Saturday, August 30, 2008

Letting Go

You know how it happens. You decide to check on a few of your favorite blogs. They lead you to other blogs. You discover a new blog and spend hours reading through the blogger's archive. I've just come up for air from such a day.

This one really got to me. I can't decide whether I want to keep reading his blog. It's painful. Deeply painful. And, right now, I'm having trouble with that. I want to hear his voice, and I don't want to hear it. I want to hear the pain because it resonates with some of mine, and I don't.

In a post that left me sobbing he begins with a poem I think I may once have seen. He quotes this from Mary Oliver:

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

It's his jumping-off point to the story of the death of his cat -- two of them, actually. It reminded me so much of Shug's death, and of how Shug and Scotty had been my only beloved, constant companions during many happy years and some years of turmoil. And of a dear friend who wrote me this week of the death of a cat whom I knew and loved in her youth.

And it reminds me I have no human creature whom I can love and hold in that way, and of the ache that sometimes creates. There is no one I can call "my beloved," nor anyone who would call me hers. Sometimes, that is painful.

This man's blog deals a lot with loss and regret and despair. He raises dark issues, some of which have been dogging me of late.

I think I've been keeping a mostly brave face in public and even with friends. He's writing some honest, gut-wrenching stuff that I haven't had the courage to articulate. My issues aren't the same as his, but they're related.

I look forward to weekends. And lately there haven't been many that were really "free," but this one is. No parish or diocesan meetings. No travels. Thank God, I will go to church tomorrow, for it always lifts me beyond myself.

But tonight . . . ? Tonight I have just three companions. Scotty, who (like Shug) has been with me so long as a faithful, loving companion. Jamocha, the "new" kitty who still doesn't trust me except when I'm sitting or lying down. And the "black dog" of regret, grief, and painful memories.

There are days -- especially unstructured days spent at home alone -- when it's not so much that I hope my name is written in God's Book of Life as I fear my name is written in God's Book of Fuck-Ups. This is one of those.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm Voting Republican

In the time I've had at home this week, I've been watching the Democratic Convention ... of course.

This video cracked me up. Go watch it.

Update (08/28/08): The comment from St. Louis John and others makes me realize I need to give you an "irony alert." No, I'm not going to vote Republican. And I don't want to send any of you into cardiac arrest. But I loved this video. It's ironic.


I am sorry. I have not been able to write here. I just can't decide what to write.

Too much has been happening in my personal life. I'm still/again dealing with personal health issues and Scotty's health. Thanks be to God, I also had a delightful weekend with the Flys.

Too much has happened within our diocese about our relationship with the Diocese of Lui (in Sudan) and what shape it will take since Archbishop Daniel's hatemongering emission from Lambeth. I'm Chair of the our Companion Diocese Committee, and the discussion has required a significant bit of our time.

All that has consumed my attention.

I have scribbled a few notes about which I hope to write soon. Just not yet. Or not much.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

TEC Communications

This is a marvelous opportunity to think about the ways we communicate within the Episcopal Church and to the world beyond.

Nick Knisely, a member of the Standing Commission on Episcopal Church Communications, posed this question on the HoBD list a couple of days ago. I'm now posting it here with his permission. He wrote:

I'm asking this question in part because I've been thinking about how our church news delivery has changed over the past few years. I'm particularly noticing the difference between the coverage of this Lambeth conference and the last one.

Did you all feel that the coverage of Lambeth this time was sufficient? I don't just mean in terms of ENS and ACNS which provided, but including the alternative outlets like Titus1:9, Walking with Integrity, Stand Firm, Episcopal Cafe, Thinking Anglicans, the blogging bishops, etc... I've been thinking that when you take the full breadth of what's being made available to us, there's clearly been a sea-change over the past few years.

What sorts of things did you find missing that would have been helpful?

As you can imagine, I gave him a reply in my most Verbosan fashion. Now I invite all of you to reply, too. What pleased and frustrated you about the Lambeth coverage? What other or different kinds of news coverage would you want to see as we approach the Primates Meeting that Rowan promises he will call, the Anglican Consultative Counsel that will occur in the spring of 2009, and the General Convention of 2009? Please be as specific and as creative as you can.

KJS Muttered about Lambeth

Dear blogging friends, did any of you post or comment on the statement that Katharine Jefferts-Schori emitted after Lambeth? I didn't, nor am I seeing that any of you did. The best I could see in it is that this time she managed not to ask us to "stand in a crucified place" nor to "fast for a season." Did any of you find it worth the electrons involved in its distribution? Did any of you comment? For the life of me, I did not. And I can't find that any of my blogging buddies even bothered to post or link to it.

I'd like to know if you posted a link and what you said. If you ignored it (as I did) I'd like to hear why.

Holier than Thou

Brian Reid, one of the worthies who brings us Anglicans Online, posted today to the HoBD listserv an announcement that warrants much wider publicity. By special arrangement with the original vendor of the shirt at Lambeth, you now can purchase the hard-to-get Lambeth t-shirt (pictured at right).

I've already ordered mine. The price is $22.49, plus at least $5 in shipping.

I leave it to you all to exegete and analyze the ecclesiological, moral, and theological significance of this garment.

Also let's try to decide who's going to add this item to their "wish list" … or to whom we'd like to give it. I bet +Gregory Venables and I would be wearing it for very different reasons.

Bon Mot

In the aftermath of the Lambeth Conference, and having read several opinion pieces in the secular press, I'm reminded me of a quip Tom Woodward (blogger and frequent HoBD poster) offered back on June 6:

What is it that Paul wrote to the Corinthians? "Faith, hope and love, these three abide; but the greatest of these is rejecting homosexuality."
Yeah ... What he said!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Gays Running Amok at Lambeth?

Wetzel Debunked

Yesterday, Cherie Wetzel posted a bit of clap-trap about Anglican and Episcopalian gay/lesbian Christians running amok and "Peddling the Gay Lifestyle." It sounded remarkably like Archbishop Mouneer Anis' hysteria (when he was interviewed the previous day) about queers overrunning the Lambeth Conference. To hear them tell it, the gay men and lesbians are overwhelming the bunny-rabbits at the University of Kent.

Unfortunately, some people mistook Wetzel for a journalist. She is a partisan commentator, not a journalist.

Since Wetzel's and Anis' statements have been so widely reported, it seems only fair to give the report from Katie Sherrod, an honest-to-God journalist who was at Lambeth. She has written the following, sent quickly before she flies home to the U.S., which I post with her permission.

From Katie Sherrod:

I am at Lambeth. I am the editor of The Lambeth Witness. It is being published by the Inclusive Church Network, which is a coalition of progressive groups from the UK, Canada, Africa, and the USA. It does include LGBT groups, but also WATCH [Women and the Church], Modern Churchpeoples Union, and many more. You can read the publication online at the Lambeth portal.

We have – with the permission and at the direction of the conference organizers – placed our newspapers at the entrances to the buildings here. The bishops, spouses, staff and volunteers are welcome to pick one up or not as they choose. We have stationed volunteers to watch the stands – as they have been regularly vandalized – but they are instructed NOT to offer a paper to anyone. They do, of course, talk with anyone who wants to talk with them.

It's the same at the Marketplace stalls. I never have heard anyone shouting at anyone else to take a rainbow ribbon. They offered them to people walking by, just as people at other stalls are offering things. It's not unlike the exhibit hall at General Convention. Volunteers at the Integrity/Changing Attitude booth did indeed engage people – including bishops – in conversations --- it's all part of the listening process. Remember that? It's been called for by every Lambeth Conference since 1978. They were not rude about this. Indeed, if someone clearly did not want to talk, they didn't grab them by their lapels! Please. These are Anglicans. :)

The exact same thing was happening at the right-to-life booth right next to the Integrity/Changing Attitude stall. I notice Mrs. Wetzel did not complain about that.

The demonstration she talks about was put on by Peter Tatchell [sp?] of Outrage, a group in the UK not aligned with any Christian church. None of the groups in the Inclusive Church Network are part of his group, and we have no control over what he chooses to do. Just as we used the public spaces of the university to place our newspaper stands, so he chose to use a public space to spread out his large banner. I did not see it, nor did I see any "demonstration" so I can't comment on it directly.

Most of our group was living in student housing down the hill from the university. A few of us shared hotel rooms. We worked out of a parish hall of a local church. Several members of our coalition had press credentials. I'm not sure what is wrong with that, or how that indicates something sinister.

It was irritating not to get called on in the press conferences, as the same members of the British press were called on every day, as were many members of the press considered conservative in the US. We have the same desire to ask questions as do they. Again, what does this signify?

We were indeed there trying to get the voices and viewpoints of LGBT Anglicans entered into the mix. With the exclusion of Gene Robinson, their voices were totally absent from the bishops' proceedings – leaving them once more to be talked about, not talked with. And since it is their lives, relationships, and vocations that are being offered up as sacrifices for the "unity of the Communion" it seems important that they be heard.

Offering yourself up for sacrifice is one thing. Offering someone else up for sacrifice on your behalf is something else indeed, and it raises a whole raft of moral and theological issues that the bishops are not facing up to.

I am sorry Mrs. Wetzel was distressed by this.

You are free to share this note with anyone you choose. We are completely transparent in what we are doing here.

Your sister in Christ,
Katie Sherrod

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Commentary after Lambeth

Maybe I'll capture more commentary from Lambeth. But tonight, these two struck me.

From Fort Worth

Katie Sherrod, a great friend of LGBTs who worked the whole time at Lambeth with Integrity et al, writes on Sunday:

… What is exhausting is the emotional and spiritual drain of witnessing the continued marginalization and scapegoating of LGBT Christians by the bishops of the Anglican Communion.
And while we can understand all the talk of sacrifice – since Christianity if built on the notion that sacrifice can be holy – isn’t there a difference between sacrificing oneself for others and requiring others to sacrifice themselves for your benefit? And if there is a difference, what are theological and moral implications of the bishops forcing LGBT to sacrifice their vocations and loves as the moratoria do?

And lastly, we’ve seen that such moratoria do not work. The Episcopal Church offered up LGBT vocations and relationships with resolution B033, the Archbishop of Canterbury declined to invite Gene Robinson, and still most of the conservative bishops boycotted Lambeth. What makes them think continued scapegoating of LGBT Christians will make any difference to the Gafconistas?

If our bishops are willing to sacrifice our baptismal covenant for an Anglican Covenant, what does that say about the future of our church?

Not much that's good, I think.

Read it all.

From Maine

Bishop Stephen Lane (Maine) rejoices in the "new perspectives and new understandings" that his indaba group has reached, but it seems that he ended on a discouraged note about the future of the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion, as he spoke about how the Archbishop of Canterbury "lectured" TEC and ACiC. Watch his vlog here or click below.

I have seen that Bishop Stephen has been moved by the story of the Melanesian martyrs. So am I.

But I hope our bishops don't lose sight of the gay and lesbian people who have been beaten or killed while they were meeting in Canterbury. Many of them have been beaten, killed, or jailed in the GAFCon countries. Several Christians were murdered in Tennessee last Sunday because their church is perceived as supportive of "liberals and gays." Unfortunately, more martyrs are created every week. Even in the affluent U.S.

A Modest Proposal in the Wake of Lambeth 2008

I can't say my first "modest proposal" got much traction in the Episcopal Church, much less in the Anglican Communion. But let me try another one.

When I got home from church today and scanned the blogosphere to find the results of the Lambeth Conference, I was disappointed, but not surprised. Perhaps I'll do a little more analysis and commentary later today; I do not know.

As I read of the demand for TEC to extend the moratorium on gay/lesbian bishops and on authorizing rites for same-sex blessings, I am disinclined to do so. As I've said before, the Episcopal Church has been one of the few provinces of the Anglican Communion that has been "Windsor-compliant," whereas many provinces of the "Global South" have flagrantly violated Windsor with their parish- and diocese-poaching and their flagrant violation of human rights for gay/lesbian persons.

I kept asking myself: How in the world can our General Convention next summer extend the moratoria in the face of the bad deeds of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and the Southern Cone and of the way they have continued to demonize the Christians in the Episcopal Church?

Out of the blue, a phrase from Scripture came into my head: "test the spirits." Though raised in the Southern Baptist Church, practiced in Bible memorization, and a consistent winner in "sword drills," I couldn't recall the source. But Bible Gateway is a delightful resource in such times.

There it is, in 1 John 4:1:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Let us test the spirit that is within the Global South and its U.S. allies, and see whether theirs is the Spirit of God, or the spirit of power and greed.

Our church suffered much when it adopted resolution B033 in 2006. Those moratoria will remain in effect at least until the General Convention next summer.

Now the Global South primates have one year to show that they are willing, in good faith, to accede to the third moratorium that Windsor and the Primates and the Lambeth Conference consistently have called for: the cessation of border-crossings. And since the Windsor Continuation Group called for the three moratoria to be retrospective, here's what the Global South primates can do to earn my trust:
  • Let each of them withdraw from one of the parishes or dioceses they have claimed from within the U.S.
  • Or let each of those primates recall one of the irregularly-consecrated bishops to live in the African province that consecrated them.
Just one! One parish or one bishop. Not wholesale withdrawal. Just one small gesture of reconciliation from each of these Global South primates.

And in that spirit of reconciliation, let's see
  • the bishops of Fort Worth and Pittsburgh delay their schismatic votes until after the General Convention of 2009.
Are they willing to make some small sacrifice for the sake of reconciliation? If they do not even wait for our GC vote, then they clearly have not been honest about the real reasons for their actions.

Archbishop Williams asked all the bishops at Lambeth what they would be willing to sacrifice for the sake of the Anglican Communion. Many in TEC have already sacrificed. Let's see one sacrifice from the Global South primates (and this allies) who have been so outspoken over these five years. If they make it, I may be inclined to be generous at GC2009. If they do not, I believe it will prove that nothing – absolutely nothing! – TEC could do will ever be enough. It will prove to me that the "spirit" of GAFCon (now reconstitued as the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans [FOCAs]) is one of darkness and power, not of reconciliation or of the Spirit.

The Episcopal Church took a huge step in 2006, and nobody has joined us in "stepping back." Let us see if anyone else will step back before we make our decisive votes next summer. I will be waiting and watching.

God Bless Scotland!

In an article published in Sunday's Scotsman, The Very Rev. Kelvin Holdsworth (Provost of St Mary's Cathedral, Glasgow) writes of his decision to invite Bishop Robinson to preach and celebrate the Eucharist after Bishop Robinson was refused permission by Archbishop Williams to do so while in England.

We are well reminded that the Episcopal Church in the U.S. has Scotland to thank for our membership in the Anglican Communion. As Holdsworth reminds us all: Scotland "consecrated a bishop for Connecticut when the Church of England would not dirty its hands dealing with the Colonies."

He also writes:

I invited Bishop Robinson to spread good news. Not just the Good News of the Gospel, which inspires all preachers, but the good news that churches are changing. At one time, gay people were expected to pretend they were not doing anything with anyone in order to be acceptable on Sunday. Those days are gone, at least for some of us.

They are certainly gone in the Scottish Episcopal Church, which has many serving gay clergy and in whose churches clergy may offer, if they so choose, prayers of blessing for gay couples.

The character of the Scottish Episcopal Church is more pragmatic than the Church of England. No-one seriously believes there are no gay clergy in the Church of England; their presence has been the subject of snide innuendo for decades. However, their presence has also been witness to the kind of faith often prepared to go places others find most difficult.

Too bad the Archbishop of Canterbury isn't as honest and courageous as the Provost of St. Mary's Cathedral!

Now ... Anyone care to start a tally? How many provinces of the Anglican Communion have gay/lesbian clergy? The Episcopal Church. Canada. Scotland. England. Uganda (as we know from bishop Christopher Senyonjo who attended Lambeth against his primate's orders). What other provinces have ordained gay men and lesbians?

Integrity Reflects on Lambeth

Susan Russell has written and posted Integrity's final statement from Lambeth, in a piece titled, "Not as bad as '98" does not the Kingdom make!" She begins:
In spite of extraordinary pressure to do otherwise, the Archbishop of Canterbury has managed to achieve his stated goal of a Lambeth Conference of reflection rather than resolutions. The long predicted coup d’état that was going to emerge from this Lambeth Conference and vote the Americans and Canadians out of the Anglican Communion failed to materialize. There is much to be grateful for in that.
In a truly memorable quote, she writes:
We challenge them [TEC's bishops] to partner with the House of Deputies to break the cycle of being bullied into bigotry and distracted from mission and ministry by those who would exclude us because of our commitment to the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ. [Emphasis mine]
As I try to find a way forward with our companion diocese in Sudan, I appreciated this part of Integrity's statement:
We pray that our bishops will build on the relationships they have developed here in Canterbury with bishops from around the Communion to enable the witness of the Good News of God in Christ Jesus made present in the lives, relationships and vocations of LGBT Episcopalians to be shared more widely throughout our Anglican family of faith. We stand ready to resource and support that work going forward.
But, she continues in the next paragraph:
We remind our bishops that we cannot live up to our baptismal vows to respect the dignity of every human being if we tell some of them that they are good enough to arrange our flowers, play our organs, direct our choirs, teach our Sunday Schools and lead our worship – but not good enough to have their vocations affirmed and their relationships blessed. There is nothing “generous” about asking the LGBT faithful to bear the burden of unity of the Anglican Communion on their shoulders and there is no theological defense for sacrificing a minority of the baptized to the will of a majority.
But really, you must read the whole statement here. Go do it now.

Thank you, Susan and Integrity, for all you did at Lambeth. I pray you will now have time for rest and refreshment.

What Hope is There?

In the Aftermath of the Lambeth Conference

You all know that Bishop Gene Robinson was in Canterbury through most of the Lambeth Conference.

By the bye, you all know this, but I can't help reiterating it. Conservative bloggers keep saying that +Gene "forced himself" on the Lambeth Conference. You will recall that Archbishop Rowan Williams, while refusing to invite him to participate in the Lambeth Conference, did invite +Gene to be in the "Marketplace" where he could talk with people and even have one interview with the BBC. Bishop Robinson declined to be a freak in the circus sideshow, but did make himself available to talk with anyone who wanted to talk – unlike most of the cocooned bishops in Canterbury. From all I can tell, Gene comported himself with dignity and charm. If you haven't already done so, read his blog, Canterbury Tales from the Fringe. I hear he may delete the blog soon after Lambeth. So read it now.

Several videos of and with Bishop Robinson were posted at The Gene Pool. Today, I am most touched by the interview titled, A Word of Hope for LGBT Episcopalians, posted on Wednesday, July 30. He makes the distinction that he is not optimistic, because optimism relies on human agency, but that he is hopeful in the theological sense (as hope is God's gift to us). Watch it, and draw some solace in these difficult days.

Bishop Gene continued to amaze me with his calm, sweet spirit. Me, I'm spitting nails at the outcome of the Lambeth Conference and at the shabby way he was excluded from the conference and even from meeting with the rest of TEC's bishops. But Gene "keeps the faith." I don't know how he does it. I am in awe.

While you're over at The Gene Pool, go ahead and watch several of the other videos. I especially commend this one, in which clergy and laypeople from New Hampshire talk about their bishop. Even an African priest in New Hampshire, who disagrees theologically, speaks of Gene's positive role as chief pastor of the diocese. Finally, if you have thirty minutes, watch the "Be Not Afraid" sermon Gene preached on July 13 at St. Mary's, Putney. (Yes, it's the infamous one in which the heckler tried to derail the service.) If this one doesn't make you want to rise up and speak for the Gospel of Christ, then you're an ice cube.

Even in my anger and frustration, I keep hearing Bishop Robinson's passionate and gentle voice saying: Be not afraid. Be hopeful. For our hope is in God.

Collect for the Day

Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Proper 13, Year A)
A perfect collect for this last day of the Lambeth Conference.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Oh No! Global South Anglicans See CRITICAL CRISIS

Oh, puhleeze. Enough of the victimhood already! I thought the queers had cornered the market on victimhood, but these boys have surpassed us by a long shot.

Read the Global South Anglicans' long whine. Try to do it without laughing hysterically. Oh, the poor, poor victims!

Note the beginning:

We the undersigned Primates, Archbishops and Bishops and our Episcopal colleagues from all over the Communion are gathered together at the Lambeth Conference 2008 to seek the face of God … " blah-blah-blah …
Well, the fact is, the True Believers of the "Global South" boycotted Lambeth, and the Global South primates threatened severe sanctions on any bishops who might defy the boycott. Credibility, anyone?

I really love their comment about the "current critical crisis in the Communion." They have an ear for alliteration, even if they lack a sense of redundancy or truth. But never mind . . .

And I love that they claim to be "some 200 bishops," but they published this statement without having a single signatory. That's right: Not one single signatory!

And this is precious:
4. We gather at a critical time when the Anglican Communion as a communion of ordered churches is at the probable brink of collapse.
Uhhhh … Am I the only one who noticed that they didn't gather at all …. much less at a "brink of collapse"? They boycotted the Lambeth Conference. Remember? These guys will surely replace Abbot and Costello!

It is rich beyond measure that in point 5 they "urge this Lambeth Conference to give clear endorsement and immediate implementation of the interim proposals of the Windsor Continuation Group proposals" including "the cessation of cross-boundary interventions." Don't these guys have editors?? LOL!

This is a truly precious document. It purports to be the statement of The Global South Anglicans. But an "Editor's Note" at the end says "Signatures are still being gathered at the point of posting and will be released as soon as we are able or if appropriate."

"Able or appropriate"???

Who are these clowns??

I suppose they were desperate to issue their statement before the Lambeth Conference ended ... whether or not anyone had signed it.

Actually, I bet they wrote this before the Lambeth Conference even began. I bet they thought they could get some traction with it, the same way that the Archbishop of Sudan hoped to derail Lambeth with his comments early in the conference. Too bad. They failed.

This is really too ridiculous for words. As some friends are wont to say: You just can't make this stuff up!

Roll on, Global South! With a little more polish, you might be able to make it onto Saturday Night Live.


I'm trying to take in all that I have read today about the Saturday discussions at Lambeth. I fear this post may be "all over the map." But maybe that's ok. For my reactions are all over the map.

As I wrote above, even before the Lambeth conference has ended, the bishops of the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa have written their valediction to Lambeth. They thank many people: Archbishop Rowan and Jane Williams, the Lambeth Palace and Anglican Communion and Consultative Council staff, and the staff of Kent University.

They cry crocodile tears over "those who for the sake of conscience are unable to be with us":
We think of those from Provinces and Dioceses who felt it would not be appropriate to be present on account of the unilateral actions taken by the Episcopal Church in America in breach of the Resolution 1.10 of the last Lambeth Conference now again reaffirmed as still expressing the mind of the church as a whole. We share their sense of pain that such unilateralism has so strained the bonds of our unity as to leave them now still impaired.
In the very next sentence they "pray for a spirit of mutual submission to prevail and for unity to be restored."

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The Episcopal Church has indeed blocked the election of gay/lesbian bishops. And we have exercised restraint, refusing to authorize blessings for the unions of gay men and lesbians. And all the while, the episcopi vagantes have poached parishes and consecrated bishops to serve in North America. The Episcopal Church is one of the few provinces of the Anglican Communion that has truly been "Windsor-compliant." For a fact, the provinces of Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and the Southern Cone have not!

Has anyone called those provinces to account for their flagrant violations of "Windsor" and of the Anglican Communion's ethos? Of course not! We are too terrified of being labelled "colonials."

Please observe the "slow creep" these bishops are introducing even before the conclusion of the Lambeth Conference:
We must all pray for a spirit of mutual submission to prevail and for unity to be restored and we join with our African brothers and sisters in the Conference of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) in unity with the wider Global South movement in support of the Windsor continuation process, the Covenant and the three (retroactive) moratoria comprising a cessation of
  • The blessing of same-sex unions
  • Ordinations to Holy Orders of those living in same-sex relationships
  • Episcopal interventions across diocesan and Provincial borders
There has been no "mutual submission"! It has all been about TEC's submission, humiliation, demonization, and castigation all the time. No other province is being singled out as we are. (Though, sadly, the Anglican Church in Canada does sometimes share in the castigation.)

There's much I could contest. But note especially the second bullet point. The "Reflections" document called for a moratorium on consecration of gay/lesbian bishops. But these guys are already pushing the bar further – trying to enforce a moratorium on all ordinations of gay men and lesbians. And note that they are stressing that this is a "retroactive" moratorium. If our bishops agree with this, they will have to inhibit every gay man and lesbian who has been ordained to the priesthood and diaconate in the Episcopal Church. Are they ready to do so? If they don't protest – and protest loudly – then I don't know how they can came home with any vestige of integrity. I hope our bishops will demand clarification of this point before the "Reflections" document is finalized.

It is not lost on me that the bishops of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa thank virtually everyone – the Lambeth organizers, their friends in the Global South, even the Coptic Orthodox Church – but give not even a nod to the North Americans who have (by all accounts) sought to participate humbly and have ceded much in this Lambeth Conference.

The statement of the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa reminds me: It will never be enough! We can never do enough to placate these radicals. And I believe it is time we stopped trying.

If our bishops come home to the U.S. asking the gay/lesbian community to sacrifice for the sake of these zealots, I believe their pleas should fall upon very deaf ears.

Over 200 bishops in the Global South declined to attend the Lambeth Conference. Some of the zealous primates used threats to bar their bishops from attending.

My friends, the Anglican Communion is already in schism. Most of the radicals have already departed. Even the Southern Cone's Presiding Bishop Gregory "Have It Your Way" Venables gleefully declared that, though he went to Lambeth, he never once took Communion during the Lambeth Conference, due to his oh-so-fragile conscience.

Let us get on with the work of the Gospel, and let us try to build some sort of Anglican Communion that can carry the Gospel forward.

When I read the comments of my bishop and very many other bishops, I hear that they desire to stay in communion with each other while they work out these conflicts. I truly hope they can do so. I am glad they have had deep and honest conversations with one another. From what they write, I hear that many of them have a rekindled desire to be in relationship. I give thanks for that. And I pray that my diocese can find a way to continue in relationship with the Diocese of Lui in southern Sudan.

But, bishops, you cannot achieve that goal by selling the gay men and lesbians down the river. Do not even try bringing that message back here. Bishops, I believe most of you have seen the "fruits of the Spirit" in the gay men and lesbians in your care; but I have not read any such assertion in your blogs. I have read nothing affirming the faith and faithfulness of your gay/lesbian members. Will you remain silent about our lives and witnesses, while the rush for "unity" overwhelms you? I wait to hear.

One day remains at the Lambeth Conference. I pray that one of our bishops will speak for us.

Fool Me Once

You know the old saying: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

Several of TEC's bishops blogging from the Lambeth Conference have been at pains to assure someone [Us? Themselves?] that the "Reflections" document [Warning: It's a 37-page, 577kb PDF] is simply a snapshot or neutral account of what has been expressed in the course of the conference.

For example, Bishop Stephen Lane (Maine) writes today: "For now, there have been no legislative changes. The reflection paper is advisory and the matters raised will need to be addressed by the Synods or Conventions of each Province."

Yeah, right. And the Windsor Report was "just" a report, though many have elevated it to the status of Holy Writ.

So what do we read this evening? Even before Lambeth has adjourned, the bishops of the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa have issued a public statement about "the Lambeth Conference now ended," which accepts "Resolution 1.10 of the last Lambeth Conference now again reaffirmed as still expressing the mind of the church as a whole."

Mark my words. The "Reflections" document, too, will be selectively quoted as Holy Writ by those who will not stop until the Episcopal Church is driven out of the Anglican Communion.

Bank on it. And don't be fooled.

Outside the Box

Today, I've been glued to the blogosphere, looking for reports from this next-to-last day of the Lambeth Conference. Now that I read what has happened, I am deeply troubled. But I wrote this last night, still in a spirit of hope and optimism, intending to give it one final edit before posting it. I post it now, despite my sorrow, followed by a postscript.

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[Hat-tip to The Lead, which reports on blogging bishops, and deep thanks to Ann Fontaine who has been scouring the blogosphere to give us summaries and highlights.]

+Kirk Smith, Bishop of Arizona, reports on an "optional" session held during Lambeth on ideas for staying together. He says it was mostly a re-hash of old positions, but two bishops offered a new idea:

Two of our bishops (Reeves of Camino Reale [sic] and Rivera of Olympia) offered a great plan based on relationship rather than doctrine. They called for a "rule of life" in which we would meet more often, pray for each other, and enter into supportive missionary relationships. But both being women, their proposal did not get very far.

I liked the story they included, even though it failed to get the attention most of of [sic] the old men:

Joan Chittister, in speaking of the nature of a Rule of Life, tells the story of someone who visited a huge sheep station in South Australia. After driving the vast expanse of the ranch, the visitor asked the rancher, "I see you have herds of livestock all over your ranch, but you have no fences. How do you keep your sheep on the ranch? The rancher responded simply, "We have wells."

The moral of the story – let's concentrate on offering things that will draw people to church, instead of putting up barriers to keep us apart.

I'm with Bishop Kirk Smith, and I appreciate this story. Instead of building fences, let us drill deep wells.

The refuseniks have their darlings: Akinola, Orombi, Nzimbi, etc. They keep harping on segregation and fundamentalism. I appreciate this different model offered by Bishops Reeves and Rivera, and I hope it might gain some traction.

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As I said, I wrote that last night. Today, as far as I can see, there is absolutely no will among the majority of bishops at Lambeth truly to think and act "outside the box." It will remain power politics as usual. The demonizing of the Episcopal Church and gay/lesbian people will continue. Episcopi vagantes will continue to be hailed as "orthodox" "men [sic] of conscience."

But still, I wanted to highlight this creative offer from two of our bishops.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Father Jake at Lambeth?

Dave Walker has the official drawing of the official photograph of the Lambeth conference.

Look in the back row, toward the right. Don't you see a familiar face? Or am I missing "Father Jake" so much that I'm hallucinating? In either case, it's a great cartoon.

Bishop Smith Appears

Ever since the Lambeth Conference began, I've been scouring the official photographs (as well as the unofficial ones) for a glimpse of my bishop, Wayne Smith. I know he's a reticent man, so I didn't expect to find him "mugging for the camera" anywhere. At last I found one. He may have been lying low, but he couldn't escape the photographer's lens in the "official Lambeth photo."

Here's the official photograph. (You can find it here in various sizes.)

And here's a cropped close-up from this ACNS photo.

He really is there! There he is!! (The guy with close-cropped white hair and glasses in the center of this photograph.) MY BISHOP!

It's rather silly that I got so excited by finding Bishop Smith in the photograph. I've been praying fervently for him and all the bishops at Lambeth. When I see and read about the schedule, I wonder how any human can survive nearly three weeks of this.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have at times been hard on the bishops. But I love this photo! Bishops of (almost) all sorts and conditions, and my bishop in the midst of it all.

So I send a big smile back to my bishop.

Prayers and best wishes as Bishop Smith and all the other bishops move into the last couple of days of the Lambeth Conference.

Quote of the Day

From Susan Russell, writing in the Guardian about the Windsor Continuation Group's demand for a moratorium (prospective and retrospective) on the ordination of gay/lesbian people and on the blessing of gay/lesbian covenants:

The Windsor Continuation Group has presented the bishops with nothing less than a "Sophie's choice" – telling them to choose between walking with brother and sister Anglicans who disagree with them on issues of human sexuality or walking with their brother and sister Anglicans who happen to be gay or lesbian.

It is time for the bishops to step up and say that gay and lesbian Anglicans are not for sale as bargaining chips in this game of global church politics – that the sacrifice of their lives and vocations in this church is too high a price to pay for institutional unity.

For at the end of the day, there is an ontological difference between feeling excluded because you're disagreed with and being excluded because of who you are.


Lambeth Coverage Reveals Missing Link

Scientists have long sought the "missing link" in the evolutionary leap between primates and humans. Lambeth journalists, bloggers, and hangers-on seem to have discovered it on the campus of the University of Kent, and Susan Russell captured the historic moment in this photo:

And who or what is hidden in the center of this cluster?

None other than Quincy's bishop, Keith Ackerman, viewed here at another time and another place.

Photo courtesy Diocese of Quincy

I doubt whether he's wearing quite that much lace during his time with the avowed heterosexual bishops in Canterbury.

Check out Susan's blog for the story and context. And don't forget what Jim Naughton has written about the press coverage.

Thanks, Susan, for perhaps the best photo yet from the Lambeth Conference!