The Episcopal New Yorker Fall 2011 : Page 1
Choosing A Bishop Page 4 THE EPISCOPAL NEW YORKER THE OFFICIAL NEWS PUBLICATION OF THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF NEW YORK FALL 2011 A major exhibition, The Value of Water is now on view at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. For more details on this and the accompanying program of events, please go to www.stjohndivine.org IN THIS ISSUE Bishop Nominees Page 4 9/11 Then And Now Page 9 Value of Water Pages 1, 18 Thomas Merton Page 26 Diocesan Budget Page 24 Cathedral’s New Organist Page 27 Photo: Ruhrfish, Wikimedia Diocesan News Page 31 RMM 30th Anniversary Back Page Would Jesus Frack? W By Stewart Pinkerton Photo: Mike Saechang, Flickr ould Jesus approve of hydraulic frack-ing? That’s a theological question per-haps best left to others, but we suspect the answer is probably not. “We pray for your beautiful creation as it suffers the effects of greed and carelessness. Help us to see a drop of water as life-giving.” So went one of the Prayers for the People at the August 7, 2011 serv-ice at Holy Cross Church in Kingston, NY. The prayer was the inspiration of Deacon Gail Ganter-Toback, a stealth environmentalist of sorts who lives in the college town of New Paltz and makes it a point of always trying to sneak some-thing about saving the planet into the weekly prayers. But outside of church, she’s anything but subtle when it comes to the issue (continued on page 18)
Value Of Water
Would Jesus Frack?<br /> <br /> Would Jesus approve of hydraulic fracking? That’s a theological question perhaps best left to others, but we suspect the answer is probably not. “We pray for your beautiful creation as it suffers the effects of greed and carelessness. Help us to see a drop of water as life-giving.” So went one of the Prayers for the People at the August 7, 2011 service at Holy Cross Church in Kingston, NY.<br /> <br /> The prayer was the inspiration of Deacon Gail Ganter-Toback, a stealth environmentalist of sorts who lives in the college town of New Paltz and makes it a point of always trying to sneak something about saving the planet into the weekly prayers. But outside of church, she’s anything but subtle when it comes to the issue Of protecting New York’s aquifers from fracking, the controversial natural gas extraction method expected to be coming soon to a water table near you.<br /> <br /> A member of the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, the deacon is part of a growing crusade to get Gov. Andrew Cuomo to postpone the introduction of the process. “This is what it’s all about,” she says, pulling from her purse a small laboratory sample jar of water. If fracking goes ahead in New York State, she says, “you won’t know what’s in this. Diesel fuel, toxins, other bad stuff?” Over iced tea at the New Paltz Starbucks, she gives a reporter some pamphlets, handouts and bumper stickers, one of which says “No Frackin’ Way! Gas Drilling Poisons Ground Water.”<br /> <br /> Precisely the view of Stuart Auchincloss, Senior Warden at St. Gregory’s in Woodstock, NY, who is on the executive committee of the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club. The group is pressing Albany hard for a moratorium on fracking, “until it can be shown that it can be done safely,” says Auchincloss.<br /> <br /> So what exactly is all the fuss about? Fracking—properly called “hydraulic fracturing”—involves a high-pressure injection of millions of gallons of water, sand and a toxic soup of chemicals into vertical and horizontal wells drilled miles into the earth, to create what amounts to a series of mini-earthquakes to fracture rock that’s been entrapping huge stores of natural gas. Proponents say it’s environmentally correct, will create thousands of jobs in the region, produce new sources of revenues for landowners and economically depressed towns, and provide badly needed domestic gas reserves.<br /> <br /> A Tempting lure for recession-stressed upstate residents is the prospect of collecting a hefty upfront payment for mineral rights on their land (it’s as much as $5,000 per acre in states where fracking is already underway) plus a typical 12. 5% royalty on the gas once it starts flowing. For a beleaguered upstate farmer eager to hit the restart button, that’s attractive.<br /> <br /> The gas resides in something called the Marcellus Shale, a formation of rock more than a mile underground that runs from Albany, Greene, Ulster and Sullivan counties in the east to Erie and Chautauqua counties in the west, spilling over into Pennsylvania, which is already into major fracking, along with 33 other states. The Marcellus Shale could contain as much as 516 trillion cubic feet of gas1 , or about 20 times the current annual U.S. consumption. Alternative energy enthusiasts cite fracking as a big factor in lessening U. S. dependence on foreign oil.<br /> <br /> To opponents, known in some circles as “facktivists,” The prospect of widespread usage in New York is roughly equivalent to the idea of letting BP run a pipeline of sludge from the Gulf Oil Spill right into the Finger Lakes. They foresee an Armageddon of multiple horrors: well explosions, seepage of natural gas into kitchen faucet water so you can actually light it with a match, plus bodily absorption of various carcinogens and neurotoxins that could cause headaches, blackouts, and loss of vision. The main reservoirs for New York City are right in the middle of Delaware, Greene and Ulster counties. Yikes.<br /> <br /> Not surprisingly, gas companies claim there’s no connection between fracking and anecdotal evidence reported in the media, including a rallying-cry film called “Gasland,” which documents animals losing weight and hair, water contaminated by heavy metals like barium, cadmium and mercury, and people with things like benzene and toluene in their blood.<br /> <br /> “It’s a real communications breakdown,” Auchincloss says. “The industry says there’s no problem with fracking during the process itself. But when asked about things that go wrong later, it’s ‘Oh, that’s not the fracking, that’s something else.’”<br /> <br /> Just trust us, they say. Everything will be just swell. Pay no attention to the constant noise, truck traffic and other 24/7 industrial commotion on your land. Oh, and that nearby “fracking pond,” where contaminated waste water from the well is stored won’t leak at all. Unless, of course, the liner breaks. It’s a little like the line from the movie “Dracula” when the heroine is told, “you’ll be perfectly safe here,” only to be confronted moments later by the thirsty Undead One himself.<br /> <br /> Where things stand now is that Gov. Cuomo is expected to green-light fracking—with some important caveats—sometime in the next few months after a period of public comment that fracking opponents are trying to get extended to 180 days from 60. The recommendation to proceed was contained in a 900-page scientific and engineering report released in July by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).<br /> <br /> Interestingly, the report recommended a ban on drilling in the watershed area that serves New York City. Which begs the question: if fracking is so safe, why ban it near the city’s water supply? And then there’s the issue of fairness. City tap water may not be affected, but watersheds of other New Yorkers certainly could be. Cynical but logical explanation: Cuomo really doesn’t need a lot of upstate voters to be re-elected.<br /> <br /> The report also calls for the DEC to strictly regulate The entire process. That, of course, isn’t enough for some activists. Howie Hawkins, last year’s Green Party candidate for governor, said during the campaign that the “DEC is understaffed and underfunded. It cannot even effectively monitor the low level of current drilling in New York State.”<br /> <br /> As the nation faces the prospect of a “double dip” recession, Gov. Cuomo is embracing economic development in a troubled region, while trying to assure the fretful that the state will control the drilling process through vigilant regulation.<br /> <br /> Which the Albany gas lobbyists will no doubt do their best to dilute, so the ultimate regulations will sound right but leave a lot of room for confusion and interpretation. Sort of like “lead us not into Penn Station.” Says Deacon Ganter-Toback: “It’s ultimately a moral issue. We just want people to realize their water supplies could be contaminated permanently.”<br /> <br /> If that happens, she asks, “Then what’s Plan B?”<br /> <br /> Pinkerton is the chair of the ENY’s editorial advisory board and former managing editor of Forbes Magazine.<br /> <br /> Why is My Tap Water Burning?<br /> <br /> If you’re concerned about your kitchen faucet becoming a small flame-thrower, here are the names and websites of some state-wide and national organizations active in the fracking issue. They can provide more information and opportunities for involvement:<br /> <br /> Environmental Advocates of New York: www.eany.org.<br /> Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter: www.newyork.sierraclub.org<br /> NY Public Interest Research Group: www.nypirg.org<br /> Damascus Citizens: www.damascuscitizens.org<br /> Environmental Defense Fund: www.edf.org<br /> Natural Resource Defense Fund: www.nrdc.org<br /> Friends of the Earth: www.foe.org<br /> Investor’s Environmental Health Network: www.iehn.org<br /> <br /> CATHEDRAL EXHIBITION<br /> <br /> The Value of Water<br /> <br /> By Nicholas Richardson<br /> <br /> The vital importance of water in all our lives, and in the life of our entire planet, is the focus of a major art exhibition and ongoing series of programs at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Guest curated by participating artist Fredericka Foster, The Value of Water explores how artists respond to water as subject matter. It includes works by over 40 leading contemporary artists plus a bonus group of three acrylics on paper by Mark Rothko, in a diverse range of media and with an equally diverse aesthetic. In most of the works on display, water is either directly depicted, strongly suggested, or physically present. In others, perhaps most tellingly in an exhibition with this one’s agenda, it is evoked by its absence. There are some significant works by major artists here; but the great strength of the exhibition lies, perhaps, more in its enormous variety, and in the creativity with which the works have been installed throughout the many large and small spaces of the cathedral and its chapels, at multiple levels and with multiple sightlines.<br /> <br /> Water is a Christian Issue<br /> <br /> By the Rev. E. Suzanne Wille<br /> <br /> Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. (John 4:14)<br /> <br /> Jesus speaks these words to a Samaritan woman whose life is dry and hopeless: Her relationships have failed and she is treated like a pariah by her neighbors. She has trudged to the village well in the hot noonday sun, hoping to pull up a bucket of water to meet her household’s daily needs for cooking, drinking, and washing. When she meets Jesus sitting in the town square, her skirts are covered with the dust of the street and her mind is filled with regrets over her barren life. Then this stranger tells her that he can offer much more than water that will merely quench her thirst for a day. He offers the surprised Samaritan woman living water, a spring rising up within that will quench all her thirsts, forever.<br /> <br /> That image of Jesus as living water is one of the most profound in the Bible, but it’s not the only water imagery in our scriptures. Water appears on the first pages of Genesis at creation and on the last pages of Revelation in the image of the river of the water of life in Paradise. Water is one of our primary sacramental symbols, used in baptisms, and then to remind us of our baptism when we are sprinkled with holy water on Easter.<br /> <br /> Water fills our scriptures and our liturgy; yet those of us who live in the currently water-logged northeast might find it all too easy to miss what a powerful symbol it is—of new life and resurrection, of cleansing and purification, and of hope in a dry land, whether that be the desert geography of the Holy Land or the desert of our sinful, broken lives. As Christians, we are called to care for all of the Earth, all that God created and called good, but water holds a special place in our theological imaginations.<br /> <br /> Powerful arguments based on environmental science can be—and have been— made about the need to protect our endangered water resources, but Christians have strong moral, biblical, and theological reasons to do so. The six-month exhibit The Value of Water at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine captures this concern, exhibiting work by painters, sculptors, and media artists throughout the entire Cathedral space and hosting a series of conversations and lectures about the topic of water.<br /> <br /> Water runs throughout our scriptures. We begin in water at creation: God’s spirit moved over the waters, and God commanded that water “bring forth swarms of living creatures”—a creation story, written thousands of years ago, that squares with what we now know scientifically. Water is our birthplace; often in the Bible it is the instrument of our salvation. God refreshes his people with water from the rock in the desert during the Exodus and with the living water of Jesus. Water acts as the passageway to the freedom of God, as Moses leads the Israelites to literal freedom from the Egyptians through the Red Sea, and John the Baptist initiates followers into the freedom of new life following God through baptism in the Jordan River. <br /> <br /> Water not only courses through our biblical story, but is a wellspring for our sacramental lives. Water is the outward and visible sign of our primary sacrament of baptism; in baptism we are buried and then raised with Christ into new life— the water that washes down our faces or into which we are plunged symbolizes that we have been washed clean of any stain or sin. Many churches place the font at the door of the church so that we never forget that it is through the waters of baptism that we entered life in Christ and the Christian community. For too long and too often, however, Christians have ignored, even derided, environmental issues, allowing the scientific and activist community to do the heavy lifting in shaping the arguments. Christians, perhaps especially Episcopalians who emphasize the incarnational and grace-filled nature of our faith, must turn their attention to protecting God’s good creation in general and water in particular. Living water, sign of new life, refreshment, and cleansing: If this is to have any biblical, sacramental, spiritual, or theological significance to Christians, then we must care about, and protect, water.<br /> <br /> Wille is interim pastor of Christ Church, Warwick and a member of the ENY advisory board.<br /> <br /> Report from the World Water Conference in Stockholm, August, 23, 2011<br /> <br /> By the Rev. Canon Jeffrey Golliher<br /> <br /> I’ve attended many UN conferences in the last twenty years, and I’ve been to this one before. I returned this year for two reasons. The first is that water shortages are severe worldwide, especially in parts of Africa, and those shortages are clearly linked to climate change.<br /> <br /> The second reason relates to the centrality of water in the sacramental life of the Church. Based on what I’ve seen and heard in Stockholm this week, most of the world is searching for an “ethic of water,” and we in the Church could and should contribute to the dialogue that’s developing. We are in a unique position to do so. Think of the rite of Baptism. The words point to a universal symbol and a common thread that links together every dimension of human existence. We need to explore and develop that meaning in our teachings. Water is not only a symbol of spiritual rebirth, but also a necessity of life on which the survival of all living creatures depends.<br /> <br /> But let’s be more specific. What would it mean if we used polluted water in the baptismal font? We may tell ourselves that this would make no difference with regard to the spiritual meaning of the sacrament, which would be true in an important sense. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, including the degradation and destruction of the environment. But what would we be telling ourselves about ourselves? That what we do in the here and now makes no difference to God? That what we’re doing is okay, because God loves us anyway?<br /> <br /> And what if we were to buy that water in the baptismal font from private industry? That’s not a farfetched question. In some parts of the world, clean water is so scarce that no one would think of drinking or using anything but bottled water. What would it mean if the water we drink or use in baptism must we bought from a global corporation? Whose water is it? Better yet, whose font is it? Whose font is it—really?<br /> <br /> Bringing this close to home in a different way, I can’t help but remember that over half of the world’s peoples now live in cities, and that figure is rapidly increasing. Where will the water to support these new mega-cities come from? And where will the water to support the needed agriculture for food and sustenance come from? Cities are beginning to compete with farmers for water everywhere, including the United States. Just down the road from where I live, along Route 209 between Kingston and Ellenville, you can see innumerable farms and small signs in the frontyards of people asking difficult, angry, pointed questions to the NY Department of Environmental Protection. Giant sinkholes appear around their homes; their basements are filled with water and harmful mold. They need help. Why? They’ve having these problems because the massive underground pipes that deliver freshwater to the City of New York from the reservoirs where they live are old and in need of repair. This system of reservoirs is an engineering achievement, but it must be maintained. Otherwise, the people who live near them suffer—not to mention the millions of gallons of precious water that is wasted each and everyday. How many people in cities anywhere really know where their water comes from? As large as the City of New York is, and as impressive as its reservoir system is, it’s a relatively small microcosm of the very same issues found anywhere in the world. Water is an exceedingly sacred resource. From an ecological point of view, it makes us one people. Without it, we would not exist.<br /> <br /> I’ve always believed that the Church, ultimately, is God’s creation in a process of renewal. St. Paul seemed to have thought that the whole creation was involved, and I can’t think of anything that would make Mother Earth groan more deeply that what we’ve done to her water. We need to think about that prayerfully, joining together with our Cathedral of St. John the Divine, where the meaning of water is being brought to the forefront of our attention. Nothing could be more timely.<br /> <br /> Golliher is program officer for the environment in the Anglican UN Office and vicar, St. John’s Church, Ellenville.<br /> <br /> …Nor Any Drop<br /> <br /> By Margaret Diehl<br /> <br /> Hurricane Irene came at a time when the Cathedral was preparing for the opening of its art exhibition, The Value of Water, (Sept 23 through March 25) , which explores the nexus of art, of water in all its forms and meanings, and of sacred ground (represented by the Cathedral as exhibition space). Like everyone else, Cathedral staffers were affected by storm fears and preparations, and there was work scheduled for that weekend that ended up being crammed into a few hours Sunday evening. Cathedral trees lost limbs, and the grounds of the Close were as littered with leaves as on a day in late October.<br /> <br /> We witnessed the power of water, the danger of water, the beauty and terror and inhumanity of water. Water may not be alive, yet it is life and death to us, and that makes it mysterious. Certain places are considered sacred, and certain water sources—the Nile, the Ganges, the spring at Lourdes—are thought of as sacred, too. “Sacred ground” can also refer to structures, like churches and cathedrals, which offer political as well as spiritual sanctuary, and to lands that are protected against commercial or private interests. The feelings associated with the sacred—awe, respect, devotion—and the desire to treat certain places differently than others, are universal. But nature does not always respect the way we divide up the earth.<br /> <br /> As Irene aimed for New York City, the idea of a force big enough to disrupt a metropolis that bests so many had its own appeal. It helped that the destruction was not aimed with intent. Bodies were free to respond with fear and thrill to wild winds, imaginations to the transgressive image of water leaping walls and swirling through the streets.<br /> <br /> At the same time, we suspect that there is, if not exactly intent, human agency somehow involved: if not in this hurricane, than in the next, in the aggregate. We have to consider what it would mean if such storms became as common in the Northeast as they are in South Florida; if droughts and flooding are this century’s dry days and seasonal showers. There may be no one natural climate, yet the shortness of human life makes sacred the climate we, our parents and grandparents grew up with, the patterns that enable us to plan, and therefore not spend all our time merely surviving. Extreme weather brings this into vivid relief. Yet even after an event such as Hurricane Irene, it doesn’t take long before daily activities take precedence over thinking about global climate change. Human society has become a vast shield, even against what is directly experienced.<br /> <br /> We know, however, that art can penetrate that social shield. Art is of both worlds: it is human intelligence fed directly from the wild. When it reaches us, we are rooted to the present moment; we are joyfully—though sometimes also painfully—aware. Yet artists are also affected by current conditions. They, too, make choices about how much to risk feeling. This is especially so now, when the always-possible ecstatic experience of nature is tempered with the fear of loss, of damage, and of guilt. How do artists deal with this? And what more can art do?<br /> <br /> The work of 41 contemporary visual artists—work focused on depicting, reflecting and engaging with water—as well as works by Mark Rothko, the exhibition’s spiritual ancestor and the only artist included who is no longer living, are now installed in every part of the Cathedral, from the great crossing to the nave, the chapels, bays and other intimate areas.<br /> <br /> Throughout the fall and winter, there will be many special programs related to water, including evenings with activists and writers, storytelling nights and afternoon workshops. The Cathedral will also work with artist-in-residence Paul Winter and the evolving Great Rift Valley Orchestra to premiere Flyways, a musical celebration of the great bird migration (affected by changes in weather) between Africa and Eurasia. Our new Director of Music, Kent Tritle, will be particularly Involved in the closing event, An Evening of Witness: a response to all the water disasters of the last decade. Our plans as of August 26th included witnesses to the Japan earthquake/tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and the droughts and floods in across the South and Midwest.<br /> <br /> Now, though, we have another participant. Irene, still ravaging New York and neighboring states as of this writing, has brought wild nature to our doorstep, and it’s only luck that the city didn’t suffer as much as communities upstate, in New Jersey, Connecticut and Vermont, and all along the eastern seaboard. Our poet in residence, Marilyn Nelson, recently wondered why people think God speaks through storms and not through sunny days. “What happened to the still, small voice?” she asked. Over the next six months at the Cathedral, we’re trying to listen to that voice, to the voices of the artists we’re exhibiting, as well as to Irene and her many siblings. <br /> <br /> Diehl is acting editor of the quarterly newsletter of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.<br /> <br /> Where Seeing Rain Means Seeing Food<br /> <br /> by Martin McCann<br /> <br /> You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst. By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among their branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for the people to use. (Psalm 104: 10-14)<br /> <br /> One morning the school chaplain was at our home when it began to rain. He looked out the window and exclaimed: “God is so good! When we see rain, we see food.” <br /> <br /> Tanzanians, like the Hebrews of the Old Testament, have a special respect for God’s provision of water. Primarily subsistence farmers and herders working in a hot, dry climate, they know the importance of rain. Here in Dodoma there is only one rainy season per year running from December through March.<br /> <br /> While abundant rain does prevent famine, rain does not prevent water-related diseases. Malaria and dengue fever spring from excess standing water. Cholera spreads from fecal contamination of water where cattle and people use the same water.<br /> <br /> Sanitary engineering systems to provide clean municipal water were put in place in the U.S. in the early part of the last century. This water treatment led to a major improvement in public health. In developing countries, where these measures are yet to take place, childhood mortality from mosquito-borne and diarrheal diseases is still significant.<br /> <br /> The eastern United States is blessed with abundant lakes and rivers. Water does literally gush down from the mountains. Evaporation returns water to the clouds in a year-round water cycle. Damp soil nurtures heavy vegetation with roots to hold precious topsoil.<br /> <br /> Here in Africa, due to the high cost of petroleum-based fuels, trees and brush are sacrificed for charcoal. Deforestation dries up the water cycle and leads to erosion during the heavy rains. In Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive by Jared Diamond demonstrates how environmental damage can lead to the demise of whole societies. Other factors, such as global warming, are seen in the shrinking of the ice cap on Mount Kilimanjaro.<br /> <br /> Natives here can point to hillsides saying that only a few years ago that hill was covered with trees and now is bare.<br /> <br /> The Millennium Development Goals address environmental issues in Goal #7. The most critical aspects of this goal are lack of access to clean water by two billion people and lack of basic sanitation by 2.5 billion people. The goal is to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. <br /> <br /> The dilemma is real. Are we to respond with cynical chatter, the proverbial shrug Of the shoulders, or are we to contribute? Goal #8, the most important of all, is to create a global partnership for development. Are the nations of the West willing to support the 0.7% to make the other seven goals reachable? Are we willing to advocate for the MDGs?<br /> <br /> The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori writes in the foreword of her book God’s Mission in the World: “The Millennium Development Goals call us home to a world where the hungry are fed, the ill are healed, the young educated, women and men treated equally, and where all have access to clean water and adequate sanitation, basic health care, and the promise of development that does not endanger the rest of creation.”<br /> <br /> While most religious people will say they believe in the world that our presiding bishop describes, the real question we might all ponder is: How do my beliefs matter?<br /> <br /> McCann is a missionary of the Diocese of Atlanta in the Diocese of Central Tanganyika. <br /> <br /> This article is reprinted by kind permission of the author and of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, in whose quarterly journal, Pathways, it first appeared in Summer, 2011.