Monday, March 31, 2008

Keeping the Ball in Play

(Writing while I watch the Cubs' hope opener ... Zambrano looking magnificent so far.)

A poster over on HoB/D inquired of me, in a somewhat hostile tone, why, given that Bishops Schofield and Cox freely admit that they have left the communion of the Episcopal Church, do I (or anyone else) not simply let the matter rest and move on. This is what I wrote in reply:

"I'll tell you why the issue deserves to be kept in the forefront of "this Church"'s attention. It's all about due process, double standards, the appearance of duplicity, and the foundation of trust among members of the Episcopal Church. It is manifestly *not* about the outcome, so it is irrelevant that Bishops Cox and Schofield are not contesting the charge of abandonment. The outcome may be entirely appropriate, but the way that outcome was obtained is seriously (even if unintentionally) flawed, and that is more important than the outcome itself. As we all learned in grade school math, you can get the right answer, but if you can't show that you got there the right way, you don't get credit for solving that problem. It's the same principle that requires a judge to exclude illegally-obtained evidence from a trial, even if the exclusion of that evidence precludes arriving at an obviously proper verdict. Acquitting a guilty person today is a lesser evil than jeopardizing the rights of the innocent person who may stand trial tomorrow. Whatever we say about the church theologically, the instrumental means by which that theology is incarnated is the "glue" of trust and good will among the members of the community. I fear that this glue is being degraded at an exponential rate."

(Now there's a rain delay in the game.)

That same commenter then asked me what I actually hope to accomplish, and do I think I have any hope of success, and, if not, why do I persist? This is what I told him:

"The outcome I am seeking is to raise such an awareness of 815's abuse and misuse of canon law that there will eventually be irresistible pressure to go back and do things right, to wit: 1) Formally declare the deposition votes to have failed for lack of the required majority. The entire Title IV process needs to then be replayed. 2) Formally suspend all actions taken by the illegal convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin on 3/29/08. Request any remaining members of the duly elected Standing Committee, even if that number is only one, to appoint clerics and lay members to fill any vacancies. Then, in the event that Bishop Schofield's resignation is accepted or he is properly deposed, the Standing Committee should then call a special convention to elect an interim bishop and fill any other vacancies that the convention is competent to fill. ... I don't know [where I will be successful]. These are the early days of the effort. [I persist] because the cause of truth is never futile."

It doesn't take a very high IQ to see that the Jefferts Schori-Booth Beers strategy is to just keep silent and wait for the furor to die down and go away. They stand a very good chance of success, but I do not intend to help them.


Jerry said...

This entertains me in some sick way. I am searching for a more active Christian experience. This brand of theological masturbation strikes me as incredibly counter-productive.

Every second you waste fighting about this garbage instead of helping a poor person or a prisoner is like spitting in the face of Christ. No amount of words will change this world. Action is our only hope.

Anonymous said...

How interestingly insghtful you are here! I have no idea what side of the fence you stand on and frankly I don't care. But I for one am sick and tired of words and have been ready for some actions to back them up for far too long.
Will there be any? Doubtful !

However, there are many laity who are doing the work of God while the clergy sit back and spew words and letters and posts etc... etc..

It would be nice if for once those who are opposing KJS and Co. would do more than verbalize their discontent on blogs, letters, responses, and interviews. In other words, since it's Baseball Season Thank the Good Lord, Hit a Home Run for once and run the bases for the Love of God and His Church!

One Day Closer

Anonymous said...

RE: "This entertains me in some sick way."

Heh -- but how lovely, because your comment entertained me as well.

We are both entertained. ; > )



Malcolm+ said...

As I've said previously, I'm not convinced about your interpretations of how the canons have been and / or should have been applied.

However, Like Mark Harris notes on his blog, it is a good thing that you are pressing the point. Clearly there is a problem of clarity at the very least, and that deserves to be addressed. Especially so since many of us suspect this will not be the last time the issue plays itself out.

You also make a good point about "the appearance of duplicity."

Now, given my take, I do believe it is merely an appearance - or an appearance to some. But the appearance of duplicity, or of lack of due process is nonetheless a problem. "Justice must not only be done, but it must be seen to be done."

There is also the problem about the process for the depositions having been consistent with the process of previous depositions dating back at least 20+ years.

Anonymous said...

I seem to have heard this bandied around from time to time. "Justice delayed is justice denied." I can't work out why it doesn't seem to apply now.


Anonymous said...


I, for one, enjoyed your freudian slip: Writing while I watch the Cubs' hope opener

Hope springs eternal on the road and at home.


Tom Sramek, Jr. said...

I would have a lot more sympathy with your position if +JDS and the Standing Committee hadn't appeared to intentionally muddy the waters rather than making a clean break with TEC. It would have been a LOT easier if those on the Standing Committee had responded to +KJS in a less snarky and self-righteous way. All it would have taken was a restatement of the Oath of Conformity and a willingness to work with those loyal to the Episcopal Church in the DoSJ and one or more Standing Committee folks could have kept their positions and helped deal with the difficult issues in the wake of +JDS' deposition.

It appears instead that they were not only willing but eager to continue to muddy the waters about their loyalty to TEC with the hope that if things dragged on long enough, it would be resolved in their favor. Even +JDS's resignation from the House of Bishops continued to muddy the waters. How much better would t have been if the Standing Committee members that could simply professed their loyalty to TEC, those that couldn't do so resign, and +JDS simply resign his position as the bishop of the Episcopal DioSJ. He could have even set up a Anglican DioSJ the next day and invited congregations to join. That would have at least been clear.

Anonymous said...

Yea - remind me where the PB has the right to demand statements of loyalty in the Canons?

She making the rules up on the hoof because she knows that even when she is brought to trial, as she richly deserves to be, those who make the judgment will stand by her regardless of her breaches of Canon law.

So much for the famed Polity.

Malcolm+ said...

I'd agree that the canons do not provide for the Presiding Bishop to "demand statements of loyalty."

That said, there was a great deal of confusion as to who was who. Who was a member of the Episcopal Church and who was a member of that other body purporting to be affiliated with the Southern Cone?

If, for example, all the members of the standing committee considered themselves part of the Southern Cone, then clearly there was no standing committee.

Someone had to sort that out, and the only logical someone I can see is the Presiding Bishop.

That said, her tone to the remnant of the standing committee could certainly have been better - as could the tone of their response. Enough blame to go around on that one.

The result of a question badly asked and badly answered was that the question wasn't resolved particularly clearly.

I am inclined to agree that the subsequent actions of the Presiding Bishop wrt the standing committee were an error - though I don't agree with Dan's assessment that the error was canonical / constitutional. They were in error because they served to make reconciliation less likely.

But it seems to me that someone was obligated to ask the question - and I don't see any other logical candidate to do the asking.

Anonymous said...

The Canonical solution was pretty straight forward. Given her conclusion (itself in error I think - but that's a whole other question) that the Bishop had been canonically deposed, the Standing Committee, having declared that they had not resigned, should have been the Canonical authority. Her non-recognition has no Canonical status. It is simply beyond her very limited powers as PB.

Yet for whatever reason, the PB didn't want to go that route. I can only think because she didn't want to deal with a largely conservative Standing Committee and the legal complications that might ensue in the court cases that are coming. She needed an ideologically purged body, loyal not just to the Episcopal Church, but to her vision of the Episcopal Church.

She has overstepped her self declared limited powers, clearly broken Canon law, and should be tried for breaching the discipline of this Church.

Anonymous said...

Please read the PB's letter to the standing committee again. There is no badly asked question. There is no question at all. Just her declaration that she does not recognize the duly elected Standing Committee. There has never been a request made of the SC to reaffirm their allegiance to TEC by the PB. The response by the SC to the PB mirrored her tone & false logic regarding "recognition" and failure to follow canons on her part.

You might now suggest the SC should have guessed at the non asked question & answered based on that assumption..but if you really think about that, you'll realize that is the often used ploy of 815 to muddy direct communication. There is veil over honesty that clouds most all communication from 815.