Saturday Morning Thoughts

It's Saturday morning and end of a busy week. It's been a puzzling week out here on the net. I've dealt with more than the usual snippy and snarly responses to a few of my post, have been accused of being a bit snarly myself, and generally have been less ready to let the comments just roll by, like the green water past our bows.

Why haven't I just let it go by? In part, I suppose because all this feels like the gnats and flies on a summer beach, distracting from the sunset and the beauty of the open water. I have been a bit grumpy because the mutterings (others and mine) on the net have seemed irrelevant by comparison to time in faithful community just experienced. The week prior to this I was with a community of young people in a Diocese working hard to be part of a people of God. This small community called out the best in all of us, in terms of working for the good of the whole, paying attention to the work given us and not minding others' business, etc. We were living under Jesus' and Paul' advice (see the readings for this Sunday, Proper 9, year c.) It was an intensely missionary presence not because of our great good or witness but because we were given grace to be part of a larger community of faith and part of its witness and life. Returning from that to the snarls and growls of internet life seemed, well, unhealthy.

I almost decided to cash it in yesterday. Why work on this blog, which has to be fed reasonably often, if the result is carping and carping back? I have found myself wanting to snap back, first at the critics on the blog, then at the strange stuff that happens elsewhere on the net, then finally at family and friends.

What I have written about community among friends on a cool 4th of July night, or about community in mission in Puerto Rico or even about dogs who love other dogs seems to fall by the wayside. I don't get many comments about such things.

Instead when I make what is arguably a pissy posting about the bishops who are gathering to put together an alternative Anglican church in the US and who claim they are the "real" Anglican presence, and that TEC is un-biblical, un-salvageable and unsafe I get comments, mostly pretty negative and I find myself responding negatively as well. I am not sure this is useful.

Among the criticisms I have received is that I refer to these bishops as a gang. Actually, I thought that better than a cabal. They are without question involved in planning for a new Province. There is every evidence of a Grand Plan, which is being executed. These bishops are not organized enough yet to be a cabal, they are not a herd, they are not a fellowship. What are they? I thought "gang" was pretty good, after all, they are ganging up on The Episcopal Church.

And now that I think about it, I am not actually displeased with the criticism received. Some of it was pretty useful. But what was discouraging was that almost no one from across the divide had anything good to say about my postings on freedom and love for one another, or on Puerto Rico, or dogs.

So be it. These are nasty times and we all get that way. But it is not good for my health, nor for yours dear readers, to let the acid get to the stomach.

In the future I think I will mostly refrain from commenting on comments. I will attempt to direct my criticism more directly and take some care in using words like "gang" and "folks", although I will still do so when feeling that a gang is ganging up on the Church or my friends, or me.

And I will take more time to write more or less reflective pieces that no one will write responses to, although perhaps some will read.

How's that for a Saturday morning resolution?


  1. Guilty as charged, Father---I read the beautiful ones and am edified, but remain silent. Why is that? I guess that ire and adrenaline set my fingers to tapping on the keyboard quicker than awe and wonder do.

    I'll try to do better in the future. I know how much I value the comments on my own blog!


  2. Mark, your beautiful reflections might get more "I agree" comments if there wasn't a general discouraging of such comments in newsgroups. I realize this is not a news group, but unless I have something to add or to correct or to complain about, I simply appreciate what you've said and move on.

    Perhaps I need to revisit that practice. Best wishes, Ron

  3. More reflective so fewer people will comment on them? Help! I for one depend on you for incisive synthesis of ALL the goings on. I'd rather you keep blogging as usual, and cut off the comments than cut out the insight and let the comments continue to devolve.

  4. Wormwood's Doxy set the example with her mea culpa and I must join in.

    My heart was warmed and I rejoiced to hear of the youth group being about the real life and mission of the church since it reflects what I know about grace at work among God's people. When we join together to do what we can for the life of the world (i.e., what Jesus calls us to do) and LIVE the Gospel instead of arguing about it, the fruit of the Spirit is evident and abounding.

    That is much easier to do in local communities, even highly diverse ones, when we are all face to face, eating at common tables (not just the Altar), and spending time with each other. When huge gaps of geography and culture preclude this and even our finest instant "communication" does not help much in overcoming the gaps, our energy and charity both flag. Governance of vast, sprawling, disparate bodies is much harder than local concrete work that demonstrates love.

    My fingers spring to the keyboard far too easily when irked than when delighted.

    Know that I take pleasure, learn much, and get lots to chew on no matter what sorts of posts you put up and hasten to your blog daily. Since I don't post daily, I cannot judge when others cut themselves slack.
    --the Byzigenous Buddhapalian

  5. I think anyone who blogs gets frustrated when what they pour their words and hearts into is seemingly ignored. But then, I have to ask just why am I blogging, for my own self-expression or to get praise and plaudits (and criticisms) from people I don't know? The answer will be the drive behind the reason for blogging and also the response or lack thereof.

    I know I have commented on your blog at least twice and the comments have never shown up so this might be the third disappearance. It may frustrate me slightly but then, it's your blog. I have my own where I can talk to myself and the occasional dropper-in who might say the cat pictures are cute or ask me to buy viagara.

  6. Hi Mark,
    I am a faithful reader of yours and rarely leave remarks. I doubt you remember me, but I did meet you at GC in Columbus, on that last day. I was distressed at the goings-on and you found it in yourself to say some comforting words.

    I would be saddened if you were to cease blogging, since I am much edified by your remarks.

    I think the phenomenon you speak about is similar to the prinicple which animates the most shameless of televangelists. If they preached peace, love and understanding, they'd be out of business in no time, since their real business is getting people to send them checks on a regular basis. So they preach to raise the 'ire and adrenaline' of their listeners to keep the money flowing.

    I've noticed it too in forums like BELIEFNET. Controversial topics raise all manner of heat, while more civilized discussions ofttimes go begging.


  7. Mark, please don't get dispirited by thuggery. For that's what's operating here. The defenders of thuggery swoop in at predictable times and places. You'd think they'd have a bit more self-awareness about it, but they're nervous. For good reason. It's not going well for them.

    The depth, authority, and acuity of your analysis is bracing. I know many people look to this blog as a source of care-filled observations.

    And I'll do my part to acknowledge the beauty of your less controversial posts. They, too, are a marvel.


  8. I don't know what you're doing wrong, Mark. I put up a serious post and other than a couple comments, getting at my grammar - there's usually no response. I put a picture of a dog and my server can hardly cope with the response. I put up a post about barbeque and the net is in danger of meltdown.

    Actually, I do know what the problem is. People take you seriously and that, my friend, is your own fault. I suggest you get rid of the blog photo you have up at the moment and replace it with one of yourself wearing a Groucho Marx mask. I know it's not really you but a few slightly risque jokes would change your image no end - breasts are a popular subject, I find.

    And when was the last time there was a really silly meme on your blog, eh?

    Above all, start insulting ALL your readers at every opportunity. You are far too nice to everybody and so they take advantage of you. Your inherent niceness will get you on that heaven bound train but it leaves you open to abuse in the earthbound blogosphere.

  9. While your “more or less reflective pieces” will be read with much interest, for those of your readers, like me, in Network dioceses your “being a bit snarly” comments are much appreciated! In these parts of the country the “gnats and flies” have taken over the beach year-round, and your words of challenge and encouragement are absolutely essential! Perhaps we don’t tell you that as often as we should.

  10. Your last line says it all. I very seldom post, but would very much miss hearing what you have to say, both the beautiful posts and the pissy ones. And I am happily enfolded in a church that gives me strength. I know that there are many who don't have that luxury (recently being there myself), and places such as this make a huge difference in lives. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

  11. Please do not quit your comments! I am overwhelmed by the information on the web about the TEC and its worldwide happenings, and I find it refreshing that you can encapsulate what is happening in a concise essay. I value what you say! I don't agree with everything you write, but most of everything. Keep it up! This is the first time I have ever responded to a blog. I am more of a voyeur, and proud of it!

  12. Two thoughts:

    #1 -- They ARE a gang!

    #2 -- I've found blogging is a little like preaching ... well, a LOT like preaching sometimes but in this case I'm talking about the part where 94 people say "nice sermon" as they shake your hand at the door and the one who hated it takes time to write the rector.

    Those are MY thoughts for an already-been-to-the-hospital-to-see-a-parishioner-about-to-have-surgery Saturday morning!

  13. Mark, I know what you mean. My posts that I am most pleased with receive less attention than the carping and humorous trivia type posts. Makes you wonder.

    I like your poetry, too, Mark, and I hope that you don't stop blogging. Your blog is a valuable resource for me.



  14. Mark - I appreciate your willingness to host a blog, to post your news and reflections on the news from your perspective. I found myself getting the news about goings-on within the Anglican communion from only 1 or 2 sources, both of them conservative; and felt the need to get the other side's perspective. The ENS is pretty useless in that regard, and if you only read it, you would have no idea there was any conflict within ECUSA at all - it pretty much white washes the significant issues within ECUSA.

    It is disappointing though when some contributors use inflammatory language, or resort to personal abuse rather than deal with the issues objectively. I find it difficult myself to remain objective since I am passionate about the theological issues at stake - and I sincerely believe that human sexual orientation and practice is a salvation issue. Who cares if there are parallel episcopal jurisdictions as long as Anglicans can be free to proclaim the gospel of God's saving work for us, given to us as a free gift in Jesus Christ. In my theological framework soteriology always stands above ecclesiology.

    Therefore, I am distressed that your focus is more on protection of territory and property for ECUSA, and have lost sight of the bigger picture - that there are Christians within ECUSA who would rather be identified as Anglicans through a parallel jurisdiction with the USA. They are not leaving the church, but they do want to leave ECUSA and they will still be Anglican - why in heaven's name are they being prosecuted for the property, none of which has been built by ECUSA but by the local people in their local churches. There does not seem to be much grace shown by the leadership of ECUSA, but there is a lot of law thrown around.

    I am also concerned that there seems to be very little acknowledgement by the leaders of ECUSA that it's the innovations of ECUSA over the last few decades, which have caused the present problems, culminating in the consecration of Mr Robinson as bishop, despite all the warnings from the instruments of unity that such a move would cause serious harm to the unity of the AC. ECUSA seems to be in complete denial about its responsibility for, and the consequences of its own precipitate actions. It has not expressed any regret for the consecration, only regret for the offense it caused other parts of the AC. This is not repentance, but a light apology.

    In short, if you want to run a blog that only reports and comments on the warm and fuzzies within ECUSA, then that is up to you, but such a blog would be much less informative to many of your readers, some of whom are deeply concerned about the developing schism within ECUSA and the AC's response to such a breakdown. These are the real issues that need to be reported and commented on. I hope we can all find gracefilled language to express our deep seated convictions, and not be overly negative and certainly not personally abusive, nor theologically flippant in our comments.

  15. Mark,
    Please do not quit blogging. To me it is mostly sane, and I do read it all. I don't comment often anywhere, but it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with me...I am not very confident that what I would say would be articulate enough to pass muster....see it is all about me!

    I love reading all your stuff and have a reaction to all of it. I love it when you get snarky! I sit back and say to myself "Whoa! I wish I had said that." So I guess I could add a few "Amens" here and there.

    The 'carping' ones who call you out on the words you use just really crack me up. Have they not read the comments they put up in response to what they agree with on other blogs that will remain nameless? It's a case of the 'pot calling the kettle black' or as we used to say when I was in grade school 'It takes one to know one!' In other words, in my opinion(notice I do not use the word humble here) they have some nerve correcting your views on the happenings in the Alphabet Soup Camp, when their views towards TEC are not exactly lovingly expressed. So there! This is why I do not comment...not only does it get me riled up, it's not very coherent .

  16. Mark,

    I'm a daily reader, but infrequent commenter. Your thoughts are often the most helpful ones I find on any number of subjects. Thank you for the service you offer.

    I hope you take the occasional negativity as a compliment. It means you're touching a nerve. You're getting too close to the truth.

    I think "gang" was much too generous, btw. The "nicest" term I can think of would be "scoundrels". Plundering pirates in purple shirts would be more accurate, but that may be just my opinion.

    Nill Illigitimi Carborundum!

  17. brian f,

    Sorry, but your "Mr. Robinson" comment revealed your personal bias. You've been listening to the Network propaganda, and are repeating it here. I call that picking a fight. Why you choose to do that here is apersonal problem, it seems to me.

    What you have stated is not based on reality. Neither is the assumption that TEC should let individuals steal property that never belonged to them.

    You want a pure church? Good luck in finding one. But don't for a second think you can take the silver with you when you leave without some of us raising a stink.

  18. I devour your posts and find them compelling and wise.You make more sense than anyone of the entire tossed salad.

  19. Mark, thank you for the ministry you provide through this blog. With you and the youth and adults from St. Pete's I got to engage in mission outside this country for a whole week, and it was amazing. No wonder coming home was a shock - wrangling instead of letting it all go and going out into the world together to engage with others. May the memories of last week create in you a place to which you can return for refreshment and recollection often, so that you can continue this ministry of collecting and synthesizing and commenting on what is happening in our communion. For you, unlike me, are willing to read those who snarl back at you, and you treat them with kindness and Christian charity even when they have none for you, where I just don't read them at all and skip on to the next comment.

    Having said that, it is not from your wranglings with the communion that I have most recently found a core value, but from the SPYPR blog (that's the blog from the mission trip to PR for readers who don't know): Mission is not what we do to or for others; it is what we do WITH others. That core value is a place within me which I will visit often. Thank you, dear Mark.
    Lois Keen

  20. I have a desktop icon for a folder "Anglican News" in which nine links are listed. Retired, 70, ordained, I am kept abreast by them every day. Yours I usually visit first thing in the morning and again at supper time. I pass on info to my partner, and we chat about some of what I have taken in. I rarely offer a comment, because others like yourself seem to cover the subjects well; moreover, Bob and I are neither primary players nor first-hand observers. So, Canon Mark, keep it up. Your insights are valuable and appreciated.

  21. I value your blog enough to have Preludium on RSS feed. I also mentioned Two Fish on my blog when you began it.

    I appreciate your snarkiness tho I have worried a little when sometimes you "sound" angrier than seems healthy. I don't comment often because I tend to get angry too.

    Many of the people who follow the IRD's clergy would chafe mightily at the control of religion and government that the IRD would impose. Unfortunately far too many are unaware of the basis for these struggles and rely on their priests and bishops for the "truth". We need people like you to constantly challenge that unChristlike ideology.

  22. Mark, I have tried several times to leave comments (very affirming ones with no cuss-words, etc.) and had them fail to appear after moderation. I am careful to type in the word verification letters and so forth, but they just seem to get swallowed up. That has considerably reduced my motivation to comment. (The same thing has happened when I left comments on a couple of other blogs, e.g., Nina's and Richard's, that use the same verification mechanism.)

    Anyway, hope this gets through and you keep blogging!

  23. mary clara and mumcat... you both have said comments you left didn't get published. I don't know why. If anyone is having troubles with other blogs on blogspot, let me know. Mary Clara, keep posting.

  24. Mark,

    Rancor aside, your clarity and insights are too valuable to be lost! I hope you decide to continue blogging, calling all of us to account, and keeping engaged in the ongoing drama with only the hope that truth may be spoken, ideally in love, to serve the work of the Gospel.

    Love to you.

  25. and I sincerely believe that human sexual orientation and practice is a salvation issue.

    Brian F, I thought we had, at the very least, moved on from sexual orientation being a salvation issue, but apparently not.

  26. Keep on blogging, Mark. We/I need your voice. I don't comment much but that doesn't mean I don't read.

  27. Personally, I would be interested in hearing more about "the emergence of a new progressive vocation within Christianity," as in the prologue to your blog, rather than your take on what the conservatives are up to. What's up with that new progressive vocation?

  28. Mark, thanks for reading my comment and visiting my blog. I appreciate your visit and your comment.

    I also appreciate your blog no end. It's one of the true "Must Read" ones and you usually give me a viewpoint I hadn't considered -- or make me feel like I'm not the only one in the world who feels the way I do.

    Thanks for your voice.

  29. Please keep blogging. I so much appreciate your careful thinking and well-thought out writing. As one other commenter suggested, I'd rather you turn off the comment feature than stop blogging.
    And since this is really a "me too" comment, my feelings won't be hurt if you don't publish it!

  30. Fr. Mark,

    If you want acid to go to your stomach- go to StandFirm (as I know you do)- and read what Elizabeth Kaeton wrote about Anne Kennedy. Elizabeth herself as edited it, but fortunately, the web captures evil and lets it be archived.

    What Elizabeth (I cannot call her Rev. after that posting) wrote is so EVIL that I hope that you, and many other progressives, give her a severe private reproach that results in a public apology. And frankly, it deserves much more discipline than that, but... go read it.

    And since I know Jake reads these comments, he should not let it be swept under the rug, either.

  31. Dear Mark:
    Judging by your post and the comments you and others in TEC want to have this argument by yourself.
    Define your enemies as "gangs" or whatever graceful name you can think of, but it has become apparent that the discussion, as far as TEC is concerned, is over.
    I came here, expressed my interest in your blog, even though we don't agree, and for the effort pretty much now understand that you and others don't want to engage.
    So we won't. Peace and grace to you all, I won't be back.

    Jim from Michigan

  32. Please read Elizabeth's follow-up post. http://telling-secrets.blogspot.com/

  33. It's become quite apparent that the only reason for the reasserters wishing to keep us is to harm and cow us. Why stay with them? Some family is best kept at a distance.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, 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.