Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Schofield's Closet?

Over the past many months, I have been an avid reader of many Episcopalians' blogs. Time and time after time, I have heard folks supposedly "in the know" comment that Gene Robinson isn't our first gay bishop, but only the first gay bishop with integrity.

Many a time, I have asked folks to urge these other gay bishops to "out themselves." No one has done so.

And now this Schofield thing has finally reached the point where I just can't stand it anymore!

Something about his demeanor in the Anglican TV interview motivated me to do a bit of research about Bishop John-David Schofield. And I found Meditatio, in which he states:
This is complicated by the bishop of San Joaquin, the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield, being in such poor health. . . . Perhaps even more ironically, Bishop Schofield is a "recovering homosexual" committed to celibacy . . . .
Now, it all begins to make sense to me. I am familiar with this kind of self-loathing person who attacks gay men and lesbians! Lord knows, we saw African-Americans like this during the civil rights movement in the 1960s and '70s. We had a word for them.

It seems to me that an entire volume of psychiatric texts could be written about this guy. Is this the best-kept secret in the Episcopal Church? or does everyone in the House of Bishops know him to be a self-avowed "recovering homosexual"? I would love to hear more about his "manner of life."

It's time he came out of his own precious closet.

[12/12/07 update: See my later essay here. ]

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thoughts on The Letter

I think by now just about every sentient Episcopalian blogger [except me; I was busy last night working for The Episcopal Majority] has posted Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's letter to San Joaquin Bishop Schofield. In fact, over the past 24 hours, I've been involved in several conversations (real and virtual) where one or the other of us asked, "Have you read The Letter?" or "Don't you just love The Letter?" I think we can now dispense with all that long-windedness, like referring to "Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's letter to San Joaquin Bishop Schofield," and simply term it "The Letter."

Like so many others, I was gushing in my gratitude for the fact that she wrote it – that someone in our church's national leadership finally said "This far and no further" to those fomenting strife and dissent. And I was immensely impressed with the way she said it – i.e., with kindness, firmness, reason, plain-spoken clarity, and a reaching-out for reconciliation even at this stage.

The ever-perceptive Jim Naughton had a somewhat poignant insight about reactions to The Letter. He writes:
In this letter, Bishop Jefferts Schori makes a single, unremarkable point: The Episcopal Church intends to adhere to its constitution and canons. That this statement produced such relief on the left and anger on the right (see the appropriate blogs for a sampling) indicates that the Church had previously done a poor job of communicating its resolve.
Indeed, Jim. Many of us have been hungering and thirsting for this kind of leadership and clarity on behalf of our beloved church.

Of course, MadPriest posted The Letter too, but – to no surprise for those of us who have become his doting readers – with a perfect fillip. No trenchant analysis, no long-winded commentary. No, he simply posted the letter, then ended his post with this photograph

and the caption: "She's not a tame lion, you know."

I'm grateful to have this graceful and strong lion on our side. [Note to nit-pickers: No, neither MadPriest nor I is saying ++Katharine is Christ – any more than Aslan was Christ. So don't get your knickers in a twist.]

Reactions from "the [so-called] right" of TEC have been predictable. I'm not linking to those blogs; you know where they are. Some are merely engaging in name-calling – at least one referring to her as a "witch" [Sheesh!] and many referring to her as "Mrs. Jefferts Schori." [Get it? A woman is ontologically incapable of being ordained. Sheesh again!] And a great many foaming at the virtual mouth that she would be so autocratic. Ya know what strikes me as funny? It seems to me that many of those who are in open revolt or disdain are the ones who continue to ponder the lure of "swimming the Tiber" or who want to ally themselves with provinces such as Uganda or Nigeria. Frankly, I would love to see those guys [and, yes, they are mostly men] operate under the authority of a Pope Benedict or Pope Akinola. Be careful what you wish for, my friends on the "right" of the Episcopal Church. You think ++Katharine's exercising authority?

I, for one, am profoundly grateful that ++Katharine seems to have signaled that our long, passive nightmare is drawing to a close. Thank you, my Presiding Bishop and Primate!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Old Broad ... Young Priests

I flat wore myself out last weekend. We had our diocesan convention in St. Louis, 2+ hours away from my home. I'm not a delegate this year, but I do love a good Episcopalian get-together, so I volunteered to be a helper and general flunky at convention. I had a marvelous time there, and there were several things I wanted to blog.

But it was a pretty exhausting weekend, including making that long round-trip drive twice—on Friday (which was a work holiday for me) then again Saturday. Then, of course, a busy day with church activities Sunday. I had intended to do a lot of blogging, but basically I just dragged myself through this week. Today I've been a complete vegetable, and am just now finding my energy coming back.

So I'll start with this one.

A standard part of diocesan convention is when the bishop introduces all the new clergy who have come to the diocese during the past year. As he announced each name, they came to the front and stood in front of the dais. I was struck by the fact that so many of them (surely almost half) are new, young priests. What a hopeful sight for our church!

One of the young priests, new to the diocese this fall, is assigned to the Episcopal Campus Ministry in Columbia. I just discovered he has begun video-blogging. You can find his YouTube page here, with links to all his clips so far. Believe it or not, he even posted a high-energy videoblog about Diocesan Convention! Who would've thought?

Quite a while back, I heard Michael+ Kinman urging Episcopal parishes to establish a presence on YouTube. I think I'm beginning to see what he has in mind. Go to YouTube, and enter Episcopal as the search term. You will find some delightful, energetic videos there from other young clergy. Jesus went where the people were. Without doubt, YouTube is where many of our young people are; shouldn't we be there too?

It is delightful to see these signs of hope and energy in our beloved church.

Screwtape to Wormwood

The ever-insightful Tobias Haller offers a delightful new "Screwtape Letter" over at In a Godward Direction: Screwtape to Wormwood, 2006. Here's a small hors d'oeuvre, just to whet your appetite:

Just a bit of avuncular advice as you continue your work: by all means keep them focused on themselves, and on institutional questions — Who Gets to Be In Power. I mean, you can be creative as you like with the details, but the “tried and false” methods are always best to Fall back on. I think I do not need to remind you of the First Principle of The Tempters’ Manual, “Remember the Apple.”
Which brings me to my central concern: this unfortunate attention on the part of some of your patients to these so-called Millennium Development Goals. It would really be most unhelpful to our cause to have them actually do the things the Enemy wants them to do, to set aside self-obsession and do something about disease, poverty, ignorance, and so on. Anything you can do to persuade them that these MDGs are just “secular” will be to your advantage. I had a lovely curried Goat last night — one of the Old Souls that I’d kept in reserve; and you know, he still didn’t get it! As I savored him bite by bite, he kept whimpering, “But when did we see you hungry or thirsty or in prison...” Delicious.
So, Nephew, in closing, I advise you to apply yourself to this two-pronged approach: play up the institution and downplay what it is actually meant to accomplish, as it could turn out to be a disaster for us if this movement catches on.
Your Uncle,


He's right, you know. We must stand firm against some of the shenanigans being perpetrated against the Episcopal Church -- and those seem to be coming more and more frequently right now. But we also must keep our eyes upon Christ and upon what Christ calls us to do in the world. And fighting about power and authority is not our mission. Loving one another is. Feeding the hungry and healing the sick is. And so is doing justice and loving mercy and walking humbly before our God.

Thanks for the reminder, Tobias.

The rest of you: Click here and read the whole thing.

MadPriest's Sermon for the Day

And speaking of the beloved MadPriest, his sermon for November 19 is now posted on his site, and it's a fine one. Here's a snippet, to tease you into going over there:

Back when I was driving for a living I got stuck one day in a traffic jam. A lorry had tipped over going round the roundabout up the road. Its load was thousands of crates of live battery hens. As I slowly passed the scene of the accident I could see that many of the crates had broken open. But the hens that were still alive just sat there in the crates or near to the crates. Although they had the opportunity to run away into the surrounding countryside and freedom, they didn’t. They must have been scared to run away, but I believe the main reason they didn’t make their escape was that having spent all their lives in cages, they didn’t know that they could run away.

So often, we live our lives as if we are in a cage, and although the door to the cage has been opened by our rescuer, we still sit there enduring what we are used to in stead of accepting the freedom that is right there in front of us.

I believe this story – and the lesson he draws from it – will stay with me for a long time. Thanks, Maddie. It's not even Sunday here across the pond, and I've already been richly blessed.

DVD of Presiding Bishop's Investiture now available

The historic investiture of the 26th Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, on November 4, 2006, at Washington National Cathedral is now available on DVD and can be ordered from Episcopal Books and Resources (EbaR) or by calling 800-903-5544, according to Episcopal News Service.

The DVD, which runs approximately 150 minutes, includes a brief commentary at the beginning followed by the full investiture service.

The cost of the DVD is $26 each, which includes shipping and handling. A per-copy discount may apply for orders of multiple copies.

Addition: Some of you may not understand MadPriest's "I despair" comment below. He offers an explanation over on his marvelous blog, and it is well worth consideration; I only saw it after I posted this announcement. He raises most excellent points – and the comments there are most worthwhile too. I had never considered this, but there is something weird about having a service similar to a coronation for the person who is to be servant to the servants of the servants. This photo (which I pinched from MP's site) pretty much makes the point. But, dang! it was a most lovely service and I can't imagine not celebrating +KJS's investiture with a most marvelous celebration.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Straight women and gay men, I need your help. In this entry, our friend MadPriest has asked for a definition of "studmuffin." Remember, friends, he's on the other side of the pond, and sometimes our wacky Americanisms are a mystery to him.

I have an intuitive sense of what the term means: a guy who's attractive not merely because of his looks, but also his charm. I think it refers to a guy who's attractive, but with a soft side. But what's your definition?

Doing a Google search, I found these definitions:

  • The StudMuffin is . . . purported to possess stellar charm, a razor-sharp wit and a magnetic personality that is irresistible to women.
  • a word derived for a man who is in part perceived by females as a stud and with such a word as muffin added meaning that females also want to devour such a man as muffin would be from an oven
But I don't think those definitions capture what "studmuffin" means to me. I think I recognize one when I see him. But how would you define the qualities that make us call a male a "studmuffin"?

By the way, for those of you who haven't been reading here faithfully, this discussion arises because I referred to my cat Scotty as a "studmuffin." I know he is one; I just can't articulate why I know that term is apt.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Scotty Update

Several of you were following my posts about my big orange studmuffin Scotty, who was so very sick in early October, up through the time when
I finally brought him home on Oct. 9, after 10 days in the vet's intensive care. And we then began a new regimen, where I learned how to care for a diabetic cat. I had to stick a needle in his ear and make him bleed every morning and every evening in order to get a glucose reading. Depending on his glucose reading, I would determine the quantity of insulin I had to give him. He, of course, hated all that sticking. And I was still in my one-handed gimp state that made the process doubly difficult for both of us. And it broke my heart to hurt him. I frequently ended up in tears.

But we did settle into a rhythm.

Something weird started happening in late October. I was so suspicious of it that I have not written about it 'til now.

Depending on his glucose reading, he got insulin shots twice a day.

But on October 30, his glucose wasn't high enough (180 was the threshold) to warrant any insulin. Nor on the 31st. Nor on November 1st. Nor November 2nd or 3rd or 4th. So I started doing testing less frequently. And now we're to November 10th, and his glucose reading is still consistently in the normal range.

When I started seeing these normal-range readings I talked to my vet. And she told me that occasionally – and rarely – a diabetic cat can "convert" back to normal, but that she didn't really expect Scotty to do so. Now it's been two weeks of normal readings. I don't know what the heck's going on. But I am hopeful. And incredibly grateful that he seems so much healthier.

October was a miserable month for me. My cat at death's door. My hand paralyzed. I'm feeling now a little like someone who saw so much going away, then finds it all being restored. Like Job, I managed never to curse God. I was buoyed-up on the prayers of friends in my local and virtual communities. I know that God is not a genie or Santa Claus or some magical talisman. I know that many people suffer miserably, for absolutely no reason. I am just flat astonished at the blessings of healing I have seen in my life in these last few weeks.

I wish I had wise words with which to conclude, but I don't. I am just grateful for these unwarranted blessings. Profoundly and inarticulately grateful.

Thanks Giving

I'm pretty sure that I've heard more than one sermon preached about the many stories of Jesus healing people, and how none of them seemed to stop and say "thank you" – as far as the Gospels tell us. I've always wondered: How could they do that? How could they not stop and express gratitude?

Well, tonight I'm feeling a bit like those ingrates.

Several of you have followed the wacky story of my sudden-onset paralysis of my right hand. The last post I provided was back on Oct. 19, after I saw the docs at Wash.U. I talked about how – the next day – my nerves/muscles seemed to be jumping on their own accord. And I told you the doc had outfitted my right hand with a splint to give me some more control on my fingers.

Shortly thereafter, things began to improve dramatically. To me, it seemed like the jolts of electricity they injected during the EMG seemed to "jumpstart" my nerves and muscles again. Things began working better. Last weekend, I flung the splint aside in disgust, because it was interfering with my mobility more than it was contributing to my motor control. That was a very good thing!

Now I can report awesome improvement! I didn't realize how much things had improved 'til someone else pointed it out to me. I can keyboard about as fast as before. My hand and fingers are operating pretty much like before. I have a little weakness in my wrist, but nothing I can complain about. I can at least hold a coffee-cup again. And I can use my right hand to brush my teeth again. That works for me!

I've focused here on the medical side of things. But those are not the things that have felt most important.

More important have been the many notes I've received from you all – that you are praying for me individually or in your parishes. Those notes meant the world to me. It was overwhelming to know that people literally all over the Episcopal Church were praying for me. I was and am profoundly grateful.

And very important was that my own parish gave me a prayer shawl. Our parish started a prayer-shawl ministry over a year ago. I had observed and applauded that ministry. But it was amazing the day they gave one to me, and when I enfolded myself in it during the days and nights when I felt so darn scared and frustrated. There really was something comforting and healing as I enfolded myself in those lovely purple threads.

Last week, I asked our parish to take me off the prayer-list. I am essentially recovered. I felt enfolded in your prayers, and I do believe they worked a miracle of healing in me. I will never be able to tell you how grateful I have been for your many prayers.

And so I come back to you, the body of Christ, to say a very profound and heart-felt "thank you."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

++KJS on B033

How did this one slip past me? I thought I was catching all the news surrounding the investiture of Bishop Jefferts Schori. But I flat missed this story in the Washington Post. Maybe it's because reading this segment of the interview with her would have been too heartbreaking:

"I'm clear about this role involving the entire breadth of the Episcopal Church," Jefferts Schori said. "But at some level, I don't think it's appropriate for me to disguise what my own theological understanding is. I'm someone who believes transparency is incredibly important. It's part of integrity."

Yet the bishop also is aware that compromise is necessary to heal the rift with overseas Anglicans -- a goal she says is important to her. She believes Episcopalians should fulfill the request of Anglican leaders that the U.S. church stop consecrating gay bishops for now and refrain from developing an official prayer service to bless same-sex couples.

"There's a piece of me that is very sad that we need to do that," she said, "but there's a piece of me that understands that for the health of the larger body, we might have to do that for a season."

So there we have it. She truly does intend to support the insidious, invidious B033. Bishop Bruno, speaking at The Episcopal Majority's meeting Saturday, said the same thing, according to this story in The Living Church. And my own bishop said the same thing at a recent meeting with the Oasis and Integrity members of our diocese. I had hoped they would have found a way to repent of the violence and manipulation they committed on that last morning of General Convention. But, no. They have not.

On an emotional level, I find this heart-breaking. But then the brain kicks in.

Folks like me have argued since GC03 that our church spoke – under the guidance of the Holy Spirit – in consenting to the consecration of Gene Robinson as a bishop, and that all Episcopalians should honor that decision. And some of us have railed, publicly or privately, against those dioceses that continue to flout the decisions of General Convention over the past three decades.

I suppose what's sauce for the goose is sauce (however bitter) for the gander. Intellectually, I do not see how we can pick and choose among the actions and resolutions of General Convention. If we believe that the polity of our church assembled in Convention acts under the guidance of the Spirit, then we probably have to swallow hard and accept even those actions and decisions with which we disagree most profoundly. I think we have to accept all of them, or just head down the slippery slope of puritanical "individual conscience" that the Network folks have deified.

Tonight, perhaps still affected by the incredible experience of +KJS's investiture Saturday, I'm inclined to support her – much as I hate what she said here. And Bishop Bruno. And my own bishop. I believe it is unjust. Profoundly unjust! I can only hope that – while they sell-out to the Windsor Report – they will take every possible opportunity to note the very high cost that our church and individual and partnered Episcopalians are paying for this compliance.

And I return to a thought I had on the ugly day when B033 was passed in the House of Deputies. I posted it on the House of Bishops/Deputies listserv, and Louie Crew has kindly captured it here, on his Do Justice! page. If we are to reject those whose "manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church," then let us not only reject those who may be gay men or lesbians. Let us reject those who have violated Jesus' own words about divorce. Let us reject those who seem to be unrepentant in their gluttony. Let us reject those who violate any of the Levitical admonitions. In a word, let us say "no" to all episcopal elections. Not forever. Merely "for a season," as the Most Rev. Katharine suggested regarding the queers in her church.

Am I angry tonight? You bet! This one is going to take a while to accommodate.

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pittsburgh Moves Further Away

At its diocesan convention this weekend, the "Episcopal" Diocese of Pittsburgh took further steps to separate from the Episcopal Church.

Episcopal News Service reported it thus:

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (, meeting in its 141st annual Convention November 3-4 at Trinity Cathedral in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, supported a previous request of Bishop Robert Duncan and the diocesan Standing Committee for alternative primatial oversight (APO) and withdrawing its consent to membership in the Episcopal Church's Province III.

Duncan admitted in his convention address that just how APO would be achieved remains unclear. The constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Anglican Communion's main policy-making body, makes no provisions for alternative primatial oversight. Neither do the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

Read the entire ENS story here.

A great many commentators were critical of Pittsburgh's actions.

The ever-restrained Anglicans Online took umbrage at the bishop's comments. Even the terminally temperate Nick Knisely of EntangledStates was moved to comment:

Apparently what's sauce for the goose isn't sauce for the gander. The voting majority of the Diocese of Pittsburgh is asking that the Episcopal Church respect their beliefs by allowing it to associate with like-minded dioceses and to disassociate from people with whom it disagrees. But then the Diocesan Convention refuses to allow the people within its borders to do the same.

One wonders what's going on in Pittsburgh, even as one feels sorrow for faithful Episcopalians stranded in that diocese.

Hope has Come Home

From the time of Bishop Jefferts Schori's investiture as Presiding Bishop, I have been voraciously reading other blogs and websites. This one spoke most powerfully to me. It is written by Katie Sherrod, a faithful Episcopalian trying to keep hope alive in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Listen to her words. And if, like me, you reside in a diocese that is a faithful Episcopalian one, thank God for your good fortune.

Something new took up residence in the Episcopal Church on Saturday, Nov. 4.

It is Hope, and it’s come home.

It moved in with the wind of the Holy Spirit, filling the National Cathedral with a palpable presence.You could not only feel it, you could see it. It was in the streamers flying above our heads. It was in the dancing feet. It was in the flames on the candles and in the smoke of the smudgers.

We breathed it in and felt it homesteading our hearts.

I suspect it made its presence felt at different times for different people. For me, it was when Katharine called us all home.I’ve felt like a homeless child in the church for a long time. Where I live, a lot of people feel that way for very different reasons.

To read it all, click here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What's a Girl to Do?

I could as well have titled this post What's the Anglican Communion's Very First Female Primate to Do? Or maybe Damned if You Do and Damned if You Don't.

I was a bit dismayed a few days ago when Elizabeth critiqued ++Katharine's decision to wear slacks when visiting the Archbishop of Canterbury. Elizabeth wished ++Katharine had worn a long, flowing skirt instead of the slacks she wore. I'll confess: When I first read Elizabeth's comments, I thought, "How trite!" But then I had to admit to myself that I had had the same thought. I mean, for a woman to get into the Old Boys' Club that is the leadership of the Anglican Communion, must she wear slacks? In my secret heart, I too wished she had worn a beautiful skirt or dress that would accentuate the very beautiful woman she is.

Then I got to thinking further, and felt tremendous compassion for our ++Katharine. Think about it. Men don't have to agonize over wide options in their mode of dress. The choices are pretty narrow. It's basically just three decisions. First, suit or slacks and sport coat? Second, which color? And the only acceptable colors are black, charcoal, grey, and navy. And finally, regular tie or bowtie?

But it is not so simple for women. Our options are almost innumerable. However much we may wish it were not so, every clothing decision is a sort of "statement." I face this quandary every time I have a big event to attend, such as a wedding or funeral, and I stand in front of the closet for much, much longer than I care to admit. Will it be a dress? skirt, blouse, and jacket? or slacks? If skirt, will I opt for one of those "girl suits" that apes the men's suits? or opt for a more creative mix of colors and styles?

I suspect men approaching the closet on the morning of an important meeting simply have to decide where on the range of black-charcoal-navy they will land. And then choose a tie. I envy the simplicity of their options.

Now, put yourself in the houseshoes of ++Katharine as she must have stood at her closet, faced with the task of packing for Lambeth and a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury. A dizzying array of options must have been available to her. Dress or skirt or slacks? Which color(s)? (For we women have the entire rainbow available to us – not just the black-to-navy spectrum.) Which shoes? -- flats, pumps, or heels? And which accessories? The subdued earrings or the big dangly flashy ones? The poor dear!!

From such multiplicity of options, good Lord deliver us!

So I decided to lighten up. I'm just proud that our ++Katharine remembered to bring enough garments so that she could appear fully clothed in her first meeting with the Archbishop.

What got me to reflecting on all this so many days after the photographs of ++Katharine with ++Griswold and the Archbishop appeared? I thought you'd never ask!

The good folks at Anglicans Online have noted PeaceBang's beauty tips for our new Presiding Bishop. Apparently, PeaceBang is not an Episcopalian, but got excited when +Katharine was elected Presiding Bishop, and offers "beauty tips" for the Anglican Communion's first female primate. PeaceBang's comments are so not politically correct – but they made me laugh anyway. And the comments that follow PeaceBang's initial post are equally amusing.

From the fripperies of fashion, good Lord deliver ++Katharine!

Bottom-Feeders Strike Again

Sometimes I wonder when the reactionary right will ever give up their tired old inquisition games. Probably never.

Those of you who have been following events for more than three years will recall the tactic that David Virtue and his minions attempted during General Convention 2003, when the consent to Gene Robinson's consecration was pending. The right-wingers found that then-Bishop-elect Robinson had supported a website . . . which linked to a website . . . which linked to a website . . . that seemed to espouse pornography. His detractors tried to scuttle his consent on the basis of those thin threads. But sensible heads recognized that one cannot be hanged for some guilt-at-third remove. The investigative group appointed by General Convention reconized that +Robinson had never espoused the goals of that third-remove website. They recognized the nefarious agenda of the people who were trying to paint him with that brush.

So tonight it has amused to me to see one of the reactionary right-wing sites trying to do the same thing to The Episcopal Majority.

A great many of the right-wing sites and their commenters hide under cloaks of secrecy and anonymity. They operate in the darkness; and we know what other cosmic power seeks to hide in the darkness. By contrast, The Episcopal Majority has posted the names of its sponsors and supporters from the first. From the beginning, we have worked in the light of day.

Today, one of those reactionary sites has painted us with the "heretic" brush, because one person who signed-on as a supporter to our site is -- in the high-and-mighty view of these right-wingers -- a supposed heretic. And so they bring out that tired old saw yet again: that all of us are heretics. It's so pitiable.

I can't decide whether this makes me laugh at the pitiful excesses of the schismatic right or should make me want to do a dope-slap at them.

Which one of us could not be found to be in some third-degree connection to a heretic or criminal or other scofflaw?

And I cannot help but observe that those people on the supposed "right" seem increasingly desperate to lob pot-shots at those of us who are walking in the light. I wonder what underlies their increasing desperation.

As long as I am blogmaster of The Episcopal Majority, I will continue to post the name of every person who sends me an e-mail saying he or she supports the goals of The Episcopal Majority. I will not subject them to an inquisition or litmus test. I will not decide who is or who is not "worthy" to sign-on to our goals. I will welcome all who want to support the "big tent" we are constructing over there.

If the schismatics want to perform an inquisition into every person who wants his or her name posted at The Episcopal Majority, let them do so. The more they do so, the more it reveals the petty hypocrisy behind their venture.

By their fruits, we shall know them.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Investiture of +Katharine Jefferts Schori

First Thoughts

I expect many of you were exactly where I was when the investiture of +Katharine began to be broadcast this morning [10:00 Central time]. I was sitting at my laptop, praying my DSL connection would be adequate. I had a fresh cup of coffee in one hand, my service leaflet in the other. And – of course – I also had a cat on my lap.

I give thanks to Episcopal News Service for making the service leaflets downloadable in advance and – even more – for making the Webcast available. The service leaflet is available by clicking here. You can view the entire investiture service from the National Cathedral site; just click here. [But the National Cathedral file is not as good as the ENS webcast today. I understand that ENS will make the service available on DVD, and I certainly will buy a copy.] I was very pleased to be able to follow-along in the service leaflet throughout the service.

Let me begin with these technical notes, and major kudos to Episcopal News Service. When I logged-onto to the Episcopal Church website this morning, I had very low expectations of the ENS webcast. I figured it would be fraught with technical problems. I expected to get thrown-off the site periodically due to bandwidth limitations. I expected a low quality of audio and video. But, oh my! ENS sure proved me wrong! Not only was the connection stable and the audio/video very high-quality. But the work the ENS "producers" [is that the right term?] did to select angles, switch between cameras, and get me up close and personal were just amazing.

Now let me try to comment on the liturgy itself.

I was very pleased that they followed a fairly-straightforward Rite II BCP service. Too many of our adversaries attack us for departing from the Book of Common Prayer. And, frankly, I am just not impressed by many of those experimental liturgies. I was pleased to see this one stick with the BCP liturgy – in which we know the cadences and responses. It is the liturgy most parishioners are familiar with, and I was grateful to see it used.

I was also delighted – to my surprise – by the additions like the liturgical dance, the lovely ritual whereby the dancers poured water into the baptismal font, and the varied, multi-cultural music. To me, this was the best of Episcopal liturgy: all our formal, rich liturgy, but with a few well-conceived innovations interspersed. From time to time during the service, I thought this was Episcopal liturgy at its best: with all the ritual and high seriousness, but also moments of delightful surprise.

When the webcast gave me my first glimpse of +Katharine in her vestments, I nearly lost my breath – they were so beautiful! I loved how the vestments employed ocean colors, waves, and the entire cosmos – so appropriate to +Katharine's career before her ordination, and such powerful symbols of the vocation we all have to participate in: the redemption of all creation. I honor the designer(s) and creators of those beautiful vestments.

For reasons I do not understand, one of the most powerful moments for me was when +KJS beat on the Cathedral door as part of the traditional liturgy for the investiture of a new Presiding Bishop. I was in the National Cathedral nine years ago, when we installed ++Griswold. And I remember how those three so-hard knocks reverberated around the acoustics of the Cathedral. "Let me in! Let me in! Let me in!" And it was even more powerful today, with +Katharine standing outside National Cathedral, slamming her crozier against those cathedral doors. And, mind you, with 4,000 people inside the Cathedral just longing to let her in! Obviously, my feeble words are not going to do justice to the moment. We need a poet to do it for us.

Throughout the service, I enjoyed seeing how +Katharine herself seemed to be so relaxed and enjoying the whole thing. Her intensity, her moments of humor, her seriousness, her spontaneity and humility. They all gave me confidence that this is a Presiding Bishop who may lead us in new and deeper directions in the next nine years. Yes, you will recall that I was furious with her railroading B033 through the House of Deputies during General Convention. But today, I am willing to lay that aside and let her start fresh.

One other perception was very strong today as I watched +Katharine's investiture. I was struck that this is the first investiture that had a worldwide, real-time audience. Many of you know that I had planned to be present in that service; I was one of the lucky few who had a ticket to the investiture, but I had to give it up. I thought watching the service via the Web would be a sad experience. But it was not. To the contrary, as I sat at my solitary laptop, I was moved by the sense that I was connected in an important way to many hundred – or even thousands – of other people who were, in those two hours, participating in the "church invisible." I was "virtually" connected to a huge community of faithful, joyful Episcopalians and Anglicans throughout the world. I give thanks that our church made it possible for me to share in that experience with so many other Christians.