11/05/2007

We get what we get and say thanks as we can.

Greg Griffith over at Stand Firm posted a piece that was inaccurate and which many regarded as highly inflammatory and hateful. He was interested in comments and he got them. Episcopal Café has a cache version of the page with a number of the comments kept so that the record of all this remains available. A wide variety of people called for him to remove the piece and apologize. Among those calls was my own note which can be read HERE.

Greg responded by removing the piece and apologizing to Bishop Barbara Harris and the readership for the misidentification of someone at a march in San Francisco with the Bishop. Since he has removed the piece I would hope it might also be remove elsewhere after a short while, save for a private file kept for the record.

There has been considerable comment on that apology as to whether or not it was good enough. I think enough has been said on the whole matter. Those to whom Greg issued the apology will have to decide for themselves whether or not to accept it as sufficient.

Along with others I asked that Greg apologize, remove the posting from Stand Firm and get some counseling. Thank you for doing the first two Greg. If the third request was arrogant on my part I apologize. If you think it was perhaps just a bit forceful but maybe useful, I hope you will follow through.

This whole thing got me to thinking about two things, one having to do with apology and the other having to do with the self-policing that we need to do if Anglican-Land on the internet is to be both appropriately post modern in its spidery web like reach, where meta narratives are not taken too seriously, and at the same time respectful of our human-ness.

About Apology: As with the actions and words that gave rise to offence, the actions and words that constitute apology are mostly not in our hands. When we ask or demand apology we get something back, and that something can be anything for abject refusal to apologize to full apology to all including to those whose hurt is unknown to all but the offended. We can steer the nature of apology by being precisely clear about what it is that has offended us, but even then the “no” or “yes” can be nuanced in many ways. However the fact is that what we see is what we get. The most we can hope for is that “no” is no, and “yes” is yes. The nuances are perhaps indeed from the dark side. Apology shares with confession that strange property that it is the business of the person uttering the words and making whatever restitution is made and always directly or indirectly to God. The rest of us are witness.

Still the core is that when we ask or demand apology we get what we get. The first point of contact between any of us and the offender is acknowledgment by response. The worse sort of offense is the one in which the offended is not even recognized as present. The first test of apology is passed when the offended is recognized and acknowledged. From there we deal, as always, with the foibles of being human, offender and offended alike, and apologies take their lumps along with all we do.

About self-policing: The internet is fairly boundless and almost all the screening (save that of states that would just as soon not have the internet used as a hot-spot for revolt) takes place by use of firewalls, adblockers, parental screening on specific computers, and on blogs and other interactive websites by the site managers who exercise considerable freedom in blocking or allowing input.

But in that small part of the net that constitutes Anglican-land, how do we hold one another accountable for the sorts of posts and comments appear? I look in on a wide variety of blogs at this point and the screening takes very different forms. Some blogs simply do not allow comments, some block those they think are not following the rules (explicit or implicit), some read each comment and allow only some through. But what about the postings themselves?

The Mad Priest has an interesting take on posting in his mostly post modern Christian blog. He skates near the edge of modern propriety and his postings are certainly not all woven together by a meta narrative, but rather by intersecting circles of concerns and delights. But at least he asks the question of where the edge is and if he has crossed over into darkness.

The Griffith posting pointed to several interesting things: there is communication among those in the blogsphere regarding one another’s actions and postings; they are heard; and there is response. The actions, the objections, and the responses may or may not be satisfactory. They are what they are. But they do give the sense that we are mostly bound by the desire not to be banned by one another, else how would we get references back to our own work? And more, how would we maintain the possibility that we are indeed Christians in this work? Here we are then, sometimes at one another’s throats, sometimes good friends, across great gulfs, but all out there on the web trying to say things we believe are important to say and looking for an audience that, in our peculiar case, includes mostly Christians of the Anglican persuasion. And we know that Christians of an Anglican persuasion have some sense that we ought not unnecessarily offend, and we know too in how few instances offense is necessary or useful. So how do we keep something of the composure of a people who want to live into holiness?

How do we work out a way to speak the Truth with Love (which is sometimes an offense) and say with Jesus (Matt 11:6), “blessed is the one who takes no offense in me.”?

27 comments:

  1. Not Anglican5/11/07 11:33 PM

    One suggestion: the virtue of "charity". Not always assuming the worst subjective motivations about the other side. One can believe the other side is objectively cooperating with evil, but is not subjectively evil in their intent. You should give one another the benefit of this. Both sides are guilty of demonizing.

    From an Catholic outsider who is following this trainwreck with sadness.

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  2. granted, we made a mistake and apologised for it. But this...

    "[Mad Priest] skates near the edge of modern propriety"

    is surely a masive understatement? We read stuff every day over there that would make Howard Stern blush.

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  3. "I would hope it might also be remove elsewhere after a short while, save for a private file kept for the record."

    Ahhh, it's so nice to see keeping no records of wrongs as exhorted in 1 Cor. 13 is honored by both sides.

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  4. It seems to me that there were many words written about an incorrect story about words supposed to have been said from a Nigerian bishop.

    Yet, even after ++Williams made a statement that he found the report to be false, I have not yet seen an apology from you, FrJake, Mad Priest or the like.

    Are you willing to live by your own advice to Mr. Griffith? It seems to me he has gone way over and beyond in this matter to what you have done in the other.

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  5. John-Julian, OJN6/11/07 12:43 PM

    "I think you are wrong" or "In my opinion what you have embraced is in error." or "As I see it, you are mistaken." are rational - even charitable - comments, but when one's own opinion or evaluation of another's position is canonized as utter "Truth", it cannot fail but be unreasonable, uncharitable, and unhelpful.

    One can certainly add convincing biblical, scholarly, or historical evidence to support one's position, i.e., "Here's why I believe that...." without offending against charity.

    It also seems that attacks on a person or the condemnation or belittling or another moves nothing forward and solves nothing. All it provides is a ventilation of one's anger.

    It seems the major difference is the distinction between "opinion" and "judgment", and the biblical condemnation is against "judging" another, not against holding an opposing opinion.

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  6. Mark, you ask: How do we work out a way to speak the Truth with Love (which is sometimes an offense) and say with Jesus (Matt 11:6), “blessed is the one who takes no offense in me.”?

    I think we start with ourselves. I am a Christian because I am in desperate need of a Savior. I fall way short. I find my self - not in Self - but in relationship with my King.

    Blogging in real time means living in a glass house - people get to see more than an prudent editor might permit. It is both a blessing and a curse.

    Many of the song postings I put up at BabyBlue come from moments when I am ready to bang the keyboard and a song comes to mind instead. The songs are most often lectures to myself. If they bless others, well, that's a blessing to me too. But I start with my own screw ups and work from there.

    The fact - and is a fact - that Jesus loves us so very much, knowing all about us, knowing the truth about us that we don't even know about ourselves because of His mercy - sets us free. But - as someone ordained as yourself knows by the collar you wear - our freedom comes by being a bond-servant to Christ, and try explaining that to this post-modern world.

    "He who looses His life for my sake shall find it," Jesus said. I guess that's the beginning of humility.

    So throwing rocks and living in glass houses do not always work well together.

    It is His kindness that leads us to repentance, not blasting us with rocks. The Holy Spirit does the convicting, as long as our hearts have not hardened. That is probably the biggest risk in all this, that our hearts grow hard and cold - and thus, the songs and attempts at humor pop up from time to time at BabyBlue.

    bb

    PS I wish more people knew Greg, really. You'd be very surprised, very surprised. Do you even know what it is he does for living? Find out.

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  7. Actually, Kevin, I believe that we have yet to see a credible denial from the reporter who broke the story about the Nigerian bishop stating convincingly that the story was false and explaining what the bishop had in fact said which might have been misconstrued in this fashion.

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  8. david ould: In one previous entry I said, "Bishop Orama may not have said what he was reported to have said. I continue to hope not. I have commented in another posting that I believe him to be a man of considerable courage. But other bishops have said what they said and their remarks are published without any direct or indirect retraction at all. More importantly the publication of those statements identifies Anglican voices with profoundly intolerant and homophobic attitudes in Africa." (http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2007/09/odor-of-dead-fish-in-anglican-harare-is.html)
    I also directly spoke to Bishop Orama's willingness to stand on issues of great importance ( see http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2007/09/tying-up-odds-and-ends-re-bishop-oramas.html)


    anonymous: well, whether the post was right or wrong is still a question. That it was real is not a question until all copies of the post are wiped from the record. So keeping the record is part of witnessing to the facts, not the determination of wrong. Also 1 Cor 13 suggests that love does not rejoice at wrong...not that we keep no record of wrong. (at least in the RSV) Maybe a better translation is that Love does not dwell on the wrong. I think we are called to forgive one another, to let go anger, to bear all things including offense, not necessarily to erase all memory of the event. If that were true we would erase a good bit of the biblical record, which would be too bad Biblical people were offending each other all the time and sometimes those offenses became part of holy history.

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  9. david ould and kevin: Ooops....sorry david, the comment was in response to Kevin.

    Babyblue: As usual you speak with great faith and eloquence. I often wonder just what made you chose one or another song and I have come to the conclusion that it is spiritual stream of consciousness. I really enjoy the postings of your music. And you often write wonderfully and always well.

    As to Greg. I have met him once, I believe, and corresponded with him just a bit. I have no idea what he does outside Stand Firm. Perhaps you will tell me (us) or send me to a site that does.

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  10. OCICBW... is a self-contained blog. It doesn't exist to change anybody's mind about anything. It is not a debating chamber. The purpose of OCICBW... is to help people, who are told by other people that they are not good enough, feel better about themselves. I do this by ridiculing their oppressors. This is nothing new, of course. The oppressed have been doing this since time immemorial.

    Where OCICBW... differs from our enemies is that we are completely honest about what we say. If something appears offensive on our blog that is because it is offensive and deliberately so. We do not pretend to be hurt when we are not hurt. We know this is a fist fight and we are prepared to punch and to be punched in return. We never go crying to our mummies when somebody gives us a bloody nose.

    So, here we have an interesting situation. A website that spews hatred whilst pretending to be "oh so Christian" is acceptable, and a website that is completely open and honest about its aims and methods is beyond the pail.

    Personally, I respect the Phelps family far more than I respect the Stand Firm contributors. At least, the Phelps clan are honest. They don't hide behind fancy words and contrived offense.

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  11. Mark, thanks for clarifying that. I wonder if you might take a moment to respond to the point that I made. You hold us (rightly) to account when we make a mistake yet you also regularly source and approve of 2 blogs (Fr Jake and notably Mad Priest) where the obscene invective is at a level that, surely you must agree, unparalleled elsewhere - at least in the wider-circulation Anglican blogs.

    As for the other discussion here - I'd say hang on to the google cache of both the original Harris post and the apology. We're not ashamed of having made a mistake and have no problem with the whole matter being on the public record.

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  12. With all due respect, your many characterizations of the Bishop of Pittsburgh--among others--evidences a need for counseling on your part, too.

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  13. Is he a baker, BabyBlue, or is this just a running gag over at StandFirm?

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  14. "granted, we made a mistake and apologised for it." David Ould

    "We're not ashamed of having made a mistake and have no problem with the whole matter being on the public record." David Ould

    The defiant "we's" go here for help groups whose only requirement for membership is a desire to recover from codependent behaviours and for healthy relationships with ourselves and others:

    http://www.codependents.org/

    or, for faster relief "down under":

    www.codependentsanonymous.org.au

    Thanks for sharing



    Leonardo Ricardo

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  15. re: GG's day job.

    Thanks for the link. Very moving testimony to a beautiful ministry. Gives one pause.

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  16. Mark, your links seemed to be truncated or I'm just being stupid, but I could not get them to work.

    I remember your use of violence to describe such, a word you also played with it's denotation to describe AMiA new bishops-elect. I'll trust you were pointing me to a retraction and apology and thus offer mine in return for a false accusation, I must have missed your post in the reaction of many of your friends.

    I do find the posts of this thread very revealing, specifically the one about belittling others because people feel belittled. There is negative cycle in that, yet the irony is only the belittled are dragged down more when that happens.

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  17. kevin...it ain't you, its me. I should have used tinyurl so that it wouldn't go off the page. So here are the references: http://tinyurl.com/2k44p2
    and
    http://tinyurl.com/2uq3gc

    Cut and paste into your browser and it should work. Sorry for the problems there.

    I don't know how much of an apology it ws as much as an admiration for a gutsy bishop. I have pretty much maintained that the bishop may not have said what was reported, but hat the retraction by the reporter was way too late and off the print and online pages, so that the readers never saw any of this.

    So..I guess I retain what I said about Greg...we ask and we receive, and we need to move on.

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  18. anonymous (1,2, or 3) thanks: If I didn't think Greg was the regular mix of wonder and pain that we all are I would be less engaged. I am delighted to know what he does in his day job. It is a gift to be able to use one's talents to such good ends. On my good days I pray mine are used as well.

    That is why it is never in order to turn people into objects...say of our hatred, or of our possession. Reality has a way of running into us and surprising us.

    (I have to keep working on that...perhaps we all do.)

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  19. ...yet you also regularly source and approve of 2 blogs (Fr Jake and notably Mad Priest) where the obscene invective is at a level that, surely you must agree, unparalleled elsewhere...

    David,

    Show me an example of what you mean by "obscene invective." Snarky at times, fiesty and opinionated as well. But never obscene. I don't allow that kind of talk.

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  20. It is an interesting topic: how do we represent the sort of interdependency that the only useful portion of the Windsor fantasy mentioned? If not by 'covenant,' how? Of course as the net is operating under an extraordinary realization of the American idea of 'freedom of speech' a covenant is not an option.

    In my own little blog, I do not have to worry much because I write essays, not news. So, everything is the result of my experience, is my opinion, or is the commentary of my guests. A number of the few who visit me are fairly conservative, scholarly folk. I do not, for instance, have to worry about name calling, cause the tiny community just does not do that. ;-) The advantage of being under the radar I guess.

    But(!) when one looks at SF, this site, several other progressive or conservative sites the community is broader, less friendly to opposing ideas, and the content is more explosive.

    And yet, we are called to be each other's keeper, not censor. And we claim the same God. So how do we balance all that?

    I think that it is all just that -- a delicate balance. We need to make provisions for opposing views, and remember we are to disagree not be disagreeable.

    Certainly some try. Dr. Virtue published one of my essays a ways back. I routinely see that lovely, intelligent Keaton woman publish opposing views.

    I am something of a regular on both SF and Dr. Virtue's site. I am very much a regular on "orthodox Episcopalian" where I am among the tolerated lefties.

    Part of this goes to the ancient law of hospitality. It cut both ways: A host has an affirmative obligation to protect and defend a guest: a guest has an affirmative obligation to behave and respect the host. Failing that law has consequences -- in fact I am on the side that thinks that failure condemned Sodom and its sister. (I can't spell the other one.)

    So, do I think that the answer is that we should behave well, expect others to too and trust the marketplace of ideas? Yup. It is a view that requires us all to admit the other person, wrong though they are, is a member of the one faith that binds us -- that Jesus is Lord of all. But if we cannot do that, why bother?

    OCICBW is a sort of alternative -- a free fire zone, with its own rules, no obscenity being one, but no sense that it is a guesting place in the same way, this blog is. That is ok, anyone going there knows or learns what is going on and I love the Mad one's touch. It seems to me we need that place too.

    Just my, somewhat disjointed thoughts. Forgive me if they don't read well,I am low sugar at the moment (I hate insulin!)and about to go off line.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  21. well Jake, let's see. A while ago I made a list of the statements from one thread where people were rounding on Matt. Perhaps I could dig it up.

    To your credit, on FJSTW we only see the stuff in the comments. MadPriest doesn't need comments - he dishes it up in the blog entries.

    Mark, any comment yet?

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  22. OCICBW... is contrived. It is in itself a comment on the state of society, in particular the church. It is knowing and postmodern.
    It comes out of England and I deliberately based it on a periodical entitled "Private Eye," the comic, "Viz," "The Sun" newspaper and the t.v. programme, "The Day Today." Someone familiar with these creations would immediately recognise the points of reference and get the joke. That's not to say the subjects we cover are not serious and that our conversations do not exist in their own right. But everything that goes down on my blog does so within the context of my overwhelming desire to take the mick out of pomposity and ambition. The irony is that, even with the bad language and sex talk, we are the boring moralists. Our adversaries, on the other hand, are legalists.

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  23. Fr. Jake,

    Get real- your "place" is full of vitriol.

    I went over to sample some comments right now. John Henry suggest that "There is a parallel to what happened to the Jews, culminating in the Holocaust." So Akinola et al are Hitler, according to his 11:33pm posting last night. I'd call that obscene. He's also a bigot, apparently, judging from a number of posters, including 9:40 this morning. I suppose you also view that as fact instead of invective. JCF, on another thread 11/5/07 called Akinola a "parent-murderer." Lovely.

    SFiF (I think that was the target) was called "Biblio Nazi Storm Troopers" by Terry Dsylexia on 11/5/07. The Nazi thing again. No invective there.

    George W. Bush? "A living butcher," says Kerry. And you delete posts by the conservatives there, and these are the ones that remain?

    Tracie weighted in with a lovely personal accusation, reminiscent of the Anne Kennedy incident: "Abusers. Precisely. I would not be a bit surprised if people who think like Griffiths (pistol-grabbing and whatnot) do descend into actual physical abuse of their wives and children." (11/5/07, 10:14am)

    That last one is so offensive that I must stop here. You let it stay on your site, Jake- a poster suggesting that Griffith beats his wife and kids. So forgive me if I find the idea that offensiveness is limited to only one side a bit off the mark.

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  24. Ah, now you see, this is where Fr. Jake goes wrong. Being a good man he writes things like "parallels could be drawn etc." and immediately the game-playing, word-twisting point-scorers are leaping around like school bullies who have got the skinny kid to admit he's a mummy's boy. If I thought Big Pete had fascist tendencies I would write "Big Pete Akinola" is Black Anglicanism's answer to Hitler." Now, that's something that can't be twisted. They would say that I likened their man to Hitler." And I would reply, "Yes, can't you read plain English?"
    The Stand Firm crowd exploit the desire of liberals to keep everything friendly by accusing them of being unfriendly because they know it will make the liberals feel guilty. Of course, they are just the same as me. I don't do guilt. They don't do guilt. But I don't play the guilt card against them because I know it would be useless. They never play the guilt card against me for the same reasons.
    So liberals, carry on being nice if you must, but don't listen to the opposition when they bleat. You can't hurt them because they don't feel. All is deception in their world.

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  25. thanks MP for the honesty and thanks, Yawner, for demonstrating what FJSTW has on the comments, even today.

    Mark, any comment yet upon how you relate to these site?

    Oh, and Leonardo... I say "we" not out of any sense of "defiance" but simply because we on the SF team all own the mistake together. There's no attempt by as to wriggle away from it whatsoever.

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  26. JCF, on another thread 11/5/07 called Akinola a "parent-murderer." Lovely.

    Yawner, that was an analogy: ever heard of them? [The standard rhetorical-bite of "Murdering your parents, and throwing yourself on the mercy of the court, as an orphan"]. It's just another way of saying "He has . . . guts" (if your prefer the sanitized version, i.e., NOT referring to gonads!)

    ++Akinola said "We CANNOT hold communion" among Anglican bishops, when HE is the one refusing to share the Body&Blood!

    I call that chutzpah, analogous to the parent-murderer/orphan set-up.

    It's not "lovely"---it's not supposed to be. It's just da truth.

    Lord have mercy!

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OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.