Diocese of Montreal evicts witches from rectory

As I mentioned here, a Diocese of Montreal parish is renting space in its rectory to witches. The original article, published in a pagan news site, The Wild Hunt, was taken down but has now been reinstated.

The diocese has now asked the two witches to leave the rectory belonging to St. Thomas’ Anglican Church, a parish which declares itself to be a welcoming, inclusive church. This can only mean that, even in Canadian Anglicanism, there is such a thing as too much inclusion. This is from the original article:

It is uncommon for Pagan groups to be operating out of an Anglican church facility, which begs the question: how are the Pagans and Anglicans getting along as neighbours?

Jory cannot say enough about how accommodating and cooperative the relationship has been. “They are fine with us doing our Pagan stuff indoors, they just say please don’t do rituals outside, because not everybody will understand. So, that’s our respect for them, we are on their ground.”

This relationship has provided opportunity for both sides to work together on interfaith projects. “They do a bunch of interfaith stuff. They wanted to do something that would help build community,” Jory explains.

Here is the update:

MONTREAL —  On Jan. 11, T. Scarlet Jory, co-founder of Crescent Moon School of Magic and Paganism, announced that The Rectory would be closing down as of February 2017. “This past Friday, January 6, 2017, we were given notice that we will need to leave our stay at the Rectory, due to some very awful miscommunications that led to a lot of anger on the part of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal.”

On Jan 5., TWH reported on a story about the birth of The Rectory, a new facility serving the Montreal Pagan community. According to the founders, Robyn and T. Scarlet Jory, the space was imagined as a place of inclusivity for a very diverse Pagan world, as a well as a proponent of interfaith community support. They had a successful soft opening in the fall, and were preparing for the full launch in January. What happened?

The trouble began after the TWH article was published and members of the greater Anglican community alerted the Diocese to the activities going on in the church. The Diocese and the church were under the impression that the space was being rented for a tutoring program, and neither organization knew of The Rectory founders’ full plans. After the Diocese learned about the scope of programming through internet reports, it immediately contacted the Reverend, who then called Robyn and Jory. In response, the two women asked us to temporarily remove our article in order to allow them to ascertain what exactly was happening. We agreed to do so, but the information was already public. Within hours, the founders had to remove all references to The Rectory in social media, as well as take down the new Rectory website.

In her Jan. 11 announcement Jory states that, after consideration, the Diocese asked them to leave, but it was not the church’s decision. Jory added, “We would like to be clear that the matter of our leaving is not a case of Christians vs Pagans. It is a matter of human error. […]. Rather than fight to stay where we are not welcome, we would like to move forward peacefully, with dignity, and respect for our present hosts who have been perfectly lovely with us to this point.”  Robyn agreed, saying that they are not blaming anyone for what has happened and that they are trying to just move forward.

Our article is available again, and we are currently in touch with the founders to learn more specifically where and how the communication broke down, as well as where the two women are going from here. Tomorrow, we’ll bring you their candid responses and what they have learned from this incident.

The 50 countries where Christian persecution is worst

Here is the list for 2017:

  1. North Korea
  2. Somalia
  3. Afghanistan
  4. Pakistan
  5. Sudan
  6. Syria
  7. Iraq
  8. Iran
  9. Yemen
  10. Eritrea
  11. Libya
  12. Nigeria
  13. Maldives
  14. Saudi Arabia
  15. India
  16. Uzbekistan
  17. Vietnam
  18. Kenya
  19. Turkmenistan
  20. Qatar
  21. Egypt
  22. Ethiopia
  23. Palestinian Territories
  24. Laos
  25. Brunei
  26. Bangladesh
  27. Jordan
  28. Myanmar
  29. Tunisia
  30. Bhutan
  31. Malaysia
  32. Mali
  33. Tanzania
  34. Central African Republic
  35. Tajikistan
  36. Algeria
  37. Turkey
  38. Kuwait
  39. China
  40. Djibouti
  41. Mexico
  42. Comoros
  43. Kazakhstan
  44. United Arab Emirates
  45. Sri Lanka
  46. Indonesia
  47. Mauritania
  48. Bahrain
  49. Oman
  50. Colombia

Easy reflections from Auschwitz

Easy? Yes, these remarks from Justin Welby are easy because he is making them from a distance – a temporal distance of over 70 years. It is easier to blame our forebears for their sins than to acknowledge our own sin of failing to denounce a horror that is in front of our noses – just because it is a cultural norm.

Between 1940 and 1945 up to 1.5 million people were murdered in Auschwitz – an incomprehensible atrocity. In 2016, 40 million babies were murdered in the womb; around 125,000 per day, an atrocity so far outside the safe space of liberal pseudo-thought that it is beyond the ability of churchmen like Welby to even acknowledge, let alone denounce. Perhaps, one day, just as the residents of Dachau were made to view the horrors on their doorstep, crypto-liberals like Welby will be compelled to acknowledge the holocaust that is too close for comfort.

In the meantime, we will have to put up with some easy reflections:

This was my third visit to Auschwitz / Birkenau, and each time has been even more appalling. In early January the cold is penetrating, between nine and 14 degrees below centigrade. We were fully equipped with snow boots, layers of clothing, hats, gloves, scarves. . . yet it worked through layer after layer until we were cold to the core. The prisoners wore the equivalent of pyjamas and clogs. We were out in that cold for five hours in the day. They would be out for 12 hours. We were fed. They were starved.

There are so many statistics about Auschwitz / Birkenau, but it defies description. Eighty-five per cent of prisoners died. Many in just days of arriving. Then there was the industrialised killing of the gas chambers. The vulnerable, the disabled, marginalised minorities, and above all the Jews: children, adults and the elderly, taken from a train to their deaths in as little as 30 minutes. Accounts were kept, profits were sought. No one can deny the reality of what happened. There is simply far, far, far too much evidence.

Fred Hiltz invites prayer for the USA

Actually, as is so often the case, Hiltz offers his political opinions to God – who must have been waiting to hear them with bated breath – and us in this statement, thinly disguised as an invitation to prayer:

Next week, the eyes and ears of all Americans and indeed many other people around the world will be turned toward Capitol Hill in Washington as Donald Trump takes the Oath of Office as the 45th President of the United States.

Many of course will be rejoicing in his inauguration and eagerly anticipating his administration.  Many others are anxious.  Given some of the rhetoric in his campaign for election, they are wondering how tolerant he will be of the multi-racial, -cultural and -religious textures with which the fabric of the United States of America is woven.

In the face of an ever-growing gulf between Americans who are rich and Americans who are poor, there is considerable angst as to how the Trump administration will address this concern.  Many eagerly await initiatives that will be in the form of laying firm foundations ensuring equality of access to health care, education, and employment opportunities for all Americans.

Mexicans wonder about the nature of future relationships with the United States and so too do many Canadians.  World leaders will be watching to see how he takes his place in the gatherings where they take counsel together for peace and security of the world, and for the care of the earth itself.

It’s instructive to compare the scolding tone of the above with the gushing sycophancy on display in this letter to Justin Trudeau after he was elected Prime Minister:

On behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), we extend our heartfelt congratulations to you as our new Prime Minister.

You have set a bold vision for our country. The times in which we live call for visionary leadership in Canada and in the world so that we may build a truly just, healthy and peaceful world.

We welcome your approach to governance and your commitment to work closely with all levels of government on issues such as homelessness, lifting children and seniors out of poverty, improving our welcome of refugees, and refocusing development assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable. Anglicans and Lutherans from coast to coast to coast share a deep concern and profound hope for justice, peace and the well-being of creation. Your invitation to Provincial Premiers and to representatives of other political parties to participate in the Climate Change Conference in Paris is an important sign of the kind of partnership needed to address critical issues.

We support your commitment to implementing the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. We share the goal to build and strengthen relationships across Canada—with Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians—grounded in right relationships, compassion and justice.

We assure you that week by week, members of our churches are praying for you, for all Members of Parliament, and for the Government of Canada. May your service to this country be a blessing to many, and may God guide us in the better future we intend to foster together.

Yours in Christ,

The Most Rev. Fred J. Hiltz

Diocese of B.C. to proceed with same-sex marriages

Bishop Logan McMenamie has stated that he will not wait for the next vote on the marriage canon change in 2019 but will start performing same-sex marriages immediately.

The Diocese of BC has joined the growing number of dioceses for whom synod voting signifies little more than empty gestures emanating from the meaningless gatherings of a decaying organisation.

The other dioceses that are ignoring the synod processes include: Niagara, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Huron, Rupert’s Land. There are probably others. Soon, it will quicker to list dioceses that are not performing same-sex marriages.

From here (page 2):

After receiving the thoughts of the clergy of the diocese the Bishop has decided to move forward with the marriage of same sex couples in the Diocese. He will permit this on a case by case basis after conversation with the clergy person who will officiate at the marriage. He told the members of council that principle takes precedence over process in this issue. He went on to say that unity is not agreement but rather the willingness to work together and to walk together.

Objections to consecration of Toronto’s gay bishop

Yesterday, Kevin Robertson, who is married to another man, was consecrated as bishop in Toronto’s St. Paul’s, Bloor Street, one of the largest Anglican Church of Canada parishes in Canada; it also happens to be an evangelical parish.

A number of clergy objected to the consecration:

Standing on the chancel steps, Archbishop Johnson then read from a prepared statement. “As we gather in this sacred act to worship God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – to confer Holy Orders, and to share in the holy meal, I want to acknowledge that I have received a formal letter of objection to these consecrations from some clergy and lay people of the diocese,” he said. “It contains arguments against the canonical and ecclesial validity of these consecrations. I have read and considered their arguments. I am grateful that they have chosen to make their objections known to me in this way with great dignity. I thank them that many of them have made the difficult decision to be here today – despite their serious reservations – because of the love and desire they bear for the unity and faithful witness of the Church to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While it is our intention to proceed today, I also want all of you and the whole diocese to know that I am engaged in a serious and mutually committed consultation with those objecting, to find effective ways that our ministries might flourish together in the highest degree of communion possible.

“There are those present who come with joy, hope and celebration of this moment and those who are anxious, dismayed and hurting,” he continued.

Johnson went on to say:

“Today was a wonderful, Spirit-filled day,” said Archbishop Johnson in an interview. “There were people here from all parts of the diocese. It was wonderful that people from a whole lot of different traditions and theological positions were able to come and be here, even if for some of them it was a struggle. I really appreciate the fact that we’re continuing to work together to build up the body of Christ.

Of course, if the objectors are correct, it could not have been “a wonderful, Spirit-filled day” at all – it would have been a disaster for the Diocese of Toronto. Johnson and the objectors are at polar opposite, irreconcilable positions on the legitimacy of Robertson’s consecration. Yet they all seem to be pretending to be merrily getting along together. Just another example of how Post-Truth – the OED’s word of the year – has infiltrated the church, I suppose.

Diocese of Niagara hosting gender fluidity event

I was in Hawaii over Christmas, mainly to meet some of my grandchildren who live on the other side of the world. We decided to meet halfway.

The oldest grandchild is 15 and, during a chat with her about how our generations view things differently, she exclaimed, “yes, but don’t you think we have made progress since you were young!” It brought tears to my eyes; tears of laughter. “No”, I said, “I think things are getting steadily worse. I don’t believe in progress.” She stared at me blankly.

It gave me a moment of déjà vu because I had said the same thing to someone when I was around 15. It took me another 15 years to come to my senses.

Here, then, is a prime example of progress:

An upcoming symposium aims to explore the fluidity of gender.

Award-winning author and storyteller Ivan Coyote will be at Mills Hardware Saturday night — joined by singer-songwriter Kate Reid — for a lively and entertaining exploration of gender identity and inclusion.

While the event is geared toward youth and their families, anyone is welcome.

“I think (this event) will be really uplifting for parents of trans kids, and people who are fighting any kind of battle in terms of being able to fit in their gender,” says Deirdre Pike, event MC and local LGBTQ advocate.

“People will come out and be entertained by storytelling and music, and won’t even realize they’re going home opened up, having expanded their understanding of gender exponentially.”

The event will also be filmed to be used as a future training tool for local agencies. The Anglican Diocese of Niagara is hosting the event, along with the Social Planning and Research Council and the Good Shepherd’s Core Collaborative Learning.

That two religious agencies are behind an LGBTQ event seems remarkable, but Pike says their leadership on these issues has been commendable.

“We talk a lot about the unsuspecting allies, or finding allies in unsuspected places. This is one of those cases,” she says, noting the diocese’s recent decision to allow same-sex marriage in the church.

This event is particularly important as the city prepares to roll out its transgender and gender nonconforming protocol, which the city pledged to implement as part of a human rights settlement last year after a transgender woman was denied access to an HSR washroom.

The protocol will focus on internal relations and customer service guidelines, including a commitment to ensure safe access to public bathrooms and change rooms.

If, after eating too much over Christmas, you are having trouble fitting into your gender or, if you want to be opened up without even knowing what has been done to you – just like the Manchurian Candidate, only, progressive or, if you are just one of the many mixed-up clergy in the Diocese of Niagara – then this is for you.

I love progress.

Islamic dictator better than Trump-infection

According to this ex-Lutheran pastor, at least:

I have observed how Oman, with a rich Islamic heritage and an embracing society, is learning how to combine its proud heritage and identity with a highly educated and globally inclusive workforce.

Helping Oman achieve some remarkable social and economic goals over the past 50 years is its beloved, Western-educated sultan, Qaboos bin Said, who seems to be the best kind of benevolent dictator.

[…..]

The first thing I noticed about Oman was the warmth and authenticity of its people. Decorum between persons, especially between the sexes, is respected, but that does not prevent high-level, authentic, interpersonal exchange that seems so sadly lacking in the West, and our Trump-infected times.

The benevolent dictator of Oman does not permit Christians to gather in private homes to pray, nor can church services be conducted anywhere but at benevolent dictator approved locations.

Muslims who convert to Christianity tend to be private about the fact since they stand to lose everything if discovered.

So much better than Trump-infection.

Diocese of Montreal rents rectory to witch

Since publishing this article, I received an email from the person renting the rectory. It says, in part:

Yes, I am a witch by faith, and yes, I rent an office space at the Rectory. What I do there is tutoring, and offer some small spiritual services to a small group of people. We are an interfaith group. The Church itself is Anglican, and friendly, but not involved in my personal activities, or that of my business partner Scarlet. Further, a lot of what Scarlet is quoted as saying in the original article, was taken out of context from a conversation between her and the writer.

Since the original article has been deleted, I have removed the quote from it below and also, at the request of my email correspondent, have removed the name of the parish involved.

An Anglican church which shall remain nameless in the Diocese of Montreal prides itself on being, “an open-hearted, welcoming, inclusive church.” It is so inclusive, it is renting office space in its rectory to a witch.

Both church and rectory are wheelchair and broomstick accessible.

A different Christmas Eve

For the first time in I don’t know how many years I worshipped – in a manner of speaking that I will get to later – on Christmas Eve at a church other than my home church, St. Hilda’s. It wasn’t even an Anglican church!

There is no ACNA church in the area, so that was not an option; we could have attended a TEC parish, I suppose, but my wife gets upset when I stand up in the middle of the sermon to contradict the preacher, so that was not an option either. We attended a community church that met on the beach.

Since I lead the musical part of the worship at St. Hilda’s, I have a keen interest in how others do it. In this case, the music, although the style and content was not entirely to my taste (surely “Little Drummer Boy” could be left in the hands of secular merchants), was performed with precision and great expertise. Sadly, though, the first half hour or so – the whole thing was exactly one hour – was Christianity lite entertainment. The congregation did not sing but they did applaud at the end of each act. We, not God, were the audience, the activity was one of aesthetics, a transference of pleasing feelings, not worship: congregational worship requires more and different participation than clapping at the end of a song.

Similarly, the dancing was, to my eye, at a professional level. I hesitate to call it “liturgical dancing” since it included – so my wife tells me – break dancing and other gyrations which defied the best efforts of both of us to identify.

This was not a liturgical church so there was no explicit liturgy. There was a tightly adhered to script, though, whose timing was mercilessly rigid but lacked the elements I’ve become accustomed to thinking comprise complete and satisfying worship – the Eucharist, Creed, Confession for example

The sermon occupied almost half the time. It was a simple, accurate and pure Gospel message. The preacher told us that Jesus was God, was born as man and died for our sin to save us from going to hell. There were about a thousand people there to hear that message. The same thing was repeated an hour later to, I expect, a similar sized crowd.

The sound, lighting, performers and setting (on the beach – we are  in Hawaii, after all) were all impeccable. Police were on the road – paid their overtime by the church, I presume – dozens of ushers were in the parking lot, greeters were smiling, multiple giant TVs were relaying the activity on the stage and…. the rain waited until everything was over.

I left wondering whether this is the future of Western Christianity: entice people to church by entertaining them and hit them with the Gospel after they have been lulled into a receptive frame of mind by the lights and cabaret dazzling their senses.

I hope not, because I am not temperamentally equipped to consume it. I fear it may be so, though.

Here is a cell phone photo of the crowd.

 

December 25

After attending a Christmas morning service at a different church, I thought I should write an addendum to this post.

This was another congregational church, so I still missed our liturgy with all its drama of the Christian story but, unlike last night, it was a small, warm and welcoming congregation of around 50 – 60 people. The music leaders were less polished, sometimes the words on the screen were out of sync, the congregation didn’t just listen, we sang, many people strolled in late, there was no need for traffic directing police and there were home made cookies following the service; I felt quite at home. Once again, the Gospel was preached quite explicitly.

So, just as our ultimate hope rests in the Christmas Child, I think there is still hope for his church. Even in the rapidly decaying West.

Another cell phone photo: