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."


Blogger David said...

Understood. But you know ? +Wimberley is also, by many accts from people whose opinion I trust, a very "political animal." He's got his "Windsor Bishop" cred to protect (absolutely meaningless, but a few of the purple shirts seem to be clinging to it) and plenty of neo-conservative folks in his diocese to placate.

1/18/2008 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Don Wimberley acted with any courage it was the first time in his otherwise irrelevant episcopacy.

Whatever Don Wimberley did, he did for his own ends and certainly without regard to the people of Pittsburgh who have to live with their apostate bishop a little while longer.

Linda McMillan
Austin, Texas

1/18/2008 11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Linda, you write: "the people of Pittsburgh who have to live with their apostate bishop a little while longer."

Apostate? Uh, how so? Name what he has renounced. Name his theological error. You may think that canons do not give a diocese the right to depart, but that if apostate mean renouncing the faith--and that is usually what it means--then Duncan is hardly even close to being apostate. (And note how the Title IV review committee did not explain their reasoning!) Yes, Duncan wants to leave, but people leave the Church all the time and are not "apostate."

1/19/2008 5:10 PM  
Blogger June Butler said...

Blogger ate my comment!

Lisa, at least, Bp. Frade can see!

Bp. Duncan and Bp. Schofield have both shown, by their words and actions, that they have abandoned TEC. I do not understand Bp. Wimberly's reasoning that the diocesan convention has to vote to leave TEC, before he can concur in Bp. Duncan's inhibition. Whatever the vote of the convention, it seems to me largely irrelevant to whether the bishop is inhibited. OCICBW.

1/19/2008 8:43 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

David & Linda: I don't know Bishop Wimberly, so I can't comment with the knowledge you do.

I do, however, find I am suspicious of him because of the silly "I am a WINDSOR BISHOP" mantra that he seems to want to claim. I think time and events have shown that the "Windsor bishop" claim was and is a chimera.

1/20/2008 12:11 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Anonymous, I'm going to agree with you, but I can't help observing this: While David and Linda willingly identify themselves, you hide behind an "anonymous" persona. Why?

I agree that Duncan is not "apostate." I suspect Linda was being imprecise when she used that term. (I'll trust her to clarify.) He's merely a hater and destroyer of the Episcopal Church, but not apostate.

I wish Duncan and his camp followers would ramp-down their language, too. He and his devotees say that bog-standard Episcopalians are "not even Christian." They said it clearly in the Choose This Day video and elsewhere.

I still maintain that Duncan needs to be deposed (along with Iker and Schorield). They are no longer Episcopalians. I'd term them dissidents and schismatics and neo-Puritans. But I agree: I wouldn't call them apostate. It sounds like they are following the Christian faith as they understand it. It's just not anything like the Episcopal or mainstream Anglican understanding.

1/20/2008 12:17 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Amen, Grandmère. They have left the Episcopal Church. If they had any integrity, they would renounce their Episcopal orders and go to a place where they are more comfortable.

1/20/2008 12:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous... And may I just say how sad it is that you won't even identify yourself. It's just sad and pathetic. I have sometimes said things that I regretted, sometimes had to eat my own words. But, at least I have the integrity of owning them myself.

I did speak imprecisely in calling Bob Duncan apostate. And, I'll say this in his behalf, at least he has a conviction about something and however clumsily and stupidly he goes about trying to live it out he is trying. It seems like Don Wimberley's greatest conviction is that he should sail into retirement as smoothly as possible. He seems to stand for nothing. So, I'll give the schismatics that much. At least they are trying.

My point was neither theological nor was it about our canons. I was making a point about the people in the diocese of Pittsburgh who may have been given some relief from a bishop who clearly has no interest in being part of TEC yet, because of Don Wimberley, will have to wait a little while longer on that. Once again Don Wimberley seeks the easy path on the backs of people who should have been able to count on him to protect them from further spiritual violence.

I am sorry that I was imprecise and if I was unclear. I hope this comment post has been clarifying.

Linda Diane McMillan

1/20/2008 1:23 PM  
Blogger Hilary said...

I don't know if you read Real Live Preacher or not, but he mentions TEC in a recent blog entry and pokes some (very) gentle fun at us:

He closes with what I wouldn't characterize as advice, per se, but something to ponder and perhaps keep in mind.

1/21/2008 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John 20007 responds

There is no hiding going on here. I just type fast and don’t have the blogger thing going.

A couple of points. (1) Nobody can ever cite something Duncan has said that shows one bit of hate much less a desire to destroy the Church. He thinks the church has abandoned fidelity to trustworthy teaching and has drifted morally. Sounds like the things Amos, Jeremiah and others have said, to me. And has done so firmly, but kindly with not even an ounce of the kind of venom coming through this and other blogs. And I am not saying this b/c I would have taken the same route as him. I am saying it b/c there just is no mean-spirited quote that I have ever seen or heart. Honestly. Show me the quote. As for the Choose You This Day, produce the objectionable quote for me and I will respond to it. (2) Please admit that use of the word ‘schismatic’ from the left toward Duncan is at least comprised, if not out of bounds, given that we were warned not to go ahead with VGR’s consecration in 2003 by the Primates because it would ‘tear the sacramental unity of the church at a fundamental level,’ meaning sacramental schism did not happen first with Duncan. (3) Explain how we can say to the communion ‘We have the right of self-determination’ and then with a straight face and all manner of gravitas not deal with the issue whether diocese have the right to self-determination but instead sue them. (4) As for integrity, how has Spong, by your standards, who has in writing denied outright many of the things required of him as a Bishop, remained in the church with integrity? And why should someone in the middle of things like I am think that it is Duncan who should have the integrity to go and start his own church rather than those, like VGR, who instead of trying to change ECUSA should start their own church? JOHN 2007 wants to know! Thanks.

1/22/2008 3:02 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

John 20007, I weary of these straw men. I'll spend a little time and energy here, but your propaganda is wearying me, and I'm not sure how much longer I'm going to let you remain in my living room. I think you'll be much happier at a site like StandFirm, where the Terminally Angry gather. And it is clear to me, John20007, that you are not really here for dialogue. You just have a few spare turds that you want to throw into the punchbowl. OK, I'll go one more round. Then I'm probably going to cut you loose.

(1) Duncan hates the Episcopal Church. He makes it clear in many ways – in the Choose This Day video, in instructing parishes not to pray by name for our Presiding Bishop when he is in the room, in participating in the consecration of bishops to set up a "parallel jurisdiction" in the U.S. It must be painful for someone like him to have his pension tied up in a church he wants to destroy. You may think he speaks kindly; the vast majority of Episcopalians hear nothing but frogs and toads spewing out of his mouth. Obviously, we disagree deeply, and we're not going to settle that disagreement on this wee blog. The schism is already happening. It's been bought and paid for, and soon Duncan will be able to join Minns, Schofield, Iker, and that whole host of schismatic demagogues in their new and purified church. Good luck in that.

(2) "Schismatics" are those who seek a division or breach of union. That's what Duncan, Iker, Schofield et al have been about ever since the day that the General Convention consented to Robinson's consecration. They and their backers have ramped up this little drama, and it has all gone according to plan so far. So spare me the piety. In fact, if you'll look back at my Alphabet Soup posting, you'll realize it's been brewing much longer. Lucky for today's schismatics, they were able to harness the conservatives' disgust about homosexuality to fuel their little revolution at home and abroad.

You want to talk about sacramental unity? Our Presiding Bishops Griswold and Jefferts Schori continue to take communion with all their Anglican brothers and sisters. The Anglican Communion has allowed wide diversity in all the provinces on a wide variety of matters. Those who choose no longer to come to the table are the ones who are walking apart. It's as simple as that, despite all the spin-meistering from the "right."

(3) It's very simple, John20007. Provinces have the "right of self-determination." That's how the Anglican Communion was established: as a communion of national churches. The Anglican Communion and TEC have honored that right. We even honored it back in the 1980s when the Africans were wrestling mightily and faithfully with the issue of polygamy. We trusted them to listen to the Spirit, minister faithfully in their provinces, and come to their own conclusions. For the life of me, I don't understand why they cannot extend the same generosity of spirit.

As you surely know, TEC and its dioceses haven't sued over the "right to self-determination." We simply say: You may go where you will -- even to the Two Peas in a Pod Predestinarian Church -- but you can't steal the assets of the Episcopal Church when you leave. If you folks had the courage of your convictions, you would flee this "apostate" church, but it is all about the property and prestige for the schismatics. Of course, you'll spin it the other way. But look at other "continuing Anglicans" like the Anglican Province of America; at least they had the integrity of their convictions.

(4) You crack me up with your references to Spong! Bringing him into an irrelevant discussion is the Episcopal equivalent of Godwin's Law; when you're desperate, folks like you trot out Bishop Spong. I don't know the guy. Haven't read his books. He isn't my bishop. I gather he's pretty wacky. You want to charge the guy with heresy? File a formal charge of heresy. Or just continue to whine. Your choice.

Of course, it's completely disingenuous of you to claim to be "in the middle of things." You make it clear you're very far from the middle, John 20007.

But the simple answer to your last question is this: Most Episcopalians are working within our polity and our common life. We are following the BCP and faithfully worshipping and working within our parishes and dioceses. We honor the Episcopal Church as our great gathering-place. If you, Duncan, Iker, Schofield, etc. are so unhappy, you are free to go where you want. I think most of the schismatics will find themselves much happier in the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church or the Southern Baptist Church. I hope many will remain in this big, messy Episcopal Church.

1/22/2008 8:03 PM  

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