Please note that I have an essay published this morning on Episcopal Café. Go there ( and click on “Daily Episcopalian” to read “The Name of the Day.” Then come back here and consider the following thoughts about things that matter, much of it culled from “The Lead” at Episcopal Café:

I woke this morning to news of a revolution of sorts in Kyrgystan and had to spend a little time updating my knowledge of that central Asian nation. Frankly, there are too many “stans” and I can’t keep track of them. I know there’s one that has a statue of its president that turns to face the sun and one whose president has only one name. Maybe it’s the same one. Neither of them is Kyrgystan. I digress.

My theme is unity and division. Whether it’s a Christian militia in Michigan or some outraged citizens in Kyrgystan, where there are two human beings there are three opinions and some of them irreconcilable. That leave us with the option of punching the other guy upside the head or walking away chuckling – unless he attempts to compel me to act on his false and dangerous idiocy. Then we have trouble.

Maybe however, there’s a fourth option: to derive what enjoyment we can from observing the foolishness. Let’s try that for now. I also read on my computer this morning that the level of congregational rebelliousness in Baptist Churches in the south is rising. The man in charge of helping Baptist Churches in North Caroline be healthy had this to say:

“Frustrated with the church’s inertia, some members are taking matters into their own hands, . . . They’ve tried to effect change through the church’s own pathways and can’t get anywhere. So they say, ‘If you won’t listen to us, we’ll have a palace coup. . . . We are in epidemic status, Code Red, DEFCON 4, however you want to say it. We are in pandemic mode in terms of conflict in local congregations,”

Now, Baptist Churches are organized on congregational principles to be rid of annoying bishops and such so each congregation can determine its own affairs. So what’s this pandemic conflict all about?

Consider, then, the case of the Church of Rome which has never before bothered much about democracy or local option. Also today we read that there’s a big effort underway to suggest that the pope has no power over local bishops and no responsibility when they misbehave: “The pope is not a five-star general ordering troops around,” [Vatican lawyer Jeffrey] Lena says. “He is not Louis XIV telling his minions what to do. The ‘military command center’ or ‘absolute authority’ models of the church in which Rome dictates orders by royal fiat is just wrong.”

On the other hand, we need to remember that the pope is a head of state and has immunity from prosecution in the U.S., hampering access to Vatican documents that may pertain to child sexual abuse, and especially the Vatican’s role in episcopal mishandling of the cases. British lawyers are considering whether his immunity as a head of state protects him from being prosecuted under the principle of universal jurisdiction for an alleged systematic cover-up of sexual abuses by priests. That matters because the pope is planning to visit the UK later this year. “Pope Arrested in UK” would make a great headline!

Also in England, we learn this morning that a group of conservative UK Christians has launched “Westminster 2010 [as] a completely independent initiative by UK Christians focused on UK issues.” Two retired Anglican bishops, Lord Carey, who used to be archbishop of Canterbury and still carries on as if he ought to be, and Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, who resigned last year as bishop of Rochester are the figureheads of the movement along with Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the head of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland,

The declaration calls for civil disobedience, saying:

“We refuse to submit to any edict forcing us to equate any other form of sexual partnership with marriage … We will not be intimidated by any cultural or political power into silence or acquiescence and we will reject measures that seek to over-rule our Christian consciences or to restrict our freedoms to express Christian beliefs, or to worship and obey God.”

Not that any Western government is telling anyone what they can and cannot believe; the problem with this group is that they can’t get the world to agree with them and so need to issue threats and warnings so they can feel better about their irrelevance.

The great advantage the western world has over Kyrgystan is that Carolina Baptists and Vatican officials and retired archbishops can do all this huffing and puffing without anyone getting seriously injured. It even provides a certain amount of harmless amusement on an otherwise dull day.

But wouldn’t we all be better off fretting about the official title of Easter?

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