Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Fourth Sunday after Trinity

The Collect.

O GOD, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal. Grant this, O heavenly Father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. Romans 8:18-23 (ESV)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

The Gospel. St. Luke 6:36-42 (ESV)

Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

He also told them a parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother's eye.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On General McChrystal

The fallout over "The Runaway General," Rolling Stone's profile of General Stanley A. McChrystal, seems to be rather overblown after reading the article (which I have just finished doing). While it is peppered with profanity -- as military life often is -- the most offensive of the remarks weren't really made by the General at all but rather by his staff; the General, on the other hand, comes across as a dedicated, hard-charging warrior -- someone devoted to his troops and to whom, generally speaking , they are likewise devoted.

One wonders why on earth he would even grant the interview in the first place. Rolling Stone is a generally leftist publication anyway (although they did carry P.J. O'Rourke for a number of years, cumulating in his service as the Chief of their Foreign Affairs desk) that focuses on music more than military affairs. If the interview was going to be granted one could hope that COL Charlie Flynn, General McChrystal's Chief of Staff, would ride herd on the staff to ensure that flippant and controversial comments would be kept to a minimum while the prying eyes of the media were around.

That, of course, didn't happen and General McChrystal has been summoned to the White House to meet with President Obama. There are reports that the General has submitted his resignation and reports that it has been declined. It remains to be seen whether General McChrystal will join fellow Celtic Generals McClellan and MacArthur in being removed from command.

One aspect of this whole story that I found a bit troubling, not because of the General per se but because of what it portends for society and the military are reports that General McChrystal voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 elections. While I disagree with his vote if that was the case, I am troubled with the fact that that information even came to the fore. For many years there was a tradition that active duty military officers were apolitical while serving. General George Patton even took that tradition so far as to have never registered to vote; his rationale, focused mainly on the office of President, was that if he voted for the incumbent he would have allowed his vote to be purchased and if he voted against the incumbent he would have committed a nearly mutinous act. A career officer who was a very close friend of mine since childhood (I conducted his funeral in 2005) told me that he didn't vote until he retired from the Army in the mid-1960s because Regular Army officers typically did not by tradition (he regularly voted and contributed to campaigns in retirement, however).

Times have changed. Units now have Voting Assistance Officers to facilitate voting via absentee ballot. While I certainly have no problem with those serving in uniform participating in the electoral process, I do question the wisdom of a senior General discussing how he voted.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Third Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

OLORD, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. 1 St. Peter 5:5-11 (ESV)

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

The Gospel. St. Luke 15:1-10 (ESV)

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Friday, June 11, 2010

Saint Barnabas the Apostle.

The Collect.


LORD God Almighty, who didst endue thy holy Apostle Barnabas with singular gifts of the Holy Ghost; Leave us not, we beseech thee, destitute of thy manifold gifts, nor yet of grace to use them alway to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen.

For the Epistle. Acts 11:22-30 (ESV)

The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). So the disciples determined, everyone according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

The Gospel. St. John 15:12-16 (ESV)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The First Sunday after Trinity

The Collect

OGOD, the strength of all those who put their trust in thee; Mercifully accept our prayers; and because, through the weakness of our mortal nature, we can do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping thy commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle. 1 St. John 4: 7-21 (ESV)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

The Epistle. St. Luke 16:19-31 (ESV)

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Notes on Nikki

I'm not sure I should leave South Carolina anymore! Just over a year ago I had gone to Bedford, Texas to attend the inaugural Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America when the story broke that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's whereabouts weren't entirely certain, but that he was somewhere on the Appalachian Trail. Literally on the day of my return (and the same day that Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson passed away -- it was a very busy news day!)the Governor confessed that he had strayed off of the trail (and away from his marriage) and had been down in Argentina.

Last week I was at Messiah College near Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for the annual Banner of Truth Ministers' Conference (an outstanding time of teaching, by the way) and while I was traveling up there I checked my Twitter feed and learned that Will Folks, the founding Editor of FITS News had "confessed" to an "inappropriate physical relationship" with Rep. Nikki Haley (R-Lexington), currently the front runner in next week's gubernatorial primary. Haley promptly denied it and it seems not to have hurt her campaign (while Folks has broken some interesting stories, his reputation is not the best). There seems to have been little effect (most people seeming to believe Haley's denial), although his "confession" was joined by a second claim by Columbia consultant Larry Marchant that he had had an one-night stand with Haley during a trip in 2008. Again, Hailey denied it and suggested a link to the Andre' Bauer campaign. Bauer, for his part, suggested that Haley should take a polygraph test regarding the charges and other matters.

Several observations:

1. Hailey is correct that the timing of these allegations is very suspect. It is interesting that both Folks and Marchant were mum until she was polling very favorably, gaining momentum and igniting the grass roots. It smells like a character assassination..

2. Even assuming that the charges of Folks and Marchant are true (and Folks' evidence is sketchy at best, only proving that they contacted each other frequently at a time when they were working together; Marchant has no evidence) these charges come ipso facto from men who committed adultery with another man's wife and then kissed (well, more than that) and told. Not men of very high character!

3. Conversely, admittedly, the reputations of both Folks and (especially) Marchant (both of whom are married men) will suffer by these admissions regardless of their truthfulness. That must at least be considered -- is that a sword upon which one would dubiously fall for a story or for a political candidate?

4. Haley's husband, Michael, is an officer in the South Carolina Army National Guard. I have not been able to ascertain what his assignment is, but his Facebook profile includes a photo of the patch of the unit now known as the 218th Maneuver Support Brigade but formerly known as the 218 Infantry Brigade (I served in the unit for several years in the early 1990s). Parts of that unit have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, meaning that the candidate's husband could've been in a combat zone during the time that these incidents allegedly took place. I mention that because, while all adultery is certainly wrong, commuting adultery with the wife of a man who's subject to IEDs, mortar fire, etc. because he's serving his country is particularly odious.

5. One of the few things potentially as odious as "4" would be to falsely claim that one had had an affair with the mother of two young children or to have a hand in the same. If it is uncovered that that is indeed the case, then those involved should be effectively anathematized from political life.

6. Haley has stated that she would resign if elected and it was later proved that she had been unfaithful to her husband, she'd resign. That's standing up to her opponents, and is praiseworthy.

The next few days (and, if there's a runoff -- and likely even if not) weeks should be interesting in this race!