Sunday, December 17, 2006

Analyzing the Snowball

This last week we witnessed the following communications.

1. The Anglican Bishops in Tanzania announced on December 11 that they remained in "impaired" communion with the Episcopal Church, but remained in communion with a long list of right-wing American Episcopalians who they say are "are faithful to Biblical Christianity and authority of Scripture." They declared that henceforth they will no longer seek material aid from those in the American church who condone homosexual acts, and said the American church had failed to repent of its actions in the case of the consecration of Gene Robinson Church, and would boycott meetings at which our new Presiding Bishop, the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, was in attendance

2. The Archbishop of Uganda on December 14 announced, among other things, that his church will no longer seek or accept money from the Episcopal Church, believes our Presiding Bishop has denied Scripture (and will thus not meet in assemblies where she is present, asking instead that another bishop be sent), reaffirmed the break in Communion with the American Church, recognizes all the American secessionist bodies (especially those who now have ties with the church in Uganda), suggested the bishops in Uganda may not participate in a Lambeth conference, and warned his bishops "to guard the Church of Uganda from falling sick with the sickness that is coming from America" . . . that is, those matters consequential to the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson.

3. The right-wing English group Forum on December 14 presented its proposal for a Covenant for the Church of England in which it spoke of a "faithful biblical orthodoxy,"called for disassociation from those who in the eyes of the report act "contrary to the clear teaching of Scriptures" (here gender sex and marriage are mentioned), and called for alternative Episcopal oversight. The report spoke of "two churches: the one submitting to God’s revelation, Gospel-focused, Christ-centered, cross-shaped and Spirit-empowered; the other holding a progressive view of revelation, giving priority to human reason over Scripture, shaped primarily by western secular culture..."

4. Canon David Anderson of the American Anglican Council in a letter of December 12, replete with military language and images of "battle," "war," "enemy," "conflict," "skirmish," and "soldiers," reiterates the right-wing mantra that the Episcopal Church has "distorted views of the Christian faith." He asserts that his organization had successfully proved the Episcopal Church "guilty" and again stated the objective of forming a parallel jurisdiction in America which will inherit the mantle of the true Anglican church in the United States.

What are we to say to this barrage of ill-formed, hostile, preposterous and yet by now tiresome attacks on our church -- not to mention the cunning and sly organizing effort to disrupt and harm our church?

What are we to make of this incessant monomania .in which "biblical authority" is routinely trotted out with neither a definition nor a designated arbiter, and in which, in the name of Christ, vitriol is spewed and a single-minded agenda of condemnation and exclusion is upheld?

What goes on here?

For one thing, the older Anglican tradition of respect has gone. In its place is accusation, leading to denunciation on the basis of absolutist claims which themselves are never examined. Never mind that our church has consistently shown our allegiance to Scripture and the historical creeds. Never mind -- because in this panic over homosexuality, all reason is adjured and high and volatile passion emplaced.

There is another thread as well. It is the contempt for a church which in its own makeup mirrors something of the plurality of the nation, in which dialogue - even within difference - is honored, in which some (but not all) secular modes are treated with respect. It is no accident that many of our adversaries use a rhetoric dotted with anti-Western slogans or with flagrant attacks on secularism. The bishop-elect of South Carolina himself criticized the "ethos of democracy" in the church.

What we do see lurking behind these infamous attacks is a wholesale rejection of modernity, its messiness, its permissiveness (against which our adversaries are guaranteed the right to say no), its unwillingness to sign on one truth, its tolerance of differences. Many of us have learned to live in this climate and without selling out remain faithful to the gospel. But for our adversaries this unstable climate has brought out a different response. They naturally gravitate to older forms - those dealing with one faith, one church, one rule, with order and hierarchy. And to get this they are not hesitant to use every lever of power they can come across. Hence the manifest impatience in their recent statements in which seek to pre-empt the process set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury - the creation of an Anglican Covenant - to try to adjudicate our present difficulties. They prefer by bluster or intimidation some shortcut, in which they will control the Anglican Communion - along lines we shudder to contemplate.

Who are these people who will not talk with us, who attack us incessantly and who envision a pure church of order and discipline (where according to Canon Anderson the guilty are punished)? Who then are these people? We have a descriptive phrase, harsh indeed, but by now it fits. These are ecclesiastical fascists.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lisa, how can you write "the older Anglican tradition of respect has gone" and then call all those who disagree with you "ecclesiastical fascists?"

12/18/2006 1:28 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

You raise an interesting, albeit anonymous question, "Anonymous."

First, let me tell you that I do not write these pieces. I am the blogmaster. Members of our Steering Committee and other supporters write them; I simply edit them, convert them into HTML, and mount them on the blog.

This was not one that I wrote.

But I take your question seriously.

Personally, I think these people have behaved in ways that are so very, very far beyond the bounds of our Anglican polity that the name "ecclesiacal fascists" does indeed fit them quite well.

But I'll ask others in our Steering Comnmittee to weigh-in here too.

12/18/2006 9:53 PM  
Blogger Thomas B. Woodward said...

I understand your concern with the term "ecclesiastical fascists." However, if you agree at all with what Bill Coats has written, the term is descriptive. The behavior is what is derogatory, not the description.

IF Bill is wrong in his analysis, then so is the term. I, for one, am tired of being called a heretic, an apostate, an enemy of the Gospel of Christ in writing and in public -- especially after 43 years of fairly dedicated service to Jesus Christ in his church. I believe what I and other people have been subjected to is a form of fascism.
We do try at Episcopal Majority to be careful with our language. Given the context of this article, the phrase, at least to me, seemed appropriate.
Tom Woodward
Board Member of The Episcopal Majority

12/18/2006 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Other examples of "ill-formed, hostile and preposterous attacks" and "the older Anglican tradition of respect has gone" include:
- The indictment of Bishop Schofield.
- Revoking of the ordinations of priests in Florida and elsewhere.
- Lawsuits in Los Angeles and elsewhere.

12/18/2006 10:20 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Sorry, Anonymous, but I am clueless as to what you're complaining about here.

I suspect you are complaining about my personal blog entry re: Bishop Schofield being a self-professed "celibate homosexual." TEM never published that comment. Go to my personal blog if you want to argue that one, and try to convince me that he is not a shame-filled, self-loathing homosexual. But that was my personal view, not the view of TEM. We never raised that issue on The Episcopal Majority's website ... though apparently you wish to do so.

As to your 2nd and 3rd bullets, I have no idea what you're commenting on. Give us references to articles within this little blog of ours, then let us discuss them. But I have no idea what you're referring to.

12/18/2006 10:41 PM  
Blogger plsdeacon said...

I am amazed. You ask that we listen to you, but have not listened to us. The "conservatives / traditionalists / reasserters (CTRs)" asked for reasons to change 3000+ years of moral teaching regarding sexuality based on scripture. I have yet to see (and I have looked at Integrity, Claiming the Blessing and TEC's response given at the last ACC meeting) anything based on scripture that is not a simple assumption that God blesses same sex unions.

Since it is the "liberals / revisionsists / reappraisers (LRRs)" that wish to change the teaching and practice of the Church, it is their responsibility to change the mind of the church prior to implimenting that change.

As for the title "fascists," it is not the CTRs that have constantly pressed this after being told "no" everytime it was brought up until 2003. It is not the CTRs that have brought presentments against bishops and priests nor did sue individual vestry members of congregations that seek to leave the ECUSA. The ones wielding the levers of power in TEC are the LRRs. If anyone is a fascist here, it is the LRR group.

Phil Snyder

Phil Snyder

12/19/2006 1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...a woman who takes up devilish ways and plays a male role in coupling with another woman is most vile in My sight, and so is she who subjects herself to such a one in this evil deed..."
-- Hildegarde of Bingen

12/19/2006 2:52 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Well, gosh, Anonymous! That certainly elevates and advances our discussion here. Thank you for sharing. LOL!

But seriously, your anonymous comment (time-stamped 2:52 today) is an argument for universal health care. I fear you've run out of money to pay for your medications. Go to your nearest Episcopal parish, and I bet they'll help you get your prescription refilled.

12/19/2006 5:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure this won't be of any interest to you, but as someone who is in a family of three generations of Episcopal priests, my experience is that it is the feminist and homosexualist ideology forced upon the Episcopal Church by carpetbaggers who targeted the Episcopal Church as easy for takeover by post-Christian converts who are the ones that use fascistic maneuvers to force agreement. Louie Crew is the one who wrote the book on how to analyze, infiltrate and take over the church bureaucracy.

You claim that you're so willing to talk but that's just nonsense. You want your way with a church that you can play with and you're mad that there are people who don't want you to redefine it to your pleasure.

Why don't you just find your nearest Unitarian congregation? They'll welcome you, their carillons play the old tunes, and they're smart enough and sophisticated enough to know that the Nicene Creed is a historic artifact. Interesting but not relevant.

12/19/2006 7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So gosh Lisa. What damn difference does it make whether you're a unitarian or episcopalian? They both have lots of money.

12/19/2006 8:49 PM  
Anonymous WannabeAnglican said...

If you want real churchly Fascists, take a look at a few of your favorite bishops. You know, the ones who raid orthodox parishes and drive the Christians out.

12/19/2006 9:53 PM  
Blogger bls said...

"Conservative Rabbis Allow Ordained Gays, Same-Sex Unions." Excerpt:

"A panel of rabbis gave permission Wednesday for same-sex commitment ceremonies and ordination of gays within Conservative Judaism, a wrenching change for a movement that occupies the middle ground between orthodoxy and liberalism in Judaism.

The complicated decision by the Conservatives Movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards leaves it up to individual seminaries whether to ordain gay rabbis and gives individual rabbis the option of sanctioning same-sex unions. Reform Judaism, the largest branch of the faith in the United States, has ordained openly gay men and lesbians since 1990 and has allowed its rabbis to perform same-sex commitment ceremonies since 2000. Orthodox Judaism does not countenance same-sex relationships or the ordination of gay rabbis.

Like many Protestant denominations, Conservative Jews are divided over homosexuality: torn between the Hebrew scriptures' condemnation of it as an "abomination" and a desire to encourage same-sex couples to form long-lasting, monogamous relationships.

Though stopping short of endorsing same-sex marriage, the rabbis wanted to allow commitment ceremonies "because in Jewish sexual ethics, promiscuity is not acceptable either by heterosexuals or by homosexuals, and we do in fact have both a Jewish and a social and a medical need to try to confirm those unions," said Rabbi Elliot Dorff of Los Angeles, one of the authors of the change.

IOW, it's not only the Unitarians, I'm terribly sorry to inform you. And there's a pretty good reason for changing "3,000+ years of tradition" - which obviously includes the Judeo- part of our heritage - right there in the last paragraph.

Anyway, Episocopalians are Trinitarians. Just a little detail, there.

12/19/2006 10:12 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Welcome to our planet, Anonymous [7:28 post]. I think you'll like it here, once you get accustomed to gravity and oxygen. Your conspiracy theories are a hoot!

Yes, I can imagine you are feeling disenfranchised after those 3 generations of Episcopal priests. Would I be correct in assuming they were all white and male?

But sit down and make yourself at home here. We can indeed continue to talk.

Me, I'm an Episcopalian in the Anglican tradition and prayerfully affirm the ancient Nicene Creed a few times a week. The Unitarians? Why would you send me there? They have nothing to offer me!

12/20/2006 12:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

WannabeAnglican, no orthodox Episcopalian bishop has "invaded" any parish! And you know better! No Episcopalian bishop has taken action against any parish until and unless those parishes or their clergy violated their ordination vows and tried to steal property that doesn't belong to them. Surely you know that. But some in our church have come to believe that if they repeat a big enough lie often enough, then perhaps someone will believe it. It won't wash here, though. It is a lie. A manipulative lie on a grand scale.

12/20/2006 12:05 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Phil said: I am amazed. You ask that we listen to you, but have not listened to us.
You're wrong, Phil. We're been listening for (according to your count) 3,000 years. We've now come to a different understanding. We came to it slowly. And painstakingly. Over the past 30 years. I suspect you saw and heard those debates -- and watched them just as closely -- as I did.

Phil said: The "conservatives / traditionalists / reasserters (CTRs)" asked for reasons to change 3000+ years of moral teaching regarding sexuality based on scripture.
Phil, I take seriously the heart of your argument. I really do. But I wonder: Are you adhering to all the other Levitical commandments and anathemas? Or do you just have a fixation on this one about homosexuality? If you are not equally strict about the other Levitical guidelines, would you please tell me why not?

Phil said: "I have yet to see (and I have looked at Integrity, Claiming the Blessing and TEC's response given at the last ACC meeting) anything based on scripture that is not a simple assumption that God blesses same sex unions.
I am not a theologian. Never been to seminary. I'm just a lowly layperson. But I'll confess: I am pleased with some of the work that has been done. But I would indeed like to see some of the "reappraiser" crowd do more hard-hitting theology along the lines you are asking for. That's just me talking, not TEM.

Phil said: Since it is the "liberals / revisionsists / reappraisers (LRRs)" that wish to change the teaching and practice of the Church, it is their responsibility to change the mind of the church prior to implimenting that change.
I think you need to take that one up with Paul. When he visited Cornelius then went to the Council of Jerusalem, I don't think he got Akinola to sign off on his vision from God. Of course, I could be wrong . . . .

Now, Phil, when you bring up again those whining complaints that TEC bishops and leaders have persecuted the schismatic clergy and secessionist parishes, surely you're conscious that you're just blowin' smoke and repeating propaganda. Aren't you?? Absolutely no TEC bishop has brought any charges against any parish or priest who operated within the canons and constitution of our church. Please quit with that ol' canard. It's starting to stink.

12/20/2006 12:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Why don't you just find your nearest Unitarian congregation?"

Dear Anonymous,

I've asked myself the same question of conservatives -- why don't they just find their nearest Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist or Charismatic Episcopal Church. But I realized all that does is create further division. Why can't we all exist within the same church? Why can't we agree that, although we do not see eye to eye on all issues and although we may interpret scripture differently, we can still break bread together, feed the hungry and clothe the poor? I understand this seems impossible. Perhaps it is, but that saddens me.

I hear the pain and anger coming from both sides. Your words, to me, show that you are hurting, as are those of us on the more "liberal" side (I hate these terms, but don't know how else to describe it). What I pray for between us all is peace and harmony. We all have human frailty, and I wish it would not tear us apart.

That said, for those who are leaving TEC, I wish them well. I wish that we could have found common ground in order to remain together. But I wish them the best in their new journey. From what I've read of Akinola, I fear for the leadership they will now receive, but I do not know the future, and perhaps all will work out for the best.

I pray that the anger and division will cease. I pray that we can enjoy the peace and love of the Christmas season, and stare together in wonder and awe at the miracle of Christ's birth.

Peace to you.


12/20/2006 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the most distressing things to me about this development in TEC is how suddenly, now that they are in the majority, those who enthusiastically supported such things as the noncanoncial ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven, and the manifestly dishonest concealment of their intention to engage in homosexal genital behavior after their ordination by many ordained in the seventies and eighties, suddenly these people are invoking ordination vows, canons, and "doctrine, discipline, and worship".

Some years ago, The good folks at 815 decided to hang out to dry a cleric who was told by a judge to choose between violating the seal of the confessional or paying a fine of $1k per day for contempt until he did divulge what he'd heard. I called 815 to register a complaint and to hear their explanation. I was told, "That's how we make theology in the Episcopal Church."

So what it comes down to is when money, chattels, and real estate are involved, ordination vows suddenly matter to the Presiding Bishop, and doctrine, discipline, and worship matter to those who have gained control. What before was legalistic, what was characteristic only of "rubric rats", what was an infringement of the autonomy and integrity of the ordained clergy and an unbearable burden on the laity NOW, at last, is important.

This is why a lot of people are laughing, though through tears, at the Episcopal Church. When those who now sit in high places were powerless, the laws were oppressive and vows were archaic. But now we all have a duty to keep our vows.

And when the next change comes? When infanticide is the next pressing moral concern, or polygamy? Who will call on the canons then, and who will find a higher calling, even a duty, to lie and perjure and forswear THEIR way to those seats where the canons and vows are finally seen to be worthy of the observance which did not commend itself when they sat in lower places?

12/21/2006 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 3:39 says:

When infanticide is the next pressing moral concern

That has already been passed by, with the Episcopal Church endorsing "reproductive freedom" at the expense of the innocent.

The shrill objections to Abp. Akinola's "victimization" of "innocent" Nigerian homosexuals rings hollow in comparison to the slaughter of innocent children on the altar of "freedom" and convenience.

12/22/2006 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes Wise: How VERY intolerant and sexist of you! I'm having a serious attack of the vapors here because of your attitude against "reproductive freedom for all (not counting unborn women)"

And when the Episcopal majority, in its sublime wisdom decided to allow abortion as long as everybody tut-tutted when they herad about it, no mention was made of the practice of allowing infants who somehow complete parturition before the abortionists can kill them are set aside to die -- a practice expressly denounced in the Didache but adopted now by those sophisticates in the Spiscopal Majority who have reached a "new understanding" -- baby butchery, once considered the worst of Herod's many crimes, is now a right. So it goes.

But we are in a world where universal disregard for such things as honesty, candor, and troth-keeping was a virtue when practiced by homosexuals pursuing ordination before TEC reached its new understanding, where being male and white guarantees those who possess the new gnosis with one free rhetorical cheap shot, and where, finally, when they have the chariot reins in their hands and can direct TEC right over the cliff, suddenly schism is a vice and the violation of canons a crime.

In the universe of the enlightened, to lie your way into power in a church, to live covertly in a manner considered vicious by that church, and to continue to do so until you have enough of our faction in places of power to declare yourselves openly is considered loyal, while those to whom you have lied, those who trusted you, who meant their vows and believed yours, are reviled as schismatics.

And now that they have the votes they lied to acquire, NOW they start preaching loyalty and fidelity. And, being enlightened, they do so with straight faces!

If that's the new understanding, give me ignorance, please.

12/23/2006 1:09 PM  

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