Archive for October, 2015

An Optimistic View?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

In her last days as Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori has offered a positive view of her tenure. You can read the whole address on this link; here’s a sample of what she said:

“The Episcopal Church has come a long way in the last 10 years. We are no longer consumed by internal conflict over various social issues. We are clearer about who we are – a multinational church, with congregations in 17 nations, worshipping in countless different languages, thriving in international, immigrant, and multicultural contexts everywhere, and discovering the abundant life that comes in turning outward to love the neighbors nearby and far away.”

While no doubt an accurate assessment, Jefferts Schori doesn’t note the great decline in number of parishes, members, weddings, baptisms, etc. in the past ten years. Much of the “internal conflict” has been resolved by people giving up the fight and moving to other denominations or splinter groups.

Most important to me is the apparent dilution of the Episcopal identity into a highly politicized, left-of-center advocacy group. I realize that is a tendentious remark, and I would love to be convinced otherwise. —J. Douglas Ousley


The Homeless We Have With Us

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

A recent meeting of local clergy organized by Community Board 6 discussed homelessness in our area. I am sorry to report that there were no new ideas–only a general agreement that the problem is getting worse.

The manager of the community board did say that Mayor DiBlasio has assembled an task force of officials from different city agencies to try to come up with new solutions to the problem. The issue is complicated on the avenues in Midtown by the presence of young tourist “homeless” with varying degrees of credibility. Many of the saddest cases have mental illness or chemically-addled brains, and they aren’t able to find prime spots to beg or write clever signs.

Meanwhile, the cold weather is coming. —J. Douglas Ousley


Adam Gopnick at Incarnation

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Last night, one of New York’s most prominent intellectuals, the New Yorker writer Adam Gopnick spoke at Incarnation.

Mr. Gopnick was addressing the Trollope Society; I am myself a Trollope fan and I occasionally rent the Assembly Hall to the Society for their meetings. The speaker spoke of the value of reading the nineteenth century novelist, who always tells things as they are, and who uses fiction to illuminate–as the title of one of his books says–“the way we live now.” Anthony Trollope’s Palliser series of novels portrays the backstage political world not only of Victorian London but of modern day America.

And his even more famous Barchester novels give great insight into the Church of England. I often advise people who want to know how Anglicanism functions to read these books, especially Barchester Towers. Trollope’s satire can be biting and it is always funny. And it reminds those of us who are churchgoers not to take our institution too seriously! —J. Douglas Ousley


Hands Across the Ocean

Friday, October 9th, 2015

I am just back from a week in London. I preached at the farewell service for our Link Parish Rector, Dr. Alan McCormack. His church of St. Vedast-Alias-Fosters was packed; among the civic dignitaries was the newly elected Lord Mayor of the City of London. On the trip, I also met with clergy regarding other links between London and New York. The senior warden at St. Vedast is hoping that Incarnation can have another parishioner group exchange in 2016.

As always, I am encouraged by the natural community we share with members of our Mother Church of England. They are struggling with attendance issues as we are, and they are finding change difficult.

But the clergy and lay leaders remain committed and enthusiastic. We may be thankful for our historic bonds with the C of E and for all the occasions we can find to support each other. —J. Douglas Ousley