriety of spending an extra GBP 491,717 / US$ 791,428 / C$ 799,287 on Travel and Meetings when there are better things to spend that money on:
The percentage of that extra expenditure dedicated to advancing the Anglican Covenant - and the exclusion of North American Anglicans from the Anglican Communion:
The percentage of my blog readers who would sooner spend GBP 491,717 / US$ 791,428 / C$ 799,287 on developing safe drinking water infrastructure or buying anti-malarial mosquito netting or supporting and expanding HIV treatment programs in the two-thirds world:
You Tell Me

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Diocese of Saskatoon - a step closer to same sex blessings?

Last weekend, the Anglican Diocese of Saskatoon voted - narrowly - to ask their bishop to authorize the blessing of same sex unions, but only once the national church has lifted the implicit moratorium. The motion apparently carried by one vote among the clergy with six abstentions, and by one vote among the laity with one abstention. CBC coverage of the story is here. As of this writing, there is nothing on the diocesan website. Integrity Saskatoon comments here. The bishop has apparently declined either to assent or to withold his assent until at least the next meeting of the House of Bishops. This all follows a vote at a previous synod in which blessings were narrowly defeated.

Saskatoon is the not the first diocese in Canada to pass such a motion. Blessings are already a fact of life in the dioceses of New Westminster (Vancouver and area) and Niagara (Hamilton and area). The Archbishop of Toronto has just given his approval. The dioceses of Montreal, Ottawa and British Columbia (Vancouver Island) have all passed similar motions.

Friday, November 5, 2010

How would you say "Godwin" in Welsh?

It's called Godwin's Law. It's the internet adage originally asserted by American lawyer Mike Godwin:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

Meaning that, as an internet discussion goes on, eventually someone will - as night follows day - draw a comparison between the other person's position and the Nazis. It's also known as Reductio ad Hitleram.

In internet culture, it is a corollary of Godwin's Law that whoever uses the Nazi / fascist analysis first, automatically loses.

Of course, this is one of those "rules" that isn't really a rule. Sometimes people really are advocating fascism, and it is perfectly reasonable to call them on it.

But describing someone or something or some idea as "fascist" when it is manifestly not just makes the person drawing the comparison look silly. Or worse.

I mean, what sane human being takes Glenn Beck seriously?

The ill-considered use of fascist comparisons can have serious consequences. I have a friend who had to resign from a job and was essentially blacklisted because he had considered using a cartoon loosely comparing the opponent to the Nazis. (In fact, he had decided quite on his own that it was over the top, but the very fact of having considered the idea was enough. If only Glenn Beck et al could be held to account.)

In the past couple of weeks, a pair of British bishops have found themselves mired in the consequences of Godwin's Law.

John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham, was made a bishop to provide "sacramental assurance" to a certain segment of AngloCatholics that their priests (and therefore their sacraments) had not been infected with girl-cooties. As the Church of England slowly begins to drag itself into the 20th century (that is not a typo), Bishop Broadhurst has accused advocates of woman bishops of being fascists. Most people, quite rightly, have been treating Broadhurst like a bit of a joke.

Gregory Cameron, Bishop of St. Asaph in Wales apparently missed the nearly universal derision directed to Bishop Broadhurst. Cameron, one of the chief architects of the proposed Anglican Covenant accused Covenant-skeptics of being "Little Englanders" and compared them to the fascist British National Party. His letter to the Church Times - quite an extensive missive - buries his only substantial point underneath five or six paragraphs of namecalling.

Now, I understand that it may hurt one's feeling when other people pan your stuff. Heck, as a professional writer from time to time, I've seen my deathless prose butchered by any number of semi-literate hacks. One has to learn not to take it personally.

As to his one substantive point - that the Covenant explcitly says that it does not require "submission to any external ecclesiastical jurisdiction" - I've already dealt with that particular legal fiction here.

Ironically, Godwin would appear to be a name of Saxon origin. It seems odd that Godwin's Law should fall so close to a Scottish bishop of the Church in Wales. I wonder what's Welsh for "Godwin."

In the meantime, the Church Times Question of the Week is: "Should the Church of England reject the Anglican Covenant?" As I write, it stands results are: Yes 81% - No 18%. Presumably the other one percent are searching under their beds for Nazis.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Comprehension for the Sake of Truth

O God of truth and peace,
you raised up your servant Richard Hooker
in a day of bitter controversy
to defend with sound reasoning and great charity
the catholic and reformed religion:
Grant that we may maintain the middle way,
not as a compromise for the sake of peace,
but as a comprehension for the sake of truth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Many of you will have noticed my last few blogposts - not to mention the odd Facebook Status - that spoke of a major announcement to come today. Many of you will be completely unsurprised that this announcement has been planned for the commemoration of the definitive Anglican theologian, the Judicious Divine, Dr. Richard Hooker.

At 11:00 a.m. GMT (that's 7:00 a.m. EST and 6:00 a.m. here in the centre of the universe) the No Anglican Covenant Coalition was formally announced through the international media, and the Coalition's website was formally launched.

From the publication of the Windsor Report in 2004 until today, the Anglican Communion has been sleepwalking towards the ratification of a proposed Anglican Covenant - a Covenant that would radically alter Anglican ecclesiology by the unwarranted centralization of unprecedented punitive power in the hands of a small committee. At six this morning my time, the alarm went off to wake us from our collective slumber.

I'm very proud to have played a role in the genesis of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, and to have accepted the role as Canadian convenor.

Here is our official news release:

No Anglican Covenant Coalition
Anglicans for Comprehensive Unity



LONDON – An international coalition of Anglicans has been created to campaign against the proposed Anglican Covenant. Campaigners believe the proposed Covenant constitutes unwarranted interference in the internal life of the member churches of the Anglican Communion, would narrow the acceptable range of belief and practice within Anglicanism, and would prevent further development of Anglican thought. The Coalition’s website ( will provide resources for Anglicans around the world to learn about the potential risks of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

“We believe that the majority of the clergy and laity in the Anglican Communion would not wish to endorse this document,” according to the Coalition’s Moderator, the Revd. Dr. Lesley Fellows, who is also the Coalition’s Convenor for the Church of England. “Apart from church insiders, very few people are aware of the Covenant. We want to encourage a wider discussion and to highlight the problems the Covenant will cause.”

The idea of an Anglican Covenant was first proposed in 2004 as a means to address divisions among the member churches of the Anglican Communion on matters ranging from human sexuality to the role of women. The current draft of the Covenant, which has been unilaterally designated as the “final” draft, has been referred to the member churches of the Communion. The proposed Covenant establishes mechanisms which would have the effect of forcing member churches to conform to the demands and expectations of other churches or risk exclusion from the Communion.

Critics of the proposed Anglican Covenant, including members of the new Coalition, believe that it will fundamentally alter the nature of historic Anglicanism in several ways, including the narrowing of theological views deemed acceptable, the erosion of the freedom of the member churches to govern themselves, and the concentration of authority in the hands of a small number of bishops. Two English groups, Inclusive Church and Modern Church, ran anti-Covenant advertisements in last week’s Church Times and the Church of England Newspaper aiming to make more members of the Church of England aware of the dangers of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

"If the Anglican Communion has a problem, this is not the solution,” according to former Bishop of Worcester Peter Selby. “Whether those who originated the Covenant intended it or not, it is already, and will become even more, a basis for a litigious Communion from which some will seek to exclude others."

The launch of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition website coincides with the commemoration of the sixteenth-century theologian Richard Hooker. “Hooker taught us that God’s gifts of scripture, tradition, and reason will guide us to new insights in every age,” according to the Canadian priest and canon law expert, the Revd. Canon Alan Perry. “The proposed Anglican Covenant would freeze Anglican theology and Anglican polity at a particular moment. Anglican polity rejected control by foreign bishops nearly 500 years ago. The proposed Anglican Covenant reinstates it.”

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition began in late October with a series of informal email conversations among several international Anglican bloggers concerned that the Covenant was being rushed through the approval process before most Anglicans had any opportunity to learn how the proposed new structures would affect them.


Revd. Dr Lesley Fellows (England) +44 1844 239268
Dr. Lionel Deimel (USA) +1-412-512-9087
Revd. Malcolm French (Canada) +1-306-550-2277
Revd. Lawrence Kimberley (New Zealand) +64 3 981 7384

Monday, November 1, 2010


And here's a little Avril Lavigne.