10/30/2010

Anglican Curmudgeon and the noisy opposition

The Anglican Curmudgeon, known and loved by Stand Firm, Baby Blue Online and the likes, is a busy man.  He has published a long set of notes, commentaries and dare we say briefs pertaining to The Episcopal Church all of which are meant to show that the ship is sinking, the roof is caving in, the corporation is going broke, and the leaders are in la-la land while it is all happening. 

The object of these many messages is that TEC is in terrible shape and death is only moments away. But perhaps that is not object enough. The blog, The Anglican Curmudgeon, is fairly helpful in giving us a sense of who A.S. Haley is. Here is his profile on blogger:

 

A. S. Haley

About Me

An Episcopalian baptized and confirmed under the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. Things have not been the same since 1979, and my blog "Anglican Curmudgeon" is part of a long-time effort to understand why. I have started a second blog, "All Things Beethoven", to post some of my research on that composer and his music. A third blog, Trinity Forum, is for those attending the Sunday morning forum at our church.

He gives his occupation as church attorney. The law firm of Haley and Bilheimer is rich in further information, but it is hard to find any reference to his being a church attorney there. (I am sure it must be, but I can't find it.) 

Interestingly Anglican Curmudgeon does not on the surface give us much help as to his church attorney work either. He comes across in his many posts as bright, often with a sense of humor, and almost always out to get The Episcopal Church in any way possible. But he apparently doesn't talk about his church related legal work. Well, perhaps it is just because of separation of legal work from blogging opinion.

The thing is, he is one of the lawyers for the John-David Schofield school of belabored Anglican purity, also known as the Diocese of San Joaquin, Province of the Southern Cone. 
When he writes scathing prose about those terrible TEC litigators, in his lengthy blog essay  Cracks at the Top (Part V of "The Constitutional Crisis") he is perhaps speaking from personal knowledge of the joys of litigation.

"Prolonged litigation is one of the most toxic forms of stress to which humans can subject themselves. The constant worry of what future decisions by distant and poorly informed judges will bring eats away to the raw nerves, while the outlays required leave no resources for survival in tough times."  

As one of the lawyers contending against the ruling of a court in California against Schofield and friends, he ought to know.  

On the other hand he is given to saying things that are not so subtle, such as,
  • The Church has gone to inordinate lengths to prop up groups as Potemkin dioceses, just so they can serve as plaintiffs in the lawsuits, while having little potential to remain viable on their own;
  • General Convention, 815 and the Executive Council are all running in different directions, with no regard for the limits imposed by the Constitution and Canons; and, last but not least,
  • The Church is in a deadly, downward spiral of declining membership, declining revenues and greatly increased debt.

I have accented certain words - Potemkin diocese, all runing in different directions, deadly, downward spiral. 

Don't they just give you a giddy sense that TEC, very clearly the adversary and enemy, is as good as dead? Heady words for the victors, then, you know the group that has left The Episcopal Church for temporary rooms in a very far southern mansion waiting for a purer home in America amongst true believers somewhat like the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), only maybe not that but something better... ACNA as the only real and true province of the Anglican Communion here abouts.

I have no doubt that the Anglican Curmudgeon has been careful not to confuse his church attorney work with his more adversarial work in the blogging world. He seems to have been careful not to bring up too often the fact that he is a lawyer himself in the San Joaquin mess.

But here's the rub. Over and over again he sets out to make The Episcopal Church to be misguided, close to unbiblical in its use of litigation, financially irresponsible, broken at its core, and generally defunct. Why? Because in the blogsphere what he says will be repeated again and again and will find itself restated in the blogs and essays of other, seemingly responsible sources. And one day the Curmudgeon's assessment will become the assessment of some other apparently independent writer who in turn will be referenced by Haley or other lawyers. So at the last he can use himself as witness.

I believe the object of Haley's grand exercise in his many essays is to spawn useful witnesses for the truth of his opinions about TEC and its efforts.  After a while the mound of Haley opinion will grow so great as to generate facts from the weight of them, in a kind of spasm of spontaneous generation. 

A.S. Haley soundly dumps on me on occasion, sometimes with a bit of humor and sometimes with a bit of truth. Still, I make it clear I am on Executive Council, for what it is worth, and he does not make it clear at all that he is counsel for Schofield and friends and that he is up to his nose in the litigation he claims to abhor.

Still, to end on a better note, the Curmudgeon wrote at the end of one of his entries

"On a side note, I understand from talking to the court's bailiff after the arguments that "one of the bishops" missed most of the argument, and had to be let in late. The commenters below have confirmed for me that it was Bishop Schofield. Apparently, as he was coming to the court building, he witnessed an accident in which a pedestrian was struck and run down by a motorcyclist. He went to the victim's assistance, and stayed with her until professional help could arrive. He is to be commended for setting an example of a Christian's proper priorities."

Good for Bishop Schofield, late of San Joaquin, TEC. I would hope such priorities would always be there for all of us. Good for the Anglican Curmudgeon for reporting this. 

It is always good to remember that being followers of Christ in our compassion for others is the better way. 

14 comments:

  1. I have found it more productive and easier to presume good faith no matter how passionate the disagreement/argument becomes. Oftentimes, the solution will beome apparent after the passion has spent itself.

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  2. "The thing is, he is one of the lawyers for the John-David Schofield school of belabored Anglican purity, also known as the Diocese of San Joaquin, Province of the Southern Cone."

    Need I remind the good Father that there is NO SUCH DIOCESE. The only diocese in the San Joaquin valley is the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. The only legitimate bishop is Bishop Jerry Lamb and that John David Schofield is NOT A Bishop in good standing as he was deposed years ago. Furthermore, may I point out that if the Anglican Curmudgeon is an attorney for them he has NEVER won anything having to do with the Epsicopal diocese of San Joaquin. He may write eloquently about matters legal but when it comes to the litigation involving the Episcopal Church his record is no better than the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS.

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  3. Has the question been addressed by Mr Haley, who apparently normally bills at $300.00 an hour, as to whether or not he is working pro bono for the Schofield group?

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  4. Two weeks ago, our small-town parish confirmed or received 34 people. The group was split between teens in our parish making their confirmations and adults who were coming to TEC from other denominations specifically BECAUSE they believe the Episcopal Church is living out the Gospel in the world.

    In other words, reports of our demise are premature. Wishing us dead does not make it so.

    Christianity will continue to decline in importance and attractiveness as long as people like Anglican Curmudgeon make it appear to be a religion of rigid rules and exclusion of the marginalized--in direct contradiction to everything Jesus says in the Gospels. While he goes about his business of trying to destroy a church of which he is no longer a member, our parish family--officially much bigger now than it was two weeks ago--will be getting on with our business...to love and serve the world in Christ's name.

    Pax,
    Doxy

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  5. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Fresno may dispute the assertion that the only diocese in the San Joaquin Valley is the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin and the only legitimate bishop is Bishop Lamb.

    Actually, there _is_ an Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin (much to the chagrin of Mr. Schwartz), and there is an Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (regardless of whether Mr. Haley recognizes it or not). The more interesting question, which will probably need to be resolved in the current litigation, is which of the two is the continuation of the original diocese (and therefore entitled to the original diocese's assets).

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  6. In church this morning I visited with a couple who had been members of our parish in Iowa a number of years ago, but who had moved to Texas. They are members of a (TEC) parish in Fort Worth, and they told me that although they grieve the loss of many from the Episcopal Diocese, those who have remained are healthy and well.

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  7. Can it be possible that the direction TEC is taking appears to some to be unconstitutional, and that they genuinely believe that? That introducing things like Title IV changes gives the PB power the constitution does not grant her? Many of us have wondered why 'liberals' would want such a polity anyway, as it hands enormous authority over to a centralized PB who is going to make things 'nimble'. That sounds like the opposite of 'empowering the whole church and it strikes many as well as unconstitutional. AJM

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  8. I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Haley's blogging is part of his legal strategy, i.e., if he get enough Episcopalians to believe that litigation should no longer be funded, his client - and others - will have a better chance of winning.

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  9. Mr. Powers,
    How do you define Anglican -- the only recognized Anglican presence in the US is the Episcopal Chruch therefore the only recognized "Anglican diocese" is the Episcopal diocese of San Joaquin. The folks in FRsno are "living a lie' conjured up by a deposed bishop who is not recognized by anyone as anything other than Mr. Schofield.

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  10. How many decades now has it been that the Episcopal Church has been at the brink of death?

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  11. Actually, there _is_ an Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin ... and there is an Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

    Indeed - they just happen to be the same diocese!

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  12. Geoff,
    I am hoping you had more to that statement that what appears on paper? The only Anglcian presence in the United States is the Episcopal Church in the United States. The Episcopal diocese of Fort Worth and the Episcopal diocese of San Joaquin are but two examples. ANY "diocese" not within the "hugs" of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States IS NOT anything, as far as I can tell. Mr. Iker, Mr. Schofield, Mr. Duncan, etal are dfeposed bishops who have NO Standing in any Anglican Communion by any name I am aware of and there is not one piece of paper or one piece of evidence that can be brought forward from the Archbishop of Canterbury that can prove otherwise.

    Any trollers out there think otherwise please bring your factual and independently verifiable evidence to this forum.

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  13. There is a group of people in the San Joaquin Valley who consider themselves to be a diocese with John-David Schofield as their bishop. This group goes by the name "The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin." There is another group of people in the San Joaquin Valley who consider themselves to be a diocese with Jerry Lamb as their provisional bishop. This group calls itself "The Episcopal Diocese" of San Joaquin. Mr. Schwartz and others do not recognize the legitimacy of the first diocese or John-David Schofield's status as a bishop. Mr. Haley and others do not recognize the legitimacy of the second diocese, and while they may not dispute Jerry Lamb's status as a bishop, they dispute his jurisdiction in San Joaquin.

    However, both groups exist, and are likely to continue to exist, notwithstanding the displeasure of the other group.

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  14. Wording in titles can be tricky, especially when mired in border crossings. When Bishop Iker and his followers left the Episcopal Church and were accepted by Bishop Venables into the Southern Cone, they opted to become Anglicans of the Southern Cone in the Ft Worth area, thus logically ending their claim to be the Episcopal Diocese of Ft Worth. Although no longer part of The Episcopal Church, they are still Anglican cousins through the Southern Cone. What could separate them totally from legitimate standing within the Anglican Communion is if they swear allegiance to the as yet non-recognized province called ACNA. Until/unless that province is recognized by the other provinces as one of them, ACNA remains a large new denomination in formation. Christian, yes. Anglicanesque? Yes. But different.

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