Sunday, February 10, 2008

Getting In Touch With My Feelings

I am in one of those states in which there is more on my heart than I can adequately process through my head, and hence cannot adequately put into words. For an INTJ, that's a completely upside down state of affairs! So let me try to clear my head by venting my feelings first--admittedly a risky proposition for someone of my temperament.

I am contented and optimistic. My marriage has never been in better shape. I'm pretty sure my children love me (...well, quite sure, actually). The cat has it in for me (if I turn up dead under suspicious circumstances, somebody have him arrested), but the dog pretty much thinks I walk on water. I'm in reasonably good health for my age. I live in a wonderfully comfortable house. I have two cars that start every time the key is turned. And I have challenging and fulfilling work; I enjoy my ministry as a pastor and priest more every day. It is going very well. The gospel is being proclaimed, the sacraments are administered, and lives are being formed in Christ.

I am also heartsick and pessimistic, specifically, that is, about the institution into which I have poured my life for more than three decades--the Episcopal Church--as well as the larger family of Anglican Christianity. I feel like Captain Kirk in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock as he labors in hand-to-hand combat with the evil Klingon commander Kruge while the planet literally disintegrates underneath his feet. Anglicanism is disintegrating. The last three and a half years have been like watching a train wreck in slow motion--not just an imminent wreck, but an actual wreck. It's not just a prospect; it's a reality. The collision is not merely poised to happen; it is in the process of happening. Fresh damage is being done every day, damage that--by any conventional wisdom, at least--is irreparable.

When I became an Anglican in 1975, it seemed to me--at age 23--an eternal verity. It seemed as stable and immutable a part of the worldwide ecclesiastical landscape as ... well, the polar ice cap was a part of a natural landscape. Unthinkably, the polar ice cap now appears to be in considerable jeopardy. Anglicanism is beyond jeopardy; it has crashed into the sea and is melting. Gone are the days when we could confidently expect to "muddle through" the next crisis over the horizon. Gone are the days of clear and simple Inquirers' Class explanations of the Tudor monarchs and the Caroline Divines and the three-legged stool and Seabury and the creation of the PECUSA and so on an so on, et secula seculorum.

This is not ipso facto (yeah...whatever...go learn some Latin...I'm in a bad mood) a hopeless state of affairs. Change happens, and God is ever an opportunist. But change is an occasion of grief, and so I grieve (grief is a feeling, so it gets to be in bold print). I grieve the passing of a familiar status quo that I know how to talk about and how to explain coherently to others. But it's gone, and it's not coming back. I--along with all other Anglicans who fancy being informed and responsible--are going to have to learn to travel light for a while, because the ground is shifting under out feet, and we don't want to get swallowed up alive into the abyss.

I'm also angry. Not in the deadly sin way, I hope, but in the feeling way:

I am angry with Episcopalian liberals for pushing their agenda of the "normalization" of homosexuality--which I acknowledge they believe is a gospel-mandated matter of basic justice--with no demonstrable regard for the collateral damage their efforts have caused.

I am angry with the Bishop of San Joaquin for using exaggeration, half-truths, polarizing rhetoric, secrecy, and manipulative tactics in order to persuade a sizable majority of delegates to two consecutive conventions to vote in favor of seceding from the Episcopal Church, all with no demonstrable regard for the collateral damage caused to hundreds--yea thousands--of unsuspecting faithful, most of whom agree with him on the presenting issue but who have now been ripped away from a network of networks than has connected them to thousands of other largely unsuspecting Episcopalians in other dioceses.

I am angry with the Presiding Bishop for disingenuously misrepresenting facts in her ham-fisted effort to alienate key clergy and lay leaders in San Joaquin who do not wish to follow the Bishop to the nether regions of the western hemisphere but who happen to hold orthodox theological and moral views and who have no desire to be complicit in her canonically illegal putsch to establish a liberal 815 hegemony in the Central Valley of California.

I am angry with the House of Bishops for so thoroughly "not getting it" last March with respect to the Dar es Salaam Communique of the Primates. With their attitude they probably did more than any other party at any other time to ensure and hasten the demise of the Anglican Communion.

I am angry with what had been the leaders of the Anglican Communion Network--now morphed into the Common Cause Partners. If they had remained united, and not spoken with any voice until they were able to speak with one voice, the train would still be careening toward disaster rather than already having arrived irrevocably at that destination.

I am angry with the allies of the Common Cause Partners, aka the Global South (Primates, mostly), and their petulant desire to deal a death-blow to the Anglican Communion by snubbing the Lambeth Conference in favor of GAFCOM. As a vitual lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, I know all about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I recognize it when I see it. If cooler heads had prevailed, we would now be on the brink of a Lambeth Conference that would have offered a ringing re-affirmation of the sexuality statement from 1998, investing it with veritably canonical authority as the received teaching of the Anglican Communion. Lambeth '08 also would have commended to the provinces a strong Anglican Covenant, one that General Convention 2009 would have choked on like a snake swallowing its own tail, thus ensuring the sort of "communion discipline" that conservatives (including myself) have been agitating for. But noooooo. We couldn't just hold our horses and keep our shirts on. We had to get all inflammatory and fissiparous and piss off people who probably would have turned out to be on our side when the battle heated up. Talk about the blown opportunity of the century.

I am angry with the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church, the members of which are already en route to to Quito, Ecuador--first, for wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars in diocesan contribution to 815's program budget by meeting in South America for the sake of political correctness, but mostly for what I suspect they will do: Affirm the Presiding Bishop's declaration of non-recognition of the duly-elected Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. The sad fact is, politics and due process do not mix. Executive Council is about as political a body as one can imagine. Their members are elected, but the committee itself controls the nominating process, so they are effectively self-perpetuating. Between meetings of the General Convention, the Executive Council speaks with the voice of the convention. Their interpretation of the Constitution and Canons does not have to be rational and coherent in order to carry the weight of ecclesiastical authority. It need only be their interpretation, and it becomes binding on the conscience of the faithful. We may say we're a church under the rule of law, but we deceive ourselves. We are a church governed by a majoritarian tyranny that has the power to declare the color of the sky on a clear day to be green if the advocates for that position can get enough votes.

I am angry with my own Baby Boomer generation, now pretty much running the Episcopal Church. That we are also running the country is also true, but too scary to contemplate--we are a generation of Peter Pans. We walk and talk like adults but we have never laid aside the self-indulgence of youth, and the mantra that we learned just as we were starting school in the 1950s, that we are special because there are so damn many of us. In the Church, our dominance is seen in the hyper-individualism by which we apprehend the Faith, and the complete sentimentalization of its content.

I am fearful
. (There's another feeling.) If Anglicanism disintegrates, where can I go? It's a very short list of alternatives, and don't particularly care for any of them. And I have a vowed pastoral obligation to the people committed to my charge. I lead a parish the prides itself on being above and beyond controversial church politics. That's an aspect of its culture that I personally find quite attractive, and I have no desire to inject the angst of the larger family into this particular corner of it. There's a limit to how long I can or should keep them insulated. I owe it to them to know where that limit is.

There. Now I feel better.

A little bit, at least. Talking about it does help.

I know what you're thinking. INTJs are lousy at sharing their feelings, and it's embarrassing to watch them try. I apologize for inflicting it on you. Hopefully I'll feel more like myself in the morning.

51 comments:

Judge373 said...

What should those of us young men contemplating a vocation someplace in the Anglican Communion do?

Anonymous said...

To Judge373, As Gandalf said from the bridge to Frodo & company just before he fell....run you fools..RUN!

Leslie, St. Francis in exile, Turlock said...

Dear Fr. Martins,
I share your anger toward the ex-Bishop of SJ. The damage he has done is unbelievable! One would have to live in this diocese to fully understand the pain that he has inflicted on the faithful here.
What I continue to not understand is your feeling toward the loyal Episcopalians of Remain Episcopal. Let me tell you frankly that we have been putting up with the "conservative agenda" in this diocese for years and it is about time that we come out of the fog and start recognizing that God loves everyone and that women and gays deserve the right to become deacons, priests, and bishops. Much of this mess could have been avoided if personal prejudice had been put aside. Now we are torn to shreds. We worship in loyal Episcopalian's livingrooms, and rent rooms from other churches to have services. Our children have no place to go for confirmation. Angry, we are all angry. I am particulary angry with those who remained quiet through all of this. They should have been honest and come forward in telling the ex-bishop that he was wrong in taking the diocese out of the National Church. The loyal Episcopalians of this diocese should have had some support from the clergy that remained quiet.
I suppose that we are going to have to agree to disagee on the "liberal agend", but you must re-examine the faithful of Remain Episcopal. They are people who are full of love and respect for one another.
May God's Peace be with you...

Dan Martins said...

judge373: Yours is the question of the hour, I believe. I won't pretend to have a definitive piece of advice. While we know Anglicanism is in the midst of a wreck, we don't know what the wreckage is going to look like when the dust settles, or what parts might be salvageable. Just know that whatever you discern your call to be, the route to obedience goes through the Cross. Be prepared to get nailed.

Leslie: I don't doubt that members of Remain Episcopal are "full of love and respect for one another." I have love and respect for many in RE. Fr Matters is a good friend of mine. I mentored Fr Miller at St John's before he was ordained, and preached at his ordination to the priesthood. Fr Hall was my Stockton neighbor and we had a very cordial collegial relationship. My wife is good friends with Fr Kanestrom's wife. We have socialized with them and we attended their daughter's wedding. I realize I have come down pretty hard on RE at at times. My point was to make clear to those not familiar with the diocese that the "fired" Standing Committee members are not simply "the usual suspects," those who would be inclined to oppose Bishop Schofield anyway, but, rather, people who generally agree with him, yet not on the issue of separating from TEC. However, I must point out that your comment only serves to underscore my concern about RE (and the concern of many potential "continuing Episcopalians" in SJ), which is that RE--or the leadership of RE, at any rate--is composed of people who would be opposing Bishop Schofield even if he had not tried (successfully, now) to lead the diocese out of TEC. In other words, your very words support the suspicion that RE is just a "cover" for those who don't just want to have a continuing Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, but a *liberal* diocese of San Joaquin.

Anonymous said...

leslie,

You would be a part of one of the groups at least with whom Dan Martins is angry.

Dan, I understand, hear, and affirm your feelings!
; > )

The one thing I don't agree with is this paragraph here:

"If cooler heads had prevailed, we would now be on the brink of a Lambeth Conference that would have offered a ringing re-affirmation of the sexuality statement from 1998, investing it with veritably canonical authority as the received teaching of the Anglican Communion. Lambeth '08 also would have commended to the provinces a strong Anglican Covenant, one that General Convention 2009 would have choked on like a snake swallowing its own tail, thus ensuring the sort of "communion discipline" that conservatives (including myself) have been agitating for."

First, "ringing reaffirmation" of Lambeth 1.10 would be worth the same thing as the "ringing" original endorsement of Lambeth 1.10 back in 98 -- precisely nothing, since the ABC was and is never going to enforce a resolution.

Second, the Covenant design team has come up with something that they think [mistakenly] is a strong Covenant -- essentially worthless. I'm sure that without 150 or so bishops, the Covenant can be amended and edited at Lambeth -- although remember Lambeth isn't actually going to make any real rulings on the Covenant, but simply converse and make some suggestions for the third draft. And after the third draft, will be another round of revisions for the fourth and final draft, long long after Lambeth is over.

No, the Lambeth meeting won't accomplish anything either way. And it wouldn't have if the extra 150 or so bishops would have shown up either.

Why are you blaming the FedCon bishops who have given up? They're not the only conservative bishops. After all, the Covenant is the ComCon plan -- let the ComCon bishops institute and enforce their plan.

But essentially what you're saying is that FedCon bishops -- those who have given up -- are never allowed to give up on the process until the ComCon bishops give up. And I believe that that is very unjust.

One final note about the HOB meeting. The HOB meeting called Rowan's bluff. They did exactly what I would have done in their situation which is say "make me" to the ABC.

And they were right. He didn't, and Dar ended. A pity that they were correct, but I can't blame 'em for trying.

Sarah

Matthew said...

Father Dan,

For what it is worth, I largely share your emotions. I do not know if shared venting is of any use, but consider this an 'amen' to your vent.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. Dan,

I am sorry about your anger and fear. Recently, amid a very different set of miseries, but certainly as troubling, I was quoted the advice of Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos (one who has seem his own share of turmoil): In times like these, we must save our souls and those God has given to us. I am seeking to find peace, without which I cannot be of help to others. God bless you, brother.

Anonymous said...

I am one year older than you, the same age in fact as one noteworthy individual with whom you are apparently not angry. Which leads me to note that I would add that I am angry with all the ComCons who have never articulated a point beyond which they would not go, or, if they have, it was a point passed long ago. Had they done so, I likely would still be on their side. Finally, I must point out that it is “GAFCON” not “GAFCOM.” From my Fed perspective, that looks like a delightful Freudian slip!

Mark McCall

your former deacon said...

Father Dan,

I had to check your blog twice to make sure it was YOU writing and not some stranger who got your password and was sharing his "feelings!" I don't know if you really do "feel better" but it is just a joy to know you "feel!" You made excellent points and although it is not PC from where I sit to totally agree with you...the truth is that I do! Thanks so much for sharing the "inner you!"

RFSJ said...

Fr. Dan,

Thanks for sharing these. It took courage. I'm glad you did, because it allows me to know you better. The more I read from you, the more respect I have. You and I disagree on some of the issues here, but I'd like to think that the rapidly-collapsing Anglican Ethos still allows us to be part of One Body.

Best,

RFSJ

James W. said...

Dan:

I do not grieve for the demise of TEC, as I was Anglican when I came to the USA and my feelings towards TEC tend more towards anger for its part in the destruction of worldwide Anglicanism.

I feel anger at Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who shoulders the lion's share of the blame for the break-up of the Anglican Communion. The actions of TEC's HOB and of the GAFCON primates are both realistic responses to the inaction and dithering of Rowan Williams. The man is best suited for a professorship, not to lead an international organization through a time of unprecedented turmoil. I agree with the following quote from one of the secular stories about this sorry figure:

"He is a fine teacher, a very scrupulous theologian and a pious man," said my friend. "But he lacks political skills and everyday common sense - which today are essential qualities in a successful archbishop."

Rowan's a nice guy but completely out of his league, and he has completely mishandled the situation.

Leslie - the "Remain Episcopal" crowd, which translates to the liberal faction in other dioceses, also anger me with their sanctimonious self-righteousness and gross hypocrisy. I have witnessed too many political antics at diocesan conventions, too much rejoicing over the trampling of other people's due process rights, and too much sycophancy and propaganda to take you folks seriously. People I know (who I know very closely) have been lied to by liberal clergy and liberal bishops and treated shamefully.

I am angry at everyone who thinks they have all the answers and who don't have the humility to believe that they might be wrong. (And I am not talking here about theology, but rather about ecclesiology). There are good reasons for folks to stay in TEC and good reasons for folks to leave. TEC is dead, but there are still live souls inside, who need tending to.

I am somewhat hopeful that a new Anglicanism can arise from the ashes, but I fear for this. I do not believe that the FedCons have done the repentence and self-criticism necessary to cast off the TEC demon. Seems to me like there is plenty of purple fever and clericalism to go round in the FedCon camp.

Perhaps as a GenXer, I am a little more able to stand back and wait on what will rise up from the ashes. I am convinced beyond a doubt that TEC is dead (and just doesn't realize it yet) - and I say that from an objective instituional sense, not just from a theological/gospel sense. I am not yet convinced that the same is true of the Anglican Communion (although it may need to be purged through a dark time of 10-50 years during which it continues to exist only as a formal shell while the dead branches die off and the living branches mature). So I hang in there, trusting in God to bring about what He will bring about. Anglicanism needed disciplining for a lot of reasons, and - boy - are we getting disciplined.

But isn't it also true that you get disciplined for a purpose?

Leslie, St. Francis in exile, Turlock said...

Fr. Martins/ Sarah,
I do not think you understand what I am saying at all, but thank you for your responses. I want what all other Episcopal diocese have in this nation and that is inclusion of all people. I wanted it before Schofield left and I want it now.
May God's Peace be with both of you.

Anonymous said...

Amen, James W.

From a fellow Gen-exer,
Brad Drell

BabyBlue said...

Another GenXer signing in, Dan. I do understand the need to vent (I usually just put up a Dylan song when I'm tempted to screed). But I did have some thoughts after reading your posting which I put up at BabyBlueOnline.org. While we may have different lists, I can understand the frustrations. Seen "Network" lately? ;-)

-Mary

Anonymous said...

Angry?
I have a brother, who when he asked our priest, now his ex-priest, about the why they would allow an open non-celibate gay man to enter the discernment process for the diaconate, the priest said it was not their job to ask about their parishioner's sexuality. That is correct, unless a parishoner asked to be in orders, then there is an obligation to ask. That was never done, and my brother and his family now attend a local REC parish. There is a hole at the church I attend, only because of my wife, where my brother and his family used to sit. Talk about angry, you people can not even imagine the pain that caused me. We both have known this priest for twenty-five years and they bare faced lied to my brother. They threw a family off the train for some bullshit social agenda of "full inclusion" of any sin and perversion and the abolition of biblical truth and fidelity to scripture.

Josh Indiana said...

I am angry with Episcopal conservatives for pushing their agenda of the demonization of homosexuality, with no demonstrable regard for the collateral damage their efforts have caused.

Judge373 said...

Thanks for the advice, father. I think I'll just have to take the plunge and, perhaps, with God's help, I'll have the privilege of helping to rebuild the church.

I suppose I do have a zeal for fighting error and bad theology...maybe that'll help :-D

Anonymous said...

Dan+.

I really do understand your feeling, including those concerning DSJ. But the agenda of the liberal wing is the root cause of the problem IMHO. Whatever hurt or wrong is being caused by the DSJ is small compared to the wrong to the gospel done by EUCSA. Could some of the hurt have been avoided by DSJ? Likely yes, but would have it been at the risk to peaching of the gospel? DSJ did a bold move and a bold move was needed.

I am not at all sure that the concerns about leaving ECUSA were a concern of the leadership of DSJ, in fact I am inclined to think that they were a factor. I would point out the differences between those in DSJ who want to stay with ECUSA with the event in Virginia or Connecticut.

Scott+

Baby boomer

fellow laborer said...

Judge,

I'm in the same boat as you. I had my first meeting with my diocese's Commission on Ministry, and it went well. I have FedCon sympathies, but I sense my call as one of rescue/recovery for the long term. Not all the orthodox are going to flee the USS TEC. But someone needs to remain with life preservers and rafts as she sinks, even if our own lives are threatened. Also, if we consider the faithfulness of God to bring Jerusalem back from the ashes after exile, many new people flooded in there from Babylon--but there were still some who were already there. I have hope once the liberal establishment falls on its own "gospel imperative" sword (as they seem to be quick to do these days), those few, faithful, and then de facto will reclaim the inheritance TEC squandered and be received into a global, orthodox, missional Anglicanism once again. But I am fully prepared not to see that day in my lifetime. I am working for the long haul, for those who can be rescued now, and those who we will pass on a godly legacy in the decades to come.

fellow laborer said...

oops, de facto majority

Phil said...

What's telling to me, Fr. Dan, is that the only target of your anger for which you can find it in yourself to attribute honorable motives are "Episcopalian liberals." Guess what? Others of those groups are also doing what they think is best for the situation in which they find themselves.

As for your parish being above the fray - sorry to be blunt, but that's exactly the mentality that allowed ECUSA to wreck the Communion.

One more thing: we're not arguing over "church politics," we're arguing over who Christ is, what his significance is, and whether God owes us some kind of wonderfully affirming, struggle-free life this side of eternity. Those are questions which have answers properly found in the Christian revelation, and not in the whims of the latest 50+1 vote at General Convention. Remaining mainstream Christians in ECUSA would thank you to not cede the field to its leadership so you and your parish can maintain some kind of pious neutrality. Might it cost you and your parish? Yeah, with this ECUSA regime, it might.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Martins,

Your representation of Bishop Schofield (and the imputation of less than holy tactics on his part) is slanderous. When clergy do not care enough about the situation at hand to keep their eyes open and do a little reconnaissance--when they are content to stick their fingers in their ears while whistling Dixie, hoping the present "troubles" will go away--they should expect to be surprised when God acts.

Fr. Martins, I admire your intellect and respect you for the many astute assessments you have offered online. But slander does not befit you. When your anger cools--and there is a lot in the institutional mess that is TEC to be angry about--perhaps you will rethink your words.

I hope you will also rethink your pastoral stance of insulating your congregation from what is going on in TEC and the Anglican Communion. Parishioners, with God's help, can handle the truth. You do them a disservice by trying to shield them. You wrote: "There's a limit to how long I can or should keep them insulated. I owe it to them to know where that limit is." Yes, you do, Fr. Martins, and that limit has long since past. The wound only gets deeper and more septic from lack of draining.

Knowing the lay of the land in this church of ours--however messy--has been positive for me. As a layperson in San Joaquin, I have tried to be as well informed as I might be (relying on various publicly available sources including your blog) about what is happening in the diocese and in the greater Anglican Communion.

Exposure to data has not destroyed my faith. In contrast, attending deanery meetings, diocesan conventions, etc., has simply given greater closeness to the people and issues affecting San Joaquin. I heard your speech at convention in 2006 about "the sinking ship" that is TEC (and after your comments wondered with everyone else whether you were for or against the amendment of our constitution). I have listened to the arguments of those with whom I disagree.

I ask questions. All shyness has gone out the window when asking institutional insiders (i.e. clergy) for their views. Thankfully, some priests are NOT the sorts who feel they need to insulate congregations from what is going on.

So, when others suggest that the clergy in San Joaquin have not had adequate time to consider the ramifications of their individual moves to Southern Cone, I snigger. "Pshaw!" as Laura Ingalls' Pa says. "Pshaw!" to the self-rendered ineligible, and thus necessarily resigned, members of the Standing Committee. I have been aware for at least a year that a possible move to S.C. was looming. Wouldn't priests in the diocese, whose livelihoods are caught up with the matter and who shepherd flocks, be more genuinely motivated to consider this topic than me?

One would think.

Deb

Chris Jones said...

I am angry with Episcopal conservatives for pushing their agenda of the demonization of homosexuality

It is astounding to me that anyone believes that it is conservatives who are the ones who have an "agenda." It is the progressives in ECUSA (and many other denominations) who have been labouring for years to re-make Christianity into the religious expression of political and social liberalism. And it is the conservatives who have striven to remain faithful to the Christian faith as it always has been.

It is not as if homosexual behavior has always been affirmed by the Bible and blessed by the Church, but now the dastardly conservatives want to change the teaching of the Church to propagate their hateful homophobia. But when Josh Indiana says that the conservatives have an "agenda," it suggests precisely that it is the conservatives -- rather than the progressives -- who want to change what the Christian faith teaches.

That simply is not so. If you don't like what Christianity teaches about homosexual behavior or any other subject, you don't get to change it to suit your liking. If you don't like it, start your own religion. But don't accuse conservatives of having an agenda just because they are faithful to Christianity the way it is.

Anonymous said...

Your rant against the DSJ for leaving TEC seems a little disingenuous considering that in 2006 you voted with the majority to leave TEC, didn't you?

Dan Martins said...

Anonymous at 10:11 AM--You can find what I said at the 2006 convention here: http://cariocaconfessions.blogspot.com/2006/12/convention.html
(Sorry about my inability to make a link in a comment.) But I would call your attention in particular to these words of mine then: "There are some very concrete signs I will need to see before I would vote next year to pull the trigger on all this. No one should interpret support now as a guarantee of support later." Beyond the fact that the matter was made moot for me because I left the diocese, those "concrete signs" for which I was looking never did materialize.

Sean said...

Let me begin by saying that I appreciate your blog. As a GenX priest who is moderate, I often feel held hostage to the inflammatory discourse of the Boom generation. There are many fewer of us and I find it not at all surprising that we moved from ordaining the young to second vocations when Xers came of ordainable age. Xers tend toward pragmatism as they age whereas boomers tend to fight about ideals til the bitter end, or at least so says Strauss and Howe in their work "Generations." I have rarely if ever seen the liberal side of the church fit the ad hominem attacks it hurls through cyberspace. (Not you Dan+) Those on the left throw things too. It sort of reminds me of watching parents fight. They fight and bicker and we try to hold things together. After the fight is over, we know that we still have to live in the house, even if you get divorced. Many times here recently (especially with the recent ABC stir up) that folks are just looking for the next thing to fight about. I wish folks would remember as institutions are torn apart that there are folks who will live in this house down the road. Someone made the comment TEC is dead. After 9 years of ordained ministry in 3 dioceses, I can assure you that TEC isn't dead even if it is doing things you find great fault with. Thank God the millennial generation is beginning to be ordained now and is beginning to make their presence known. Strauss and Howe talk about them rebuilding institutions. One wonders whether after these culture war laden times if the destructive wake of the infighting will leave any discernable institution left to rebuild. Pray for the church.

Anonymous said...

Fr. C
Dan,
don't you feel that you might be playing a part in all of this mess, by spouting all of your anger to all who will read. Instead of staying in Fresno, you ran away to your safe little place to let all of suffer along. we are trying to work things out, NO HELP FROM YOU. Please stop trying to stir up problems from afar.

JamesW. said...

Sean:

I am a GenXer, and I have been to many dioceses and many parishes. When I say "TEC is dead" I am referring to TEC as an institution. For example, in my diocese, since 2002 (according to TEC stats), the diocese has lost 20% of its ASA and 14% of its members. It has been running large successive deficits and is about to embark on a questionable litigation campaign. I see no prospects for improvement.

I think that what some of us need to recognize is that Christendom is over. In the past, no matter how mismanaged the church was, it would always survive, because there was always going to be sufficient members who would belong.

I have lived in British Columbia, Canada (one of the most secular places in North America), Virginia and California. Now perhaps in Virginia you could get away with it. But I don't think there is such a luxury in secular parts of our country.

I know a TEC priest very well, and this person is familiar with search processes across TEC from less prosperous TEC parishes. A growing number are no longer able to afford a full time priest. Given TEC's clergy-centric organization, this is another tell-tale sign.

TEC is an organization which is no longer able to recruit more members then it is losing, and without dead people's money, would no longer be financially viable. It shot down the only viable strategy it had to grow when it deep-sixed the 2020 Vision some years back (yeah, yeah, they re-invented it to be something else).

I do agree that PARTS of TEC will survive and that in 50 years or so, there might be an institution called TEC which will look very different then what we see now.

Randy Muller said...

Here's the link from the San Joaquin diocesan convention last year that Fr. Dan referred to:

William Tighe said...

Here's a question that nobody has addressed, but which interests me immensely. To what extent is the divide among the "orthodox Episcopalians" of the San Joaquin Diocese (I mean those who would regard themselves as "orthodox Christians" and not simply "Remain Episcopalites") about whether to go to the SC or stay in TEC reflect preexisting divisions ofer the ordination of women. I mean, if you regard WO as an absurdity, an impossibility and a heretical conceit, as I do, and as do, for sure, bishops Ackerman and Iker and, probably, Bishop Schofield, and if, to those of such views, the "second round of apostasy" (or, if you will, defection from the "Catholic Faith") seems like the "last straw" -- as opposed to those who either support WO or think it "no big deal" one way or the other -- would this not make a difference as one decides whether it is time to bail out?

I ask this, also, because while Quincy diocese is virtually unanimous among its clergy in opposing WO, and the opponents in FW are the great majority, the story before the events of 2003 was that SJ would almost certainly choose as its next bishop a purportedly "orthodox" or "conservative" supporter of WO. If this were so, than it would be good strategic sense for opponents of WO to endorse a "now or never" attitude towards leaving ECUSA.

Anonymous said...

JamesW, thanks for what you said. I'm GenX too, and absolutely agree.

For the record, I don't agree with Sean.


Sarah

bls said...

That's all right. Many of us are absolutely, completely, and totally furious at the "Christian" church for destroying so many gay lives. And for what?

For nothing. Thanks a lot. This is exactly what the Church deserves. And guess what? The Church is going to be a lot better, going forward, than that pitiful sad-sack organization (where women weren't even allowed to be delegates at General Convention!) that you decided was "eternal truth" when you were 23.

You're worrried about "where you can go"? Where were you when gay people were dying from drugs and alcohol and self-loathing, and committing suicide because we had no place to go?

And YOU'RE angry?

bls said...

(To put it another way: when you're shallow and self-absorbed, you get shallow and self-absorbed back. Time for a little self-examination, perhaps?)

Beryl Simkins said...

You must be wondering about the value of venting angry feelings. It does seem that some of the things you said were off the mark, and I refer you to the response on Preludium.
When you look at the stream of angry responses, don't you wonder about whether that is a good way to handle the very big issues facing the Episcopal Church? It is what I see all the time when I observe at Stand Firm or Virtue Online.
We are all Christians and none of this helps. In anger, people are just saying things back and forth to each other and no one is listening to views on either side. Will we ever stop?

I believe our Episcopal Church is worth some restraint and a great deal of effort.
And I can already imagine the angry comments I will get in response to these well intentioned statements.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Dan,

>for wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars by meeting in South America...

I should chalk it under "it's just a rant" cathegory, but, let me set the record straight.

To meet in Quito is cheaper than in most domestic dioceses. Airfare from the US to Quito is between $400/$600, which, unless a meeting is scheduled in a hub city, is a pretty normal fare, in consideration that many members live far off. The hotel daily rate is under $80 including meals, which is between half and one third of a normal rate at a domestic convention hotel.

Moreover, having the opportunity to see first hand the life a ministry of a vital diocese, with clergy earning in one year less than what any US based cleric receives for the discretionary fund and use bycicles, ride the bus or walk to make pastoral visits, planting new churches in the midst of huge human needs and where, I have absolutely no doubt, you would find yourself at home any time you decide you had it in the good old USA, it is priceless.

Come and see for yourself... You may find that a so-called "crumbling church" it is very much alive and ministering!

Thomas+

leslieandclair said...

I am with you Beryl!

Anonymous said...

Aw, don't let 'em get to you Fr. Dan. Some of us think you are doing a heck of a god job. BTW Beryl et al, get off the high horse, the vitriol tossed about on the liberal side utterly eclipses the stuff on standfirm or VOL. I feel qualified to say that as a non-sycophantic poster on many of those sites. ALL of you, liberal and conservative, would do well to go back and really read ALL of Matthew 5. Then when you're done, try the entire book of James. After doing so, come back to the table with a little humility and think about loving your enemies and doing your best to forward GOD's work, not your individual agendas.



Jamesk

Anonymous said...

make that "good". A bit of a Freudian slip perhaps.

Jamesk

Beryl Simkins said...

jamesk,
You simply proved my point.
I only asked for all of us to back off a little and listen to each other. We are all Christians and we, all of us, are currently doing a lot of damage to "our body of Christ" represented in the life of the Episcopal Church.

When will it stop?

Anonymous said...

No, Beryl I didn't.

I was expressing the fact that in my experience, NEITHER side seems particularly receptive to debate. There is a tendency for those at both extremes to sit back and snipe
at "the competition" from the comfort of a blog full of like-minded people.

We are in this mess because we are polarized and DON'T talk with each other (and it really makes ME mad that that is the case).

None of us are right.

None of us are even close to right.

What we are is a bunch of petulant children deconstructing a 500 year old institution which has done inestimable good both temporally and spiritually because we are too self-indulgent to do anything else.


Fr. Dan at least had the esferas to come out and say it.



Jamesk

leslieandclair said...

TEC is supposed to be a place where all are welcome. I had no problem going to the Lord's Table with my conservative friends. I had to swallow my pride and ignore the fact that women were not allowed to serve as priests, but I did it in order to keep peace. Some of you are missing the point here. Nobody wants to fight. Nobody wants to change your mind about your feelings toward things, but we MUST include everyone if we are going to make this work, and we must somehow make this work! We all love TEC. We all love the Lord.
BTW, the rude comments about my liberal views are unfair. I would come to the rescue of anyone anytime, conservative, liberal or in between. Let's stop being angry and figure out a way to get ourselves out of this mess.
May God's Peace be with all of you...

Anonymous said...

Leslieandclair, I can only assume, having reread the entire string, that you are construing my post as being a "rude comment" on your "liberal views".

I apologize if it came across that way, it was not meant to. My point is that we are all behaving in a manner not consistent with Christ's teachings.

I meant only to point out that Beryl's comment which appeared to be a unilateral dig at the conservative bloggers was inconsistent with John 8:7.


Jamesk

Leslie said...

Dear Jamesk,
No apology needed... Let's just pray that we can all begin to worship together again very soon.
Blessings...

Anonymous said...

The Mechanic Fr. Martins Speaks again. Take it apart, Check the blue print and make it work to the Gospel according to St. Dan. Heaven help the rest of us poor slobs Who happen to believe in the Faith once delivered. At least we are making a stand, and didn't bale like some.

Dan Martins said...

Anonymous at 8:41 AM: C'mon now. I didn't bale. I bailed. At least get your accusation right. And see my post from Monday. It's about you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 8:41,
I hear ya brother or sister! I found it very intersting that not soon after the 2006 SJ Convention Fr. Joel Miller, (Fr. Dan's mentoree), from Turlock a staunch liberal, left for the Diocese of El Camino Real and his new female bishop. Fr. Rick Matter of Lodi another staunch liberal & who was a huge Remain Episcopal supporter and hosted the Remain Episcopal event at his church that same year left for the Diocese of El Camino Real as well and I believe with a huge debt owed to the Diocese of SJ. Then soon after thse fellow brothers were gone, Fr. Dan found a calling in Indiana! It is so very intersting to say the least indeed! But, wee here in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin have moved on to worship the Lord and His word that was delivered once for all.

Prayers abound!

Leslie said...

Dear Anonymous 5:06 PM,
Your comments about two very fine priests, Fr. Joel and Fr. Rick, are most disrespectful. Obviously you do not know either man very well.
May God's peace be with you...

Alice C. Linsley said...

Things tend to worsen before they improve. I've been gone from the Episcopal Church for 3 years and I still grieve. Anger is a normal part of grieving, BTW.

Perhaps reading this will cheer you:
http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=7720

Malcolm+ said...

I rarely find anything on virtue's site the least bit cheering. I cannot be cheered by people so consumed with rage and venomous hatred.

That said, Alice, your article was unusally calm and reasoned for one on that site.

The anger I see in Fr. Dan's jeramiad differs from the usual "conservative" fare. For one thing, it is even handed - acknowledging that there is more than enough pride, thoughtlessness and impetuousness on all sides and far more than enough blame to go around.

The hopeful piece, to my mind, is that most of the people on all sides of the substantive issue are prepared to live within Anglicanism's messy comprehensiveness, willing to acknowledge that those on the other side are part of the same body. They share Anglicanism's historic confidence that the Spirit will lead the Church into all truth - and that, like Israel, the leading may not be quite so quick or straightforward as expected.

The anger I see at Virtue's site and elsewhere in the "conservative" blogosphere is utterly otherwise, convinced that all who disagree are apostate and evil, and that purity demands the body be severed.

At one point during the Semi-Arian controversies, the debate raged over the choice of language - homoousion or homoiousion. The critics joked about Christianity "rent asunder e'er a dipthong."

That dipthong was significant in that it spoke to the relationship between the first and second persons of the Trinity - and to whether the second person was part of Godhead at all. It was more important that the current fracas.

Let us debate the issue. Let us debate it passionately - even angrily.

But I fail to see the good in rending the Church over less than a dipthong.

Anonymous said...

Leslie,
Yes I do know them and it is not disrespectful to tell the truth! Sorry the truth hurt you so badly!
God's Peace to you1

Anonymous said...

Gandalf actually said "...Fly, you fools" (just re-watched the movie)