Saturday, January 13, 2007


Denson Does it Again

Lane Denson, a priest in Tennessee, distributes essays almost daily in his Out of Nowhere series. The more I read his essays, the more I enjoy him and them. He outdid himself this week in a piece entitled "Doublecross." With his permission, I reprint it here in full.

Old Bishop Dan Corrigan, once-upon-a-time head of the one-time Home Department up at 815 [headquarters of the Episcopal Church], would poke fun at his episcopal colleagues who had a penchant for adding a + mark to their signatures. He'd call them "Plus John," "Plus Frank," etc. With archbishops now adding on ++, it's a wonder what he'd call them. Double-crossers?

I saw recently where somebody had actually tagged the Archbishop of Canterbury, himself, with three. I guess that approaches Calvary more nearly, though I'm not so sure if that's the intention.

H L Mencken once defined an archbishop as a Christian ecclesiastic of a rank superior to that attained by Jesus. There seem to be more of them around of late, a few taking quite an interest in us Episcopalians. Some have even begun tweaking with our canons, saying, of all things, that they're too ambiguous. (Next time you need a definition for irony, try "one Anglican calling another Anglican ambiguous.")

Our polity, admittedly clumsy though it may be, has never seemed all that clear or probably even necessary to our colleagues in the overseas provinces. If it's any comfort, neither is it all that clear to us. Democracy is messy. Nevertheless, it's our tireless attempt to accomplish justice by legislating grace, oxymoronic as it may seem.

Our generally conventional system probably comes across from outside our jurisdiction as more than just geographically foreign. When some of those other primates begin to catch the gist of how much more collegial it is than pontifical, it may well scare their purple socks off. Under those circumstances, one might need all the pluses one can get.

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If you want to subscribe to the Rev. Denson's essays, send a blank email to <> or go to this Webpage. His essays are archived at the Out of Nowhere website.


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