I find particularly interesting the light Dr Prichard's work sheds on the evolution of the office of Presiding Bishop, and, more recently, the office of President of the House of Deputies--indeed, of the House of Deputies itself as an entity that more and more has a "life" outside the two weeks out of every 156 when it is actually assembled in General Convention. All this, in turn, has a rather direct bearing on the revelations made last week (see the post before last) with respect to 815's legal strategy in the Diocese of South Carolina.
It is tempting to say that the Episcopal Church is in the midst of a constitutional crisis, but that would be to say, simultaneously, both too little and too much--too little, because there's a lot more going on than differences over polity (like cultural and demographic forces that are a lot larger than any of our current fights over "hot issues"), and too much, because our polity is not based on any outside point of reference (in secular parlance, the "rule of law"), but is intrinsically and thoroughly political, which is to say that those who have (or arrogate to themselves) responsibility for implementing and enforcing the constitution and canons have as much leeway in the interpretation of those documents as their political base (ostensibly and formally General Convention, but it's more complex than that) is willing to afford them, and at the present time that political base seems to have written a blank check to the Presiding Bishop. No amount of legal analysis proving she is wrong in her reading of the canons will be of any avail as long as the ecclesiastical equivalent of her "job approval rating" remains high. There are no "civil" procedures by which to challenge her in church courts, because the only courts we have are ad hoc and are convened only in response to "criminal" allegations ... and her political base is so strong that those who are in a position to formally accuse her of of misconduct are strongly disincentivized from doing so; the personal risk is great and the hope of success slim.