Sunday, September 26, 2010

What Is Cardinal McCarrick Talking About?

Per CNS:

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the Catholic archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., told that if “someone sees the Gospel as the truth of God’s presence in our world, that person should embrace the Gospel.” He also said, however, "If a person sees the Quran as proof of God’s presence in the world, then I cannot say, ‘Don’t embrace the Quran.’”

This is one of those things that looks heavily subject to context, but it sure does sound bad as written here. Anybody know what the full speech said?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Curioser and curioser

Bill Kirk, recently fired from Notre Dame, will apparently be testifying at the trial of the ND 88, the protesters who were arrested for trespassing the day of Obama's honorification.

Apparently anti-ROTC and other protesters were not charged with trespassing, which makes this a case of viewpoint discrimination by Notre Dame. Kirk would be in a position to know what the policy was.

See the link.

One wonders if there is a connection between the firing and the testifying.

What Is Wrong With My Font Coloring?


The Koran Blessing Stuff

Rorate gave us an update of this story here. It apparently wasn't as bad as initially reported, per the rector of the Cathedral:

First of all, the “Qu’ran blessed at California cathedral” was misconstrued and of course the event was not in the Cathedral building but merely on the steps allowing visibility from the square.

The term "blessed" has distinct meaning in our Catholic faith. There was no such action in that event. Unfortunately, the term which was used by a Presbyterian Minister and adopted by the media could be misunderstood. During the event some people went forward to place a rose on a table holding a copy of the Qu’ran which perhaps could mistakenly be seen by the unknowing as a "blessing." Also, it was stated that “During the ceremony, Father Michael Kiernan, rector of the cathedral, read from the Beatitudes.” I did not read anything and did not even participate in the event.

So there's that. There was this, though:

This was all the participation by the Catholic Church, except for a Franciscan priest from another parish, who read a short scripture passage.

Disturbing still. But not nearly to the degree we once thought. Our apologies to those not involved who were implicated without ever having participated.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Karl Is Going To Love This

From Fr. Z, we have a truly interesting protest of the Pope's trip to England:

I'll do a bit of recap on the visit later.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Little Corporal Punishment Never Hurt Anyone


Good. He deserved it.

A priest in Valencia Spain witnessed a young man during communion take the Eucharist and throw it on the floor. The priest then decided on a course of action that one could properly call old school apologetics of the corporal kind.

The priest slapped the young man across the face and dragged him from the Church and loudly pronounced him a ‘blasphemer.’

Because that's what he is.

Here's the thing. If somebody knocked down the President or your mom or spouse or pretty much anybody, you'd probably take exception to it. If you're a guy, you would probably consider it a duty to provide an attitude adjustment to the offender. If you're the Secret Service in the former scenario, you'd definitely beat the hell out of the offender and have him thrown in prison.

All of these reactions demonstrate your belief that the offended person is important and due a certain amount of respect.

If Christ is our King, should we not do the same for Him? The Word Made Flesh Who died for our sins merits some level of fealty, right?

I know what some folks are thinking. The article itself mentions the perspective that the young man should have been taken aside an counseled about his action, rather than treated in such a harsh manner. For those taking this view of things, I simply point to the last few decades as demonstrative of how such an approach works. Counseling and such has been tried and has failed. This young man clearly had an issue with the Eucharist. Would counseling have gotten his attention? Doubtful, since the natural reaction to such counseling is "I just threw God to the floor and your only response is to tell me not to do it again? Yeah, right."

Such measures are easily dismissed or forgotten. Being popped in the face and called a blasphemer will leave an impression (pun intended).

Monday, September 13, 2010

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Gay vicar, 65, to 'marry' Nigerian male model half his age

Situations like this for the Anglicans just keep popping up.

To former vicar Colin Coward, it is nothing short of a marriage made in heaven. But the 65-year-old is expected to raise a few traditional eyebrows when he walks down the aisle with the man in his life – a 25-year-old Nigerian model called Bobby.

Mr Coward and his African partner are due to hold a civil partnership later this year, followed by a service at the vicar’s church, St John the Baptist church in Devizes, Wiltshire.

Not that it matters a whole lot, I guess. These are just bits of the whole Church of England flotsam/jetsam that's left.

I wonder if Rowan will comment.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

And Sometimes, I Really Hate Blogger

I don't know why the color formatting is messed up on the earlier post. I'll see if I can't get it fixed.


Is This Sort of Thing Really Necessary?

From The Sacramento Bee:

As 18 doves flew into the skies over the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament Saturday night, more than 100 diverse Sacramentans blessed copies of the Quran with roses of love.

Again and again they uttered the refrain, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me" at the entrance to the downtown church framed by white statues of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. A musician with a white guitar accompanied them.

Representatives of Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, B'hai, Mormon, Sikh, Vedic Druid and Muslim beliefs read scriptures from the great religious texts - including six verses from the Quran calling for all faiths to live in harmony. . .

Father Anthony Garibaldi of St. Francis Church said the blessing of the Quran tonight "needs to be done -
on a human level you don't desecrate other peoples' holy objects. I wouldn't want my Bible burned.

If you don't like the idea of Korans being burned, then don't burn them. Tell other folks not to burn them. Why, why, why, why, though, the need to bless the Koran? Why place a blessing on a object that spreads falsehoods about God? Why call a book holy that clearly teaches blasphemy about Our Blessed Lord?

You don't want your Bible burned? Yeah, me neither. Because the Bible holds teachings of Divine Truth. That Truth mandates that I believe the Koran is false and therefore not holy.Just because Islam thinks the book is holy doesn't make it so, and their opinions to that effect shouldn't lead us to treat it that way.

This kind of crap stinks of apostasy.

Folks Really Hate This New Translation

You might wonder how much. They hate it so much that they are actually willing to make accusations of heresy about it.

Check out this article from Fr. William Grimm.

The worst problem of the new translation is that it will, in fact, bring heresy into the Mass, and all because of an article.

Currently, the words over the cup during the Eucharistic Prayer speak of the Lord’s blood being spilled “for you and for all.” That translates the idea of the probable Aramaic words of Jesus and the Catholic faith that God’s will is that all be saved. The Latin text reads, “pro multis,” which also implies all-inclusiveness.

Ever since the currently-used English translation appeared, some people have objected to its inclusiveness. I have run across those who object precisely because they neither believe nor want God to desire the salvation of all.

Holy smokes. Am I a bad person because I can't stop laughing? Most folks might not recall, but there was (and in some circles, still is) a huge controversy about whether or not taking "pro multis" and translating it as "for all" invalidated the entire Mass due to the alteration of the Institution Narrative. There was a very vocal minority raising this issue, and it's died down oer the years.

The funny thing is that now we see "pro multis" again being injected into the liturgical battles, but this time it's the traditional translation that's under fire. And why? Because of HERESY of all reasons. I wonder what else this guy might find as heretical.

Not to get too theological here, but there is, of course, a sense in which God wills the salvation of all. It's right there in 1 Timothy 2:4. Such salvation would be the result of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, which is made present in the Holy Mass, hence the Institution Narrative. However, we also know (despite claims from guys like von Balthasar) that folks will wind up in hell. So we know that Christ's sacrifice is not efficient for all and can therefore is only effective for many.

Back to Fr. Grimm. Given that the phrase in question was translated as "for many" for centuries, one would think he would tread a bit more lightly here. He even admits that it's a more accurate translation:

In order to be slavishly faithful to Latin grammar, Rome is telling us that we must pray heresy, saying in effect that Jesus shed his blood for quite a few, but certainly not all.

Consider the consequences here. All these Catholics who prayed with their old missals all those years that had the "for many" translation were praying heresy. That's what he's saying. Consider what an arrogant and degrading comment that is.

Consider also the following:

If anyone says that the canon of the mass contains errors and is therefore to be abrogated, let him be anathema.

Council of Trent, Session XXII, Canon 6

So he admits that what the new translation says is actually a better translation. This better translation, which was standard and unchallenged for so long, is now heretical?

Who is treading closer to heresy, Fr. Grimm? Folks who will simply be doing what was done for all those years? Or you?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And Another One Bites The Dust

Temporarily, at least. One more murder mill, this one in Shreveport, LA, has been closed.

Louisiana health officials suspended an abortion clinic's license Friday, the first time the state has used its new authority to shut down such a facility over health and safety concerns.

The Louisiana health department ordered the Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport to immediately cease performing the procedures, saying an investigation found the clinic failed to ensure that a physician performed and documented a physical exam on each woman before a procedure. The clinic also failed to follow several procedures involving anesthesia, including not properly monitoring vital signs, the agency said.

This is good news. Don't read the comments to the article. You've been warned. Praise God for this victory. The other stuff will only get you down.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sacrosanctum Concilium, Pt. 6

Continuing on with the Constitution on the Liturgy:

Although the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty, it likewise contains much instruction for the faithful [34]. For in the liturgy God speaks to His people and Christ is still proclaiming His gospel. And the people reply to God both by song and prayer.

A couple of things here. First, this is something lost in the Pauline Mass. I remember when my wife was first looking to convert to Orthodoxy, I had a lot of good conversations with our contributor Karl about the best resources for learning about it. He was absolutely correct when he told me to focus on the liturgy. With the exception of the Roman Canon, I really don't think the current Eucharistic Prayers in the West are very good at laying out the Church's beliefs. This is especially true with Prayer #2, which we all know is the most popular because it's the shortest. That should tell you something right there.

Second, the Mass is presented as God speaking to the people and the people responding to God. The number of Catholics who think the Mass is a dialogue with the priest is huge.

Third, the footnote is a Cf. to Session XXII, Chapter 8, of the Council of Trent on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To begin, how many "spirit of Vatican" types would freak out if they knew Trent was cited at VII about the liturgy.

More significant, though, is what Chapter 8 actually says about the instruction given to the laity:

Although the mass contains great instruction for the faithful people, nevertheless, it has not seemed expedient to the Fathers, that it should be every where celebrated in the vulgar tongue. Wherefore, the ancient usage of each church, and the rite approved of by the holy Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all churches, being in each place retained; and, that the sheep of Christ may not suffer hunger, nor the little ones ask for bread, and there be none to break it unto them, the holy Synod charges pastors, and all who have the cure of souls, that they frequently, during the celebration of mass, expound either by themselves, or others, some portion of those things which are read at mass, and that, amongst the rest, they explain some mystery of this most holy sacrifice, especially on the Lord's days and festivals.

In other words, the Mass is all in Latin and is going to stay that way, so you priests had best be explaining what's going on. This will be an even bigger deal later, but I think it's interesting to check where the citation leads us on this. It certainly isn't to the cliche of "Vatican II said that we needed to understand stuff better so it switched the Mass to the vernacular."

Moving on:

Moreover, the prayers addressed to God by the priest who presides over the assembly in the person of Christ are said in the name of the entire holy people and of all present. And the visible signs used by the liturgy to signify invisible divine things have been chosen by Christ or the Church. Thus not only when things are read "which were written for our instruction" (Rom. 15:4), but also when the Church prays or sings or acts, the faith of those taking part is nourished and their minds are raised to God, so that they may offer Him their rational service and more abundantly receive His grace.

The best thing to take away from this is the bit about nourished faith and minds being raised to God. Somebody needs to explain how liturgical experimentation raises minds to God, rather than keeping them in the room with the committee.

Wherefore, in the revision of the liturgy, the following general norms should be observed:

Ok, this should give us specifics on what liturgical reform should look like, right?

The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear, and unencumbered by useless repetitions; they should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.

And right out of the gate, the ambiguity shows itself. First, you've got the stuff about noble simplicity. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this, but check these articles from the New Liturgical Movement and Nova et Vera for the explanations on why noble simplicity doesn't mean iconoclasm. I will interject the question of how most of the Disco Liturgy that we see on YouTube and such can in any way qualify as noble or simple. Most of the abuses that we encounter are the opposite of this. Moreover, is this really something that wasn't already present? The TLM is very noble and simple, even at High Mass. As the NLM article shows, the exuberant liturgies are all in the East.

Second, I don't think anyone can gripe about the TLM not being short, clear, and non-repetitive. You have a second Confiteor, but outside of that, all the repeated stuff is just as repetitive in the Pauline Mass. So the question becomes what exactly are they talking about here?

Third, stuff is supposed to be comprehensible and without need for explanation. Didn't we just read a citation that said the opposite? The Mass is useful for instruction. Isn't it typical that people who need instruction aren't going to comprehend something and instead need it explained to them? This part is just plain weird, but you see it relied upon a lot by folks who have well-nigh Jansenist ideas on liturgy (see this article for a description of such ideas).

That the intimate connection between words and rites may be apparent in the liturgy:

In sacred celebrations there is to be more reading from holy scripture, and it is to be more varied and suitable.

So here we have the new cycle of readings. I get the intent here. I'm just not sure it worked out that way. Sometimes, it seems like having to work in more readings has made for less suitable selections for the occasion.

Because the sermon is part of the liturgical service, the best place for it is to be indicated even in the rubrics, as far as the nature of the rite will allow; the ministry of preaching is to be fulfilled with exactitude and fidelity. The sermon, moreover, should draw its content mainly from scriptural and liturgical sources, and its character should be that of a proclamation of God's wonderful works in the history of salvation, the mystery of Christ, ever made present and active within us, especially in the celebration of the liturgy.

Nothing wrong with this. I'm just not sure how much it's actually done.

Instruction which is more explicitly liturgical should also be given in a variety of ways; if necessary, short directives to be spoken by the priest or proper minister should be provided within the rites themselves. But they should occur only at the more suitable moments, and be in prescribed or similar words.

This is basically a repetition of what we quoted from Trent above. Again, though, the weirdness is palpable since we are having to explain stuff again when it's already been said that you shouldn't have to explain anything.

Bible services should be encouraged, especially on the vigils of the more solemn feasts, on some weekdays in Advent and Lent, and on Sundays and feast days. They are particularly to be commended in places where no priest is available; when this is so, a deacon or some other person authorized by the bishop should preside over the celebration.

I'm not sure what is meant by Bible services. It is noteworthy that the Constitution again demands that whoever is leading must be someone authorized by the bishop.

Which brings us to:

Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

Boom. Vatican II actually says that Latin is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

Let's look at the rest of the section:

But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.

Note the language. "May be of great advantage." "May be extended." Start with readings and directives, then "some of the prayers and chants." In what measure of this do we find the impetus for an abolition of Latin?

These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.

We've talked about the Art. 22 section before. This is a big part of where our troubles come from.

Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above.

We're seeing this happen now with the new ICEL translation.

I'm going to stop here because the whole Latin business is usually what most people think of when VII liturgical reform is discussed. It's also the reason given for many as to why they don't like the TLM, even if they've never been to one before. There's a lot of info I think we need to go over for this to make it clear that, even with the ambiguity inserted into these passages, it's a huge stretch to claim that the Council was remotely contemplating an all-vernacular liturgy, and even more off-case to say that the vernacular was mandated. Our suggestion here is that the thing most cited as the defining characteristic of the Pauline Mass is actually nothing like the proposed conciliar reform.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Youth And Fake Christianity

As if we didn't know, the nation's most popular religion is indifferentism. And it's spread, per this recent CNN article. Yes, believe it or not, there is someone in the nation who still reads stuff from CNN.

Dean says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls "moralistic therapeutic deism." Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a "divine therapist" whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem.

Dean is a minister, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and the author of "Almost Christian," a new book that argues that many parents and pastors are unwittingly passing on this self-serving strain of Christianity.

This should be shocking to a grand total of nobody. How many teens do you know? How many are in any way interesting in stuff beyond themselves? I know that such an attitude is common among teens, but I have never seen it to the degree it's exhibited these days.

Before you chide me about telling young people to get off my lawn and such, check some of the other items from the article:

Though three out of four American teenagers claim to be Christian, fewer than half practice their faith, only half deem it important, and most can't talk coherently about their beliefs, the study found.

This is nothing more than an outgrowth of the whole "Theology is dead" movement.

Many teenagers thought that God simply wanted them to feel good and do good -- what the study's researchers called "moralistic therapeutic deism."

I guess my question to this is how it's limited to just young folks. This sounds like about 85% of adults I know, including Catholics, by the way. It's largely ignored by folks that this popular indifferentism is really just a symptom. Pelagianism is the disease, and it's encouraged by all of your more popular TV preachers.

Others practice a "gospel of niceness," where faith is simply doing good and not ruffling feathers. The Christian call to take risks, witness and sacrifice for others is muted, she says.

Straight up Pelagian from top to bottom.

So what do these folks suggest as a remedy?

Churches, not just parents, share some of the blame for teens' religious apathy as well, says Corrie, the Emory professor.

She says pastors often preach a safe message that can bring in the largest number of congregants. The result: more people and yawning in the pews.

"If your church can't survive without a certain number of members pledging, you might not want to preach a message that might make people mad," Corrie says. "We can all agree that we should all be good and that God rewards those who are nice."

Corrie, echoing the author of "Almost Christian," says the gospel of niceness can't teach teens how to confront tragedy.

In other words, give them a reality check. Here's what I don't get, though. Catholics are enormously guilty for the sort of suger-coated stuff mentioned here. This is in spite of the fact that we should be doing the opposite because Catholicism is uniquely capable of dealing with suffering. Pelagian TV preachers really don't deal with suffering well. In so many words, it always winds up being the victim's fault. Catholicism embraces hardship because that was The Master's way. So why aren't we proclaiming it?

Because we are too busy feeding the image of God as The Divine Therapist.

The other thing they suggest is "getting radical."

She says parents who perform one act of radical faith in front of their children convey more than a multitude of sermons and mission trips.

A parent's radical act of faith could involve something as simple as spending a summer in Bolivia working on an agricultural renewal project or turning down a more lucrative job offer to stay at a struggling church, Dean says.

I do have a minor problem with this. First of all, the bar for radicalism is pretty low these days. For Catholics, going to a TLM, participating in Adoration, or just praying the Rosary might count. Second, there is a desire to equate radical acts of faith with service projects. Atheists do service projects. The UN does service projects on a massive scale. That doesn't make it a Christian endeavor. Boniface has a great take on this over at Unam Sanctam that nails the problem 100% dead-on.

If you want to be radical, get them to go on a real retreat or some other contemplative activity. Break them out of the world's noise and give them silence for a while. That means way better odds of an encounter with God, I think.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Notre Dame fires the only administrator to protest Obama

Bill Kirk was fired rather unceremoniously. I'm sure the ND sports fans think this is a good thing, since the athletes will now be able to smoke marijuana without repercussions, but David Solomon thinks it is for daring to protest Obama's honorary degree.

One Person Can Make A Difference

If you ever think you can't, you don't have to reflect on the Apostles, Saints, or whoever. Just think of this woman.

A Chinese Catholic woman has pulled off a rare feat by encouraging a number of Buddhists to convert to Catholicism in the Sino-Tibetan province of Qinghai.

Father Joseph Li Dongsheng, parish priest of Xining Church, praised the woman’s achievement in a region that has only 4,000 Catholics in a total population of one million.

“I never even thought of converting ethnic Tibetans myself as they are so deeply rooted in Buddhism. It’s almost impossible,” he said.

The five new Catholics, aged from 20 to over 50, come from three families of the same clan and were Buddhists since childhood.

And, of course, it doesn't come without cost:

Father Li says he plans to give them ongoing care and education to help sustain their faith as “they may have to face discrimination in this Buddhist environment.”

Mary, Our Lady of She-Shan, pray for them and for all your persecuted children.

Archbishop Chaput Reads This Blog

Or at least says a bunch of the same stuff that we've been saying here.

I direct you to this particular shpiel that he recently provided. Read it. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Just take a look at this:

These events suggest an emerging, systematic discrimination against the Church that now seems inevitable.

Today’s secularizers have learned from the past. They are more adroit in their bigotry; more elegant in their public relations; more intelligent in their work to exclude the Church and individual believers from influencing the moral life of society. Over the next several decades, Christianity will become a faith that can speak in the public square less and less freely. A society where faith is prevented from vigorous public expression is a society that has fashioned the state into an idol. And when the state becomes an idol, men and women become the sacrificial offering.

Here's one guy at least who has his head out of the sand. He understands what is at stake and manages to present it in a way that is urgent enough not to minimize what is going on.

That means we cannot dispense with our history out of some superficial concern over offending our non-Christian neighbors. Notwithstanding the chatter of the “new atheists,” there is no risk that Christianity will ever be forced upon people anywhere in the West. The only “confessional states” in the world today are those ruled by Islamist or atheist dictatorships -- regimes that have rejected the Christian West’s belief in individual rights and the balance of powers.

Persecution is coming, and when it gets here and knocks on the door, it will be wearing the smiley face of secular harmony and indifferentism. Basically, society will not tolerate the intolerance of Catholicism towards its collective "Non serviam." And the masses will cheer for this protection. Whatever Dawkins and Co. might say, they have it easy here in the West.

The temptation in every age of the Church is to try to get along with Caesar. And it’s very true: Scripture tells us to respect and pray for our leaders. We need to have a healthy love for the countries we call home. But we can never render unto Caesar what belongs to God. We need to obey God first; the obligations of political authority always come second. We cannot collaborate with evil without gradually becoming evil ourselves. This is one of the most vividly harsh lessons of the 20th century. And it’s a lesson that I hope we have learned.

I wonder if Father Jenkins is paying attention at ND. When you consider how stuff like this has gone down in the past, it's scary. How many bishops stood up to Henry VIII? One- St. John Fisher. How many priests and bishops will take a stand against the rising secular power? How many will instead decide to shake hands, pass out awards, and get a nice photo op in the name of secular goods and fake dialogue?

We've already seen how some will act. Pray for the priests and bishops of the world that they might stand firm.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Episcopal Baptists

Another sign that the Apocalypse is upon us. Baptists claiming to be bishops. Not only taking the title, but walking around with miters and zucchettos on. It seems to be all the rage, though, according to the Boston Globe via Clerical Whispers.

The title of bishop, accompanied by such emblems of authority, was uncommon among hierarchy-spurning Baptists until recently, but it is being adopted by a growing number of Baptist pastors, most of them African-American.

Borders and other new bishops have acquired some of the ceremonial garb — croziers (pastoral staffs), zucchettos (skullcaps) and chasubles (robes) — that their spiritual forefathers left behind when they broke from the Church of England in the 17th century.

Some, including Borders, have even embraced the doctrine of apostolic succession — the belief in an unbroken line from Jesus’ apostles to today’s bishops.

I wonder what the "Trail of Blood" folk are thinking about this.

The naming of Baptist bishops, which remains controversial among some traditionalists, is a departure for a church descended from the Puritans.

Baptist denominations do not have strict hierarchies; congregations are independent churches whose pastors are hired and fired by vote of the congregation.

“As late as the 19th century, a Baptist would have thought a preacher who wore a robe was being like a Catholic, and therefore terrible,’’ said Paul Harvey, a historian at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

No freaking joke, Paul. As a guy who grew up in a predominantly Baptist family and community, I cannot put into words how freaky this development is. Or depressing. What precisely are the forces driving this push for bishoprics?

But in recent years, that has begun to change. Scholars cite a number of reasons: Baptists, like other Christian denominations, are facing heavy competition from independent churches, particularly those run by charismatic pastors who use the title of bishop to establish authority and build their personal brand.

The title is increasingly being used more formally in African-American Baptist churches, where the practice of calling senior pastors bishops has been unusual.

African-American Baptist ministers have historically been powerful figures in their communities and pillars of their congregations; some see the title as a recognition of that role.

“I think we see this emergence in spiritual leadership from a people who have known oppression,’’ Borders said. “It’s a self-identification that we’re gaining; it’s a valuing of our own leadership.’’

And in some cases now symbolic garb and elaborate rituals are accompanying the title.

That’s now possible because the 400-year-old fear of an all-powerful hierarchy has faded into a distant memory, and it now feels “safer to borrow and reappropriate historic practices that once were considered to be theologically problematic,’’ said James Farwell, professor of religious studies at Bethany College in West Virginia.

In a nutshell, it's marketing and something that is for the pastor's "self-identification." The theological problems (i.e.- the truth or falsity of the issue) are secondary. It's all about the Almighty Me.

And who governs the use of such title? Nobody seems to have a problem with the fact that no such authority exists.

With no established denominational hierarchy to bestow the title, Borders and others in the new generation of Baptist pastors look to a variety of authorities for validation.

“In my eyes, he was already bishop,’’ said Gillian Thomas, an associate minister at Morning Star.

“He has earned it. We are honoring him by recognizing in a formal way who he really is to us and who we believe he is to the city.’’

In an ornate ceremony in Memphis, where at one point he lay on the ground prostrate to demonstrate deep humility, Borders was consecrated bishop by the International Bishops Conference USA, a small and relatively new organization with members from a variety of Christian denominations.

The article mentions Paul's writings to Timothy and Titus as the Scriptural defense these guys are using for their position. It's interesting how they seem to ignore that you didn't just "become" a bishop. You had to have the authority granted to you from another who held such authority. The grant of authority here is clearly just their own. How awful to appropriate something like the episcopate simply because you feel like it.