10/16/2008

What I have learned in 1000 blogs

This is my 1000th entry in 44 months. I began Preludium in February 2005. Most of the entries have concerned the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. As with several other “progressive” bloggers, I began writing because I was concerned that the Episcopal Church was not paying sufficient attention to the details of the emerging challenge presented by the realignment effort to replace the Episcopal Church with some other ecclesial construct that would be viewed by conservatives as the “true voice of Anglicanism” in North America.

Prior to February 2005 I wrote often on Louie Crew’s pages, for the Witness Magazine and contribute some sermons to Christian Century and other papers. I was also on the Writing Group that issued the response to the Windsor Report. I also reported on the 2003 General Convention for BeliefNet and wrote for Issues, a General Convention daily.

As the work of writing on Preludium picked up, I realized this would become an important part of my ministry. It has mostly been very satisfying, although, as did Fr. Jake I found it necessary to back off writing several times. The toxicity of the net is sometimes hard to take and not particularly helpful to ones soul.

So, what have I learned about life in Anglican-Land?


1. We don’t know how to fight. In 1997 Bishop Spong called for a debate on twelve points and almost no one took him seriously. Instead the “Twelve Theses” became a punching bag for the right and a quiet embarrassment for the left. He has been demonized and any creative theological work in response has been pushed to the side. Eleven years later and we still are hearing about those 12 theses! (in a comment Matt Kennedy points out that there was "a response to "Spong's incoherent agnostic ramblings. "Can a Bishop Be Wrong", edited by Peter Moore, included essays by Drs. William Witt, Edith Humphry, David Scott, Ephraim Radner...ten scholars in all. If you've never read it, you might want to check it out." HERE. The book doesn't seem to be specifically in relation to the 12 Theses but about Spong's writings.)


2. Not eno
ugh attention was paid to the Kuala Lumpur statement on Human Sexuality and on the wider distress with innovative theology. Had more attention been paid to serious dialogue then, we might be in a different place now.

3. Lambeth 1998 1.10 was a disaster, being bad politics unaccompanied by theological underpinnings.

4. Authority delegated to select Lambeth resolutions as “the mind of the communion” is without warrant. The politicalization of the
Lambeth Conference in 1998 was unfettered and the blame lies with Archbishop Carey. As a result it was the last Lambeth Conference to make plenary resolutions. The supposedly advisory and consultative nature of the conference was compromised beyond repair.

5. An enhanced role for the Primates was a bad idea. The increased de facto authority of the Primates Meeting has not been a source of unity, but of division.

6. T
he Windsor Report is defunct. The Windsor Report, commissioned specifically not to address issues of human sexuality or more especially homosexuality and the church, but rather to give advice about how to maintain the “highest degree of communion,” quickly became an instrument of idolatry in which such notions as “Windsor compliance,” “Windsor bishops,” and more recently “Communion Partners” arose as ways to give to the Windsor Report authority it did not initially have. As a result, what good content there was in the Report was buried under an increasing pile of expectations and demands from meetings of the Primates that followed.

7. The Archbishop of Canterbury has consistently misrepresented the nature of the Anglican Communion, believing somehow that he had to “save” the Communion as if it were a church, from splitting. There is no church to save. The wringing of hands by certain Primates was power play and public rhetoric. He bought it.


8. The Anglican Covenant is a bad idea. Period. That is very different from developing a way of marking who we are as Anglicans, or what we believe is essential to ecumenical efforts to reunion. Something like that might work. But constructing a covenant in the current context, complete with a codified system for addressing conflict is an invitation to a new patriarchy, and we don’t need it.

9. Individual diocese “buy-on” to the Covenant is an invitation to the corruption of Provincial polity. Its end will be disaster.

10. The Anglican Communion will continue, made up of autonomous churches, continuing with the Anglican Consultative Council and various meetings of representatives as instruments of communion. Many of its current member churches will belong, more if the Covenant is dropped. The Archbishop of Canterbury will still be a focus of unity.

11. There will be an international church formed from churches informed by Anglican piety, theology and with orders historically related the English episcopate. Some of the current member churches of the Anglican Communion will belong to that Church. It will not be the Anglican Communion. That Church will have no interest in the Covenant and will not find the CofE or the Archbishop of Canterbury very important. It might be “The Anglican Church,” but that is a different matter. It will not be Anglican.

12. There will continue to be multi-church instruments for common action and some member churches of the Anglican Communion, along with autonomous Churches formerly part of the Anglican Communion, and perhaps even the Anglican Church will work cooperatively for the common good. This will ultimately be an outgrowth of new ecumenical efforts. This will be called "networking," an idea of some value, although most of its users will not be post-modern folk used to social networking. It will not be the Anglican Communion or a Church. It will be good people doing common work.

13. The Episcopal Church, and I would expect the Anglican Church of Canada and others, will continue to slowly work their through the changes in their understandings of the church’s role in blessing the vocations of their members, not assuming that all churches will follow suit, but believing that they are called to this task.

14. Writing is harder than it looks. I can't spell worth a damn and my sentences run on too long sometimes. And I have a long suffering family.


15. I envy other bloggers who do nifty things with Photoshop, post audio files, and generally present better than I do.
Well, there it is. One thousand entries, and perhaps a bit of learning.

See you for the 1001th.

Thank you for reading, responding and engaging. Some trip!

27 comments:

  1. Mark,
    Well put. There is a wealth of material here. With your permission, and citation I would like to take some on. Where we go is in large part dependent on where we have been. Well done!

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  2. I cannot thank you enough for your very instructive and thoughtful blog. I know it is a lot of work. Politics is much easier (at least for me).

    I love your writing, and thank you for the spelling errors that make us all so human in doing and reading them. I never seek perfection, unable myself to come anywhere near!

    I hope you continue to blog for many, many years. I really depend on you to help me sort the wheat from the chaff and you often pose questions that I think about for days. Sometimes it takes a while for me to really grasp the substance of things.

    I'd toss you your favorite drink and toast were you not so darned far away. So consider this a net-toast.

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  3. Mark, congratulations are in order. A thousand of your posts are worth 10,000 found in some places, because you do your research when you speak your mind. I rarely disagree with your posts, but when I do you have my respect. This gives me a chance to thank you for all y our hard work!

    I agree with the text of your main post about things Anglican. I can sympathize with those who feel the need for a more authoritarian church community - but not with them trying to change one that was never set up to be that way. (I am speaking of TEC, not every church in the AC.) I also think if you want a truly Protestant experience you are in the wrong church with TEC, but I know I thrive on the gray areas in life when others do not. To each his own - but I confess I would like others to leave mine be. This has never been all about Bishop Robinson, and it's time to stop making him the scapegoat.

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  4. Congratulations, Mark! Well done, thou good and faithful servant. You do all the work, and I benefit from your wisdom. Thank you so much for being here.

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  5. I add my congratulations, too. But of course, I do disagree with certain points.

    "Lambeth 1998 1.10 was a disaster, being bad politics unaccompanied by theological underpinnings." The theology traditional Christian marriage is well expounded. In contrast, "The approval of Gene Robinson at GC 03 was a disaster, being bad politics unaccompanied by theological underpinnings." While I was not there, I have heard first hand accounts from Ephraim+ and Kendall+. Sloganeering ruled the day ("Ask me about Gene"). Kendall+ points out a theological decision was made without any discussion of the theological issues.

    The covenant is a bad idea. Windsor is dead. Agreed. Agreed.

    "We don't know how to fight." Strongly disagree. The transformation of the Episcopal denomination from the Republican party at prayer to what it is today is simply breathtaking.

    As for your predictions of the future, the newly released 2007 data continues to show that you can rule the pulpit but you can't make the laity stay. 815 is preparing to engage in the biggest legal multi-front war in the history of religion. It will be years of headlines of lawsuits. The denomination won't survive.

    I, too, look forward to 1001.

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  6. Mark+, it is simply not true that there was no substantive theological response to Spong's incoherent agnostic ramblings. "Can a Bishop Be Wrong", edited by Peter Moore, included essays by Drs. William Witt, Edith Humphry, David Scott, Ephraim Radner...ten scholars in all. If you've never read it, you might want to check it out:
    http://www.amazon.com/Can-Bishop-Wrong-Peter-Moore/dp/0819217263/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224159409&sr=8-1

    Matt Kennedy

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  7. fred...of course..let me know by email what your "taking some on" leads to...

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  8. Matt/ Good Shepherd Weekly.... thanks. I am correcting my comments. Looking at the table of contents it seems to me it was not addressing the debate - namely the 12 theses which Spong seemed to think followed one another in some logical sequence, but a number of the topics brought up by his writings. The publication date was March 1998. Does it reference the 12 Theses document? The back cover does not mention that as the catalyst for the book.

    It looks, BTW, very interesting. I intend to put it on the reading list.

    Meanwhile, if you are interested, I wrote a piece specifically on the 12 T and posted it on Louie Crew's Anglican Pages. You can read it at:

    http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/harris2spng.html

    Matt...I appreciate your taking the time to respond. Thanks.

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  9. 1,000 posts is something to celebrate. I'm on the other side of the aisle, but your blogging is always thoughtful and even, in a way I can't quite describe, generous to your opponents. I respect the fact that you admit comments from those with whom you disagree.

    Here's to 1,000 more.

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  10. Robroy...thanks for the note. The disaster re Lambeth 1.10 was to make it into something more than the mind of the large majority of the conference at that time. For it to become the flag to be saluted is every bit as bad as what you think happened at GC 03.

    There was a great deal of sloganeering at GC 03, but prior to that there was a great deal of work done on the theological questions - with open hearings on both same sex blessings and the consent.

    I believe many of us were quite aware of the theological issues. Kendall was quite vocal about his understanding of the matters at stake, as were others.

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  11. John-Julian, OJN16/10/08 10:23 AM

    Mark: you have done more than just blog well and faithfully, but your blog has actually been the impetus for a number of other high-grade bloggers who followed in your footsteps.

    What a grand gift you have given to all of us! Multitudes of thanks.

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  12. Congratulations, Father, and thanks for a great blog.

    Lapin - the really weird thing is that the Coptic and Ethiopian Churches are in communion with each other, UIAM; their dispute seems to be nationalistic, without any religious overtones. Thank God the Anglicans don't have an official presence at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher...the situation is scandalous enough without opening it up to amateurs!

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  13. Mark, congratulation! May you continue to be a voice of good sense for many posts to come.

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  14. Mark --I,too, have benefitted from the work you have done here, articulating clearly issues and concerns clearly and thoughtfully.

    I pray that the toxic waste that has happened has found a storage vault--or perhaps a recycling center where it can be put to good use.

    Many blessings on your continued ministry in this place.

    And, again, thank you!

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  15. Mark+ congratulations and un grand merci from Montreal.
    Your articulate, thoughtful, well-reasoned yet very human postings are part of the reason I find myself back and very hopeful within the Church of my birth.(After hearing +Gene preach twice here in Montreal what other real option was there? LOL)

    You and Terry+ have proved yourselves invaluable in the noisy, often confusing months prior to Lambeth for more people than you will ever know.

    A living blessing to the Church, I'd wish you God's every blessing

    David@Montreal

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  16. Congrats!

    Bloging, it turns out is work. You do it well.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  17. Good Father, you do not know the number of times I check your blog in a day and go away, crushed, if there is no new word from you!

    Thank you for your work.

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  18. Mark,

    Congrats!

    And please continue to write, in spite of the toxic environment!

    So many times, in the last few months, as I've had to sit on my hands in frustration over various troubling events of which no one seemed to be voicing the obvious, I found solace in visiting here, where you have often articulated well my concerns.

    What you are doing here is important. Press on, brother.

    Jake

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  19. Mark -
    Congratulations on a Thousand Blogs and many many thanks for all the thoughtfulness and perceptiveness you share with us. Ad multos annos.

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  20. Congratulations, and keep on plugging along...
    Tobias

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  21. THANK YOU MARK...you know, everytime I come here I feel reassured that all is well...your boat doesn´t ROCK! I like that as you point out the thiness in some very heavy/nasty attacks against TEC!
    Thanks you again,

    Leonardo Ricardo

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  22. Thank you for a great blog and for the calm voice of both reason and charity at a time when the Church, this country, and the world are so bitterly polarized. This blog is a very great service.

    I always think of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as Christendom in a nutshell. My Israeli friends love to describe the fist fights that break out in the crowd during the Easter Vigil at the Church.
    The Christians are so bitterly divided that the keys to the church have always been entrusted to a Muslim custodian. That is a custom that goes back to the days of the Ottoman sultans, and still endures today.

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  23. Ron Fox, BSG18/10/08 6:51 PM

    I've known you since your novitiate days in BSG, and can't say often enough how well you "get the word out." Thanks for being a sound voice for Episcopalians and Anglicans everywhere. My best, Ron Fox, BSG

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  24. Mark - congratulations on reaching 1,000. I too disagree with many of your propositions, but I apppreciate your thoughtful reasoning, being able to read the issues from the liberal/ progressive perspective and your generosity in allowing the opposition to express their thoughts here. I also appreciate the even tone of discussion here without so much toxicity as is common on other liberal blogsites as Fr Jake and MadPriest. Please keep plugging along and may God grant us grace to discourse with one another in love.

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  25. Mark,
    Congratulations on this milestone! I read, but rarely respond. Your words are so articulate they are better than mine. Please do not get discouraged. A number of us continue to count on your wisdom. Marilyn

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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.