« Schedule change | Main | Thursday Short Poems: Cohen's "Abraham and Isaac I and II" »

February 01, 2006



Quibble- I believe you are using 'vitiate' incorrectly.

The sentence, as it stands, states in effect that “Modern Goods do not debase Historical Evils.” To get the meaning you seem to be going for (Historical Evils do not debase Modern Goods), you would need to either swap the clauses around vitiate, or replace it with either ameliorate or mitigate.

That's all. I'll go back to lurking now.


Anon, I'm using it in its literal sense "to water down". Maybe I'm tired, but I still think I used it correctly. Off to class, and afterwards, I'll contemplate it more.


re hybrids:



Interesting. All the definitions at my fingertips (OED, MW, & Dictionary.com) point to "spoil", "debase", or "to make ineffective" as the primary meaning for 'vitiate' (which is derived from the Latin for vice).

At any rate, it wasn't meant as a criticism of your post. After a long day copy-editing, these things just stand out :)

(Feel free to move this discussion to email if you want to argue semantics, I don't want to derail your comment thread.)


I'm not sure why chimeras are suddenly along side terrorism as the great problems of the world, but rest assured, sphinxes, and centaurs are not the wave of the future. In addition to the things that are mentioned in the blog post Barbara linked to, researchers frequently use cow oocytes (among other things) in reproductive research.


And interestingly, anon, "debase" literally means the same thing -- to reduce the quality of something. The online source I'm looking at says:

(vish'-ee-ate) v.tr. 1: to reduce the value or impair the quality of. 2: to corrupt morally; debase. 3: to make ineffective; invalidate.

I was using it in the final sense of "invalidate."

Anyhoo, I'm glad to have the whole hybrid thing cleared up! Barbara's link makes the whole thing make sense.


Obedience, as Hugo pointed out- is a loaded term. That said, I think the most important issue with obedience is often one that is rarely discussed. Obedience is positive and profound when it is the result of strong questioning and resulting conviction. I don't think any type of unquestioned obedience is productive, and often reckless and destructive.


ooops, posted prematurely.

Most people associate obedience with the unquestioned, blind variety, and often associated with tradition and religion. Obedience also carries an undercurrent of recalcitrant ideology that does not hold its water through logical dissection. Obedience that comes from introspection and questioning are often called other things- i.e. conviction.

The assumption of progressive folks as being disobedient is a false one. Free thinking and democracy of thought is chaotic and often a messy process, but a necessary and ultimately positive one. Yes, many progressives are obedient in the respect that they are obedient to the rights of the individual, we are obedient to the right to question, we are obedient to the right to think for ourselves, we are obedient to the right to voice our differences. What we are not obedient to is the blind and unquestioned variety that many propose as the ideal form of obedience.


I think that there's also the question of who you're obedient to. All Christians might say God and his Son, but under whose interpretation? The Pope's? James Dobson's? Luther's? Calvin's? Falwell's? More progressive Christians, like my Grandpa (a Mennonite Minister) or the Christian Quakers I grew up with tend to value obedience to God quite highly: but what that *means* is sometimes a matter of interpretation of scripture and sometimes a matter of calling.
Unfortuately, "obey" has been used by theocrats to make rules that are without challenge; hence the reluctance to use the word.


Secular liberal conviction isn't enough to bring most progressives to the precipice of schism -- what brings us there is a quiet conviction that to love radically, fearlessly, and inclusively is to obey the will of Christ.

Of course, it helps that, being Americans, schism isn't going to really hurt you. You have already made clear that to cut the US traditionalists, let alone the rest of the Communion, loose, isn't going to bother you ( you being progressives in general) at all.


John, I wouldn't mistake resolve for a lack of anguish. Schism is not something any serious Christian takes lightly or flippantly. Divorce -- even when no other option is palatable -- is still painful.


And less painful when the cost of your "obedience" isn't paid by you, but those who will lose their property and development aid respectively.


So, John, I guess the pain of schism is about property and money? What's worse, loosing property or giving in to the injustices Hugo describes?


Some of the development aid has been refused by conservative African Anglican bishops who consider money from an American Episcopal diocese whose bishop participated in acknowledging +Robinson (the gay bishop in New Hampshire).


There's always a division between those who submit to Received Authority as claimed by various preachers or members of church hierarchies, and those who acknowledge that, as God gave them brains, they had better buckle down and use them. The latter are true Protestants.



Thanks for your response. Yeah, the orthodox and progressives continually invest different meanings into the same terminology. Both do believe that they're following Christ, and as someone on the orthodox side, I don't doubt progressives' sincerity on that point. At the same time, none of us (I think) believes that sincerity equals obedience, and that makes the stakes high.

Those of us who are orthodox see progressives as setting one Scripture against another and disregarding apostolic teaching. (I personally don't give much weight to the culture arguments because cultures blow and shift like the wind.) Despite your concern that progressives give into such charges too easily, Hugo, I've never seen a strong argument against these charges from the progressive side. I think that boils down to the fact that we on the orthodox end hold to a more or less "strict constructionist" POV regarding the Scriptures, while progressives come at it from more of a "living document" angle. (Here's one point where the political and the religious do mirror each other.) While both the orthodox and progressives may love Scripture, we come at it from such different angles that what constitutes "love" is very different. We also hold Scripture, tradition, and reason in different regard and balance,and y'all place much more weight on experience than the orthodox do. (From an orthodox perspective, it seems that experience is paramount for progressives,and that Scripture and tradition are judged in the light of experience, first, and then reason. We, on the other hand, see Scripture as judging tradition, reason, and experience.)

Although John mentioned property and funding, what is most heartbreaking to me is to see parishioners and clergy feeling that they must leave the denomination to which they have given their service, hearts, and lives for so many years. As Richard Kew pointed out, for those orthodox clergy facing this decision, their beliefs are the same as they were decades ago when they were first ordained; it's ECUSA that has changed. And this is not ultimately about Robinson or same-sex blessings, but about issues such as Scripture, the atonement, and other things. It's those differences on subjects such as the cross and salvation, which you mention, that's driving everything. Some orthodox clergy have been trying for 20 or 30 years (or more) to stop the drifting of the denomination from orthodox theology, and are now coming to the conclusion that they cannot. The issue of the day has changed; for example, 10 years ago, Spong's theology was more of a concern. But now they find themselves tired of the fight and losing parishioners who feel that they cannot remain in ECUSA.

The biggest gap between orthodox and progressives may be over the question of what constitutes unity. I hear progressives say over and over that we will never agree on Scriptural interpretation and that we still need to come to the table together. For the orthodox, that's got everything completely backwards: If we cannot agree on the fundamentals of the faith,then we have no true unity. "Fundamentals," in this case, means not just the ability to say the creeds together but to be confessing to a common belief when we say them. So if it's adiaphora whether, for example, Jesus literally rose from the grave (as it is to some, though not all, progressives -- I'm not speaking of you here, Hugo), we don't have unity from the orthodox POV, no matter if we come to the Eucharistic table or not.

So I think you're right, Hugo; fundamentally, how we define terms, including obedience, is very different. Someone wrote an opinion piece a decade ago for The Living Church magazine arguing that ECUSA was composed of two different churches in one. We're seeing the outplaying of those differences today.

Peace of Christ,


Correction: In my next-to-last paragraphs, I said, "The biggest gap ... may be over what constitutes unity." I should have said, "One of the bigger gaps ... is over what constitutes unity."


This is just really insane to me. New DVD formats are coming out soon that will not read old dvd formats. Well, my Einstein
boyfriend (psuedo boyfriend, he owed me a lot of money a big present was to be expected) just bought a high end player to give to me. Guess we'll be giving it to the salvation army. If you got one and haven't opened the box-- DON'T.

GAS | hospitality| forklift accessory|fixing|
machine| milling machine| instruments | knitting machine|




Just because things are changing doesn't mean they're progressing.

To quote:
"According to traditionalists, by endorsing same-sex marriage, we progressive Christians are encouraging people to follow their own selfish desires rather than obey God."

There seems to be a fundamental problem here that has not been addressed. The debate has been set up as though it's conservatives against progressives. As though obeying God is subject to interpretation. That view is spoken with little understanding of a larger schema that makes the critique by the traditionalists more explicit, and more worthy:

Scripture is very clear in regards to human sexuality in part because it dramatically affects society. A petty debate about "loving people by allowing them to get married" is really missing the mark. In fact, obeying God is not even a matter of choice as it pertains to how sexuality affects society. The statement above would make more sense if it read:

"According to Scripture, by endorsing same-sex marriage, 'progressives' are encouraging people to follow their own desires rather than to acknowledge God's design for human relationships and a sustainable society."

Since God created male and female as companions, and since he designed the family as the core of human society, anything that destroys the family will destroy the society. Getting warm fuzzies about "loving homosexuals by marrying them" is missing a much bigger issue: since homosexuality destroys society, is at odds with God's will.

And this is not limited to homosexuality; it is obvious that many in today's society have forgotten the fundamental importance of the family. Birth control prevents sex from being procreative. The unfortunate consequence of this is the glorification of "consequence-less" sex which has undermined the very notion of marriage as a necessary entity in human relationships. Added to this, selfishness and materialism have voided the contract of one out of every two marriages in this country. And homosexuality further undermines the singular role of the marriage and family by completely ignoring the question of the procreative function of marriage and family.

It is my contention that "progressives" have used terms like "gender attitudes" and "sexual preference" to swing the discussion completely away from family, focusing almost exclusively on the "rights of the individual". To make the issue exclusively about the rights of the individual paints an inaccurate and deceptive picture of the effects of sanctioning homosexual relationships.

Homosexuality is not procreative, or nutritive. It is hurting families. It disrupts the natural course of family life. That fact has been shown over and again by the accounts of very many people who grew up with parents who pursued homosexual desires.

Because homosexuality is not a nutritive and positive element in the family it does not qualify for the same legal and church-sanctioned status as natural families. And to sanction these unions further undermines marriage and the family unit, undeniably weakening society.

A society that champions the desires of an individual above preserving the sanctity of the family has sewed the seeds of its downfall.

And a church that participates in the downfall of society... How can it hope to lead people to Christ? How can it attempt to reconcile them with God?

God's Kingdom is not about "loving" people by giving them what they want. It is about redeeming creation to the Creator.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Regular reads

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 01/2004