2/27/2009

Bishop elect Forrester responds to questions about Episcopal - Buddhist connection.

From David (Dah.veed)  who forwarded this message from Bishop elect Kevin Thew Forrester which I confirmed with his office as well. 

Here it is. The wringing of hands can now cease.

 
My Christian Faith & the Practice of Zen Buddhist Meditation 
Kevin Thew Forrester 25 February 2009 
As a Christian, I am deeply aware that I live and move and have my being in Christ – as does all creation. I am honored to be the bishop-elect of the Diocese of Northern Michigan with the opportunity to serve and work with the Episcopal Ministry Support Team as well as the people of the diocese for the next 10 to 15 years, committed as we are to the ministry of all the baptized.

Each of us is formed in the image and likeness of God. As a Christian, I owe my life to our Trinitarian faith. Over the years my faith and spiritual practice have been largely shaped and profoundly imprinted by the mystics and the contemplative spiritual tradition.

I have grown in my awareness that the grace of God, which is God’s very Presence, cannot be circumscribed. Because of my faith in the gracious goodness of the Godhead, I am open to receive the wisdom from, and be in dialogue with, other faith traditions; not to mention the sciences and the arts.

I am quite honored, as an Episcopal priest, to have been trained in the art and practice of Zen meditation. I am not an ordained Buddhist priest. I am an Episcopal priest eternally grateful for the truth, beauty and goodness, experienced in meditation.

I am thankful for the pioneering work of Thomas Merton in the Buddhist-Christian dialogue. I am also thankful for the current elders in our Christian tradition, such as Thomas Keating and David Steindl-Rast, whose practice of meditation (like that of Merton) deepened their own contemplative life and led them to explore the sacramental common ground we share through the grace of God. As a Christian I can be receptive to divine truth, beauty and goodness, because I know that “All things come of Thee, O Lord; and of thine own have we given thee.”

I have been blessed to practice Zen meditation for almost a decade. About five years ago a Buddhist community welcomed me as an Episcopal priest in my commitment to a meditation practice—a process known by some Buddhists as "lay ordination."

Literally thousands of Christians have been drawn to Zen Buddhism in particular because, distinct from western religions, it embodies a pragmatic philosophy and a focus on human suffering rather than a unique theology of God. “Lay ordination” has a different meaning in Buddhist practice than in the Christian tradition.

The essence of this welcoming ceremony, which included no oaths, was my resolve to use the practice of meditation as a path to awakening to the truth of the reality of human suffering. Meditation deepens my dwelling in Christ.

My experience continues to be that through the grace of meditation I am drawn ever deeper into the Trinitarian contemplative Christian tradition. I have been able to bring the practice of meditation/contemplation to the wider diocese through the gifts discovery process and through the founding of the Healing Arts Center at St. Paul’s in Marquette.

The Center is devoted to assisting people in their own spiritual journey, which includes the practice of meditation within the sanctuary and the exploration of Christian contemplatives and mystics. 

-- Kevin G. Thew Forrester 
Ministry Developer 
Diocese of Northern Michigan

49 comments:

Yawner said...

It's odd that he has stopped mentioning his Buddhist name, don't you think?

Mark- presumably you also accept statements from George W. Bush as the unvarnished truth, right? I mean, certainly David, Thew, and others have no agenda here.

Or- do you only accept as truthful and unbiased the statements from people who went to college with the Presiding Bishop, led the process to make themselves the sole candidate for bishop, etc?

Yawner said...

Also- does this mean that Kevin is going to continue to including the Creed (which he has previously excluded) and stop rewriting the BCP to fit his personal theology?

These are fair questions.

Marshall said...

See, isn't that wonderful? If we just ask, we can get the answer.

I, too, wish the furor would be over with; but, knowing that there will be many who not only don't know this, but don't want to know this, I fear it will go on.

Anonymous said...

It's also fair to ask where the documentary evidence is that Kevin Forrester repeatedly refused to include the creed and/or modified the BCP beyond the rubrics providing for alternate forms for celebrating the eucharist. Or are you going to claim that use of the alternate form is subject to your theological approval as well?

JFred

Christopher (P.) said...

Yawner--

I wonder why you are so worried about the Creed. Frankly, and though I don't agree, this seems dispensable on occasion in every parish I've been in. Even in my current one, where the Rector is about as "conservative" as they come and uses the word "orthodox" quite freely to describe those he likes (versus the "heretical" I suppose). Yet when the service promises to run long, on healing Sunday, for example, the Creed goes out. That's not in the rubrics, but there you go. My Rector would take great offense if someone were to suggest that he's not wholly adherent to the Trinity, because on occasion he forgoes the Creed in the service. It's really not the litmus test you think it is!

Charlotte said...

I'm grateful to da-veed and Mark for bringing Bishop-elect Forrester's comments to a wider audience. Will it do any good, I wonder? Or will the adrenalin-addicts on the far-right fringe of Anglican-land keep spinning their shock and alarm and fury, no matter what facts come to everyone else's attention?

Question answers itself.

Counterlight said...

I suppose Thomas Merton wasn't really Christian either. He couldn't pass the blood and pee tests for doctrinal purity.

Could it be possible that the very Western concept of "belonging" to a religion does not apply to Buddhism or to most other Eastern religions? It was long common practice in Japan for people to marry as Shintos and to be buried as Buddhists. Likewise in China, many people practice Taoist divination and medicine, venerate ancestors with Confucian rites, and depart this world with Buddhist prayers.
In a world so riven with sectarian violence where religious allegiance becomes too often a pretext for crime, perhaps such an impure and casual arrangement has its virtues.

Scott Hankins said...

Oh thank you, Mark. I hadn't seen this until now (busy, busy, sigh).

The person I entrust with journeyers I am not ekwipped (sorry, key "cue" is dead) to handle would, if she were forced, choose to be a Buddhist, 'though she is Jewish and was raised in the Episcopal tradition. (This is how serious practitioners of a spiritual life are, more and more, describing themselves - i.e., "in multiples" - and, have to say, I'm fast growing toward multiples myself.) I would also say, together with the good Bishop, that Trinitarian religion saved me and that I am so grateful for that that I will always take it with me, not violating the conscience of those who still need milk, but, where need be (increasingly often), leading those who need meat.

My ordaining bishop also turns toward Merton. (You decide which one.)

robroy said...

Thomas Merton's New Seeds of Contemplation and Seven Story Mountain were important reads for me in my formative years. I admit that I never read his Zen stuff. But like Dean Martin, I thought the Zen business could be a non-issue.

But more disturbing is his "election" process. (Anglican Curmudgeon has a lot to say about this). And even more disturbing is is practice of open communion and his liberties with the service. In particular, a homosexual parishioner of his matter of factly discussed at SF his striking the Nicene Creed from the service so that a Muslim attendee wouldn't feel awkward. Really outrageous.

David |Dah • veed| said...

Yawner, I am unsure as to why I would have an agenda here. I am a member of a poor parish in el Diócesis del Norte de la Iglesia Anglicana de México. We have all of five bishops in our entire church. I have no horse in this race except truth.

And as an Anglican solitary who has studied and practiced Zen meditation for 10+ years as part of my Christian discipline as a religious. There are many Anglican religious throughout the AC who practice Mindfulness. But as far as I know, we are dedicated Christians and this is just a part of our contemplative toolkit.

I have a natural tendency to take folks at their word. The diocese has offered documentation to their process on their website for everyone to read. And I have to respect those who walked this journey with the Diocese of No. Michigan; the Rt. Revd. Tom Ely of Vermont, the Rt. Revd. Bruce Caldwell of Wyoming, Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Professor at The Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, and Jo Gantzer of the Diocese of Michigan.

I am amazed at the frenzy the Orthodite have worked themselves into. The wild imaginings that they are posting. Today I offered this email on several sites that I visit. I posted it in a comment at SFIF on a topically related thread and in less than 15 minutes Greg Griffith removed it as SPAM and warned me about posting it again. If Episcopalians/Anglicans were asked to accept bishop-elect Lawrence to be truth telling in his requests for assent, why cannot we offer this bishop-elect the same Christian duty?

a homosexual parishioner!!!! Why Robroy, is his sexual orientation important in what he shared as his opinion about his rector, who is this bishop-elect?

David said...

Buddhism is more of a worldview than a religion anyways - they do not worship the Buddha, who was just a man (or shouldn't be anyways). Buddhism doesn't address who created the universe and in it's pure form (like Zen) it doesn't even address whether there IS a God - you can decide that yourself, outside of Buddhism. Buddhism is about 'Wisdom' or seeing the world as it truly is, and Compassion or reacting to that world in a loving manner. These seem compatible to God's plan to me..

Yawner said...

David,

If you're really saying you don't have a bias... then you have less credibility than David Virtue. Your bias is apparent in every posting you have ever made, on every site from Jake's to here. We all have our biases, but you come at this with a distinctly leftward worldview.

renzmqt said...

Homosexual parishioner in question, commenting, trying desperately to sort out the facts from the fictions.

I can tell you from first hand experience JFred the following:

KTF has implemented the continued use of The Inclusive Hebrew Scriptures and The Inclusive New Testament from Priest for Equality/Quixote Center. He has made it clear to the congregation that this is not an authorized version of the readings. (In fact it is at times a bit ridiculous in its attempts at achieving the "correct" language). Beginning with Lent last year he removed the Nicene Creed from the Lenten liturgy and substitued An Affirmation of Faith from the New Zealand Prayer Book. At the end of the season, folks expected the return of the Nicene Creed, it didn't come. Finally after some very heated meetings, he slipped it back into the liturgy in September. He regularly writes his own Collects. He "adapts" eucharistic prayers (he rewrites) whether it be one of the prayers from BCP or for example from the Lenten liturgy last year, and I quote, "The Eucharistic Prayer is from A Wee Worship Book of Iona and has been adapted by Kevin Thew Forrester." To what extent any of this is a violation of church cannons or theology or whatever I cannot readily say. KTF is one of only 5 seminary trained priests in the diocese and we take what he tells us at face value. However, a healthy number of the congregation has desired a return to a more straightforward use of Rite II BCP without success. His motivation to "adapt" is to strip out any language that he deems smacks of atonement theology to better reflect his theology. To what extent his theology is influenced by his involvement with Buddhism is better understood by folks with an educational background in theology and comparative religions than me. I'm hearing all sorts of accusations back and forth. No, he is not an ordained Buddhist priest, for heaven's sake. Does he present a theology that directly challenges mainstream church tradition, you betcha, is that a bad thing? That depends - and is very dependent on whether he respects the tradition or throws the baby out with the bathwater.

Charlotte said...

How can we explain the tizzies the extremists are throwing themselves into, on Stand Firm and elsewhere?

As I said in an earlier posting, it is simply that they are ginning up for the next ACC meeting, which is soon. They need something to damage the Episcopal Church with, and they've settled on this (for now).

The key point is this: the extremists do not care what they say, nor whether it's true, let alone charitable, as long as it 1) serves their purpose and 2) feeds their addictions.

That the extremists do not care what they say as long as it serves their purpose is a hard point to accept, but it happens to be true. For confirmation, visit the Fulcrum site (UK evangelicals) and read Bishop Nick Baines' remarkably frank assessment of their tactics:
http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=376

On the other hand, while this latest "crisis" seems to be feeding their own addictions well enough, it is not serving their purpose well, as serious discussion of the Northern Michigan election has entirely fizzled out. Most clergy and educated lay people have heard of Thomas Merton. They know how meretricious the "buddhist bishop" slander is; they know those who are spreading it are acting in bad faith, and they don't choose to abet them.

So look for a new crisis soon, and the usual suspects to stir themselves up into another tizzy. (Frankly, given their near-permanent state of high-intensity fight-or-flight, I worry about their health -- but perhaps if the emotion isn't real it doesn't affect the health?)

Kevin M said...

Ok, I'm willing to take him at his word. That pretty much satisfies my questions in this particular matter.

robroy said...

Dah-VEED asks, "Why Robroy, is his sexual orientation important in what he shared as his opinion about his rector, who is this bishop-elect?"

Simply because it gives credibility amongst the liberals. There still are many liberals (I hope) who think that it is reprehensible to cleanse the liturgy of Christianity so as to not offend a Muslim in the pews.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Every time I read the sites not to be named, I am reminded that some lost the elections...

It is gettin nastier and nastier.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Were I cleric in the Diocese of Northern Michigan I would be very offended by the implication in the criticism of the process, i.e., that we are sheep being led astray by a little group that designed the process.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

The process by which this bishop was elected has raised much furore -- yet it is more or less the same process by which the vast majority of parish rectors are chosen -- that is, by a select committee rather than the whole parish. There is nothing illegal in the process followed in N Michigan; and while it would probably not fly in a place like NY or LA, it seems that most people in N Mich were happy with it. Yes, there are exceptions, but no election pleases everybody.

And FWIW I practiced Zen for some years in my youth, only leaving it behind when I returned to adult Christianity, realizing I could find within my own Western Tradition the very things I thought were special to the East. I still meditate, but I don't "name" it as Zen. Where is the mirror, and where is the dust?

Gary Paul Gilbert said...

Central, of course, to the Vatican II documents that the Lefebvrists refuse to accept, is the declara­tion Nostra Aetate, which stated that the Church “rejects nothing that is true and holy” in other religions . . .
--Paul Vallely, in Church Times

Murdoch
spouse of Gary

Counterlight said...

"There still are many liberals (I hope) who think that it is reprehensible to cleanse the liturgy of Christianity so as to not offend a Muslim in the pews."

As opposed to advocating legislation to jail LGBTs and all who speak on their behalf in order to accommodate Muslim neighbors in Kano, and to keep Christian doctrine pure of worldly influences.
As I recall not too long ago, some were supporting Nigerian legislation to do just that on the grounds that Muslim clerics were demanding worse.

Thanks but no thanks.

Besides, I think the Anglican and Christian right have more points in common with the mad mullahs than us hell-bound liberal heretics do.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

Yawner, I can't speak for Mark, but I stopped accepting the statements of George W. Bush as the truth after I learned that some of his previous statements weren't. I am willing to accept the bishop-elect's statemenys as true until there is evidence to the contrary.

Priscilla said...

Robroy says:

"There still are many liberals (I hope) who think that it is reprehensible to cleanse the liturgy of Christianity so as to not offend a Muslim in the pews."

Really? REALLY? Dropping the creed cleanses the liturgy of Christianity? REALLY? I guess when Jesus dictated the creed to whichever apostle it was who wrote it in the bible (or was it an angel -- I don't seem to be able to find it anywhere) He should've added the caveat "And DON'T EVER leave it out of your liturgies or you'll be cleansing them of all Christianity!"

This kind of smug, overstatement is what makes it so very hard to receive your drive-by's with any charity at all, Robroy.

As far as the rest of the orthodite frenzy, it wouldn't matter what was said or proven or recorded because no evidence will ever be enough to un-tar and un-feather the good bishop-elects reputation with their ilk.

I doubt that even Jesus himself, were he to come and sit in the pews at the good bishop-elect's liturgies and said "Servant, well done!" at the end, would convince the orthodites of anything. What a sad lot indeed!

And my agenda is clear -- I'm definitely left of left and heterodox and syncretistic and proud of it, so save your insults for others.

Mark, thank you for this enlightening article!

David |Dah • veed| said...

Yawner, I am to the left, liberal and progressive. And I usually have an opinion on just about everything. (Windows is the work of the devil and Bill G is the antichrist!) I do not always have the facility of English sufficient to express all of my opinions and often give up in frustration when I cannot get a comment to translate accurately what I know and feel in my head and heart. Count that as a blessing or you would see many more commentaries from me than you do presently!

But in the issue of another bishop for TEC, I really have no vested interest, as long as there was truth and honesty involved. As I said, I want to take the bishop-elect, the selection committee, the electing assembly and those who served as consultants at their word. For me the same was true for a new bishop in South Carolina. As long as folks were truthful about what was going on, I felt this was the bishop these folks wanted for thenselves. And when he stated his intentions regarding the diocese and TEC I took him at his word.

ME - Why Robroy, is his sexual orientation important?
Robroy - Simply because it gives credibility amongst the liberals.

That is ludicrous to me that someone's sexuality gives credibility to liberals regarding their testimony. The exception being that they were speaking directly to the issue of homosexuality.

Jim Workman said...

Mark--It was to be expected that the Rev'd Thew Forrester would downplay his "lay ordination" in a Buddhist community, and direct the discussion to meditation.

But, will he explain what he means by: “I see now a Jesus who does not raise the bar to salvation, but lowers it so far that it disappears” (“Bridging the Gap: Finding a Place in East and West,” K. Thew Forrester in Diocese of Northern Michigan newspaper—The Church in Hiawathaland, Vol. 15, No. 6, July/August 2004 , page C
http://www.upepiscopal.org/Hiawathaland/CIHJulyAugust04.pdf)?

The following seems like his exposition of the first quote: “All of creation is always already accepted by God as it is.” (Bridging, page D). By “all of creation,” he clearly means every human being. To say that every human being is “always, already accepted by God” is the most absolute statement of universal salvation possible. The bar of salvation has disappeared and Christ is not needed as a Savior.

Completely in line with these words is a diocesan response to the Primates of the Anglican Communion, signed onto by the Core Team of the Diocese, led by Kevin Thew Forester: “We seek and serve Christ in all persons because all persons are the living Christ. Each and every human being, as a human being, is knit together in God’s Spirit, and thus an anointed one – Christ.” (A Response from the Diocese of Northern Michigan’s Standing Committee to the "Dar es Salaam Communiqué."
August 11, 2007 http://www.upepiscopal.org/daressalaam.html)
The printed version in the Diocese newspaper includes affirmation by the Core Team

Also: “Everyone is the sacred word of God, in whom Christ lives.” I invite you to substitute the name of Charles Manson into this sentence and into the one before. Thew Forrester himself suggests this logic by writing about his struggle to put the terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center with thousands of victims.

Will the bishop-elect disavow these statements, so shaped by Buddhist insights?

Thank you Mark, for holding this discussion open to all.

Yawner said...

So all of you will continue to ignore renzmqt, who has provided first-hand accounts of Forrester's (literal) revisionism as it regards the Creed.

The Episcopal Church- where facts don't matter?

Mark- you're on Executive Council- don't you think it is worth privately contacting renzmqt to verify his story? Or do you only have curiousity when it helps to disparage conservatives?

The implication here is if SFIF says it, it must be wrong. And they feel that if Louie Crew et al says it, it must be wrong. But each tells the truth sometimes, and no one here is interested in the facts (be it Buddhist names, the exclusion of the Creed, rewriting of the Eucharistic prayer, etc).

I'm an active member of a mainstream parish, involved in a leadership role, but I cut my pledge substantially this year because of cases just like this. Circumstances have made it so that it would be not help my parish in the least if I went to Bishop Wright and told him I am not alone in my feelings at a seemingly healthy parish, but once those circumstances resolve themselves later this spring, I think it's time that our good Bishop understands even a liberal diocese has people being pushed close to the edge.

JCF said...

From library of JCF: Christian Zen by William Johnston, 1971 (author is a Roman Catholic priest).

***

Beginning with Lent last year he removed the Nicene Creed from the Lenten liturgy and substitued An Affirmation of Faith from the New Zealand Prayer Book.

What, are the Kiwis insufficiently orthodite now?

***

I'm an Episcopalian lifer: virtually ALL of the liturgical accusations against Forrester, are ones that I have observed one Episcopal priest or another do during my 47 years in TEC (and all around the US).

Either I can accept the implied charge from some of you here---that they were ALL seriously lacking in The Faith Once Delivered---OR I can tell you that you're making mountains out of molehills.

If I want a mountain, I'll stick to Calvary, as I learned it from Episcopal clergy (some, Zen-practicing!) thank you: I don't need mountains of hysterical blather!

Bill B. said...

As has been already stated, Buddhism is a practice and not a belief system. This is particularly true when speaking of Zen. I can see nothing, either scriptural or in tradition that would indicate any sort of "heresy" because of the man's PERSONAL practice. Having said that, I might also like to point out that the fact that Fr. Forrester practices Zen indicates a rich, developed and insightful spiritual life. One of the weaknesses I have seen over the last few years among the "orthodox" (whatever THAT means) is the equation of religious belief with spirituality.

As a graduate of the Orthodox Church and now (gratefully) an Anglican priest, I can assure everyone that Zen practice is not at all outside of Christian meditative discipline. Take a look at what any of the real orthodox monks did and you'll see... it's an Egyptian desert form of Zen.

As to the creed... many people are uncomfortable with it being dropped from the Eucharist. However, those who claim its recitation as somehow "orthodox" (again, WHATEVER that means) seem not to be aware that the Nicene Creed was never intended as a liturgical expression. If anything, it was more like what we would call today a "position paper."

renzmqt said...

Who was it at the end of Romeo and Juliet who cried, "A pox on both your houses!" That's what I'm feeling these days--ready to unplug the damn computer. JCF - READ my post for once instead of having your knee jerk reactions. People are making accusations, people are demanding facts, my comment spells out what he has done with liturgy and nothing else. For crying out loud, I even say that I don't know what is and isn't a violation. The point you seem to be missing is that he (Mr. Mutual Ministry/Ministry of the Baptised) did this himself without consideration of the rest of the congregation - how very clerical of him.

DahVeed and RobRoy - just STOP it!

I introduced my sexuality when I began to post at SFIF knowing that it is an extremely conservative site and as a gay ordained individual wanted it to be out in the open at the beginning. DaVeed if RobRoy picked up on that in his comments, then I bare some of the blame for that.

Once again I will say the process was flawed, part of why it was flawed can be seen by all this arguing. If we had been allowed to use the conventional process for selecting a bishop, Kevin would not have been the final choice, he is not "popular" (ick another less than perfect word) in the diocese and we wouldn't be having these discussions.

That said, and I would rather have seen an outsider from the diocese chosen, I can assure folks that Kevin is an intelligent, educated, eloquent priest - there are probably an equal number of folks who have learned from him and are quite satisfied with the selection as there are folks who are bewildered by his liturgy and his past actions in the diocese and are disappointed in his selection, and, frankly, there's another contingent who are just too old to care (this from their own mouths).

My own preference is that this be brought to General Convention where it can be looked at and discussed openly.

Marshall said...

Yawner:

I did look, and look again at renzmqt's comments. What they convinced me of more than anything (and what seems to me to be renzmqt's own greatest concern) is that he's been very interested in experimental liturgy, and that he's been pretty ham-fisted about introducing it. So, I think it may well have been poor leadership to so unsettle the congregation; but that doesn't mean any of it has been heterodox. He substituted a confession of faith approved by another Anglican national church for the Creed? Well, what is the content of the substitution? One could just as well substitute the Apostle's Creed, the Athanasian Creed, or even the Te Deum; and while it might unfamiliar, or even awkward, it wouldn't amount to denial of the faith.

Indeed, what renzmqt has written sounds like this bishop-elect has been influenced theologically more by Matthew Fox, the Episcopal priest (formerly Roman) noted for his interest in creation spirituality, than by Buddhism. Is that how most people describe their faith? No. Is it heretical? Not so far.

Yes, there might be consideration of whether there has been violation of the Rubrics of the Prayer Book, and whether that has been sufficient to suggest his election shouldn't be confirmed. And, yes, some might want to suggest that this is a "manner of life," or at least a practice of worship, that might raise questions.

I suggest you write letters or emails to bishops if you have such concerns.

4 May 1535+ said...

JCF, the problem with using parts of the _New Zealand Prayer Book_ (absent specific permission from one's diocesan, and at that I'd have some questions for the bishop) is, let's be clear about this, the same problem that we see in the Ikers and Schofields in a practical sense, and in +Rowan on the theoretical level. There is no worldwide Anglican Church. Period. So using the liturgical materials (without authorization) of another Anglican Church is a failure to be loyal to the "doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church." I have often noted in the blogosphere the two key Anglican principles: Lay Supremacy and National Sovereignty. Making up one's own collects, intruding the creeds of other national churches, and other such pieces of liturgical creativity are violations of a third principle of the English Reformation, slightly less important than those two: Uniformity. I certainly don't know whether Kevin+ has been doing all these things, and I do know that lots of priests play fast and loose with the BCP: but if the question is whether to do so is wrong and un-Anglican, the answer is, yes. The Prayer Book of New Zealand hath no authority in this realm of America.

Caminante said...

Way off track...

"I cut my pledge substantially this year because of cases just like this."

So who is going to suffer from this? What is the point? The first thing to go when pledges go down is outreach. AFAIC, when the money is out of my hands, it is out of my control. Is cutting a pledge in another diocese going to make an iota of difference in the Upper Peninsula?

We don't have the option to decide which parts of our taxes we pay or not. Again, once the money is out of my hands, it is out of my control.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks for the additional information, Renzmqt. It is good to hear from someone with first hand knowledge. I am weighing this all very carefully, as the standing committee will be voting on this soon.

Anonymous said...

JCF,
the Nicence and Apostle's Creed are in the New Zealand Prayerbook.
The catechism to the "He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa" regards the creeds as foundational and not optional like Bishop elect Forrester appears to.
"6. Where do we learn about God?
Christians learn about God in the Bible, in the teaching of the Church summed up in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, and through sharing in the living community of faith. "
http://wn.anglican.org.nz/index.cfm/witness___proclamation/catechism

Obadiah Slope

Charlotte said...

And when will you stop shifting the ground in your arguments, Yawner?

First the election is a flawed process. Then the Bishop-elect is a Buddhist. Then when that's exploded, you start in on impossible-to-document, impossible-to-prove, all-purpose claims that he says the Creeds with his fingers crossed.

Now that you've started picking apart every statement the man ever made for any hint of something somebody might take to be heterodox, this could go on for quite some time.

So: do you have an actual objection to the bishop-elect of Northern Michigan, Yawner, or do you just need a fix? And if you just need a fix, why can't you just go listen to Rush Limbaugh's speech last night and leave the church alone?

Yawner said...

Charlotte,

Maybe, just maybe, if anyone paid attention to any of my objections, I wouldn't keep adding to the list (not shifting, adding). Until Marshall and Tobias replied, no one had addressed the SUBSTANCE of any of my objections.

So- I did not shift my arguments, merely added until someone responded at all, instead of just responding with "those darn conservatives, the heck with them," which was the tone of the first 20 or so comments (which are not responses).

I have numerous related objections, all of which tie to one central objection: this man is not qualified to be a bishop, as an unquestioned leader/defender/teacher of the Christian faith (however you might define that within some reasonable norm).

And, BTW, where does Limbaugh come into this? Are you saying that the only people who can be theological conservatives must therefore be political conservatives? If you are, think again.

JCF said...

This thread has become toxic, so this'll be my last comment/review:

To repeat: I don't care if Bishop-elect Forrester is confirmed or not! *IF* the Standing Committees of the dioceses (because we're still outside the "GC confirms" window, as I understand it) rule that this was an unauthorized process---and thereby decline Forrester confirmation---that will be FINE by me (tough on DioNMich's budget/etc, but that's the way the cookie crumbles).

I *do* care about

1) the impugning of personal spiritualities, just because they incorporate non-Christian practices/insights, in ways that (as in this case, again IMO) in no way contradict Creedal dogma

2) [esp. at 4 May 1535+] the impugning of priests, merely for incorporating other Anglican liturgies. Good God, we're still considering a covenant w/ these churches, but we can't borrow from their liturgies? Talk about swallowing a camel, while straining the gnats! As I said before, virtually ALL of the DOZENS if not HUNDREDS of priests I'm familiar with (all across the USA) have done this from time to time! Some of you may not like that---that's your right---but I'm telling you that liturgy-borrowing is TYPICAL in TEC. Our beloved Episcopal Church has bigger fish to fry (from the Great Commandment to the MDGs!) than cracking down on every priest using a Canadian or NZ or CofE (alt.) Prayer Book!

JCF, knees slack, offering Peace of the Lord to one and all...

Kevin M said...

renzmqt definitely raises some important issues, esp. from a first-hand perspective, and these are ones that need to be addressed carefully and thoughtfully without a bunch of knee-jerk reactions. If I were on a standing committee, I'd have some concerns as well.

1. Frankly, the selection process in N. Mich. doesn't upset me too much. From what I can tell, it was carried with with open and careful discernment.

2. Buddhist meditation is also not a problem for me, at least in the Zen tradition that he seems most closely connected to. I did have questions about the so-called "lay ordination," but he's pretty much settled those.

3. However, I am concerned somewhat about the apparent playing fast and loose with the liturgy. I don't have too much of a problem borrowing from other Anglican sources if it is done thoughtfully, within the piety of the congregation, and with permission of the bishop. (That last one is definitely an issue to be raised.) What concerns me is the seemingly ham-fisted way of going about it, ironically clericalist from someone who seems to be committed to a form of ministry that tries to move away from "Father-knows-best" clericalism. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if that is a basis for refusing consent since everything else seems to have been followed.

Kevin M said...

P.S. I can tell you, however, that Forrester didn't get all this (playing fast and loose with the liturgy, seemingly unilateral implementation) from seminary. I attended the same school and had Louis Weil as my liturgy professor (and advisor), and that is definitely not what was taught in the classroom. There were times when other sources were used in Chapel (with quite a bit of discussion in the Worship Cmte, of which I was a part), but there's a big difference between a seminary chapel, part of the learning environment, and a regular Sunday parish Eucharist.

Charlotte said...

I'll try to be eirenic. As I understand it, Bishop-Elect Forrester is experimenting with the New Zealand Liturgy. Some of his parishioners don't like it. I am not surprised -- I've heard others in other places voice objections to it. Perhaps it isn't a good idea. However, New Zealand is (last I checked) a full member of the WWAC, so his use of it, in and of itself, can't make him into an apostate.

On Mad Priest's blog, I've seen objections to the effect that Forrester does not take Anselm's view of the Atonement, i.e. Penal Substitutory Atonement. PSA is an evangelical touchstone, but it is not to my knowledge a belief enforced Communion-wide, nor does the acceptance of a different understanding make a person ipso facto heretical in belief.

You say: "I have numerous related objections, all of which tie to one central objection: this man is not qualified to be a bishop, as an unquestioned leader/defender/teacher of the Christian faith (however you might define that within some reasonable norm)." I am sure you do -- you have been bringing up every objection you can. But just what is this "reasonable norm" to which you refer? You never define that.

Instead, you raise objections that, looked at closely, seem to amount to nothing more than the claim that the Bishop-Elect is a theological liberal.

Now as to Rush Limbaugh: I posted on this earlier. I claim that people who are always looking for a way to hurt the Episcopal Church are actually addicts of a kind. They are addicted to the self-generated adrenalin rushes brought on by their near-continual sense of anger, threat, and fear. In that respect they are very similar to Rush Limbaugh's core audience, who get their daily fixes of adrenalin by listening to him.

In fact, the leading lights in the schismatic movement within the Episcopal Church are far-right politically, and their movement has been supported by far-right political groups like the IRD. Fred Barnes, who played a considerable role in the selection of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice-presidential candidate last fall, has been very active in the schismatic movement. He was also one of the facilitators of the slander of +Gene Robinson at General Convention 2003, along with David Anderson, Robert Duncan, and David Virtue. A glance at Stand Firm! or the comments on TitusOneNine will be enough to show the far-right political affiliations of the overwhelming majority.

Intriguingly, the objections to Bishop-Elect Forrester seem to have originated with an IRD position paper.

I rest my case.

renzmqt said...

Charlotte, impossible to prove? He has implemented more than just the New Zealand prayer book Affirmation of Faith (and I personally love the NZ prayer book). Should you really care if there was proof, I could scan the copies of liturgical booklets that I have saved for you and e-mail them to you. However, I doubt REAL proof really matters to you. I wish to heck folks would stop insinuating that I'm making this stuff up. I'm not necessarily even against some of what he has done but rather the manner in which he has done it.

Charlotte said...

renzmqt:

Look at what you are really saying here. "In conducting his services, Forrester uses inclusive-language readings and a currently fashionable New Zealand liturgy. A number of his parishioners don't like the changes and want him to go back to Rite II. So far he's resisted doing so. There's some bad feeling as a result."

This makes him an apostate? This disqualifies him from becoming a bishop?

robroy said...

"This makes him an apostate? This disqualifies him from becoming a bishop?"

No, but it lends credence that the whole "election" process was a fraud and that in an open selection process, he would not have been the candidate. There were 36 secret candidates, then there were 10 secret candidates, then - surprise - there was Thew Forrester.

The original 36 candidates was leaked to me: Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck,..., Grumpy, Sneezy, Dopey, and finally Thew Forrester. (OK, so I made that list up.)

4 May 1535+ said...

If I were on a Standing Committee (which I'm not) and were persuaded to vote against consenting to this election (which I haven't been), I think I would want to say something like this: "A few days ago, many of us here expressed polite surprise when the former bishop of the Rio Grande expressed his surprise about what turn out to be pretty much standard principles of Anglican polity. No one, I think, doubted that such non-standard ideas as the ones bishop Steenson held are in wide circulation--we were just surprised that someone had become a bishop without those misconceptions having been corrected. Just so, in this case, while not using the BCP and not using an approved Bible translation are both certainly widespread, I would be surprised to see someone become a bishop without two misconceptions being corrected:(1) that such variations cannot be made without permission of the diocesan and (2) that the Anglican provenance of a piece of liturgy somehow authorizes an end run around 1."

renzmqt said...

Holy Mother of God! Charlotte, YOU suggested there wasn't proof, I merely put forward that there IS proof. You have assumed that I believe his use of these texts makes him by default a non-candidate for bishop. Rather I think his tendency towards manipulation and clericalism while all the time selling "Mutual Ministry" and "Ministry of the Baptized" brings his eligibility into question. Further, I disagree with the secretive, non-transparent process that is being sold to the greater church as this wonderful democratic future for rural dioceses.

Incidentally, the facts of what happened behind closed doors is slowly leaking out in the diocese and delegates to the special convention are stating that they should have been informed of some of these facts before the "vote."

What is most frustrating for me is the continued suggestion that I am in the camp of the right wing of the church because I am desperately trying to get word out that this process was severely flawed. Everyone liberal wants to believe the "press" without asking any questions and everyone conservative wants to paint the man as a buddhist wolf in Episcopal sheep's clothing. What is being lost in all this is that the process was flawed, secretive, and ultimately (as we are learning) didn't even live up to their own rationalizations. Rather than discerning a single best candidate (the argument for only putting forth one name) that man ended up declining (we are now learning) so Kevin Forrester was selected by default! Yet this wasn't shared with the delegates at the special convention. Good bad or indifferent, surely folks will see that this needs to be delayed and decided at General Convention.

David |Dah • veed| said...

Larry, in this thread I have until now purposely refrained from speaking about you directly and I have refrained from speaking to you directly. I break that now, and with words that you will not want to hear.

This is not about you! This has never been about you. And yet you wander around to various blogs insinuating yourself into the discussion as if it is about you. You started at OCICBW... where you played the tease, saying you had objections to the bishop-elect, but that OCICBW... was not the forum for you to speak them publicly. However, next you were to be found whoring yourself at Stand Firm in Faith doing just that, speaking of your objections publicly, all the while baiting the hooks as the Viagravillians were chumming for shark. Then you came here and played the drama queen, "DahVeed and RobRoy - just STOP it!", to a side conversation, which for me only touched on you vaguely, but embraced a concept, the importance of a witness' sexuality, particularly. If you are feeling picked on, I see it that you heaped that upon yourself, however unwittingly.

Regarding the process which lead to the bishop-elects election, you may have a point, you may not. You certainly are entitled to an opinion. You certainly are entitled to challenge the process. I think you have an obligation to better understand such a process. Your accusations of the process being flawed and secretive may be your misunderstanding to how such processes occur. And you accusations are more far reaching than just against those in your own diocese, for it is reported that the proposed process was communicated to the Presiding Bishop, and was a journey in which two bishops and two Episcopalians from other dioceses accompanied your selection committee. To me, when you make your claim, you call into question the honesty and integrity of all these folks.

And yet as I have followed similar processes in the secular world in the course of my career in human resources, such a process does not usually involve the step-by-step journaling that you insinuate should have been followed or it is flawed and dishonest. Yours are unspoken expectations which would be impossible to completely anticipate on the part of the selection committee, especially when multiplied by every member of your diocese. The fact that the process led to a first candidate who declined the selection is not unusual. The committee then moved to the next best candidate identified in the process. Not announcing the selection and decline of a first candidate is not unusual or dishonest. And, as is the case here, the fact that someone has leaked this information will serve no greater good but only serve to cloud the issue, and feed the detractors, of this candidate's selection.

Perhaps a true TEC canon lawyer could speak to the issue regarding what could occur next, but as I see it, this process will play out and the bishop-elect will or will not receive the necessary episcopal and standing committee consents to his consecration. If he does not receive the necessary consents, then your diocese faces the expensive process of doing it again. If he receives the consents, then he will most likely be consecrated, as was +Gene. I do not see it falling into the pervue of your upcoming General Convention.

Until then Larry, you should lie down. Take the weight off your feet. Maybe take an aspirin.

OCICBW...

renzmqt said...

DahVeed who the heck made you the arbiter of blog etiquette? I could truly care less what you think about me or how I have tried to get people to understand what has been occurring here in this diocese - you have no basis of comparison. You have taken the "press" at face value - which shows an incredible naivete - or do you truly believe that only the right wing plays politics? Not once throughout this situation have you attempted to contact me personally and my e-mail is not difficult to acquire, yet you choose to publicly call me names now and question my motivations. This is some abstract game for you perhaps, but this is my church and my diocese. My apologies to everyone else, I would have preferred to send this to DahVeed directly, however, he makes that impossible.

David |Dah • veed| said...

Larry, I am not being naive. I realize that politics are almost always involved, left or right.

I have asked the same question just about every time I post and you ignore it. Is the Presiding Bishop dishonest? Are the two companion bishops dishonest? Are the two lay companions dishonest? You claim that the process is flawed. These folks do not appear to agree. They are not corroborating your testimony. They are not agreeing that the process was secretive and flawed.

I have web searched daily for folks from your parish/diocese who would corroborate your accusations. The only accusations I find are at the hater websites and it is the same things over and over. So it appears that you stand alone in trying to save your diocese from your rector's election as bishop. And by your own explanation, you are currently absent from your parish.

You have issues with his liturgies. Although a few ordained here have voiced a little surprise, none have offered any great issues with what bothers you. Again you stand alone.

What may be unfortunate for you is that the initial hoopla about his being "Buddhist" has been answered for most folks by Kevin's letter and agitation from your accusations are dying down. What you have fed to the haters is all I can find on the web. You are looking all alone in this campaign.

Are there links to credible folks in your diocese that you can supply who corroborate your concerns? Are there links to credible folks in your parish that you can supply who corroborate your concerns? Are there links to credible folks outside of your diocese that you can supply who corroborate your concerns?

renzmqt said...

Drop me an e-mail David and I'll do my best to explain to you in great detail - something that is not possible to do on the comments sections of blogs. You will then have my e-mail and you can do with it what you will.