Matthew Weiner on America

A few years ago I started reading John Updike’s books and they really spoke to me, not in a morally uplifting way, but because they show what I think is a slice of reality regarding late 20th-century America. In the same way, I love Mad Men, not due to any moral lesson, but as a window into what the last century may have been like for some people. The near past is the hardest for us to decipher, because we are too close to it and yet so far away from it – what was 1992 like? I barely remember myself and would find it hard to reconstruct accurately. Anyway, Matthew Weiner discusses aspirational America in this interview, and I love his take on it:

Everyone loves the Horatio Alger version of life. What they don’t realize is that these transformations begin in shame, because poverty feels shameful. It shouldn’t, but everyone who’s experienced it confirms this. Sometimes people say, I didn’t know we were poor—Don Draper knows he’s poor, very much in the model of Iacocca or Walton, who came out of the Great Depression, out of really humble beginnings. Or like Conrad Hilton, on the show. These men don’t take no for an answer, they build these big businesses, these empires, but really it’s all based on failure, insecurity, and an identity modeled on some abstract ideal of white power. I’ve always said this is a show about becoming white. That’s the definition of success in America—becoming a WASP. A WASP male.

The driving question for the series is, Who are we? When we talk about “we,” who is that? In the pilot, Pete Campbell has this line, “Adding money and education doesn’t take the rude edge out of people.” Sophisticated anti-Semitism. I overheard that line when I was a schoolteacher. The person, of course, didn’t know they were in the presence of a Jew. I was a ghost. Certain male artists like to show that they’re feminists as a way to get girls. That’s always seemed pimpy to me. I sympathize with feminism the same way I identify with gay people and with people of color, because I know what it’s like to look over the side of the fence and then to climb over the fence and to feel like you don’t belong, or be reminded at the worst moment that you don’t belong.

Take Rachel Menken, the department-store heiress in the first season of Mad Men. She’s part of what I call the nose-job generation. She’s assimilated. She probably doesn’t observe the Sabbath or any of these other things that her parents did. That generation had a hard time because they were trying desperately to be buttoned-down and preppy and—this is my parent’s generation—white as could be. They were embarrassed by their parents. This is the story of America, this assimilation. Because guess what, this guy Don has the same problems. He’s hiding his identity, too. That’s why Rachel Menken understands Don, because they’re both trying desperately to be white American males.

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Anglican Bishops with Kagame in Huye

Paul Kagame visited with “opinion leaders” in Huye, Rwanda this week. Front and center in the audience were two southern bishops, Augustin Mvunabandi and Nathan Gasatura. Their Dioceses (Kigeme and Butare) are on the border of Burundi, where the town of Huye lies.

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Bishop Nathan Gasatura (left) with Paul Kagame

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Bishop Augustin Mvunabandi in the audience.

Bishop Mvunabandi was (is?) part of the Peace in the Great Lakes campaign. Here, he is sitting in front of the man who foments war in the Great Lakes. I wonder if he had anything to say about it?

 

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The Next Pope?

Cardinal Robert Sarah

Cardinal Robert Sarah

Sandro Magister writes about Cardinal Robert Sarah, who has a chance at being the next Pope. I have also kept my eye on Cardinal Sarah for the last couple years. Magister provides a brief biography of the Cardinal, who is from Guinea. An excerpt:

He was born in a remote village in the savanna, into a freshly converted family. At the age of 12 he was circumcised and initiated into manhood in the forest. He studied to be a priest and became one, while his Guinea was under the bloody regime of the Marxist Sekou Touré, with the bishop of Conakry, the capital, imprisoned and tortured.

He studied theology in Rome, at the Gregorian and especially at the Biblicum, with rector Carlo Maria Martini and professors like Lyonnet, Vanhoye, de la Potterie. He spent a year at the prestigious École Biblique in Jerusalem.

And then he returned as a humble pastor to his Guinea, going on foot into the savanna to reach the very last of the faithful, amid a majority Muslim population. Until Paul VI made him a bishop in 1978, the youngest in the world at the age of 33. And he entrusted him with Conakry, as Sekou Touré became ever more infuriated with this new pastor and undaunted defender of the faith. After the tyrant’s sudden death in 1984, they would discover that Sarah was the first on the list of enemies to be eliminated.

Theologically, Cardinal Sarah aligns with Pope Benedict:

Sarah has boundless admiration for Pope Joseph Ratzinger. He shares his idea that for the Church of today, the absolute priority is to bring God into the heart of civilizations, both those of ancient Christian tradition that has been obfuscated or denied, and those that are still pagan.

Excerpts are quoted from his book, including:

The Church cannot go forward as if reality did not exist: it can no longer content itself with ephemeral enthusiasms, which last for the duration of great gatherings or liturgical assemblies, as beautiful and rich as they may be. It can no longer hold back from a practical reflection on subjectivism as the root of most of the current errors. What use is it that the pope’s Twitter account is followed by hundreds of thousands of persons if men do not concretely change their lives? What use is it to tally up the figures of the crowds that throng before the popes if we are not sure that the conversions are real and profound? […]

Keep your eyes on Cardinal Sarah when the next Conclave rolls around.

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Archbishop Rwaje on the East African Revival and the 1994 Genocide

Archbishop Rwaje at GAFCON in 2013

Archbishop Rwaje at GAFCON in 2013

In the course of responding to questions about the East African Revival at GAFCON’s 2013 meeting in Nairobi, the Archbishop of Rwanda, Onesphore Rwaje talked about the relationship of the revival to the 1994 genocide.1 He says:

…and I don’t know whether it is one of the questions you would like to ask me, let me respond to it before asking this question.  You may hear there is a contradiction and there is in fact, a country where revival movement was born, 1930’s—a second revival and the same time the country where has been a genocide against the Tutsis.2 That’s a contradiction, that’s a contradiction, and we are requesting ourselves what’s happened; 1960’s onward mainly within the church, mainly within the revival.

But after analyzing there {were a} few remnants among the revivalists in fact who stood against {the genocide} and we have testimony, some of them were killed and others are testifying for that. So that’s a contradiction and we have to bear that and this is a challenge we have to bear that not only for revival even for the church itself.

Archbishop Rwaje seems to be saying that the Anglican Church in Rwanda is trying to figure out what happened after the 1960’s that caused a nation of 85% Christians to slaughter one another. This is a good question, and you can see that for all the talk of revival and reconciliation before the genocide, it did nothing to stop the killing:

Moreover, by 1990, the Anglican church was deeply involved in internal wrangling and divisions. They were focused on jealousies and bitterness between Adoniya Sebununguri, bishop of Kigali, and John Ndandali, bishop of the second diocese of Butare, created in 1978. The conflict was focused on who would become the first Archbishop of the new Anglican province of Rwanda created in 1992. Although personal factors were paramount in this conflict, it did strangely parallel political divisions between the ‘north,’ where the deeply unpopular president came from, and a ‘south,’ which felt excluded. A series of other conflicts among the leadership of the churches began to disfigure the Anglican church: based on personal and family rivalries, regional differences, political disputes (as a multi-party system was introduced). Hutu-Tutsi divisions were only one of many factors fueling and sustaining these disputes.  Often the rhetoric of the Revival was introduced into the disputes. At high-profile meetings of reconciliation, church leaders confessed and sang Tukutenderza in the old spirit of the Balokole [Balokole means ‘saved’ – editor] fellowship, but these occasions did not seem to have the power to transform the faction-riven nature of the church. The form of Revival had replaced its genuine spirit.3

Bishop Laurent Mbanda tells us that some participants in the revival meetings were active killers in 1994:

Christian survivors of the genocide who participated in these evangelical meetings tell stories of church members and testifying Christians who, having attended the same meetings, were later seen in the uniforms and activities of Interahamwe (militia). During the killings, many were also seen at roadblocks with machetes. It is hard to believe, but reported by trustworthy individuals.

Unfortunately, the pattern of acquiescence with evil has continued as clergy support many evil actions of the Kagame regime. For example, bishops Rucyahana and Kolini supported and raised funds for M23, a group that kidnapped child soldiers, raped and murdered in the DRC. Before we rush to embrace the East African Revival, it is wise to ask what its legacy is in the world outside of church meetings, in the nitty gritty of political life and society.

Some related posts on the Revival are here: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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  1. His remarks begin here

  2. He is using the official government term for the genocide. Deviation from using “against the Tutsi” is a signal inside Rwanda that you question the regime’s narrative of events. 

  3. “Christianity, Revival and the Rwandan Genocide,” Kevin Ward. 

New AMiA Bishops

If there is something that Anglicans are good at, it is making bishops. The Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) has two new bishops: Gerry Schnackenberg and Carl Buffington. Schnackenberg was one of the first wave of AMiA priests way back in 2,000, as you can see in this article. According to the website of his church:

Fr. Gerry Schnackenberg, Rector of Epiphany has his license for ordained ministry with the first Bishop of the Diocese of Kibondo, the Rt. Rev. Sospeter T. Ndenza. Fr. Gerry is also Bishop Ndenza’s Commissary or representative in the U.S.A. and serves as his Canon to St. Hilary’s Cathedral Kibondo.

AMiA publicized Schnackenberg’s April 2013 visit to Tanzania:

During the services, Gerry participated in the Holy Spirit falling on many in attendance and delivering others from demonic influence.

“This sort of ‘Power Ministry’ has been largely unknown to the people which means they are really, really open to it under the godly leadership of their Bishop whom they trust,” Gerry says. “Bishop Sospeter told me last February after experiencing the evening of healing prayer at Winter Conference that this is what he very much wanted for his Diocese. I believe he is setting a pattern for healthy and powerful ministry of releasing the fullness of the Holy Spirit in a gentle, but moving way.”

 

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Gerry Schnackenberg

 

Carl Buffington joined AMiA in 2004. Last year, Buffington went to Rwanda to attend the funeral of retired Archbishop Kolini’s son, John. Buffington’s article relating this experience mentions Pierre Habumuremyi and Rwigamba Balinda, both prominent Rwandan regime insiders, as being at the funeral. Habumuremyi was Prime Minister until 2014 when Kamage sacked him, see here. Balinda was part of a triumvurate of M23 supporters that included Bishops Kolini and Rucyahana, as the U.N. pointed out:

RPF members have been recruiting sympathizers and raising funds for M23 from within Rwanda. Politicians, former Rwandan armed forces and CNDP officers told the Group that Rwigamba Balinda, a Rwandan senator and Rector of the Free University of Kigali, and John Rucyahana, a bishop (see S/2012/348/Add.1, para. 29), both RPF members, had overseen those activities in Rwanda and abroad.

It is fascinating that these regime insiders attended the Kolini funeral, and is more evidence that both PEARUSA and AMiA are tied to the Rwandan regime, although they may not even realize it.

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Carl Buffington

H. Miller has left AMiA for Holy Trinity Brompton, to serve a dual role as Associate Pastor at St. Barnabas Kensington and as the Church Planting Network Developer for the HTB Network (Holy Trinity Brompton). This leaves a very top heavy structure as follows:

College of Consultors

Rector The Most Rev. Emmanuel Kolini
Vice Rector The Most Rev. Yong Ping Chung
Secretary The Most Rev. Moses Tay
Consultors:

The Rt. Rev. Charles H Murphy, III

The Rt. Rev. Sospeter T Ndenza

The Rt. Rev. William B Mugenyi

General Secretary

The Very Rev. Mike Murphy

 

Conference Of Missionary Bishops

The Rt. Rev. Alexander Maury (Sandy) Greene
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Silas Tak Yin Ng
The Rt. Rev. Charles H Murphy, III
The Rt. Rev. Gerry Schnackenberg
The Rt. Rev. Carl Buffington
The Rt. Rev. Thomas William (TJ) Johnston, Jr.
The Rt. Rev. John Hewitt Rodgers, Jr.

The communication from AMiA follows:

Last week the Anglican Mission was pleased to announce that at a recent College of Consultors meeting Gerry Schnackenberg+ and Carl Buffington+ were elected Bishop Emissaries for the Diocese of Kibondo and Boga, respectively. A bishop emissary, in Anglican custom, represents the respective mission partner diocese in matters that might assist or affect them outside of their dioceses. As both men are members of the Society, they will be given responsibilities in the Society as delegated from my office for confirmations, ordinations, etc, which our Concordats provide for. As one of our main values is spiritual oversight for clergy, the addition of Gerry+ and Carl+ will help greatly in that area. I will be meeting in Dallas with both bishops-elect soon to work on their portfolios for their ministry in The Mission. They will continue to serve as senior pastors of their respective churches. Their consecrations will be scheduled during Eastertide as plans are being finalized mindful of the schedules of the partners who will be attending, the available venues, etc.

We in the Society are excited about the election and grateful to our partners for sharing the emissaries, Bishop-elect Schnackenberg and Bishop-elect Buffington. Please keep them in your prayers as they go forward to serve your missionary interests.

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The Doctrinal Foundations of ACNA

house of bishops acna procession

Although the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) released a catechism, the catechism itself carries no doctrinal weight on its own (as far as I know). It is only useful as an explication of the doctrinal standards that are enshrined in ACNA’s Constitution. In the future, when there are doctrinal conflicts in ACNA, I envision appeals being made to what the Constitution says about doctrinal standards.

Before I look at what the Constitution says, it may be helpful to recall how it came into being. The Constitution imports language from the Common Cause Partners Theological Statement.1 A “Governance Task Force” drafted the Constitution, and that Task Force consisted of: Hugo Blankingship, Chair – CANA, Philip Ashey+, Esq. AAC, Larry Bausch+ FIFNA, Travis Boline+ Kenya, Jerry Cimijotti+ Southern Cone, Kevin Donlon+ AMiA, +Robert Duncan Southern Cone, Cheryl Chang, Esq. ANIC, Bill Gandenberger+ Southern Cone, +Royal Grote REC, +John Guernsey Uganda, Matt Kennedy+ AAC, +Martyn Minns CANA, +Bill Murdoch Kenya, +Chuck Murphy AMiA, Jim McCaslin+ Kenya, Ron Speers, Esq. Uganda, Scott Ward, Esq. CANA, Barclay Mayo+ ACiC, Wick Stephens, Esq. Southern Cone, Scott Ward, Esq.CANA and Robert Weaver, Esq. Southern Cone.

I am told that Kevin Donlon was front and center during the process. A participant told me that he “…had a lot of objections and suggestions and effectively vetoed some of the Reformed stuff people argued for.” We have a brief overview of the process in this press conference, but as with all such events, it did not in any way delve into the actual nitty gritty of what happened. Organizations necessarily put on a “sunshine and roses” take on their own deliberations, and the way to the truth is usually found when talking to participants off the record. I doubt we will see such an accounting of this process given the participants.

I tried to conceptualize what the Constitution says in the following chart:

Taken from the ACNA Constitution

Taken from the ACNA Constitution

The Constitution uses three words regarding the doctrinal standards: confess, affirm and receive. If the words imply weight to the different sources of doctrine, then I take confess to be the strongest, affirm the second strongest, and receive the weakest word. Even if they are weighted in such a way, the Constitution does say, “we identify the following seven elements as characteristic of the Anglican Way, and essential for membership.”

The GAFCON Statement and Jerusalem Declaration are affirmed in the Preamble, probably because they were issued very late in the process of drafting the Constitution, and so were presumably included at the last minute and not as one of the “essential elements” for membership.

Early on, Dr. Ephraim Radner pointed out the different weight that the Constitution’s words carry, and noted a move towards “indefiniteness” on the part of the writers:

The identification of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal, and the Thirty-Nine Articles as “standards” and “principles” has struck some as overly and perhaps impossibly precise. After all, have not Anglicans, through the Lambeth Conference now over 100 years ago, made formal the lack of explicitness with which these formularies are to be held as standards for all Anglicans. at least as it determines Communion-related “Anglican” identity? Yet we note the care with which the Constitution has cloaked these standards with a certain indefiniteness: “We receive the Book of Common Prayer…as a standard for Anglican doctrine and discipline” and as “the standard for the Anglican tradition of worship”; “we receive the Thirty-Nine Articles…, as expressing the Anglican response to certain doctrinal issues controverted at that time, and as expressing fundamental principles…”.

The clear implication is that there may be other legitimate “standards”, and that the BCP of 1662 is rather one among many, although obviously an acceptable one. Clearly, that the early BCP’s represent the standard for “the tradition” of Anglican worship is incontestable as a historical claim. Furthermore, a “tradition of worship” is itself a loose referent and already indicates an acceptance that the BCP’s of the Reformation and post-Reformation are no longer in explicit use among many Anglicans. Finally, it is hardly constrictive, let alone historically odd, that the Thirty-Nine Articles would be received as holding doctrine appropriate to its time of composition, that continues to express certain “principles” that cohere with “authentic Anglicanism”. For the Constitution does not claim that the Articles articulate necessarily all such principles, exhaustively, or straightforwardly (since “principles” can only be gleaned from historical records aimed at local moments and controversies), nor that all “authentic Anglicanism” is bound by them in any exhaustive way. None of this should surprise us, however, given that the proposed new province contains both Anglo-Catholic and evangelical churches and bishops, who, vis a vis the Thirty-Nine Articles, for instance, hold very different views, and for whom there are, therefore, perforce several “standards” and “principles” at work.

On this score, we must note the difference in the Constitution’s language from the GAFCON “Jerusalem Declaration” (no. 3) regarding the Thirty-Nine Articles “as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today”. Even this statement is open to some latitude in doctrinal reference however – does “authoritative for Anglicans today” mean for “all” Anglicans, necessarily? Can one be an “Anglican” and hold to some different (though perhaps not conflicting) standard? That the doctrine in the Articles is “true” does not clearly imply “exhaustively” true. And what exactly does “authoritative” mean in this context? Is it similar to the claims to salvation-status granted to certain beliefs by the Athanasian Creed? Probably not; indeed by their own standards, they are authoritative only to the degree that they are clearly supported by Scripture’s own teaching. Still, while the Jerusalem Declaration is itself hardly explicit in many ways, there is a definite move towards indefiniteness in the Constitution, one that is clearly by design, and most likely involves the reality of catholic and protestant sensibilities and commitments seeking incorporation in the same church. The Constitution “affirms” the GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration (1.10), but such “affirmation” is itself general and necessarily loose in its meaning.

The “taken in their literal and grammatical sense” line about the Articles of Religion is the famous Anglo-Catholic evasion from Newman’s Tract 90, which reads: “For its enjoining the “literal and grammatical sense,” relieves us from the necessity of making the known opinions of their framers, a comment upon their text;”.2 This same kind of move away from the Reformed tenets of Anglicanism occurred during the second GAFCON meeting in Nairobi, as you can read here.

These moves to placate the famous “three streams” are understandable if you think of the Anglican realignment in America as stitching together a diverse group of Anglicans who do not agree doctrinally. Archbishop Duncan said that the Constitution provided, “flexibility, recognizing the diversity of Godly approaches common among the partners coming into union.” I believe that the Formularies, Prayer Book and Ordinal (alongside the Bible of course) provide us with enough tools of persuasion to make the case for Augustinian orthodoxy even in the current confused doctrinal environment of ACNA, but we should not be deceived about the fact that there are many camps under the banner of ACNA.

The reality for those of us who hoped for a Reformed rebirth in the realignment is that ACNA is a “here comes everybody” church. What we might hope for in the long run is a decade or two of Reformed church planters, Reformed clergy moving into the role of bishop, and an eventual change of the Constitution to read that “the Articles of Religion are confessed as the doctrinal standard of ACNA as proved by Holy Scripture.”

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  1. Proposed Theological Statement of the Common Cause Partners

    We, the representatives of the Common Cause Partners, do declare we believe the following affirmations and commentary to contain the chief elements of Anglican Reformed Catholicism, and to be essential for membership.

    1) We receive the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Scripture as the inspired Word of God containing all things necessary for salvation, and as the final authority and unchangeable standard for Christian faith and life.

    2) We confess the historic faith of the Undivided Church as declared in the Catholic Creeds.

    3) We believe the teaching of the Seven Ecumenical Councils in so far as they are agreeable to the Holy Scriptures, and have been held by all, everywhere, at all times.

    4) We hold the two sacraments of the Gospel to be ordained by Christ Himself, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord, and to be administered with unfailing use of Christ’s words of Institution and of the elements ordained by Him.

    5) We accept the 1549 through the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and its ordinal as the foundation for Anglican worship and the standard for doctrine and discipline.

    6) We believe the godly Historic Episcopate to be necessary for the full being of the Church.

    7) We affirm the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion as foundational for authentic Anglican belief and practice and as correctives to doctrinal abuses.  

  2. See this post for another take on the issues.