July 27, 2022

Lambeth Resolutions Come and Go

In response to claims that Lambeth resolutions "hold" until expressly repealed, and citing Lambeth 1958's rejection of the former "ban" on contraception from 1908, I noted the following:

It might be better to say that the Lambeth 1998 statement was a reflection of the majority at the Conference. There is no foundation for assigning Lambeth the capacity to speak the "mind" of the Communion. It is not a synod, but a conference. It does not issue canons, but it does make statements. Some are allowed to pass away in desuetude, while others are revisited. Three facts need to be noted:
  • The 1958 resolution (115) on contraception ("family planning") simply ignores the existence of the pungent denunciations of 1908. Moreover, the real change came in 1930 (Resolution 15) again with no mention of the 1908 position.
  • In many resolutions down the years, it is frequent practice to "reaffirm Resolution ____ of the ____ Lambeth Conference."
  • If resolutions held, some would not be so eager to reaffirm.
Taken together, I think this supports the notion that Lambeth Resolutions speak for the majority of the Conference at the time of adoption.

All that being said, I think the current revision of the Call reflects neither a reaffirmation nor a denial; it is a simple statement that Lambeth 1998 1.10 said what it said. Some like to attribute authority to it; but there is no foundation for such authority, beyond the authority of those who originated it.

March 18, 2022

The Widow Walks

The hallway retained the scent of lilies and hyacinth, mixed with the faint edge of mothballs. The funeral had been a few days earlier; I was calling on the widow to see how she was doing. It was the neighborly thing, and we had been neighbors, her husband and I colleagues of a sort, he the minister of the Reformed church, I the rector of the Episcopal. In our small town all of the major, and a few of the minor denominations had church buildings neatly arranged around the town square, along with the courthouse and the post office. It was a testimony to fellowship and distinction all at once.

The widow and I were alone in the large Victorian manse, and had been chatting for a while, when one of those silences that punctuate such conversations settled in. Suddenly the widow started, as if she had just remembered an unfinished errand. “Thank you so much for calling, Mr. Halliwell, but I must be going. It was so kind of you.”

We rose together and went into the hall, where I helped her with the bright red woolen coat she selected from the hall closet. I was surprised at the color, but she seemed not to be concerned. The aroma of mothballs clung about it; the season had just recently turned, and a chill was in the air. “Thanks so much,” she said. She took up her purse from the hall table and slipped the strap over her arm, and we went out onto the wide porch. There was no need to lock the door; such were the times. We paused for a moment looking out over the square, standing at the edge of the porch-steps down to the walkway; the sky was overcast and grey, and seemed to drain much of the color from the scene. “May I walk with you?” I asked.

The widow looked at me with a sly smile and said, “Oh, I don’t walk.” With that, she rose a few inches into the air and floated off down the walk, slowly rising as she went. By the time she reached the center of the square it was clear she would pass several feet above the steeple of the Methodist church directly opposite. I watched as she continued, further and further away, until she became little more than a tiny red dot no larger than a pinpricked finger’s mark upon a neatly folded white linen handkerchief.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

Author’s note: This story came to me in a dream this morning. After I wrote it, I remembered I had take (and then manipulated in the darkroom) the street photo to the left, sometime in the early 70s. So here they are together.

February 1, 2022

I saw heaven

 I saw heaven in a dream the other night.

In heaven, everyone is 22,
and they all wear Hawaiian shirts
and Bermuda shorts
and go barefoot.

They are very happy,
standing and chatting
like guests at a massive cocktail party.

There is only one bathroom in heaven,
but that alright
because no one needs to go,
and if they did,
they'd always let someone else go in ahead of them.

I saw that everyone was in heaven,
even Hitler and Jack the Ripper,
because when they arrived
at the throne of judgment,
and saw what they had done,
and Jesus turned to them and said,
“I forgive you,”
they were so overcome
that they were completely transformed.

I heard the Hitler spends most of his time
washing the feet of twenty-somethings
who in this life were killed at Auschwitz at his orders
— not that their feet need washing
but because they enjoy it so much,
and when he tickles their feet —
— what laughter!

A woman turned to me and said,
“I saw Satan the other day;
he keeps going up to everyone
and saying, 
‘Can I get you anything?’”

—Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG