Monday, December 29, 2008

What Santa Brought Me

On the first day of Christmas ... well, a couple of days early, for practical family reasons ... my wife and kids (two of them in absentia) presented me with a gift bag containing a lump of charcoal and an egg dyed green. It did not take me long to deduce that they stood in for a very trendy (and I say that in a positive way) piece of equipment used for grilling and smoking. 

Yum. I so have spring fever.

But on this fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ... a dictionary.

So, as you can see, not just any dictionary. This is the Mother of All Dictionaries (the ones in English, at any rate). It's a twenty volume set, only a small fraction of which I will ever read before I bequeath them to my children, who will undoubtedly squabble over them voraciously.

The first edition was published eighty years ago (hence, the numerals on the graphic). This is the second edition, which came out in 1989. So it is, in some sense, obsolete. But it was obsolete before the ink was dry; such is the fate of any snapshot of a living human language. 

I have long been, in the true sense of both these words (look them up in your OED!), an amateur philologist. So this is an exciting gift. I will leave you with this tidbit from the opening entry, on the letter A:

3. In Abstract reasoning, hypothetical argumentation, Law, etc. A means any one thing or person...
1866 (in Bowen Logic iii, p. 49) Every conceivable thing is either A nor not-A. Of course, A and not-A, taken together, include the universe.

Ponder that!

Friday, December 26, 2008

An Important Conversation

Fellow Northern Indianan, newly-minted PhD, short-term missionary that my parish (modestly) helps support, and incoming editor of The Living Church--and my good friend--Christopher Wells has participated in a quite important dialogue-tiliting-toward debate with the Revd Dr William Franklin of the Anglican Centre in Rome over some of the factors underlying our current Anglican Angst. If you're a true Anglican geek, watch the whole thing (some 47 minutes). Or see the trailer here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

This Is Only A Test

The following Christmas greeting is widely available on the web, and I suspect that most readers of this blog have already seen it, and know the source. But, just in case you haven't, give it a look . . . with both an open heart and an analytical eye. (I have only slightly edited it to remove obvious clues.) What do you think? Is this a fair representation of Christmas or "the Christmas spirit"? Was it written by a Christian? Is it a within the wide bounds of Christian belief? What do you think?

In the Name of God the Compassionate the Merciful.
Upon the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, Son of Mary, the Word of God, the Messenger of mercy, I would like to congratulate the followers of Jesus Christ.

The Almighty created the universe for human brings and created human beings for Himself.

He created every human being with the ability to reach the heights of perfection. He called on man to aim to live a good life in this world and to work to achieve his everlasting life.

On this difficult and challenging journey of man from dust to the divine, He did not leave humanity to its own devices. He chose from those He created the most excellent as His Prophets to guide humanity.

All prophets called for the worship of God, for love and brotherhood, for the establishment of justice and for love in human society. Jesus, the Son of Mary is the standard-bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice.

All the problems that have bedevilled humanity throughout the ages came about because of humanity followed an evil path and disregarded the message of the Prophets.

Now as human society faces a myriad of problems and succession of complex crises, the root causes can be found in humanity's rejection of that message, in particular the indifference of some governments and powers towards the teachings of the divine Prophets, especially those of Jesus Christ.

The crises in society, the family, morality, politics, security and the economy which have made life hard for humanity and continue to put great pressure on all nations have come about because the Prophets have been forgotten, the Almighty has been forgotten and some leaders are estranged from God.

If Christ was on earth today undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.

If Christ was on earth today undoubtedly he would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over.

If Christ was on earth today undoubtedly he would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime. The solution to today's problems can be found in a return to the call of the divine Prophets. The solution to these crises can be found in following the prophets -- they were sent by the Almighty, for the happiness of humanity.

Today, little by little, the general will of nations is calling for fundamental change. This is now taking place. Demands for change, demands for transformation, demands for a return to human values are fast becoming the foremost demands of nations of the world. The response to this demand must be real and true. The prerequisite to this change is a change in goals, intentions and directions. If tyrannical goals are repackaged in an attractive and deceptive package and imposed on nations again, the people, awakened, will stand up against them.

Fortunately, today as crises and despair multiply, a wave of hope is gathering momentum. Hope for a brighter future, hope for the establishment of justice, hope for real peace, hope for finding virtuous and pious rulers who love the people and want to serve them – and this is what the Almighty has promised.

We believe, Jesus Christ will return and would lead the world to a rightful point; to a world of love, brotherhood and justice. The responsibility of all followers of Christ is to move towards that and to prepare the way for the fulfilment of this divine promise and the arrival of that joyful, shining and wonderful age. I hope that the collective will of nations will unite in the not too distant future and with the grace of the Almighty Lord, that shining age will come to rule the earth.

Once again, I congratulate one and all on the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ and I pray for the New Year to be a year of happiness, prosperity peace and brotherhood for humanity. I wish you every success.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Much Ado About Rick Warren

I have no personal investment in Rick Warren. I only skimmed A Purpose-Driven Life, so I could talk about it semi-intelligently when it was all the rage, but, while I found its contents quite sound and commendable and well-stated, they did not strike me as either original or remarkably profound. And while I cannot help but admire his accomplishments as a pastor and leader, he and I are in some very different places theologically (it's not a liberal-conservative thing, more of a catholic-evangelical thing). 

Which is all to say, I don't have a need to come to Rick Warren's defense. That which threatens him does not necessarily threaten me. And still less does he need me to come to his defense!

Pastor Warren has been in the spotlight over the past few days since the President-elect invited him to deliver the invocation and next month's inaugural ceremonies. Portions of Mr Obama's liberal base were disenchanted with that announcement, the problem being an apparent disconnect between Pastor Warren's views on certain social issues, which are decidedly conservative, and the President-elect's views, which are ... not so conservative.

Now, I don't really have a dog in this hunt. I was not among the jubilant on election night. But, by virtue of being an Episcopalian, I do have a stake in what some of the leading voices in my church are saying about this tempest. Pastor Warren was a visible supporter of Proposition 8 in his home state of California, and this has not set well with the guardians of gay rights orthodoxy in TEC. Some of the participants on the House of Bishops/Deputies listserv (HoBD) have suggested substantial similarity between Pastor Warren's views on homosexuality and those of Fred Phelps. (Click on the link and see for yourself, but I cannot bring myself to reproduce any of his truly vile and hateful screed.) They are incensed that he has used the term "holocaust" in connection with the number of abortions that take place in this country. They have labeled Warren's views extremist and resisted suggestions that he simply represents the mainstream of contemporary American evangelicalism. 

To all this I have to say . . . poppycock. Let's take the "abortion holocaust" issue first. Critics treat it like it's a comparison Rick Warren invented from whole cloth and is the only one using it. Has the Roman Catholic Church suddenly become invisible? As long ago as the ealy 1980s, John Powell, a popular Jesuit with a sort of cult following beyond church circles, published a book with the title Abortion: A Silent Holocaust, and the comparison has been part of Roman Catholic polemic on abortion ever since. My point is not to defend the language--although I think a cogent case can be made for its appositeness--but to point out that it's standard rhetorical fare. It can only be branded as extremist if one is willing to also so consign several tens of millions (at least) Americans. Rick Warren has lots of company on this.

But the bulk of the anti-Warren invective, including that emanating from Episcopalians, concerns his views on the place of same-sex relationships in American society. On the basis of this interview, his critics accuse him of trying to draw a moral equivalnce between committed same-sex relationships and relationships such as incest and pedophilia. This is tabloid jounalism of the worst sort. In fact, one could quite plausibly accuse him of not being hard enough on incest and pedophilia, since all he says is that they should not be labeled as "marriage"! If I were to denounce the suggestion that the definition of "lung" can be stretched to include "part of the digestive tract," does that make me an opponent of "equal rights for lungs"? I hope not! All I would be saying is that lungs should be allowed to be lungs and stomachs should be allowed to be stomachs, without confusing the two.

So, yes, the man has conservative views. But we're clearly not talking about some redneck bigot parroting unreflective prejudices. He supports gay rights on the concrete issues that actually affect lives (e.g. hospital visitation, inheritance). He opposes stretching the definition of marriage in ways it would never have occurred to anyone to stretch it before quite recently. In his opposition, he is neither mean-spirited nor unreasonable, and is not not only part of mainstream evangelicalism but enjoys the company of 52% of the California electorate, across sectarian lines. 

It seems worth adding that, while Rick Warren's views diverge from those that are apparently regnant at this time in the history of the Episcopal Church, they are solidly in the mainstream of global Anglicanism, both historical and contemporary. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Church Property Disputes & Common Sense

There's been a temptest raging today over on HoB/D over the amount of money (some $2 million, apparently) that the Episcopal Church has spent so far in legal fees trying to recover property held by congregations (and now dioceses) that have elected to sever their ties with "this church." The original poster opined that it is sinful to spend that kind of money taking other Christians to court. "Why not rather be defrauded?" as St Paul put it to the Corinthians. That poster subsequently got piled on by those putting forth the view that it's a simple matter of thievery (that is, on the part of "leaving" congregations); they're taking property that was intended to manifest the life and work of the Episcopal Church in perpetuity, and they must be resisted by every available means. I finally weighed in as follows:

I find myself dismayed by many aspects of this thread, though I am hard pressed to find anything to say that I have not already said many times, on this listserv and elsewhere. Anyone who thinks that there is one simple moral principle that can be applied like a blanket to cover all the property disputes that arise from the current unpleasantness is just not looking at reality. No two of these situations are exactly alike. The history, the present human dynamics, the financial paper trail, and a host of other factors, all contribute to the moral calculus in each individual case. 

Take, for example, a 150-year old physical plant that was paid for by long-departed donors. Yes, they clearly intended to advance the ministry of the Episcopal Church in their location--the founding documents probably say as much explicitly--so there is *prima facie* a strong presumption in favor of their stated wishes being honored. But it is more than plausible to counter that they would not recognize the Episcopal Church today as the same one they were intending to perpetuate, and not particularly because of any of the currently controverted issues. The mere fact that a set of chasubles fills the sacristy drawers may be enough to cause many of them to retrospectively rethink their largesse if such were possible. One cannot assume that the great-grandparents of today's senior parishioners would have one opinion or the other about "leaving" or "staying" in TEC as it is today. 

So, the repeated mantra of "fiduciary responsibility" wears a little thin. One must turn to other factors to make a prudent and sensible decision. If a majority of the present active congregation is in favor of leaving, but a significant minority is in favor of staying, the latter group should certainly not be turned out into the street--or the VFW hall. IMHO, too little imagination and charity have been exhibited in such situations; the winner-take-all mentality has been destructive. (The Colorado Springs situation seems a case-in-point here.) 

On the other hand, when a congregation is a relatively recent plant and the facilities have been paid for by parishioners who are more or less the present congregation, and the diocese has made no investment beyond the brand name, and there is an overwhelming vote in favor of leaving, it strikes me as beyond inane to take those folks to court. Justice is just a matter of common sense for those with open eyes. 

Then there are the "bite my nose to spite my face" cases where any victory on the part of TEC is pyrrhic because they're left with a church and a steeple but when they open the doors there are no people. Just heating and lawn care bills--and in many cases, a mortgage. Meanwhile, the people that could be worshiping and serving there guessed it...celebrating the Eucharist in the VFW hall on Sunday mornings. That's just idiotic. My former parish is in one of the four departed dioceses. Between my departure and my successor's arrival they eradicated the word "Episcopal" anywhere it was found and replaced it with "Anglican." Sooner or later, Mr Beers will get around to suing them. If he wins, he'll have a very handsome set of buildings dating back to the late 19th century and which are a collective black hole for maintenance dollars. I hope he enjoys watching them fall apart, because my guess is that even the residents of the columbarium will have relocated by then. 

This is a complicated mess. It requires a complicated cleanup. Nostrums about thievery are not helpful.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm a Grampa!

Here she is. All 8 lbs. of her. Born a little after 1 PM Central Time today. Ain't she cute?!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Covenant, the ???

If you frequent this corner of cyperspace, chances are you are already aware of this one. I am privileged to have been associated with since its inception some 16 months ago. Last weekend, about half of our 30ish contributors met in Dallas, many of us for the first time. We all came away energized by the calling we discern for our collective self as the history of Anglican Christianity is being made and re-made on a virtually daily basis. We are evolving from "just a blog" to ... what? A "movement"? We as yet see through the glass somewhat darkly, but something significant is brewing.

When I look at the picture of us, I feel out of place, because I was with several of the brightest minds in the Communion (and beyond). I'm especially pleased to have been distinctly over the median age of the group. That bodes well.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

On Doing the Wrong Thing Well

One cannot practice the Christian faith both long and deeply without somehow coming to terms with its paradoxical nature: God is one and God is three, Jesus is divine and Jesus is human, humans bears God's image and humans are fallen sinners, law is good and grace is good, faith and works are both key to salvation, etc. etc. The contradictory pairs keep on coming.

It is somewhat in that spirit that I take on what is by any estimation a big event in the development of Anglican Christianity. Tomorrow, in Wheaton, Illinois (part of the greater territory of my old childhood stomping grounds), representatives of a variety of ecclesial structures populated overwhelmingly by former Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans will assemble and constitute themselves as a church--one with a unified structure, a constitution and canons, liturgical formularies (one presumes), and methods of discipline; in short, all the institutional paraphernalia of a church. In Anglican parlance, they will style themselves a "province." Their undisguised intention is, in time, to effectively replace the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada as the holder of the Anglican "franchise" in North America.

I will not be there, even though I'm only some 150 miles away. I am, for the foreseeable future, an Episcopalian, and this is a decision I have made for reasons that range from the sublime to the mundane, from the principled to the practical. For me, this is the path of obedience. Moreover, I wish they were not doing what they are doing. As one who says the creeds enthusiastically without crossing his fingers and who does not believe any church is at liberty to recast the vision of marriage that "was established by God in creation" (Book of Common Prayer, p. 423), I continue to believe that it was a mistake, both theologically and strategically, for those who will form the new province tomorrow to have left the Episcopal Church. If I were in a position to wave a wand and dictate my will, they would all return.

But among those who gather in Wheaton (or who at least will be represented by those who gather), many are my friends. Per the Psalmist, "we took sweet counsel together, and walked with the throng in the house of God." (55:15) These are people with whom I have labored side by side in a number of contexts for the sake of the gospel. And my own vision of that gospel generally accords much more closely with theirs than it does with the that of the regnant leadership of my own church/province. So I am experiencing what I learned in my Psych 1 course nearly four decades ago to call "cognitive dissonance." I may as well come out with it: Even though in my mind I am persuaded of what I wrote in the above paragraph, there is no small part of my heart that is envious of those who are part of the new province. I won't bother to catalog the reasons for my envy; just stating the fact is sufficiently cathartic. (Aside to MBTI-philes: The fact that I am an INTJ explains why my head trumps my heart in this and just about every other matter.)

So, even though I would have it some other way if I could, the fact remains that I cannot, and that being the case, I find it in my mind (and my heart, truth to tell) to offer a valediction of sorts to the "Council of Wheaton." I have hopes for their project, even while I am not part of it:

  • I hope that will find a way to emphasize the joys and the truths that they are affirming, and minimize any rhetoric about the sorrows and falsehoods they believe themselves to be leaving behind.
  • I hope they will not surrender a commitment to communion with the See of Canterbury as a determinitive mark of Anglican identity.
  • I hope they will not lose sight of the traditional Anglican value of comprehensiveness and diversity within the bounds of creedal orthodoxy.
  • I hope they will maintain a spirit of respect and fraternal love toward those whose call is to maintain a witness within the Episcopal Church.
  • I hope they will open themselves to the notion that those who are mistaken on certain questions of sexual morality are not thereby necessarily heretical and/or apostate, but simply wrong.
  • I hope they will quickly overcome the differences between the divergent ecclesial cultures that have grown up even during the short time that extra-mural North American Anglicans have sought refuge in a number of different ports.
  • I hope they will embrace humility and gentleness of spirit with such abandon that the hearts of any detractors will melt in the face of such resistless love. 
My friends, in the words attributed to Luther, "sin boldly." If you are going to indeed do what you have evidently put your minds to, do it well. If it turns out you are wholly wrong (and the Spirit will make that clear over time), I will personally leave the light on for you here. If it turns out I'm the one who's whistling in the dark, save me a spot.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


One of the small joys of my vocation is that I get to spend Saturdays puttering around the church more or less alone. No other staff are around (well, the organist pops in and out, but she and I are friends); phone calls and walk-ins are rare. I find it an ambience that lends itself to contemplation as I go about my getting-ready-for-Sunday chores, and some pretty good praying sometimes happens in such an environment. 

Today was even more special than usual because I got to tweak the details of what my inimitable Facilities Manager and my wonderful Altar Guild had already accomplished in giving the church an Advent makeover: simple greens where the flowers usually are, wrought-iron candlesticks that are used only during Advent and Lent, no frontals on the altar, and, of course, an 
ample Advent Wreath that sits on a stand to the left of the aumbry. And this year a little something extra: I had a beautiful large icon of our patron saint moved from the narthex into the nave (with a proper lamp hung next to it) where it can serve as a focus of piety rather than something we walk past without noticing. 

I love Advent. And I mean Advent-as-it-is-in-itself, not merely a pious-sounding new label for "the holidays." I love the distinctive rhythym of the season--beginning with the Great Litany (I particularly enjoy chanting "beat down Satan under our feet" with some measure of solemn gusto) before rehearsing the Dies Irae-like pangs of eschatological darkness and exhortations to vigilance, moving on to the imprecations of John the Baptist tempered by the messianic reveries of Isaiah, then on to the Annuncation and Our Lady's fiat mihi, with the Great O Antiphons and Lessons & Carols helping to pick up the pace toward a denoument of incarnational joy in the Midnight Mass of Christmas Eve.

But I also appreciate Advent for being--of all the liturgical seasons--the most like real life. Advent is about always straining forward in unfulfilled yearning. It's about the paradox of "now but not yet." It's about waiting and hoping and getting ready for the Big Day when the Event for which the Chicago Cubs winning a World Series is the most apposite metaphor finally arrives. Most of us spend most of our lives yearning for something, hoping for something, waiting for something. It can be something as trivial as a traffic signal changing from red to green and as complicated as an intimate relationship that sometimes runs and sometimes crawls and frequently stumbles but always shows promise of (someday) settling into a nice comfortable gait.

I write, of course, as an Anglican Christian, and as an American, and both of these states of life (or, more accurately, the combination thereof) lie within the shadow cast by the season of Advent. We wait (for every word that proceeds from Lambeth Palace). We hope (for a positive outcome from the next of meeting of ... you name it: the Primates, the House of Bishops, the Joint Standing Committee, the Anglican Consultative Council, the Covenant Design Group, CAPA, the Global South Primates, the leaders of GAFCON, the Common Cause Partners, the Communion Partners, etc. etc.). We prepare (for the next secession of a diocese, for the next deposition of a bishop, for the unveiling of a new province). We ask, "How long?" We wonder whether we have enough oil in our lamps. And then we wait some more and hope some more and prepare some more.

Will Christmas ever get here?

At the level of cyclical chronos, of course, Christmas never fails to "get here." (Alas, for the retail industry, there are only 29 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, compared to 32 last year; yes, there are people who keep track of such details.) And that inviolable certainty, compounded in its effect the more times one actually experiences it, serves as a sign of hope and encouragement for anyone (i.e. pretty much everyone) who struggles with a cycle of yearning-turning-toward- fulfillment that is larger and longer than 365 days, including Anglicans like this unworthy blogger who are tempted on a daily basis to abandon hope for a happy issue out of our afflictions. (To say nothing of this unworthy Cubs fan.)

Veni, veni Emmanuel! Captivum solve Israel.

Rorate coeli desuper et nubes pluant justum.

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Who's Episcopal and Who's Not

In 2000, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in the sci-fi flick The 6th Day. He plays a cop who discovers that there's a clone of himself running around--fully grown, identical in voice and appearance, and sharing all his memories and abilities. You don't need me to describe the conflicts and plot possibilities inherent in that notion; they're pretty easily imagined.

Here's a parody on that theme. But before you watch it, if you're up to speed on the plot of 24/7 serial tragi-comedy Anglicanland: The Reality Show, prepare to make some connections.


Did you see the Emerging North American Province? Did you spot the Church-of-General-Convention? Did you catch a glimpse of the Covenant-signing Communion Partners? 

No? You didn't? You must look more closely. Oddly enough, I think there is some insight for Anglicans in this film--well, maybe not in the execution, but certainly in the concept.

Earlier this month, the dioceses of Quincy and Fort Worth did what everyone knew they were going to do and severed their relationship with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, and thereby from the institutional (constitutional and canonical) structure thereof. In so doing, they joined San Joaquin and Pittsburgh. For the time being, this appears to be it, unless there are rumblings from elsewhere that I have missed.

After practicing on San Joaquin (with several miscues amply noted in the record), the Presiding Bishop and her Chancellor have by now learned their lines pretty well--so well, in fact, that the rest of us can lip-synch with them: "We lament the news that some individuals in the Diocese of X. have decided to leave the Episcopal Church. Of course, while individuals are free to leave this church, dioceses and parishes cannot. Hence, all property, real and personal, which was under the trusteeship of those persons who have left is now owned by those who choose to remain members of the Episcopal Church. In the meantime, we will be deposing Bishop N. and all the clergy who have departed with him."

Or some such.

The news today is that the Presiding Bishop attempted to "pull a Duncan" on Bishop Iker of Fort Worth and have him inhibited and desposed just for planning to leave, but the Title IV Review Committee declined to act with sufficient expedition to make this possible. But now--appropriately after the fact--they have indeed met and certified the charge of abandonment, and Bishop Iker has received his inhibition letter. Formal deposition will no doubt occur at the March 2009 meeting of the House of Bishops.

Of course, none of this matters to Bishop Iker and the strong majority in the Diocese of Fort Worth, as is evident in their quick response to 815. The substance of these statements ("You're not the boss of us anymore...and you never were anyway") is quite predictable and not particularly noteworthy. But two details merit a second look. 

First, the letterhead still reads "The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth," and I don't think it's because they're just trying to be frugal and work through their old supply before they spring for new stationery. Now, when San Joaquin said "See yah!" they couldn't wait to get rid of the word "Episcopal" from all their communications media. People treated it like a bag of rotten food retrieved from the back of the bottom shelf in the refrirgerator, holding it at arms length with one hand and pinching their noses with the other on their way out to the trash bin. But when Pittsburgh's time came, they continued to style themselves the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh even after renouncing their relationship with General Convention and aligning themselves with the Province of the Southern Cone. Now, apparently, Forth Worth is following suit. (Whether Quincy has done the same I am not aware.)

Then, to drive this point home, the letter from Fort Worth's Standing Committee not only rejects the validity Presiding Bishop's Letter of Inhibition against Bishop Iker (since she has no authority over clergy discipline in the Province of the Southern Cone), but calls it a "border crossing." (!) 

The inference begging to be drawn from both Pittsburgh and Fort Worth is that not only do they believe themselves to have seceded from the Episcopal Church, but they have done so organically and with institutional continuity with their former selves, such that those parishes where the leadership wishes to be part of TEC cannot do so by passively "remaining" anywhere, but need to actively withdraw from "the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, Jack Leo Iker, Bishop" and then seek affiliation with TEC on whatever terms it can negotiate. And while these processes are working themselves out, the Presiding Bishop and her emissaries are viewed as interlopers if they have any dealings with those who were clerical or lay members of the Episcopal Diocese of Forth Worth as it was constituted on November 14.

It comes as no surprise that 815 has a different narrative by which they read current events. In that narrative, only individuals can leave, so anyone who is no longer under the authority of the constitution and canons of TEC and who continues to occupy property or control other assets of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is, in fact, a squatter at best, and very possibly a thief. Those who decline to follow their leaders to the Southern Cone represent the continuing "Episcopal dioceses" of San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, Quincy, and Fort Worth. 

When Adam Gibson, Mr Shwarzenegger's character in The 6th Day, discovers that there is a clone of himself, he knows that his only hope for a happy life lies in the utter destruction of the clone. Understandably, the clone feels precisely the same way, with the roles reversed. The clone, you see, carries all the memories of the original Adam Gibson. He has no recollection of being recently created and then assuming Adam Gibson's persona. As far as he is concerned, he is Adam Gibson, and anyone else who claims title to Adam Gibson's identity is a mortal threat. 

Now, there are a number of reasons why I am not a Hollywood screenplay writer, and among them is my inclination to resolve the Adam Gibson question peacefully. Maybe the wife and kids could be cloned as well, so there could be two parallel Gibson families, living in widely separated locations (say, one in Texas and the other in Argentina? OK, lame attempt at humor).

I think there is both enough guilt and enough innocence to go around in all four--or, I should probably say, all eight, when you include the clones--of the "Episcopal" dioceses of blessed memory--and for that matter, throughout the vulnerable infrastructure of Anglican Christianity. There need not be either heroes or villains. Everyone, both the leavers and the stayers (whatever one construes leaving and staying to look like), share the same memory, the same appearance, the same voice, the same abilities, as they shared before there were any leavers or stayers. Both have a legitimate claim to their shared inheritance--and I'm talking about an inheritance of identity, which is much more important than any dispute over bricks and mortar. Settling the property disputes raises some difficult issues, some of them agonizing. But they will remain intractable until some accomodation is reached on the identity issue. Solving that one is possible, I'm convinced, if any measure of charity can prevail. It's so easy that it's difficult, and so difficult that it's easy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Up In Smoke

The heart-wrenching news for me today comes from the Santa Barbara suburban neighborhood of Montecito, home of Westmont College, my alma mater

It's on fire.

The news reports mention it being a wealthy community, and it is. If you're not familiar with the area, we're talking about one of the most beautiful places on earth, a synergistic synthesis of natural and human artifice. It will recover its beauty--so innately and deeply gifted is the area. But some spectacular residential architecture will be lost, homes that, even though the vast majority of us could never afford to live in them, we are blessed by nonetheless because we partake of the same human spirit--lit by the Divine spirit--that is able to climb such aesthetic heights.

The edifice that anchors the Westmont campus is Kerrwood Hall, one of these vintage Montecito mansions that date from the 1920s. The college has been there since 1945, now covering some 139 acres and using several dozen buildings. I have learned tonight that unit 'S' of the Clark Hall dorm complex is one of the buildings that has been destroyed by the Tea Fire. I lived in 'Clark S' my junior year at Westmont, so the news brings me up short, and sends me on multitudinous trips down Memory Lane. It was in Clark Hall that I first had "too much to drink" (quite against the rules, I assure you). It was while living there that I began dating and got engaged to the love of my life. The list could go on.

I am grateful that there seem to be no injuries or deaths at Westmont, though a couple of hundred students suddenly have nowhere to live. More importantly, fourteen faculty homes have been destroyed, which is a horror for those families that I cannot even begin to imagine. 

I've not been the most gung-ho booster of my alma mater over the years. This is perhaps largely because I quit running in the free-church evangelical circles that form Westmont's core constituency. But I have always been, and will ever be, immensely grateful for my four years there (plus three more married to an adjunct faculty member). I received a challenging and integrative liberal arts education that continues to inform my participation in the universe of intellectual discourse, theological reflection, and the use of the English language. As a bonus, I acquired knowledge and skills in the field of music (my major) that I still make use of on a virtually daily basis in my work as a parish priest. (Sadly, they could not turn me into a competent french horn player; I only look competent in the above photo, taken after my senior recital.) And I must never forget that it was in a Westmont College music department practice room that, alone during spring break of my sophomore year in 1971, I sat down at a piano with the Hymnal 1940 and said to myself, "Where have these hymns been all my life? If there's a church that actually sings them, I need to be in it." That was the nodal point in my discovery of the Anglican tradition.

Of your charity, please hold the Westmont community in your prayers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hot News from the Heartland, II

(See here for Part I.)

Warsaw, Indiana--where I live and move and have my being--is the seat of Kosciusko (kah-zee-AH-sko) County. (One might surmise that it was settled by Polish immigrants, but that is not the case. The state legislator in the 1830s, a Mr Chapman, who somehow acquired the naming rights, wanted to honor George Washington's Polish comrade-in-arms, Tadeusz Kosciusko, and, as a bonus gesture, named the planned county seat after the capital of Mr Kosciusko's native land.)

By the standards of most Americans--certainly by the standards of my life before moving here--Warsaw qualifies as a "small town." The inside-the-city-limits population is only some 12,000. We're about 45 miles NW of Fort Wayne and 50 miles SE of South Bend. Still talking small towns, you say? Well, we're roughly 120 miles from both Chicago and Indianapolis, in opposite directions. 

Yet, we are not without urban (OK, suburban) amenities. We have a WalMart, a K-Mart, a Lowe's, and a Menard's under construction. (Discerning shoppers still patronize the locally-owned Ace Hardware, however.) We have two McDonalds, two Dairy Queens, and two Arbys, plus one each of Taco Bell, Wendy's, Burger King, Hardee's (Carl's Jr. for you Californians), Long John Silver's, Quizno's, KFC, Subway, several pizza joints, and three locations of our home-grown sensation, Penguin Point (ever get a hankerin' for a pork tenderloin sandwich?). And as for sit-down chains, we have Applebee's, Bennigan's, Bob Evans, Golden Corral, and the favorite default of the Dragonfly and me, Ruby Tuesday. Plus, we have four more-than-respectable locally-owned fine dining restaurants that can compete with anything the big cities have to offer. And did I mention our symphony orchestra? (No Starbucks at this time.) want small town? I'm not sure we qualify. But I'll tell you what does. About four or five miles up State Route 15 from the northern edge of Warsaw is the tiny town of Leesburg. It's actually older than Warsaw (incorporated 1833) and in the 2000 census had a population of all of 625 souls. It has brick streets lined by mature trees and vintage homes. The local grocery store sports a meat market that attracts in-the-know shoppers from all over the county. 

But Leesburg apparently has aspirations to bigger and better things. They no longer want to be in the backwash of Claypool, Etna Green, and Atwood. They've gone high-tech. Very 21st century. The headline from yesterday's edition of the Warsaw Times-Union put Kosciusko County residents on high alert:

Leesburg Upgrades to Computerized Accounting System

It's been the subject of every water cooler conversation in every county workplace all day, I'm sure. Here are the details (courtesy of Jen Gibson, Lifestyles editor of the Times-Union):

Thanks to a new computerized accounting system, the Leesburg Town Council will receive a simpler printout of the town's accounts.

Until now, all the town's accounts were figured by hand, and all invoices and accounts were listed on hand-written ledgers.

Monday night, Town Clerk Melissa Robinson explained the new printouts to council members and told them how the system works. "It makes (paying invoices and tracking accounts) much, much easier," Robinson said.

I'm so energized by this that I'm considering recommending to my Vestry that they think about putting our church finances on a computer. We don't quite have 625 members, but I can see several advantages to following Leesburg's lead. Just because you're small doesn't mean you can't be cutting edge.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Rebellion or Revolution?

Blessedly, the secular political arena has calmed down a bit after last Tuesday's election. The run-up to (and the run-down from?) election day certainly hijacked my attention, but, for a number of reasons, I choose not to blog about such things. Certainly there is not such a dearth of wannabe pundits in the blogsphere that the lack my voice creates a significant impoverishment.

Church politics, on the other hand, I presume to know something about, and can at least plausibly pretend to hope to have some influence over, so I labor on in the wake of the "breaking" news that Quincy has now become the third diocese of the Episcopal Church to announce its secession therefrom, and its assocation with the Province of the Southern Cone. Fort Worth is cued up and counting down to become the fourth. (Are there others? Some speculate that there might be a couple more, but nobody else has yet "cocked the gun" with a first reading of the necessary constitutional amendment.)

History, as they say, is written by the winners. The political uprisings that took place in America (1776), France (1789), Russia (1917), and Iran (1979)--just to name a few--are now styled revolutions only because they were successful. Had they failed, we would remember them (if they were remembered at all) as mere rebellions. For that matter, if Cardinal Cajetan had successfully persuaded Luther to recant at Worms, what is now known as the Reformation might similarly be a blip on the radar screen of history.

Five years ago, General Convention threw a match onto a gasoline-soaked garage floor, instigating a chain of events of which the secession of Quincy is now the latest link. At the very least, we are witnessing a series of rebellions that might plausibly be interpreted as one Big Rebellion in several parts. The hope of dioceses like Quincy (along with San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, and Fort Worth) is that they are part of a larger movement of realignment within Anglicanism, the end of which will result in a new Anglican province on North American soil, one that will be institutionally unconnected from both the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. Several other Anglican provinces are cooperating with this movement: the Southern Cone, obviously, by providing a temporary insitutional haven, but also all the groups that fall under the umbrella known as GAFCON (from their initial gathering in Jerusalem this past summer, the Global Anglican Futures Conference). This big tent includes the Anglican Mission in American (AMiA, connected to Rwanda), the Convocation of Anglicans in North American (CANA, connected to Nigeria), and a smattering of parishes that have come under the aegis of Uganda. 

So far, then, what we have is a rebellion in progress. But the hope of what we might call the realignment community is that it will continue to grow--both by continuing to peel off dioceses and parishes from TEC (and its Canadian equivalent) and by growing their parishes, both in size and number--and that TEC will continue to decline (by ongoing loss of dioceses and parishes and by stagnation in spiritual and financial vitality) to an envisaged tipping point, at which it will simply be a fait accomplait, with or without any official pronouncement from Canterbury or elsewhere, that TEC has been replaced as the holder of the Anglican franchise in this country. 

If and when that tipping point is reached, we'll no longer be talking about a rebellion. It will be a revolution, because the new "winners" will be in a position to call it such.

Now, I hope I am amply on record that this is not a turn of events for which I hope or advocate, for reasons that are both principled and pragmatic. My principled objections are largely ecclesiological--see here. My pragmatic objections are largely strategic; I don't think the plan will work, I don't think the tipping point will be reached. I, and many others, remain committed to the broad outline known as the Windsor Process, which includes the development of an Anglican Covenant--an organic realignment, if you will. Evolution, not revolution.

That said, I never cease to be amazed by the capacity of the leadership of the Episcopal Church to shoot themselves in the foot. The Presiding Bishop's response to the vote in Quincy was to lament that "some individuals in southern Illinois" had decided to leave TEC. To say nothing of the geographical gaffe (one might forgive a westerner for not realizing that the Diocese of Quincy encompasses west central Illinois, not southern), her statement is one more iteration of a vacuous mantra, that it is individuals and not institutional structures that are are fleeing "this church." One invariable characteristic of a regime that is vulnerable to being overturned in a revolution is implacable denial, incessant repetition of an interpretive paradigm that bears less and less resemblance to reality. ("Let them eat cake.")

If the regnant leadership in TEC--my church, that is--wishes to quell the fury of the latter-day Parisian mob, it would do well to begin recognizing the fact that parishes and dioceses do leave the church. Whether or not they can is moot. The Alice in Wonderland word games need to stop immediately. Then they need to seriously engage the reality that the developing Anglican Covenant is an emergency response to their own misbehavior, not some theoretical construct worthy of a decade or two of polite abstract discussion. The Presiding Bishop's announced intention of keeping a vote on a covenant off the agenda in Anaheim next July is precisely the wrong message.

With some commitment and intention, the rebellion can be kept at bay. Without any changes in the current trajectory of leadership behavior, the realignment community's goals will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I can hear the gates of the Winter Palace beginning to collapse already.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Evangelicals to Liberals: "Psst! Meet Me in Back of the Barn"

Sydney is the largest and wealthiest and arguably the most influential of the dioceses that comprise the Anglican Church in Australia. It has always had an ecclesial culture that is not only Low Church and Evangelical (as those terms are understood in an Anglican context), but is overtly anti-Catholic (in both its Anglican and Roman iterations) as well. This may be a reflection of the large number of Church of Ireland immigrants who settled New South Wales.

Until now, Sydney has pretty much played by the rules of Anglican churchmanship, even as it has staked out a position at one end of the accepted Anglican theological polarities. It has professed loyalty to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal, and the Articles of Religion (the latter, at least, being a rather more natural fit than the other two). The diocese has always been a "player" on the international Anglican scene.

It has for years been no secret that there was a critical mass of opinion and desire within the diocese to authorize lay persons to preside at celebrations of the Eucharist (in the local parlance, "administer" Holy Communion). This is consonant with an ultra-Reformed understanding of the nature of the Church, the nature of the sacraments, and the nature of ordained ministry. Anglican Evangelicals may wish to make a case that it is consonant with the nature of Anglican religion itself. But it is manifestly dissonant with the formularies (Prayer Book, Ordinal, Articles) that even Sydney would agree somehow circumscribe Anglican identity.

This past weekend, Sydney finally stepped off the reservation. Its synod voted to authorize deacons to preside at the Eucharist. This isn't the whole deal. This isn't all they would want. But it steps over the line nonetheless, and "Lay Presidency" is only a matter of time, it would seem. From an Anglo-Catholic perspective, this is so unspeakable as to scarcely even merit refutation. But even from a classic Evangelical perspective, it is a serious breach of good order.

Of course, in the present climate of Anglicanland, it takes irony and raises it to an unprecedented level. Sydney Anglicans have been in the forefront of the chorus of voices critical of the "progressive" position of the North American provinces in the area of sexual morality. They have been members of the choir singing the repeated refrain, "You have not adequately consulted. Your actions have breached the bonds of affection. For the sake of the unity of the communion, please do not do this. Show appropriate restraint." 

I have also sung in the same chorus, and I continue to do so. This is precisely why I am horrified--not surprised, perhaps, but horrified--by what Sydney has done. The members of the synod cannot have been unaware how their action, as much as it may "make sense" for them, will be seen as an egregious breach of Anglican norms by the vast majority of other Anglicans, even Evangelicals. But they allowed their own local convictions to trump the universal discipline of all the churches that share in the gift of the historic episcopate.

Some might contend that Sydney should get a pass on this because they are "orthodox," while the Americans and Canadians are "revisionists." But in doing what it has done, the Diocese of Sydney has utterly forfeited any claim to orthodoxy. Its offense is every bit as serious, every bit as much an abrogation of Anglican orthodoxy, as anything the American or Canadian churches have done. Sydney is no less culpable than New Hampshire in rending the fabric of the Anglican Communion.

The larger onus now lies on GAFCON to exercise whatever influence it may have over one of its very own key players to desist from implementing what the diocesan synod has approved. Whatever integrity GAFCON hopes to maintain in the eyes of the rest of the communion will evaporate if they do otherwise.

And the smaller onus lies on the members of the Covenant Design Group. Even though the impetus for the development of an Anglican Covenant comes from the (mis)behavior of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, the disciplinary reach of the covenant needs to have sufficient range to encompass Peter Jensen (the Archbishop of Sydney) as well as bishops like Chane, Bruno, Andrus, and other would-be bad actors. 

There can be no distinction between orthodox moral theology and orthodox church order. One is neither more nor less important than the other.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Hailing from Helena

The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has just concluded its quarterly four-day meeting, this time in Helena, Montana. (Their practice is to meet in each of the church's nine geographic provinces on a rotating basis.) In the initial news reports, two developments are deserving of some comment.

First, the Presiding Bishop went unambiguously on record that she intends to actively discourage next July's General Convention from even considering a resolution that would either opt in or opt out of whatever version of a proposed Anglican Covenant is on the table at that time. There are some strong indications that an actionable draft will become available next May, and Bishop Jefferts Schori contends that there would be too little time between May and July for Deputies and Bishops to give adequate consideration to so weighty a step as signing on to an Anglican Covenant.

It doesn't require a very high degree of cynicism to smell a rat here. Although the Covenant Design Group has not yet completed its work, it seems a pretty safe bet that the document they unveil in May will look in most important aspects like the most recent working draft (the St Andrew's Draft). And it is manifestly clear to any sentient observer that nothing even remotely resembling the St Andrew's Draft would have the proverbial snowball's chance in you-know-where of being concurrently approved by both houses of General Convention. Just not gonna happen.

The Presiding Bishop obviously realizes this, and, indeed, would be among the majority voting in the negative. However, she is not eager for the headlines coming out of Anaheim to read "Episcopal Church to Anglican Communion: Drop Dead!" Such a stroke of finality would play right into the hands of her opponents across the communion who are awaiting a solid reason to yank the Anglican franchise from TEC and award it to some emerging coalition of orthodox Anglicans, both in and out of TEC, perhaps. The outright rejection of a covenant would be just such a reason. So she needs to buy time, and since only General Convention can approve opting in to a covenant, and General Convention meets only every three years, she's hoping to keep the matter unresolved until 2012, at least, and who knows what might happen between now and then?

Of course, the claim that we don't have enough time to consider something like an Anglican covenant, and that doing so would distract the convention from other vital business (like overhauling the canons on clergy and lay discipline to make it even easier to stifle dissenting viewpoints), rings awfully hollow. On the first count, the time that it took us to get into this mess in 2003 was shorter than the time a final draft covenant would be available for study and inspection. On the second count, since connection to the Anglican Communion is part of our defining identity as a church (see the preamble to the constitution), what more important business could the convention possibly consider than our relationship with that communion?

The second item of breaking news from Helena is that Council approved a resolution seeking the initiation of some sort of dialogue with the Common Cause Partnership. On its face, this is really quite remarkable. The CCP is the group that has evolved from what was earlier the Anglican Communion Network (a coalition I had a hand in founding back in 2005 when everyone concerned was committed to operating within the constitution and canons of TEC). It is headed by none other than Bishop Robert Duncan, whom the House of Bishops just purported to depose from the ordained ministry only last month. (It apparently didn't take, since he was this week received in Lambeth Palace with all customary episcopal honors.) The CCP is the group that has petitioned the GAFCON Council to recognize it as a ("the"?) legitimate Anglican province in North America.

Taking Council at its word, this is commendable and is deserving of positive reinforcement. I'm not personally in a position to give it very much, but I hereby lend whatever weight I have to the project. I hope the CCP will respond in a timely and generous (though not necessarily public) way. Actually, the longer I think about it, the more stunning it seems. I would dearly love to have had a hidden microphone in the room when this was being debated. Merely mentioning the name of the Common Cause Partners, let along expressing a willingness to actually talk to them, is a rather significant concession. It's like a Palestinian nationalist starting to talk about Israel as if it were a legitimate state. What are they thinking? Is there a measure of fear behind this move? Inquiring minds want to know!

It will not surprise me, however, if CCP adopts a very Reaganesque "trust but verify" attitude (with plenty of "linkage"), and rightly so.  815 does not have an exemplary track record as a good faith negotiating partner, and is in fact at this very moment a plaintiff in several legal actions against some of the entities embraced by the CCP. Nonetheless, I don't believe any olive branch deserves to be rejected out of hand, and the CCP will in fact cover themselves with shame if they do so.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Devil in the Details

After my most recent post, I was contacted privately by a priest of my acquaintance. A little over a year ago, he was called to a position as Assistant in a parish of an Episcopal diocese. This past spring, after an extended period of discernment, the parish voted, with the concurrence of the Rector, to abandon its property and re-organize itself under a new name and in a new location under the oversight of an offshore Anglican province—for the same list of reasons that so many others have recently done so. In the weeks leading up to the parish vote, this priest was forthright with his bishop that he intended to remain with the majority of the parish, and that he hoped he would be able to depart with the bishop’s blessing, and receive Letters Dimissory to the new jurisdiction. He was informed that this would not happen, and that he would be inhibited and deposed under the Abandonment Canon. Indeed, he has since been inhibited, and the canonical clock is ticking down to an inevitable deposition. With his permission, I am sharing the letter he recently wrote to the bishop of his (now former) diocese. The details have been redacted, but I believe it is telling for the light it sheds on the extent to which canons are being ignored, bent, and twisted, all for the sake of . . . well, I really can’t figure that one out. It’s no secret that I do not advocate orthodox Episcopalians jumping ship. But I can empathize with those who find it necessary to do so, and it seems we are shooting ourselves in the foot by not trying to navigate these troubled waters with more charity, compassion, and holy ambiguity.


Dear Bishop xxxxxxxxx,

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of the packet of documents dated August 21, 2008. Among those documents are a letter from xxxxxx, President of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of xxxxxxxxx, a letter from you to me, informing me of my inhibition and my rights in this process, and a letter from you to various officials of the Episcopal Diocese of xxxxxxxxxx and The Episcopal Church, informing them of my status.

Although you were careful in your letter to specify the canonical violations under which I am accused, I am confused how this process is applicable to me and my situation and request that a number of fundamental issues be clarified and corrected.

First, although your letter indicates that you are inhibiting me pursuant to Title IV.10.1 for Abandonment of Communion, neither you nor the Standing Committee of the Diocese has indicated any act or statement on which this claim is based.  Your letter does not state that you have made any factual findings regarding any alleged Abandonment.  Rather, as required by the canon, it states that you are “affirming the Standing Committee’s findings that [I] have Abandoned the Communion of this church.”  Also as required by the canon, you have provided me with a copy of the “findings” on which you have based your acceptance, but this document lacks specificity.  Given the severity of a charge of Abandonment of Communion, the canon prudently requires that the Standing Committee provide the bishop “a statement setting out in reasonable detail the acts or declarations relied upon in making its determination.”  It is this statement which initiates the inhibition process.  Unfortunately, the Standing Committee’s statement does not set out in reasonable detail the acts or declarations relied upon.  Indeed, it sets forth no acts or declarations at all. 

I request that, at a minimum, I be told what acts or declarations I am being accused of.  I think fundamental fairness requires it.  Further, it appears fairly apparent that the statement provided by the Standing Committee does not meet the standard required by the canon to initiate the inhibition process.  Accordingly, I would request that the Standing Committee follow the requirements of the canon and, if it so finds, issue a statement with the “reasonable detail” of the “acts or declarations relied upon” to make its decision.  Pending such canonical statement, I request that you confirm that your current letter of inhibition to me is retracted, pending your receiving a detailed statement from the Standing Committee that you can accept consistent with canon. 

Also, should someone make a “report” of facts to the Standing Committee that I have in some way abandoned the communion as required by the canon, I would request that the Standing Committee notify me of such allegations, so that I may respond in writing to such allegations prior to the Standing Committee voting on such allegations.  Again, I think fundamental fairness dictates, and I would think that the integrity of the Standing Committee process would require, that the Standing Committee hear both sides of any issue prior to taking such a serious vote.

Second, now that I am aware that someone is making allegations against me, I want to be very clear that I have not in any way Abandoned the Communion of this Church.  I have not renounced the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of this Church.  I have not been formally admitted into any religious body not in communion with this Church, and I have not Abandoned the Communion of this Church in any other way.[1]  Further, to my knowledge, the mere absence of a priest from the diocese is not a disciplinary matter until such absence exceeds two (2) years.  Canon IV.11.3.

As an aside, I would note that since the canon apparently deems formal admission into a religious body NOT in communion with this Church as grounds for discipline, it implicitly accepts (as one would expect) formal admission into religious bodies that ARE in communion with this Church.  I address this matter further below.

Third, in your letter of inhibition, you state that I “have the rights specified in Section 2 of this Canon.”  The crucial right in Section 2 for anyone accused of an inhibitable act or statement is the right to avoid further discipline by issuing a good faith retraction of such act or statement.  As noted above, however, no one has made known to me that act or statement on which my inhibition is based.  Again, I would ask that if I am to be able to retract any possible act or statement, that such act or statement actually be made known to me.

Fourth, your letter states, “[i]f you do not renounce your abandonment and return to the Episcopal Church, it will be my unfortunate responsibility to depose you as provided for in Canon IV.12”  I want to be clear, as noted above, I renounce any claim of my abandonment.  Also, however, I want to address your options in such event.  Although I sincerely hope we never get to such a situation, should I be ever be inhibited for over six (6) months without retraction, you have more than one option.  Under Canon IV.10.2, you have two (2) discretionary options, with deposition being the more severe choice.  If such event ever took place, I would ask that you allow me the “release of obligations” option and not seek the harsher “deposition” penalty, as indicated in your letter.  …, I would ask that you reconsider this matter.

Fifth, I had earlier formally requested that you issue my Letters Dimissory for my missionary work with the Province of xxxxxxxx, but never received a response.  I would again ask that you issue such Letters, so that I may continue my work with your blessing.  Similarly, and as set forth in the canons for priests desiring to officiate in another church in communion with the Episcopal Church, I would request that you issue to me the testimonial described in Canon III.9.6(e), again, so that I may continue with your blessing.

Finally, and no less serious, is the issue of my reputation as a clergyman and Christian.  As noted throughout my letter, I was very disappointed to see allegations with no facts and processes with no valid procedures, all culminating in baseless allegations against me.  What hurt even further is that without discussing this process or allegations with me, you sent your letter with allegations that I abandoned the communion to every bishop in the House of Bishops and every member of the clergy of this diocese.  This has undoubtedly damaged my reputation and standing with my colleagues and potential future superiors in an incalculable amount.  I request that you immediately retract your letter and make sure that all recipients of your letter receive such retraction.  I think fundamental fairness requires that due process be followed and that I not have my reputation damaged and prejudged in this manner.[2]






[1] As you know, I am associated with xxxxxxxxxxxxx Anglican Church, a missionary entity for the Province of xxxxxxxxxxxx.  As far as I am aware, the Episcopal Church and the Province of xxxxxxxxxxxxxx are still in communion with each other. 

[2] I am aware of no canonical provision that would require such broad notice.  There is a similar provision in Canon III.9.11, but such provision deals with the actual removal of a priest, which has not occurred.