March 21, 2007

That's My Church! **BUMPED AND UPDATED**


A fascinating interview with the Rev. Mark Lawrence, the conservative Bishop-elect of South Carolina whose confirmation to the post recently was railroaded by the Lefties. (So much for inclusiveness, by the bye.) He absolutely nails the current dynamic of the ECUSA:

Greg Griffith: Soon after your election, talk started circulating about the possibility of your not getting consent. A few influential conservative leaders speculated that should that happen, it might hasten a communion-wide split, because it would so clearly and finally signal to the rest of the communion that there’s no longer any place for traditional Anglicans in the Episcopal Church, that orthodox primates would throw up their hands and say there’s no hope of rescuing it.

Mark Lawrence: I think the jury is still out on that one. What has been going on in the Episcopal Church, let’s say for the past 25 years - we can go back further if you want, but for the last 25 years - in my opinion, a radical group in the Episcopal Church has been pushing an agenda, it is essentially a political agenda, a social justice agenda. And the sad thing is that because they’ve always framed it as social justice, it has hindered the debate that needs to take place over the teachings of Scripture, the nature of a human being, and all sorts of other things.

For the most part, those of us in the orthodox camp have been pastoring our churches, preaching the Gospel, trying to grow our congregations, and ignoring the political issue at hand until, in recent years, in successive General Conventions, even before ‘03 and ‘06 certainly, but ‘03 and ‘06 galvanized the orthodox in a way that they weren’t before. Anyway, in the orthodox camp - what I’d call mainstream Anglicanism in the Episcopal Church in the United States - we began to see that we had better enter into the political debate. That, then, began a polarization within the Episcopal Church between what some call the left and others call the right, whether one wants to call it - progressive or reappraising, reassertive, all sorts of those terms, it doesn’t matter, we all know who the players are - that has grown so polarized that the broad middle has become very uncomfortable, many of them have chosen to put their heads deep in the sand. Others have chosen to say, “You know, I wish these people wouldn’t fight so much.”

Until the primates communique, it was mostly those in the orthodox camp who talked about leaving, or who did leave. The dynamics have been like a dysfunctional family - where two members are quibbling with each other and the others don’t want to get involved in the quibbling - when Mom says, “I can’t take Dad’s abuse anymore,” and the children turn on Mom and say, “Mom, why are you ruining our family?” Now, the problem is, anyone who stands up to those in the radical camp, those who are pushing this political agenda, are immediately called homophobic, bigots, reactionary, and whatnot. Nobody in their right mind wants to be called homophobic, bigoted, or reactionary. I understand that. And so the broad middle have not gotten involved very much, and when they have, they’ve blamed those of us on the orthodox side who say, “We can’t take it anymore. We’re leaving."

I see this all the time in my own parish, which is pretty evenly split politically, with a vast, mushy middle that heretofor has taken the Uncle Owen approach (i.e., "It's all such a long way from here.") However, I frankly think the ECUSA has reached (or will shortly reach) the point where these folks can no longer hide and hope everything will just go away.

Given this, I and a few friends have been noodling ways to educate and inform, as they like to say. (What's the point of being on an Adult Education Committee if you're not going to do some educating?) We're thinking of small, lay-led discussion groups, environments in which people can sit down and air their opinions in a non-threatening environment. (What's the point of having been trained as a Disciples of Christ in Community facilitator if you're not going to do some facilitating?) This would be coupled with extensive reading materials covering all sides of the debates swirling within the church.

As I say, the goal here is education, not advocacy. My main concern is that people don't have any idea what's going on, or that what they do know is simply the party line being fed to them from the top. If, in the end, they wish to go along with Her Presiding Bishopressness and the left wing, well, that's their decision. But they at least ought to know exactly what it is they're buying.

Yips! to the latest Carnival of the Anglican Implosion over at the WebElf Report.

UPDATE: Yikes! This is what happens when I don't check all my sources. As Pnut Queen notes in the comments, events seem to be overtaking opinion here as the Palie Bishops tell Canterbury to go pound sand. Well, so much for long term educational plans....

UPDATE DEUX: When the story makes the AP,you know it's big.

Posted by Robert at March 21, 2007 06:00 PM | TrackBack

Lawdy, Robbo--you'd better get moving. I'm not sure there's time for discussion groups. Did you see the report out today (March 21)? TEC bishops have thumbed their noses at +Canterbury; told him to take his little church and go elsewhere, that Episcopals in the US will do as they please. I weep for our church.

Posted by: pnutqueen at March 21, 2007 04:14 PM

Robbo, I think this is big. Real big.

Remember, if the gay bishops are a no-no theologically, then so are the female ones.

Posted by: Mrs. Peperium at March 21, 2007 05:21 PM

As I read it, TEC has said:

1. "We're going to keep ordaining openly gay (i.e., non-celibate) priests and bishops", and

2. "We reject alternative primatial oversight for conservative dioceses".

In other words, they are pretty much forcing the Anglican communion to throw them out, and plan to sue the hell out of anyone who tries to leave them. Schism for me but not for thee. They'll be happy with the 60% of the church that stays behind if it is ideologically "pure" as long as they get to keep all the nifty buildings.

I think they underestimate Bishop Akinola. He isn't just going to go away because they wish he would; Akinola will start creating bishops and will start unifying the conservative dioceses and the Continuing Anglican Movement folks. If he does that, I think in ten years, he'll have an American Anglican church under his control that will be bigger than TEC.

TEC also seems to think that once they take this stand, their problems are over. They're wrong. They're just beginning. If you throw out Scripture and Tradition, all you're left with is Reason. And the second someone else's Reason differs from yours, there's no argument you can make that will persuade them, as you have thrown out the other two things that combine to make a coherent, immutable, revealed faith.

In a generation, it'll just be vestments and buildings keeping TEC together.

Posted by: The Colossus at March 21, 2007 07:49 PM

The AP story says that the EUSA covers a "large part" of the Anglican budget. Interesting.

So the Anglicans through the US church out, and buy a whole budget crisis. No wonder Canterbury has been trying to negotiate a compromise.

Posted by: Zendo Deb at March 21, 2007 08:53 PM

(I'm surprised that the negotiations have been this drawn out.....)

So what's your best guess as to what happens next?

Posted by: Zendo Deb at March 21, 2007 08:55 PM

The Archbishop of Canterbury suffers a nervous breakdown, thinks he's a canary and breaks a leg while trying perch on the chair rail of the dining room at Lambeth Palace...

Posted by: Mrs. Peperium at March 22, 2007 05:53 AM