So, as the news has emerged over the past few weeks that the (Episcopal) Diocese of Northern Michigan has discerned Kevin Thew Forrester as its next bishop, I have attempted to avoid rushing to judgment. You see, Father Thew Forrester, in addition to being an Episcopal priest and rector of St Paul's Church in Marquette, Michigan, is also a practicing Buddhist, and has received "lay ordination" in Buddhism, which includes taking a Buddhist name. There are those who contend, after all, that Buddhism is more a philosophy and a set of spiritual practices than it is a religion in the sense that Christianity is a religion. Hence, there is no inherent contradiction between the two; one can practice Christianity in a Buddhist "style."
Although I have seen some credible refutations of this position, I would, all things being equal, be willing to give Fr Thew Forrester the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he is up to nothing more sinister than were those Zen-meditating Trappist monks I visited in Oregon back in the 1980s. Unfortunately, all things are not equal. A credible source reports, confirming what was already anecdotally known, that, as rector of his current parish, he has engaged in numerous violations of TEC's constitution and canons in the exercise of liturgical leadership, casting aside not only the letter of the law--the texts and rubrics of the Prayer Book--but its spirit as well--the underlying theology of the gospel itself. He is clearly preaching "another gospel," one that bears little resemblance to classical Christianity in any form, let alone an Anglican one.
If this were happening a few weeks later, the confirmation of Fr Thew Forrester's election would come before General Convention, as did Gene Robinson's in 2003. As it is, it will be the Bishops unconvened and the Standing Committees who will bear that responsibility. Even so, however, I believe this situation has the potential to amount to a serious aftershock to the 2003 Robinson earthquake. If the election is confirmed and the consecration proceeds, it will be another signal to the rest of the Anglican Communion that, as far as the Episcopal Church is concerned, the privileges of autonomy trump the responsibilities of communion every time. It will be yet more grist for the mills of those who squander no opportunity to portray TEC as deranged substantially and not merely accidentally. It will make it that much more difficult for General Convention to respond in any affirming way to whatever version of the Anglican Covenant is revealed in Jamaica in May.
On the other hand, if Bishops and Standing Committees summon the fortitude to nip this one in the bud, the effect could be salutary indeed. Dare one hope?