Are the Anglican Curmudgeon and Baby Blue Right?

The Anglican Curmudgeon has written a snarly article in which he accuses me of being more or less anti-everything good about being Anglican or Episcopalian. Anti-Anglicanism Is Anti-Episcopalianism, or, Liberal Logic Strikes Out Again! churns away at the task of proving everything I said in a recent post, "Things I wish we could get right:" Baby Blue though AC's post "stellar" and mine a "fascinating rant." She went on at great length to show that this is all some sort of smoke and mirrors sort of thing. The Anglican Curmudgeon couldn't help himself, he had to add a PS to his post thanking "BabyBlue's for a brilliant visual rendition of the point of this post."

I suggested in that post, and in more elaborate words that:

(i) the member churches of the Anglican Communion are more properly to be understood as "member churches" not Provinces.

(ii) that the meetings of the bishops between General Conventions are more properly to be understood as bishops meetings and not the House of Bishops, acting officially only on matters for which they are empowered by Constitution and Canons, but otherwise meeting for mutual support, etc, not as a "House of Bishops" but rather just as bishops.

(iii) resolutions or other decisions made by instruments of the Anglican Communion have no formal standing in member churches until those churches ratify the decisions made.

(iv) The Anglican Communion is not a world wide church and making it one would be a bad idea.

It may interest AC to know that I am fully aware that the bishops and even the canons refer to those interim meetings as of "The House of Bishops." I am suggesting that is the wrong language to use. I would be all for changing the canons to reflect what those canons actually allow the bishops to do on their own at those meetings.

So...are the Anglican Curmudgeon and Baby Blue right? Or are they just messing about?

And what makes them think they are anything but sloppy in labeling me as "anti-Anglican" and "anti-Episcopalian." No, perhaps they are not sloppy. Perhaps they are just flat out wrong. Perhaps no one gives a damn, but I kind of think of myself as very pro-Anglican and pro-Episcopalian. After all, I am both.


  1. Fr. Mark,
    I believe the AC, who claims to be a canon lawyer and therefore incapable of being wrong, is, much to his own self-analysis, wrong. He wants the Anglican Communion to be a confederation that is somehow bound by a single resolution. The classic example is Mister Schofield, he never wanted to ordain women and he never did. Sure, he caught some flak for that but no one ever MADE him do anything.
    I was going to once again make your arguments but the AC doesn't care because it does not fit his "Chapman Memo"/ACNA view of the world.
    In order for a book to be read it must be open.

  2. Sometimes, Father Mark, I admit that I wish that you had an editor to assist you with some of the knots into which you tie your English rhetoric, but that is for personal reasons of weakness in the idiom. In no way do I feel that your post was either screed nor rant.

    And I agreed with what you wrote 100%, especially in the three that apply as much to the Anglican Church of Mexico as to TEC. I agree with what you were saying about the TEC HoB, but that part was for me one of your knots that needed more work in the explanation!

    I am not too sure why BB and A. Curmudgeon were so jazzed over her analogy, because I felt it was near grandstanding in its false application. If anything, the points you were making were the historic facade of Anglicanism, and the structures the fundigelicals are erecting behind that facade; a World Anglican Church, bound by covenant, with enhanced and powerful prelature, propagating the "faith once delivered" is what is new.

  3. Dear Mark,

    As my Beloved Partner says, AC and BB don't think one can be Anglican and Episcopalian - to be Episcopalian is to be not Anglican.

    Of course, they are wrong. And you are as Anglican as they come, especially as you, being a much better person than I am, read their blogs and use their blog names, which I can't even bring myself to do.

    You continue to be my hero, Mark. I am a denizen of MP's site, I go to Thinking Anglicans and Episcopal Cafe in case they post something interesting, I read the essays on Anglicans Online, but I come here to learn, to be challenged, to be centered and to remember what it is to be Anglican and Episcopalian. Thank you, Mark.

  4. Mark - the more they complain, the more correct you are! You are completely correct, and those who demonize you are the counterfeit Christians... I'm sick of those who espouse hate to argue... keep up the good work, friend

  5. I had missed BB's essay till you referenced it.

    Being part of the Anglican Communion (that's Communion not Federation) is not core doctrine of the Episcopal Church. It is simply core. This could not be better said than in the preamble of the C&C.

    The proponents of "inclusivity", i.e., homosexual clergy and SSU blessings, not only are causing accelerating decline and financial calamity but also are shouting to jettison this core characteristic of the Episcopalianism. "To Gehenna with the Anglican Communion. They can't tell us that we can't turn our back on 2000 years of Christian tradition and bless what the rest of the Communion calls sinful!"

    BB's analogy is imperfect because behind the facades of K-street are big, bustling office buildings. If it is decided that homosexual blessings are more important than the Anglican Communion, then behind the facade of the new Episcopal church (formerly representing Anglicanism in North America) would be buildings of very questionable foundation.

  6. Sir, the reality is that the Anglican Communion is changing radically....and TEC's actions in 2003 have accelerated that change in a particular direction ... not a direction you or TEC want - but however much TEC protests, the Anglican Communion will be what it will be and TEC, as a small province, can choose to be part of it (sign the covenant, given Rowan another BO33 type deal) or it can choose to stick to its convictions.... but complaining that the AC ain't what you think it should be is not going to change it (just as the ACNA people complaining that TEC is not what they want it to be was not going to butter many parsnips (i.e. achieve anything).....

  7. Even on a provincial level the idea of Anglicanism has always been so loose and complicated that it has never had one definition. You might as well try and define the culture of the United States. For every commonality you find you will discover ten more that contradict it, but with everyone considering themselves an equal part of that culture.

    BB and AC are part of a movement which, sadly, includes the ABC and most of the primates, that finds living with such untidiness very uncomfortable and threatening to their own faith (if there is paradox how can their own exact faith be true?).

    Therefore, there is an attempt, by these "weaker brethren" to make the change to rigidity happen by talking as if it has happened. And they believe the louder and more aggressively they talk about it the more real their pretense becomes.

    Their accusations that you are un-Anglican is part of this chimera. Of course, you are only un-Anglican by their projected idea of Anglicanism. If you argue the point with them you are, at best, arguing about something that does not exist or, at worst, adopting the same conceit as them by inventing your own definition of Anglicanism.

    We are Anglican because we claim it to be so. Just as we are Christians because we claim the name of Jesus.

  8. Fr. Mark,
    What much of this points out is the lack of strong, universal, and consistent educational programs within the Episcopal Church. It appears that many of our laity, no matter if they are cradle Episcopalians or brand new, have failed to read, mark and inwardly digest the church history, philosophy and reason for being Anglican. While this appears to be world-wide, so we cannot stay in sack clothe and ashes for too long, those who are most disappointing are we Americans who have a relatively unique history in the Anglican Communion given our revolution and the breaking and binding up of that break. I am hopeful that we as the Episcopal Church in the United States of America are looking to this issue with intent and creativity.

  9. The rants against you are pretty weak, Mark. I wouldn't lose any sleep over them.

    Worth noting that you got under their skin enough to cause them to expend the energy to create such arguments, however.

    One of the themes which you seem to often hold up is the current inclination in the Anglican Communion to disenfranchise the laity. One would think that the abuse of power we saw in the passing of B033 on the floor of Convention in 2006 would not be so quickly forgotten!

    As the House of Bishops have said themselves periodically, they do not have the authority to speak for TEC. Their pronouncements, without the endorsement of the House of Deputies, are at best, "recommendations," although "opinions" is probably a better term.

    Is such a democratic model, in which it is recognized that the laity can also discern the movement of God, an Anglican model? Perhaps not. But I think the argument could be made that it is indeed Christian model of how to live in community.

    As has been suggested before many times, at the root of the current unpleasantness is the question of authority. Apparently, some of the leaders in purple believe they have resolved that question. I think it is essential that their assumption be challenged, whatever the cost.

  10. AC may be a canon lawyer, but I'm a church-and-theological historian, and I would (re-)assert that if you don't believe in (1) lay supremacy and (2) the sovereign independence of the church in sovereign independent nations then the one thing you absolutely and positively cannot be without redefining the historical sense of the word is "Anglican." We executed people for not agreeing with these two principles. They may be wrong, but they're certainly foundational: and if they are wrong, the solution is not to Romanize what we have built on that erroneous foundation, but simply to return to Rome.

  11. Why on earth do you care what those embittered fundamentalists think?

  12. Fr. Mark, BB and AC are thoroughly modern. Modern thought processes follow the old-model computer logic of either/or, this/not that, +/-, black/white etc....

    However, "modern" is old hat. Premodern thought, which is able to comprehend two or three metaphors and puns at once, is perhaps even preferable to modern thought.... Post and postpostmodern thought is looking for that third/fourth/infinite way again.

    You, dear man, are either pre-modern or post and maybe even postpost-modern and have the gift of "fuzzy" logic, the means to navigate and hold together paradox ("alongside glory" if you will). Please do not despair that they cannot see the way you see.... give thanks to God that their experience of the extremes of dark and light add dimension and color to your experience.... or.... or....

    or, as is said in 12-step groups, take what helps/leave the rest...

    blessings on your work here and in our church and in the Anglican Communion at large.

  13. Wow! With the defenses made for you by those who came before me, I have nothing of worth to say, Mark, except to affirm that in my humble opinion, you are neither un-Anglican nor un-Episcopalian.

    Am I wrong to pay so little attention to BB's blog? I went there several months ago and left a polite, but dissenting, comment. Her site "guardian" (not BB) responded to me with several comments which were no more than personal attacks. BB was polite, but she did not rebuke her "guardian". I was not moved to return.

  14. I think Mark is postmodern but following the pre-modern paradigm of the Kingdom of God as revealed by Jesus Christ.

  15. My site guardian spends most of her time attacking me.

  16. To answer your title question, Fr. Harris, No.

    The Non-Episcopal Curmudgeon blithely conflates TEC "provinces" with AC "provinces" as if they should have the same referents. In his last posting (Feb. 23, 12:00 p.m. PST) on his response to you he reveals (by suggeting that episcopal nominations are "in violation" of 2006-B033) that he is incapable of reading plain English.

    I suspend judgment as to whether he is a knave or a fool. But whichever he is, he isn't "right".

    Ms. Blue, on the other hand, is constructing her own fantasy, claiming that Curmudgeon "illustrates quite plainly that what The Episcopal Church is attempting to do is in fact, gut the historic faith while preserving the facades of that faith . . . while constructing massive new theological and political structures that bare no resemblance to the preserved facades." This might make some sense if either your or Curmudgeon's posts were about "constructing" any "structures" whatesoever, but they were not. As Curmudgeon notes, most of your original points were about matters in the Anglican Communion, none of which were "constructed" by TEC, and the one internal point you made was that the House of Bishops should not be claiming that it meets as such apart from meeting in General Convention. If anything, that is "deconstructing" rather than "constructing".

    So, no, neither is right.

    And your point about the House of Bishops is quite well taken if one looks at Const. I.1. Unless the House of Bishops is either meeting in General Convention or performing an act that the Constitution lets them do on their own, they are acting merely as a Council (however they may denominate their meeting) and ought to recognize themselves as such and not more.

  17. Yikes. Read BB or AC? Gads I learned not to do that some time ago. Not only have AC's legal theories in relation to most of the US litigation been incorrect (fact), but he doesn't seem to understand that I, personally, and dare I say none in TEC do not belong to the Anglican CHURCH nor am I willing to join such an entity should it someday exist.

    BB, on the other hand, has absolutely nothing to offer.

  18. Jake wrote, "Is such a democratic model, in which it is recognized that the laity can also discern the movement of God, an Anglican model? Perhaps not. But I think the argument could be made that it is indeed Christian model of how to live in community."

    Actually, I think it expresses better than most that Pauline and Reformation principle of "the priesthood of all believers." We wouldn't be showing much respect for the vocation, the priesthood, of the first Order of Ministry - the Laity - if we weren't allowing - no, requiring - their participation in decision making.

  19. A side comment suggested by Marshall's mention of the priesthood of all believers: Christopher Duraisingh, a presbyter of the Church of South India, suggested in a class at Episcopal Divinity School that we should consider not refering to presbyters as priests and use that word as Marshall did to underline the priestly ministry of all the baptized. I responded to that suggestion by replacing "Your brother and your priest" at the end of letters to the parish with "Your elder brother."

  20. Very entertaining - I of course agree with Grandmere Mimi and Mad Priest - OCICBW. BB and the Curmudgeon belong to a group who are only happy when everyone else is stirred up over their latest fantasy. They feed on chaos. SF is part of this wing of the church too -- don't get involved - practice non-anxious presence around them which also spells NAP. Another good thing to do instead of reading any of them.


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.