Monday, January 28, 2008

MadPriest's Offering

Swallow. Put down your beverage.

Here's an offering from MadPriest today, titled The Presiding Bishop Departs for Lambeth.

It may be his best yet.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Wonder of Nature

Believe it or not, I do have some interests aside from the state of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Among those other interests are cats, and especially my own two cats.

Thanks to some other cat-loving friends, I have recently become quite fond of the I Can Haz Cheezburger site. They recently posted this captioned photo:

funny pictures
Kudos to I Can Haz Cheezburger

Isn't that just awesome? Who knew that a cat's tongue had all those bristles? No wonder they can wake me up so easily when they start grooming me in the morning!

As it turns out, that fun-captioned photo actually came from this serious award-winning photograph.

CARPing for a Cause

Way back in the early 1980s, when the English language was falling victim to techno-speak, I shared a delightful harangue with my friend Pam, who also cared about language. I still remember her sardonic quip back then, delivered with some resignation: "In America nowadays, you can verb anything."

Nowadays, not only can we "verb" anything, but we also seem to "acronym" everything. [And since when did "to acronym" become an infinitive?? Don't even ask me!] I have seen many associations change their names, simply so that a perfectly descriptive name could become an acronym.

As I drive home each evening, I pass by the major conference hotel in our little capitol city. One day this week, I noticed the hotel marquee announcing its welcome:

MO Christians Against
Racism & Poverty

Living as I do in the 21st century, something in my brain immediately translated that group's name into its acronym: MO-CARP.

How very unfortunate.

Mind you, I'm totally supportive of a Christian organization combating racism and poverty! And I am especially glad they didn't come up with a name that would have transposed the "R" and "A." Thank God for small favors. Better MO-CARP than MO-CRAP.

Such is life in the 21st century.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tune In Saturday!

I expect you all have been following the news from the Diocese of San Joaquin. Father Jake has done the best job of capturing all the news.

With Schofield's followers marching southward to the Southern Cone, a very big task remains to the Episcopalians in that part of California. There's going to be a great event Saturday, as Episcopalians gather in San Joaquin with some of the leaders of our church. And – hooray! – the Episcopal Church is going to bring it live to all our laptops, thanks to webcasting.

Episcopal Life Online reports:

When Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Joaquin gather on Saturday, January 26 for "Moving Forward, Welcoming All" at the Church of the Saviour in Hanford, California, they will welcome an online audience.
Viewers may access the live video stream, to be carried via Episcopal Life Online, by logging on to
The video stream will also bring Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's greetings to continuing Episcopalians gathered at the Central California Valley historic church, starting about 10 a.m. Pacific time (11 a.m. Mountain, 12 a.m. Central, 1 p.m. Eastern), said Mike Collins, Episcopal Life Media Video/Multicast Unit director.
"The situation in the Diocese of San Joaquin is something that is on the minds of Episcopalians across the country," Collins said. "We felt it was important to provide live streaming coverage to the wider church as well as to show support for those who remain in the diocese."
House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and the Rev. Canon Robert Moore, appointed by the Presiding Bishop as the interim pastoral presence for continuing Episcopalians, will keynote the gathering on site to offer support and encouragement, along with other speakers. Anderson's comments to the gathering, expected to draw Episcopalians from across the diocese and the state, will be videocast. . . .
Viewers will be able to watch the videocast, from 10 a.m. to 11.45 a.m. Pacific time in Windows Media and Real Media versions in high and low quality as well as audio only for those with slower internet connections, Collins said.
I'll meet you (virtually) in San Joaquin on Saturday.

Now for Something Completely Different

One of my staff members is an active, dedicated volunteer at the (one and only) local no-kill animal shelter. I have no doubt that St. Francis smiles on her every day.

She sent me this video today. It's a keeper! With lyrics set to the tune of the Beatles' song, Help!, it makes a delightful appeal for spaying and neutering. And you'll get to see lots of delightful, cute cats and kittens.

Click twice to play it here. Or go directly to YouTube.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Recant … A Little Bit

A couple of nights' sleep, plus reading your comments and the e-mails some of you have sent me has led me think a bit more about my hasty post about the "three senior bishops" declining to affirm the Title IV Review Committee's decision to inhibit Bishop Duncan. I was angry two nights ago when I posted it. I'm still fairly angry, but a bit more tempered.

I repent of casting too broad a brush regarding the three senior bishops. I repent of the rhetorical flourish in which I said: "But these guys are blinder than a stump. When it comes to discerning what Duncan is doing in TEC, my cats must be smarter than they are. I spew them out of my mouth and onto the blog." That was not me at my best; that was me at my angriest. I'm reminded of what I wrote here. In these days, it is a challenge to "work a bit harder to show the light of Christ and a little less to outrage."

I stand behind my basic point: If those three bishops cannot see what "abandoning the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this church" means, then they surely have not been paying attention to what Robert Duncan has been saying over the past three years. And it makes me sad to realize that bishops of our church probably do disdain to read the blogs and websites that now carry much more news coverage than the print publications that land in their physical mailboxes. But I acknowledge those three bishops were acting faithfully, as they understand faithfulness. It wasn't fair for me to excoriate them as I did.

So I repent of and recant the extreme anger of that post. But I do not recant of the conclusion. To me, it seems clear that they should have agreed to the inhibition. For the life of me, I don't understand how they failed to do so. I am grateful that Bishop Wimberly has explained his thinking. I disagree with him, but at least I understand his vote a bit better.

In these past two days, other and wiser people have written about this. I commend these to you.

Episcopal Café carries this statement from Bishop Don Wimberly, in which he acknowledges he voted against the inhibition and outlines his rationale. I appreciate his explanation, even while I believe he is dead wrong. He seems to think that, because a diocesan convention has not yet voted to leave TEC, the bishop who has worked hard for that departure cannot yet be held responsible. Pittsburgh and Fort Worth haven't yet done quite what San Joaquin did. Nonetheless, both Duncan and Iker have vehemently and energetically urged such votes. In my mind, that means they have already abandoned the doctrine and discipline of this church. It doesn't really matter what the conventions do. The bishops are already guilty of abandonment, in my view. Apparently, Wimberly disagreed. I believe his position is rubbish. But I do respect his having the courage to admit his vote and I am grateful for his explanation.

I am also grateful that I do not have a leadership position in our church that would give me the kind of power that some are now called to exercise. I want to redouble my commitment to prayer for our Presiding Bishop, all our bishops, and all our clergy and lay leaders.

Both Tobias Haller and Mark Harris have offered essays that helped me come to a more temperate stance. Tobias raises sobering questions about the canonical/legal issues involved. He also outlines the postion (with which I agree) that bishops like Duncan and Iker can be held accountable, whether or not their diocesan conventions have voted to leave the Episcopal Church. Mark Harris talks about the relationships that exist among the bishops. Both are trying to make sense of the three senior bishops' action (or inaction). I encourage you to read both essays and to read the thoughtful comments and discussion following both.

As for me, I'll appropriate and amend the old cliché: "Blog in haste, repent at leisure."

Alice Has Left the Building

... and Stepped through the Looking Glass

A story posted at The Living Church today bears the headline, "Dissident Groups Organize to Oppose Diocesan Departures." Steve Waring observes that groups like Remain Episcopal and Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh are stepping up their efforts to communicate with Episcopalians and maintain an Episcopal Church presence within their geographic areas. Apparently, in the view of The Living Church, Episcopalians who want to remain Episcopalian are now "dissidents."

I think that is pretty funny. Technically true, I suppose, as the Episcopal groups are dissenting from their diocesan majorities. But surely an interesting spin on "dissidents."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Duncan Half-In, Half-Out

ENS this evening released a story that the Title IV Review Committee has agreed that Pittsburgh bishop Robert Duncan has abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church. That could have been that, if the three "senior bishops with jurisdiction" had agreed, as they did in the inhibition of Schofield.

The members of the Title IV Review Committee are Upper South Carolina Bishop Dorsey Henderson (committee chair), Bishop Suffragan David C. Jones of Virginia, Bishop C. Wallis Ohl Jr. of Northwest Texas, Bishop Suffragan Bavi E. Rivera of Olympia, Bishop James Waggoner of Spokane, the Rev. Carolyn Kuhr of Montana, the Very Rev. Scott Kirby of Eau Claire, J.P. Causey Jr. of Virginia, and Deborah J. Stokes of Southern Ohio. Please note: None of those people are notorious liberals. They come from the mainstream of our church.

I don't know what evidence was presented, though the ENS story points to it. But I was impressed that the very diverse Title IV Review Committee found the evidence clear and persuasive.

In meeting after meeting, Duncan has excoriated the Episcopal Church. He has done it within his diocese. He has done it in U.S. meetings such as the Hope and a Future conference. He has done it in his trips to Africa, in which he participated in the consecration of non-TEC bishops to serve in the U.S. To wee laypeople like me, it is clear that he has not simply abandoned the "doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church," but is actively working to destroy the Episcopal Church. And let us not forget the words he has spoken on the Choose This Day video, in which he says TEC isn't even a Christian church.

So I was dismayed that the ENS story proceeds to report that the three "senior bishops with jurisdiction" declined to assent to the findings of the Title IV Review Committee. Are the senior bishops just feckin' blind? Are they paying no attention to what Schofield is doing in San Joaquin? [I bet the answer to that question is "yes," for many TEC bishops are willfully stupid when it comes to following news about our own church.] Will they refuse to act until after Duncan has "pulled a Schofield" by stealing church property and dismissing clergy?

The "three senior bishops" who declined to ratify the inhibition are Leo Frade of Southeast Florida, Peter Lee of Virginia, and Don Wimberly of Texas. No one knows (yet) which voted "yea" or "nay." We don't know whether it was one or two or all three of them who blocked this step. But these guys are blinder than a stump. When it comes to discerning what Duncan is doing in TEC, my cats must be smarter than they are. I spew them out of my mouth and onto the blog.

Three Blind Mice – Which is the Blindest?

[Left to right: Leo Frade, Peter Lee, Don Wimberly]

Postscript: While I was writing this, Father Jake was digging more deeply into the canons and inhibition documents. Go over there and read more. My only quibble is that Jake assumes it was Bishop Wimberly who "blinked." I haven't yet seen any evidence of who or how many of the old white guys blinked.

The Episcopal Café is also following the story. Count on them and Father Jake to stay on top of the news while I go to bed.

Mark Harris now has also weighed-in. Count on Mark to be careful and generous. He does not disappoint.

Addendum (01.17.08): Please see my follow-on essay here.

Harare and San Joaquin

It's About Time!

It's about time somebody asked the question. MadPriest and Elizabeth Kaeton have now done so.

If you've been following developments in Africa, you know that Bishop Kunonga of Harare (in Zimbabwe) has pulled out of the Province of Central Africa, claiming it was filled with homosexuals and queer-lovers. You may recall that Bishop Kunonga has been accused of complicity in murder, and is one of those to whom Archbishop Williams has not yet issued a Lambeth invitation. (You may also recall that when Williams visited Zimbabwe last year, he had not one pointed word to say about this nefarious bishop.) Central Africa's Archbishop Malango declared the see vacant and appointed Sebastian Bakare as the new bishop of Harare. There's been an ugly, and sometimes violent, response. As Mark Harris summarizes the recent news: "Now the deposed Bishop of Harare, Bishop Kunonga, has declared himself the Archbishop of a new church and no longer under the authority of the Province and on Sunday had police forcefully remove and arrest several priests and parishioners at the Cathedral."

EpiScope, Thinking Anglicans, and Episcopal Café have provided fine coverage of the significant developments in Harare over the last few months.

The cat appears to have returned Archbishop Williams' tongue to him, as a statement was released from Lambeth last night which includes this:

The Archbishop of Canterbury condemns unequivocally the use of state machinery to intimidate opponents of the deposed bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, and is appalled by recent reports of Zimbabwean police forcibly stopping Sunday services in several churches in Harare where clergy have publicly and bravely refused to acknowledge Kunonga's Episcopal authority. The Archbishop of Canterbury stands in solidarity with the Province of Central Africa (which covers Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana) and the other loyal Zimbabwean bishops in supporting the acting Bishop of Harare, Bishop Sebastian Bakare.

Nolbert Kunonga was replaced as Anglican bishop of Harare in December of last year after illegally separating from the Province of Central Africa and installing himself as archbishop of Zimbabwe. He did not receive an invitation to the Lambeth Conference when they were issued last May. Kunonga's position has become increasingly untenable within the Anglican Church over the last year, as he has consistently refused to maintain appropriate levels of independence from the Zimbabwean Government.

Note this well: As relates to the situation in Harare, Williams strongly commends those clergy who "have publicly and bravely refused to acknowledge" the episcopal authority of a deposed bishop. And what has he said about clergy like Father Risard who have refused to acknowledge the episcopal authority of the inhibited bishop of San Joaquin?

The Anglican Communion News Service also reported yesterday on this statement from Kenneth Kearon (Secretary General of the Anglican Communion):
The situation with respect to the Anglican Church in Harare is a matter of grave concern to all in the Anglican Communion. . . . [Bishop Kunonga's] unilateral actions with respect to the Diocese of Harare and his own status within the Province of Central Africa are, to say the least, questionable and have brought embarrassment to many. Above all, I am concerned for the well-being of faithful Anglicans who seek to practice their faith in peace and free from violence.We assure Bishop Sebastian Bakare of our prayerful support in this difficult situation, and it is my firm hope that the Province of Central Africa will be enabled to find a way forward at this anxious time.
What thinking Episcopalian can fail to see the direct parallels between Harare's Kunonga and the former Episcopal bishop of San Joaquin? Pulling out of one's province and claiming a status that does not exist. Ejecting the dissenters. Living in delusion. The only difference I can see is that Kunonga has used his "pull" with the Zimbabwe government to use the police to keep the dissenters out. So far, Schofield hasn't tried that.

Of course, the acerbic Mad Priest was one of the first to point out the parallels between Harare and San Joaquin. In today's Anglican Communion, does it take a mad priest to point out what is so obviously true? Apparently it does.

Elizabeth Kaeton takes it further as she asks:

Where is the statement from [Williams] regarding the whole debacle in San Joaquin?

Does [he] have nothing to say about this violent act of schism which has occurred on his watch despite his dubious efforts to sacrifice the nobility of the scriptural warrant of "Speaking the truth in love" on the high altar of the False God of Anglican Unity?

Or, is he waiting to see what might happen in Fort Worth and Pittsburgh before he ventures out an actual statement that might mean something to The Anglican Communion in general and The Episcopal Church in particular?

Does he not have at least an 'atta-girl' for our Presiding Bishop for her courageous, costly act of 'guarding the faith' in - if not keeping the rules of - The Episcopal Church?

Or, does he have an 'atta-boy' for 'John-David and the Schismatics' whilst they push and bully The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion deeper into turmoil and trouble?

Or, perhaps a word of solace? Of consolation? Of, perhaps, hope?



What has the Archbishop of Canterbury said about the ecclesiastical havoc being created by primates like Akinola and Orombi in their assault on the Episcopal Church? Well, a few months ago – as Akinola was set to consecrate Minns in Virginia – he summoned up the courage to declare that such actions were "not helpful." Oh, boy! I bet that blistered them. [Not!]

"Not helpful." That's the sharpest criticism he can muster against those in TEC who are doing pretty much what Kunonga is doing. Minns' consecration was "not helpful." About Schofield and others, we hear not a single bleat from Canterbury.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Schofield's Tsunami of Support

Several commentators, including BabyBlue, are shouting that something a little over 31 bishops of the Anglican Communion have declared their support of former Episcopal bishop Schofield in his pretense to make California a part of South America.

Let's see now ... How many bishops are there in the worldwide Anglican Communion? According to the news out of Lambeth, there are some 800 bishops in the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. Oh! and several of the "bishops" who wrote in support of Schofield are not recognized by or in communion with Canterbury. In fact, several of them (like Minns & Co.) have been deliberately snubbed by Canterbury. My best guess? Something under 31 bishops of well over 800 in the Anglican Communion are on record as supporting Schofield's schism.

So when we read the gloating statement about how 31, or maybe 32, or maybe 34 bishops have come out in support of former bishop Schofield, please let us put that number in context. Out of 800-something Anglican bishops, something a little over 30 are supporting Schofield's action.

By my calculation, that means about 4.25% of the Anglican bishops are supporting Schofield. A tidal wave? Methinks not! I think I'd call it a tinkle, at best.

The Alphabet Soup Loses a Few Letters

The blogger at Philorthodox has posted this letter (dated 1/14/08) from the Most Rev. Walter H. Grundorf, Bishop of the Eastern United States and Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Province of America, regarding his decision not to join Duncan's Common Cause Partnership.

Bishop Grundorf's letter begins:
Over this past year, there has been much talk and discussion and unfortunately argument over the Anglican Province of America participating as a full member of the Common Cause Partnership (CCP). As the Presiding Bishop, I have listened to our bishops, clergy and lay people about their feelings toward how we of the APA should be related to this Body. I have personally gone back and forth attempting to determine where we should be in the midst of the developing Partnership.

As I observe the reaction of the various clergy, there are those who strongly oppose any participation at all, a larger number that believe we should observe and see what develops (an option we may not officially have) and others who believe we should become members and see what happens. At the present time we are polarized at about 50/50. There is no clear majority on any side.
His statement, "We have managed to attract good and faithful men for the ministry in a Classical Anglican Church that has a balanced approach to the faith," makes clear they are among the "Anglicans" who do not ordain women. No doubt, they are very concerned about the looming battle in the Common Cause Partnership between those who do ordain women to the diaconate and priesthood and those who believe women are ontologogically incapable of being ordained. The birth of the APA was also grounded in objections to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

He cuts to the chase here: "I do not recommend becoming partners in the CCP at this time and that we wait, watch and pray that as CCP develops and unfolds, we will have clearer direction as to whether we can be a part of it."

I was especially struck by this part of his statement:
At this time, when the majority membership of the CCP has just recently departed from the Episcopal Church and are going through the withdrawal and anger symptoms which so many of our people experienced 30-40 years ago, do we want to be caught up into their present day battles? Many of the membership of CCP are involved in bitter law suits most of which will not be resolved for years to come. We must ask ourselves whether or not we want to get caught up in the internecine struggles of those who are leaving or preparing to leave the Episcopal Church. The APA has always maintained a positive approach to the mission of the church and departed the Episcopal Church years ago without buildings and property and began on a very modest level building new buildings or renovating places for worship. We made a special effort over the years of not looking back but forward as we have sought to build a positive expression of traditional Anglicanism and not being an anti-Episcopal Church.
In other words, he realizes that many of the departing Episcopalians are engaged in a food-fight that is not conducive to ministry. He also draws a subtle, but significant distinction: When the churches now in the APA left the Episcopal Church, they left "without buildings and property" and worked hard to avoid the bitterness and acrimony that characterizes those like Schofield, Duncan, and Iker. By contrast, he observes, the departing Episcopalians are characterized by what they are against – not what they are for.

He concludes that the APA is not be well served by joining the Common Cause Partnership, but should take a "wait and see" approach.

Read this part of his statement and see if you don't hear the same "alphabet soup" meme that I hear:
At the present time, we are part of an Intercommunion Agreement with the REC and through this relationship we have formed ourselves into a Federation of the Anglican Churches in the Americas. There are now 6 jurisdictions that are part of this Federation. FACA has requested as a Body to be a part of the CCP. We are thereby in a position as part of this Federation to be observers of CCP as we watch how it unfolds over the next few years.
The blogger who posted that letter describes himself as "Canon Vocations Director of the Diocese of the Eastern United States of the Anglican Province of America." He added these comments to his bishop's letter:
The Common Cause Partnership has been a divisive proposition for members of our Diocese, and many people in the APA are deeply concerned that by uniting ourselves to the CCP we shall jeopardise our Catholic theological and doctrinal substance, particularly regarding the validity and orthodoxy of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, as the only two prospective members which do not ordain women are the REC and ourselves. . . . In truth I believe that the CCP and the Anglican Communion alike are so very unstable at the moment that it would be imprudent and unwise to join forces with a body that is not at all agreed on the basic dogmas of the Catholic and Apostolic Church. My prediction is that CCP will eventually fragment and split along theological and leadership lines, for we see the fractures already beginning to emerge. . . . I firmly believe we should wait five years before making any formal or permanent commitments to a body which has so little inner order, proven by the recent proliferation of African-ordained bishops, or essential theological unanimity, demonstrated by lack of consensus on the nature of the priesthood. . . . The APA, through its official committees, agrees with my personal long-held position and will only observe the formation of CCP for the time being. It remains to be seen if we could ever join it, and I believe that such a step would be exceedingly difficult for us to achieve, given the profound ecclesiological and sacramentological differences we have the majority of those neo-evangelicals who comprise it.
I'll confess to some wicked pleasure in this news. I sense that Duncan wanted to have the Common Cause Partnership be the "gathering place" of all the "continuing Anglicans." As those small groups exist, APA was one of the least small. Their decision to eschew Duncan and his compadres must be a significant blow. It reveals to me the kind of fracturing that is inevitable among the Purity Crowd. The Episcopal Church continues to espouse the via media and seeks to be the "big tent." Let us not waver from our commitment to real inclusion.


I didn't know much about the APA until this story appeared. From my scan of their directory, it appears there are roughly 75 parishes in the APA spread across the U.S.. Viewing various pages of their website, it seems they have 8 diocesan or assisting bishops. You can read the history of the APA here. You will learn there that this denomination was born in 1968, torn apart by conflict, and finally elected Archdeacon Tony Clavier suffragan bishop in 1970 and consecrated him the following day; he remained leader of the APA (in various forms) until 1991. Do read their history. You will hear many familiar terms such as "lifeboat" and "continuing Anglican." You will also hear how they have had their own "alphabet soup" journey – making unions, splitting, and re-forming over the years.

Addendum (01.15.08): Mark Harris, poet and prophet, offers his comments on this development at Preludium. As it turns out, Mark predicted back on January 2 that the Common Cause membership would shrink in 2008. To no one's surprise, Mark's a much better prophet than Pat Robertson.
Mark's post also notes that the letter from Bishop Grundorf is available at StandFirm, which I didn't realize last night when I posted this piece.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Recherché de Idiots

New blogger Bill Fleener reminds me it's been too long since I visited The Top 10 Conservative Idiots.

This week's issue is a dandy, with GOP candidates (and the party itself) taking the top 6 slots. #7 goes to Pat Robertson, with this:
As you may be aware, the Rev. Pat is quite keen on making predictions in the new year, which are based on his private conversations with God. Unfortunately it seems that Pat has a bit of a hearing problem because they don't always come true.But it looks like Pat has learned his lesson. He announced last week that he knows who's going to win the 2008 presidential election - but don't get too excited, because he's not going to tell you.
On Wednesday, Robertson, 77, implied that God informed him who will be elected president in November. "He told me some things about the election, but I'm not going to say, because some old man on "60 Minutes" would make fun of me, so I'm not going to tell you who the winner's going to be," Robertson said, in apparent reference to CBS humorist Andy Rooney, who turns 89 on Jan. 14.
That's right - Pat has such confidence in the Word of the Lord that he won't tell people about it because he's scared Andy Rooney will laugh. Mind you, Pat's concern is probably well founded - after all, God also apparently told him to endorse Rudy Giuliani.I wonder if Pat is ever going to realize that God's just fucking with him?

Life in Missouri

It's a Christian State, By God!

While I browse the blogosphere for more commentary about tonight's inhibition of former bishop Schofield, I'm taking a little time to catch up on some items I've meant to post on my blog.

Our local newspaper posted this story on January 10. The state legislators have returned to the capitol city. So hide the women and children, lock away the silver, and double-up on your antidepressants!

This is an actual newspaper story. This is not something invented by the Onion. This is the kind of brilliant legislation our legislators spent the winter concocting.

I kid you not!
Missouri senator wants to require using B.C. and A.D.
Missouri legislators have started a fight with Father Time - at least with his name tag.

Worried about a push to take the religious references out of time, a state senator has filed a bill that would mandate the use of B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini or “Year of our Lord”). Many historians and textbook publishers have switched to B.C.E. (Before Common Era) and C.E. (Common Era) as a nod toward non-Christians.

And that's a problem, said Sen. John Loudon.

“There is an effort to sort of scrub our public institutions of acknowledgment of God,” said Loudon, R-Chesterfield. He said it would be costly to change dating systems - both financially and culturally.

Loudon's bill, which was also filed last year and this year has also been filed as a constitutional amendment, would make B.C. and A.D. the "official dating standard" of Missouri. It would also bar the state and public employees from using any other system in official capacities.
Yes, this is what we need. While our state continues to exercise the death penalty, and while our governor knocked thousands of kids off the state's health insurance, we need this constitutional amendment. They've already constitutionally amended the queers. Now let's take care of this burning issue of BC and AD vs. BCE and CE.

Sheesh! I often wish I lived in some enlightened place … like maybe Uganda.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Wednesday Night Festivity

Many of you know (though you may not have the chronology in mind) that I've been on my parish vestry through three crazy, event-filled years. I came onto the vestry in January 2005, expecting a smooth ride. We had a marvelous rector who had been there for some 34 years. And he wasn't just coasting; we had a very healthy parish, and his was a fruitful ministry. Then his wife died in April, which cast our parish into a new ministry. Suddenly, we started to discover something deeper about how the "ministry of all the baptized" included caring for our rector. Then in May, he announced he was going to retire on June 30, thrusting this parish – for the first time in three decades – into the uncharted waters of doing a "rector search." Those of us on the vestry had to move swiftly, and we called an interim rector, for a period that we knew should and would last at least two years. Meanwhile, we came face-to-face with some issues regarding our physical plant, and launched a capital campaign during the "interim" period. I am very proud of the work that our search committee and our parish did during the very, very long self-study process. Finally, we called a new rector, who came here in October. We are very happy with her. We are excited about what new ministry and what new explorations we may embark upon with her. But it sure has been a wild and crazy ride for these almost three years.

Tomorrow night, the bishop will make the big trip to St. Louis. He will join us as the community marks the "Celebration of New Ministry." Shariya+ will be installed as our rector, thanks be to God! We will covenant to be faithful to the promises and hopes we outlined in our self-study process. [For a delightful read, take a look at Richard Helmer's essay about the language we use when we "install" a new rector.] We will make promises to and with our new rector. I am very excited about all that.

You know me by now. Liturgy rat that I am, I am quite excited, too, that I will get to serve as subdeacon in tomorrow night's liturgy. I'm not yet entirely comfortable in that role, but I got some practice at the ordination last month. Our parish has never had a subdeacon, but I think I'm sufficiently knowledgeable that I can do the job and can even help folks move when and where they need to. I am looking forward to this liturgy with great happiness and excitement.

Good liturgy is great drama, in all the best sense. When it "works" as it should, it lifts the people beyond the quotidian reality. I hope I can help make that happen tomorrow night.

If you have some moments Wednesday, say a little prayer for our little parish. The self-study process is calling us to some ministry that needs to happen, but about which we are all a bit nervous. We now have a rector whom I support fully, but I'm sure she needs prayerful support. And our parish needs care as we "install" a new rector for the first time in about 36 years. I covet your prayers.

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

Over on the HoBD list, they're having a very sophisticated discussion about that aphorism that "good Christians" should or might "Love the sinner, but hate the sin." I enjoy the discussions that the HoBD folks have; they almost always provoke me to deeper thought.

Various thoughtful folks on the HoBD list have offered thoughtful comments about holiness and biblical exegesis as it relates to "Love the sinner; hate the sin."

God knows, I believe that our faith in Christ calls us to holiness. In our personal lives. In our lives in community. As a church. I believe God calls all of us to holiness.

But here's the bottom line.

When anybody tells me they "Love the sinner, but hate the sin," I immediately know I'm dealing with someone who hates me, my life, my relationships, and everything I treasure in my life. Those people can quibble and temporize all they want. But the fact is, "Love the sinner, hate the sin" has become a bastion for people who are willing to tolerate every other "sin" except for the supposed "sin" of Christians who are in committed relationships with people of the same sex. Do they look at the morbidly obese former-bishop Schofield and offer to love him but hate his sin? No, they do not. Do they turn their little slogan against twice-divorced-and-thrice-married bishops of our church? No, they do not.

It seems to me that the only people against whom I hear them deliver this slogan is us gay people. And the message is condescension, pure and simple.

If they were talking about "colored people" or "retarded people," someone would call them on their bigotry. But so far, as of January 7, 2008, they are still allowed to trot out their "Love the sinner, but hate the sin" mantra as if it did anything besides articulate mask deep, uncompromising hatred of homosexuals. And even our best friends try to engage those "Love the sinner, hate the sin" people as if they were rational. It is so easy to get sucked in by their apparent sense.

But it's not sense. It's hatred.

I think it's time to call them on it. Most of us have learned that it is deeply offensive to call people names that cause hurt. We don't call African American men "boys." We don't urge various non-white, non-Europeans to "mind their place." But somehow it's ok to tell queers that they can "Love the sinner, but hate the sin."

Well, guess what? When someone uses that term, I absolutely know that they hate me, and they have decided that my life and any relationship I might have is a "sin." They believe they are justified in discounting and hating both me and my behavior. It doesn't matter how much fancy language they dress it up in. It's hatred. But it's hatred without the courage to own itself. It is single-issue condescension.

Please show me any other instance in which they trot out this "Love the sinner, hate the sin" canard. Show me any other instance in which they use it against some group other than homosexuals. If you can, I'll consider they're not just lamely seeking to mask heterosexism and a hatred of homosexuals.

Until then, I'll remain convinced that the "Love the sinner, hate the sin" folks are just bigots with fancy pseudo-bible language masking their deep hatred.

In response, here's what I have to say to them.

Addendum: Elizabeth Kaeton, also spurred by the "Hate the Sinner..." language, also blogged today on this topic. Go read her essay. It's a doozie!

Further addendum: Sometimes, the "arguments" are so infuriating that the only reasonable response is this one [photo at left], which Caminante gave me. As she said: "Hissspit is for those moments in life when words fail me but I need to do something. I think felines have a perfect answer."

Yet another addendum (01.11.08): That Kaeton Woman, in this post yesterday, did a much better job of talking about the moral and theological issues on which I tried to touch here. I strongly encourage you to read it.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Scary Step

Back when I began this blog, I thought it would be – and intended it to be – a quiet little place for me to post a few thoughts, some of which I might want to share with a few friends. It seemed like an easy way to share thoughts with a few, carefully selected friends. Well … if you're reading this, you know it didn't exactly work out that way. Within the first couple of weeks, I got involved in the discussions about GC06 and was quickly involved in the wider blogosphere. This little blog got some attention that pleased me, and some that I found dismaying (to say the least).

I quickly realized that I could not blog confidentially or anonymously about my parish or my diocese. Members of my parish were reading, and I soon learned that even my bishop was popping in from time to time. But I continued to post on some other blogs anonymously or with a pseudonym. I thought it protected me in some way.

Not long after I started blogging, some of those folks we call the "worthy opponents" did a little digging. (It's not so difficult to do with the tools the Internet provides us.) They quickly, gleefully revealed my full name, where I work, my parish home, and so on. At first, I was dismayed by that "outing." As time has passed over these 17 months or so, I've come to realize it was a good bit of discipline. I had to take ownership of my words. For me, it just is not good to live in any kind of closet. If I try to be secretive, then it gives power to people who might want to hurt me. I refuse to give them that power.

When Jim Naughton launched the Episcopal Café and required people to post comments using their real names, he said he was pursuing an "ethic of transparency." That began a long, slow thought process and finally a "self-outing" for me. Eventually, I edited my profile to reveal exactly where I live and provide some other details. In the past month, I edited my profile so that it shows my full name – both here and on the other blogs I visit and on which I comment. Now, wherever I visit or comment, my identity is fairly transparent.

Today, I'm taking one more step toward transparency. I've envied those people who have their photos on their sites. I like the fact that when I visit the sites of my blogging friends (like Mark Harrris and Elizabeth Kaeton), their photos are visible. It helps me remember the real person behind the blog.

I had another epiphany during the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans. "Worthy opponents" Baby Blue and the StandFirm gang video-blogged from that meeting. Once I had faces and real, live, three-dimensional people to attach to their blogs, it wasn't so easy for me to dismiss or (God help me!) attack them in ways I had done before. I'll still tackle their views and statements when need be. But no longer can they just be "abstractions" to me. They have faces now.

But I did not have a decent photo that I was willing to share. (I'm not attractive by any means, but my photos generally make me look even more awful than I am in real life.) Thanks to a good photographer (and Roberta, who scanned the photo for me), I now have one that doesn't entirely embarrass me. A thumbnail version now appears on my blog.

So here it is. It pretty much looks like me.

This is the face behind the voice on this blog. It ain't much, but it's the only one I have.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Waning Hours

We have only a few more hours to contribute to the City of God Appeal, being managed by MadPriest and Elizabeth Kaeton.

You know it's going to a great and worthy cause. (Full details are here.)

I was delighted to read last night that – after 36 days – the OCICBW community has now raised

(Image courtesy of Paul)

I dug a little deeper last night, doubling my contribution. For those of you who can afford it, I urge you to consider whether you, too, might be able to contribute or add to your contribution.

You know this is a great cause that reaches around the globe. Just think how bad you're going to feel when Sunday (the Feast of the Epiphany) ends, and you realize that you've been left behind … [Like MadPriest, who actually confesses he's on his knees about this, I'm not above a little guilt-infliction for this.]

MadPriest's site gives the details on how to donate online or by mailing a check.

Just do it!

Fort Worth Outraged

Two bloggers ran stories yesterday on a bit of silliness coming from the Standing Committee of the (so far) Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. They have their knickers in a twist over the Christmas card our Presiding Bishop sent this year and have issued an official memorandum to the diocesan clergy and convention delegates.

Susan Russell has the story here and Katie Sherrod (of Fort Worth) has it here. Both include an image of the card in question.

I am pretty sure (or at least I hope) that this is the first time in recorded history that a Standing Committee has felt the need to issue an official comment on a Christmas card.

Even if you've read the reports about this brouhaha, be sure to check Katie Sherrod's story. She starts it with a joke which – like all good jokes – speaks to a truth.

Update: Count on the often-amazing Andrew Gerns to take this story and add truly thoughtful comments on why the image of three women as the magi might shake up the gravity of some Fort Worthians. Read his Danger! Wise Women Ahead.

And, over at EpiScope, our editor wonders: "Are these perhaps the same 'Anglicans' who couldn't recognize a quote from Dame Julian of Norwich or an image from Anselm of Canterbury?"

Friday, January 04, 2008

More Double Standards

[Note (01.05.07): I've slightly edited the last paragraph today, to make it a little more clear and to delete a couple of the more angry adjectives.]

In her BBC interview, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori "called" the Anglican Communion on its hypocrisy. She said there were other gay bishops besides Gene Robinson, and expressed curiosity about why some primates of the Anglican Communion were declaring war on the Episcopal Church.

No, those were not her words. Hers were much more irenic. But they were the message I heard. That very day, the "conservative" blogs went a-howling. They said she had lied. They defied her to submit proof that there were any other gay bishops in the Anglican Communion. They shrieked and howled and screamed that there were no other sexually active gay bishops – that Gene Robinson was the only "deviant" in the entire, worldwide Anglican Communion.

Several folks weighed in on those discussions, saying that they indeed knew of other gay bishops. But no one – not one – was willing to name names. And not a single one of the gay/lesbian bishops has been willing to be honest about it.

Meanwhile, one very brave blogger, Dennis, today gave the lie to the fantasy that there are no other gay bishops, based on his own knowledge and experience. Dennis "outs" the Bishop of Horsham. Yes, indeed; that's English bishop Lindsay Urwin, the self-same Bishop of Horsham who signed the "letter of support" for the former bishop of San Joaquin. Irony abounds!

From his post, it is clear that Dennis struggled mightily about whether to publish this revelation. It's clear to me that Dennis is much more generous than I. But, as he says, when a bishop like this allies himself with the forces of homophobic hatred, it needed to be done.

Frankly, I hope that other people who have knowledge of homophobic, closeted gay bishops will join in Dennis' courageous stand.

One wise person, in the comments on Dennis' post, said:
Back in 1991, Bishop Barbara Harris (at the time one of only two women Anglican bishops) said to an Integrity gathering that some of our worst enemies are closet clergy and deputies. "Each is entitled to their own closet, but they should not be able to use it as a sniper's nest."
Amen. When a cleric uses his closet as a sniper's nest, he deserves to have a light directed upon his deceit and duplicity. And that's exactly what bishop Lindsay Urwin has done.

BTW, since Dennis is a beloved member of MadPriest's "virtual parish," you won't be surprised to learn that MadPriest has also posted about this matter. MP is even angrier than Dennis. Go read.

But I am even angrier than MadPriest. This is a subject about which I've written before. For the life of me, I still do not know how those gay/lesbian bishops – especially the ones on the "progressive" side of the spectrum – can look themselves in the mirror each day. I hope they see their cowardice every time they look in a mirror, recognizing that Bishop Robinson has a level of courage that they cannot (yet) even imagine. I hope one day they will demonstrate half the integrity he has. One day, I hope they will be on their knees, begging forgiveness at how they have let a brother bishop take all the flak. But that day is not yet.

Double Standards

Note: I wrote this piece on January 3, after writing about Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's "call" to the Anglican Communion on its hypocrisy. It seemed to me that this double standard (about how the Communion has dealt with polygamy and how it is now dealing with homosexuality) was worthy of comment. Tonight (late on January 4), we have another big story about double standards, thanks to Dennis, and I will write about that as soon as I can.

More and more evidence is surfacing that double standards are the norm in the Anglican Communion, and that most Anglicans are ok with that as long as there's no tolerance of gay men and lesbians in the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion.

I am sad to observe that some of the more strident voices seem to believe that their adherents must make a choice between a purified, muscular version of Truth or a humble choice of tolerance.

Just recently, I was delighted by Bishop Jefferts Schori's "calling" the Communion on the fact that there are other gay bishops in her BBC interview. Several of us are aware that there are gay bishops and even primates in the Anglican Communion. For some reason, it's the honesty of the Bishop of New Hampshire that seems to have their knickers in a twist.

But it's not just honest gays vs. closeted gays. It's also about how differently gays are being treated vs. how polygamists have been treated in our Anglican Communion.

Following the link from Andrew Brown's Guardian essay, I was surprised to find this one, which the Anglican Centrist posted way back in October. If you know the Anglican Centrist, you know that he is no flag-waving ally of TEC progressives. But he has done some digging in Africa, and found a Kenyan plea for "pastoral response" to polygamists, while those same people excoriate gay and lesbian Christians.

The essay is well worth reading again (or for the first time).

I intended to publish just a few excerpts from Father Greg Jones' "Polygamy and the Church of Kenya." But the essay is so seamless that I cannot just grab "soundbytes" from it. Instead, here it is in full:

The presenting issue in today’s Anglican divisions over theology has to do with how much or how little to include gay people in committed life-long relationships in the life of the Church. Some have argued that not only is the plain sense of Scripture opposed to full sacramental inclusion of non-celibate gays into the life of the Church and its orders of ministry – but it also goes against logic, history and custom to do so. These days the leading opponents to full sacramental inclusion of non-celibate gay folks into the life of the Church are Africans. The Church of Kenya is among the most vehemently opposed Anglican provinces to any inclusion for gay folks seeking to live in committed relationships.

Among the arguments often made is that homosexual practice is prohibited by Scripture’s plain sense, and that African custom abhors the practice. Moreover, it is often argued that to make any change in the Church’s practice would open the door to all sorts of non-biblical innovations. The current Primate of the Church of Kenya, Archbishop Nzimbi, and his predecessor, Archbishop David Gitari, are quite staunch in opposing any revising of the Church's views on same-sex relationships. So staunch, that Archbishop Nzimbi is taking steps which seem destined to lead to global realignment and schism to prevent any such revision from taking place in the U.S., Canada, Britain, South Africa, or anywhere.

Ironically, Archbishop Gitari was in the 1980's an advocate for open-mindedness and pastoral care for those Christians seeking to live in polygamous marital unions. Indeed, Archbishop David M. Gitari wrote a thoroughly-researched argument on the subject in the early 1980’s in a report he was commissioned to produce by the Kenyan House of Bishops and Provincial Standing Committee of the Synod of the Church of the Province of Kenya. At the time, he was Bishop of Mount Kenya East Diocese, and the Chairman of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Fellowship.

In his writings, published in Volume 1, Number 1, of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies’ respected journal Transformation, (1984), Gitari discusses many facets of the issue of polygamy among African Christians. He makes a biblical, cultural, and theological case for pastoral liberality regarding polygamy citing a range of theologians from Barth to Schillebeeckx. Indeed, Gitari argues that “polygamy may be more ‘christian’ [sic] than divorce.”

To be sure, Bishop Gitari does not explicity advocate that polygamy become a normative form of marriage for the Church. Not at all. But, quite clearly, Bishop Gitari argues for a degree of carefully defined pastoral care and inclusion into the Church of those in such marriages – and also for those who become polygamists even after having become Christians. While not advocating for authorized liturgies for plural marriages, or speaking to the ordination of polygamists, Bishop Gitari does nonetheless commend case-by-case approvals by local bishops for those living in committed polygamous relationships.

From what I understand, Gitari was critical of the language of the 1988 Lambeth Conference Resolution 26 which didn't go far enough to revise the Church's treatment of polygamists. That resolution read:

This Conference upholds monogamy as God's plan, and as the ideal relationship of love between husband and wife; nevertheless recommends that a polygamist who responds to the Gospel and wishes to join the Anglican Church may be baptized and confirmed with his believing wives and children on the following conditions:

(1) that the polygamist shall promise not to marry again as long as any of his wives at the time of his conversion are alive;

(2) that the receiving of such a polygamist has the consent of the local Anglican community;

(3) that such a polygamist shall not be compelled to put away any of his wives, on account of the social deprivation they would suffer;

(4) and recommends that provinces where the Churches face problems of polygamy are encouraged to share information of their pastoral approach to Christians who become polygamists so that the most appropriate way of disciplining and pastoring them can be found, and that the ACC be requested to facilitate the sharing of that information.

Gitari has said that the Church’s stance against polygamy “reflects the fact that our thinking has been so influenced by western theologians that we still continue to beat the old missionary drums which summon us to see that our cultural heritage is incompatible with Christianity.” In light of their emergence from the imperialistic theology of the Western missionaries who no longer held sway in East Africa, Bishop Gitari wrote that the Church of the Province of Kenya “should revise its views on polygamy at the earliest moment possible.”

It is true that the normative teaching in the Anglican Communion and in the local provinces of Africa holds for one man and one woman in marriage. Yet, it is also quite apparent, that leading clergy in Africa -- even the conservative former Primate of Kenya -- have advocated for something like a 'local pastoral option' for including polygamists. Now, while this is not the same thing as consecrating a gay bishop in a committed relationship, it seems to be a similar kind of thing as allowing clergy to offer pastoral leeway in receiving and honoring gay couples in their congregations. Many reasonable folks, moreover, may be able to see what looks just a little like hypocrisy here. How is it, many might wonder, that a leading African primate could argue persuasively for a kind of pastoral inclusivity and sensitivity to polygamists but against the same for gay couples?

Extremists bent on breaking the Communion over the homosexuality question will not be able to hear any mention of Kenyan Anglicanism's (to say nothing of wider Africa) toleration of polygamy. Oddly, the sacramental inclusion of polygamous Anglicans in Kenya is not seen as analogous to the sacramental inclusion of gay Anglicans anywhere else. Moreover, Kenyan apologists (and those for other extremist African provinces) will argue that the Church of Kenya do not 'promote' polygamy at all. But the point in my mentioning it is that the practice is tolerated – at least in Kenya if nowhere else – and that sacramental inclusivity and pastoral sensitivity to those practicing it have been encouraged by the former Primate of Kenya (and many others) on a variety of grounds biblical, theological, and cultural.

Does anyone imagine that if the Kenyan Church had elevated a priest to the episcopate who had three wives that the worldwide Communion would be on the brink of schism? If the answer is "of course not" – than why should we now be facing schism over what appears somewhat like unto it in the Episcopal Church?

Immersed as I have been in the Anglican blogosphere, I wonder how the heck I could have missed this reasonable essay from the Anglican Centrist!

And remember – as I said: the Anglican Centrist is no wild-eyed liberal. He frequently takes his shots at the progressives. But I think there is something very important in this essay.

For quite a while, I have tried to beat this drum: Many of the African primates came to Lambeth 1998, asking the "mind of the Communion" about the ongoing practice of polygamy. The Anglican bishops – then dominated by white Europeans – essentially said to the African Anglicans: We trust you to sort this out. The Northern-hemisphere bishops exercised what seems to me the gracious latitude of Anglicanism.

So why indeed cannot the same grace and generosity now be extended to the "Western" cultures who have a more generous attitude to faithful gay and lesbian Christians? Why, why, why?? I suspect it's because sex between gay men kicks up some primordial fear among most straight men worldwide. Somebody please tell me why a "pastoral provision" should not be offered for gay/lesbian covenanted relationships today, as they were for polygamous relationships in 1998.

If I were drafting a Lambeth 2008 resolution about faithful gay/lesbian partnerships, I think I would pattern it on the one adopted in 1998 for polygamous relationships in Africa: not the norm, but an acceptable pastoral provision.

We Asked for It

and We Got It!

Several of us have been quietly (or not so quietly) snarling that Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and the "powers that be" at Episcopal Church headquarters didn't seem to be speaking out about the travesties that former bishop Schofield has perpetuated on the Episcopal diocese there, nor offering vocal support to the remaining Episcopalians in that diocese.

ENS has come out today with this marvelous, forward-looking story – with lots of support for the Episcopalians in San Joaquin. It provides some helpful background. It clearly outlines the kinds of support that our national leadership is providing for the Episcopalians there, who are now faced with rebuilding the Episcopal Church in that place. And it includes what I read as a firm statement of resolve and warning to other dioceses that may be laboring under the delusion that they can leave the Episcopal Church.

Good on ENS! Good on the Presiding Bishop, PHoD, Canon to the PB, Remain Episcopal leadership, and all the others who are quoted in the story! Most of all, good on the Episcopalians in central California, who – it seems – may have some things to teach us all about what it means to be the church.

Father Jake blogs it here. As he observes, there is a fair bit of new information in that ENS story; it is not simply "same-old/same-old." Jake has been at the forefront of this story for a month (and more), and I expect that's where the bulk of the discussion will occur. Hop over there to add your $.02.

And while you're blog-hopping, hop over to the Remain Episcopal site and contribute to the rebuilding of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. They now have a link for online donations. At the moment, it seems they've made the "Donate" button about as inconspicuous as can be. Go to their site, locate the first big box ("A Message from the Faithful Episcopal Remnant in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin"), and you will find the teeny little "Donate" button at the bottom of that box.

It's going to take a lot of effort to rebuild the Episcopal Church in an area where Schofield has tried to turn it into a Southern Baptist church in drag. That labor will be supplied by the Episcopalians there. But we can all help with financial contributions for the many costs they will incur.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Rowan's Brilliant Dithering

a.k.a. The Break-Up of the Schismatics

There has been much bloggery in the last few days about the Christmas announcement from (some of) the Global South primates of the GaffeCon meeting to be held in Jerusalem shortly before the Lambeth Conference. I blogged about it here.

Mark Harris rightly dubbed it a meeting of the New Improved Neo-Fundamentalist Anglican Communion.

Despite the GaffeCon organizers' claims, it seems pretty clear to many of us that this meeting is not really going to be about mission and ministry, but will be a caucus in which the neo-fundamentalists will try to either plot a strategy for controlling the Lambeth Conference or will agree to boycott Lambeth en masse. That's not simply my interpretation nor that of progressive bloggers, but is all the buzz on the dissident and schismatic blogs; a certain site greeted this news jubilantly on Christmas as the manifestation of the long-awaited schism.

I was struck by a commentary posted today by Andrew Brown at the Guardian, who urges: "Dither on, Williams." He says:

Over the last few years, Dr Rowan Williams has sometimes looked criminally innocent ("The trouble with Rowan is that he's too damn Christian,") as one of his colleagues remarked; sometimes merely well-meaning but powerless; very occasionally he has looked as if he is working to an angelically cunning plan. This week has been a good week for the cunning plan interpretation. It is not that he has done anything - but his rigorous policy of inaction and delay has given his opponents an opportunity to fall apart which they have exploited to the full.

Plans for a gathering of his opponents in Jerusalem, reported yesterday by Riazat Butt, have imploded spectacularly with the announcement by the Bishop of Jerusalem that he does not want them to meet there. This isn't a trivial matter, because it reveals that Rowan has been right about at least one thing all along: it is not just homosexuality which divides the 50 or 60 million Anglicans around the world. They are also divided about whether women can be priests; some Anglicans doubt whether even men can be priests (the more extreme evangelicals believe in "ministers" or leaders instead); they are divided over whether marriage must be lifelong, and, if so, always to one woman (there are parts of Africa where the church welcomes polygamous converts); and they are also bitterly divided about Islam and Zionism.

The Anglican church in the Middle East has always been largely Arab, and has sometimes been strongly identified with Palestinian nationalism. The last bishop of Jerusalem, Riah Abu el-Assal, was fervent in his denunciations of the invasions of Lebanon and the siege of the Gaza strip. His successor, Bishop Suheil Darwani, is less completely identified with the Palestinian cause, but well aware that his people are a minority among Arabs, who really must not be identified with America or Zionism.

But this identity is precisely what some of the influential backers of the anti-gay movement also want. Much of their money comes from rightwing American Christians, for whom the political liberalism of the Episcopal church is at least as offensive as its theological latitude. They believe in something very like a crusade against Islam. So, it would appear, does the leader of the Nigerian church, Dr Peter Akinola, who has emerged as the leader of the global anti-gay movement.

Akinola has responded to Darwani with a letter that tells him, after several paragraphs of God flannel, to shut up and do what he is told: "Be assured that we considered your important arguments carefully as we met in Nairobi. But we came to the unanimous conclusion that we needed to proceed."

This style does much to explain why some of his followers are backing away from his confrontational tactics. The leaders of the church in south-east Asia are certainly anti-gay, and unenthusiastic about Muslims. But they don't like being pushed around, either, and the last straw came when one of their theologians received an angry email from Akinola which appeared to have been drafted by one of the Archbishop's conservative American advisers, whom he has rewarded with a bishopric.

The purpose of the Jerusalem meeting is to organise a formal rupture in the Anglican communion, which would leave the liberals isolated and cast out and someone very like Dr Akinola running a much more conservative, disciplined organisation. But there is no reason to believe that most Anglicans, conservative or not, want to belong to a disciplined global organisation.

The choice for them this summer may come down to one of Williams' painfully reluctant leadership or Akinola's enthusiastic alternative. If that is what happens, the events of this week make it look as though Williams will be the one to emerge with a global following - providing he doesn't try actually to lead them anywhere. Small danger of that.

It's interesting to me (from reading their sites) that the dissidents are fairly concerned about the fracture-lines that are being revealed in their ranks. Once they don't have "hating the queers" as their sole, unifying raison d'être, how much worse may it become?

I am struck by the fact that both of the bishops with jurisdiction in Jerusalem seem not to have been consulted. The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Anis, Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East, has beseeched the conference organizers not to hold the conference in that venue, nor to hold it before Lambeth. The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, has poignantly asked them not to hold the conference in Jerusalem:

“I am deeply troubled that this meeting, of which we had no prior knowledge, will import inter-Anglican conflict into our diocese, which seeks to be a place of welcome for all Anglicans.

“It could also have serious consequences for our ongoing ministry of reconciliation in this divided land. Indeed, it could further inflame tensions here. We who minister here know only too well what happens when two sides cease talking to each other. We do not want to see any further dividing walls!"

What did these bishops receive back from Archbishop Akinola, who seems to be the primary force behind the conference? A smack-down.

Mind you, both those bishops are firmly against the Episcopal Church's actions in consecrating a gay bishop and in exploring the blessing of same-sex unions. So this is not a battle between "progressives" and "conservatives." They are not "friends of TEC" by any stretch of the imagination. But both have been ignored and dismissed by the GaffeCon organizers. And, of course, GaffeCon has Archbishop Akinola's pawprints all over it.

It seems to me that the principles of interdependence and conciliarism only matter to Archbishop Akinola when the dependents and counselors are already in his hip pocket.


If you haven't been keeping up with this story, here's some background for you.

Several blogs have been posting news and analysis about the GaffeCon meeting. Among the best is Father Jake's summary (with links) at "
Sorting out the GAFCON gaffes." Mark Harris first noted the meeting of the New Improved Neo-Fundamentalist Anglican Communion here (12/26), commented on the shrinking numbers in the "Global South" dissents here (12/27), noted some of the internal dissension here (12/29), and offers his latest analysis here (01/02).

Also see the summaries at the
Episcopal Café, such as this (December 27), this (December 29), and this (December 31).

Yesterday, ELO carried this
story about the Jerusalem bishop's reservations

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Milestone: Barbara Harris

The daily e-mail from Episcopal News Service reminded me of this milestone: On January 3, 1989, the House of Bishops consented to the election of Barbara C. Harris, the first woman bishop in the AnglicanCommunion.

Happy anniversary, Bishop Harris!

A friend told me one of the back-stories of Bishop Harris' consecration. She had threats not unlike Bishop Robinson faced. The altar guild ladies guarded the wine, because there were threats of poisoning. After all, this was the first woman to be consecrated bishop in the Episcopal Church.

Years later, I met her in Philadelphia, and years after that I had a chance to chat with her here in the Diocese of Missouri. We are blessed to have her in our church, and I am thankful she was made a bishop in our church.

Kudos to Father Jake

Back in the early autumn of 2003, I was one of those who knew that something very important had occurred when General Convention consented to the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. But when GC adjourned … and while I awaited his consecration in November … not a word was being spoken from the Episcopal Church's official news outlets. (Thank goodness, I sense those were very different days for ENS!) I e-mailed some friends, asking, "Where can I get current, up-to-date news?" These dear friends sent me to Virtue's site; at the time, it was about the only site that was carrying rapid-fire news about TEC.

Of course … you know what kind of "news" I got there. Hate-mongering vitriol, followed by the most vile, hateful comments. I still remember that day. I read that site, and literally wept. I had not realized that some "Episcopalians" or "Anglicans" hated TEC and me so very, very much.

But – oh happy day! – I also found there an attack on and a link to the eccentric and sometimes-heretical site of Father Jake! Thanks be to God! I clicked over to his site, and found "my people." The rest is history. Since sometime late in 2003, Father Jake's site has been my go-to venue when I need to know not just what's going on, but what kind of context to put it in. Father Jake never fails to offer thoughtful reflections on the news of the day. Then, from Father Jake's site, I found other friendly spaces in the blogosphere, which I still frequent.

Father Jake was my window into the wider progressive Episcopal blogosphere, and I still am grateful that he rescued me from that Bad Place. Jake doesn't always capture the news at the very moment of its creation as some others (like EpiScope and Thinking Anglicans and The Lead) do. Instead, he ponders it for a bit and offers analysis and reflection. Sometimes, he tells us to take it easy, reminding us of those words: "Peace! Be still." Almost always, he urges us to engage our minds and think in long terms. Sometimes, he helps us focus our holy rage. And all the time he keeps his site a safe space in which we can vent our anger, our hurt, our questions, our hopes and our dreams for this beloved church of ours.

Many's the time that I have e-mailed Jake in gratitude or just given quiet thanks for the time and care he devotes to the "virtual parish" that has grown up on his site. I absolutely do not know how he manages to exercise his real-life pastoral duties along with the work he does in the blogosphere! Does this man never sleep??

Today's a good one for me to express my gratitude in public, for Father Jake registered his 1,000,000th hit on New Year's Day. Yes, one million! Imagine!! I know I account for many of those hits, as I visit his site daily, and often many times in a day.

Unlike 2003, today we have a great many progressive Episcopal sites and blogs to visit. But I'll always think of Father Jake as the pioneer, the one who was here from the get-go, and the one who is still faithfully here with us. About a year ago (if memory serves), Father Jake toyed with the idea of leaving the blogosphere; I thought then, as I do now, "to whom, then, will we turn?"

And, for better or worse, I have Father Jake to "thank" for introducing me to that wild and crazy Brit, the Priest Who Is Mad. MadPriest offers a great tribute here, noting how all the faithful attend to Father Jake's words:

Happy #1,000,000, Father Jake. I am deeply, profoundly grateful for the ministry you provide.

Two Lifestyles

I don't often muck about with my template, for I am fairly techno-challenged. However, this weekend I read a comment from KJ on MadPriest's blog, and it just said it all. So I've replaced my verbose blog header with this perfect quip from KJ, who was responding to the latest idiot who made some reference to the "gay lifestyle." KJ said:

"There are only two lifestyles -- Gospel and not. Full stop."

That's the most succinct, insightful statement I've read in a long, long time! When I asked KJ permission to quote this brilliant summary of the law, MadPriest informed me I will have to pay $0.50 royalty. I'll ante up without launching a fund-raiser. {g}

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

What's Up in Connecticut?

This morning a Deputy posted a news story to the HoBD list. In it, she linked to this story from Newsday. It reports that one of the dissident parishes in Connecticut (formerly Episcopalian, now Anglican) is leaving with what Elizabeth calls "Integrity and New Hope."

Enough already! It was bad enough when the dissidents were trying to take buildings and furnishings. But this congregation has now gone entirely too far. They're leaving the property behind, but absconding with Integrity! And when I was stranded in the desert of northeast Philadelphia, some of my most joyful outings were to the delightful little gay-friendly community of New Hope, NJ, just across the river. We can't let them take New Hope, too!

So while I applaud the former Episcopalians for leaving the property behind, we must wrest Integrity and New Hope out of their dissident hands! The straight folks have stolen enough from gay culture already. We can't let them have Integrity and New Hope, too!

To the barricades, my comrades!

P.S. Seriously, I'm glad these Episcopalians – if they must depart our church – are doing so in an honorable way. But the headline tickled my funny bone.


I hear that the BBC has broadcast an interview today with Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, but I have not listened to it. Thinking Anglicans points to the interview here, forward 45 minutes into the recording; they alert us the link will only work for one week.

The Associated Press prints a story headlined "Episcopal Leader Defends Gay Bishops," which reads:

LONDON (AP) — Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says her church has been unfairly singled out for criticism because it is honest about consecrating gay bishops.

Jefferts Schori told BBC Radio 4's "PM" program that the New York-based church, which is the Anglican body in the U.S., is far from the only Anglican province that has a bishop with a same-sex partner. In 2003, Episcopalians elected the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, causing an uproar that has pushed the Anglican family toward a split.

"He is certainly not alone in being a gay bishop; he's certainly not alone in being a gay partnered bishop," Jefferts Schori said in an interview broadcast Tuesday. "He is alone in being the only gay partnered bishop who's open about that status."

The 77 million-member Anglican Communion is a global fellowship of churches that trace their roots to the Church of England. Most Anglicans are traditionalists who believe Scripture bars gay relationships. Liberal-leaning Anglicans believe the Bible's social justice teachings on acceptance should apply to same-gender couples.

The national Episcopal Church has not developed an official public prayer to bless gay couples churchwide. However, Jefferts Schori and other Episcopal leaders acknowledge that such ceremonies take place in many parishes. She said other Anglican churches do the same.

"Those services are happening in various places, including in the Church of England, where my understanding is that there are far more of them happening than there are in the Episcopal Church," Jefferts Schori said.

Episcopal Café is carrying the story. Thinking Anglicans has noted it too.

Hat-tip to Ann for this link. You're the best, Ann!

Update: MP has the KJS BBC excerpt here -- so that you don't have to listen to the entire broadcast, but can just zone-in on Katharine's segment. However, his audio probably won't stay there for more than a week or so. So listen now, while you can.

Update: Ye gods and little fishes! BBC is now characterizing KJS as "unrepentant on gay clergy." Meanwhile, some blog commenters are accusing her of trying to "out" Church of England clergy. But listen to the interview. Nowhere does she say that the partnered gay clergy or bishops are simply in the Church of England.

Update again: A reader at T19 has transcribed part of the interview, as follows. I generally wouldn't post such a long transcription, except that the BBC interviews go offline after one week. So, perhaps for different reasons than BabyBlue, I am posting it here:

[Note: This photo is from my file, not from the BBC interview.]

KJS: The bishop of New Hampshire was duly and canonically elected, and consents received to his election, and duly consecrated. He is a bishop in this church in good standing.

BBC: It must be a pretty lonely place though to know that no one else quite like you is now going to be elected to be a bishop.

KJS: Well perhaps not in the immediate future. But he is certainly not alone in being a gay bishop. He is certainly not alone in being a gay partnered bishop. He is alone in being the only gay partnered bishop who’s open about that status.

BBC: In your own church?

KJS: Within our own church and within the Anglican Communion as a whole.

BBC: And so how do you respond to the fact that in a sense the Episcopal Church, your church, is paying the price for an honesty which other churches, perhaps even the Church of England, aren’t quite prepared to have?

KJS: Well that’s certainly a significant part of the current conversation. The Episcopal Church lives in a society that values transparency, increasingly values transparency, in all kinds of operations, not just within the church. To have other parts of the Communion express distress at having to have conversations about sexuality, is certainly understandable in terms of different contexts, yet that is where this church has felt led to be and felt led to have conversation, to bring these issues out into the public sphere where we can do public theologizing about them.

BBC: But you seem to be saying there’s a problem if other churches in the Anglican Communion aren’t prepared to be honest about the fact that they too have gay bishops?

KJS: Well it’s certainly a difficulty in our context. I think there’s a growing understanding in this church of how it can be problematic in other contexts, but there’s certainly a double standard.

BBC: The other issue is in relation to same sex blessings, the notion that the church would have an official service in order bless same sex couples. Again, the Episcopal Church has made this concession, said that there won’t be any authorized rites of blessing for same sex couples, but your opponents say that that’s all very well, but the reality on the ground is that those services are already happening and they continue to happen.

KJS: Well those services are, yes, are happening in various places including in the Church of England, where my understanding is that there are far more of them happening than there are in the Episcopal Church, at least in the United States.

BBC: But in terms of your own church are you happy to see individual parishes having actual services of blessing for gay couples?

KJS: That’s a matter for pastoral practice in the congregation and it’s a matter of decision for individual bishops.

BBC: But you’re not saying that those services shouldn’t be happening at all in any Episcopalian parish?

KJS: That’s not a matter for me to say yea or nay, it’s a matter of pastoral practice in individual congregations, in the same way that I don’t enter into decisions about whether or not it’s appropriate to bless a fleet of battleships going off to war.

BBC: There are those who would just say its not good enough to, on the one hand say that the official position is these must not happen, and then on the other to be so open about the fact that they do happen at the local level.

KJS: Our church, in the Episcopal Church, functions rather differently than some other parts of the Communion. The complaints that we should withdraw because we’ve done something that’s inappropriate often come from portions of the Communion where decisions are made fairly unilaterally, often by bishops, and I think a part of the controversy that’s often not recognized has to do with this different way of coming to theological conclusions and not looking alone to bishops to make policy and set decisions.

BBC: Is it possible for the Episcopal Church to continue to welcome and celebrate the role of lesbian and gay people and stay in the Anglican Communion in the same capacity?

KJS: We’re in a challenging place. I certainly hope that we’re able to move through this. My hope is that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole might remember our roots, our traditional valuing of diversity and our traditional sense that worshiping together despite differing views is what holds us together.

BBC: Of course for the Anglican Communion one of those rare gatherings of all bishops together is coming up in 2008, the Lambeth Conference. Some African churches are saying that if the Episcopal Church is allowed to attend, given what its done in relation to Gene Robinson, given what it perhaps doesn’t quite enforce in relation to gay blessings, that there really shouldn’t be a place at the table, as it were, for the Episcopal Church. How do you respond to those complaints?

KJS: Well that feels to me much like declining an invitation to a dinner party because somebody I don’t like might be there. My understanding of the planned program for the Lambeth Conference is one that has the possibility of letting people build relationships. I think that’s a remarkable gift. I think it would be very sad to go there and simply spend all our time consumed by legislation and I don’t think that’s what’s planned.

BBC: And you’ll be there so it’s up to those who are opposed to you to decide whether or not they too will attend.

KJS: I would hope that all invited people, all bishops of the Anglican Communion, might be there in conference and in community with each other.

BBC: And how much of a setback is it that Gene Robinson, who as you said, is an official bishop of the Episcopal Church, doesn’t have that invitation?

KJS: Well, it’s a long time til July.

BBC: Do you think he might still be invited?

KJS: I would very much hope so.

BBC: Have you had any indication that that may be the case?

KJS: We’re still hoping that that might be the case.