Preserving the past

Roger Pearse has a good post up on the historical preservation of digital content here. A snippet:

As I thought about all of this, I started to wonder about the results of my labours.  What will become of the translations that I made, or commissioned, which are all of value?  In every case there is or was no other English translation.  Can anybody find them?

In the past I relied on the decentralised nature of the web.  I was and am very happy for anybody to mirror my content, or to upload it anywhere.  The more the merrier, I thought, and thereby preservation is ensured.

But can anybody find any of this stuff any more?  I wonder, sometimes.  And what happens to my sites, my content, when, in the passage of time, something happens to me?

In the past I never worried about this, because I knew that Archive.org existed, and I felt that it would all get preserved somehow.  But is this true any more?  Are there measures that we should take, those of us working in specialised areas, to preserve our content?  If so, where?

I know myself that I have to work quite hard to preserve even the recent past. Texts, email, Facebook chats…they all take a good deal of work to save if you want to do so.

2020

It is commonplace to talk about what a year this has been, and yet I can only echo that sentiment. As I write this a good friend of mine has Covid, a family I know is suffering with it, and it seems like storm clouds have gathered all around. Due to spending so much time at home, it has felt like a long year, even though I love spending time at home.

All of my life I wondered what would happen to the Church if persecution or suffering came upon it, this year gave me an answer, and it wasn’t good. Instead of repentance, sackcloth, ashes, or a deep reformation and turning to the Scriptures, I saw politics, hatred, infighting, denial, arrogance, and foolishness. It is impossible to generalize about thousands of congregations across the country, let alone the world, but from where I sit I did not see the Church repent or search herself for sin. I saw pastors rushing to tell us that God does not punish nations with things like plagues. I saw congregants leave church rather than wear a mask because of some weird theological or more likely political reason. The idolatry I saw for Donald Trump was unlike anything I would have believed possible from people who should know better, and was akin to the Messianic frenzy that greeted Senator Obama on the campaign trail in 2008. It is a truly depressing time in the Church and the world, although there is a lot of hope on the horizon.

I would like to think that Christians will mature and embrace reason, paired with a deeper dive into the Scripture and history of the Church. However, I generally think that things will continue as they are. There is nothing new under the sun and the condition of humanity in our age is about what it always has been, which is to say poor.

I don’t have much hope for the ACNA and I am generally disengaged from its struggles because of this. Perhaps due to age or life circumstances, there is a weariness that comes with the rancor and failure to change on the part of our churches. Someone said, “Institutions, like organisms, seek survival for themselves and their descendants.” That’s what I see ACNA and the various sub-jurisdictions doing. The Church needs a reformation as badly now as it did 15 years ago, if not more.

CANA becomes CONNAM

I just saw this:

Appointment of Bishop Felix Orji as the Coordinating Bishop of the Church of Nigeria North American Mission (CONNAM)

The Rt Rev’d Dr Felix Orji, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the West in the United States has been appointed as the Coordinating Bishop of the Church of Nigeria North American Mission (CONNAM) with immediate effect.

By this appointment Bishop Orji will coordinate the mission of the Church of Nigeria in the United States which operates in two Dioceses: Anglican Diocese of the Trinity (ADOTT) under the Rt Rev’d Amos Fagbamiye and the Anglican Diocese of the West under the Rt Rev’d Felix Orji.

The appointment was signed by the Primate of All Nigeria, His Grace, the Most Rev’d Henry C. Ndukuba on Friday October 16, 2020.

Congratulations to the Rt Rev’d Felix Orji, the Coordinating Bishop of CONNAM.

The LORD be with you.

The Ven. Paul Dajur, PhDGeneral

Secretary CON

I wonder what prompted this change?

This is why you avoid tainted leaders

Ravi Zacharias's Ministry Investigates Claims of Sexual Misconduct at Spas  | News & Reporting | Christianity Today

Over a year ago I expressed my disappointment that Ravi Zacharias was being invited to speak at the ACNA Assembly; you can read the post here. Lo and behold, the now dead Zacharias is being exposed more and more. One of the worst things about his sexual sins is that they caused others to give up on the faith:

One of the women said she stopped believing in God for a while after her encounter with Zacharias but has returned to faith after extensive counseling. Another said she has not been to church since and can’t trust religious institutions. It took her seven years of therapy to come to the conclusion that what Zacharias did to her was not her fault, she said.

The third moved away from Atlanta, changed names, changed careers, and never mentioned what happened—not even to her closest family—until she was contacted by CT.

“I put all of that behind me,” she said. “I don’t want money and don’t want them to even know who I am. The only reason I’m talking is for other women out there who have been hurt by him.”

ACNA messed up by inviting the fraudulent apologist because his history was already public knowledge, it was not some big secret. The latest stories from his spas are revolting and new information, but there was enough out there at the time to see that we should steer clear of him.

The other speaker I was worried about was Archbishop Mbanda. He has shown his true colors many times but western Anglicans are generally too ignorant to connect the dots and see his problems.

Who we ally with can say a lot about who we are. ACNA lacks wisdom in this area.

Another case of sexual misconduct in ACNA

Antonio Castañeda

While talking to Bart Gingerich about sexual misconduct cases in ACNA he mentioned another case from the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. A priest named Jesus Antonio Castañeda-Serna was accused of sexual misconduct and arrested on February 24th 2019. The Fresno chief of police said:

…the victims…would seek out Serna for counseling and healing from heartbreak to drug addiction. An arrest warrant says Serna would tell them they were cursed, and needed a healing massage and prayer with a special oil. Dyer said he would have the men disrobe and then carried out sexual acts.

The Diocese put out a statement that said:

Castañeda (commonly known as Father Antonio Castañeda) joined the diocese in 2008 as the vicar of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Fresno, California. On the evening of October 29, 2017, Bishop Eric Menees received credible accusations that Castañeda had committed sexual misconduct against adults in the diocese. The following morning, Bishop Menees suspended Castañeda from all pastoral and priestly ministry and reported the accusations to the police.
The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin hired an independent third party to conduct an internal investigation. Pursuant to diocesan policy, Castañeda was notified of his right to representation at an ecclesiastical trial convened to hear the accusations. On November 24, 2017, Castañeda informed the bishop he would not contest the accusations, and he consented to be deposed from priestly ministry in the Anglican Church. Castañeda was then stripped of all priestly roles, privileges, and standing, and Bishop Menees began lending day-to-day pastoral care and oversight to Castañeda’s former congregation.

Disturbingly, Castañeda had previously withdrawn from the Roman Catholic priesthood before coming to the Diocese of San Joaquin and apparently the diocese was warned about his sexual misconduct with an adult and yet took him in! Donald W. Meyers wrote in the Yakima Herald:

Serna was a priest in the Yakima Diocese in 1997, but was suspended in 2005 amid allegations that he had revealed information he received in the confessional, said Monsignor Robert Siler, spokesman for the diocese.

While the diocese was investigating that and seeking direction from the Vatican, Castañeda Serna asked to withdraw from the priesthood, Siler said — a request granted in 2007. The diocese notified regional parishes that Castañeda Serna might attempt to pass himself off as a priest, Siler said.

A year later, the diocese attempted to look into an allegation that Castañeda Serna had engaged in sexual misconduct with an adult while a priest, but Siler said Serna did not cooperate with the diocese’s investigator. That allegation was passed on to Castañeda Serna’s Anglican diocese, Siler said. Siler said the Yakima Diocese has put Fresno investigators in touch with the man who made the allegation.

Anglican priest facing charges in California once served in Yakima Diocese

If the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin knew about the allegations against Castañeda in 2008 and did not remove him at that time, allowing him to assault more victims, that is a sickening failure. ACNA did not exist at this time so he would have come in under The Episcopal Church, which means it is more of a problem with San Joaquin than with the broader church. How on earth was he cleared to be a priest in TEC with his history? This is a clear failure and does show a problem in at least one ACNA diocese.

ACNA and sexual misconduct

Yesterday the ACNA posted this press release:

Earlier this year, the Board of Inquiry, a panel required by the Anglican Church in North America’s Constitution and Canons, found cause for ecclesiastical charges to be brought against The Right Reverend Ron Jackson. These charges were brought forward after private, earlier efforts by the Archbishop and fellow bishops to facilitate restoration proved unfruitful.

On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, Bishop Jackson admitted to the use of pornography over many years and pleaded guilty to the charges of sexual immorality (Canon IV.2(6)) and conduct giving just cause for scandal or offense (Canon IV.2(4)).

According to Canon IV.8(2) it is the responsibility of the College of Bishops to impose a sentence when a bishop is guilty of an ecclesiastical charge. Meeting on June 2, 2020, the College voted to impose the sentence of deposition from the sacred ministry on Bishop Jackson. His holy orders have been removed, and he is no longer permitted to engage in ordained ministry in the Anglican Church in North America.

In making this decision, the College of Bishops grieved the victimization of those caught up in the pornography industry and lamented the impact that moral failure in leadership has upon the whole Church and its witness. They also expressed their love and concern for Ron and Patty Jackson and their whole family, and assured them of the College’s unqualified desire to see Ron continue in the process of repentance and healing.

Please continue to pray for all those involved in or affected by this situation.

http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/2053

Although grievous, this is a good thing. It is good that the man was exposed and removed, although it was so late in life that it worries me to think that he was in the clergy and in leadership for many, many years while engaged in a massively sinful double-life.

I hope that ACNA and the various sub-jurisdictions are doing a good job of screening leaders and guarding the flock. I know some problems are hard to detect and that wolves are good at hiding, but the veneration that many lend to bishops and clergy can make ACNA a very dangerous place if there are sexual crimes or patterns of sin taking root.

On June 10, 2012 Bishop Julian Dobbs ordained the Rev. Kent Hinkson to the diaconate. Hinkson was a volunteer minister at All Saints Church in Durham and had been a pastor at Presbyterian churches in Texas, California and Florida before joining the ACNA. In 2014 Hinkson met a man named Matthew John Reed on a gay website. On August 4 2014 Hinkson left his home and told his family he was going to visit a pharmacy and make a deposit at a Durham bank. Instead he met Reed at a restaurant, then proceeded to the Eno River State Park where there was a sexual encounter. Reed then threatened to reveal the rendezvous and asked for hush money. He became angry and killed Hinkson.

In 2019 Father Eric Dudley of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Tallahassee was found to have “…engaged in sexual misconduct against certain adult staff members and one other non-staff adult, abused his authority as an employer and priest and emotionally harmed those in his charge.”[1]https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/local/2019/11/25/st-peters-founder-eric-dudley-committed-sexual-misconduct-investigation-finds/4298058002/ This included things like:

With each of these reported victims, the relationships with Father Eric not only grew much more personal, but they eventually crossed physical boundaries. This usually occurred when the men were alone, and Father Eric engaged them in a personal conversation about previously known vulnerabilities. Almost inevitably, this resulted in someone crying and Father Eric engaging in some form of physical contact, such as putting his head in the reported victim’s lap, holding the reported victim’s hands, touching the reported victim’s feet, or otherwise caressing the reported victim. In many cases, the physical contact escalated to the point that Father Eric was arranging to sleep in the same bed as the reported victim; he even kissed a reported victim on the mouth. If the respective person expressed any uneasiness with the touching, Father Eric would either normalize the behavior (such as by explaining that he was just an affectionate person or talking about men holding hands or kissing in other cultures) or reassure the victim that he was not sexually attracted to men.

Eventually this escalated:

As the communications, meetings, and personal activities that Father Eric demanded from these young men grew in frequency and intensity, the reported victims and their spouses became increasingly annoyed and troubled. Attempts by the reported victims to reduce communications and contact with Father Eric, however, were often met with guilt trips, anger, and sometimes rage. Father Eric’s escalation of misconduct over time led each victim to disclose their experiences.

Were there clues in the past of these clergy that might have revealed the problems before they were brought into ACNA? How thorough is the vetting process for established clergy coming in from elsewhere? I know in AMiA before 2010 it was broken and allowed divorced priests in that should never have been allowed in.

ACNA had made a great deal of having a “startup culture” and has valued an “entrepreneurial” mindset in its clergy or aspiring clergy. I would say that we have been “hasty in the laying on of hands” and we are stuck with clergy who should not be ordained. I don’t mean those in sexual sin but unorthodox and unsound, spineless and clueless. But the case of Bishop Jackson shows that there may also be issues of sexual sin. Given the correct conduct of the Council of Bishops we can be grateful, but it is something that bears watching. Let’s hope that there isn’t fire where there is smoke and that we haven’t got a larger problem on our hands.

References

1 https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/local/2019/11/25/st-peters-founder-eric-dudley-committed-sexual-misconduct-investigation-finds/4298058002/

LDS movement on Heavenly Mother

The LDS Church acknowledges that if there is a Father in Heaven, there must be a Mother too. Their official website says:

Latter-day Saints direct their worship to Heavenly Father, in the name of Christ, and do not pray to Heavenly Mother. In this, they follow the pattern set by Jesus Christ, who taught His disciples to “always pray unto the Father in my name.” Latter-day Saints are taught to pray to Heavenly Father, but as President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The fact that we do not pray to our Mother in Heaven in no way belittles or denigrates her.” Indeed, as Elder Rudger Clawson wrote, “We honor woman when we acknowledge Godhood in her eternal Prototype.”

–Gospel Topics Essays: Mother in Heaven
The cover of a book by Caitlin Connolly.

A book receiving a lot of attention is called A Girl’s Guide to Heavenly Mother which affirms this view which has a lot of traction among younger Saints in particular.

Latter-Day Saint apologist Jaxon Washburn has taken things much further, openly equating Heavenly Mother with Asherah in the Old Testament:

We believe in God, the Eternal Mother, and in Her Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.In ancient Israel, Her name was Asherah, meaning “happiness,” “blessedness,” or “holy place”.The Queen of Heaven, She is the Mother of our spirits.She possesses a glorified, physical, and tangible body of flesh and bone. Exalted, divine, immortal, perfected, standing fully equal with Her Husband.She holds all power, glory, and intelligence in perfect unity with Him.We sat and listened, before this world was, as both She and the Father presented the Great Plan of Happiness.She was there as the foundations of the earth were laid, the clouds above established, and the seas divided.Every one of us is made in Her likeness and image.Her work and Her glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of humanity.She hears our prayers, She loves Her children, and She readily pours out bounteous blessings upon them that turn to Her.Our theology begins with Heavenly Parents. Our highest aspiration is to be like Her and the Father.She can be found in the holy temple, in nature and the fullness of its creation, and near to our hearts whenever we need Her.The Son beckons to us all, “Behold thy Mother”. All things denote there is a Mother.#HappyMothersDayArtwork: J. Kirk Richards, “The Goddess Speaks” 2014

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While I expect the LDS Church to shrink in the USA, I think it will grow for some time in Africa. I wonder if this doctrine will help or hinder that growth?

Posted in LDS

A prayer in the time of plague

IT had been the best for us, O most righteous Judge, and our most merciful father, that in our wealth and quietness, and in the midst of thy manifold benefits continually bestowed upon us most unworthy sinners, we had of love hearkened to thy voice, and turned unto thee our most loving and gracious father: For in so doing, we had done the parts of good and obedient loving children, It had also been well, if at thy dreadful threats out of thy holy word continually pronounced unto us by thy servants our preachers, we had of fear, as corrigible servants, turned from our wickedness. But alas we have shewed hitherto our selves towards thee, neither as loving children (O most merciful father) neither as tolerable servants, O Lord most mighty.
Wherefore now we feel thy heavy wrath, O most righteous Judge, justly punishing us with grievous and deadly sickness and plagues; we do now confess and acknowledge, and to our most just punishment do find indeed, that to be most true, which we have so often hard threatened to us out of thy holy scriptures, the word of thy eternal verity: that thou art the same unchangeable God, of the same justice that thou wilt, and of the same power that thou canst punish the like wickedness and obstinacy of us impenitent sinners in these days, as thou hast done in all ages heretofore. But the same thy holy Scriptures, the word of thy truth, do also testify, that thy strength is not shortened but that thou canst: neither thy goodness abated but that thou wilt, help those that in their distress do flee unto thy mercies, and that thou art the same God of all, rich in mercy towards all that call upon thy name, and that thou dost not intend to destroy us utterly, but fatherly to correct us; who hast pity upon us, even when thou dost scourge us, as by thy said holy word thy gracious promises, and the examples of thy saints in thy holy Scriptures expressed for our comfort, thou hast assured us.
Grant us, O most merciful father, that we fall not into the uttermost of all mischiefs, to become worse under thy scourge, but that this thy rod may by thy heavenly grace speedily work in us the fruit and effect of true repentance, unfeigned turning and converting unto thee, and perfect amendment of our whole lives, that, as we through our impenitence do now most worthily feel thy justice punishing us, so by this thy correction we may also feel the sweet comfort of thy mercies, graciously pardoning our sins, and pitifully releasing these grievous punishments and dreadful plagues. This we crave at thy hand, O most merciful father, for thy dear son our Savior Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

The Predestination Controversy

Stavanger Lutheran Church in Ossian Iowa.

Norwegian Lutheran immigrants to the United States created several different denominations over the years, but the most prominent during the 19th century was the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church known as The Norwegian Synod. The Synod was organized in 1853. In later decades the Synod was rocked by several theological controversies, including fights over absolution, justification, and eventually election/predestination.

    Reading literature from that time you quickly realize that the Predestination Controversy (naadevalgsstriden) was not confined to seminaries but divided entire Norwegian communities in the Midwest. Jon Gjerde puts it this way:

The controversy began among the clergy but quickly spread to the laity. Church members passionately discussed the theological questions, according to one participant, “on the streets and in the alleys, in stores and in saloons, and through a continuous flow of agitating articles [in newspapers and periodicals].” words occasionally led to fights. “They argued predestination in the saloons, with their tongues,” said one, “and settled it in the alley with their fists.” Although fisticuffs were rare, certain Norwegian congregations suffered wrenching internal strife. “The ties of old friendship broke,” remembered one man. “Neighbor did not speak to neighbor. The daughter who was married to a member of the other party became a stranger in her father’s house. Man and wife turned into dog and cat. Brothers and sisters were sundered from one  another.” (Gjerde 1997 page 118)

Bibliography

Gjerde, Jon. 1997. The Minds of the West Ethnocultural Evolution in the Rural Middle West, 1830-1917. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press.