Free Legal Advice: Accept with reservations.

Whatever the Anglican Communion Institute's reasons for posting the article by Mr. Mark McCall, the effect has been notable. Bishop Duncan in an Anglican TV interview on Tuesday referred to McCall's article, "Is The Episcopal Church Hierarchical." Bishop Mark Lawrence referred to McCall's article in his challenge to the process in the House of Bishop's meeting yesterday (September 18).

At least as far as the realignment community is concerned Mr. McCall's article is a godsend. Now there is someone who has written something on the nature of the Episcopal Church that sounds very very important. It reads well. It is legal sounding. It is seemingly unsolicited, with the writer in no one's pay. Pure as the driven snow.

All those awful people - bishops who are lawyers and chancellors who work for the Church - are of no account, after all they are biased. Better to trust a lawyer whose credentials concerning either the Church or Canon law are completely unknown, than lawyers who are both church people with strong credentials in canon law. Better to trust a lawyer with no known interest in the history of the Episcopal Church to make declarations on the hierarchical nature of the church then to trust an historian with known concerns for the history of the Episcopal Church.

McCall was there to be hauled out as a witness for the realignment crowd, and his thesis is a seemingly a free will offering.

Are we sure this is simply a work of intellectual competence provided by a person who walks in from the cold to provide free legal advice? Well, the trouble with free advice is that it is what it is: free.

Now, just for the purposes of disclosure: What I say on this blog is not free. In the first place the reader has to put up with my ramblings, poor typing, bad spelling and mind farts. In the second place I have an agenda that is served, however poorly, by my writing.

The agenda is this: I think the idea of yet another world wide church is a really really bad idea.

It was not the intention of the Church of England to be more than the church of and for that nation, or of the Episcopal Church to be more than a church for this nation, and the proof of the matter is that the various Anglican Churches that had grown from the missionary efforts of these churches are autonomous. That their autonomy also involves serious differences of opinion with the so called "mother" churches is perfectly fine by me.

When people in the Episcopal Church want to play off those differences in order to further their agendas here I am disappointed because I feel this is the worse sort of ecclesial neo-colonialism. But when there is a concerted effort to produce a second sort of Anglican presence in North America, one that will be a Province in a World Wide Church I return to my basic agenda.

Mr. McCall's article, if adapted as good news by the realignment folk, will come around to bite them. If the Episcopal Church is not hierarchical, the bishops who are intent on leaving with a flock, have been raised up with that non-hierarchical sensibility as part of their basic formation. There will be surprises in store when the hierarchical structures of the new improved World Wide Anglican CHURCH shows up.


  1. Mr McCall's essay response to Dr Gunderson will appear today at ACI's website.

  2. The irony of those who are the very embodiment of patriarchy being opposed to hierarchy almost takes my breath again.

  3. My late grandmother was a wealth of wisdom. I can hear her now: "That 'Free legal advice' is likely worth what you paid for it, honey."

  4. I've noticed that every Sunday morning we confess that there is actually only one church, not many autonomous ones. It seems to me that a church that shuts out the voices of her sisters around the globe is something other than a church.

    Be that as it may, I'm puzzled as to why on the international level, you sing about freedom and autonomy, while on the national one, you seem very authoritarian. If an international church is bad, why is a national church good? Why not just have a fellowship of dioceses?

    I really think you should stop looking for an ad hominem against Mark McCall -- questioning his motives, etc. If you can't refute his points, perhaps you should just drop it. We understand that you disagree with him; you're allowed to.

  5. Mark,

    I, too, am more than a little curious about Mark McCall and his credentials. The ACI site tells us what he was - an international attorney, partner in the well-respected firm of Sullivan & Cromwell. Since he isn't listed on Martindale's and I don't have access to Lexis/Nexis - the only other information I have found is that he worked on S&C cases for British Airways.

    We don't know if he is a member of the bar in any state - kind of a "must" when issuing a legal opinion. Since I live in Lawyertown (and have a few in my family), I can tell you that if you aren't a member of the bar, you aren't an attorney. That goes for pro bono work. If Mr. McCall was doing this as a research project for his personal interest, the ACI site should state this information. It goes to credibility. He is being presented as an expert.

    (In all fairness, Mr. McCall doesn't state he is a practicing attorney).


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.