"Conspiracy theories about the press abound. It's a mouthpiece for the left; it's cowed by the right. It's under pressure from the administration; it's under the thumb of corporate interests. It's controlled by the Jews. But there is one insidious media conspiracy that has actually been documented --journalists from all over the country secretly in league as if guided by an occult hand to corrupt daily reporting with certain code words meaningful to the conspirators and to the conspirators alone. And one of them joins me now. He is Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette."
I found this delightful interview because I was actually looking for some link to the fact that Paul Greenburg had written an editorial on Bishop elect Forrester, first published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on May 3rd and picked up by AnglicansUnited on May 5th., and then by the Wilmington Delaware News Journal on May 15th.
Greenberg is a thoughtful if often conservative writer and he does his homework. The article, "The Bishop of Unbelief" is well crafted, as befits a Pullitzer Prize winner. Greenberg is not an Episcopalian but he brings into the essay a knowledge of the Book of Common Prayer, baptismal vows, creeds, etc. He has no truck with Fr. Forrester.
At the core of the article is this quote,
"By now the Reverend Forresters have succeeded in creating their own backlash in the mainstream church. In a turn that still strikes some of us more parochial types as unusual, if not miraculous, most of the world’s Anglicans, that is, adherents of the old Church of England, now live in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The see of Canterbury seems to have grown somewhat, and acquired some colorful offshoots.
These new Anglicans grow restive with all the backsliding they detect in their still imperialistic brethren. Whenever a bishop back in England or the United States embraces some new morality that sounds a lot like the old immorality, they threaten to go their own way-or rather the old way. And they may yet succeed in restoring it in the church.
God works in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. Who would have guessed that the Third World might come to the rescue of faith in the First?"
Note the phrase, "the Reverend Forresters." Plural, he has become legion. Greenberg has picked up on the so called orthodox line - that Forrester is an example of the drift of Episcopalians from their Anglican roots, and that Anglicans in the Third World are on a rescue mission in making bishops for the restoration of the church in the US and Canada.
So the argument against Forrester is that he is part of the drift and the argument for bishops and standing committees not granting consent is that it is a sign of orthodoxy to deny him ordination.
Gone in this argument is any mention of the election process. That process may have been peculiar but it is not outside the canonical possibilities. Gone in this argument is the Buddhist meditation issue. The issue in this essay is about Forrester as a symbol of the slide away from conservative "orthodox" Anglican stances.
Fr. Forrester's witness as a faithful, if peculiar, Christian is being pillaged by the right. First he was the "Buddhist bishop," then he was not elected properly, and now he is part of the army of the heterodox coming to let the devil in by the back door.
The tragedy is that the so called "Christian" right may succeed in getting him racked up as a bishop who failed to get consents. There will be glee in righteous blogland, and perhaps a smile from Greenberg.
Forrester appears to be a complex believer with a simple stance, that is his Christian witness may reflect the convolutions of the thinking believer and his prayerful stance may reflect the awe of one who knows the presence of God. He may be a treasure for the church. But we may never know because he will be flattened by the hammer that smashes only and does not build.
On to the matter of the "occult hand of journalism." I picked up the Wilmington, Delaware News Journal this morning, May 15th, and found that Greenberg's essay was on the editorial pages of the paper. This is twelve days after it appeared in Arkansas, ten days after AnglicansUnited picked it up. Why now?
Perhaps someone in Delaware connected to the News Journal knew that the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Delaware was meeting this coming Tuesday and would be voting then on giving consent to Fr. Forrester's election. Perhaps there is some management of information, some secret cabal of orchestrated journalism playing out its hand.
But no, no. The Episcopal Church is not exactly a big player here in Delaware. In fact, one might wonder why the News Journal would find it interesting or useful to post Greenberg's article at all. Surely no. There is nothing orchestrated here.
It is not the occult hand of journalism that is at play here, but it looks like nasty business to me.
The fat is in the fire for Fr. Forrester and every vote against him counts twice, once for him, once for all the rest of us who might ever think of stretching the language or the form of worship or the range of spiritual experience for members of The Episcopal Church.
And yes, the fat is in the fire and the rescue crowds from the Global South churches are here to lend a hand to local home grown purists. When they finish with the matter there will be a purified and quite manageable Christian Church in the United States that mimics every other splinter of the remnants of Christendom.
I will not be there, nor I hope Fr. Forrester, nor I hope you.