Category Archives: South Carolina

Unexpected comfort and joy within the Anglican divide in Myrtle Beach

Tidings of comfort and joy? The holidays seem like weeks of frantic rushing for minutes of comfort and joy.

But this Advent season, if anything does give me comfort and joy, it’s the way local ACNA church members and Episcopal Church members are still meeting with one another — different sets of people, different venues, different occasions, but all warm and friendly.

This would seem highly unlikely, given the split of the Diocese of South Carolina into a diocese affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America and a diocese affiliated with The Episcopal Church.

But as I have experienced first-hand here in Myrtle Beach, local ACNA members and Episcopalians are still finding the time and the love to go out for meals together, to study together, to have drinks together, to share enthusiasms on social media together.

And it’s always good to see each other.

Leaders stake territory; friends stay together.

Remove the Confederate flag from the S.C. capitol grounds, but realize the limits of what removal will accomplish

For the purposes of a specific point, I’ll draw a loose analogy between the Confederate flag and the Nazi flag.

Germany has long outlawed certain words and symbols — and even gestures.

But that hasn’t changed the reality of ongoing racially motivated violence in Germany, as Amnesty International noted last month.

Here in South Carolina, we should remove the flag from the state capitol grounds because it represents horrific oppression to part of our population, but we shouldn’t assume removing the flag will be a major fix to the problem of racism.

The murderer who killed nine innocent, good people in Charleston’s Emanuel A.M.E. Church last week seems to have been motivated by attitudes and beliefs, not merely by the presence of the Confederate flag on state capitol grounds.

At the same time, it’s worth noting the murderer appropriated the Confederate flag for himself. An image of the flag appeared on a plate on the front of his car, on which he posed for a self-portrait.

William F. Buckley Jr. wanted to lift the Cuban trade embargo: My day at the Firing Line taping

Kristi and I went to Coker College in Hartsville, S.C., on July 20, 1998, to attend the taping of a Firing Line Debate.

The debate, with eight panelists, was entitled, “Resolved: That the U.S. Should Lift the Cuban Trade Embargo.”

The eminent William F. Buckley Jr., founder of National Review and an intellectual leader of conservatism in the U.S., was on the affirmative side. Notice that: Buckley supported lifting the embargo.

The great Michael Kinsley was the moderator. Kristi and I were his fans (if not always his compatriots) from his time on CNN’s older form of “Crossfire.” At the time of the debate, he was editor of Slate.

Obviously, this experience with Firing Line comes to mind because President Obama has moved to normalize relations with Cuba — for stated reasons quite similar to Buckely’s reasons.

That remains true even if Obama’s move might differ in details from Buckley’s support for an end to the trade embargo. (I admit I haven’t analyzed real or imagined differences in the details.)

Obama, at today’s press conference, said, “I don’t anticipate overnight changes. But what I know deep in my bones is that if you’ve done the same thing for 50 years and nothing’s changed, you should try something different if you want a different outcome…”

Buckley, in 1998, after describing his opponents’ claims that the U.S. embargo will change Cuba, offered a deep, sonorous, “When?

In July 1998, and certainly before, the embargo’s failure was obvious to Buckley.

(I recalled a few personal details from that day in a blog post published shortly after Buckley’s death in 2008.)

So as some Republicans lash-out at Obama’s decision, with the notable exception of Sen. Rand Paul, they should recall William F. Buckley’s position and realize Obama made a decision that, in spirit if not in details, had some support among conservative and libertarian intellectuals.

I’m in the newspaper today; here’s a subtle clarification

I’ve known Steve Jones for years, and I admire him. He’s a top-notch reporter.

When he was interviewing me with two other members of Church of the Messiah for today’s article in The Sun News (my former employer), I think either I didn’t make my point clearly enough or maybe a subtle distinction was lost in the shuffle.

Jones reports:

Messiah church member Colin Burch chose to stay with the traditional church while his wife and three daughters continue to worship at Trinity Church.

The bishop of The Episcopal Church in S.C. conducted the service where one of his daughters joined the traditional church.

He said his children see the situation much like they might a divorce.

“They just don’t know which (parent) to go with,” he said.

The divorce analogy, which originated with my wife Kristi, was intended to describe Kristi and my three daughters — they see the split between Bishop Mark Lawrence’s diocese and The Episcopal Church USA like a divorce, and they aren’t sure which “parent” to go with.

My wife and my daughters, in varying combinations, join me at Church of the Messiah from time to time.

As far as my family is concerned, I listen to Kristi and I listen to my daughters, especially my 14 year old, and even as dense as men can be, I’m fairly certain we [my wife and daughters] all share certain values. I can certainly claim Kristi, the 14-year-old, and I have rich conversations about many things related to church, Bible, tradition, and theology.

Now, if I can just get the 14-year-old to teach me Latin. She’s way ahead of me.

Furthermore, more than a year ago now, the 14-year-old opted to be confirmed by the Episcopal Church USA bishop while continuing in a Bishop Lawrence parish.

Of course, I continue to love and admire many members of Trinity Church.

Update, 4:10 p.m.: On my Facebook page, I referred to a tradition started by my great-grandparents. As an exhibit of that heritage, please see “An Important Church in My Family,” which includes a few photos from All Saints Episcopal Church in Oakley, Maryland.

Update, 8:50 p.m., Dec. 8: My distinguished friend (though not distinguished because of our friendship) Charlie Jordan alerted me that RealClearReligion.org, in its list of today’s articles, included a link to Steve Jones’s article in The Sun News.

Update, 7:55 p.m., Dec. 12: I added a bracketed phrase to clarify “we” in the paragraph beginning, “As far as my family is concerned…”

Tonight’s vote at Trinity Episcopal Church Myrtle Beach explained

Trinity Episcopal Church in Myrtle Beach tonight voted to stick with Bishop Lawrence & the Diocese of S.C. rather than to re-affiliate with the Episcopal Church USA, 119 to 31, with 4 abstentions.

Analogy: If your spouse decides no longer to believe in historical Christianity, you must divorce.

Heresy is reversible but schism endures.

Heresy is about ideas, but schism is about relationships.

CNBC: South Carolina is No. 1 state in S&P stock performance over the last year

The Carolinas rock and the South rules!

According to a CNBC graphic that appeared on “Halftime Report” a few minutes ago:

States with the best stock performance in the S&P 500 over the last year:

South Carolina: up 21.7%

North Carolina: up 12.4%

Georgia: up 9.6%

Alabama: up 7.8%

Kentucky: up 5.6%

Officials of The Episcopal Church take new action to punish free speech

So I’m no theologian. What I am, however, is a former newspaper section editor and a veteran of 10 years in the newspaper business. One thing we journalists learn to value, very quickly, is freedom of speech for all, in all situations, and one thing we quickly learn to notice is censorship.

What really stunned me recently was the decision of officials in an otherwise progressive body to align themselves with the pro-censorship right-wing. As a Libertarian Party voter (let there be plagues on both the big political parties), I’ve been choking back an exasperated vomit following the flex of a new fascism in the high offices of The Episcopal Church USA, a body that my family joined more than a century ago (see the sidebar photos).

The upper levels of The Episcopal Church are upset because its own Mark Lawrence, Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, referred to his own Christian denomination as “a comatose patient” and as a “sidecar on a motorcycle.”

Despite the fact that The Episcopal Church continues to hemorrhage members (thus making Lawrence’s phrases into rather apt metaphors), these comments are one part of a 12-point claim that Lawrence has abandoned the doctrine and discipline of his denomination. He hasn’t, but considering the goofy allegations, who would blame him? He’d probably have more self-respect if he worked in the failing Obama administration, but men of character do not abandon their commitments.

Consider the gravity of phrases like a “comatose patient” and a “sidecar on a motorcycle.” These oh-so-horrible phrases have not pleased the censors in the high offices of The Episcopal Church, which is too fragile for thoughtful metaphors, never mind free speech. If anyone needed proof that The Episcopal Church is a dwindling body, they just need to think about how those phrases were taken as insults instead of helpful diagnoses.

Of course, in the United States of America, we value the right to critique and criticize our governing institutions. We have the freedom of speech and the freedom of dissent, even if the Libertarian Party is the only political body that fully supports those freedoms. But in The Episcopal Church, neither freedom exists. The new fascism insists that no one say anything but Nice Words, even if what’s happening reeks of juvenile ugliness.

If only it were about those two phrases.

Another allegation from the high offices of The Episcopal Church seems to boil down to this: They don’t like Lawrence’s webpage design. Really (see point No. 6).

The high offices think Lawrence has failed to display The Episcopal Church logo prominently enough on his webpage. Again, considering the goofy allegations, who would want to be branded with The Episcopal Church, the denomination that punishes free speech and micromanages webpages?

Lawrence probably didn’t realize how petty the top brass of his denomination could be — until he became bishop. But a man of character sticks to his commitments.

In our current cultural, political, and social environment, the allegedly progressive institution of The Episcopal Church USA had a chance to stand for freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of dissent.

Instead, the high offices have joined the simple-minded cable-news crowd in attempts to censor and intimidate anyone who has an alternative point of view. The Episcopal Church doesn’t welcome you. It doesn’t even welcome its own. It’s too intolerant.

The Burch family joined The Episcopal Church more than a century ago, and I will continue as an Episcopalian because the heritage is good. Maybe I’m foolish because I believe common sense can see through all the allegations against Lawrence, and I believe The Episcopal Church can become a pro-freedom organization again, some day.

But for now, the high offices have made evangelism, and the bolstering of our dwindling numbers, nearly impossible for me. What Libertarian would want to join the denomination that punishes free speech, the denomination of censorship?

This post is my own and represents only my point of view. — Colin Foote Burch

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