Accepting Death

Ken Murray has a good article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal about how doctors die. Excerpts:

Years ago, Charlie, a highly respected orthopedist and a mentor of mine, found a lump in his stomach. It was diagnosed as pancreatic cancer by one of the best surgeons in the country, who had developed a procedure that could triple a patient’s five-year-survival odds—from 5% to 15%—albeit with a poor quality of life.

Charlie, 68 years old, was uninterested. He went home the next day, closed his practice and never set foot in a hospital again. He focused on spending time with his family. Several months later, he died at home. He got no chemotherapy, radiation or surgical treatment. Medicare didn’t spend much on him.

Doctors don’t want to die any more than anyone else does. But they usually have talked about the limits of modern medicine with their families. They want to make sure that, when the time comes, no heroic measures are taken. During their last moments, they know, for instance, that they don’t want someone breaking their ribs by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (which is what happens when CPR is done right).

In a 2003 article, Joseph J. Gallo and others looked at what physicians want when it comes to end-of-life decisions. In a survey of 765 doctors, they found that 64% had created an advanced directive—specifying what steps should and should not be taken to save their lives should they become incapacitated. That compares to only about 20% for the general public. (As one might expect, older doctors are more likely than younger doctors to have made “arrangements,” as shown in a study by Paula Lester and others.)

Why such a large gap between the decisions of doctors and patients? The case of CPR is instructive. A study by Susan Diem and others of how CPR is portrayed on TV found that it was successful in 75% of the cases and that 67% of the TV patients went home. In reality, a 2010 study of more than 95,000 cases of CPR found that only 8% of patients survived for more than one month. Of these, only about 3% could lead a mostly normal life.


Romans 13.13 says: Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy.” It is obvious what drunkenness is, but what is “carousing”? The Greek word is “κωμοις”, “komos.” Strong’s Concordance defines this as:

a revel, carousal 1a) a nocturnal and riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honour of Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry.

This page elaborates on the Greek god Komos or Comus:

KOMOS (or Comus) was the god of revelry, merrymaking and festivity. He was the son and the cup-bearer of the god Dionysos…

It quotes Philostratus the Elder, from Imagines 1. 2:

And what else is there of the revel? Well, what but the revellers? Do you not hear the castanets and the flute’s shrill note and the disorderly singing? The torches give a faint light, enough for the revellers to see what is close in front of them, but not enough for us to see them. Peals of laughter rise, and women rush along with men, wearing men’s sandals and garments girt in strange fashion; for the revel permits women to masquerade as men, and men to put on women’s garb and to ape the walk of women. Their crowns are no longer fresh but, crushed down on the head on account of the wild running of the dancers, they have lost their joyous look; for the free spirit of the flowers deprecates the touch of the hand as causing them to wither before their time. The painting also represents in a way the din which the revel most requires; the right hand with bent fingers strikes the hollowed palm of the left hand, in order that the hands beaten like cymbals may resound in unison.

This gives me a better idea of what St. Paul had in mind.

Muhammad’s Revelations

Malise Ruthven says of Muhammad receiving revelation:

We are told that he became covered with sweat, was seized with a violent shuddering, and lay unconscious for hours as though in a drunken stupor. At other times, the revelations were accompanied by ocular visions of angles who spoke to him.

EAR Article at Anglican Ink

James Gibson wrote a helpful article on the East Africa Revival Network here. He interviews Dr. David Cashin, an advisor to the Network. Cashin says:

The reality is that there is a major turning of Muslims to Christ. It’s still very gradual. We saw some inklings of it in the 70’s, and with each passing decade, it’s expanded.”

Cashin credits Bishop Bilindabagabo for understanding a reality within Islam with which most Westerners are unfamiliar. “Increasingly, you have groups within Islam which are trying to force their version of Islam on everybody else,” he said. “What has happened over the past few years is that 30,000 Muslims have blown themselves up, and 90 per cent of them have done so in the presence of fellow Muslims. What is driving this is, if you have a kingdom of God that is established on earth by means of human hands through the agency of coercive violence, you’re going to have a mess.”

Radical Islam, where it has won out, has invariably created failed states, Cashin said. This has resulted in a backlash, particularly among youth who are beginning to question Islam as never before.

“That is why Christian missions need to focus on the Muslim world,” Cashin said. “We think of them as the ones that are most closed to the Gospel. I believe the opposite is true. They are the people most open to the Gospel right now. This is a time of harvest. Satan’s strategy is to get Christians to ignore Islam or, worse yet, to hate Islam. That is the only way to stop the Muslims from coming to Christ.”

AMiA Mission Society Synopsis

This is one of the attachments sent by the AMiA Council of Bishops and it refers to the other attachment:

The Church is a community of faith with a divine mandate to make disciples and extend the Kingdom of God. Church planting not only serves as one of the most effective evangelism tools to fulfill the Great Commission but also provides a strong reminder that the Church is called to be essentially missionary in character.

Across the centuries, churches have operated with complementary structures sometimes referred to as “jurisdictional” or “modality” (provinces or dioceses) and “vocational” or “sodality” (mission societies and missionary orders). These redemptive structures have continuously worked together to build up the Church, and each of these realities is valued by Anglicans as both legitimate and necessary for the advancement of the Church.

We are attaching a paper by Dr. Ralph D. Winter entitled, “The Two Structures of God’s Redemptive Mission,” that offers an overview of the two kinds of structures and how they work together. Dr. Winter served as a Presbyterian missionary to Guatemala from 1956-1966 and is the founder of the US Center for World Mission.  In addition, he developed the Perspectives Curriculum and was a Professor of the School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.  He continued to work with world mission until his death in 2009.

You can see Winter’s paper here.

This seems like a very abbreviated “mission statement” compared to the long, canon-law Pastoral Declaration from London in December.

Once again, the question should be asked as to why any of these things could not have been accomplished prior to the flight from Rwanda?

PEAR USA FAQs and Finances

PEAR USA has begun to cobble together a website. Also, the first financial report is up for all the world to see, here. What follows are a report and the FAQs from the new website:

A Visit with the PEARUSA Steering Team, February 10, 2012

May God give grace and peace as you read this report from your brothers serving Christ in the United States and Canada!

Yesterday our Steering Team had its third extended conference call since the Sacred Assembly. We are grateful for the support of our friends at Knox Seminary in providing the technology to enable us to talk across the miles.

The main substance of our conference was hearing from regional leaders who shared reports from their conversations with dozens of PEARUSA clergy over the past week. These conversations were a follow-up to an email blitz that began January 30: this linked message was sent on or shortly after January 30 to all PEARUSA clergy (all clergy whose orders are held in Rwanda) on behalf of Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje.

Although a few clergy that we called feel fully cared for in their current relationships and await further guidance through an AM bishop, most were grateful for the contact and conversation. The FAQs produced in previous weeks were helpful for some questions that arose, but many more questions about the future remain unanswered. It is clear that the biggest issue on everyone’s mind is, “What next?” In particular, “What is next for our relationship with the Anglican Church of Rwanda; and what is next in our relationship with the Anglican Church of North America?” Our urgent work lies in unraveling the answers to those questions.

Thankfully, the ball is rolling. Conversations with ACNA Archbishop Duncan and other ACNA bishops and canons are happening daily. The process for direct affiliation within existing and emerging ACNA dioceses is coming into focus, and Archbishop Rwaje has pledged full support to PEARUSA clergy and churches that choose that path. Rev Clark Lowenfield and his team are hard at work assembling the details, knowing that the steps will vary from situation to situation, from diocese to diocese. Nevertheless, a model for moving directly into ACNA is emerging and should come into focus within the next few weeks. Keep checking, or call Clark+.

1. What is PEARUSA?

a. PEARUSA is not a new entity: PEAR is the acronym for the Anglican Church of Rwanda. PEARUSA is simply a way to talk about and identify the US clergy who are seated in Rwanda and the churches they serve. Therefore, we are clergy and churches that seek to remain in active participation in mission and ministry under the oversight and care of the House of Bishops of Rwanda and Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje. In order to clear up confusion, we are using the name PEARUSA in an effort to reclaim and identify what we have always been. Continue reading “PEAR USA FAQs and Finances”

Fisking the AMiA “Letter on Their Future”

It’s been some time since we’ve had any official word out of the Design Group or AMiA in general about current events. The latest letter of February 16 doesn’t say much, but I’d like to read between the lines a bit and see what is there.

Last week, we gathered in a special meeting of the Council with a deep desire to seek Jesus’ heart for the Anglican Mission.

As we concluded our meeting, we were convinced that the Lord had truly met with us and had given us clear direction, enabling us to consider things in a new way with fresh insight.

We concluded our meeting united and confident that the Lord was showing us an exciting and challenging way forward.

Nothing that is said in the rest of the statement is new, and the bishops have made this claim of a new way for two or three months now, so it isn’t clear what the Lord showed the bishops this time that was new.

In order to more fully embrace our call of service to Christ’s Church, we have determined to form a Mission Society that is authentically Anglican and focused on North America.

The phrase “focused on North America” raises the question of if the “global missionary society” concept with Jon Shuler as some sort of bishop for overseas planting is now dead? If so, this would be a significant walking back from the earlier position of the “new thing” being global in nature. Perhaps the ACNA bishops have made clear to AMiA that the global concept will not work for them. Or perhaps the global idea is still on, but they just failed to mention it here.

The phrase “authentically Anglican” brings to mind Archbishop Duncan’s statement that a personal prelature is not Anglican. Coupled with the phrase “focused on North America”, this may tell us that the AMiA is indeed modifying the original vision of last year. Indeed, what follows in this statement is not at all different from what AMiA was doing prior to the flight from Rwanda (Egypt), except that there is no Rwandan oversight.

Like other mission societies that have historically supported the broader Church by planting churches on its behalf, we also feel called to express our ministry through such a model. (See attached documents.)

It’s difficult to know what this means without the attached documents, but I would guess that it references the same societies mentioned by Kevin Donlon last year in his turgid response to the first Washington Statement. The phraseology at this point is very much from the charismatic renewal, i.e. “feel called to.” And one wonders what was wrong with how AMiA “expressed its ministry” for the past eleven years?

This decision marks the first step in a process to develop the mission society as we continue to seek the Lord’s guidance with your input.

Factually, this is not true. I thought the London Statement issued when the leadership fled Rwanda was the bold declaration of an “emerging Mission Society”? Wouldn’t that make this at least the second step? While this might be a minor point, it does strike me as odd that this letter merely re-states what has already been said again and again, but casts it as if it were new. What is going on?

With this end in mind, we will be reviewing all of our structures and roles in order to discern the specific shape of the mission society as we engage our process.

My read on this is that ACNA is continuing to tell AMiA that Bishop Murphy may want to consider a new phase of ministry and that the bishop to church ratio is too high. This came through in the December statement from the Council of Bishops (COB) as well, but was quickly scuttled in statements from Bishop Murphy and Bishop Rodgers who mentioned “Hari Kari”, DNA and things of that nature.

We are committed to the following:

Again, none of what follows is different in any way from what AMiA was doing for eleven years and begs the question of why this rupture and upheaval was necessary if this is all that results from it?

* evangelism and discipleship through planting churches that plant churches;

* the expression of three streams: the Sacred (sacramental and liturgical) the Scripture (evangelical), and the Spirit (charismatic);

As an aside, it is striking how the “three streams” language is now de rigueur and almost a tenet of orthodoxy in North American Anglicanism.

* orthodox theology (adherence to the 39 Articles of Religion and historic formularies of the Church);

This is encouraging, although false. Kevin Donlon (amongst others) has openly disagreed with the 39 Articles for years and yet continues to operate at the highest levels of AMiA with no problems.

* Anglican polity;

AMiA is signaling its intention to remain Anglican, but Archbishop Ducan has said that they really are not at the present. Duncan has said, “They have not been so good about accountability and the unity of the church.” He also said, “They are now former Anglicans. That’s what they have to grapple with.” The Nairobi Communique from GAFCON said that AMiA would put on hold for six months “other plans for restructuring.” It is clear that AMiA is not complying with GAFCON. Bishop Murphy called the GAFCON statement “unhelpful.”

* fostering an entrepreneurial culture;

* pursuing both temporary (short-term solutions) and enduring relationships with an Anglican jurisdiction.

As I said, nothing is new to this except what entity AMiA is connected with. It is puzzling why there is a need for a temporary and an enduring relationship? Does this mean the Congo (for example) temporarily and ACNA in the long-term? It is another odd turn of phrase that raises more questions than it answers, to quote the Chairman.

This vision is consistent with our clear call to be “a mission, nothing more and nothing less.” Our focus on planting churches as an outreach for an existing judicatory within the one holy catholic and apostolic church continues our established pattern.

This established pattern also includes lack of accountability and fleeing church discipline.

As we continue our conversations and discernment with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), we will keep you fully informed.

This doesn’t seem true, because we have no details of what has been discussed or what is going on. Perhaps this is directed to a subset of AMiA, such as the clergy, who hear more from conference calls. In the cause of transparency, it would be nice if full meeting minutes from the Design Group were published.


Baudrillardian Anglicanism

Jean Baudrillard discussed hyperreality in his famous essay Simulacra and Simulations. He said:

The real is produced from miniaturized units, from matrices, memory banks and command models — and with these it can be reproduced an indefinite number of times. It no longer has to be rational, since it is no longer measured against some ideal or negative instance. It is nothing more than operational. In fact, since it is no longer enveloped by an imaginary, it is no longer real at all. It is a hyperreal: the product of an irradiating synthesis of combinatory models in a hyperspace without atmosphere.

His ‘desert of the real’ concept perhaps echoed Nietzsche, who long before had said that “truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are: metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.”

Operating with this in mind, one can ask what is signified by the term “Anglican” in the Anglican Mission in the Americas? What is real and what is imaginary in the term used by this organization? Does it refer to doctrinal formulations from the time of Queen Elizabeth I as mediated through historical prayer books and norms, or simply a simulacrum of the same? As Baudrillard said, “It is rather a question of substituting signs of the real for the real itself; that is, an operation to deter every real process by its operational double, a metastable, programmatic, perfect descriptive machine which provides all the signs of the real and short-circuits all its vicissitudes.” The appearance of reality is enough to sustain the organization and provide a semblance of historical connectedness, while allowing for a plurality of meanings, none of which really map the territory of liturgical/doctrinal norms. Borges puts it this way:

Menard, a contemporary of William James, defines history not as a delving into reality but as the very fount of reality. Historical truth, for Menard, is not “what happened”; it is what we believe happened. [from Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote]

The fount of reality dictated by statements that look at one polarity only, not casting a wider net to capture the possible origin of the event. For Baudrillard, this process proceeds as follows:

These would be the successive phases of the image:

It is the reflection of a basic reality.

It masks and perverts a basic reality.

It masks the absence of a basic reality.

It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum.

Discerning what stage of this schema that the Mission falls into is an individual judgement. The untethering of the Mission from a Provincial home added to the absence of Prayer Book worship and zeal for Elizabethan norms are indicative of a final simulacrum, as are the aversion to clerical dress and historic norms of ordination.

Applying Baudrillard’s categories to the AMiA is only a thought exercise, a tool to attempt to elaborate on what the simulacrum is actually simulating. The steady march towards discarding what was once thought of as Anglican sees its culmination in a series of referents, all pointing to each other and none to any definable core. Elsewhere, Baudrillard wrote:

As for the new events, one could say that they plough a void in front of themselves as they go along, wherein they also get swallowed up. It seems that everything jostles ahead in a haste to be forgotten. These events leave no place for interpretation, if not for all interpretations simultaneously, and where they skirt all the intent of meaning and the heavy/weighty attraction of a continued history as they enter on the light orbit of a discontinued history. They arrive faster than their shadow – unforeseen for the most part – however, do not have any consequences.

We must part ways with Baudrillard’s nihilism, and yet it is only with great effort that one can combat the weightless quality of events interpreted only by favored parties or internet press releases.

Leithart on Austen’s Anglicanism

Peter Leithart reviews Laura Mooneyham White’s Jane Austen’s Anglicanism here. Leithart says:

To today’s readers, Austen’s characters rarely pray or engage in overt religious activities, but that is partly an illusion. Because of her thorough knowledge of eighteenth-century Anglicanism, White is attuned to the religious overtones of Austen’s language. From the time of William Law’s Serious Call to the Devout Life (1729), the word “serious” had religious connotations. When she records that Emma Woodhouse is “very serious in her thankfulness” for Harriet Smith’s engagement to Robert Martin, Austen is telling us that Emma offered prayers of thanks. Similarly, apparently general words like “exertion,” “principle,” and “duty” are all religious terms in Austen’s world. Plus, more obvious religious ideas like sin, evil, atonement, fall, temptation, repentance, and contrition are present throughout her work. Even Austen’s restrained unmetaphorical style reflects the theologically-grounded neo-classicism of her time. Add to this the pervasive evidence that Austen shared common Anglican convictions about nature and the “chain of being,” it becomes clear that her novels are “imprinted” everywhere with her religious values.