Monday, April 20, 2009

Smoke Signal

I've received a few messages this evening, expressing concern about my silence on the blog and on Facebook. Let me assure you I'm essentially o.k.

I haven't posted here or on FB for several days. I've missed keeping up with folks, but it didn't occur to me that anyone would miss me or wonder.

I had a miserable cold/flu/something for the past week-10 days, and no extra energy. Mostly I just worked, came home, slept. ... As fate would have it, I got to feeling better Saturday, when I worked with our parish to pack a couple of tons of medical supplies to send to southern Sudan, and I did something awful to my knee. Wrenched it or something. So now I'm in a state of gimpiness, where walking feels like a huge challenge. I'm again feeling unable to do anything but the basics. Every step I take feels excrutiating.

I certainly didn't mean to cause concern. I'm just hunkering-down and trying to mend.

You are most kind to notice and ask. Thanks! and please know I'll be ok. I'll be in touch again when I have energy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Political Light Side

I've spent this evening preparing to "hit the road again." In the background I've had Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. So I'll leave you for now with this lovely cartoon.

republican congressmen john boehner and eric cantor
see more Political Pictures

Monday, April 13, 2009

Turn About

In a thread below, Elizabeth Kaeton offered a link and challenged me to post it. I am happy to do so. At the 'Inky-Dinky' Diocese, she offers her reflections on the consent process of Bishop-Elect Forrester.

I disagree with a very few of Elizabeth's arguments, but I am truly glad that we on the "left" are not afraid of this kind of discussion.

Good on you, Elizabeth!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Anglican Covenant Again

More on the Ridley Cambridge Draft

I wrote a bit on Wednesday when the latest draft of the Anglican Covenant was released. When the Ridley Cambridge draft was released this week, many of the liberals and progressives were determined to give it a fair and sympathetic reading. Revelations from Ephraim Radner have sucked the air out of the room for many of us, leading me to view the current draft with a huge dose of suspicion.

Episcopal Café's The Lead has posted some very fine further analysis.

After the covenant group published the latest draft of the covenant, Jim Naughton noticed Ephraim Radner commenting at TitusOneNine. (You will recall that Radner is a member of the covenant drafting group, a former board member of the IRD, and an associate of the Anglican Communion Institute which Don Armstrong financially supported.) In his comments, Radner makes it clear that the covenant intentionally did not define "church" and acknowledges the draft was left vague so that other "churches" -- not just Anglican provinces [a.k.a. national/regional churches], but groups like ACNA/GAFCON, individual dioceses, or even the Southern Baptists -- could sign on to the covenant and seek recognition from the Anglican Communion. Jim summarizes the issues here, and there is much in the comments that is worth reading.

That revelation was shocking, to say the least. As a consequence, Jim Naughton articulates the misgivings many of his have when he pointedly asked Ephraim Radner:
So just so I am understanding this correctly:
a) the word Church does have a special meaning in the Ridley Cambridge draft that is not explained in the text, and is therefore potentially unknown to most of those who have received it;
b) you (and so far, only you) have been authorized to tell us this special meaning;
c) you thought the best place to do that was in a conversation with schismatic leader Stephen Noll and on the blog Titus 1:9.
d) those of us familiar with your long campaign to create a church within a church for the so-called Windsor Bishops (which almost succeeded at Dar es Salaam) are not supposed to have any concerns that given a, b and c, you aren't up to the same thing here?
I think that is a lot to ask. Doesn't it concern you at all that those of us who might be persuaded to support this thing are alienated by this kind of maneuvering?
Jim's questions are exactly to the point.

The covenant makes much ado about the four "instruments of unity" or "instruments of communion." In the comments on my earlier blogpost, Ann Fontaine asks the germaine question: Who has voted to adopt the 4IU? Who has endowed with them with magisterial power? Of course, the answer is that no one has. It was a fiction first cooked up by Ephraim Radner and other opponents of TEC, and -- because no one has challenged it -- it has become enshrined in some people's sense of the structure of the Anglican Communion. At the Café, Jim Naughton provides background on how the mythology of the 4IU came to be. It's important background reading.

Mark Harris also has a thoughtful piece. He sees section 4.1.5 of the draft covenant as "the camel's nose." That section says:
It shall be open to other Churches to adopt the Covenant. Adoption of this Covenant does not bring any right of recognition by, or membership of, the Instruments of Communion. Such recognition and membership are dependent on the satisfaction of those conditions set out by each of the Instruments. However, adoption of the Covenant by a Church may be accompanied by a formal request to the Instruments for recognition and membership to be acted upon according to each Instrument's procedures.
Radner has made it clear that "Church" can mean anything from a denomination to an individual diocese (or maybe even a parish) to what we think of as a "church" in the Anglican Communion. Any one of these "churches" can appeal to any one of the purported 4IU for admittance. Is this not a recipe for chaos?

Mark writes:

The question becomes serious if, say, The Episcopal Church were to be at some point held at a distance on the basis of a decision by the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and ACC recommending to the "Instruments of Communion" that they do so. Then that same Joint Standing Committee might recommend that the petition from a new Church in the area be received positively.

The new draft is clear: the actions of the Joint Standing Committee, the Instruments of Communion, the Primates or even the ACC itself have no force within any Church member of the Anglican Communion. However, their recommendations would have considerable force in the Communion itself. So they could not call the Episcopal Church to account and force it to do something. But it could decide that TEC was no longer part of this or that Anglican Communion "instrument."

The notion that the Joint Standing Committee or any other agent of the Communion could entertain a petition from ACNA to join one or the other groups with in the Anglican Communion, when ACNA exists precisely because it believes that TEC is not "orthodox" is troublesome.

The draft is now in its final form, it appears. Rather than change it by additional revision, it would seem to me that the ACC and the Joint Standing Committee might provide statements of clarification - that "church" means "national or regional church" or "Province," and that the Communion will not recognize two churches who are not in full communion and covenant with one another in the same geographical jurisdiction.

There will be more such clarifications needed. I don't think this stops the Covenant. It means that we need to be clear as to what things mean and why.
I believed from the start that Ephraim Radner would not work to create a covenant that would hold the Anglican Communion together, including TEC. And Archbishop Gomez was never an honest and open broker -- as he made clear when he participated in the consecration in Uganda of two American white guys to set up "missionary dioceses" in the U.S.

The more I learn, the more I believe the Covenant process is rotten to the core.

This latest draft of the Covenant is going to the Anglican Consultative Counsel, which is meeting the first half of May in Jamaica. For some reason, the ACC won't be allowed to amend it, but only to vote it "up" or "down." If this crazy covenant is to be stopped, it needs to be stopped in Jamaica next month.

Many thoughtful people are writing about the Covenant, and I'm sure more will write after Easter. For good, solid journalism and analysis, I encourage you to keep checking Episcopal Café, Thinking Anglicans, and Preludium.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Forrester Again

I came home tonight to find that many thoughtful comments have been left on my initial blog about Bishop-Elect Kevin Thew Forrester. I intended this to be a comment under that post, but it has become so long that I’m posting it separately.

Since I went to bed last night, you all have asked some hard questions and offered many insightful observations. I’ll try to address some of them here.

Between this blog and MadPriest’s today, there has been much more discussion – some calm and some pretty heated – about this matter. I tried to be irenic in my statement, and I hope we can all try to recognize Christ in one another, recognize Christ in Bishop-Elect Forrester, and continue this discussion in a spirit of peace and charity.

I recognize I am differing from some of my friends, and that grieves me. But I hope the friendships can continue. I believe we are all acting and speaking in good faith. I believe we are seeking the mind of Christ in this matter. I recognize we may come to different conclusions. I believe that “many heads are better than one,” so I welcome this discussion. I believe we can continue to be friends even when we disagree. We’ve all learned the MadPriest mantra: OCICBW. I am quite aware that Of Course I Could Be Wrong. No doubt about that!

Why did I post my essay Tuesday? It was two-fold. I believe the right-wing bloggers have it all wrong: Father Forrester isn’t what they like to call the “Buddhist Bishop,” nor do I believe the election process used in Northern Michigan was flawed, much less non-canonical. But I perceived that few liberal bloggers like myself were willing to engage the deeper issues of Father Forrester's theology and Christology. When I wrote, there was a great silence from liberal bloggers. A grand total of three bishops had expressed their misgivings about Bishop-Elect Forrester’s theology. I believed then – as I believe now – that it was important for some liberal lay people to express their questions, and I offered mine. It may be that I am wholly wrong. But we’ve never hesitated to share our thoughts, and so I shared mine.

While I hope to have the “mind of Christ” dwell more and more deeply and fully in me, I do not believe I have a direct line to God. Maybe Father Forrester is exactly what the church needs in a bishop at this time. Or maybe my misgivings are correct. I tried to express my thoughts humbly on this question in my earlier post, but let me be clear in this one. I do not know! My intention was to give some space to liberals and progressives to air their concerns, as I have aired mine.

Now I’m going to address some of the comments that have been offered in my post and elsewhere.

Over at MadPriest’s, David Dah • veed said that bloggers like me have “ruined someone's chances of a career as a bishop.” I don’t see the church as a hierarchy through which ones moves up from one ladder-rung to another. I see vocations as a calling, not steps up a corporate ladder. I believe some are called to the diaconate or priesthood, just as some are called to the ministry of the laity or to religious order. Some few are called to the episcopate. So I don’t much like the suggestion I’ve read in some parts of the blogosphere that we’re thwarting Father Forrester’s move up the ecclesial ladder. I think we’re engaging in some discernment. And I hope we are doing it prayerfully and care-fully.

Priscilla cuts to the chase when she asks: "If Fr. Forrester is unfit to be a bishop due to his unorthodox theology, why should he be allowed to remain in holy orders at all?" That is a difficult question, and one I cannot answer. I believe there may be priests in our church whose vocation is to push against the edges. I know and love some of them. I'm not always fond of their pushing the boundaries, but I am glad we have them in this church. ... But being a priest is one thing, and being a bishop is another.

I am much taken by the comment Terry Martin offered at MadPriest’s site. Terry wrote:

The idea that the entire Church...or for that matter the entire Communion...will function as a second search committee is absurd, imo. If the diocese elected him, and the process was canonically correct, then consents should be given.
His comment gives me pause. In all humility, I do ask myself, “Who am I to second-guess the people of Northern Michigan?”
It may be that we are setting a very dangerous precedent here, in engaging all the people of TEC to consider the qualifications and “fitness” of a bishop-elect.
I recall that I and many others did exactly the same thing when the Diocese of South Carolina elected Mark Lawrence. I was one of many who questioned his ability to adhere to the discipline of this church. (I seem to recall that Father Jake asked similar questions at the time.) I did not like his “politics,” and I had many questions about the process the diocese used. It seemed designed to winnow-out most candidates. At the time, I did not believe his claim that he would conform to “the discipline of this church.” I thought he was hell-bent on leading his diocese into some other ecclesial body.
Many of us weighed-in with our opinions and our doubts. None of my liberal colleagues called for a halt to those questions then.
Mark Lawrence responded quite publicly, and finally put most of the doubts to rest. In the fullness of time, his election was confirmed and we made him a bishop in this church.
So far, my doubts have proven to be ill-founded. It appears I was dead wrong.
I deeply trust the mind of our church. I raise questions about Bishop-Elect Forrester, just as I did about (then) Bishop-Elect Lawrence.
Terry raises an important question: In an age where we can read and evaluate a person’s sermons, liturgies, etc., does it behoove us to behave like a “second search committee”? Exactly what is the role of those who must vote consents, when the larger church has access to all his/her writings?
I would agree with Father Terry’s implication that TEC needs to clarify the consent process. Maybe I am off-base. If the duty of the bishops and Standing Committees is simply to affirm that the canons were followed, then I've surely overstepped.

But what if the bishops and Standing Committees have a greater role? Then they should be asking the questions I am asking. And they should be questioning Bishop-Elect Forrester more closely.

As Father Terry suggested, perhaps we need to be more explicit about the role of the bishops and Standing Committees when consents are requested.

Mind you, if a new "rule" is adopted, it will apply to all episcopal elections -- whether to Bishop Robinson's, Bishop Lawrence's, or Bishop-Elect Forrester's.

I echo the comment Christopher offered:
I am troubled that it is a problem for bishops, as well as the entire Church, to raise doctrinal questions when an episcopal candidate is presented who does not seem to adequately articulate the faith once delivered. And indeed, articulates an understanding that seems at odds with our core to the point of willingly and willfully changing our central rites (Baptism and Eucharist). It is the responsibility of our bishops to raise these questions. And it is the responsibility of every Episcopalian, ordained and lay alike, to do the same.

I wonder why people in the Diocese of Northern Michigan didn’t raise the questions about his theology and his conformity to the BCP during the election process.
Earlier, I raised the point that the diocese has been without episcopal oversight since Jim Kelsey’s tragic death. Since that time, there has been no bishop to approve Father Forrester’s liturgies nor to guide and counsel him. Yes, I know the canons state that the Standing Committee acts as the ecclesiastical authority in the absence of the bishop. But has the Standing Committee seen the liturgies Father Forrester celebrated? Have they felt qualified to give their assent or say “no”? Did they approve them? I do not know.
I did not note the dates when Father Forrester’s materials were written and when they were taken offline. So I don’t know whether he exercised more independence since Bishop Kelsey’s death.

I am grateful for Christopher’s comment: “Simply because Lisa or I or others may be considered on the left with regard to same-sex unions or the ordination of women, does not necessarily make us so on Creed or Prayer Book.”
It seems that many people want us all to support Bishop-Elect Forrester’s consent simply because we are on the same side of the aisle. I can’t do that without more evidence that Fr. Forrester adheres to the same basic, foundational creeds that TEC does.

Of course, it’s not my opinion that matters. It’s the bishops and Standing Committees. And I do hope they are talking with him. I hope they are asking him the same sort of questions that Mark Harris suggested back on March 4:

Will he support the expectations of the BCP and the Constitution and Canons that limit the variations in the services of the church to those allowed by the BCP itself, or by act of General Convention, or by special permission of the bishop?

What were the circumstances, if any, under which he as a priest used eucharistic prayers not included in the above?

What would he do as bishop if one of the clergy of the diocese were to use orders of service that omitted, or provided alternate versions of the creeds? If one of the clergy used an unauthorized eucharistic prayer at the Sunday Eucharist?

Does his use of alternative eucharistic prayers or creedal statements in any way arise from reservations about the legitimacy of the words of the BCP? If so, can he indicate why he ought to be entrusted with the care for the common worship of the people of an Episcopal Church diocese?

I hope and trust that our process of discernment will lead to a right judgment. I thank God that I am not one of the bishops or Standing Committee members who has to cast this vote, for I don’t have a sufficient level of certainty.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Anglican Covenant, Round 3

Today the Anglican Communion Office released the third draft of the Anglican Covenant. [Note: At the bottom of that page, you'll need to scroll from page 1 (the introduction) to page 2 (the text of the covenant draft) to page 3 (which includes a list of the group members and links to the provinces' responses to the previous draft).]

Well ... I think I've already buried the lede.

This one is named the Ridley-Cambridge Covenant, because it was written during a meeting at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. The previous version was the St. Andrew's draft, because they all played golf instead of engaging in ecclesial dialogue. [Yeah, that's a joke.]

So far, a couple of my favorite blogs have offered some news and reflections about it:

Episcopal Café's The Lead has a story here. And several people are posting thoughtful comments.
Thinking Anglicans has it here.

More will surely weigh in soon, and I'll try to link to them.

I like MadPriest's simple analysis:
There is nothing controversial or limiting about most of it and this fact, of course, makes it completely unnecessary as those of us, no longer subject to the law, have said all along.

However, there is just one sentence, right towards the end of the lengthy document, that will change our lives forever. Basically it takes the church away from the people of the church and gives it to something called "The Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and of the Primates' Meeting." From now on this piece of primate controlled beurocracy [sic] will be our pope.

"If a Church refuses to defer a controversial action, the Joint Standing Committee may recommend to any Instrument of Communion relational consequences which specify a provisional limitation of participation in, or suspension from, that Instrument until the completion of the process set out below."

But does the covenant give us an option if we do not want to be told what to think, by this new dictator, on all matters that it deems controversial?

Of course, it does.

Evidently, we can lump it.

MadPriest nails it. The Anglican Communion is being asked to give short shrift to the creeds, the Quadrilateral, our historic ties to scripture, reason, and tradition ... and to bow down before the golden calf of the Anglican Covenant.

I am reminded of the quotation attributed to Archbishop Desmond Tutu. When asked what defines the Anglican Communion, it is reported that he said: "We meet."

I am mindful of Archbishop Akinola who is again supporting draconian legislation that targets gay men and lesbians in Nigeria and may have abetted the slaughter of Muslims in Nigeria. I am mindful of Bishop Kunonga in Rwanda, who is complicit in genocide with Mugabe's government. I am mindful of Archbishop Gomez, Chair of the covenant drafting group, who presides over Jamaica, which the U.S. State Department says has a terrifying record of hate crimes against LGBTs. No doubt, these men will all sign onto the covenant, claiming they are holding fast to the "faith once delivered to the saints." After all, the authors of the covenant have no problem with genocide; they simply hates queers.

Is there any real provision in the covenant under which we can say to them: You are failing to uphold the Word of God? See Mark Harris' reflections about whether a basic support for human rights might be a worthy prerequisite to any covenant.

Perhaps the Episcopal Church (U.S.) and some others will decline to sign on this bit of pottage.

The Anglican covenant as now conceived by the Windsor Continuation Group and the Ridley Cambridge drafters seems merely designed to shun those provinces that recognize LGBTs as members of the faith community. They're fine with genocide; they just don't want the queers to get uppity. Otherwise, why all the hullabaloo?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Bishop-Elect Forrester

It's time to "out" myself regarding the candidacy of Father Kevin Thew Forrester to be the next bishop of Northern Michigan.

Several folks in the rightwing-nutosphere have tried to bash Father Forrester's connection with Buddhism. I have absolutely no problem with Forrester's practice of Buddhist meditation. Many reasonable, spiritual people (including Mark Harris) have recognized that Buddhist meditation can help us in our spiritual discipline. Even the venerable Thomas Merton employed Buddhist meditation. Father Thomas Keating's "centering prayer" derives from the same tradition, and I find it a marvelous way to sit quietly in the presence of God. Faithful Christians have employed a great many methods of prayer and meditation. So this is a non-starter.

Nor do I have a problem with the selection process in Northern Michigan. I'm not sure I like it. It was certainly "novel." I've heard from some people who have challenged the process. But I'm willing to give dioceses latitude in how they shape their processes. You can find some background on the process here from ENS.

My problem comes from reading Fr. Forrester's sermons and liturgies. I believe he has wandered far from what I can recognize as Christianity. He systematically omits the Nicene Creed from his liturgies. He plays fast and loose with our Prayer Book language, inventing his own liturgies. I do not recognize the "Eucharists" he celebrates. When I read the baptismal liturgy he crafted, it made me want to run shrieking from the room. I can't even see this man being a priest in good standing, much less a bishop in our church.

I know there has been a vacancy in the episcopate in Northern Michigan since Jim Kelsey's tragic death. I wonder if Father Forrester might have suffered from the lack of a bishop and chief pastor during these very long months.

I believe the bishops and Standing Committees should withhold consent to Father Forrester's election. I have expressed my views to my bishop and will shortly send this link to our Standing Committee ... in case they are interested. I do hope we Episcopalians/Anglicans can continue to inhabit "the roomiest church in all christendom." But I don't see evidence that Father Forrester lives in that same room.

I expect this will alienate many of my liberal/progressive friends -- perhaps including some of you. But it's where I am, and I don't want to linger in this closet any longer.

I can't tell you how much it grieves me to come down on the same "side" as the reactionary pit-bulls like StandFirm and other right-wing nuts on this matter.

If we are to insist that our clergy conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of this church, then I believe we have to apply the same standard across the board. I believe we have to use the same measure with Father Forrester as we did with former bishops Duncan, Iker, and Schofield and other schismatics in the priesthood. The latter departed from the discipline of TEC. It appears to me that Father Forrester has departed from the doctrine and worship of TEC.

This gives me no pleasure. The people of Northern Michigan have suffered and struggled since Bishop Kelsey's death, and I regret that a "no" decision may cause them still further struggles. But I believe a "no" vote will be the correct decision in this matter and the correct decision for the Episcopal Church.

Postscript: I have no idea how the bishops and Standing Committees will finally vote on Father Forrester's consent. But I do observe that some progressive/liberal and gay-friendly bishops have announced they are voting "no" to Forrester's consecration. This gives the lie to the myth that TEC is an "anything-goes" church. Several bishops have seen a line beyond which they are not willing to go. They include bishops Briedenthal (Southern Ohio), Gulick (Kentucky), and Marshall (Bethlehem).

I may update this post if other bishops and Standing Committees make their decisions public.


Addenda (8 April):

I have made a few minor revisions in this essay. The changes are in tone, not substance. The exchange of comments with JCF last night makes me realize I might need to say more "it seems to me" than "I believe" statements, for I recognize that I may be completely wrong. I trust our bishops and Standing Committees to engage the question thoughtfully and prayerfully.

One of the many fine thinkers and bloggers around the Episcopal Church these days is Mark Harris. He has been following the Forrester+ story since the election was announced on February 21st. If you click here, you can see all the pieces he has written. Mark doesn't even own tar and feathers; I gather he hasn't made up his mind about Forrester, but he's gathering information and asking question, and I think that's all to the good.

Of course, our friends (including Ann!) at Episcopal Café continue to do a fine job of keeping us up-to-date on this episcopal election, as well as all other things Episcopal and Anglican. Clicking on this link will give you a Google search of their writings on Father Forrester.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Further Reflections

... on Lee's life and death

Go visit Tim at Straight-Friendly. He's also another person whose path crossed Lee's, and he offers a moving reflection here. I had never seen his blog, 'til I saw today he had linked to one of my posts on Lee Davenport. From his blogroll, it appears that few of my readers know about it either. He's a gay Christian, reaching out to the many LGBTs who have been wounded and alienated by the church and its "Christians." I commend it to you. I sense he's a bit more Protestant and evangelical than I, but he's doing good ministry over there.

Today I received a greeting card from Lee in the mail. [Yes, the postal mail. Y'all remember that, right? It's the system that came just after the Pony Express.] Kim, who is cleaning out Lee's house, found it last week. Lee had sealed the envelope, applied the postage ... but hadn't mailed it. Kim contacted me to ask if I wanted to receive it. Of course I did! In the past few days, I've been alternately dreading and anticipating receipt of this card. So I opened it with misgivings. But it's a cheerful, affirming card -- affirming of us both. On the bottom, he wrote, "We are both fab!" and he signed it, "Love, Lee."

This. Just. Won't. Go. Away.

AAC Slip is Showing

[6 April note: I cranked out the initial post fairly quickly. I have made significant edits, revisions, and additions below.]

Doug LeBlanc, who persists in considering himself a journalist, has penned a delicious piece about the American Anglican Council (AAC), the North American schismatics, and their relationship to the Anglican Communion. [Edit/Addendum on 6 April: In the comments below, Jeffri Harre made me realize I confused the journalist Doug LeBlanc with the lackey George Conger. I offer my apologies to Mr. LeBlanc, who is indeed a credible journalist. In fact, the fact that this unflattering article was written by Mr. LeBlanc and published in TLC raises many questions about what's going on. See comments below, with thanks to Jeffri and to Elizabeth Kaeton.]

You'll remember the AAC. They're a nearly-wholly-owned subsidiary of the IRD, which is committed to making our nation over in its dominionist/theocratic image. [If you're just now plugging in, check Jim Naughton's "Follow the Money" for the background on these sleazy organizations.]

LeBlanc's article is here, in The Living Church. It's based on comments made by the Rev. J. Philip Ashey, the AAC’s chief operating officer and chaplain, in a brief speech in the suburbs of Richmond, Va. He spoke in Richmond, and had a crowd of about 70 people present.

Let's start by acknowledging that The Living Church has ceased entirely to be a journalistic publication. It is the yang to ENS's yin. Nothing but propaganda.

Here are some items of particular note in LeBlanc's article.

Catch this:
Fr. Ashey compared the AAC to the Special Forces of the U.S. military.
“Like Special Forces, we go behind the scenes and we blow up things,” he said, adding quickly that what the AAC blows up is principalities and powers.
Are you believing this? He compares the AAC to U.S. covert operatives and brags that the AAC enjoys blowing up things. Is the AAC remotely connected to anything we would recognize as a church?? Is Father Ashey proud that the AAC's mission is to blow up things?

This reminds me of Father Mark's sad commentary at Preludium. and Elizabeth Kaeton's self-professed "rant" at Telling Secrets. The violent language from "the right" is indeed disturbing.

LeBlanc begins his story with this lead:
The Anglican Church in North America is unlikely to be recognized by the See of Canterbury, a leader of the American Anglican Council said on April 1.
“We do not believe that Canterbury will recognize us, at least while the current archbishop is still in office,” said the Rev. J. Philip Ashey, the AAC’s chief operating officer and chaplain, in a brief speech in the suburbs of Richmond, Va.
That's a leading figure of the schismatics acknowledging that Canterbury likely will not recognize the North American schismatics as legitimate members of the Anglican Communion. Bye-bye, FOCAs. Bye-bye, GAFCON. Bye-bye, Really Truly Pure Anglicans in North America. I am astonished that a leader of the schismatics is already acknowledging that their movement likely will fail to be recognized by the leader of the Anglican Communion.

It gets worse for them:
Asked during a discussion period about the AAC’s relationship to Anglican Communion Partners, Fr. Ashey said the AAC had proposed collaboration more than once.
“We have been politely turned down,” he said. “We are two very different organizations.”
Turned down. Turned down flat. [6 April addition: As far as I can tell, the "Anglican Communion Partners" are the group previously called "the Camp Allen bishops." They are the bishops who have determined to remain within the Episcopal Church, though they support the Windsor Report and the move to develop an Anglican Covenant. They're on the conservative side of the Episcopal Church, but they have now flatly rejected the AAC's offer of support. Does that not speak volumes?]

And this is rich:

Fr. Ashey suggested that Canterbury’s recognition will be less important as various provinces in the Global South recognize the ACNA. He said representatives from Kenya, Rwanda, the Southern Cone of South America, and Uganda are expected to attend a provincial assembly in Texas in June . . . .
Yeah, it doesn't matter that the Archbishop of Canterbury withholds recognition, as long as a few African primates and one English guy in a tiny Latin American province gives you their blessing. LOL!

Finally, catch this:
Fr. Ashey said he was part of a panel of bishops and lawyers who have drafted canons for the ACNA, which plans to release the proposed canons within a few weeks. He said the canons will make clear that all property belongs to congregations rather than dioceses; that bishops will be nominated by dioceses on a slate of three and chosen by a College of Bishops; and that all bishops must warn each other when a transferring priest has engaged in misconduct.
Look again. Among the Really Truly Pure Anglicans in North America, bishops will be chosen by bishops. No clergy or lay people will be involved in the discernment process for the episcopacy. I wonder how this will play among the schismatics in North America.

There have been other signs, but this is the clearest one yet that the schismatics are floating off into oblivion -- just like all the splinter groups before them.

H/t to Ann for giving me a heads-up on this story.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Funeral outside of Time and Space

Friday night I joined about 40 people from across the country (and one in France) in an online funeral for Lee. I haven't yet organized my reflections on that experience, but Ann Fontaine has written a fine story about it at the Episcopal Café. Ann writes:

Most of us only knew him through his insightful and sometimes humorous comments on our blogs, on Facebook and other places in the 'net. We felt somewhat adrift with our grief as we could not go to where his service was being held in Emmanuel Church, Bristol, Virginia.
Deacon Larry Shell of Northern Michigan organized an online service for us. Using his blog and Facebook we followed the Burial Office of the Book of Common Prayer, listened to music chosen for the occasion, said prayers together in our many distant homes, and heard a sermon that had been given by The Rev Mark Frazier at his service in Bristol.
Some would probably say - it can't work - but it did and we were able to be together virtually when we could not be present in Virginia.
Ann's article provides links to the online chapel, music, readings, and sermon, as well as links to several bloggers' essays. Be sure to check out Kirkepiscatoid's reflections here. You can also hear Father Frazier's sermon here.

Sometimes, I worry that this Internet thing leads to too much depersonalization. But this was a time when I saw again how it can be a powerful tool for community. I certainly felt I was "with" my online friends in some way that was real though not tangible. I had some sense that we were indeed the mystical body of Christ. And isn't that what the church is?

Saturday I woke feeling that I have turned a corner in my grief. I have found a level of peace about Lee that I did not have before. And surely that is part of what good liturgy does; it moves us to a different place.

I give thanks to Larry for conceiving the service and making it happen, to those who provided the readings and music, and to my friends who joined me in the service.

Thanks to Shelley ("Pseudopiskie") for the photo of the columbarium at Emmanuel in Bristol, where Lee's ashes were placed. She traveled all the way from northwestern Pennsylvania to be present for Lee's funeral. Look for stories and photos on her blog.

Friday, April 03, 2009


A photo montage tribute to Lee, with perhaps my favorite song in the world. View it here

or go to YouTube.

As the song says:
You're in the arms of the angels.
May you find some comfort here.