Thursday, November 29, 2007

Miscellaneous Updates

One of my friends has complained that I'm too negative and cynical, and don't put forward solutions to the many problems identified on this blog. Fair enough. I'm actually preparing a more proactive series but in the meantime here are some updates on reactions to recent posts.

More Oral, Anyone?

Readers may remember Richard Roberts, the head of Oral Roberts University, whom God first called to remain at his post despite dubious scandals and abuses. After the Church of the Orange Sky made known its position on the matter, God relented and told Roberts to consider stepping aside. (Alternatively, Roberts, like most evangelical leaders, is habitually taking the Lord's name in vain by making the decision he wants to make and then invoking the G-word as extra justification.) That resignation has now been made permanent, in the wake of a faculty revolt. So long, Richard. Your family's antics were almost enough to earn you an official nickname, up there with Big Gay Ted and Gunrunner Pat, but with a father named Oral, I figured there are enough potential slurs out there already.

The reaction to the allegations among people at ORU is intriguing. One student confesses that the "corruption everywhere" makes the religious school "feel empty, like an elaborate masquerade party." Former regent Carleton Pearson admits that "people are asking questions and questioning answers, and we're not used to it." Well. Hopefully more people keep asking questions. It's a pretty sad university where student radicals don't cause trouble at least once in a while.

In the very latest news, it seems that ORU has fallen into considerable financial difficulties. (Whether this is a result of the huge sums of money squandered by the Roberts dynasty is not clear yet, although I doubt it could have helped.) But that's okay, because a knight in shining armor is already riding to the rescue: Mart Green, owner of the Mardel chain. That's a hilarious store that specializes in "Christian office and educational supplies," perhaps so that you don't have to buy pencils and paperclips from homosexuals who will use the proceeds to fund demonic rituals. I'm not sure what makes one binder Christian and another secular, but for ORU it really doesn't matter: Green is going to pay $70 million to bail out the flailing university, on the condition that it lets two of his family members join the board of regents and separates itself from the Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association. Sounds like good conditions, actually. Score one for Christian big business.

Why not rather let yourselves be cheated?

So says the apostle Paul in his rambling First Letter to the Corinthians. Ironically, the evangelical Bible-believing Anglicans who've recently proclaimed schism in Canada don't agree with Paul, even though the stated rationale for leaving the Anglican church is that the liberal mainstream in Canada no longer takes the Bible seriously. I guess by Bible they meant "the parts we want to interpret literally," which, interestingly, is very much the same as the definition used by many of the liberals they claim to despise.

Anglican Essentials, the coalition at the centre of the new splinter faction, has released documents to the press pronouncing itself ready to rumble. Ready in the legal sense, that is: the group has retained a Bay Street law firm and is preparing itself for a protracted legal battle to gain control of the church properties owned in breakaway parishes. In true evangelical form, one of the documents notes the "possib[ility]" that church properties could be lost "at the end of the day" -- but this hardly matters, because "that day could be very long coming." In other words, it doesn't matter whether we're in the right or not because we can tangle this up in the judicial system for at least ten or fifteen years. Their boisterous lawyer-director, Cheryl Chang, claims that the Anglican faction is ready to go all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. Chang threatens that her clients will have to pay money, but so will the Anglican Church of Canada. In other words: if the Anglican Church doesn't back down, the Anglican rebels are going to take another big bite out of its already dwindling revenue.

Unfortunately, some anonymous idiot has given the new group $1 million to play with. (Under the circumstance, I can understand wanting to remain anonymous.) Like irresponsible children squabbling over their dead parents' estate, Anglican Essentials has decided it's prepared to squander the money playing games in court instead of taking care of some of the church's real missions in this world, like ministering to congregations or feeding the hungry. It's even decided to ask for a 10% tithe from all members in order to pay for its courtroom crusade.

We remember 1 Corinthians for a variety of different reasons - Paul's chapter on love and works (contrast that with James' faith and works) in chapter 13, his condemnation of denominations and factionalism in chapter 1, his cautions about marriage in chapter 7 (in which marriage is described not as the sacred cow most evangelicals make it out to be, but as a compromise for people who want to get laid but stay Christian). Today's reading, however, is from chapter 6, where Paul claims that it is better to be knowingly cheated by a fellow Christian than to bring shame upon oneself and upon the offending brother (or sister, I suppose) by kicking love and charity to the curb and hauling the case before a secular court. It didn't take long for the new Anglicans to decide paying attention to the Bible wasn't worthwhile after all.