"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

18 October 2011

PA Supreme Court, Adult Supervision, and other things that are obviously not so obvious

My nine year old was reading the intstructions on his new remote controlled helicopter yesterday. He's been through a million of these little "pocket copters" as he calls them, and when they inevitably break they become electronics projects. So he's reading the directions and warnings out loud, some of which are a bit amusing. Finally he comes to "Adult Supervision Required" and he adds in his cynical nine year old voice "ha ha."

I'm really not sure why adult supervision is required for a pocket copter, except that my nine year old is inherently dangerous anyway.

But kind of like the "contents may be hot" labels on disposable coffee cups, the courts sometimes require us to state the obvious to cover our butts. And if we fail to do so, we have legal precedent that on our own heads be it. Heck, you can probably sue in this day and age if the weatherman predicts clouds and you neglect sunscreen and get burned. Look up, figure it out.

Adult supervision required.

So the PA Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of the Pittsburgh church property case. This is a clear case of failed butt covering on our part. The strict interpretation of the Pittsburgh stipulation seems, to me, to sign over pretty much everything. And the courts seem to be agreeing with that. The property ownership is as clear as looking up reveals a cloudless sky. Its obvious that churches don't 'belong' either to individuals or denominations but to God. It is just as obvious that the fair and kind response is to let worshiping communities have the buildings they've maintained and sustained for generations. But the stipulation says you have to put "contents may be hot" on your coffee cups, "buildings may be taken" on your cornerstones. The stipulation signs away all logical and compassionate answers to the questions that ordinary circumstances would consider too mundane to bother asking.

So we lost. I hope its over. Like every other petty, greedy lawsuit out there, the victors can count their ill-gotten gains, legally gained sure, but legal abuse. And the losers can move forward, do mission, love Jesus.

And hopefully we won't have to remind normal parents to pay attention to their kids.
or coffee drinkers that their beverage is hot.
or Christians that its wrong to sue one another.
or churches that their churches, their lives, their sacred honor is not their own.
or dioceses that those things don't belong to them either.


  1. We have exhausted the legal appeals and lost. We have exercised our "fiduciary responsibility" and honored those who with their money, sweat, faith and time built and sustained our churches. Now, it seems to me, it is the time to hand over (graciously, of course) the keys of the churches listed in the lawsuit, and move on. We have kept faith, we have attempted to deal with the other side forthrightly and with no small amount of charity, we have learned that appeals to common sense and Christian decency have no effect on the Christian body which filed the lawsuit. Now is the time to give them the keys, wish them Godspeed as they attempt to preach the gospel that compelled them to sue, and move on. We will continue to pray for them, but their concerns are not ours, and there is work to be done. Let them pat themselves on the back for their faithfulness to the Dennis Canon, and their victory in the Courts of PA. Having been liberated from the tyranny of compromise for the sake of property, we are now free to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ

  2. Yes, Dan. I've found myself often quoting my dad's old maxim in all of this. "If they can live with it, we can live without it."

  3. I'm sorry to intrude on your post, but I didn't know how else to get in touch with you.

    I am an internet friend of Jackie Jernigan's, and was wondering how she's doing. (I followed you over here from a comment on LiveJournal.)

    Thanks for any information you can provide.

    Karen Kay

  4. Karen, it is so sweet of you to track me down and ask. I left my reply on her blog, because I am sure others want an update too, but I'm totally charmed that you hunted me down all the way over here! I'll definitely tell her you inquired!