8/03/2010

Credibility of Stand Firm no longer in doubt

Baby Blue has written a post titled, “Credibility of the Anglican Communion Standing Committee openly questioned.” She lauds the work of Sarah Hey of Stand Firm who she says "bats it right out of the park" (This btw is considered here in the USA to be a good thing.) 

I must confess that while I look in on Stand Firm fairly regularly it is with increasing sadness. SF is stuck in a miserable place. Having determined that all is rotten in Episcopal Church land it spins its wheels in the rot and rarely has anything worth noting. 

However, BabyBlue seems to thing there is news there worth noting. She begins by referencing the essay's attention given to an Anglican Communion office Q and A item:

"Q. I have heard it said that some churches get more votes than others. Why is that?

In the Council as a whole, those churches with the highest number of churchgoers may send a bishop, a priest or deacon and a lay representative to the ACC; churches in the middle category by number of churchgoers send a priest or deacon and a lay person, and the smaller churches send one representative, preferably a lay person. But it does not follow that the larger churches are over-represented on the Standing Committee – several members of the present Standing Committee were elected by the plenary Council from the representatives of the smallest churches, and the Chair is from a Province in the middle-sized category."

BabyBlue then rhetorically asks, "And what does Sarah say?"

"This is patently false.

First of all, note the clever shimmy at the words "But it does not follow that the larger churches are over-represented . . . "

That, of course, is not at all the issue. So the answer begins with a lie -- that the larger churches are the ones that receive more representatives to the ACC -- and then continues on with a spin following the lie, implying that the concerning issue is that "the larger churches are over-represented."

The issue of concern is that the larger churches -- the ones that the ACO does not like -- are under represented, not that they are over-represented. The ACO well knows this. What a sham and a disgrace. Have they no shame? Do they imagine that nobody reads their propaganda and smiles over their attempts?

Really. This is ridiculous. It's brazen. It's public. And it's noted by more and more people. Do they really think that they can get away with this kind of contemptible pravdaesque rhetoric forever?"

Sarah Hey could have gotten it right had she not slipped in the mud.  

The Q and A misspoke. It says, "In the Council as a whole, those churches with the highest number of churchgoers may send a bishop, a priest or deacon and a lay representative to the ACC  (and so on).."  The fact is it is not the churches with the highest number of churchgoers, but the largest membership, that determines who gets 3, 2 or 1 member on ACC.  This is, of course an interesting point because if the measurement were in terms of churchgoers we would be hard pressed to know just who fit where.  The counting is pretty accurate in some of the churches, so we know the membership is much larger than the churchgoers. It is always larger, of course, but in some churches there is a higher percentage of membership actually in church. And then in other provinces we just don't know. Some have reported the same numbers for many years, some have very little idea as to the relationship between church attendance and actual members in church.  So the numbers are determined by claimed body count.

Ah well, Sarah says, "this is patently false."  "This" refers we gather not to the numbers, but to something seemingly more sinister and nasty. "The issue of concern is that the larger churches -- the ones that the ACO does not like -- are under represented, not that they are over-represented. The ACO well knows this. 

What a sham and a disgrace. Have they no shame? Do they imagine that nobody reads their propaganda and smiles over their attempts?" 

Perhaps Sarah might remember that people are elected to the Standing Committee by two paths, election from among the Primates by region of 5 persons and election of 7 persons from the ACC from among its own members, and when there are vacancies by appointment.  (See Section 7 of the Constitution of the ACC).  

But somehow she believes that the Standing Committee under represents the Provinces that are the largest but unliked by the ACO.  She concludes with a wonderful rant: " Really. This is ridiculous. It's brazen. It's public. And it's noted by more and more people. Do they really think that they can get away with this kind of contemptible pravdaesque rhetoric forever?"

Who knows what led the Q and A response to include, "But it does not follow that the larger churches are over-represented on the Standing Committee."  It may have been spin, but I doubt very much if it was "that the larger churches -- the ones that the ACO does not like -- are under represented, not that they are over-represented. The ACO well knows this." 

She wants to make the ACO the evil ones, contemptible, pravaesque, etc. But she is off the mark.

The Q and A answer, for all its faults was making a rather simple point:  Churches with 3 representatives did not necessarily receive more places on the Standing Committee than did Churches with 2 or 1 representatives on the ACC.   And the reason for this is both factual and constitutional. Factual because the origins of the current membership of the Standing Committee is larger churches.  There would have been one more, of course if the Archbishop of Uganda had not resigned.

More to the point, the constitutional issue is that persons are on the Standing Committee not because they represent any particular church. They are there because they are chosen from among two already existing groups of candidates - the Primates and the members of the ACC. They do not represent their home church, rather while they carry their own perspectives, they are expected to represent their body (Primates or ACC) as members of Anglican Communion bodies.

The Hey essay is just a rant, and not a very good one at that.  (Although I must say I admire the end sentence.)

The credibility of Stand Firm is no longer in doubt (not that there was much before). This was a rant unworthy of the considerable skills of the writer, and unworthy of the praise heaped upon it.

---------------
Here is the breakdown of Standing Committee "origins" in terms of churches:

* Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (chair) 3
* Archbishop Philip Aspinall of Australia 3
* Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church 3
* Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales 2
* Bishop Paul Sarker of Bangladesh 1
* Bishop James Tengatenga of Central Africa (ACC chair) 2
* Canon Elizabeth Paver of England (ACC vice chair) 3
* Bishop Ian Douglas of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church 3
* Anthony Fitchett of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia 2
* Dato Stanley Isaacs of the Province of South East Asia 1
* Philippa Amable of West Africa 1
* Bishop Kumara Illangasinghe of Ceylon (extra)
* The Rev. Canon Janet Trisk of South Africa 3

Excluding the Chair, the Archbishop of Canterbury, there are on the Standing Committee: 

4 persons from Provinces having 3 representatives to ACC
3 persons from Provinces having 2 representatives to ACC
3 persons from Provinces having 1 representative to ACC + one extra.

The breakdown of numbers of churches in each group in ACC representation is :3 reps, 10, 2 reps, 11, 1 rep 17

There are then  4/10, 3/11, 4/17 

The weight towards the larger churches includes the fact that there are two persons from the Episcopal Church at this time. That is an accident of current election from among the two groups, the ACC and the Primates. It is neither build in or controlled by the ACO or any other office.  The members who have resigned would not have changed the balance by much.


34 comments:

  1. You regard the SC as genuinely representative of the AC? TEC is given the same status as Nigeria for the purpose of numbers, when it is 16 million members smaller.
    Both are regarded as 'large churches' -- how is that fair? TOH

    ReplyDelete
  2. My province (Australia) has three members on the ACC. We would be lucky to have 200,000 people in church on Sunday. And yet magically we are accorded "large church status" because many Australians still put Anglican on the census form although they neither are members or go to church. The TEC let alone the Nigerians should feel short changed by this.
    The British are not much better using similar census data to make up for the fact that less than 1,000,000 English attend church on a Sunday.
    While no electoral system is perfect the ACC has and therefore the standing Committee has real problems. It has a built in white/western gerrymander.

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  3. It will be interesting to see whether those
    who speak so reflexively about 'justice'
    will rise up to acknowledge how 'just' is a SC
    dominated by white westerners. Even with
    an African and a middle eastern attending,
    it would remain a white, western committee,
    now written into English law, said to be 'standing'
    for a communion whose numbers are vastly
    non white male western. Trisk takes the
    place of a lay woman of color and white
    western Douglas gives one more Bishop.
    Liberals are supposed to be opposed to
    injustice -- I guess unless it doesn't line
    up with the right cause. Shameful, really. TOH

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  4. Yep, what a miserable place Stand Firm is in. At the top of the Anglican blog rankings. For the 5th straight year.

    ReplyDelete
  5. “You regard the SC as genuinely representative of the AC? TEC is given the same status as Nigeria for the purpose of numbers, when it is 16 million members smaller.
    Both are regarded as 'large churches' -- how is that fair?”-- TOH

    Well, then, how about assigning the number representatives on the basis of the literacy of the province in question? After all, how many of Nigeria’s alleged 16 million “Anglicans” cannot even read the Bible, let alone intelligently discuss theological and social issues? Why should illiterates receive the same consideration as the educated who have at least a basic understanding of the issues and theology involved in the debates?

    Still Tired of Con-Evo Hypocrites (STOCEH)

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  6. Yep, what a miserable place Stand Firm is in. At the top of the Anglican blog rankings. For the 5th straight year.

    Where is the proof-texting when you need it?

    "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Math 7:21

    I too, look in on SF for the general purpose of reading those who have come to different conclusions. If find the discussion limited and predictable. I know that on certain matters I could agree wholeheartedly. But more and more, the tone is that of spoiled children resisting a time out.

    SF is more and more the FOX News (never met a fact that couldn't be twisted) of the conservative wing of The Episcopal Church. But, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, so I keep looking in.

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  7. Kurt -- hats off to you for being so blunt.
    Big provinces ought not to have fair
    representation because they're full of
    illiterates. No hypocrisy there. TOH

    ReplyDelete
  8. Representation is a sticky issue. Ms. Hey makes the point that large churches on the basis of member numbers (or adv Sunday attendance?) should be better represented. To me this is a fair, or at least a logical position to take. I would have questions, however with how such members were chosen. Chosen, for example among only the class of clergy, (from which all women are removed...some African nations), chosen from (as one commenter here suggests, those who are illiterate) or simply appointed vs elected from any of these bodies. The variables that make a "large church "large" are also at issue, if for example, you live in a country where law can not be relied on, church membership and the leverage it can wield to assist you in your civil might be a strong motivator. I suggest that, in Africa, but possibly on other continents, "membership" might well be a function of accomplishing a socio-poltical agenda as much as having anything to do with religion. Ms. Hey has chosen one variable, and if you buy into her choice, she makes a good case, but, if, well, you don't because it may not be a valid indicator of real faith, well...

    I would like to make this suggestion to Ms Hey on her blog, but, like many others, I have been banned. EmilyH

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  9. Being one who NEVER has relied upon the credibility of Stand Firm, I must admit that I have never wanted to follow up on their statements. But I am glad you have done so.

    But I wonder: How do you find the names of those on the ACC? You have named the number of people that a specific region can send, but there are no names and I can't find them on the ACC website.

    I would like to know who these people are who so glibly denigrate TEC or demand our exclusion.

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  10. Ah, whosoever will believeth in the underminding of the ACC will also believeth in the all-new Anglican Little Stone Levitican takeover attempt (+Orombi is no doubt posturing with fellowtravelers to become First Among shismatic sequels and this ¨Make Hey¨ offering is a ¨leak¨).

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  11. FWIW the Literacy rate in Nigeria is variously estimated as between 68 and 71 per cent.
    Effectively the ACC representation is skewed towards the wealthy as well as the literate.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Muthah+ these were the folks at ACC 14, held in the most homophobic nation of the Americas, Jamaica.

    http://www.anglicancommunion.org/communion/acc/meetings/acc14/participants.cfm

    Some of these folks' tenure ended at the adjournment of Meeting 14, so we will not know who represents whom again until Meeting 15.

    Congrats are in order to the Statesonian brothers and sisters for the court ruling in California. Good luck for the rest of the journey as this probably goes forward to your federal Supreme Court.

    (BTW, it took all of 25 seconds to find this list on the ACC website.)

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  13. I always pay attention when Ms. Hey is having a snit. She does have a wonderful way with words, the entertainment value of which increases proportionately with the level of her ire. It usually means she's defending an indefensible position - as you have so accurately demonstrated.

    Well done.

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  14. All right, TOH, I didn't think much of the literacy comment, either.

    That said, the question about "large church" is simply a matter of where to draw lines. One could have simply gone by an absolute number - but what number to choose? What about more evenly distributing the national/provincial churches by number of members, so as to have 12/13/13, instead of 10/11/17; but at that point both the Episcopal Church and the Churches of Nigeria (Anglican) and Uganda would still be in the same category.

    So, where and how to draw the line?

    As to distribution in the Standing Committee: well, that's a matter of the whole ACC, and not simply some provinces, whether large, Western, or rich. The Primates elect by region, and perhaps that would allow for distribution (if African primates didn't withdraw themselves), and the ACC might follow that model. However, in each category by size there are rich and poor, Western and Southern, largely Anglo and largely non-Anglo. Presumably they elected the folks they wanted and trusted, without feeling limited by culture or region.

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  15. "Mine is bigger than yours!" has always been a major concern with people of such low faith and moral standards.

    It's not the quantity of "christians" but the quality - and I'm not at all impressed by what I see coming out of Nigeria. I doubt God is either.

    Now, before you start, Talker of Hypocrisy, they feel free to judge us, so I will return the favor. I'm rather tired of hypocrisy, too, so let's cut to the chase; People like you and Hey and Duncan and Wright will happily use Nigerian Christians to advance your agenda - use being the operative word - as a sword (expressing the words you fear to) and shield (calling those who criticize them "hypocrites" and "racist"). You really are the limit! You'll toss them aside as soon as you get the chance.

    Do you really think we're so stupid we don't know you people for what you are and what you actually stand for? You're tired of hypocrisy? Then stop speaking. That'll cure about all of it you are required to hear.

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  16. Why do people make things so complicated? The solution to representation on the Standing Committee is perfectly simple:

    (1) Every Province of the Anglican Communion gets to send three people: A lay person, a priest, and a bishop. (If they want to send fewer, they may; but if it's a question of affording the cost, the wealthier Provinces will help pay.)

    (2) The Standing Committee should be constitutionally prohibited from taking any formal action other than "Is it time to recess for lunch?"

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  17. Not only does SF tend to spin its wheels, but it reflects more and more a specifically *political* conservatism, as opposed to a religious or doctrinal conservatism. It is more and more the Tea Party at prayer.

    It's also good for reading just how bizarre some of the members of the right have become. Matt Kennedy, for example, has been holding forth on the necessary damnation of the unevangelized.

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  18. Cut it whatever way....the reality is that most of the AC will not accept revisionist ideas .....now whether revisionists walk away (as the ABC might like) and form a new, small intl group or whether they take control of AC structures and the AC becomes a small grouping as most of the rest of the AC forms its own Anglican grouping, does not really matter..... fact is revisionist ideas have not changed "the mind of the Communion" in decades of trying...... and the ABC playing Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" ain't going to work forever....

    And pls cut the "we're so intelligent and educated, that's why we take a revisionist line and the Africans don't understand because they cannot read" argument .......... I suspect NT Wright, E Radner, JI Packer can all read (English, Greek and Hebrew....)

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  19. “FWIW the Literacy rate in Nigeria is variously estimated as between 68 and 71 per cent.
    Effectively the ACC representation is skewed towards the wealthy as well as the literate.”--Obadiah/Sandeman

    FYI, that’s what Nigeria has reported to the UN and other international agencies; the actual rate is around 50% according to independent sources. Even so, it is among the highest literacy rates in all of Africa. Still, not very impressive given a half century of independence, is it?

    Nigeria is one of the wealthiest countries in Africa. Can anyone tell us how much aid (Christian charity) Nigerian “Anglicans” have given to relieve the suffering Haitians following their earthquake? Or, how much they have given to relieve the suffering people in the various regions of the Sudan? Or, how much Nigerian “Anglicans” have provided to those suffering from famine throughout Africa? My guess would be that they have given far, far less than has been given by The Episcopal Church (and other Western Anglican provinces).

    (And remember “the majority” of the crowd shouted for the release of Barabas and the death of Our Lord! So, “the majority” you see, is often wrong.)

    STOCEH

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  20. I am sure that when accepts the logic that
    the small TEC with probably 800k in church
    on Sunday (all very literate, at least on terms
    of being educated enough to read the newspaper
    or blog) ought to belong to the same
    representational category as provinces with
    ten times as many Christians -- and actually
    defend this with a straight face, or seek justification
    in literacy or some other 'quota' system, it
    should be clear how entrenched is the pro
    white, western, wealthy mindset.

    ReplyDelete
  21. My guess is that the average Episcopalian does TEN TIMES as much in terms of good works, and gives TEN TIMES as much in charity as the so-called “majority of the Anglican Communion.” Mere numbers mean NOTHING!

    STOCEH

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  22. OK -- so now Christian living is quantifiable
    according to Good Works. So the martyred
    witness to the Gospel in Kaduna, Sudan, Indonesia,
    mainland China must let TEC citizens evaluate
    whether they add up on the Good Works
    schedule of merit. Friends, we really are talking
    opposing views of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Illiterates, numbers are meaningless, we have more
    Good Works -- on it goes. The SC is dominated
    by white, male Bishops by a big factor. Douglas
    takes an episcopal slot redifined acc to a secret
    constitution, Wales, Australia, Britain, USA
    predominate, Trisk replaces a lay woman of
    color, on it goes. Provinces called 'large' include
    western regions like TEC as well as big provinces
    such as Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya etc. But
    that is because numbers don't matter (so why
    did the system emerge that so differentiated?),
    illiterates are a problem etc. TOH

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  23. Mere numbers mean NOTHING! Kurt

    Absolutely not--especially when the fear/hate-driven faithless gangs of followers are simply attempting to clutch their lack of REAL truth and TRUST in God by grabbing at the throats and/or stomping on the diginity of LGBT, heterosexual women and others at The Anglican Communion...unfortunately, numbers CAN be deadly when there is a stampede of terror initiated by bigots who DECEIVE--Yelwa comes to mind in Nigeria as does the anti-LGBT Law pending before the Parliament of Uganda. Lynch MOBS hardly reflect any good Christian Character (or even basic good judgement) of those who demonize others at The Body of Christ.

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  24. Good news. Charles Bennison exonerated
    by TEC. This means the annual 'Bennison
    Morality and Good Works' award is open, though
    the competition -- esp from this blog -- will
    be stiff. TOH

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  25. Morality and Good Works!

    Ah yes, so many inspiring men around us to measure the morals of others by such as that assortment of thieving kleptomanic PRIMATES (border crossing suck-em-up cowards, spiritual/sexual exploiters and buy-a-bishops mitre common/loser twits)...all brought to us by the specifically self-righteous Gafconning DOUBLESTANDARD DIVISION of Anglican lost souls club.

    Not to fret, no doubt TEC will ¨keep the light on and door open¨ for every bigoted Episcopal thief should they repent (or not).

    At TEC ALL will find a comfortable pew to pray in with others who sometimes have lost their way...you see, The Episcopal Church WELCOMES EVERYONE...even me, even you and Bishop Bennison.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Kurt has my vote for bigot of the month.
    Dan

    ReplyDelete
  27. Kurt has my vote for bigot of the month.
    Dan

    Let´s not rush into ¨things¨...we have so many choices for bigot of the month...actually we have millions of Grade A-Choice Bigots in Southern Friedbrain *parts* of the United States, Northern and Southern Nigeria, downtown Uganda and EVERYONES all time favorites: ZIMBABWE and IRAN!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Kurt,
    The GNI per capita of the US is $46,730 and that of Nigeria is $1,980 (2009 figures using the "International Dollar" measure"
    I would hope that the "average Episcopalian" would give much more than "ten times" the average Anglican in the majority countries of the communion. What is more, I am sure they do. And I rejoice in that.
    Those of us in rich Countries underestimate our advantages in wealth if we think we are only ten times richer. Oh, how I wish that figure was true because the reality is far worse.

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  29. Dying is a "Good Work?"

    Martyrdom is a shaky ground for qualifications!

    Lots of people die for what they believe in, lots more die in trying to kill someone else for what they believe in. Christ died to end such, and yet "conservatives" insist that blood - jihad - is somehow a necessary payment and justification, rather than an indication that the witness failed. Death. Everyone will do it. Unimpressive. Suffering. Everyone does it. Unimpressive.

    Ease death and end suffering, follow Christ because you love Christ, not hate Muslims.

    That is as impressive as it is unlikely.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Yes, +Idowu-Fearon's nephew was beheaded
    by Muslim because he hated Muslim' and
    didn't love Jesus and +Josiah forgave them
    and works full time at Muslim-Christian
    relations because he likes Good Works.

    I listen to statements like 'everybody dies' and
    'martyrdom is easy' and genuinely wonder
    what kind of Christian faith this. Throw away
    your saints day calendars.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Wow, this thread got ugly fast...

    Can we ALL try to see Christ in each other? Gay, straight, black, white, literate, illiterate, rich, poor, African, Westerner, revisionist, fundamentalist*? Even in Rowan Cantuar?

    * Not all these categories are Either/Or, of course. Personally, my HIGHEST concern is for gay black African poor illiterates (who haven't yet heard the Good News is for them too).

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  32. Kurt,

    Of people from the various provinces that I've known, those who are the most theologically illiterate - amongst both clergy and laypeople - have been members of TEC.

    The one layperson from Nigeria I've known is highly articulate in matters of theology and in most matters, more knowledgeable and articulate than our TEC priest.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I think it's fair to say of both Fr. Harris and the bloggers at StandFirm - if they had more time, and were able to write their posts, put them aside for half a day while doing something else, to later re-read their posts and remove unhelpful, hyperbolic, and somewhat incindiary language - that we would be closer to having a "real discussion." Both sides seem to be engaged in circularity here, as Fr. Harris so aptly describes as spinning our wheels in the rot. It's not only Fr. Harris and StandFirm, it's pretty much everywhere, and difficult to avoid.

    Sarah was right that the ACC article looks suspiciously like "spin" and tries to "negatively" address a problem that conservatives have from the wrong direction, making it seem like "the problem" was the opposite of what conservatives have - rightly - seen as a great shortcoming of the ACC. However, the language used became hyperbolic at one point.

    Likewise, Fr. Harris is right to point this out - however, at one point, his language also becomes hyperbolic. It reads like an "All is well with the ACC" type tract. I personally find so many problems with the ACC that I will not mourn its loss, and it seems like those who are most insistent in advocating a particular course for the ACC are being so transparent and vehement in their actions that the ACC will likely be practically sidelined until its various problems are addressed. But the language here doesn't help - Sarah's article has too much the scent of rage (I wouldn't mind a bit of righteous indignation, but imho her article goes over the top) - and non-TEC loyalist readers of Fr. Harris's posting will probably leave with the opinion that there isn't much hope of mending the ACC's errant ways, since its TEC supporters haven't yet seen the problem - which of course, in practice, will probably make more likely its being sidelined for a while.

    Fr. Harris was thanked for his contribution in the SF comments - I'd like to see more recognition here of Sarah's point, as Fr. Harris certainly does have a point in his extra information, but Jill Woodliff was quick to point out that this still doesn't change the picture a great deal.

    Anglicans are "losing it" in general. Our minds in general are in the gutter (and I don't mean "sex" when I say this - I mean, fruitless, circular, and nasty thinking). We aren't progressive, we aren't tolerant, we aren't clever or wise. I do hope that we all are repenting of what we are all doing to the Communion.

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  34. “Of people from the various provinces that I've known, those who are the most theologically illiterate - amongst both clergy and laypeople - have been members of TEC.”--James

    Really? My experience has been that the theological illiterates are English and Australians. But, then again, I live in a large city, not in some Mississippi or South Carolina backwater.

    ReplyDelete

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