We are now two and a half weeks from the beginning of General Convention. I am weary from all the negative crap on all the negative blogs that can't stand The Episcopal Church. I am depressed by the sound of many voices that can't stand the possibility of bishops and deputies acting on their own, using their own sense of how that balanced stool of Scripture, Reason and Tradition works, and from that making decisions.
There is a sea of unrest on which the General Convention will float. Some of the unrest produces comparatively mild currents, some is more rough. I've been chasing around trying to find some way to state what I think is going on.
Three quotes come to mind:
"At any given instant All solids dissolve, no wheels revolve, And facts have no endurance -- And who knows if it is by design or pure inadvertence That the Present destroys its inherited self-importance?" That's from W. H. Auden's "For the Time Being", (1940). It is the opening quotation in Simon Winchester's "Krakatoa," which concerns the Krakatoa volcano which erupted on August 27, 1883.
"There is great disorder under Heaven and the situation is excellent."
Supposedly from Chairman Mao's little Red Book, quoted by Uncle Duke in the Doonesbury cartoons of G. B. Trudeau. MacArthur responds, "sounds like one of your parties, Sir."
“There is a lot of wreckage in the fast lane these days.”
That is Hunter S. Thompson, RIP. And there is indeed.
So in Anglican land the shakedown seems volcano - like in its rumblings, and "the present destroys its inherited self-importance," there is great disorder under Heaven, wreckage in the fast lane, and yet, the situation is excellent.
Fine. My depression of the past few days is lifted. That depression is the all purpose Anglican depression here in the pit, getting the car ready for the ten day race called General Convention. It was due to my forgetting Auden, Mao and Thompson and all the others who know the intemperate demands of the mob. The thing is, dear friends, while we may be up to all sorts of things "for the time being," actually we are all running the race that is set before us and disorderly or not, we do what we need to do. Once we have set our hand to the plow it is time to look forward, not back. Otherwise we miss the turn, miss the party, miss the point.
So time to get some little things straight:
(i) The House of Bishops Theology Committee has a "secret" subcommittee looking at issues of same sex relationships. There is considerable concern that this secrecy is not right. It isn't but don't turn in here. The fact is no one will care very much what is said by this group. Time has passed them by.
(ii) A conservative, traditional, and well loved order of Nuns is moving from The Episcopal Church to the Roman Catholic Church. This group, some of whose members I know, is a fine and caring community. But they have been on the edge of The Episcopal Church for years believing as they do that women cannot be priests and therefore refusing to receive Communion when a woman is celebrant or when the elements may have previously been consecrated by a woman. They will go where they will, and God's speed. But they seem to understand this as their problem, not necessarily the problem of The Episcopal Church.
(iii) The formation of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is underway, with two more resigned bishops of The Episcopal Church part of their number, two bishops in TEC as members of ACNA governance, and three new bishops being ordained by Rwanda to serve with one of ACNA's member groups. Going, going, gone. We will miss them, but not their constant harping on the belief that TEC, at least its leadership, is unChristian and unorthodox, and revisionists, and wrong, and destroying the church, and all that. They do not wish to be part of the Episcopal Church. OK, don't. But that is no reason why we ought to let you take the silver, the pews, the records, the inheritance, and oh yes, the name Anglican from us.
Still, if several African Provinces and the Province of the Southern Cone and a considerable crown of malcontents formerly of The Episcopal Church do snatch the name Anglican from under our nose, damn fool us. We can live with being fools. In the end perhaps the name Anglican will be inherited by people who never were English, don't speak English as their native tongue and who now have U.S. and Canadian branch offices of an Anglican Church that is neither Anglican or Episcopal but just sounds as if it is.
Wreckage in the fast lane, bubba. That's what we will see. And we will have to steer through it to the other side. "We are plowing North America, come blow your horn," to paraphrase Wallace Stephens. We are plowing new furrows in a new land and the present times loose their grip on self-importance. Time to move on. Nothing to see here. Move along.
ACNA will be a highly successful first beginnings of a world wide Anglican Church or it will be a wreck in the fast lane, or both. Since when did we think yet another world wide church was an improvement? No. Time to keep on keeping on. We will make whatever decisions we make at General Convention and live with them, but we need to face into the future, not the past.
(iv) The Archbishop of Canterbury will lead a study at one of the Eucharists during the General Convention. He has made no comment on Rwanda's announcement, or on ACNA , but has urged the churches to work on the Anglican Covenant proposal and to maintain the moratoria on rites of blessing and the consent to the ordination of gay bishops in relation. General Convention needs to make its own mind up and without his direction. No need to worry. When he is helpful he is immensely so, when he is not he is another ripple in the disorder of the times. We need to get about God's mission for this people.
(v) There is considerable grumbling about the legislative process getting swallowed up in the miseries of constant wrangling over B033 and the blessing of same sex relationships. People might do well to read the resources of Claiming the Blessing and THIS by Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton. So they are suggesting that we get over it and move on. Actually so is the Chicago Coalition and almost everyone else in the universe.
So the suggestion has been touted about that on the first day of Convention there might be a special order of business, vote the two propositions up or down, save the various committees and the whole Convention a heap of verbiage and get on with other business. All sorts of good, bad and ugly things might transpire from doing this sort of approach, but it has the distinctly 21st century sensibility to it that grows from a community of people who, while they gather at General Convention, actually have been in fairly deep contact over some considerable time. For them, and perhaps for many of us, the various takes on the issues have already been vetted. More talk is not better talk in this case. Let's just get on with the business of being a missionary church.
(vi) In the midst of being rocked about by all this, I was expressing my depression to my trainer today and she said, "well, everybody is nervous. The economy is belly up and people, even those not immediately touched, are anxious. These are anxious times." They are indeed. General Theological Seminary has done a good thing economically and the Chronicle of Higher Education has dumped on them. See the story HERE. Anxiety abounds.
Interestingly, in the various blogging about the Church, the new thingy that is ACNA, the array or disarray of the Church Center, the ecumenical doings, and even the Anglican Communion affairs almost no one is talking about the anxiety that is the product of these economic times. Sure, there is moaning about the legal costs of trying to retain property, title, and such things, there are cutbacks going on in Dioceses and parishes, and re-ordering of things at The Church Center. But very little about the anxiety that goes with the "whole picture." Our faith has something wonderful for us to bring to the anxiety. It is the message of Jesus on the troubled waters, "don't be afraid." Indeed not.
(vii) No one has raised yet (but we will) the fact that the anxiety in the US concerning the church related implications of the economy is only magnified for churches that we support elsewhere in the world. The dollar may not buy as much here, but there are some of them available. What about in Haiti or the Dominican Republic or Guatemala, or Liberia? We may suffer some, but it is hitting them even harder. It always does. So into the mix at General Convention somewhere we need to wonder if it is time to send help to the saints elsewhere, not from our surplus, but from our core, or perhaps coeur.
How do we send help? How do we say, "do not be afraid," and have it be more than hollow nice words? We will find a way. If not we will have missed it. And there is more... always more. But I am more and more convinced that the Situation is indeed excellent. The disorder gives us all sorts of opportunity to proclaim the Good News in Jesus Christ, to others, to ourselves, to the world. If we did not think so going to General Convention would be a waste.
Time to live into the disorder under Heaven, and the excellent Situation. For we are bound for Glory. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
The additional anxiety-producing thing is that the economic downturn and the stock-market drop are a one-two punch that is forcing parishes that were hanging on by a thread (or by their now-sharply reduced endowments) anyway to have to make some very unpleasant choices. Even dioceses (my own, Oregon, included) are having to sharply reduce staff as assessments drop sharply.ReplyDelete
I wish there was some way of reaching a divorce-like settlement with departing congregations, even to the point of selling the buildings they just vacated to them in exchange for cash to start new churches rather than engaging in legal wrangling over massive edifices that we can no longer support. What a great opportunity to start fresh in some places!
I like your story Mark, because it is my story, and it is our story.ReplyDelete
OK: A LIVE REPORT from Central America...I was in Guatemala City yesterday...the price of gasoline has gone up recently and the traffic has gone down...poor people, the vast majority of the 4 million plus, depend on public transportation...only, there is a problem, the bus drivers and their helpers are being shot dead in route while driving their routes...many of the passengers have been robbed, killed and/or brutalized.ReplyDelete
I just heard/viewed on NEWS tonight that 1,590 of these murders have occured because the drivers/helpers and passengers didn´t or couldn´t pay the extortion money, the police are overwhelmed and at a loss (often the case when they are not overwhelmed too as they are simply under prepared/skilled)...not to worry the Episcopal Cathedral of Santiago on Castellano looks all clean, pristine, trimmed out, locked up tight and hunkered down...no sense mixing with the rabble when there are 200+, and increasing, cases of Swine Flu about...and then there is the tragic news we received from the campo over a week ago. Our dear friend, and sometimes Pastor, Fr. Lorenzo, a Roman Catholic Americano, was gunned down in a car by bandits...it´s not safe to drive on the rural roads in the outlying Departments/States anymore...but then you probably know all about desperation, at least I think we ought know about it since our largest Diocese is Haiti!
I imagine you saw the International News regarding the death of brilliant/honorable Lic. Rodrigo Rosenberg in Guatemala a few weeks ago...he was gunned down while bicycling one sunny Sunday afternoon on a principal avenue in one of the wealthiest zones of their Capitol city...no place is safe. He left a ¨if I should be killed¨ video which named the names; Amongst the accused were the President and his wife.
Remittances (those are the U.S. dollars sent/wired back to poor relatives in Central America each month by their relatives working stateside) are off/down more, much more than 20%...there are few tourists (hard to imagine why) and the immigration offices remain empty...there are no lines, no enthusiastic new citizens wish to apply.
No lines at the gas stations, no lines at the mercados...the only lines often are following coffins down the street or waiting for handouts or first aid or overflowing Churches at Mass.
That´s what it looks like, the facts are mostly grim for the everyday folk... that´s how the third world recession/depression is ¨setting in¨ right here on the ground:
REAL PEOPLE, REAL SAINTS...The Rev. Lawrence Rosebaugh, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, worker amongst the poorest of the poor--murdered
·The Reverend Lawrence Rosebaugh·
When I read about the new Anglican Church of North America today and their busy little upcoming initiating ¨difference¨ Week at St. Vincents/Ft.Worth...I wanted to barf, I cringe with disbelief...these desperate blowhard jokers have been running around for years, running up great expenses, stealing stuff and damaging/slandering the reputations of their sisters and brothers at TEC and throughout the Anglican Communion...they have nothing to offer the a future thinker/believer when it comes to TRUSTING GOD and living a quality spiritfilled life within the confines of REALITY!
These fear/hate-mongers demonstrate little common sense or personal Integrity.
They live in their mitredup world of religious/righteous PRETEND!
Mark - "So they are suggesting that we get over it and move on. Actually so is the Chicago Coalition and almost everyone else in the universe." - you must live in a tiny little universe Mark, no wonder you sound so depressed.ReplyDelete
"In the end perhaps the name Anglican will be inherited by people who never were English, don't speak English as their native tongue" - I think that has already happened, as there are far more active Anglicans in non-English speaking countries than in the entire western world. But isn't that something to rejoice about rather than to get morbidly depressed or cynical about? Where in the Bible or the BCP does it say that all has to be said and done in English, or that only native English speaking people may use it? Besides, were you ever "English" yourself?. Your whole expression sounds like a very subtle form of racism to me, as if those who are not native English speaking people are not worthy to inherit the treasures of the Anglican tradition. I wonder what the world would be like if the Jews had kept Jesus all to themselves?
I expect the fantastical thinking and denial from 815 but not from you, Mark+. It will get worse, much worse. The trend is that losses are accelerating not leveling off. Over 50% of parishes have had conflict, most of it rated severe, over homosexual ordination, so let's blithely ignore that and plunge into the abyss. Wow.ReplyDelete
Let me address your numbered points:
i) I could not agree more about the "secret" tribunal. It evokes a big yawn. "Oh, yet another report? How quaint."
ii) The exit stage right of the convent is the end of Anglo-catholicism in the TEC. (Anglo-catholicism is more than thinking incense is "cool.") The evangelicals will soon be forced out by the innovations passed a GC. This will leave only liberals. The big tent becomes a pup-tent.
iii) The ACNA will accelerate the losses. Tom S+ strays from the party line and talks wishfully about splitting amicably. But kicking your first wife out on the streets for a hot new trophy wife isn't amicable, but that's what the "don't keep the candlesticks" talk is equivalent to. The public sees the vindictiveness of the TEC. The diocesan lawsuits will drag on for many years and will benefit the ACNA and significantly hurt the hurting TEC.
iv) The foreign interventions are coming to a halt. The SSUB's and more homosexual bishops are only beginning. Will Rowan intervene? Of course not.
v) I don't know whether the powers that be can avoid an appalling cat fight at GenCon. I somehow doubt it.
vi) Bp Wantland talked about the enormous funds in the hands of the TEC. Because of the economic downturn, those endowment principles are being burned through at a tremendous rate.
vii) You and I both have a heart for Haiti. It is going to be very bad for the Anglican churches there. Our church supported a church/school in Haiti with two major fundraisers. The vestry voted to redirect funds from both those fundraisers to the general funds.
Brian F...a number of Provinces avoided the use of the term "Anglican" in their titles for many years precisely because the word meant "English" and identifying with the English was identifying with the former colonial masters. Now the identification as "Anglican" is more often used as a way of expressing what is considered orthodoxy as opposed to those Episcopalians who are, you know, unChristian, heterodox and evil.ReplyDelete
You left off the close of the sentence, "and who now have U.S. and Canadian branch offices of an Anglican Church that is neither Anglican or Episcopal but just sounds as if it is."
I believe that ACNA will be the North American Province for a church that is neither Anglican or Episcopal... but they will carry the title Anglican.
Your comment about my living in a tiny little universe is, well, misplaced. You have no idea the universe I live in.
As to my being racist, I will ponder that. Every charge of racism must be taken seriously, and the first part of that is to accept that it may be true.
Leonardo Ricardo... powerful. Thank you for writing.ReplyDelete
Mark - I thought you and I lived in the same universe, so I was surprised when you said almost the whole universe is exhorting ECUSA to move on from B033, where in reality I'm sure that the Vatican and the Eastern Orthodox churches and the majority of Anglicans would exhort ECUSA to hold fast on B033. Unless of course you were referring to the 0.5% of the world's population which identify as homosexual, which is hardly a universe.ReplyDelete
I did not mean to accuse you of being racist, but there was something unpleasant about your observation of non-English speaking people bearing the name of Anglican, unless I have misunderstood you. The Anglican heritage is thoroughly orthodox and reformed from the old Roman Catholicism, judging from the writings and legacy of Abp Thomas Cranmer, and ACNA stands firmly in that theological tradition, so why should it not bear the word "Anglican" in its name.
Hope you have a great Sunday.
Mark, thanks for putting into words some of the greyness that I have felt but have been unable to express.ReplyDelete
I am with Leonardo, wondering how what economic anxiety we feel up here is going to affect our sisters and brothers in my favourite neck of the woods, El Salvador and IARCA. My congregation still has room to cut back; my friends in IARCA wonder if this is their end.
I do not know if this counts, or is even on target but two quick quotes:
Micah 6:8 "this is what Yahweh asks of you:
only this, to act justly,
to love tenderly
and to walk humbly with your God."
And the other one is from Matthew (my favorite) 14:28b-32 "It was Peter who answered 'Lord', he said, if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.' 'Come', said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking toward Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. 'Lord, save me!', he cried. Jesus put his hand out at once and held him. 'Man of little faith', he said, 'why did you doubt?'
(Shessh, promised myself I wouldn't do this.)
My fear is that GC will once again be a waffle trying to be a fudge. If you keep trying to make the haters happy you will achieve nothing. Sometimes conflict avoidance is not merely wrong it is evil.ReplyDelete
I suppose my blogs have been rather negative too. I see the HoB's star chamber and the PB's obvious attempt to do the Rowan push--off as signs of evil coming. I should be happy to be wrong.
It is shameful that we are engaged in this stalling and yet we see Guatemala coming apart, genocide in Sudan, starvation in Haitia and prelates running around looking for fancier dresses!
How the HoB justifies trying to punch its ticket on the backs of the baptized while CANA pretends it is about anything beyond power is a mystery.
And then we have the newest version of the big lie! "Foriegn Ineterventions are coming to an end." Somehow CANA wont be foreign because it has a home-grown dear leader? Of course no one in the Anglican community will recognize it except the interventionists, but hey, it wont be foreign. I understand this is a family blog so I wont call that what it is. Besides the bull might object to the association!
Regarding your comments about the African Anglicans and Bishops, I would offer the following. It's from holy scripture. Hope that's o.k.ReplyDelete
1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?
8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.
If you keep trying to make the haters happy you will achieve nothing.ReplyDelete
I think "progressives" need to be careful about how we apply the term "the haters" to people with whom we disagree. Certainly, there ARE "haters" out there, appropriately so-designated. But there are also many "conservatives" who feel strongly about their committments, and who are willing to struggle for them. I'd hate to write them off with the label "haters," and I really would like to see a way for us to continue to hold together... and that will mean some compromise (from both "sides" ... and there really are not just two "sides").
I am curious as to where the people of the newly formed ACNA are to go? Are we to go to churches that tell us homosexuality is acceptable and that "sin" is merely not loving the god inside you? Are we to go to a church that has people in leadership who have preached and crusaded for unfettered abortion rights and a myriad of other liberal social causes in the last 20 years? Where are we to go when the head of TEC has stated that Jesus IS NOT THE ONLY WAY? I'm curious as to where you think we (those "separatist conservatives") should go when we (theological conservative) have been ignored, ousted and left without ANY real say within TEC? We aren't welcome. We haven't been for quite some time so I ask you again: where do we go? If not to form our own ACNA then where?ReplyDelete
If the hierarchy continues to ordain practicing homosexuals, continues to devalue the Lordship of Christ, continues to espouse liberal "inclusive" theology then we who hold that Christ IS Lord. Is the WAY the Truth and the Light. Is fully God and fully Man...we'll find another place to worship. We have and it is in no way a power struggle. How easy it is to label those of us who have left as being in it for "power". We left because we believe in the foundations of our Faith and won't stand by while groups of people systematically attempt to destroy it.
First, JoshuaP, in John 14:6, Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE" (not "Light"). It's odd (and a little disappointing) that a "liberal" should have to point out the correct words to you.ReplyDelete
Anyway, I note that in both of your paragraphs homosexuality heads the list. That's clearly the issue for you, as it clearly is for nearly everyone else who is leaving the Episcopal Church. For you, there is clearly no room for compromise, no room for agreeing-to-disagree on this issue. You must have your own way on this, or (unlike the "liberals" who worked faithfully within the church for decades to change things) you will leave. I for one, as a gay man saved by grace, and who is not ashames to call Jesus my Lord and Savior, am sad you won't be in the same church with me, that you won't walk with me in my walk of faith. But... so be it....
But, if you go, you cannot take what generations of EPISCOPLIANS built with you, and you cannot seek to displace or replace TEC in the Anglican Communion.
If this really is about faithfulness and not power, then just don't do that, and we'll only wish you God's blessing... and we'll keep the doors unlocked and the porchlight on should you ever decide to come home. You'll be welcomed then and embraced.
By the way... Fr. Mark's comment about being in things for power wasn't directed at ordinary believers like you anyway. It was directed at your leaders, who are using your upset to further their own goals. What price are you paying so Bob Duncan can be an archbishop?
Your reply does not actually answer JoshuaP’s points.
You are basically telling him that he ought not to feel as displaced as he does, and that dismisses his concerns.
Listening cuts both ways.
I don’t agree with a single point JoshuaP makes, but when I read his post I can see a deeply troubled man who finds that all around him things he used to depend on are disappearing into a sea of thought and principles he doesn’t understand.
And he asks where else he should go but ACNA.
If a person feels like JoshuaP does – and let’s please be clear: these feelings are as genuine and as valid as ours are – he does indeed feel deeply threatened and dislocated by current church politics, just as we do. But we know that, ultimately, times and the church will go our way.
JoshuaP is right. There is nowhere else that represents his thoughts and fears other than ACNA. From his point of view, it’s the only place he can go.
I believe he’s wrong in his fears and in his conclusion. But accepting that that is where he is right now, he really does need to go with ACNA.
Thank God there is a place where people like him can feel welcome and accepted. Or would you really be happy if he and those who feel (not think, but deeply feel! like him) had nowhere at all to go?
I just can't help chuckling when someone still uses the term "practicing homosexual" - it so reminds me of Archie Bunker talking about "colored folk."ReplyDelete
I'm not a practicing homosexual - I don't have to practice, I'm good at it.
Joshua P, "we who hold that Christ IS Lord. Is the WAY the Truth and the Light. Is fully God and fully Man"ReplyDelete
Those leaving are not the only Anglicans who believe this. I'm sure if you listened to enough "Libruls," you would find many who believe essentially what you stated about Christ.
Reading the posts here (and of late brings to mind this quip:
Just because your paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get you.
I walked away, did some constructive work and thought about your remarks...frankly, dear Joshua I find you beyond selfish and truly a sad case. Let me explain to you that in the WORLD around you, you will find, yes, sitting next to you often at Church (for ALL of our lives) people who believe differently than you do about various topics, canons, morals and everyday standards for ¨being¨ a full-fledged Christian human being.
I´ve particularly disliked listening to pious seekers of light who think that everyone else in the world is DIM or operating in the DARK!
Note this Joshua P. You are not the center of the UNIVERSE. You are simply one more person seeking Gods ¨will¨...most have us have been with you on this journey ALL OF OUR, that OUR is meant to include you and me, LIVES! We didn´t just fall-into families, friendships and intimacies...like you, we have BEEN FULLY PRESENT ALL ALONG! The devil didn´t just initiate a crash course in RAMPANT SEXUALITY...in fact, the devil has just as much interest in YOU as ME...I promise, we´re together in this thing called Christianity at the body of Christ...we always have been, but, suddenly OUR FELLOWSHIP isn´t holy enough for you? Sorry, no sale! Go forward in peace and see if you can find the ¨right sort¨ of Christians to worship with...whimper no longer, perfection is near.
Keep gripping your gold and silver, property, and all other material possessions, after all, that is what you worship. In all candor, your peevish rant proves that you do not know Christ.ReplyDelete
Jenny P. Who are you addressing?ReplyDelete
I think Jenny wrote the opening hymn for the church of the Chapman memo!ReplyDelete
William (if Fr. Mark permits me) I certainly do not think all conservatives are hateful. But(!) not all conservatives are involved in the ongoing attempts to use the threat of schism as a lever to extort.
ACNA, has posted the dioceses;ReplyDelete
Hi Mark--look, I think your essay did a great job of working through some very depressing issues and coming through with the rousing chorus of "The Light of Christ!" "Thanks be to God!", thus pointing the way for meaningful action and decisionmaking at the GC. Good on you!! Instead of giving in, giving up, pointing fingers, girding one's self for war, or other metaphors, you maintain the focus on Christ's love, grace, and mission. Can't argue with that.ReplyDelete
P.S. Love love love that interchange from Doonesbury. That was always one of my favorites!!! That, and "I spent 45 minutes talking on BALLBEARINGS?" when he first met Honey and she was translating his speech to some Chinese audience. ::chuckle::ReplyDelete
According to Bp Cavalacanti, in the four years since his Diocese left the Brazilian church, they have doubled the number of members, clergy and churches and have about 100 people pursuing seminary training. Just perhaps they they have somehting to "offer the a future thinker/believer when it comes to TRUSTING GOD and living a quality spiritfilled life within the confines of REALITY."ReplyDelete