Friday, November 30, 2007

What's Next?

A few friends and kind readers have asked me about my plans now that I've finished my M.Th. I've been thinking about a lot of different things, but here's the outline...

I really enjoy what I do at the bookstore, and the people with whom I work. While I didn't get the marketing position I wanted, I have been given leave to plan and execute at least one author event that I've been pushing for.

The work that I do with the people of Saint Patrick's Church is very important to me, and I'm working on two long term projects in Christian education and formation.

The first project is to design a standard program of Anglican catechesis and introduction to Saint Patrick's Church. St Pat's receives a lot of interest from folks who have come from evangelical protestant denominations, and while they might have been away from the life of any church for months or years, there's still an element of "culture shock" when people are introduced to our liturgy and philosophies of ministry. While we can't make the life of our parish less weird (because we are convinced that it's weird in a good way) we can take people aside to welcome them, answer questions, and provide a basic introduction to Anglican Christianity and its peculiar grammar so that folks will have the theological tools to "read" and therefore better understand what's going on in the life of our parish. We'd like this to be a four week, informal class that we provide 3-4 times a year, as needed. I hope that after a year or two of this, we'll have some well-formed Anglo-Catholics running around the place. Ahem.

The second project is going to be less work but a lot harder: our household is getting together with some other folks in the parish to learn what it's like to share life and a common Rule together with people of different interests and demographics, but who are interested in friendship, monastic practices, and learning to love our Lord better. I'll write on that as it progresses.

Would you believe that it sounds to some folks like I'm a drifter, since I don't have a salary, a title, or an ordination planned?

I won't have a fancy title (unless Father Matthews deigns to give me one) and it's not going to be lucrative. I still have a closet full of fancy dress clothes that I'm not using at the moment. This will not put me on the fast track to the priesthood. But here's the thing: I'm not looking to be a CEO in the Kingdom of God. This is not a matter of "climbing the corporate ladder" - I'm a layman of the Church of Rwanda, so there is no bloody ladder. A friend reminded me this week that there are plenty of people in plenty of churches who have heard a call to ordained ministry, and want to get themselves put into that ontological category ASAP so they can go about the "real ministry" that they're called to do. Right here and now, however, this is the very real ministry that I'm called to do: help build the life of the Church, learn to be a better penitent, and to call other sinners to turn to Jesus and engage fully in the life of God's new Community, and participate now in the life of the world to come. I don't need to be ordained simply to do that. I'm still thinking about priesthood, but any formal process for that really needs to be on the back burners right now, because more important than any institutional process is the question of my own formation in holiness and the life of Christ's Church. Our God has much to do in and with me, and I want to bend my body such that by the time somebody lays hands on me to make me a priest, I have already been formed into the kind of man who should be a priest.

Forming character is like preparing a roast - if you try to do it fast, you end up with something other than you were hoping for.

Friday, November 23, 2007

I am pleased to announce...

I have just received the official word from the University that I have passed the degree program. My dissertation, "Encountering the Christian Colony: An Evaluation of Hospitality as Proclamation" scored in the "Very Good" range.

I am grateful for the friendship, care and support that my friends have given me as I've undertaken the program.


Kyle D Potter, MTh (Oxon)


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Some Catholic Converts Remain Protestant...

Let us imagine that a Protestant Christian were to sit down and read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and study for years the doctrinal differences between the Church of Rome and those of the East, and of the Reformation, and finally come to a place where he agreed with all of Rome's doctines, and finally joined the Roman Church.

That Christian would still be a Protestant.

As I see it, the central issue in Roman Catholic Christianity is not how its many particular teachings square with Scripture - for indeed, this is a Protestant concern - but whether God has given to the church the charism whereby it may pronounce infallibly upon matters of faith and morals, and whether the Bishop of Rome serves as a lynchpin for this divine economy.

This occurred to me when I was talking to a friend, and he related a question he'd asked of his parish priest: 'What are the essential Christian teachings?' The priest responded that this was a very Protestant question. Protestantism takes for granted that it is right and godly and proper for individuals armed with Bibles to continually second-guess the teachings of the broader church. See, for example, Michael Spencer's review of McGrath's new Christianity's Dangerous Idea.

Either the Church in council has the authority to pronounce in this way, or it does not. Councils doth err, or they do not.

My friend asked me why Anglicanism isn't just a stopover on my way to Roman Catholicism. I suppose that I can't know that it will never be, but I do know why it isn't now: councils doth err.

More to follow...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Small Joke

How many Anglo-Catholics does it take to change a light bulb?


A thurifur, a boat boy, 2 Torches, 2 Crucifers, 10 choristers, 3 Acolytes, 4 chalice bearers, a Sub deacon, Deacon, Curate, and a Priest.

from here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What is the Church? Questions about Ecclesiology

I've thought often about some advice given me by a colleague at Oxford a couple of years ago. He was a Canadian Mennonite who had been recently confirmed in the Roman Church. (Presumably he's still Canadian.) He suggested that I do some real work getting my ecclesiology sorted before getting anywhere near another potential ordination process.

Presumably my friends won't be free to frolic and play the whole time I'm in Oxford this month, so I'm going to do a bit of study in the RadCam. I want to do some focused reading on ecclesiology so I'll have some things to consider as I work a normal job for a little while. I want to get at the truth of what it's going to mean to spend my life as a Catholic Christian, and to do the theological work such that I'll know whether I can do that with integrity in an Anglican setting. Is there a future for Anglican Catholicism? I think it is our hope of a future, but of course I'm very biased.

So here's where y'all come in: as I consider what the Church is, what questions do I need to ask? What do I need to read? A kind Nashotah House reader reminds me not to neglect Ramsey's The Gospel and the Catholic Church, and I've wanted to dig into Radner's End of the Church and Reno's In the Ruins of the Church for some time now. I might go spend some time with deLubac's work and go back to see what my tutor has on his ecclesiology bibliography.


Monday, November 12, 2007


24th week after Pentecost
6th week of Michaelmas term
Days left in Lexington: 5

Life is good. I got to spend time with a lot of great people this weekend, and just enjoy myself. I've got just under a week left in the States. It's going to be low key; other than a trip down to Asbury to see Bishop Tom on Wednesday, I'll just be working and spending time with my friends before leaving.

I'm pretty excited about seeing Oxford folks again. I really wanted to spend an entire term there this past year, but I couldn't work out the logistics. I'll probably get a little teary-eyed at the airport. *sniff* It's going to be a great three weeks.


I've been brainstorming ways to advance the Anglo-Catholic insurgency around here. I think when/if I get some money saved up, I'll start stacking some small kneeling pillows by the entrance to the worship space, so folks can pick them up if they'd like. ... with the Rector's kind permission, of course...

I've started to notice that our Eucharistic piety on the whole seems to be increasing by way of quiet liturgical peer pressure - in the same way that all those evangelicals started raising their arms in the 80s (or whenever), these evangelicals are learning to reverence cross and altar. Lord, form your Church.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Anglicans and Reformation

Everyone heard about what +Pittsburgh did, right? I'm wondering if I'll hear reactions from Richard+ or my new Nashotah House e-buddies...

Oh, and now Mrs. Schori is leveling the same threats (it's a form letter) at +Fort Worth. Hm.

Also, Father Pete is twriting a litle series introducing the English Reformation. Very readable. Go click.

I'm often told by folks who don't read history that Henry VIII somehow "founded" the Church of England over the question of his lust, as opposed to the "spiritual" reformation on the continent.

1. Christ founded His Church, and it spread to England.

2. Henry VIII needed an heir to take the throne, not simply another tarted up bed partner.

3. Medieval Christendom 101: the Church and what came to be known as the modern nation-state were very deeply intertwined. Lutherans certainly hold no moral high ground on the matter of local churches being led around by the nose by their secular overlords. Ahem.

4. On all sides, the Reformation was (the Reformations were?) both a political and ecclesiastical process. William Cavanaugh argues that the most staunchly Catholic territories in Germany were the ones with whom the Pope signed an agreement to keep his hands of their money and lands. Hm... (Think about it for a minute - then find the discussion in the first few pages of his recent Theopolitical Imagination.)

5. I think when we grow up a little bit, we quit trying to imagine that there is such a thing as purely spiritual causation in the life of the Church, removed from political/practical/temporal concerns. The dichotomy just doesn't work.

Okay, that's all.