12/01/2008

Three Days in December: What they do and don’t signify.

THE THREE DAYS:

It appears that on Wednesday, December 3rd, some portion (or perhaps all) of the member groups in the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) will sign on to the GAFCON Jerusalem Declaration and give assurance to the GAFCON Primates that they will not let ego or territorial concerns get in the way of forming a coherent and cohesive new ecclesial entity in North America. They will then petition the GAFCON Primates for recognition. According to BabyBlue that recognition will come the next day, December 4th, when the GAFCON Primates are meeting in London. In turn the GAFCON Primates are meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury on December 5th.

The three days begin in Chicago and end at Lambeth Palace. The thing is, when the GAFCON Primates get to the Archbishop’s digs, what’s the agenda? Was that meeting set up in order to make the case for the GAFCON Province, or was it for some other matter, such as defending GAFCON’s own case for its being a legitimate organization within the Anglican Communion? It may be that the meeting with the Archbishop will be about GAFCON, not about the CCP. So Day Three might be unconnected with days One and Two. If so, raising the
specifics of a new Anglican entity emerging in North America might be met with objection that that was not on the agenda and that the Archbishop has no intention of commenting on such a proposal or of offering any sort of encouragement.

It will be a day for the Archbishop to use his very best diplomatic skills and his most delicately worded reminder that GAFCON Primates have no special status in his court.

THE MONTHS TO COME

With the encouragement of recognition by the GAFCON Primates and whatever they can muster from the meeting with the Archbishop in hand the leaders of this new entity and the GAFCON Primates will make the case to the Anglican Communion Primates and later to the Anglican Consultative Council that this new entity be made a Province of the Anglican Communion.

The last rounds in the move to a new third province in North America would involve a successful “constitutional convention” of the CCP folk next summer, and a final presentation of the signed, sealed and delivered constitution to the ACC.

According to The Living Church, an analysis of the possibilities suggests that it might not be possible for formal recognition by the ACC to happen prior to its meeting in 2012.

The next six to nine months negotiating would be successful if the GAFCON Primates could provoke earlier action on the new province. The only way to do that is for the GAFCON Primates to use the threat of unilateral action, justified by the slow process of developing adequate pastoral and primatial oversight of the so called “orthodox Anglicans” in North America. The press may be subtle, it may be blatant, but without it there is no reason for the rest of the Primates or the ACC to move rapidly.

Hopefully everyone will understand that from the outset the American Anglican Council and the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, aka the Anglican Communion Network have planned for this day and work tirelessly for the presence of a new improved self styled “orthodox” body that could replace The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada as the “agent” or “franchise” of real Anglicanism in North America. That is, everyone will understand that the takeover plot has been around for several years. While that mean the actions of the CCP and the GAFCON bishops is not surprising, it is, for all its “normality” still an attempt at a hostile takeover.

Hostility is a good motivator, but as a sustainable and rational basis for creative new
understandings of a faith community it fails miserably.

The Primates, the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and ACC, and then the ACC itself will have to work hard at it to avoid dealing with the reality that the CCP consists mostly of unrecognized ecclesial entities in the US and Canada with bishops whose jurisdictions, canonical status or even their orders themselves are in serious doubt. A number of these bishops are not recognized by Canterbury. Several are deposed by their own jurisdictions. Some exist only as temporary organizations attached to another province of the Anglican Communion than where they are organized.

Surely the Primates as a whole, and the ACC as a whole, have considerable reservations concerning the wholesale recognition of the bishops of the several groups in CCP. But then again, who knows.
The temptation is to say that the Three Days in December are of vital importance to the fu
ture of the Anglican Communion. The temptation is to say that within six to nine months the remaining power cards are to be played and the Anglican Communion as we know it will be finished, diminished, or triumphant. Anglicans of various stripes are looking at the next nine months as a critical time.

IS THIS A CRITICAL TIME IN THE COMMUNION?

There are two problems with thinking things in Anglican Land are at a crisis moment:

First most of the fight is irrelevant at best and obscene at worse. Outside a small circle of friends and enemies who give a damn about all this, the world’s issues are of much greater importance, and the churches’ issues much less importance, for this to make any difference in their lives. Even the plan as played out in the forgoing appears as an absurdity and an irrelevance.

For many people, including my family and most of the people I love, the machinations of the Anglican Communion or its churches, as regards the current possibilities of a split in the Communion, are mildly interesting but of no ultimate importance. They are right.

The circle of Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodist clergy that I meet with on Wednesdays see these machinations as important in a peripheral way, but they and I find it must more important to deal with the specific and immediate effects of pre-enlightenment theological and social attitudes by some churches and many church people in a county undergoing rapid change. The Episcopalians in this group are proud of our taking even the tentatively more bold stance that we have in recent years, proud of being part of a church that includes Bishop Robinson, glad to be as open and inviting as possible. But mostly, they would say about the doings this week, “So what?” Very little will change in what we do or how we proclaim the Gospel because of the plots and plans of those who have left.

Second, The Episcopal Church, finally, has begun to have a clear and persistent response to those who are determined to leave:
  • a. Sadness that it has come to this.
  • b. Clarity that the processes by which decision are made in The Episcopal Church will remain as they are – namely by actions of the General Convention and the Executive Council guided by common prayer, the baptismal covenant, the table fellowship that derives from the Eucharist, and the missionary vocation derived from our inclusion in the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.
  • c. Determination that we will continue the witness of The Episcopal Church in all parts of the United States of America and those nations in which we have formed dioceses as a result of our missionary efforts, where none had (in terms of the Anglican Communion) been before, or the oversight of which had been transferred to us.
  • d. We will continue to affirm our desire to be part of the fellowship that constitutes the Anglican Communion, and very little desire to belong to a world wide ecclesial structure – a church – that would negate much of what we understand Anglicanism to stand for, and would resemble more and more a patriarchy.
  • e. We will consider that individuals who leave The Episcopal Church – be they bishops, clergy or laity – do so without changing our obligation to ecclesial presence and missionary outreach in the areas where they had previously exercised ministry as members of the Episcopal Church.
  • f. We will insist that that ecclesial presence and missionary outreach, as well as the canons of this Church gives The Episcopal Church, as represented in that place, primary rights concerning property and assets held in trust by vestries, rectors, or other ecclesial officials.
  • g. We will pray that we not be overcome by arrogance nor be guided by hostility to those who have left, but keep the paths cleared for common faith and work.
  • With these understandings in mind, the actions to be taken on December 3rd and following are not a deterrent to, or detraction from, the path that The Episcopal Church has chosen. The actions of these days, on this level, are irrelevant.
NOT A CRITICAL TIME, BUT A WATCHFUL ONE

Here on Preludium we will continue to monitor all these goings on, but the sense h
ere is that the deal is done.

There will be a new ecclesiastical entity in North America. Some bishops, clergy and people, who have left The Episcopal Church, are bound and determined to establish another ecclesial entity in North America. They will collude with whoever they can and make the claim to be the “real” Anglican presence in North America. They will with others, notably from the Global South, attempt to take over the Anglican Communion and change it from its current form, structure and leadership and shape it to their own sense of what is called for by the Gospel. They may or may not succeed.

But when they have finished doing whatever it is that they purport to do, there will still be The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, and churches throughout the world that remain willing to work together as the Anglican Communion we know and to which we belong. We may find ourselves working with Anglicans elsewhere in the world who relate to the relief and development organizations of the new province as well as with TEC and ACoC. We will view that as yet another of the ecumenical possibilities of our work.


The thing is, when the dust settles, there will be TEC and ACoC. There will continue to be some regional or national churches (provinces) in communion with the See of Canterbury, and we will hope to be among them. There may be some of those that we are not in communion with. That will be the Archbishop of Canterbury’s problem, not ours.

Perhaps the crisis of the next six to nine months, or of the next four years, is a fiction that is a product of ecclesiastical greed.

If the CCP / GAFCON community can capture the flag, if CCP can become the “Anglican Franchise” in North America, if the Jerusalem Declaration becomes the litmus test for orthodoxy, what they will have is a regional church in North America and relations with other Anglican churches that will look less and less like the Anglican Communion. We will be glad to be rid of the hostile takeover crowd. They will have done their work only to find they didn’t get anything real.

And, should they not succeed, they can join the fifty or so other “Anglican” entities in North America
that will produce a growing network of bishops whose family tree is filled with ‘the deposed bishop of this’ and the ‘irregular bishop of that’ and the ‘intruder bishop of the other.’ They will have a fine time arguing among themselves as to who among them got it right. They will perhaps take with them the fears of all the years – about the unclean among us (women, young people, gay and lesbian people, people different than themselves, etc) – and live a fearful dream of purity.

We in TEC and ACoC will go on being the regional churches that history and our own vocations as churches require of us.

We will have other churches around the world with which we are closely related in fellowship, mutual care, prayer and call. We will be the Anglican Communion, or barring that a fellowship, not of confessing Anglicans, but of Anglicans in communion.

The day will come when the irrelevancy of the present hostilities will become apparent. Until then, as we practice in Advent, we wait.


32 comments:

  1. Yes, Mark, I've been saying much the same thing. However, with my friend George Clifford over at Episcopal Cafe, I think the other thing we must begin to do is simply settle these matters out of court, save the legal dollars, and move on. Stewardship of what we hold in trust also includes: 1) seeing that our finances are better not spent in court, 2) getting a fair market value for property in settlement, 3) keeping the 'fight' out of secular courts and media where it hurts all parties.

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  2. Well, Mark, "Our Ruth" reported a few days ago that the Southern Cone was going to face some consequences for 'harbouring' four American bishops.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article5232937.ece

    She also reported here: http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2008/11/southern-cone-h.html

    that, and I quote: "I understand that the Joint Standing Committee meeting in London this week, from which significantly Egypt's Mouneer Anis and Uganda's Henry Orombi are absent, is to discuss suspending Southern Cone's voting rights from the upcoming Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Jamaica next May. As long-standing readers will recall, this is what happened to TEC, then Ecusa, at the last ACC meeting in Nottingham in 2005. This is not so much a 'booting out' but should be regarded as a punishment, I am told. Meanwhile, it seems highly probable that TEC and Canada are to be rewarded for their restraint by being given a full seat back at the table again in May."

    I may well have missed the following memo or news story, but do you suppose that's what the December 5th meeting with the ABC is really all about?

    It has also been widely reported that the UK's National Evangelical Council failed to secure enough votes to back the GAFCON Jerusalem Statement.

    A competent analysis of the complexities of this whole situation is well above my pay and grade, but these things certainly don't bode well.

    I have no doubt that a new Province will soon be declared "formed" but whether or not it is recognized by the ABC or the other Primates at their February meeting is, in my estimation, highly unlikely.

    +++Himself is far from being politically astute and he is, sadly, badly advised, but he at least has the intelligence to know an attempted hostile take over when he sees one.

    Critical time? I'm thinking, not so much.

    Yes, dears, there will always be an England. And TEC and the ACoC which will remain classically, traditionally, historically and truly Anglican - even with the attempted hostile takeover of the Anglican "brand".

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  3. Nom de Plume1/12/08 10:42 PM

    Several [bishops] are deposed by their own jurisdictions.

    And some voluntarily relinquished all spiritual authority as ministers of Word and Sacrament, i.e., their ministries. One might perhaps be fogiven for imagining that such relinquishment was fraudulent....

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  4. Wonderful Elizabeth... I think Ruth got it dead wrong. The PB was interviewed about the Joint Standing Committee and said the matter reported in the Times re punishment had not come up.

    I think (but have no proof)that the meeting with the ABC was set up some time ago and that the already planned meeting in Chicago became the venu for floating the ship so that it precisely could "fit in" with the GAFCON Primates gathering in London for their meeting with the ABC. An earlier rumor had given the 6th as the "starting day." Perhaps it was the date that they believed the GP's would up the ante.

    We will see.

    BTW, great article on your site on slavery, complicity etc.

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  5. Wow,

    I just finished reading a biography of Elizabeth I, and was severely tested in my rather positive view of the "Elizabethean Settlement" - which seemed to involve any manner of banishments, torture, executions, political heavy-handiness, etc etc. The Via Media has way more roughness to it than I thought. Perhaps this is all part fall out from that original political miscue? Don't know, but I don't feel so unique now. Though I do feel that this path may have been wrong a LONG time ago.. What lessons should we have learned?




    Mrs. Joel

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  6. Fr. Mark:
    You say this:

    "We will pray that we not be overcome by arrogance"

    then you say this:

    "With these understandings in mind, the actions to be taken on December 3rd and following are not a deterrent to, or detraction from, the path that The Episcopal Church has chosen. The actions of these days, on this level, are irrelevant."

    It appears that while you are quite dispassionate about the whole thing, perhaps even non-plussed you completely ignore the actual pain and hurt and disappointment of the thousands of Episcopalians that are left stranded by these hurtful thugs.

    In addition, unless you know something we all do not, there is an inherent risk in what you say. That risk is that ++Williams will stick to his Anglican communion and not "their" Anglican communion. Why don't you ask those in Pittsburgh and San Joaquin and Quincy and Fort Worth. I do not think we are all really willing to simply sit back, watch and take that risk.

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  7. "We in TEC and ACoC will go on being the regional churches that history and our own vocations as churches require of us."

    That is until the endowments run out or the congregations die off...with an average age well over 50 in TEC(USA) despite all the claims to be oh so "inclusive" and modern, I am not sure which will happen first.....

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  8. To Observer
    That the age of the average Episcopalian is advanced and/or that TEC's atttendance is in free-fall is not something about which we should gloat. We need to be about the Father's business. If what we do is of God, it will continue to prosper. And while we should not be shy about offering to share a vision with those still in TEC, we should no forget that until very recently, we were one family - dysfunctional on many levels but nonetheless family and like all families, there are real people (on both sides) who grieve the ending of that relationship.

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  9. The important perspective is perhaps that of entryism/ separatism. The NEAC 5 vote was not taken because the entryism/ Separatism agenda lay behind an acceptance of the Jerusalem Declaration of GAFCON and despite Evangelical support for the theology of the separatists they couldn't support the separatism for its effect back on the C of E (see Sugden's speech to show the intent of a separate identity).

    In the these people have left, the necessity is to see that they are actually separate, and not entryist. They will try entryism via the Archbishop, ACC and Primates, and they will have the GAFCON primates, but they won't have the two thirds needed. It's all push push shove shove.

    In the end recognition will only work when they do something similar in the British Isles, and for this they need a particular issue to arise. One may well be money - giving by parishes to the dioceses to be replaced by giving by parishes to other approved parishes. There will be several attempts to find issues to divide the Evangelicals and get support across to GAFCON that has an institutional outcome.

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  10. "That is until the endowments run out or the congregations die off...with an average age well over 50 in TEC(USA) despite all the claims to be oh so "inclusive" and modern, I am not sure which will happen first....."

    Well then, it may all come down to my little heathen liberal parish here in God-forsaken New York. At the age of 50, I'm one of the oldsters. Almost all of our scores of new members over the past couple of years are under 40. And for a notoriously "gay" parish, our nursery is awfully busy and noisy on Sunday mornings.

    Perhaps Observer is uncomfortable standing in the communion line between a decorated Vietnam veteran (who happens to be gay), and a young woman with an extravagant display of piercings (who is straight). "Just as I am without one plea..."

    And just in case you think "well, that's just in New York!" you might take a closer look at your own hometown. Some of those folks who are here may once have been your next door neighbors. They are here not because New York is so wonderful, but because where they are from was not exactly a happy home.

    Ultimately, I believe Father Mark is right. The current warfare for the Anglican franchise will have little to no impact on the lives of individual parishes; except to sow discord and hatred, and to break them apart.

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  11. fatherjones,

    There is an ethical issue involved here. Some foreign bishops have claimed property that does not belong to them. We have to put a stop to such plum picking expeditions once and for all, or such tactics will continue indefinately. It is not acceptable for someone to take something that belongs to another.

    It is unfortunate that it will take the involvement of the secular courts to make this point clear. One would think that when dealing with brother and sister Christians, it would be obvious that stealing from one another cannot be tolerated. But, since our requests to stop such pillaging raids have gone uheeded, I don't think we have any choice. Negotiate to allow foreign adventurers to take our assets? I think not.

    Observer,

    Is a death wish all you have to contribute to the conversation? Personally, I think that is more revealing about your own spiritual state than a worthwhile contribution to this conversation.

    Mark,

    Your bullet points regarding the "clear and persistent response" of TEC are excellent. I sggest we all memorize them, and allow them to influence all of our future responses.

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  12. Ms. G. was clearly mislead. I am capable of wondering which English member of the meeting or ABC's staff went to that meeting hoping action on the Southern Cone was imminent. Someone was dreaming something!

    I also suspect the 3 December date was selected because of the 4 December London event. So, there will be another something, province, proto-province, alphabet string -- something that the London haters will 'recognize.'

    For all his evident anti - Americanism, ++RW is not going to accept it as another province. Forward in Faith would be next in line and he has to know that. Precedent matters, especially when the next ox is your ox.

    And that is precisely why Gaf(fe)con is going to fail. It has committed strategic overreach. For all its crowing about the numbers it thinks doom TEC, the Gaffe's are worse. Absent the recognition from CoE which will not be forthcoming, they are a sect on the same road as the St. Louis deceleration holy people.

    At least that is what this Rom sees in his crystal ball.

    FWIW
    jimB

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  13. One can blame the current African bishops, but this separation has been coming long before those bishops or Iker, Duncan, et al were even in play. It is an easy target to say that reasserters league with reactionaries, but one can easily see that warnings to North America were occurring thirty years ago.

    Lots of somebodies for quite a long time have been telling us what we don't want to hear; that too much living in the world has changed the Gospel message coming from TEC. Now revisionists find it helpful to lump all of those thirty-forty years of criticisms to be about denying civil rights and intrusive bishops.

    That works only in insulated circles, but not in reality. Ask the 60% of TEC that won't be in your church on Sunday.

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  14. Counterlight, you repeat your insinuation that your parish (can you name names, by the way, so that we can download the statistics for ourselves?), in all its success and progressive enlightenment, is the ECUSA reality. The problem, is, love Observer or hate him/her, ECUSA's own statistical director – most probably, no partisan of ECUSA’s critics – agrees.

    If the numbers are so wrong, perhaps you should spend less time blogging, and more time reporting your parish's results to 815? Because, it hasn't gotten the memo.

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  15. LOL.... consequences...Like Bob Barker is available.

    I have some consequences for the Southern Conealones!!

    Faith!!

    Melting their worthless suger cone.

    Into oblivion!!

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  16. Thank you, Dan.

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  17. Observer,

    It is the case that there is a general decline in church attendance in all quarters. Denominations like the Southern Baptists are having to deal with it as well as those "devil-infested, modern" churches. And I understand that the only reason the RCC is not shrinking faster is due to the many Catholic immigrants it absorbs.

    I also hasten to add that your schadenfreude in response to such happening to TEC is unbecoming of a Christian.

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  18. Terry Martin and others...why do defensive re TEC's decline? And please don't pretend it is not Christian to talk of it...have you not read the parable of the sower and the different soils? Someone else predicted that some apparent faith would end up being choked by weeds and shown to be false....not my words or idea.

    Adrian - perhaps the entryists in the AC are those that disagree with the core teaching of the AC on important points? That would make more sense than trying to paint as entryists people who are in line with most of the AC, would it not?

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  19. Phil et al,

    "A liar's words always blush, but a statistician's numbers are shameless.'
    Your statistics, sweeping pronouncements, and glib generalizations are the diametric opposite of what I've experienced for 25 years. So what am I supposed to believe, my own eyes or you?

    Maybe you need to get out of town and actually visit one of those "dying" liberal parishes. Maybe you could visit JCF up in Albion, Michigan whose dreadfully inclusive liberal parish appears to be surviving and thriving despite losing their church building to a recent fire.
    Then there's Trinity Church in Saint Louis which has done quite well despite (or maybe because of) being gay friendly for decades. Trinity long ago decided to stay in the city and not to flee to the suburbs like most of the rest of the Episcopal congregations did. They ran a food pantry and a social services ministry during all those long years when St. Louis city decayed and declined. They stood by their neighborhood through thick and thin while most of the other congregations opted for the safety (and fatter collection plates) of the suburbs. That decision doesn't seem to have hurt them.

    What I mostly remember from church life in dear old white and right Dallas is smug complacency and a crippling terror of anyone and anything that might be in the least bit "different." What's different is always a threat, right? Mutual congratulation on being a member and being always "right" is not my idea of healthy religious life.

    Maybe it's time for all you right wing folk to pull your heads out of your statistics and have some solid concrete empirical experiences.

    It's time to put the book down and get out of the house.

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  20. Counterlight,

    You’re supposed to believe me (815, actually – you can refer here to the horrific numbers conservatives have somehow influenced ECUSA to put forth to cover up the success of its own revisionist project:
    http://www.episcopalchurch.org/research_71316_ENG_HTM.htm?menupage=51354). Otherwise, you’re in the position of the late The New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael, who was said (possibly apocryphally) to remark in 1972, “I can't believe Nixon won. I don't know anybody who voted for him.”

    Maybe we could try it the other way round, and see if your logic still works? I don’t know of any churches that “fled” to the suburbs (as opposed to new ones that were planted there, where the population growth tends to be). What’s more, while I’m a born and bred Northeasterner, I do have some family in Dallas (and Houston) – even worked in Fort Worth for a short while – and I’ve never, during my various visits, encountered any “smug complacency” or “crippling terror” of people or things even quite a bit “different.”

    (By the way, as long as our respective opinions are taking on the force of immutable fact, without regard to nefariously deceptive statistics, demanding your church validate your personal desires and methods of gratification isn’t my idea of a healthy religious life.)

    Maybe it’s time for the left-wing folk to pull their heads out of their stereotypes and have some solid concrete empirical experiences – maybe even recognize that those who disagree with them aren’t, necessarily, slack-jawed, gap-toothed, narrow-minded hicks?

    Over to you.

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  21. Phil noted:
    "demanding your church validate your personal desires and methods of gratification isn’t my idea of a healthy religious life".

    It's not religion at all. It's meditation upon one's own values. Christianity isn't a meditation movement; but instead it is a revealed incarnation that requires specific responses.

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  22. “demanding your church validate your personal desires and methods of gratification” – is that what you think all of the fuss of the past several decades is about? Really?

    “Maybe it’s time for the left-wing folk to pull their heads out of their stereotypes and have some solid concrete empirical experiences.”

    How many times have we heard the right-wing folk define the LGBT community solely by their sexuality?

    How many times have we heard the right-wing folk claim that the LGBT community is demanding “special rights,” apparently tax-exempt status and free BMWs?

    How many times have we heard the right-wing folk claim that homosexuality is akin to kleptomania?

    How many times have we heard the right-wing folk claim that homosexuality is a “lifestyle,” like going to swap meets on the week ends, or spending weeks at a time traveling the country in a Winnebago?

    How many times have we heard the right-wing folk claim that sexual orientation is a choice, but none of them can remember when they themselves made that choice?

    How many times have we heard that tradition, doctrine and orthodoxy, fixed at some point long ago, have never and can never change?

    How many times have we heard that gay couples can’t have long-term loving relationships and can’t properly raise children?

    How many times have we heard right-wing folk say they aren’t bigots, while pre-judging the entire LGBT community as described above? Isn’t pre-judging (prejudice) based on ignoring the facts (ignorance) the definition of bigotry?

    What are these opinions based on? Information obtained from James (“They want to destroy the institution of marriage. It will destroy marriage. It will destroy the Earth.") Dobson? Or from concrete empirical experiences based on personal relationships with LGBT Christians?

    Since some right-wing folks would rather leave the AC and TEC than sit in the same pew with a gay Christian couple, yet assure us they are not bigoted, what experiences with LGBT persons, and how many, can they have had which leads them to this decision?

    With the medical research and biblical scholarship we now have, along with the witness of the LGBT faithful, it’s very difficult to see how any Christians can oppose full inclusion of the LGBT community. We can continue the exclusion of the LGBT community within the AC – or we can stop.

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  23. Maybe you could visit JCF up in Albion, Michigan whose dreadfully inclusive liberal parish appears to be surviving and thriving despite losing their church building to a recent fire.

    Actually, Counterlight, I wouldn't classify my parish as "dreadfully inclusive liberal", but simply "middle of TEC road" (I hope that says something more about me, than them).

    That we survive, says less about our liberality, or even our persistence after the fire, but that even in flat on its economic bottom Michigan, doing church "the Episcopal way" continues to speak to the suffering people who remain here.

    In other words: we're up against a LOT worse than the Phils and Allens and Observers and their lies about us . . . and yet, ya just can't kill us! ;-) Praise Christ!

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  24. That is until the endowments run out or the congregations die off...with an average age well over 50 in TEC(USA) despite all the claims to be oh so "inclusive" and modern, I am not sure which will happen first.....

    And this is different than what the Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Southern Baptists, etc. are experiencing how?

    If you are going to bury your nose in stats, take a look at the free-falling percentage of Roman Catholics who attend Mass or contribute the church. In 1987 44% of Catholics attend Mass, in 2004 it was down to 33%. How many RC church closings are planned in your area? The 2nd largest religious denomination in the U.S. are lapsed Catholics. (Source USA today

    Or take a look at the angst evangelicals are feeling at their aging congregants and having the same worries about the future. The SBC could close half of their churches by 2030. And the TEC membership loss still pales in comparison to other mainline denominations. Even the OCA trimmed 10% of their membership figures in the last few years.

    I hate to burst your bubble but aging and declining participation in a cross denominational problem. Even if the TEC kicked the open gays and so-called "heretics" out of church it would still be fighting the demographic forces that are affecting many denominations - liberal or conservative.

    The PEW Forum survey showed that homophobia was one of the biggest complaints people had against Christians. It's up to the TEC to distinguish itself if we want to turn things around. But most people are so turned off of institutional Christianity that I have my doubts.

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  25. "Maybe it’s time for the left-wing folk to pull their heads out of their stereotypes and have some solid concrete empirical experiences – maybe even recognize that those who disagree with them aren’t, necessarily, slack-jawed, gap-toothed, narrow-minded hicks?"

    Phil darlin'
    I know all about your kind. I grew up among y'all and have lived with you whether I liked it or not. And let's face it. your kind have been calling all the shots politically, culturally, and economically for the last 30 years. And what a triumphant 30 years it has been!

    "Pauline Kael, who was said (possibly apocryphally) to remark in 1972, “I can't believe Nixon won. I don't know anybody who voted for him.”"

    Interesting, I have relatives in Texas who said the same thing Wednesday morning November 5th this year. Only it was more along the lines of "the black guy" or worse, rather than "Nixon."

    "It's not religion at all. It's meditation upon one's own values. Christianity isn't a meditation movement; but instead it is a revealed incarnation that requires specific responses."

    Allen darlin'
    I could turn that right back around at you. Are you sure your brand of Christianity isn't merely some spiritual prop for a cultural and social hierarchy where you enjoy being on top? Perhaps you're mistaking winning the lottery for God's will?
    Since you guys so cherish family values, maybe you're real religious allegiances lie not with some young Jewish punk who left His home and family behind, and called others to do likewise, but with the ancient Roman religion of hearth and ancestors. Now THAT was a family values religion! The home and house fire were sacred. The ancestors were worshipped, The Pater Familias was judge and priest over his family in life and their god in death. They even had a virginity cult. What more could you ask?

    And if success means so much to you guys, maybe Muhammad is your man rather than that Jewish punk again. Let's face it. Jesus left behind home and family, lived off the charity of others, got Himself into trouble and arrested, all of His followers abandoned Him in the end, and He was executed like a common criminal. Not my idea of success. Not the best example for America's youth. Muhammad, on the other hand, remained a solid family man all his life, was a successful merchant from a good family, and saw his movement take the whole Arabian peninsula in his lifetime. Within a hundred years of his death, his followers controlled an empire that stretched from Spain to India.
    And what were Jesus' followers doing 100 years after His crucifixion? They were dodging the cops and being called "atheists" by the Phils and Allens of ancient Rome.

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  26. Counterlight darlin’,

    No, you don’t – for starters, I would never use the phrase “your kind” to refer to you, or gays in general. But, if it makes the world more comfortable for you, go ahead and stay mired in your stereotypes.

    On Kael, yes, it is interesting: interesting that you’re quick to slag your (in your apparent view) ignorant, hick relatives in Texas for the same data-free insularity you exhibited in your original post. And what was your parish name, again?

    Look, two can play at your game. Let’s face this: Jesus was pretty much counter-cultural. He didn’t tell his followers to look to the mainstream media or Hollywood ethics of the day in order to decide how to behave, nor did He say that if it feels good, go ahead and do it. In fact, He taught we should deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily (you could look it up). I see no evidence in anything Christ taught that suggests He would agree that morality is re-determined triennially by the votes of society’s most committed political activists, or by the latest public opinion polls. Yet, we have Dan on this thread – and he’s by no means the first – waving a Pew survey in our faces and telling us we’d better get in line with the culture, now. I guess we’d better hope secular society doesn’t start “complaining” that the idiot Christians worship a God-Man born in a barn, and that they even think he rose from the dead like a scene from a bad Halloween movie. Will we have to grovel to the world on that one, too?

    What Jesus’ followers were doing 100 years after His Crucifixion was running from those enraged that Christians refused to glorify and participate in the practices of Roman society. Sorry, Counterlight, but the role of angry persecutor demanding the Christians submit to the wisdom of the age is being played by you, not me.

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  27. Phil Sweetie,

    NO SALE

    Your faggot and your equal in Christ.

    Doug Blanchard of St. Luke in the Fields parish, New York City, Mother Caroline Stacey, Rector.

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  28. Counterlight, yes, you are my equal in Christ – no worse, and, in all likelihood, better. I have never said otherwise, nor have the overwhelming majority of mainstream – what you would call “conservative” – Anglicans.

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  29. But, Phil, you are on the side of "this world" - I've never denied that the anti-gays have numbers, the majority on their side.

    You keep pointing out that we are a minority doing a "new thing."

    We're the ones standing against being conformed to this world.

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  30. He's a "better" who better not dream of seeking episcopal consecration (nor even ordination?), or Christian marriage to his beloved, eh Phil?

    Your humility is a little underwhelming. Come back when you're willing to leave interpretation of Scripture, Tradition and Reason (extending to the governance of the Church) to your "better".

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  31. No we're not equal Phil.

    Your marriage gets the sanction of State and Church, and of every form of social convention (speaking of conformed to the wisdom of the age).

    Michael and I, after 6 years now for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, have only a mere "relationship,' merely conforming to "Hollywood ethics," and therefore fair game to be endlessly trivialized in everything from sermons to locker-room jokes.

    How reassuring to know that Harvey Milk (and many others) died for a mere cultural trend ( like other passing fancies such as civil rights, women's suffrage, labor organization, and abolition; all opposed by God-fearing folk armed with proof-texts from Scripture). Dan White was a true knight of Christ.

    How strange it is that so many people for so long would defy the weight of social convention, the full force of the law, and dare to die and suffer death for a mere fashion created by Hollywood.

    Many of my neighbors in Texas felt the same way about the Civil Rights movement, a mere cultural trend conformed to the wisdom of the age. When I would object, they read to me from Holy Scripture the story of Noah's son Ham.

    NO SALE

    Your faggot in Christ,
    Doug Blanchard

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  32. My father was born in Texas and died in Texas. He was a Republican Cold Warrior of the old school (and at a time when Texas was overwhelmingly Southern Democrat). He was an anti-clerical secularist. He opposed the Civil Rights Act on the grounds of states rights.
    In the later years of his life, secularist that he was, he found the very Christian grace to regret and repent his former position on Civil Rights. He also accepted and supported me unfailingly through all my struggles over my sexuality. Even though he never liked Christianity much at all, he enjoyed a Christian newness of life toward the end.

    I will end my participation on this thread by wishing Phil a similar grace and newness of life.

    --Doug Blanchard

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OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
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