Sunday, March 09, 2008

Perceiving Reality

I've never had aspirations for this blog being a comment magnet, so it is worthy of some note that my post from three days ago has attracted what looks to be a record number of comments. Many (most?--I'm too lazy to count) of them engage the substance of the post in some way. But some four commenters--two from the "left" and two from the "right"--have gotten involved in a pointed and passionate exchange over the character of the polemical ambiance here in Anglicanland these days.

I certainly don't have pollyannish views on the the possibility of any near-term rapprochement between the contending factions. But I do remain interested in lowering the emotional temperature whenever that might be possible. Maybe it's my INTJ wiring, but conflict--like revenge--strikes me as a dish best served cold. To the extent that we can get past our feelings (which those who know me will tell you I'm not overly-fond of anyway), we can more clearly see the substance of what actually divides us. We may not actually be able to do anything about it when we see it, but not seeing it will guarantee what we will not be able to do anything about it.

If two decades of pastoral experience have taught me anything, it's that the expression "perception is reality" is ... well ... true. Frustratingly, maddeningly, and invariably true. I don't like it that it's true, but so far getting in touch with those feelings has not made it any less true. Before I can deal with the substance of anyone's problem--particularly when it's a problem with me!--I have to make every possible effort to understand and empathize with their perceived reality. I may not believe what they perceive to be accurate, but their perception nonetheless forms the starting point of the conversation. Sometimes--with some careful listening, patience, good luck, and occasional divine intervention--I can be with them as they open themselves to the possibility of perceiving the same set of objective facts in another way, even, perhaps, beginning to empathize with my perception.

It seems to me that what most gets in the way of the ability to empathize is the tendency on all sides to paint the opposition with a very broad brush. The way conservatives do this is to hang the institutional label of the Episcopal Church on every misdeed that any liberal has committed. All the detestable enormities of "revisionism" thereby become monolithic. It's an impressive list. Who can work up very much empathy for an institution that subverts the sacrament of marriage, rejects the authority of Holy Scripture, denies the divinity of Christ and his atoning work, allows Druids and Muslims to serve as priests, believes there are already enough Christians in the world, welcomes unbelievers and pagans to Holy Communion, and confuses the gospel with the Millennium Development Goals?

The problem is, "the Episcopal Church" doesn't do any of those things. Some--many, perhaps; including people in positions of high leadership--do some of them, and that is a serious problem. But nobody, to my knowledge, does all of them. And none of them represent the official teaching or practice of the Episcopal Church.

Liberals, of course, have their own version of the broad brush. They have, at various times, portrayed their opponents as misogynists, homophobes, mindless fundamentalists, neo-Puritans, Anglo-Baptist interlopers, and--my personal favorite--Nazis, all of whom get together at night while the good-hearted politically naive liberals are sound asleep to swear allegiance to the Chapman Memo and plot to steal the Episcopal Church from itself. What decent person in his or her right mind would want to hang out with that crowd?

Once again, the problem is that we're dealing sweeping generalizations. That any or all of the labels (except "Nazi," no doubt) has at one time or another been true of an Episcopalian/Anglican conservative is invoked by many as license to spray paint the whole list of labels on to anyone who dares to resist what is widely perceived as the majority view in TEC.

Of course, merely by describing these phenomena, I have to an extent indulged in them! So I will plead with anyone who will listen: Let's put the broad brushes away. Conservatives would do well to quit automatically unchurching anyone who holds "reappraiser" views, not just because it really pisses them off, but because it's just wrong to do. Somebody can hold a mistaken view on the sexuality questions without being lumped together with John Spong and Markus Borg--or Katharine Jefferts Schori, for that matter. Liberals would do well to quit assuming anyone who holds "reasserter" views does so out of either ignorance, selfishness, or mere power-hungry churlishness. A person can hold a traditional view of sexual morality without being lumped together with Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps.

Both sides in this mess clearly feel beaten up and misunderstood by the other. There is abundant opportunity for empathy. But lest it be thought that I'm just turning into a ball of cotton candy, I will observe that empathizing is not just a charitable thing to do, it's a strategically smart thing to do. I am regularly astonished at how few on either side of the divide seem to understand this. Somehow it's more appealing--no doubt because it's more gratifying in the short term--to hang on to our broad brushes, responding to our opponents with sweeping generalizations and rhetorical flourishes, scoring easy PR points with our homeys by lobbing polemical hand grenades across enemy lines. That's a surefire formula for a World War I-style stalemate. Whichever side is the first to successfully get inside their opponents' collective head, to learn to think what they think and feel what they feel, to learn what motivates them from the inside, will be the first to emerge from the foulness of the trench.

Such a move may lead to final victory. Then again, in God's mercy, it may lead to reconciliation--reconciliation of a sort that none of us can presently envision or imagine.

26 comments:

Keith said...

Thank you Dan for this post. As a member of Remain Episcopal, I have certainly been besmirched and maligned and declared guilty by association. Ironically, I am quite conservative in most areas, but do have a strong sense of social justice.

I have found the battling that goes on in the blogs to be most soul-battering, so have avoided the fray as best I can, except to speak out publicly when necessary.

Reconciliation begins with an agreement to enter neutral ground, unarmed, under a flag of truce. That flag, for Christians, is the Cross.

The next step is to come to the table empty-handed. Leave your demands back in camp (repent, recant, gimme, leggo, etc.) Bring, instead, your hopes and dreams - more precisely, the hopes and dreams God has given/revealed to you (e.g. a place where people can worship lovingly and kindly; where people are happy/blessed and, therefore, a blessing; etc.).

Then, map out how we can get there, knowing there is no there without WE.

WE are the "whosoever" Christ died for; WE are those who believe.

Of course, that is just my opinion, but I am happy to share it with you.

Peace,

Keith+

Anonymous said...

Hi Father Dan from the longest-serving Transitional Deacon whom you mentioned a day or so ago!

I want to heartily concur with your request that all posters toss the broad brushes and attempt to conduct conversation in Christian love!

Francie

JamesW. said...

Dan: A few thoughts on your comments:

1. It is an inescapable fact that if the HoB and Executive Council support KJS's flagrant abuse of the canonical process in the Diocese of San Joaquin, and if neither General Convention nor anyone else lifts a finger to stop her, then it can be safely argued that those in power in TEC support the flagrant abuse of the canonical process when it suits them. This is no longer a "broad brush" but a demonstrable reality. That is why I consider the DSJ situation, of inestimable importance.

2. I am one who strongly believes that the best, if unfortunate, solution to TEC's presenting crisis is to acknowledge that there are two incompatible religions in one institution and that they really should be separated. Easy to say, but I am under no illusion that the really difficult part would be to describe each resulting jurisdiction. The liberal side is not nearly so homogenous as we might first think it is, and neither is the conservative side (as is actually more obvious with the many realignment options on the table today).

3. TEC is currently unable to save itself. Too much trust has been lost. As I stated in another post, TEC has two options:
1) Mutually Assured Destruction - if both sides try to keep all the marbles for themselves (this seems to afflict TEC's ruling heirarchy); or
2) Mutually Agreeable Seperation - not the best solution, but, I think, the only solution that has a ghost of a chance in this time of a complete breakdown of trust.

Malcolm+ said...

I generally make a distinction between conservatives and "conservatives - the former being those who disagree with me on the present issue, the latter those who disagree and have chosen the tactic of schism. My principle issue is with the latter.

I understand that this is still a rather broad brush, but even so I attempt to stay away from broad accusations about "all" of the "conservatives."

I make some effort to criticize specific actions or specific individuals for their actions, rather than to launch mass condemnations of any and all who disagree with me.

And as a passionate person who is nonetheless still beset with sin, I sometimes lose my temper and lash out with that broad brush. This particularly when I am accused of rejecting Jesus, not taking the Bible seriously or "loathing" Christian belief.

Your post is an excellent reminder that those on "the other side" are all still God's children - however self-righteously superior we may feel about them at times.

Jon said...

JamsW.

GC is'nt in a position to stop the the PB for the simple reason that it isn't in session ATM and won't be in session until 2009 by which time there could very easily be two SC's claiming to be the SC of the Diocese of San Joaquin and a lot more hard feelings. At that point there probably wouldn't be much that GC could do beynond set up proceedures for any future situations in which a bishop tries to remove his diocese from TEC both because of the lateness in addressing the problems in San Joaquin and because GC is a gigantic committee composed of a wide variety of people who would certainly fight over how best to respond.

All that aside, I don't know that the HoB agrees with the PB's actions. It is quite possible that some of them are asking or will ask her pointed questions about the way she has handled the situation so far, although we may never hear that those questions have been asked.

Either way the SC that niether Bishop Schofield nor the PB recognize would probably be better served by deciding which way they want to go (stay in TEC or go to the Southern Cone) and then trying to engage positively with the relevant authorities. For example, if they want to remain part of TEC they could meet with the folks the PB has sent in and see if they could come to some sort of agreement. After all, it's not an illegal encrochment if the SC approves it, at least not after the Bishop is deposed.

Jon

Beryl Simkins said...

Wow, I see a new side of you in this article. This is reasonable, honest, and also courageous.
We are all Christians, sincere Christians, and it is not hard to see how much is lost when we continue to loft grenades at one another.

I like Keith's suggestions that we come to the table empty-handed, bringing our hopes and dreams. I would also suggest that we seek the ways where we do agree. What are our common ideals, our common goals?

To Jamesw I would say, there are so many couples who wind up in divorce court with just that kind of thinking. And I would also say, what about the love?

It is not too much to ask people to put down the broad brushes. Too many things have been said too many times so that untruths and half truths are believed.
I believe that we are all part of the body of Christ, that our very differences are important. We need the "liberal" and "conservative" perspective for the healthy balance in what we do. And I think that it is all of us, in fellowship, who are able to represent the love of Christ in a broken world. We don't look so welcoming and loving to the secular world right now.

Kevin M said...

Here's my take on the "two religions" idea: First of all, what exactly is meant by that? I'm willing to believe, until further explanation comes, that those who use this expression mean one thing while those to whom it refers hear something else. When I hear or read it, I interpret it as meaning that one "side" is Christian and the other is not. Is that a correct reading? On the other hand, is "religion" here referring to different forms of Christianity, such as Roman Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc.? Either way, it's a problematic expression that continues to paint with a broad brush.

Kevin M said...

On another note, what other ways can we work to tone down the rhetoric?

Frankly, the blogosphere seems to bring out the worst in all of us.

If we're serious about being Incarnational in our theology and practice, perhaps live face-to-face meetings, though not always for theological discussion, between people on different sides of this "current unpleasantness" can put a more human element to this.

For example, last January I was in Savannah for a conference and decided to attend Christ Church, which is now under the oversight of Uganda. I didn't quite know what to expect at first but found it quite pleasant. It was a standard Rite II Eucharist (I think, my memory is sometimes fuzzy) from the 1979 BCP with an excellent sermon by the rector and a overall mildly Evangelical flavor in prayer and song. They even prayed for PB Schori and the Bishop of Georgia. (Frankly, I haven't heard in more liberal churches a whole lot of prayers for bishops on the other "side.") If I hadn't known the background politics, I would have thought I was in a conservative, Evangelical Episcopal Church. The most unsettling thing about it was that I actually enjoyed it and felt comfortable there (at least on that Sunday).

Despite the (enormous) difficulties, I'm not prepared to give up on this family.

Anthony said...

I told you that other thread was getting out of hand. Sometimes a good discussion can degenerate into flaming just for the joy of flaming, and then I think it's best to just stop it and say let's come back and talk about this another time. Blogging reminds me of the pamphleteering of the 18th Century (or of the Reformation in Germany!): it thrives on emotion and partisanship and though it can be a uniquely powerful means of disseminating information and opinion, can quickly fall into partisanship, and rhetoric just for the entertainment value of rhetoric.

My question for jamesw is: what makes you think you can split this unwieldy bunch of individuals that is TEC and its offshoots into only two divisions, if they are to be based on beliefs?

JamesW. said...

Kevin M. - when I use the term two religions, I mean that there are two incompatible ways of seeing such things as creation, the Fall, the work and significance of Jesus Christ and his death, etc. When I hear KJS and many liberal TEC clergy speak on these issues, it sounds very similar to what I heard from an old yoga teacher describe as her basically Hindu/New Age beliefs. I don't say this to beat you down or anything, but to acknowledge what I hear and what I understand.

It is a fact that KJS has said that Jesus is Christian's "vehicle to the divine", and that is exactly what my old yoga teacher told me. On the flip side, I understand catholic Christianity to say something very different.

If you wish to name the two religions Christianity1 and Christianity2, that is fine.

Some years ago, I spent a year long educational exchange in San Francisco and attended St. Gregory's of Nyssa TEC parish - one of the most liberal in TEC. There was a lot to like about the place including creativity and quite a welcoming attitude. But after a while, it became clear to me that the version of Christianity preached at St. Gregory's was not historic, catholic Christianity. Call it like you will, but IMHO, it has more in common with New Age/self-affirming/universalism then it does with catholic Christianity.

I see this distinction very much with regard to the homosexuality issue. The two different versions of Christianity prevalent in TEC results in two very very different responses to homosexuality. That is just fact.

I think it more profitable to acknowledge these differences openly rather then to pretend that they don't exist.

JamesW. said...

anthony: Actually, my point is what you say - it would not be so easy for either the liberals or the conservatives to split neatly into two groups. That is why I argue (in other blogs) that it is very likely that the splits and demise of TEC will continue apace, and that Anglicanism will only be saved in the long term by the grace of God. Because it certainly won't be saved by us.

Virginia Gal said...

Dan - good post - thank you for this bit of sanity.

It would help matters if people would realize that your home church - where you were confirmed or received - cannot be considered the typical TEC parish. There is no such thing. It takes some effort to learn about all the ways Episcopalians "work," in corporate and private worship. It has always been that way, and there have always been different flavors of seminaries, too.

I'd like to see the Anglican tradition of via media survive. Our current differences are nothing compared to the early days of the (organized) Church of England. Our church is quite old in the realm of post-colonial Anglicanism, and it's not wrong for the younger churches, with different cultures, to judge what they do not understand. They will see their own evolution as time goes on. The will have skirmishes much as we do here in the U.S.

God hasn't stopped sending us messages, so listen up! We all have something different to contribute.

Peace in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

JamesW. said...

beryl: You ask "what about the love?" - and I would have to reply that it's pretty hard to see the love coming from KJS and the HoB what with all the lawsuits, depositions, canonical abuse and rejections of Communion resolutions.

I would regard a "divorce" as the last resort. But our current trajectory is the wholesale destruction of TEC. Beryl - TEC is a church in serious decline - seminaries are closing, the membership is in a free fall, finances are drying up. Instead of dealing with these issues, we are engaged in a crippling civil war. One side (TEC heirarchy) is in the same position as the French were in Spain in 1809-11 (i.e. they had the clear military advantage in terms of armies, equipment, etc.). The other side (conservative groups) are in the same position as the Spanish resistance and British army of the time (i.e. heavily outnumbered, divided, but with total commitment). The result was a nasty, brutal conflict, with the French army subjected to a long war of attrition which they eventually lost.

Is this what you want? I would be ecstatic of the HoB and KJS recanted their rejection of DAR and agreed to the only scheme that had a chance of keeping TEC together. But TEC's official organs rejected that plan. All I am saying here, is don't choose the "Mutually Assured Destruction" option and then complain when the inevitable consequences come to pass.

Beryl Simkins said...

Jamesw,
I don't want to battle with you, another Christian, but I must disagree with a lot of what you say.
If the current trajectory is, as you say, the wholesale destruction of TEC, then I think that is tragic, considering the fact that we are discussing such a beautiful, historic church that is so much a part of our American heritage. If it is true that our Episcopal Church is in a serious decline, it is because "we" are destroying her. And who will answer to Christ for that?

So, as you describe it,the metaphor for our differences is the war between France and Spain,(1809-1811), which resulted in a "nasty brutal conflict with the French army [TEC, according to your description], subjected to a long war of attrition which they eventually lost. "Is that what you want'", you say to me. Of course, I do not. But I would say that we have to stop thinking about who is "winning," and who is "losing," and start thinking about what common beliefs and understandings we have that bring us together at the Lord's table.
For me, "I" want to be the best Christian I can be, a simple member of the laity who lives out her life in good faith in her best understanding of the love of Christ. I will not take the "easy" road, and, certainly, the road I have taken has not proven to be easy. I will live what I believe, even when to do so is unpopular and difficult.

Again, I say, we have to stop lofting grenades at each other.
We need to put our weapons down, and look at each other. We have been told to see Christ in the sick, the hungry, the downtrodden; how about seeing Christ in the human face of other Christians, the fellow Episcopalians with whom you disagree?

JamesW. said...

Beryl: I don't think that anybody wants a civil war, but we need to be realistic about what is actually going on. As I understand what the evidence shows that both sides are perfectly willing to stand down from the fight PROVIDED that it is ON THEIR TERMS.

For those on the liberal side (very much including Remain Episcopal in the DSJ) this means "yes, we will stand down, provided you agree to women's ordination, same-sex blessings and practicing gay bishops as an option in every diocese."

For those on the conservative side (including JDS) this means "yes, we will stand down provided we agree that the Anglican Communion teaching on sexual ethics shall be the governing discipline in TEC and that dioceses and bishops shall be free to act their conscience on women's ordination."

And there is the rub Beryl. I can claim as much as I want that I want peace, and that I will stop lobbing grenades, etc., etc. But you will never agree to my conditions and I will never agree to yours. So what then?

Well, there was one path forward. It wasn't really what conservatives wanted but we were willing to work with it as the only route forward. KJS at first agreed to follow this path. It is the path of the DAR Pastoral Plan. It didn't completely satisfy either side. It called on all sides to "stop lobbing grenades", to "enter neutral ground", to "come to the table empty-handed", to set aside concepts of who is winning and losing, to take the hard road. But the heirarchy of TEC didn't want this plan, and KJS reneged on her promise to support it.

Again, Beryl, please stop making cheap comments about your willingness to get along and compromise if you are not willing to do so (I recall that Remain Episcopal opposed the DAR plan) when the rubber hits the road. I too could make cheap comments, but where would that get us??? Until both sides begin to deal with the very real issues in a brutally honest fashion, nothing will be resolved, and the beautiful church you claim to love will continue its decline (and Beryl, it isn't just me, do check all the latest statistical trends - TEC is one of the fastest declining denominations in the USA).

Thomas+ said...

Fr. Dan,

I guess that some of the exponential rise in granade throwing and/or flamming in the blofosphere have to do with the uncanny ability that to one degree or other we all share of reading just pieces of the Scripture and leaving out those that for one reason or other is conveniently set aside.

For instance, the apostle urges Timothy to "not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses." (1 Tim 5:9), and yet, here (certainly not a fault of yours!), as in many other blogs right and left, time after time one can read "beacause the leadership" or KJS this or Akinola that. And yet, and I am ready to be the farm, very few, if any, of the most oppinionated commenters have ever attended a meeting of the House of Bishops, the Executive Council, or engaged personally or read the Bible together with their "culprit of the day."

People are assigned guilt by hearsay. I can't believe this is what Jesus asked us -- indeed, commanded us -- "To love our enemies." No one, not even one as Paul says, liberal or conservative or in-between, this side of heaven deserves forgiveness or love, other than utter dismissal. Yet, God so loved us...

Peace in Christ,

Thomas+

Aghaveagh said...

For me, the binary way of looking at it ("us versus them", whoever "us" and "them" happen to be) is not as useful as the realization that from the very beginnings of the Church there have always been differences in belief--disagreements about circumcision, for example, or the long drawn-out battle over Arianism.

In fact, Bart D. Ehrman uses the term "Christianities" to describe this early period of the Church, acknowledging that it was not monolithic.

Am I a reappraiser? I agree far more with Dan Martins than with Bishop Spong. Am I a reasserter? I do not think there is a Biblical imperative against the ordination of women, so I must not be. I am High Church smells and bells, more trans- than con-substantiation, but with a more "reappraising" view on social issues.

So what does that make me? Neither flesh nor fowl nor good red herring? Why must I be labeled at all?

What we have in this Church--and what for me is its strength--is a continuum of beliefs, not a binary opposition--and most people find themselves somewhere along the lines of this continuum, not lumped en masse at its outer fringes--although of course it is the lunatic fringe on either side that gets the press.

I do not want a monochromatic, monolithic, homogenized church. I do not want everyone in the pew in front of me and in back of me to think exactly the same as me. My husband and I do not agree on many theological incidentals--but we both believe in the Creed we recite each Sunday, and we both know that in this life we see through a glass darkly, and so certainty will never come in this life, except that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Virginia Gal said...

And Jesus wept.

For the empty pews, and the silence of prayers unsaid, and hymns unsung. Because those that are neither firmly on the left, or on the right, just decided not to show up one Sunday. And then, the next...

Our hope is not in the ways of man, but the ways of God - and the work of the Holy Spirit. Not the way of "divorce," but finding commonalities. It is not our place to define the undefinable, the God of our hearts. I would gladly work at the soup kitchen with anyone who visits here, would all of you take that challenge if it was practical?

jamesw, don't fuss at me as a dreamer (LOL). I have a corporate American side to my soul, and know about ships needing a captain. Commanded a few myself in my day. But this is not a corporation sole, it is a matter of or corporate souls. Finding a way to pray and do for our communities as our Lord taught us. Squabbling now and again, to be certain. But not always.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. They Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give is this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory.

Forever and ever. Amen.

Beryl Simkins said...

Oh, Jamesw,
This is all very sad. You cannot agree with me, you say, and so we must continue in this civil battle, which is really not civil.

You don't even know me, and for some reason, I am your enemy while we both proclaim that we are Christians. If you met me somewhere in this life, you would meet a woman who is 67 years of age, who has 2 children and 7 grandchildren. I was an elementary teacher for 25 years, and then went back to school, after an early retirement, and earned a PhD in Clinical Psychology. I worked as a counselor, managed a counseling center, did social work, and I am now retired. Do I really seem like an anti-Christ to you? Do I really seem like an individual who would make "cheap comments" in order to "get along."?

The comments and statements I have made are not "cheap;" they arise our of a lot of thought, and a whole lot of anguish that I have experienced in this Diocese of San Joaquin.

I already told you, I know about the "statistical trends" of which you speak. Please, stop and look realistically at what brings people into union with a church, and what drives them away. Church conflicts are a major factor. Who would want to come in and be a part of a church that exhibits as much animosity as we are exhibiting currently? And should our concern be about our declining numbers, or should we be concerned about our distraction from mission?

From what you said in the last letter you wrote, the issue of sexual ethics is your major concern. There is no doubt that you and I disagree on this issue. My background in the field of psychology informs me that here are a number of people among us who are homosexual. That is as it is, a fact of life. We people have many differences and that is just one of them, and the God that I understand is big enough to embrace all of us. Thanks be to God.

One very small word you used in the statements you made was "optional." Such an important word. We are not at the same place in our Christian journeys; we are not all of the same understanding or at the same level of thinking. But is it not possible for you, who are oh, so conservative, to appreciate that? You may go to a church that will not allow same sex blessings. I will choose to go to a church that will embrace all Christians who seek to follow Christ, and who want to honor the important and intimate union they have with a significant other, and who seek God's blessing.
I have always known that we Episcopalians had differences. I always knew that the others with me at the altar rail, seeking communion with God in the blessed sacraments, had our differences. But I never questioned the other people. I knew that each of us came[othodox, conservative revisionist, liberal, reasserter], confessing our sins, in love and charity with our neighbor, seeking the solace that is offered. That is enough for me. Why isn't it enough for you?

Kevin M said...

As I mentioned in my example above of Christ Church, Savannah, I (a high-church gay reasserter/liberal/whatever member of the Episcopal Church) felt quite comfortable in this low-church conservative parish under the oversight of Uganda.

We worshiped with the same liturgy, from the same Book of Common Prayer. I was invited to receive communion. We share in the same baptism and gathered around the same table. Yet we're not in communion. How does that work?

Phil said...

As one of the disputants on the earlier thread, it won’t surprise anybody that I lean more in the direction of painting with the broad brush. The reason can be found in the old piece of wisdom, “Silence gives assent” – or, to put a finer point on it, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

In recounting a partial litany of serious errors taking place in ECUSA, you ask, Fr. Dan, “Who can work up very much empathy for an institution that …?” The problem that I see is, lots of people do, including its leadership.

I also see this:

The problem is, "the Episcopal Church" doesn't do any of those things. Some--many, perhaps; including people in positions of high leadership--do some of them, and that is a serious problem. But nobody, to my knowledge, does all of them. And none of them represent the official teaching or practice of the Episcopal Church.

as a classic evasion of responsibility, and an old favorite from ECUSA loyalists, as there are no limits to what can be excused with this logic. Is that really the ecclesial world we want?

Classical Anglican comprehensiveness is being used to justify a culture of “anything goes.” Not only is that a distortion of our history, it robs ECUSA of any coherence whatsoever. That is death for an organization (any organization), and we see the fruits around us. If I’m not expected to have any shared beliefs with the person next to me, why would we go on pretending to be within the same boundaries? I can (and should) serve the poor alongside a Jew or a Buddhist, but that isn’t the same thing as making a charade of saying we share the same “mission,” religion-wise.

Those that would paint with a broad brush will be defanged when the people that hold the reins of power in ECUSA, and their supporters, speak with clarity about the Presiding Bishop’s frequent errors, move swiftly to correct a Redeemer Morristown when it’s made known, and respectfully remove Jack Spong from the clerical rolls of the church (instead of Godly, elderly bishops such as William Cox), among other things. All this can be done without touching the sexuality agenda.

As I said on the earlier thread, forgive me that the discussion was not more civil.

JamesW. said...

Beryl: Did I ever say I was your "enemy"? Did I ever say that *I* want to continue the civil war? No, I never said those things.

I don't really have the same emotional tie in that you have since I have pretty much accepted the fact that TEC is in steep decline, the conservatives will continue to leave but won't be able to offer a united alternative, and that it really is all in God's hands. As a conservative, I believe that the fight for TEC is lost, that the conservatives don't have anything united or terribly exciting to offer, but that the liberals can't actually win either, and so TEC is actually a "dead man walking", waiting for the finances to give out before final collapse into a small, irrelevant unitarian sect. I don't know if God is pruning Anglicanism for greater work later, or if He is just letting a withering branch die. That is beyond me. I can only be faithful in my immediate sphere, and I am okay with that.

I merely pointed out that you say out of one side of your mouth "oh, poor me, all those other nasty people are causing the strife which is bringing my church down" but out of the other side of your mouth you refuse any concession or workable resolution unless it is 100% on your terms.

When I suggest you are making cheap comments Beryl, it is because you like to pretend that you are all for peace, reconciliation, etc., when it comes to words, but you oppose any practical agreements or arrangements that might lead to peace and reconciliation. Words are easy. However, it is actions that matter.

So let me get specific Beryl - please tell me EXACTLY what it was about the Dar es Salaam Pastoral Plan that you and Remain Episcopal objected to to such an extent that it was worth TEC being thrown into the current cycle of infighting. I would like to know. Don't give me platitudes, don't attack me, don't make illinformed accusations, just tell me SPECIFICALLY what it was about the DAR plan that you so objected to that you supported its rejection.

Because the DAR plan was the last hope for REAL reconciliation. Not on my terms and not on your terms, but on terms that every single primate of the Anglican Communion had agreed to.

Kevin M said...

Ok, here's another thing I don't get; maybe someone can explain it to me.

A number of conservatives (for lack of a better term) are leaving TEC, no argument there. Why are they then continuing the fight? Isn't it quite a bit healthier (spiritually, psychologically, even physically) to kick the dust off their feet and get on with their lives. I've even heard from some people things such as, "Oh, the Episcopal Church is so heretical. That's why I swam the Tiber thirty years ago." My response: "Um, so why are you still making a fuss about it?"

I don't want anyone (including conservatives) to leave, but if they do walk out the door, why are they still in the yard shouting and throwing stones?

Please explain this to me.

JamesW. said...

Kevin M. - I haven't left TEC yet, but I can answer your question. It's because everyone recognizes that TEC remains the official Anglican "franchise" in the USA. If a solution disconnected the Anglican franchise from TEC and discontinued the use of coercion to keep parishes and dioceses in line, and very few people would care what happened in TEC. As it stands, there is dispute over Anglican status and even though conservatives are pretty disunited, they are united in the face of the legal abuse and coercion practiced by the TEC heirarchy.

This is why I think it was/is a strategic blunder of monstrous proportions why TEC's leadership has never agreed to a Dar es Salaam-like proposal. If the conservatives are such a small minority (as asserted by TEC's leadership), then why not let them have some modest realignment??? Doesn't really make sense to me.

Anonymous said...

RE: "A number of conservatives (for lack of a better term) are leaving TEC, no argument there. Why are they then continuing the fight?"

Depends on where they went. If they went to a church connected with a province of the Anglican Communion, then they are actually still in the fight -- after all, high on their goal list is that they want a non-TEC Anglican entity in the US recognized by Canterbury.

Makes sense, then, to continue in the battle of which they have remained if they are a part of another Anglican Communion province.

Malcolm+ said...

Phil, on that other thread, has acknowledged his part in making the conversation there - I believe the word he used was "uncivil."

I can do no less than acknowledge my part in that as well.

The irony is that my initial post there was to decry the very thing you are referring to in this post - the tendency to write off "the other side" with dismissive caricatures.

It is a tendency that exists on all sides.

And it is a trap into which any commentator - no matter how civil s/he strives to be - can easily fall.

Mea culpa.