Killing me softly at St. John’s Shaughnessy

Unlike ACNA, the Anglican Church of Canada has not taken a position on euthanasia, preferring instead to waffle extensively on the subject.

To that end, St. John’s Shaughnessy sponsored a meeting with two doctors who euthanise their patients – only upon request, we are assured –  to further their indecision about whether it is better to kill the aged or take care of them.

The choice of venue holds some irony, since St. John’s is the parish that, having kicked out an active ANiC congregation, was likened by the imported congregation to a mausoleum and is itself crying out to be euthanised – if only someone would listen.

It still amazes me that euthanasia doctors constantly assure us that the process is dignified, painless, and relatively inexpensive, yet, when it comes to executing convicted murderers, we have nothing but problems and disturbing signs of distress. Hasn’t it occurred to prison authorities that the medical profession is awash with doctors with all the experience needed to kill people with dignity?

From here:

Death With Dignity – British Columbia & Oregon

Two medical doctors shared with about 80 people gathered at the Synod Office conference room adjacent to St. John’s, Shaughnessy (SJS) February 27 their experiences of how they help people die in British Columbia and Oregon. The forum on Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) was sponsored by SJS, along with St. Philip’s, Dunbar and Christ Church Cathedral. A Death with Dignity program has been operating in Oregon for 19 years following a 1994 referendum. Court injunctions delayed implementation till 1997, at which point Oregon became the first state to let patients determine the time of their own death.
In British Columbia, the Medical Assistance in Dying program followed a 2015 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, and has been in effect for the past eight months after federal legislation (Bill C-14) received Royal Assent on June 17 last year.Dr. Charles Blanke, a professor of medicine at the Knight Cancer Institute in Portland, talked about the similarities and differences between the Oregon and the British Columbia programs.

[….]
Dr. Blanke said people sometimes bring up the Hippocratic Oath because it specifically prohibited the administration of fatal poisons. He noted the ancient Greek oath also forbids abortions which are legal and accepted by many in both the US and Canada.

The Diocese of Huron is on its last legs

But Bishop Linda Nicolls is attempting is to resuscitate it, mainly by doing what she is telling parishes they should not do:

Some churches might look to draw on the principle of reserves and trusts to pay for everyday expenses, even though such a strategy can’t last.

At the same time, she is closing and selling churches on scale that makes Century 21 look like amateurs; all to stave off the financial collapse of the diocese a little longer. Or, at least, until retirement.

Read it all here:

At Synod in May, she will call on each parish church to develop a five-year plan – with measurable benchmarks – for financial stability and building upkeep.

“At the same time,” she says, “we have to be working at discipleship, working on why we are the church, working within churches and on the spiritual needs of the community around us.”

“It’s very daunting” to have to address both tracks simultaneously, she admits, but adds, “We don’t have time to wait; we don’t have time for people to wake up to this.”

These two sides – finances and discipleship – are not disconnected in Bishop Linda’s view.

“When people are passionate about what the church is called to be, they will support it… It’s not just about the money; it’s about being realistic and hopeful. And that’s where the discipleship piece comes in. What is God calling you to do and be in this community?”

Sustainability

Financially, Bishop Linda says, there are four “non-negotiables” for parish churches: having a balanced budget, not using reserves for operating expenses, paying full apportionment, and paying the stipend and housing of clergy.

One thing that no-one in the diocese seems to want to try is a return to Biblical orthodoxy. Instead, we have a familiar attempt to appease the zeitgeist by parading on a gay pride rainbow crosswalk waving crosses and an umbrella. As you can see by the crowds, it generated a lot of interest:

Bow down to your god: Diversity

Wayne Holst, a Lutheran pastor, tells us in the Anglican Journal that mainline Canadian churches have, since the 1960s, been becoming more diverse. He seems to think that is a good thing. What he fails to mention is that in the same period, mainline churches have also lost most of their people. Those that remain, though, are more diverse, apparently. Diversity is more important than countless run of the mill Yahweh worshippers because diversity is  – god.

One definition of diversity is “the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, colour, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.” A half-century ago, little was made of diverse communities of faith. At best, we tended to deny or soft-pedal this characteristic in favour of a certain “uniformity.” Sameness, even combativeness, was honoured. But Canadian social values have evolved. Today, we are much more committed to embracing diversity.

As Canadian society has changed from mono- and bi-cultural to multi- and intercultural, our Christian communities have continued, albeit hesitantly, to reflect societal composition and tendencies.

When and how did we change from being churches that valued uniformity to becoming communities valuing diversity? I believe it was during the 1960s when (at the Canadian centennial) we became more intentionally focused on our distinct identity as a nation.

Meanwhile, another group established by Justin Welby last year has been picking over what diversity really means. To forestall any inadvertent stumbling into discovering anything useful, they avoided theological discussions completely. The reason is obvious: it’s much easier to maintain unity in a church devoid of theology; a side benefit is that a diverse church, unshackled from the constraints of having to believe in anything coherent, attracts no-one – other than clergy. No people, no arguments. This is called “walking together”

From here:

“We have been developing a greater understanding between us of the diversity within the Communion,” he said. “But, significantly, we have been seeing the many, many areas of commonality.

“It has not been a theological discussion. Instead, we have been examining what differences mean at a practical level. In particular, we looked at marriage practices and relationships in different parts of the Communion. But we also looked at the spiritual dimensions of the idea of walking together.”

The secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon – who serves the group as secretary – added that it had been considering how the authority of primates and bishops was practiced in different parts of the Communion.

The group was established in January 2016 by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the request of the primates. It was given the task of restoring relationships, rebuilding mutual trust and responsibility, healing the legacy of hurt and exploring deeper relationships. The group met for the first time last September.  Seven of the nine-member group met this week. Canon Elizabeth Paver – the former vice chair of the ACC — and Bishop Paul Sarker from Bangladesh were unable to attend on this occasion.

An Earth Day prayer

Earth Day is almost upon us, so Fred Hiltz, Mark MacDonald and Susan Johnson have pooled the considerable resources of their little green brain cells to pray for it.

Jesus’ Resurrection has become a handy illustration of what really matters: spring is just around the corner!

As we celebrate this great mystery we recall how he helped us understand death and resurrection using the image of a seed planted and coming out of the earth as a new growth—budding, bursting, blooming, bearing beautiful fruit.

And:

Our churches are committed to responsible stewardship of the earth.

That’s why the ACoC is demolishing so many of them.

The Carbon Pariah receives an honourable mention, even though the ACoC is using diesel fume spewing bulldozers to demolish its churches:

We recommend that you or your congregation get involved with the Faith Commuter Challenge, a creative way to reduce your carbon footprint and raise awareness of the impact of our actions

Naturally, we have muddled – twisted, really – wording to prompt right Gaia thinking: world – as in “for God so love the world” here seems to mean “earth” rather than “people”:

Through our Lenten Journey to Easter we have been reminded once again that Jesus offered his whole life and death for the love of the world

Speaking of God, Hiltz doesn’t, he refers to Creator instead, an Indigenous metaphysical replacement that Hiltz seems more comfortable with these days. Or perhaps he is referring to the process of Darwinian evolution.

Likewise, as far as I know, Father and Son have not made guest appearances in a Hilztian prayer for decades and, by the end of the prayer, the Holy Spirit has metamorphosed into “Spirit One”; who was Spirit Zero, I wonder?

If you don’t believe in the Resurrection, you are not a Christian

So says Rev Dr Gavin Ashenden; and he is right:

A former chaplain to the Queen has said that the quarter of Christians who say they do not believe in the Resurrection “cannot be Christians”.

The Rev Dr Gavin Ashenden said in a letter to the Times that a survey which found that one in four self-proclaimed Christians do not believe in Jesus’s Resurrection “made the mistake of confusing British culture with Christianity”.

He said: “Those people who neither believe in the Resurrection nor go anywhere near a church cannot be ‘Christians’.

“As with so many things, the key is in the definition of terms. Discovering the evidence for the Resurrection having taken place to be wholly compelling is one of the things that makes you a Christian; ergo, if you haven’t, you are not.”

Of course, sophisticated clergy in the West would usually not be so crass as to straightforwardly deny the Resurrection. Instead, they cast doubt on the meaning of the word.

Here is a master of the technique, Rev Peter Wall, Dean of the Diocese of Niagara, putting his seminary training into practice in 2009. First he applies it to the Virgin Birth:

And then the Resurrection:

So Peter Wall doesn’t know what the Virgin Birth means and doesn’t know what the Resurrection is, but after “struggling”, against all reason claims he believes both.

Anglicans among the ruins

The Anglican Church of Canada can’t afford to maintain its buildings: they are crumbling around the clergy and bishops are collecting plaster dust in their rainbow mitres.

Ottawa’s cathedral has buttress woes:

One of the most critical areas are buttresses located on the west wall of the cloister garden, also known as the Garth, where mortar is crumbling and cracks are appearing.

“Not far in the future, the gaps and cracking could cause individual stones to fall, leading to the collapse of the walls,” says Blair Seaborn, who is chair of Restoration 120, a fundraising campaign to raise $120,000 for repairs.

“We’ve been told over and over by engineers that they’re not decorative,” said Seaborn. “The buttresses are rather critical in holding up the roof and walls.”

Even though Huron’s St. Paul’s cathedral is raising money by inviting the Pride Men’s Chorus to sing, it still can’t seem to find the cash to fix the roof and the rot in the cathedral trusses is exceeded only by the rot in the diocesan theology.

Owen Sound is closing churches,  Niagara is closing churches, or “celebrating mergers” to quote the preferred euphemism, as is Peterborough and Brantford, while the Diocese of Niagara continues to endear itself to the residents of Guelph by pressing ahead with the sale of St. Matthias in spite of vigorous opposition. The list goes on.

VOL has more here:

By any measurable standard, the Anglican Church of Canada is in serious decline with little hope that the numbers can or will be reversed in the foreseeable future.

In one diocese after another the third largest denomination in Canada is declining, its demise now almost certain as it focuses on a host of social justice issues to the neglect of evangelism, discipleship and church planting.

The Anglican Church of Canada which is squeamishly shy about publicizing how many people attend its churches, has published no complete statistics for membership and average Sunday attendance since 2001, although the ACoC did claim a membership of 545,957 in 2007.

Today, by all measurable standards the average Sunday attendance in the Anglican Church of Canada is around 320,000. If this is correct, in 40 years the average attendance will be 19,200 or less. As there is no wave of Millennials aching to fill Anglican pews this figure is probably exaggerated.

Ironically, the vitriolic battles that the Anglican Church of Canada launched against ANiC churches in 2008 was over the ownership of buildings. The ACoC won the battle in 2008 only to lose it in 2017: it doesn’t have the income for the upkeep of the buildings it claimed were so essential to its ministry.

The Parable of the Green Samaritan

St. Cuthbert’s in the Diocese of Toronto prides itself on its “environmental awareness”: it observes earth hour by igniting toluene polluting candles and, apparently, conducts eco-funerals; I’m not sure what they are but perhaps the bodies are cremated by candle heat.

In this spirit of Gaia awareness, St. Cuthbert’s has reinterpreted the parable of the good Samaritan. The answer to the question posed to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” has been expanded to include trees. For my part, that seems like an excellent idea: trees are so much easier to like than people – they don’t argue, fight, complain, or flatulate.

From here:

“For a long time, we’ve really struggled with (the question) what does that mean to love your neighbour? Now we are entering into this idea that neighbour should include endangered species,” LaFleur said.

To end the day, the massive white oak tree outside of the church was officially recognized as an Ontario Heritage Tree. Forests Ontario has been recognizing trees that have unique features, historical relevance, or artistic significance since 2009. For Canada’s 150th anniversary, Forests Ontario will be recognizing 150 notable trees.

When will the Anglican Church stop discriminating against the transracial community?

According to this woman, the “idea of race is a lie”. As usual, the Anglican Church of Canada is behind the times and is still dithering about installing transgender toilets; the latest, and undoubtedly the most serious issue to assail the tattered remains of Western Civilisation is transracialism. When will those sluggards in the ACoC catch up?

In all seriousness, this is good news for most of us, since we can all self-identify as Aboriginal and claim compensation from the ACoC for decades of residential school abuse.

Rachel Dolezal – the white US woman who said she was black – says “the idea of race is a lie”.

Speaking in an interview with Emily Maitlis, she argued that the concept of “transracial” – similar to that of transgender – is useful in describing people such as herself.

Rachel Dolezal has just written a book about her experience, In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World.

Diocese of Niagara parish offers Islamic prayer to Allah

In the wake of the Quebec mosque shooting, St. Simon’s in Oakville decided to support Muslims by praying to Allah during its monthly labyrinth walk. The labyrinth walk is normally reserved for trendy events like Gaia inspired eco-worship, so this is a new exploration of the boundaries of voguish virtue-signalling, a further lurch into fatuity.

The sad thing is, I remember the time, a few decades ago, when St. Simon’s was orthodox and evangelical.

From here:

When we all heard of a shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City during evening prayers in late January, faith communities across Canada were shocked. At St. Simon’s Oakville, Rector Darcey Lazerte tried to comfort his parish community with a sermon focusing on understanding and taking action to support the Muslim congregations. It only seemed fit to dedicate our monthly labyrinth walk to peace in support of the Muslim community.

An invitation to Al Falah Islamic Centre was quickly offered, and through Dr. Majid Kazi’s effort, eight members of the mosque joined our walk. Together with five members of the parish, two people from Greening Sacred Spaces Halton and several regular walkers, our February labyrinth walk became a spiritual support group. As part of the meditations, we used a Muslim prayer for peace by Muhammad al-Jazri. It was completed during the siege of Damascus, December 1389. (See sidebar.)The debriefing at the end of the walk was a testament to the strength of the Muslim brothers and sisters in their pursuit of peace and greater understanding of the foundation of their faith.

We are hopeful that this new fellowship will lead to other shared opportunities.

This was the prayer:

O Allah, unite our hearts and set aright our mutual affairs, guide us in the path of peace.
Liberate us from darkness by Your light, save us from enormities whether open or hidden.
Bless us in our ears, eyes, hearts, spouses, and children.
Turn to us; truly you are Oft-Returning,  Most Merciful.
Make us grateful for Your bounty and full of praise for it, so that we may continue to receive it and complete Your blessings upon us.

I’m not sure what “enormities” the congregation of St. Simon’s need to be liberated from, but perhaps one is the enormous folly of reciting an Islamic prayer in a Christian church.