Saturday, February 09, 2008

EXTRA, EXTRA: " The Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham supports Rowan Martin guy.

Dr Williams was offered support by the Right Reverend George Cassidy, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham....

Will wonders ever cease? Not in this life, they won't. To have lived to see the day when Rowan Martin guy is publicly supported by someone as famous and as incredibly important as the Bishop of Southwell and Nothingham makes me proud that our modern medical system and trained surgeons and millions of dollars in tax-payer funded medical support keeps me alive to see this blessed event. I tremble. The Bishop of Southwell and Littlepool. Astounding!

[More astounding still is the reason for me bursting in with an update out of nowhere: "[The] secretary of the Welsh Muslim Council Saleem Kidwai backed the under-fire Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, saying his message had been taken out of context, and labelled the backlash “typical Islamophobia”. " Now, back to our regular programming.]

The rabble, of course, condemn Rowan Martin guy.

Col Edward Armitstead, a Synod member from the diocese of Bath and Wells, was among those calling for Dr Williams to step down, telling the Daily Telegraph: "I don't think he is the man for the job."

He is undoubtedly one of the finest minds of this nation

Rt Rev Stephen Lowe

He said: "One wants to be charitable, but I sense that he would be far happier in a university where he can kick around these sorts of ideas."

Alison Ruoff, a Synod member from London, said: "Many people, huge numbers of people, would be greatly relieved [if he resigned] because he sits on the fence over all sorts of things and we need strong, Christian, biblical leadership right now, as opposed to somebody who huffs and puffs around and vacillates from one thing to another.

"He's a very able, a brilliant scholar as a man but in terms of being a leader of the Christian community I think he's actually at the moment a disaster."

'A disaster'

Brig William Dobbie, a former Synod member, described the archbishop as "a disaster, a tragic mistake".

Who are they, and what makes them think they have any business saying anything about this? The Bishop of Sodwell and Liverpuddle has spoken. It is enough.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Do not ask for whom the buzzer gongs....

George Carlin said, "If you think the average guy is stupid, then realize that 50 percent are even stupider than he is."

We needn't be mathemagicians to figure out where Carlin belongs in that equation. I think the following pieces on the general knowledge of the general population of the Western world might shed some light on "the ignorant armies who crash at night," as the English poet-laureate Benedict Arnold once recited to Queen Victoria.

In the first part of this post we see Al-Reuters laughing at the plebes, and rightly so; but we must wonder why they laugh at the common ignorance of the common man, because, dear reader, Al-Reuters in the same day's edition refers to CAIR's Ahmed Rehab as an American civil rights activist. Now either you know or you don't know who is Ahmed Rehab and what is or isn't CAIR. If you are a supposedly serious journalist and you don't know of Rehab and CAIR, then my laughter isn't amused at all. But the following first installment is some fun, especially for those of us who are "semantic and anachronistic."

The dumbest ever quiz answers Thu Jan 31, 2008
By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - Question: What was Gandhi's first name? Contestant's answer: Goosey Goosey.

Warning to all those know-alls who shout at the television screen when contestants offer dumb answers to blindingly obvious questions -- one day that could be you.

From regional radio shows to "Who Wants To be a Millionaire?" and "University Challenge," people make fools of themselves -- as internet site found in collating some of the worst howlers.

Here are leading contenders for the "Dumb Down" gold medal:

Presenter: What happened in Dallas on November 22,1963?

Contestant: I don't know, I wasn't watching it then

Presenter: Which American actor is married to Nicole Kidman?

Contestant: Forrest Gump

Presenter: In which country is Mount Everest?

Contestant: Er, it's not in Scotland is it?

Presenter: Name a film starring Bob Hoskins that is also the

name of a famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci

Contestant: Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Presenter: In which European city was the first opera house

opened in 1637?

Contestant: Sydney

Presenter: How long did the Six-Day War between Egypt and

Israel last?

Contestant: (after long pause) Fourteen days

Presenter: Where did the D-Day landings take place?

Contestant: (after pause) Pearl Harbor?

Presenter: What is the currency in India

Contestant: Ramadan

Presenter: Johnny Weissmuller died on this day. Which

jungle-swinging character clad only in a loin cloth did he


Contestant: Jesus

Behind door number two we have this marvelous prize of answers to common questions:

Quarter of Brits think Churchill was myth: poll

Sun Feb 3, 7:12 PM ET

Britons are losing their grip on reality, according to a poll out Monday which showed that nearly a quarter think Winston Churchill was a myth while the majority reckon Sherlock Holmes was real.

The survey found that 47 percent thought the 12th century English king Richard the Lionheart was a myth.

And 23 percent thought World War II prime minister Churchill was made up. The same percentage thought Crimean War nurse Florence Nightingale did not actually exist.

Three percent thought Charles Dickens, one of Britain's most famous writers, is a work of fiction himself.

Indian political leader Mahatma Gandhi and Battle of Waterloo victor the Duke of Wellington also appeared in the top 10 of people thought to be myths.

Meanwhile, 58 percent thought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective Holmes actually existed; 33 percent thought the same of W. E. Johns' fictional pilot and adventurer Biggles.

UKTV Gold television surveyed 3,000 people.

And now that we've all, or at least many of us, had a good laugh at the ignorant rabble, let's ask Mr. George Carlin how smart is the average smart person, say, oh, maybe a school teacher?

Charles Henry at Covenant Zone picks up that question in "Not-So-Great Britain"

A group of British educators refuse to forgive their predecessors for their bad choices. In order to punish their ancestors, they are going to take out their hatred on the next generation of young brits:

"Don't teach children patriotism"

Patriotism should be avoided in school lessons because British history is "morally ambiguous", a leading educational body recommends.
Teachers should not instill pride in what they consider great moments of British history, as more shameful episodes could be downplayed or excluded.
Three quarters of teachers felt obliged to tell students about the danger of patriotism. The survey suggested neither pupils nor teachers wanted patriotism endorsed by schools.
The institute - part of the University of London – asked nearly 300 pupils aged 13 to 14, and 47 teachers, in 20 London schools, how patriotism should be handled. About 94 per cent of teachers and 77 per cent of teenagers said that schools should give a balanced presentation of opposing views. Fewer than 10 per cent felt patriotism should be actively promoted.

More at:

Read 'em and weep.

Rowan Martin's Anglican Laugh-In

Bill sums it up. You're wondering why the Anglican Church is failing and dying? Well, it's not from lack of effort to keep it going on Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Martin's part, he who suggests that Sharia in Britain is inevitable. Decline and Fall of Anglicanism? Piffle. There's a solution to any of that, and Bill nails it:

"The only thing that stops the CoE being universally popular is our failure to abandon all doctrines that upset people who don't subscribe to our beliefs. If we just continue to chip away, people are bound to be eventually convinced by our confidence, our rejection of fashion and the eternal truth of our message.

We just need to be nicer."

Posted by: John on Friday, 20 October 2006 at 11:09pm BST; link below at Thinking Anglican.

Yes, there is hope in Rowan Martin's revival of the 1960's skit comedy routines now showing in an Anglican Church near you, if not yet back on television. Give it time and you just might see the Anglican Church in reruns.

Here's the latest knee-slapping comedy piece from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Martin, as presented by a very clever journalist with far more media smarts than Rowan himself:

Rowan Williams: Sharia Law in the UK "Unavoidable"

Posted by: delusional in News, Politics, Ramblings

…or in other words, the probability of a religious leader saying something mind-numbingly stupid is always close to a value of 1.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams (principal leader of the Church of England) has stated in an interview for the BBC World at One programme that the adoption of Sharia Law in the UK is unavoidable. [warning: link contains inexcusably daft view-points]

He bases his view on the idea that some British citizens (in this case Muslims) do not relate to the the British legal system. Therefore, he argues, they should be given a choice of which law they would like to be tried under ie: British Law or Sharia law.

He seems to think this is a sensible idea.

Well, perhaps I feel that I don't relate to British law too easily either. Perhaps the courts would give me the option of being tried under the laws of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?


Update: Rowan Williams has apparently received death threats as a result of this interview. Presumably some slightly less loony Bishop has offered to bat him over the head with a scepter.

Across the pond, but still related, the American version of the Anglican Church has this news:

"US Episcopal report highlights concerns over church attendance drop"
by Lillian Kwon, Christian Today US Correspondent
Posted: Saturday, December 1, 2007, 12:26 (GMT)

An Episcopal Church committee has released an interim report that reveals positive trends as well as concerns in declining membership and church conflicts.

In a brief assessment of facts and trends in the Episcopal Church, the 'State of the Church' report – issued by the House of Deputies Committee in November – indicated the need for a "plan for action" at all levels of the denomination in response to membership drops.

In 2006, the number of Episcopal churches growing by 10 per cent or more decreased, and the number declining in membership by 10 per cent increased, according to the report. Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) also dropped by three per cent in 2006 compared to one per cent the previous year.

An estimated 41 per cent of the attendance drop can be attributed to the departure of congregations from their dioceses.

And almost half of Episcopal parishes and missions have an ASA of 70 or less.

Conservative parishes and Anglicans discontent with the liberal direction of the Episcopal Church have left the American church body and realigned with like-minded churches from overseas.

The Episcopal Church – the US branch of Anglicanism – deepened rifts when it consecrated openly gay bishop V Gene Robinson of New Hampshire in 2003.

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has indicated that those who have left the national Church only account for less than 1 per cent of the total number of US Episcopal parishes.

According to the report, an increased number of congregations reported "serious conflict" from 2001 through 2005. The consecration of Robinson was one of the frequently mentioned sources of conflict in 2005.

Other areas of concern in the national Church include the "failure of some dioceses to fully support the program of The Episcopal Church at the national level", which is in turn negatively impacting its domestic operations and overseas mission work.

Four Episcopal dioceses have already taken steps to split and realign with a conservative Anglican leader. Most recently, the Diocese of Forth Worth in Texas voted to approve constitutional amendments and remove language that states the diocese accedes to the Episcopal Church's constitution and canons.

In December, the Diocese of San Joaquin could be the first Episcopal diocese in the country to take a final vote and leave the national Church. The diocese has been invited to align with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of South America.

Bishop Robert Duncan of the Pittsburgh Diocese is also in the process of forming a separate Anglican structure in North America that would remain faithful to the global Anglican Communion. Bishop Duncan contends that the Episcopal Church has "failed" the communion and rejected "obvious scriptural teaching".


Things must be going well in America for the Anglicans/Episcopalians if as "Katharine Jefferts Schori has indicated that "those who have left the national Church only account for less than 1 per cent of the total number of US Episcopal parishes." Yeah, except those are the ones who have formally split from the Church, and it doesn't account for those who likely will as the snowball of schism, to mix a metaphor, continues its down-hill roll. My arithmetic is kind of poor, but this lot of figures surely impresseth me greatly anyway: "churches growing by 10 per cent or more decreased, and the number declining in membership by 10 per cent increased...." And to sum up the good news, "that reveals positive trends."

Some might think that Anglican Church attendance and the drop in membership would show the marketplace is rejecting the current Anglican sales pitch to the Anglican masses. Rowan Martin, eternally comedic, has the solution: Sharia in Britian. Yes, dear reader, sadly, you and I did not become filthy rich only because strikingly original ideas such as that just don't occur to ordinary folk like us. Well, OK, I'll speak for myself then.

Here's a Thinking Anglican who can speak for himself about Church attendence:

"The minister of my last parish commented last year that they had solved the problem of people who come only for Christmas, Easter and special events like Baptisms. They had complained to the people so often that they only show up for these events, that the people listened and stopped coming to those too...." Posted by: Cheryl Clough

Crisis in the Anglican Church

In recent years the Anglican Church has received very little good publicity in the press. In the UK weekly church attendance has dropped below a million, and worldwide the church has been bitterly divided over the issues of homosexuality and the ordination of women priests. Newspaper headlines during the past month, however, have suggested that the situation has suddenly and dramatically deteriorated, with words like "schism" and even "anarchy" being used.

For those numerically-minded, help yourselves while I go have coffee:

Posted by David Virtue on 2004/12/10 10:36:00 (6638 reads)

By David W. Virtue

WEST CHESTER, PA (12-10-2004)--Attendance statistics for The Episcopal Church USA in 2003 reveal a church in continued steep decline with nearly 36,000 active baptized members leaving for greener theological pastures, a significant drop from 8,000 in 2002. Another 24,000 Sunday worshippers left the ECUSA last year, more than twice the previous year.

In 2002 the church claimed a membership of 2,320,221. In 2003 it was down to 2,284,233, the church officially declared.

Some 85 parishes closed their doors - 7,305 in 2002 to 7,220 in 2003.

Average Sunday attendance in 2002 was 846,640. In 2003 it was 823,017.

The percentage of churches with any increase in average Sunday attendance (ASA) also dropped from 39 percent to 34 percent.

And for the first time churches with any loss in average Sunday attendance rose from 49 percent to 54 percent, the first time in living memory that it has reached over 50 percent.

Even those churches that were growing by 10 percent in the past five years dropped from 31 percent to 28 percent with those churches declining 10 percent in the past five years rising from 39 percent to 43 percent. Even when people leave, some churches keep them on the books.

The two parishes with the largest membership (but not necessarily attendees) were St. Martin's in Houston with 7,365 members. It claims an increase of 228 over the previous year and St. Michael's & All Angels in Dallas which rose to 7,243 from 7,166 in 2002.

But the largest attended parish in the ECUSA is the evangelical parish of Christ Church, Plano under the leadership of Canon David Roseberry. In 2003 it had 1,975 members a slight increase of 42 members over the previous year.

The number of congregations with 10 members or less jumped from 234 to 247. Those with congregations between 100 and 300 registered a significant loss in members.

The most startling figure was that the median average Sunday worship attendance of all Episcopal churches across the whole country is 77 members (down from 79).

And who's running the churches these days?

[T]he percentage of clergy under age 40 make up only 9 percent, with nearly 50 percent of all clergy now aged between 50 and 60.

As some might recall, Arte Johnson, the one wearing a German army helmet, used to curl his lips and say to the audience, for no particular reason: "Verrrry interes-stink. But not very funny."

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Drop in the River of Time (1)

The following post originally ran at Covenant Zone, Friday, September 14, 2007. I'm posting it here in the expectation of writing part two, based in part on reading interviews with Rene Girard. Asoriginally, my concern is with how those today feel superiour to those of yesterday, all the while making mistakes or committing crimes far more heinous than before. For now, Part One:

She was in her 50s back then, still an attractive women to look at, very pleasant to be around, gentle and placid, a lady uninvolved in the brute rush of—men. She spoke softly, sometimes seemingly unaware of the import of her anecdotes, such as the story of the nice young man she had a slight affair with many years before, shortly after the war, a nice young man from Denmark, a young man who’d been conscripted into the German Army, who’d been reluctant to join, who’d gone to the tropics afterward to live a quiet life as a hand on a riverboat in the jungle. She looked still surprised when she told me the other young men on the boat didn’t like her boyfriend, there being no reason she could see for them not liking him, he being attractive and nice, courteous and kind. The other young men on the boat tormented him, seemingly for his time in the army, which she felt was unfair to him, he having been conscripted. And she sighed and looked dreamy when she said he fell overboard one evening and was caught in the boat propellers, how awful it was to see him like that, how she’d never forget him. “He was so nice, you know.”

I do know. I recall laughing out loud when she told me that. I knew some “nice old men” who were nice. I laughed then; I could laugh now. We might all in time know others of various sorts who claim this or that, those who believe for or against; and in the muddle of Wonder we could come away with stained and dirty faces all of us looking much the same.

Over the course of the long way through the years I’ve met nice men and not so nice men, some of whom of either kind weren’t much of either mostly. Some I’ve met have claimed their innocence, which makes me laugh; and I’ve met others who claim they want only justice, which makes me howl. Those I meet, each and every unique one, all the sons of their fathers.

Hemmingway did it, and so too did Kosinski, between them Sven Hassel doing it in a book I’m reading this evening. They italicize parenthetical narratives. Before ‘our heroes’ stand the giddy old lady at the wall and shoot her, let me step back a bit and bring out the fathers of our children, anecdotal and italicized.

‘Look, they can do what they bloody well like,’ declared the youth, vaingloriously certain of himself. ‘I don’t give a tinker’s damn for any of ‘em. Far as I’m concerned, they can go and get knotted.

He was sitting on the draining board, his feet in the sink, eating pickled gherkins from a jar. As he spoke, his companions solemnly nodded their agreement and approval. The house was full of young people, boys and girls, all very vociferous and very sure of themselves; sure of their ability to stand out against authority and of their willingness to face death rather than fight for a cause they did not believe in. On the chairs and the tables, stretched out on the floor, squatting in the corners, in the kitchen, the salon, the bedroom, this band of young rebels shouted their agreement.

‘It’s not our war!’ cried a disembodied voice from beneath a table. ‘We didn’t start it, we don’t want it, and we’re not going to fight it!’

‘People are dying every day, in their thousands, and the poor fools don’t even know what they’re dying for—‘

‘They torture them at the Gestapo. People are scared to open their mouths and tell the truth anymore,’ declared a young girl who was not quite as young as she looked and was doing her best to seduce a nervous youth who was still a virgin.

‘Well, I’m not scared!’ screamed a fragile-looking creature from his position on top of the unlit stove. ‘When my turn comes to be called up I shall tell them exactly what I think of them!’

‘Hear, hear.’ Muttered his companions, while the nervous youth took off his spectacles and vigorously polished them, rather alarmed at his won daring at being in such company.

‘What happens if the Gestapo comes?’ queried some faint-heart sitting in the passage.

‘Let them come!’ A young boy seated on the kitchen table, who was in the habit of declaiming dramatic poems that he learnt by heart, threw wide his arms and faced them challengingly. ‘Let them come! What do we care? The world is our oyster… and this land is our land, because we are the future! They can’t force us to fight and destroy ourselves!’

One Sunday morning, five months later, their weekly meetings were brought to an end by the sudden arrival of three men. Three men in leather coats, wearing shoulder holsters.

The nervous youth, who greeted their appearance with shrill screams of hysteria, was silenced by one sharp slap across the face.

The young girl who was not so young as she seemed, and how never had succeeded in seducing him, managed to spit out a couple of obscenities before she was kicked in the stomach and pushed to one side.
The boy in the sink had moved to the bathroom and was making love on the floor with his girlfriend. They were separated with a few well placed prods with the butt end of a pistol and sent downstairs to join the others.

The poet wet himself with fright the very moment the intruders arrived. He offered no resistance of any kind.

In a long line, shuffling single file with their heads hanging, fifty-two boys and girls left the house and entered two green coaches that were waiting outside. The world was their oyster, but fear was an unknown quality and they were meeting it face to face for the first time.

For three days they were retained at Stadthausbruke No. 8. Their treatment was not particularly harsh, but it was enough to simply be there; it was enough to learn the meaning of fear and to understand that courage had no place in their lives. Courage was for those with power.

After three days they were put into uniform and sent off for training. Several died during the preliminary courses of instruction; some through accidents, others because they chose to. And as for the rest, they battled on and tried to come to terms with their new situation and their new selves; tried to grow reconciled to the fact that when it came to the point, they were no different from all the other poor idiots whom they so heartily despised.

They didn’t want to fight. It wasn’t their war. They hadn’t started it and they didn’t believe in it. But they fought, just the same.

That’s a passage from my second-favorite Danish Existentialist philosopher, Sven Hassel, Assignment Gestapo. London: Corgi Books, 1965; trans. Jean Ure, rpt. 1973; p.p. 110-111.

Nice kids, likely. Nice young men, nice old men. One drops here, one drops there, 52 drop; all drops in the River of Time. And still the level lowers.