Unmanned Space Exploration

Prometheus has me thinking about space travel again. The impossibility of humans traversing any meaningful distance away from Earth will not disappear anytime soon. The solution that sci fi reverts to is usually some version of ‘hypersleep’ or stasis. Personally, I don’t that will ever be feasible either. This leads to the possibility of unmanned missions, which I think offer far more promise in our current condition.

Stephen Hawking has said:

Robotic missions are much cheaper and may provide more scientific information, but they don’t catch the public imagination in the same way, and they don’t spread the human race into space, which I’m arguing should be our long-term strategy. If the human race is to continue for another million years, we will have to boldly go where no one has gone before.

While I agree that current robotic missions aren’t all that exciting (the Mars Rovers for example), I think a sustained vision of unmanned space travel could inspire us given developments on earth. The explosion of unmanned aircraft during the last decade means that we may soon adjust to flying on pilotless airplanes. There are already demonstrations of aircraft that might be able to fly in the Martian atmosphere. And given the advances of humanoid-type robots (see the video below), is it far-fetched to imagine a future crew staffed by android / robots and unmanned vehicles for the atmosphere and the ground?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mclbVTIYG8E]

I don’t know, maybe something like this?

[vimeo 33025640 w=500 h=281]

Given that moisture farming might not be so far-fetched either, maybe we could send out missions to our neighboring planets who could do things like mining, construction, research and reconnaissance. Constructing communications sites on the Moon and other locations to build a space internet would facilitate communication for future missions deeper into space. Video transmission from robotic missions would give us the ability to do a lot of human-like things without the expense and trouble of actually sending humans into hostile environments.

This seems like a more logical first wave of off world exploration to me, and it seems pretty doable even with current technology if the will to do it arises.

Good Stuff

Here are links to some good audio and text:

Borges lectures from the Sixties.

James Jordan lectures on six days of creation as the basis of Christian belief.

Rich Bledsoe lectures on living as the Church.

James Jordan thoughts, which I will steal here:

  • We want as many instruments in church as possible
  • The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is the theology of music
  • If our theology and liturgy is worth anything, it must be conversational – like God in Trinity
  • Theologians: Can’t we have a conversation?
  • If it has breath, it’s music. And the Holy Spirit is breath.
  • When the Kingdom comes, music comes
  • Would you ever sing a sermon?
  • When the Spirit is released, music is released. Reformation Europe.
  • Don’t let music flow from the world into the church. That’s the wrong direction.
  • The church must have her own musical style, for the Tabernacle and Temple had their own distinctive smell.
  • Ask yourself what you want your kids to learn by the time they are 18, then you know what to do in your liturgy
  • Musical instruments are an extension of the human body, which is itself an instrument
  • People want Natural Law as an alternative to Scripture, or a “parallel stream”, because what the Bible actually says is obnoxious to modern man. People want to fit in with the world.
  • The biblical chronology question is the camel’s nose in the tent, the first domino to fall.
  • The Bible is stuffed full of history. Anti-gnosticism.
  • Conservative evangelical kids go off to college,  and they become liberal once they start having sex (NTW)
  • The more prosperous a nation is, the more the Christians want to talk about the imminent end of the world and how everything is all about suffering.
  • Often a Prophet predicts the destruction of a city, and the fulfillment of that prophecy establishes the truthfulness of his predictions of the longer-term future.
  • Christian political engagement runs the risk of being ideas devoid of personhood, a Christian moral framework without a personal God.

Cultic Shrines from the Time of David

PaleoJudaica has this interesting story up today. Briefly:

Jerusalem, May 8, 2012—Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, the Yigal Yadin Professor of Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, announced today the discovery of objects that for the first time shed light on how a cult was organized in Judah at the time of King David. During recent archaeological excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a fortified city in Judah adjacent to the Valley of Elah, Garfinkel and colleagues uncovered rich assemblages of pottery, stone and metal tools, and many art and cult objects. These include three large rooms that served as cultic shrines, which in their architecture and finds correspond to the biblical description of a cult at the time of King David.

This discovery is extraordinary as it is the first time that shrines from the time of early biblical kings were uncovered. Because these shrines pre-date the construction of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem by 30 to 40 years, they provide the first physical evidence of a cult in the time of King David, with significant implications for the fields of archaeology, history, biblical and religion studies.

The absence of cultic images of humans or animals in the three shrines provides evidence that the inhabitants of the place practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines, observing a ban on graven images.

The findings at Khirbet Qeiyafa also indicate that an elaborate architectural style had developed as early as the time of King David. Such construction is typical of royal activities, thus indicating that state formation, the establishment of an elite, social level and urbanism in the region existed in the days of the early kings of Israel. These finds strengthen the historicity of the biblical tradition and its architectural description of the Palace and Temple of Solomon.

According to Prof. Garfinkel, “This is the first time that archaeologists uncovered a fortified city in Judah from the time of King David. Even in Jerusalem we do not have a clear fortified city from his period. Thus, various suggestions that completely deny the biblical tradition regarding King David and argue that he was a mythological figure, or just a leader of a small tribe, are now shown to be wrong.” Garfinkel continued, “Over the years, thousands of animal bones were found, including sheep, goats and cattle, but no pigs. Now we uncovered three cultic rooms, with various cultic paraphernalia, but not even one human or animal figurine was found. This suggests that the population of Khirbet Qeiyafa observed two biblical bans—on pork and on graven images—and thus practiced a different cult than that of the Canaanites or the Philistines.”

“A Scandal in the Body of Christ”

The Anglican TV interview with Archbishop Duncan that was released over the weekend was very revealing. Some of the salient points that jumped out at me are summarized below:

[1] Duncan recalled the 2010 separation of AMiA and ACNA and noted that AMiA claimed back then this separation was necessary because “the bishops of Rwanda required it, the canons demanded it, that the Anglican Mission could only be in one Province,” and so the AM moved from jurisdictional participation to Mission Partner status. These claims about why AMiA needed to separate were false (Archbishop Duncan didn’t say that, he implied it. I am saying it).

[2] Archbishop Duncan implied that the move to the Congo came as a shock even to the AM bishops. He said (my paraphrase) that the “statement from the Chairman about Congo came as a great surprise to almost everyone. Every indication, at least in terms of what leaders were saying, is that they were going to return to life and to relationship in North America.” So, Murphy may have acted without getting the prior consent of his bishops – what a shock right? Do you think the congregations and clergy were consulted prior to that announcement?

The Archbishop said, “…until very recent days we believed that the Anglican Mission was trying to come back into relationship with the ACNA, but the move to Congo and the things that have surrounded it, and indeed the bishops who have spoken to some of our bishops who have been AM bishops make it clear that really the AM is moving somewhat erratically and again is disintegrating further…further fracturing as the move to Congo is not widely applauded here in North America.”

[3] The Archbishop gave us a glimpse inside the South Africa meeting between the Rwandan bishops and the Pawleys Island folks. He said that “the result of those two meetings was I think some further pain in which the Anglican Mission in the Johannesburg meeting asked, and actually used the words, it’s time for a divorce. Rwanda has in a sense agreed to set the Anglican Mission free, but still, all of this is a great unhappiness even a scandal in the Body of Christ.”

[4] Duncan confirmed what I think was clear from reading between the lines of his December letter, namely, that any resolution with ACNA depended on Chairman Murphy moving on (something which probably doomed this from the start). He said, “The second issue, that the letter spoke about was the need for a change in leadership. we think that the AMiA really, for these last two years has been going in a direction that is not a direction that God can bless, again, if the vision He’s given is true, it’s a matter of being together here, not separated here. And so, how was the Mission going to take itself in a new direction and that probably meant, as that letter suggested, meant some new leadership.”

[5] The Archbishop also emphasized that a Mission Society cannot also be a jurisdiction, the AM needed to chose one or the other. He said, “in that letter we talked about jurisdiction, and any church body that has bishops and clergy and congregations and ordinations, that’s a jurisdiction, you can call it anything you want, you can call it a Missionary Society if you want, but that’s not classically what it is. Classically, its a jurisdiction.”

Of course, that flies in the face of everything that the AM has been trying to do for the past year. Archbishop Duncan speculated that “we could very soon be in a position where the Anglican Mission is not in any Province….it will look much more like a Continuing Church than as part of the Anglican Family.”

Congratulations to Anglican TV for this very enlightening interview and to Archbishop Duncan for his candor.

PEAR USA on Women’s Ordination

The Proposed Charter of the new Missionary District says:

Section 3. Men and Women in Ministry

PEARUSA upholds the biblical teaching that both men and women are created in God’s image and called to service in his Kingdom. For this reason, PEARUSA is committed to promoting the ministry of women alongside men, both within and outside the church. At the same time, the Bible also teaches that God created men and women with distinct differences, and has given them different roles within his Kingdom. Within the Anglican Communion there is a diversity of opinion regarding the ordination of women. While the Anglican Province of Rwanda does ordain women as Presbyters, PEARUSA does not, nor does it consecrate women as Bishops, nor does it receive or license women to serve as Presbyters or Bishops.

Technically, AMiA held this same position, although it watered it down over time by creating various sub-jurisdictions and entities. This is a very encouraging step towards rolling back the errors inflicted on the Church in the Seventies.

AM Missionary Society: Evolution of an Idea

Last May, Rev. Jon Shuler petitioned Archbishop Rwaje with an idea for his New Anglican Missionary Society (NAMS). Shuler said he was advancing this idea at the behest of Chuck Murphy. The idea was for Shuler to become an AMiA bishop and to be the Primatial Vicar for NAMS outreach to the world.

The NAMS idea was not the full-blown, canon law, College of Consultors Frankenstein that later emerged from the AMiA drawing board. In contrast, it envisioned partnering with supporting Provinces and supporting their work, with “Bishop Advocates” in each of nine major global population blocks of the world. Shuler also saw a sitting Archbishop as a “NAMS Archbishop Guardian” who would in some way guide the “Global Leadership Team” through a future Bishop Shuler. Shuler made it clear that he was happy being a priest, but Chuck Murphy had encouraged him to ask about being made a bishop in order to enhance the ministry of NAMS.

This preceded the Rwandan HOB meeting in June, where the document Why Did AMiA Break with Rwanda? tells us that:

The House of Bishops meeting is shortened due to unrelated and unexpected circumstances in the Province. Murphy’s hope of obtaining permission to consecrate more AMiA bishops is not included in the meeting agenda. The Rwandan Bishops unanimously resolve to call a meeting in Kigali in September for all bishops, Rwandan and AMiA, to discuss ways of working together more collegially. Murphy refuses, saying that it is both cost-­‐prohibitive and impractical to do so when they could all meet together in Texas in January 2012 after the Winter Conference. The Rwandan House agrees to delay the joint meeting until then.

The Rwandan bishops ask Murphy to answer questions regarding the AMiA tithe. Murphy has brought AMiA Executive Director H. Miller to give a presentation on the topic. In the interest of time, the Rwandan bishops request direct answers from Murphy and a written report. Murphy indicates that he is unprepared to do so.

During lunch, Murphy chooses not to eat with the bishops. After lunch, he announces that he has a plane to catch and leaves the meeting. After that, he meets for several hours with Kolini before flying home that evening. He later refers to this trip as a “painful visit.”

Bishop Barnum gives us a glimpse behind the curtain and says that Archbishop Kolini decided right then (in June) that the AM should leave Rwanda.

Our Chairman reported that in June, at some point during or after the turbulent House of Bishops meeting in Rwanda, retired Archbishop Kolini said to our Chairman that he believed it was time for AMIA to leave Rwanda.

Now, the NAMS idea was transformed into an idea for the entire Anglican Mission:

By mid-summer, our Chairman met in London with AMIA’s retired and founding archbishops. It was here, as I understand it, that the concept of a new AMIA Missionary Society took shape out of a perceived concern that AMIA was suddenly vulnerable to the leadership changes in Rwanda. As this meeting took place, the vision of the Missionary Society — a real, tangible “option” — was as yet completely unknown to, and outside the counsel of, our own Rwandan Archbishop, Onesphore Rwaje.

Cindy Brust in her press release of November 3rd said the opposite:

As was communicated to Mr. Conger, discussions about the possibility of formalizing what has long been the stated vision of theAM’s functioning as a missionary society, is simply that – a possibility being discussed that represents a consistent trajectory. Remaining connected to Rwanda remains a high value in these conversations, and we have no reason to believe this would change.

Fortunately, Archbishop Duncan has stood his ground and has said that the crazy idea that a Missionary Society with a College of Consultors and a Primatial Vicar (with paid ‘oversight’) is not authentically Anglican and has implicitly indicated that Chuck Murphy needs to move on, something that Murphy has not found himself able to do. This mess has been a long time coming.

The Long and Winding Road

It is difficult to keep up with the permutations and intricacies of AMiA polity even for a nerd like me. Let me do my best to capture the essence of the changes from the past six months.

1. The Rwandan House of Bishops made numerous attempts to communicate with Murphy via telephone, email, and in person. Finally, on Nov. 30th Archbishop Rwaje sends Murphy a letter that says in part:

You have constantly disregarded the decisions and counsels of the House of Bishops. You have misused the authority given to you by the Archbishop in advancing your New Missionary Society interests.  We wrote  you a letter twice to halt the advancement of the society, and you have ignored us to where you are at step 8th of 10. You have insulted our house using abusive language (knucklehead, reversed colonialism, lawlessness, etc…). You have dogged questions of financial transparency and yet in the September meeting you had promised that you will send all the financial transactions meant for Rwanda.

2. Rather than submitting to his ecclesiastical authority, Murphy and the majority of his bishops flee Rwanda on December 5th. Bishop Barnum says to Murphy prior to this cowardly move, “If we have any authority as bishops to bring ‘godly discipline’ then we’ve got to model being under and complying to ‘godly discipline’ …Model being under authority for us, for the Mission. Don’t let us divide… For the sake of the Mission, for the sake of all who look to you as a model of godly leadership, come under the discipline of your Archbishop.”

Murphy ignores all this and tells Archbishop Rwaje: “I now see a parallel between the Exodus story and the present situation with Rwanda and the PEAR…We actually see the Lord’s hand in all of this, and we are, therefore, at peace with this change and with this new reality.”

3. On December 14th, the AM issues a letter called “Apostolic Covering and Oversight” from the three retired Archbishops. It says: “Hence, we have unanimously agreed to designate you, Bishop Chuck Murphy, as the Lead-Bishop to lead this Anglican Mission in America.”
But that’s not all! They also issued “A Pastoral Declaration for Ministry in The Anglican Mission in the Americas An Emerging Mission Society”. I went over the envisioned structure in this post.

4. The AM bishops then huddled in Charlotte after that meeting sent some bishops to meet with ACNA, establishing a Design Group that attempted to negotiate a way for AMiA to partner with ACNA. The AM folks said:

On December 20, 2011, Bishops Chuck Murphy, Doc Loomis and John Rodgers and representatives from the Anglican Mission in the Americas participated in a very encouraging conversation during a meeting with Archbishop Robert Duncan, Bishops Leonard Riches and Charlie Masters of the Anglican Church in North America. The joyful result of these conversations was a mutual pledge to wholeheartedly pursue a restoration of the relationship between The Anglican Mission and the Anglican Church in North America. The ACNA and AMiA have appointed four bishops to engage in a determined effort to bring about at the earliest possible time a reunion of The Anglican Mission, a founding partner of the ACNA, to full participation in the life and ministry of the Anglican Church in North America. Both parties recognize that this is the beginning of a process, which will involve a number of strategic decisions as well as the repair and restoration of relationships.

5. As part of this attempt by AMiA to do something with ACNA, ACNA insists that the rebellious bishops reconcile with Rwanda. This results in a meeting in Nairobi between Murphy, Archbishop Rwaje and others. A communique is issued that includes this:

AMiA agreed to continue to work with the Church of Rwanda and that other plans for restructuring will be put on hold for six [6] months to allow time for healing and for other fruitful discussions.

Note that this was not even six months ago!

Murphy’s response to the communique is puzzling, he tells David Virtue that “it raised more questions than it answered. It was not helpful in moving forward towards reconciliation, as none of the issues of authority were really resolved.”

6. Next comes the AMiA Winter Conference where former Archbishop Kolini tells AMiA clergy that “it is reverse colonialism.” Kolini also says, “Rwanda wanted to hold a remote control to the AM, that had to be resisted. We shall remain in relationship with Rwanda – godly people from Rwanda and America, Baptists, Catholics, whoever. But we shall resist the spirit of remote control.”

Ordinations at the Winter Conference are conducted under the auspices of the Congo.

7. After another ACNA / AMiA meeting in February, the AM bishops send out a letter with a shorter Missionary Society synopsis that is much different from the long-winded document put out in December.

8. Murphy, Rwaje and others meet again in Johannesburg on March 13th. They essentially agree to disagree, and move on.

9. Archbishop Rwaje tells the AM bishops to move on, resign or face discipline.

10. The AM suddenly finds a home in the Congo, “temporarily.”

11. “Several” AM bishops approach ACNA about transferring into ACNA. Archbishops Duncan and Rwaje respond on 28 April.

12. Two AM bishops transfer to ACNA as Assistant Bishops, the AM emphasizes that this is temporary.

13. The AM issues yet another letter, this time a “Decree” establishing (yet again) the Mission Society. By my count, this is the 2nd founding, December was the first. Now, the Congo is home, no repentance happened, AMiA did not join ACNA, and the retired Archbishops get to keep on being involved. It appears that the talks between the Design Group of ACNA and AMiA are over (who knows?), and the new AM setup is utterly confusing. The sequence is:
a. Found the Mission Society (December);
b. Negotiate with ACNA (Dec-April)
c. Found the Mission Society (April)