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[REPOST] Tone Changes, Category Shifts, Golden Days, & Closed-Lipped Smiles

Saturday, September 22, 2007 • 10:59 am

[Warning: A Typically Long Article Ahead—do not read if you have a phobia against long articles]

The previous section of this essay has been a flying trip around the events of the past year, and I think it is fairly safe to say that, with each passing individual bishop’s, council’s, HOB meeting’s, and chancellor’s statements and resolutions, any fears of fudginess are now lessening by the day.  There is little doubt that a radical shift in tone, rhetoric, and action has taken place in the 12 months since General Convention’s last gasp at vague institutionally-safe rhetoric.

The question is . . . what does this massive shift mean?  And why did it occur so dramatically and suddenly?


[NOTE: I am reposting this article, as it analyzes the divide that we will see played out over the next several days amongst our Worthy Opponents here at the House of Bishops meeting.  The question is . . . which part of the divide has the majority amongst the progressives in the House?  There will be a number of negotiations over this weekend, as the ideological progressives desire a “full steam ahead” approach—“we’ve already told them where we stand, let’s just say it louder”—and the institutional progressives desire some sort of “compromise reprise of what was offered at GC 2006” in the hopes of salvaging the institution.  Of course, the same divide exists amongst the much much smaller traditional wing of the House—but I believe that divide gets far more attention than it probably deserves, especially as even all combined, their numbers are so much smaller.]

For some time now I’ve been pondering something—a sort of structural analysis—that might be fruitful to spell out for readers regarding our Worthy Opponents.  To articulate it requires quite a bit of background though, so this is a lengthy article.  But I think StandFirm readers will profit from exploring the state of our Worthy Opponents from General Convention onwards to today.

A Look Back At GC2006

It has now been slightly more than a year since so many of us—either virtually or physically—prowled the halls of General Convention 2006 and I think it is instructive to review the past 12 months from a distant perspective.

You may recall the final 24 hours in which our Worthy Opponents—or at least a portion of them—attempted to pass a Spectacularly Opaque Blurry Confusing Open-To-Interpretation Resolution called A161 that, depending on how cloudy the day was, and the angle of your gaze, and the prescription of your lenses was either blurrily and vaguely and somewhat in favor of the Windsor Report’s requests . . . or not.

After that resolution’s dramatic defeat—and by a wide enough margin that indicated that, regardless of the vote by orders, the mind of the house of deputies was quite clearly opposed—the House of Bishops bestirred themselves, introduced a second resolution, riddled their debating chamber with purported violations of Roberts Rules [not uncommon, it seems, for the General Convention], and then marched downstairs to the House of Deputies to set all of the lay and clergy deputies straight.  New PB Jefferts Schori, along with Bishop Griswold and various other apparatchiks made their speeches, with Bishop Griswold having previously informed his peers in the House of Bishops that “Hopefully we can maneuver through this in a way that does not make us victims. Frankly of we are not finished by lunch we will have nothing. And frankly if we have nothing we will likely not be invited to lambeth”, and the House of Deputies—despite having no possibility of invitations to Lambeth in their bleak future—approved the resolution, B033.

All of that failed effort aside—[since the actually approved resolution was simply not enough of an assurance for the Communion as a whole]—the General Convention deputies, media, and bloggers staggered home, there to write angry letters to the editor and parish newsletter articles, denouncing the various factions that they had observed at the Convention—as if, somehow, there had never been factions at prior conventions.

A Brief Structural Analysis of US

Since that convention, much has been made over the divide between the “Federal” Conservatives and the “Communion” Conservatives.  Federal Conservatives are able to conceive of a unified, orthodox Anglican entity without being a formal part of the Anglican Communion [although they certainly do not reject participation in certain individual provinces of that communion].  Communion Conservatives prefer to organize around the Communion, first, and have little hope that a unified, orthodox Anglican entity could survive outside of that “center that holds”.  There is even a third category of “Conservative” that I will here name an “Institutional Conservative”—with the institution that is thought worth preserving being the Episcopal church.  Institutional Conservatives grant that the Episcopal church has slipped into radical heresy of first order theology—but believe that time is on the side of Conservatives.  They might be called by my former category description of “Trusting Conservatives” but whatever the name, that is how I break down the conservative side.

In the middle, of course, are the uninformed, parochial, and often oblivious “Beloved Moderates”—still some of them limping along, hoping that things will work out if they are just quiet enough and oblivious enough.

Much has been made of those divisions—and indeed they exist.  But progressives have made several immense errors with regard to the importance of the differences between Federal and Communion conservatives, in particular.  First, there is the “values and personality” difference between progressives and traditionalists that revisionists simply cannot comprehend and which causes them to seriously misread the divisions amongst traditionalists.  There simply does not appear to be as much love of debate over ideas amongst revisionists.  I suspect that in part this is due to their basic attitude towards theology, which seems to be “whatever”, except when coupled with their desire to co-opt what they can of the tradition to serve their own goals of dismantling any authority structures other than their own.  But argument about ideas—rather than a public exploration of one’s Deep Wounded Places and Feelings—does not appear to be a real pleasure for progressives.

It is, however, an immense pleasure for traditionalists—in fact, it is one of our private hobbies.

The game of politics is a hobby for many progressives.  The game of argument over ideas is a hobby for many traditionalists.

Furthermore, when Federal and Communion conservatives debate over their important differences, both sides still acknowledge the other as believing the same gospel, overall . . . which, in fact, is the reason why the debate can take place at all.

The reason why there is so little real debate between traditionalists and progressives—other than that progressives don’t enjoy such debate—is because both sides recognize that the other does not believe in the same gospel—and thus does not begin with the same words, definitions, key assumptions, foundational principles, values, goals, or pretty much anything that makes meaningful debate possible.

The progressives further mistake the arguments between Federals and Communions as deep division over First Things, when in fact they are not.  This is in part our own fault, due to the intensity, verbosity, and number of public debates that we have.  But the truth is, we share the same gospel, the same essential Anglican ethos, and the same foundational theology.  The truth is that, if there were a communion solution that satisfied the need for boundaries and discipline, both Federal and Communion conservatives who are in ECUSA would happily settle down together in the common mission of the gospel, despite what many progressive activists prefer to predict and may even believe.

I am reminded of my conversations with my fellow politically conservative friends over supper, coffee, and television.  One would think by the raised voices, stabbing fingers, slitted eyes, volumes of words, and intense glares, that we were mortal enemies.  Instead, we are indulging in light verbal swordplay, and learning by guaging our own arguments against another whom we respect.  And I know and they know that all of us want a limited state power, freedom for the individual, an established rule of law and private property, and economic freedom of trade.  In short, we have a common value system that allows for spirited and substantive debate. And . . . moments after we’ve closed debate, my friend buys my meal, we drive away in the same car together, and go hiking, free as birds and full of spirited fun.

I can assure you that the same can be said for my debates with my various Anglican traditional friends—same raised voices, stabbing fingers, slitted eyes, volumes of words, and intense glares . . . . same suppers, laughter, shared rides, and common foundational principles.

All of the above being said, I did not begin this article with the objective of writing about our own divisions—divisions over which much ink has been spilt by our side, and much hopeful fantasizing has been accomplished by the other side.

No, what I want to point out is one central fact that nobody that I know has written about yet.  And it points to the beginning of the structural analysis of our Worthy Opponents over the past 12 months.

The One Thing So Many Of Us Have Missed

Here is the Main “Clew” that points us in the right direction.  Mark it well.

Since the Windsor resolution skirmishes of General Convention, there has not been one fudgy, oblique, vague, confusing resolution, pronouncement, or letter from our national leadership bodies—Executive Council or the House of Bishops, not to mention the interviews of the HOD president or the Presiding Bishop—that has reached the public eye.

No, far from fudge, the House of Bishops stamped on the last communique from the Primates and ground it into a fine powder.  The Executive Council has done the same.  The letters from Jefferts Schori’s chancellor, from the President of the House of Deputies—all crystal clear screams of defiance.


A Flying Tour Around the ECUSA of the Past Year

Let me just demonstrate with a few choice examples from the past 12 months of non-fudginess.

There is Bonnie Anderson’s [President of the House of Deputies] letter to the Panel of Reference in response to their Fort Worth decision:

“I respectfully request that the panel acknowledge that lack of full understanding of the polity of The Episcopal Church may have resulted in recommendations by the panel that would be antithetical to our polity and therefore not appropriate.

I further request that future bodies charged to make recommendations to the Archbishop of Canterbury on any topics that have to do directly with a particular province of the Anglican Communion, have adequate representation from the province directly affected by the recommendations of the panel. I would also ask for clarification of the process by which submissions to the panel of reference are investigated and researched.

While understanding the difficult work and honorable intent of the panel, I pray that the Archbishop of Canterbury will understand that the recommendations made by the panel are incongruent with Episcopal Church polity and therefore inappropriate for implementation.”

Then, there is this letter from the Bishop of Bethlehem, to his peers in the House of Bishops, about the Archbishop of Canterbury:

“All of this said, it seems necessary to report my perception that the nadir in Rowan’s overall relationship to the US, Canada and perhaps South Africa has been the appointment of a virtual lynch mob to draft the Covenant that will by all reports attempt turn a fellowship into a curial bureaucracy in which the worst elements of the great and oppressive Colonizer and of the Resentful Colonized will as meet as a scissors to the denigration of significant number of God’s people who were almost equal in Christ for one brief shining moment. Are North America, South Africa and many other parts of the Communion (not to mention “much cattle”) of such little value in the grand scheme? Does anyone think that the COE itself will not split if a continent and a half are among those permitted to be set adrift?

So we must always talk about him, not to or with him. Like so many of you, I have been disheartened by the succession of “second gentlemen” from the COE who have addressed our House in Rowan’s stead while over-insisting that that they were not at all doing so. No bishop of the left, right, or center, was taken in, and our colleague from Missouri pointed this out on one occasion with deft words that the Sage of Hannibal, MO, himself would envy. Even our steadfastly bucolic local papers here in rustic Pennsylvania would not be deceived by such over-wrought protestations of mere coincidence or fortuitous invitation. By these speakers, one of whom just happened to have a specific list of a dozen or so things we had to do, all but the most anxious of us have been inevitably alienated. How can it help bonds of affection for Communion leadership to so overtly and maladroitly play us for chumps? There is a kind of contempt for our intellect there whose sting almost matches the pain of the overall strategy of isolation.

Having now had three successive messages delivered to us by what some UK friends describe as “fully accredited members of the British Olympic Patronizing Team,” I take this (perhaps not entirely welcome to her) opportunity to thank Katharine for her outstanding integrity and clarity of focus since her election, and accordingly to urge her that no foreign bishop whatsoever be given the privilege of addressing the House of Bishops of this Church until the ABC can personally enter this country and speak to the House himself and deign to entertain the level of frank questioning that his counterpart the Prime Minister might have to endure among those he leads and serves. We all do get cable news and know what the wonderful British tradition of questioning in the house can helpfully add to common life.”

Setting aside the swollen, verbose pretentiousness of the prose, I sense little vagueness in that letter.

There is this letter from our Beloved National Church Chancellor:

“Several persons have told me recently that they believe that your diocese, within the past few or several years, has amended its Constitution in some way that can be read as cutting against an “unqualified accession” to the Constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church. First of all, could you please send me a copy of your Constitution so that I can have first-hand knowledge on this score.

Second, if your diocese has indeed adopted such an amendment, then, on behalf of the Presiding Bishop, I want to express the hope that your diocese will promptly begin the process of amending its Constitution to declare clearly an “unqualified accession” as Article V of the Church’s Constitution plainly requires. If your diocese should decline to take that step, the Presiding Bishop will have to consider what sort of action she must take in order to bring your diocese into compliance.”

There is the interesting decision by the Diocese of Virginia not to negotiate agreements regarding property, as had been its stated intention in earlier years:

“Hopes for a peaceful settlement between the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and nine breakaway congregations suffered a blow yesterday when the diocese announced it would not renew a mutual promise to avoid litigation over property.

Attorneys for the two sides have met once since the majority of members at the nine congregations voted last month to leave the Episcopal Church, which they think has strayed seriously from Scripture on such issues as homosexuality and the role of Jesus in salvation. Both sides had also agreed after the votes to honor a 30-day “standstill” period for discussions, during which no one would initiate a lawsuit.

The standstill would have automatically renewed for another 30 days if neither party opted not to renew.”

There is this courteous letter from the Bishop of Maryland, Robert Ihloff:

“It is with sadness that I need to rescind my invitation to you to be with us in late March into early April, 2007. Yesterday I learned you were one of seven primates who have boycotted the Eucharist at the Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam, and +Peter Akinola’s statement on behalf of the seven of you is in all the newspapers. I have received a number of emails from clergy in this Diocese expressing their disapproval of your action. The Diocesan Council met today and agrees that you cannot be welcomed in Maryland under the circumstances. For my own part, I am disappointed you would use the Holy Sacrament of our Lord’s Body and Blood as a political tool—I had assumed you sacramental theology was more thoroughly Anglican. Mostly I am sorry after so many years to end our personal relationship on this note.

It is obvious to everyone here that it would now be completely inappropriate for you to celebrate the Eucharist at our Cathedral on Palm Sunday. Surely, many parishioners would protest you visit by not receiving Communion from you. Since I do not allow such behavior in this Diocese, I cannot encourage it by your presence. Clearly it would be inappropriate for you to preach Tuesday in Holy Week to a combined group of Lutheran and Episcopal clergy, since you do not even share Communion with other Anglicans. Finally, it is sadly clear to Nancy and me that your presence at my retirement celebration is out of order as well.”

Then, there is this communication from the Bishop of Florida, John Howard, regarding the Panel of Reference decision concerning his diocese:

“Until Fr. Lebhar and his parishioners are willing to be in communion with the Diocese of Florida and The Episcopal Church, they remain by their own choice outside the Church and we see no point at this time in discussing further implementation of the panel’s recommendation.”

We have so many other actions, letters, resolutions, and statements—too many to choose from, in fact.

We have the fulminations—now weekly and too many to count—against Archbishop Akinola.  We have the denial of consent by numerous Standing Committees—for the first time in 70 years—of an overwhelmingly elected bishop of South Carolina, due entirely to his orthodox theology and resistance to the agenda of the national leadership of our church.  Rounding third base in our breezy tour of the past year, we have this communication by way of a Mind of the House resolution from the House of Bishops to the Primates:

“Resolved, the House of Bishops believes the proposed Pastoral Scheme of the Dar es Salaam Communiqué of February 19, 2007 would be injurious to The Episcopal Church and urges that the Executive Council decline to participate in it;”

In addition, the meeting of the House of Bishops produced this somewhat grandiose, and again, rhetorically swollen statement, from which it is fruitful—just as a reminder—to quote several passages.

There is this one:

“We have no intention of choosing to withdraw from our commitments, our relationships, or our own recognition of our full communion with the See of Canterbury or any of the other constituent members of the Anglican Communion.

And this one:

“Other Anglican bishops, indeed including some Primates, have violated our provincial boundaries and caused great suffering and contributed immeasurably to our difficulties in solving our problems and in attempting to communicate for ourselves with our Anglican brothers and sisters. .  . The Dar es Salaam Communiqué affirms the principle that boundary violations are impermissible, but then sets conditions for ending those violations, conditions that are simply impossible for us to meet without calling a special meeting of our General Convention.”

And this one:

“And, contrary to the way the Anglican Communion Network and the American Anglican Council have represented us, we proclaim a Gospel that welcomes diversity of thought and encourages free and open theological debate as a way of seeking God’s truth. If that means that others reject us and communion with us, as some have already done, we must with great regret and sorrow accept their decision.”

And this one:

“With great hope that we will continue to be welcome in the councils of the family of Churches we know as the Anglican Communion, we believe that to participate in the Primates’ Pastoral scheme would be injurious to The Episcopal Church for many reasons.”

The last echoes of verbosity had barely died away when we were treated to the Executive Council’s meeting—and its communication:

“We have received from the House of Bishops of our Church a request to decline to participate in the proposed Pastoral Scheme; with an explanation for the reasons our bishops believe that the scheme is ill-advised. We agree with the bishops’ assessment including the conclusion that to participate in the scheme would violate our Constitution and Canons. We thus decline to participate in the Pastoral Scheme and respectfully ask our Presiding Bishop not to take any of the actions asked of her by this scheme.”

The previous section of this essay has been a flying trip around the events of the past year, and I think it is fairly safe to say that, with each passing individual bishop’s, council’s, HOB meeting’s, and chancellor’s statements and resolutions, any fears of fudginess are now lessening by the day.  There is little doubt that a radical shift in tone, rhetoric, and action has taken place in the 12 months since General Convention’s last gasp at vague institutionally-safe rhetoric.

The question is . . . what does this massive shift mean?  And why did it occur so dramatically and suddenly?

I have some ideas on that.


The Categories of Worthy Opponents and How They’ve Evolved—Church Demographics

First of all, just a bit about church demographics, set in a broader context.  We live in what is overall a conservative country, with the vast majority of the Christian religion residing in the Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist denominations.  By conservative I mean, for now, people who hold traditional values around the nature of the family, sexual morality, and hosts of other values.  We know this using many qualitative and amusing measures [not merely intuitively] including the popularity of NASCAR, the rise of alternative media in cable, radio, and cyberspace despite the state’s support of NPR, the plummeting measures of support for abortion, the overwhelming popular support for marriage amendments in states, and the attempted co-option of the rhetoric of the “values conservatives” by liberals [and here again, I am not speaking of political parties here].  Once a conservative term is shown to be mightily descriptive of the desires of most Americansm, progressives of all sorts attempt to use that term, while at the same time evacuating it of its original meaning.  The term “family values” is of course Exhibit A.

Set in this context is the Episcopal church.  To its left are the MCC and the Unitarian churches.  To its right are, frankly, all other Christian churches.  So the challenge for the leadership of the Episcopal church is to scoop up 1) all ardent progressives with 2) the faintest interest in a Christianese religion, 3) and some attraction towards formal liturgy.

That is not, in the US, a very large demographic pool from which to grow.

The end result of this “target market” of vaguely religious, somewhat liturgically interested progressives is some fairly nice-sized [by Episcopal standards anyway] churches in large urban west-coast or New England regions.

This is compounded by the fact that, shockingly, most Christians are far far far far to the conservative end of the radical progressivism that is now leading the Episcopal church.  So we have, oddly, a small crew of radical progressives at the helm, attempting to lead a church institution whose main religious attraction is amongst conservatives.

We know also something else about the Episcopal church.  We know that most of the laypeople are moderately traditional to quite traditional, save of course in those large urban west-coast and New England states.  This is born out in many ways, from the size of the Plano conferences to [ahem] the size of the “National Gathering of The Episcopal Majority”, from the blog traffic of, oh, say T19 to that of Episcopal Cafe or Father Jake Stops the World.

It is born out by the interesting size of the largest progressive lobbying group in ECUSA—Integrity, which according to Louie Crew had about 1200 members and chapters in 1984, 2500 members and 75 chapters [Note: a chapter must have at least 10 Integrity members] in 1994, and today has about 55 chapters and about 2000 members.  Of those chapters, five are in California, two in the state of Washington, three in Colorado [yes, that’s three chapters in one diocese], three in Texas, three in Ohio, and four in Florida [and three of those four are in the Diocese of SE Florida].  I don’t take all that seriously the fluctuating numbers—but, essentially, this is the pool of progressive activists built up in the Episcopal church over the past 34 years.  That’s . . . 34 years.

It is born out when one notices a very strange fact—that whether one is referring to Claiming the Blessing, Oasis, Every Voice Network, Via Media, Integrity, Episcopal Women’s Caucus, or the Episcopal Majority . . . it’s always the same 300 Episcopalians rotated about from organization to organization.

And of course, there is the Kirk Hadaway research from the research office of our national Episcopal church.  About 8% of the surveyed Episcopal parishes self-reported that a majority of their members are “predominantly liberal”, 18%—more than double—of the parishes self-reported that a majority of their members are “predominantly conservative”.  The numbers “toward the middle” are closer.  22% of parishes reported that the majority of their members were “somewhat liberal”, and 25% that the majority of their members were “somewhat conservative”.  In the famed “middle” were 27% of the parishes.

This bears out my general surmise, based on observation, travel, anecdote, and smatterings of quantitative research like the Hadaway reports.  My suspicion is that some 10% of Episcopalians are “madly progressive”, and some 20% of Episcopalians are “wildly traditional” [like me].  The rest spread out over the spectrum.  When adding together the somewhat and predominantly conservative parishes in the Hadaway research, we reach a number of 43%, and for the somewhat and predominantly liberal we reach 30%.

Even if—by some quantitative survey of every active member of ECUSA—my surmise on the actual numbers in ECUSA were proven to be true, however, that is essentially meaningless in terms of political power.  Recall that I pointed out that the same 300 progressive leaders rotated about from liberal organization to liberal organization.  It should be deeply convicting to reasserting Episcopalians for me to point out that those 300 leaders are essentially found on Executive Council, on the various national church commissions, on Provincial councils, on diocesan Standing Committees, as clergy of the church, and yes, as bishops of the church.  As the StandFirm webmaster pointed out to me recently, the progressives in the Episcopal church don’t need even moderate-sized numbers of supporters—they own the political levers of change at almost all levels save the parish level.  From a business point of view, in the game of “politics”, the progressive activists in our church were “first to market”—and as we all know through the QWERTY keyboard and Microsoft operating systems, being first to market doesn’t necessarily mean you’re better—it just means you were first.

That pool of 10% of the church—vastly outnumbered by conservative pew sitters—is running the church through the national levers of power.

Thus when we return to view the highest legislative body of the national church through this demographic lens, we see that the actual “conservatives”—in terms of Hadaway’s research the “somewhat” and “predominantly” conservative—represent no more than 20% of the deputies.  The rest of the deputies, dear readers, represent the somewhat and predominantly liberal.  That would be . . . 80%.  [Note: I throw the poor “middle” into the “conservative” side, for the purposes of describing General Convention.]


The Categories of Worthy Opponents—The Real Divide

Now we come to the most fascinating part, I believe, of this analysis.  For all the talk about the divide between 1) Traditionalists and Progressives [really a given now] and 2) Federal Conservatives and Communion Conservatives, the really interesting divide is that which we find now mainfesting itself amongst our Worthy Opponents, the progressives.

For the progressive segment of the church is now quite divided as to strategy.  In fact, my suspicion is that they have always been so divided, but only in the past four years has that division actually led to real and dire consequences for the two liberal sides.

I will call those two sides the “ideological progressives” and the “institutional progressives.”  By idealogical progressives I mean the “full speed ahead on our inclusive agenda, and damn the torpedoes” progressives.  These are the folks that have fought their hearts out, scrapped and clawed and screamed and emoted their way to power—and now that they seemingly have victory in their grasp, they sure as the dickens do not intend to hold back.

By “institutional progressives” I mean the “let’s drop anchor and hope they all fall asleep” progressives.  They firmly believe in all the usual progressive ideas about the scripture, authority, sexuality, the nature of Jesus, the resurrection, and Karl Marx.  But they have spent a whole lot of time and energy announcing that they were moderates, obscuring their real beliefs, speaking in euphemisms, and carefully climbing the corporate ecclesial ladder.  They are the pragmatists—the ones that are uneasily aware that their capital campaigns are in danger, and that the pew numbers are not, in fact, “on their side”.  The strategy is to only move slowly and quietly and stealthily, so as not to startle or frighten the conservatives and the moderates in the pews.

When confronted with parishioner and economic losses, the ideological progressive will say “good enough for ‘em,” “quality not quantity”, and “we need the pure gospel”.  I have always said that, so great is their ideology that they would be more than willing to have a diocese of 100—just so long as that 100 were Really Really Really Inclusive.

But for the institutional progressive, the losses are much much more serious.  There is a loss of prestige [important to institutionalists], the chaos, the media, the phone calls, and of course . . . the money.  But let’s not make out that the institutionalists are entirely self-serving and shallow.  The institutional progressives recognize something central to implementation of revolution and that is . . . the institution carries the innovation.

Without the institution, the innovation receives neither prestige, nor societal approval, nor stability.

The parasite of an idea—one that is innately destructive and non-creative and de-stabilizing—always needs a host, a constructive, creative, stable host.

In the past, it was the “institutional progressives” that held the levers of power at the national and even diocesan levels.  That meant that they could “go slow”, be very very quiet, and essentially core out the host from the inside without the host recognizing it.

But something happened at GC 2006 . . . something that led to some of the first displays of rage and fury and denunciation on the part of the institutionalists.  It was at that convention that, slowly and steadily, as day by day marched on, they recognized that they no longer owned the convention.

The Categories of Worthy Opponents—How They’ve Evolved

In the old days, a mere 10 years ago, in fact, the Bishop Lee’s of this world—institutional progressives—could arrive at convention confident in their holding at least 50-60% of the deputies.  The “conservatives” might be 30% and the ideological progressives might be the remaining 30%.  Note that the conservatives were still outnumbered, for the ratio was 70/30 [and also note that my estimate is born out by Louie Crew’s “Changing the Church” when he says this about the 1994 convention: “Deputies arrived knowing that of those who had actively studied the issue, “Seventy per cent indicate that being sexually active as a gay or lesbian person is not contrary to being a faithful Christian.”] But the institutional progressives could count on their owning half the deputies at least, with some occasional help from hapless conservatives, and some occasional help from frustrated ideological progressives.

But this convention was different.  For one thing, the “somewhat” and “predominantly” conservatives were at no more than 20%.  The ideological progressives were at least 40% and probably closer to 45%, and the institutional progressives held whatever was left, perhaps the remaining 40% to 35%.

The difference between the makeup of the highest legislative body of the church—and the “average” parish—could not be more stark and compelling.  I’ve always said that if a “moderate” Episcopalian—one firmly convinced that “this will all blow over if I just keep quiet”—were to ever go spend 10 lovely days at General Convention they would leave truly shocked at how little representative of their concerns the average deputy is.  When this is pointed out, of course, the “average deputy” will trumpet that they are not supposed to “represent” anybody but themselves—and this fact certainly shows in the end product of General Convention!

The Living Church said much the same thing in their analysis of the number of conservatives at General Convention:

“In Columbus, one could get the impression that division already exists. For example, while the “official” convention Eucharist-Bible study took place each morning in the Columbus Convention Center, attended by perhaps 700-800, Forward in Faith North America (FIFNA), joined by members of the American Anglican Council and the Anglican Communion Network, held their own Eucharist in the Nationwide Arena a couple of blocks away. It was possible to tell which “side” deputies, visitors and exhibitors were on, for badges distributed by various organizations were affixed to the identification worn around their necks. While some convention participants gave no clue to their sentiments, many were proud to proclaim which side they were on.

The clearest illustrations of the sharp division among Episcopalians can be found in the legislative houses. While I was thankfully tucked away in the exhibit hall, out of the lines of fire in the houses of deputies and bishops, I was able to read what they said during legislative sessions and hearings, and found that their testimonies, proposals, resolutions and suggestions couldn’t be much farther apart. My estimation was about 75 percent of those in Columbus favored the status quo of The Episcopal Church, and about 25 percent prefer a more conservative approach.

But at any rate, the word “outnumbered” now also applied to the institutional progressives as well, and frankly, they were run ragged, and had little plan or response to the well-run machine that was the ideological progressive side.

My analysis is supported by numerous reports from all sides at convention.  You have but to read the live blogs of various committee meetings to “hear” how vastly outnumbered the conservatives were.  Leander Harding said it quite well:

“Gene Robinson and Louie Crew are centrists in terms of the spectrum of opinion represented in the General Convention. This was my greatest surprise. I want to be careful here. I am not saying that the center of opinion of the Episcopal Church taken as a whole is represented by these leaders of theological revision but they to my observation represent the center of the 75th General Convention. I was stunned to see just how small the orthodox and traditionalist element is at this national level and how radicalized the national leadership is in both houses of the convention.

5. There is a tremendous distance between the sentiment in the General Convention and any parish that I have ever served. The most liberal person in any parish I have ever served would have heard things at the convention that would have astonished them. What is thought liberal in most parishes is centrist and conservative by GC standards.”


The Categories of Worthy Opponents—How the Institutional Progressives Responded to their New Minority Status

I truly believe that, at least in part, the shattering experience at General Convention for institutional progressives led to the immense amount of “aftermath frustration” by these same people upon their return to their home dioceses.  They had experienced a convention that they knew in their hearts was “an institutional disaster”, devastatingly portrayed in the media, and internationally exhibitionistic to observers.  All of the bizarre mannerisms and dysfunction of the Episcopal church were paraded on display.  A161—the “institutional resolution” par excellence, that was meant to confuse and fuddle the concerned watchers—failed.  The Presiding Bishop election did not go as planned—and make no mistake, friends, Bishop Parsley was the “designated heir apparent” that would offer a “traditional face” to the world, and an iron boot to the actual traditionalists, the Ultimate Fudge presented to a grateful Anglican world—because the most progressive “minority sop” nominee was actually elected.

Frustrated and confused, they arrived home to well-informed dioceses and—unable to recognize that they had been outnumbered by those who were their brother and sister progressives—they issued scathing blame to the pathetic minority conservative contingent for all their troubles.

My own take, for instance, on Bishop Lee’s actions over the past year are in part explained—or at least initiated—by the disaster that was GC 2006.  I suspect that Bishop Lee was used to being the “moderate” and “the negotiator”—and fancied himself the Great Middle.  And I think he got a real shock, oddly enough, at GC 2006.  He suddenly found that no longer could “the middle” get their way.  I think he came home and then had to deal with the catastrophe of his underestimation of the force of the 19 parishes in Virginia.  Whereas before GC2006, he may have thought that, when push came to shove, two or three would “walk” and he could perhaps negotiate with them, now post-GC2006 when it came down to it, the power of that coalition was immense, and he was bowled over by it.  And I think this really got to him.  For three years he’d been thinking that he was going to sweet talk the radicals into caving for “the middle way”—which of course is HIS way, since he’s “The Great Moderate”.

The recognition that the institutional progressives were no longer in power at convention and in fact were “The Shrinking Middle”, 815’s horning in, wounded pride, peer pressure, and real practical necessities led him to say “I’ll throw the book at them . . .”

But I could be wrong about Bishop Lee—thankfully there are plenty of other examples.

There were, for instance, the Presiding Bishop Election Explanations, for instance, from the institutional progressives.

They were caught between a rock and a hard place on the new Presiding Bishop.  On the one hand they had to proclaim the “extraordinary giftedness” of their beloved and wonderful and perfect and did-we-say-gifted-yet Presiding Bishop . . . but at the same time they had to say that this wonderful gift of a new Radically Progressive Presiding Bishop had come about through . . . a shadowy cabal of Scheming Radical Conservative Bishops.

It was a hard sell, mainly because it was hard to so extol her to the stars, while at the same time blaming the conservatives for the disaster.  But try they did.

I analysed the winning “fifth ballot” in an article soon afterwards—even had all those NOT voting for Bishop Parsley on that final ballot, eleven bishops in all, voted for BIshop Parsley, he still would not have won.  The final vote then would have been the winning-95, to 93.  And let’s face it, folks—I can’t imagine any one of the Network bishops ever dreaming of voting for Bishop Parsley.

As I stated in my article:

“We are left with perhaps three or four retired bishops who may have voted for Bishop Schori—but the fact still remains that their votes were not enough to surmount the 13 vote difference between Bishop Parsley and Bishop Schori.

No, the number which voted for Bishop Schori represents, frankly, the number of “progressive” deputies at General Convention. To put it baldly, the progressives—the number of people who agree with Bishop Schori’s theology and actions—are in a majority at General Convention.

Not the “center”. Not the “moderates”. Not the “center aisle”. Not the “via media”.

Those who were the majority at the convention were the radically progressives and the institutional progressives who supported Bishop Schori.

And even if all the “Vastly Conservative Bishops” had voted *with* the “shrinking center”, it would not have been enough to surmount the Progressive majority.

The sooner that the dreaming, shrinking center recognizes that truth about the convention from which they just returned, the more honestly they can deal with the concrete reality of their situation, at least with regards to the national situation.”

Note that the 40-45% of the ideological progressive deputies combined with about 5-10% of the institutional progressives to produce that bare majority vote for Bishop Jefferts Schori.  Again, the numbers on that ballot bear out my analysis of the situation at General Convention.

One of the most egregious and bitter slaps at the conservative minority was by erstwhile “moderate” Phil Linder, Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Columbia.  Barely had he arrived home when he penned and sent off his impressions of the convention to The State newspaper.

The beginnings of his essay were rather breathless— “I say this as one who was there as a deputy, fighting for her soul, representing the Diocese of Upper South Carolina. And I believe it is the very soul of our great Anglican heritage that is at stake”—this said to a state which holds a truly teensy percentage of Episcopalians and which could not care less about “the very soul of our great Anglican heritage”.  But Dean Linder was warming up to what appeared to be his central thesis and that was his bitterness about the “radicals” in the church, which were not only the diocese of Newark, but also the diocese slightly to the south of his, the Diocese of South Carolina.

This is what he said:

“On the floor of the House of Deputies in Columbus, I witnessed the extreme factions of our church — represented in the dioceses of Newark and South Carolina — working from the posture of extreme liberalism and extreme conservatism for the same purpose. I believe that their goal coming into convention was to fracture the Episcopal Church’s place in the Anglican Communion to suit their own objectives, and that breaks my heart. I was stunned to see these two extreme sides actually voting in unison for opposite purposes.

Neither Newark nor South Carolina was interested in coming to what Episcopal priest and former Sen. John Danforth claimed as the “higher calling of reconciliation” and consensus for the greater good of the church.”

For most of the rest of the essay he flits about aimlessly—[for the main point of it seems to have been to cast blame at the “radicals” for ruining the progressive institutionalist’s convention]—casting about for a thesis beyond his blame of the radicals, and of course, pleasing a varied cathedral constituency.  He reveals that, though he is Certainly A Moderate, unsurprisingly, yes he is actually a progressive: ” . . . we believe in the full inclusion of gays, lesbians and women within the life of the Episcopal Church”, standard Integrity-speak for the consecration of non-celibate homosexual bishops, ordination of non-celibate homosexual clergy, and approval and blessing of the unions of non-celibate homosexual relationships.

But have no fear, conservative parishioners!  He has a limit, because he is certainly no “radical” like the folks down 30 miles to the south of him in the Diocese of South Carolina, hence he provides this extraordinarily incoherent statement:

” . . . the extreme liberals keep pushing the envelope of human sexuality further. It is now not just about gays and lesbians, it is also about bisexuals and transgender persons. Are they asking the church to argue that God creates people as bisexuals as well as of the incorrect sex”.

In closing, he rounds it off neatly with his “broad triumphant middle” closing, and asks for World Peace:

“The vast majority of bishops, priests and laypersons at the convention came together as the broad middle, in a spirit of reconciliation and hope for this kind of identity and truth found in Anglicanism. And the vast majority believes we have a hope-filled future under the guidance of Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is already boldly calling us to dynamic mission in Jesus’ name to a world crying out; a world where dying, hungry children in Africa are concerned about bread and not human sexuality.”

Only thing is . . . there was no “vast majority” of institutional progressives at General Convention.  As an “institutional progressive” he was in the minority.

The Present State of the Progressive Divide

If the institutional progressives blamed the conservatives for their embarrassing losses at General Convention, I suspect that after the results from the House of Bishops and the Executive Committee meetings that even they now realize that in these bodies they have been outplayed, outmaneuvered, outflanked, and yes . . . outnumbered.

The truth is . . . Bishop Peter Lee and those like him are now in the minority in the House of Bishops.  They are now in the minority in the Executive Council.  There are far fewer “fudgers”, far fewer equivocators, far fewer “the middle has found her voice” progressive institutionalists . . . and it shows.

The further truth is that those fudgers who depended on their sheer numbers to pass Slowly-Creeping-Forward-In-Camouflage resolutions and statements are not nearly as organized and networked as the ideological Full-Speed-Ahead progressives . . . and the result is that the vehicle for the innovation—the institutional “host”—is being thoroughly and publicly demolished.

Each and every meeting, the ideological progressives show their . . . unswerving devotion to their cause in feverish and hysterical terms.  And, thanks to the Internet, there is no stopping them or controlling them or hiding them.

Each and every day, some different ideological progressive, priests and bishops and laypeople alike, decides to Cast Off The Shackles of The Oppressive Structure and Do Something Really Dramatic and Prophetic—either dramatically and publicly and bizarrely theological, like Ann Holmes Redding announcing that she is an Islamic Anglican.  Or dramatically and publicly and bizarrely tacky—like a person claiming to be the Bishop of Bethlehem, Paul Marshall, entering a blog thread and stating this about blogger Brad Drell:

“Your doctor calls it “splitting,” combined with “magical thinking.” Both are diagnoses, whereas strong religious belef is not a diagnosis.  The idea that trut is a thing rather than a relationship is one that Jesus rejected. It is of some satisifaction that black-and-white thinking combined with the magical is considered treatable and there are drugs available.  Paul Marshall”

And last week, we were treated to the latest in a long line of what appears to be now-standard ideological progressive behavior in the blog post by the President of the Standing Committee and priest of the Diocese of Newark that involved 12 paragraphs about a fellow priest decrying her decision to perform the unspeakable act of bringing four children into the world, including this comment:

“There is one woman, an Episcopal priest married to an Episcopal priest, whose writing sometimes flat out scares the BeJesus out of me.”

And this one:

“She gets lots of support from women who have made similar choices, all giddy with what they describe as Christian love and the Holy Ghost.”

And this one here:

“Well, after reading a few of her entries, I have seriously considered calling the local authorities.”

And with a final flourish, this comment:

“I swear to God, one of these days you are going to read about this woman loading herself and her six kids in her mini van and driving them all into a nearby lake. Or, drowning them, one by one, in the bathtub and then lining their lifeless little bodies in a perfect row on their perfectly made beds in their perfect suburban home.”

Oh I forgot—and this one:

“Let me tell you something: This woman doesn’t title her Blog, “an undercurrent of hostility” for nothing.”

Not content with the original, our ideological progressive decides to apologize, and include in her apology a list of the bad mothering qualities of a fellow priest, along with implied and subtle references to the authorities:

“I need to say to you, however, as gently and lovingly as I can, that there are growing numbers of us, lay and ordained, mostly all in “the helping professions” including psychiatrists and psychologists, doctors and nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners, social workers and those whose speciality is in domestic violence and child protection, who grow increasingly concerned and check in on your blog with some regularity.”

Barely had our ears ceased ringing from the various revised posts and the blast of an apology, just as the echoes had died away from the defenses of three or four supportive fellow idealists, then we are told that it’s been two whole days . . . and . . . “bygones”.

It’s true that the now five whole days that have passed since the verbal assault have allowed additional perspective and objectivity.  For this latest blast is simply and neatly slotted into the Yet-Another-Outburst-By-An-Ideological-Progressive category.  Although the unfortunate outburst by Ms. Kaeton is very hard on our friends the Kennedy’s, and certainly they need to do all in their power to both stay away and protect themselves from such assaults, in the cold and objective light of day it is nothing more than Business As Usual from the Ideological Progressives.

And folks, if you don’t think there are flocks of institutional progressives out there shaking their heads slowly, rolling their eyes, sending little emails to their allies with the words “you’ll never believe this—check it out”, and especially, doing the famed Episcopal “closed-lips-smile,” be aware.  They’re out there, thinking unrepeatable thoughts.  They’re out there, opening email and clicking on links, and thinking—to some extent—exactly what Greg thinks, when he opens his email, which is “what fresh hell is this” . . . but then pondering how on earth they can keep it from their people and out of the press.

And every time another Shadwynn, Oakwyse, Bennison [no not that one, the other one], Bauman, Redding, and Kaeton decides to Take Action, Wage Reconciliation, Give an Interview, Write Another Blog Post, or—heaven help them—Apologize For Another Blog Post, an institutional progressive grits his teeth, sets his face, smiles gamely, and studiously ignores the displays.

Every time a parishioner brings it up, he or she says “I don’t read blogs”, and says it a little too loudly.  [I should add that one of my friends watched with awe the spectacle of a priest loudly stating that he did not read blogs and thought they were all liars, while defending himself from the words of a blog for 20 minutes in a public and heavily attended gathering].  A little bell rings vigorously, and another Institutional Progressive earns his wings.

This divide is the Divide Worth Watching by those of us who, by virtue of our politically minority status [though happily not a quantitative minority status], are essentially on the sidelines of the arena, observing the conflict with interest.

A Short Guide to What to Expect in the Next Six Months

What should a conservative Episcopalian look for over the next 6 months, as we observe this national spectacle?

1) Look for a Last Gasp Effort by the institutionalist progressives to wrest control away from the ideological progressives.  Though they smile gamely, and put on a brave front, you shouldn’t doubt that there is a lot of talk burning up the phone and cyber-waves amongst these folks—especially the bishops.

2) Watch closely the Covenant Response Drafting Group.  Knowing what you know about the real divide between the progressives, how would *you* analyze the committee appointments Interesting, is it not, the newly crowned institutional progressives that have been appointed.

3) Expect for some furtive meetings to take place amongst various concerned bishops.  Look for them to make a [private] last appeal to a few traditional bishops to help them overcome the now-majority in the HOB.

4) Read the various public appeals, probably being carefully penned even now, that will no doubt be posted for ALL the bishops to please, please, please show up for the September meeting of the House of Bishops.  See those appeals with new eyes.  Once our slim side arrives, prepare for a whole lot of pressure on them to help with some sort of “reconciling” compromise . . . which being interpreted is “help us, please, not to destroy ourselves”.

5) Know that meltdowns and outbursts from the ideological progressives will continue on apace and probably escalate, through blogs, letters, ugly face-to-face confrontations, and in meetings.  Even though they are in charge of the political institutions of the Episcopal church, they remain angry [and no, I’ve no idea why].  And I am convinced that they are not really able to help it anyway.  Furthermore, there is nothing that the institutional progressives can do to contain them—they can only ignore it and work to pretend that it does not exist.

6) Don’t rule out the possibility of a last-hurrah of fudginess at the House of Bishops meeting in September.  Massive international pressure, the public gaze, looming deadlines, media interest, miserable diocesan budgets, the need-to-wave-a-piece-of-paper-while-getting-off-the-plane . . . it all fondly inclines the heart of an institutionalist progressive towards warm and cuddly actions, like throwing all the sexuality issues in which one firmly believes and on which one has staked one’s gospel under the bus of “let’s take this Much Much Much More Slowly than some of us previously might have had in mind”.

It all inclines the heart of an institutionalist progressive towards the Old Golden Days.  Back when my moderate [because of course, I’m the moderate] voice counted for something.

Back when people waited on me to make my move, because when I made my move, people just stood back and voted for it.

Back when none of my people back home could really understand what on earth we had decided.  Back when the words of resolutions and statements could mean basically anything and I could say it meant one thing to my clergy, and another to my laity.  My goodness, I could even make it mean one thing to one parish and another to another parish.

Back when my, shall we say, less discreet allies could say and do wild things . . . [poor dears, they mean well, but lack the sophistication] . . . and they weren’t blazoned across the cyber-heavens.

Back when there were no bloggers.  And especially live blogging of speeches, with full text, rather than ENS snippets.

Back when things were right.

 

 


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Comments:

I can’t resist, but the Institutional Progressives are playing the part of Mark Studdock in That Hideous Strength. They have been asked by Professor Frost to trample on the Cross. Will they do so to “get along” with the Ideological Progressives - or wil they, at risk to themselves, turn around and take the first step back from the brink?

I suppose it’s not a good thing, after all, that Episcopalians are called “Nice”.

[1] Posted by Doug Stein on 07-17-2007 at 05:27 PM • top

Sarah,you are a gem,phenomenol article,thank you.

[2] Posted by paddy c on 07-17-2007 at 05:37 PM • top

Excellent article.  A thorough analysis which can update anyone late to the “party”.

[3] Posted by The Lakeland Two on 07-17-2007 at 06:07 PM • top

WOW! This took some time and research! Great Job! To be informed is a powerful thing and if one uses it wisely God can help to keep you on the right path!

[4] Posted by TLDillon on 07-17-2007 at 06:12 PM • top

From Ms. Kaeton: “I need to say to you, however, as gently and lovingly as I can, that there are growing numbers of us, lay and ordained, mostly all in “the helping professions” including psychiatrists and psychologists, doctors and nurses and pediatric nurse practitioners, social workers and those whose speciality is in domestic violence and child protection, who grow increasingly concerned and check in on your blog with some regularity.”

From AP: The helping professions, whose specialty is sticking their nose in other people’s business and ramming their own ideology down the throats of all who run afoul of them. No thanks. Don’t need their stinking help.

Look to your own health and self esteem, boneheads. Let me and mine look to ours under the tutelage of Holy Scripture and the power of God’s love. Why? because He is God and you are not, although that is probably a tragic truth you have overlooked.

[5] Posted by Anglican Paplist on 07-17-2007 at 06:52 PM • top

Wow!  That was a tour-de-force!  Quite shining in its Brilliance!

Much thanks for the article Sarah.  Wonderful job of combining a highlighted summation with a keen penetrating analysis of what happened and what’s likely to happen.

Kudos and applause.  cool smile

[6] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-17-2007 at 07:05 PM • top

Too long—I’ll have to read it all later.  But I can already see it’s full of gems:

And every time another Shadwynn, Oakwyse, Bennison [no not that one, the other one], Bauman, Redding, and Kaeton decides to Take Action, Wage Reconciliation, Give an Interview, Write Another Blog Post, or—heaven help them—Apologize For Another Blog Post, an institutional progressive grits his teeth, sets his face, smiles gamely, and studiously ignores the displays.

Every time a parishioner brings it up, he or she says “I don’t read blogs”, and says it a little too loudly.

[7] Posted by Marty the Baptist on 07-17-2007 at 07:16 PM • top

Long, but worthwhile. Thanks.

[8] Posted by southernvirginia1 on 07-17-2007 at 07:22 PM • top

Excellent analysis, Sarah.  We all hoped for your list of Prophetic Utterances from the PB.  Her clear voice shows how far TEC has progressed.  Guilding the lily, I suppose. 

The recent spate of ACI papers already had started me wondering about the stability of the leadership.  If GS, ABC, the Continuum, and the like are pulling at us, must not other centrifugal forces be pulling at our Worthy Opponents?  Their institutionalists may not be prepared to look behind the Presenting Issue; to recover, they must themselves grapple with the question of Authority.  If they stop short and only think only of power, they will be left with . . . polity. 

Meanwhile, the events you recount – and more – show that Reasserters now hold an inconsequential place at the table inside TEC.  Current leadership pays little attention (and no lip service) to the base membership or to the wider Communion.  Perhaps changes in our own strategy are now in order.  The ACI has long urged further discussion and conciliar decision-making.  As JamesW responded on T19: 

“And for what it’s worth, I doubt that Orombi’s words will have any effect on TEC’s HoB.  Dr. Radner, you yourself are a pretty convincing, intelligent, moderate fellow who is known to make some pretty good arguments.  You spoke to TEC’s HoB, and to what effect?  You are dismissed as a schismatic extremist.  Need I say more?”

[9] Posted by Paladin1789 on 07-17-2007 at 07:25 PM • top

These are great names.
Institutional Progressives truly love the institution most, the prestige, societal approval, and financial resources of the Episcopal Church. They are like parasites as they seek to live off the host and thus truly wish for the continued life of the host.
Ideological Progressives are more devoted to the cause and are viewing the Episcopal Church as a target of opportunity due to its prestige, societal approval, and financial resources. They are more like predators as they seek to take from the host as much as they can and are not necessarily concerned with the continued life of the host except as it espouses their agenda.

The institutional progressives recognize something central to implementation of revolution and that is . . . the institution carries the innovation.
Without the institution, the innovation receives neither prestige, nor societal approval, nor stability.
The parasite of an idea—one that is innately destructive and non-creative and de-stabilizing—always needs a host, a constructive, creative, stable host.
In the past, it was the “institutional progressives” that held the levers of power at the national and even diocesan levels. That meant that they could “go slow”, be very very quiet, and essentially core out the host from the inside without the host recognizing it.

I think the Institutional Progressives don’t really want to “core out” the host, and are now shocked that the Ideological Progressives have done this.

[10] Posted by Deja Vu on 07-17-2007 at 07:29 PM • top

The progressives have slowly and steadily been taking control of TEc. In late October 2002, at the Minn convention, after the delegates to gen. con. were elected, Howard Anderson stated that now they had the number of delegates to push thru their agenda at GC2003. While they were steadily taking control they kept complete records of their numbers and knew when their time was ready to exert control and take over the church. As Howard would say now we can be more like the UCC.

[11] Posted by art+ on 07-17-2007 at 07:43 PM • top

This is quite a remarkable piece from Sarah—well researched and essentially on target according to my experience of these past few years. The challenge now at all levels of TEC will be to discern what is the godly choice given each individual, congregational, and diocesan situation. Does one move into the new American Anlgicanism that is emerging and being blessed by a growing number of Primates, or does one remain in TEC, and, if so, for what purpose and with what goals in mind.  May God be glorified and may grace abound as we make our choices.

Jim McCaslin
ACN SEC Dean

[12] Posted by Jim McCaslin on 07-17-2007 at 07:48 PM • top

Thanks.  Enjoyed every bit of this piece.

[13] Posted by Nevin on 07-17-2007 at 07:49 PM • top

A very thoughful and insightful analysis.  The chronology is helpful; the perspective invaluable. Thanks Sarah!
Bob Mangum

[14] Posted by Ol' Bob on 07-17-2007 at 08:56 PM • top

And in the last twelve months Southern Babpist have added about 400,000 new members and almost 1000 new churches!

[15] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 07-17-2007 at 09:16 PM • top

Sarah:

I fear for your tennis game.  This took a lot of effort.

Reminds me of being a child, when friends of mine from E. KY would come up to Lexington for the Kentucky-Tennessee football game.  We would go stay with their parents at a hotel in town.  One night, I had an odd realization that instead of just a few folks being drunk, everybody was drunk!  There were no adults.  Instead of the drunks being the exception, they were the norm.  And guess what, somebody got killed that night in a gunfight.

This may end badly for TEC.  However, you chronicled quite well the the TEC’s sudden progression from “heavy drinker” to full blown alcoholic!  Damn fine job!

Tom

[16] Posted by Tom Dupree, Jr. on 07-17-2007 at 10:13 PM • top

And every time another Shadwynn, Oakwyse, Bennison [no not that one, the other one], Bauman, Redding, and Kaeton decides to Take Action, Wage Reconciliation, Give an Interview, Write Another Blog Post, or—heaven help them—Apologize For Another Blog Post, an institutional progressive grits his teeth, sets his face, smiles gamely, and studiously ignores the displays.

Every time a parishioner brings it up, he or she says “I don’t read blogs”, and says it a little too loudly. [I should add that one of my friends watched with awe the spectacle of a priest loudly stating that he did not read blogs and thought they were all liars, while defending himself from the words of a blog for 20 minutes in a public and heavily attended gathering]. A little bell rings vigorously, and another Institutional Progressive earns his wings.

I.

AM.

NOT.

WORTHY.

[17] Posted by Greg Griffith on 07-17-2007 at 10:17 PM • top

Rather splendid.

[18] Posted by Miss Sippi on 07-17-2007 at 10:28 PM • top

Bravo!  Bravo!  I would imagine the phone lines and email boxes are heating up amongst the Progs wondering who “leaked.”  One can almost hear the angst. 
Great work, my dear, although you might want to keep your pup Brand under wraps.  You never know, one of them may decide to call the SPCA on you.

[19] Posted by JackieB on 07-17-2007 at 11:19 PM • top

“The parasite of an idea—one that is innately destructive and non-creative and de-stabilizing—always needs a host, a constructive, creative, stable host.”

Only God can create.  Satan can copy, co-opt, corrupt, steal, impersonate, pretend, deceive, take credit for or be a parasite on the works of others.  Satan can do everything God can, except for one thing, and that is create!  If you want to know where God stands on an issue, look for the creative forces at work.  It is on that side of the issue you will find His handiwork. 

The revisionists have always had the option of leaving TEC/ECUSA and starting their own churches.  If the Lord’s blessing was with them, as they claim, their new churches would have grown and prospered, while the traditional worshipping congregations would have faded away.  But, in their heart of hearts, they know that without the institutional structure giving them status, their “new-thing” would quickly wind down into just another small “universalist” style denomination filled with mostly aging hippies and childless gay couples. 

On the other hand, there are many traditional congregations that, even if they lost their property as part of their separation, would, within a few weeks, be meeting again in some storefront or empty warehouse space.  Within 6 months or so, would be moving into a larger space, and within the first year, already be planning to move into a new permanent church building.

Thanks Sarah, for such a thoughtful essay.

[20] Posted by wildiris on 07-17-2007 at 11:19 PM • top

Thank you, Sarah,  for your blognum opus.  You won’t find a finer a piece of history writing while it’s being made as this.  Well worth the long read.

I find it doubly intriguing—do you?—that in the last week you read, for instance, on Fr. Jake a positive spin on Chuck Blanchard’s piece of resurgent, put-on-the-brakes Institutional Progressivism.  Having second thoughts, oh prophetic ones?  The struggle you describe, Sarah, IS alive and well in the progressive ranks.  The Institutionalists can only hope that ++Rowan can pull off a real coup for them when he meets with the HOB.  Good luck!

Thanks again.  Wonderful piece!

[21] Posted by Steve Lake+ on 07-18-2007 at 12:51 AM • top

Thank goodness she’s on our side.

[22] Posted by William Witt on 07-18-2007 at 07:14 AM • top

Steve Lake: “I find it doubly intriguing—do you?—that in the last week you read, for instance, on Fr. Jake a positive spin on Chuck Blanchard’s piece of resurgent, put-on-the-brakes Institutional Progressivism.  Having second thoughts, oh prophetic ones?”

I think it’s more that the long knives are only for the genuine conservatives at the moment.  The Institutional Progressives still can be squeezed for some useful cover, so they’ll be kept around to fetch and carry for the revolutionaries for a little while longer.

[23] Posted by Dr. Mabuse on 07-18-2007 at 07:25 AM • top

Lovely! Forwarding immediately to my Rector and my I.P. Bishop.
Excellent work. thanks
john1

[24] Posted by john1 on 07-18-2007 at 07:52 AM • top

Great stuff, Sarah.  Do you think that a) Bishop Bruno’s letter to the NYT and the (gasp!) honest actions of the Ecclesiastical Court of Central NY are evidence of more stuff being out in the open, or are these coincidental aberrations?
What I’m getting at is: if the Ideological Progressives can wield their power out in the light, will we have more institutional honesty instead of the creepy closed door stuff they used to get to power?
At least until the new Title IV revisions, I mean.

[25] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 07-18-2007 at 08:55 AM • top

Brilliant, Sarah.
Personnel is policy.  The Southern Baptists recognized this when they purged the seminaries a few years back.
There has been no purge by force in TEC (at least not until the recent presentments and lawsuits).  Instead, there has been taking place before our eyes a purge by process—slowly to be sure, but nonetheless real.  What we are witnessing is the cumulative effect of having three consecutive  ideological progressive presiding bishops.  Schori’s election was a watershed moment, not only because of who she is, but also from the simple fact that she was the third consecutive ideological progressive.  By the end of her term, TEC will be the product of
—27 years of committee appointments
—27 years of personnel hirings
—27 years of policies and protocols
—27 years of curriculum development
—27 years of liturgical development
—27 years of theological innovation (which is, after all, part of the DNA of the idealogue).
After 27 years, the ideological foothold will have been transformed into a stronghold.  The further we go into this 27-year process, the more rapid the ideological transformation will be, because the institutional resistance will have been effectively neutralized.  I think one reason we are hearing less “fudge” is simply because we are further along this 27-year curve.

[26] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 07-18-2007 at 09:00 AM • top

To paraphrase the woman at the well…..Madam, I perceive you are a prophet. 
Wow Sarah, completely brill.  I echo Dr. Witt- thank goodness you’re on our side!

[27] Posted by Teacozy on 07-18-2007 at 09:37 AM • top

Sarah, I think there is another book in the making, chronicling the decline and fall of TEC.  (Actually, you may be half-way there with this article.)

I get the impression that the ideological progressives and the institutional progressives are both left-wing activists, differing primarily in the value they place in having a venerable, respected American church, in communion with Canterbury, as a base of operations.  Or perhaps they simply have different estimates of the tensile strength of Anglican bonds of affection.

The ideological progressives are in for a shock.  They were always free to start their own “church” and adopt whatever political and cultural doctrines they chose.  But they knew that another tiny quasi-Christian sect would be dismissed and ignored.  Thus, they had to co-opt a church with some considerable history and prestige.  The more TEC is recognized as the left-wing political action committee that it has become, however, the less utility it will have to the Cause.

In my (now dated) experience, the “shrinking center” of TEC was neither progressive nor conservative, but resembled a bunch of sorority girls and frat boys, who didn’t really care what the church professed, but just liked getting together on Sunday with people they knew.

[28] Posted by Cousin Vinnie on 07-18-2007 at 09:48 AM • top

Sarah,
You just keep getting better and better.  A brilliant piece of analysis told with your customary wit.  Many thanks.

[29] Posted by evan miller on 07-18-2007 at 10:03 AM • top

Thanks, Sarah, for a superb analysis. I have just finished reading the collection of your earlier essays in Little Stone Bridges and the quality just keeps improving. Now the question remains, what action (other than being entertained and challenged by your prodigious work) are we, your “Roistering Episcopal Adventurers”, to take? Do we just sit on our hands for now and wait for the Primates to respond to he outlandish statements of the Episcopal hierarchy on September 30th? And if so, what are we likely to see happen?

[30] Posted by notworthyofthename on 07-18-2007 at 10:26 AM • top

We know also something else about the Episcopal church. We know that most of the laypeople are moderately traditional to quite traditional, save of course in those large urban west-coast and New England states. This is born out in many ways, from the size of the Plano conferences to [ahem] the size of the “National Gathering of The Episcopal Majority”, from the blog traffic of, oh, say T19 to that of Episcopal Cafe or Father Jake Stops the World.

Ms Hey,

I disagree with your analysis that most laypeople, except in the urban areas of the West Coast and New England, are traditional.  I know the dioceses of Arkansas and Kansas both approved of same-sex unions.  The Diocese of Atlanta is quite progressive.  Here in my own diocese (Texas, as you can see from my screenname), many (maybe even half, maybe more) or our large parishes are moderate to progressive.  Conservatives complain that General Convention is overrepresentated with liberals because small dioceses have equal representation, but it goes the other way too.  I could be wrong, but I think the Diocese of Texas would be considered more progressive than it currently is if delegates to Diocesan Council were apportioned in proportion to the number of members or the average Sunday attendance.  Even so, I would only call the diocese moderately traditional (and trending moderate).  If you look at the people in their 20’s and 30’s in the diocese, the trend to progressivism is even more apparent.  I think your analysis is on-target in terms of “urban.”  The parishes that I am familiar with that are growing are urban and suburban.  Churches in smaller cities and rural churches are probably not doing as well.

I also disagree with your argument that—based on attendance at events like the Plano AAC conference or the Episcopal Majority conference, or in terms of traffic at conservative and liberal blogs—most laypeople are traditional .  The people who are most likely to attend such events, or post on these kinds of blogs, are the ones who are upset with the way things are going.  Things are going pretty well for the progressives, so there’s not much reason for them to go to ideological conferences.  They can see changes they want beginning to happen at the local level.

[31] Posted by Episcopalian2011 on 07-18-2007 at 10:38 AM • top

I believe that the ideological progressives are showing a bit of cunning and Janus like pragmatism since their recent overt attempts at bullying have proven less than advantageous to them.
Now come their attempts to get people’s guards down via affected reasonableness,ie do not notice that man behind the curtain.
No matter how they clean the outside of the cup and how shiny it is,there’s still poison inside as our ‘friend’ Elizabeth Kaeton so profoundly showed recently.

[32] Posted by paddy c on 07-18-2007 at 10:41 AM • top

Paddy c,

I agree that Rev. Kaeton was way of line with the blog entry about the Kennedy family, but I don’t think there’s poison inside her.  I know someone who goes to her church, and she is supposedly totally different when she’s not blogging.  How many people lose their cool when it comes to blogging?  Quite a few, from what I’ve seen.  It’s just too easy to put something out there in an emotionally heated moment.  For instance, what about the people on the Bishop of Hereford entry who are suggesting that gay people are more likely to be pedophiles.  That’s quite venomous, not to mention ridiculous.

[33] Posted by Episcopalian2011 on 07-18-2007 at 10:49 AM • top

Sarah—Given what I saw at the pre-Convention meeting in my diocese, which I attended and made a statement at, I can verify (if that’s really needed) what you said about GC 06 deputies. At that meeting, the orthodox were questioned in an interrogating manner, the bishop made a snide remark, and overall we were treated quite differently than the progessives, who got none of that.
By the way, thanks for a great piece. Much more helpful than some of the shorter pieces here which just get people mad, but offer no real analysis. Dave

[34] Posted by DavidSh on 07-18-2007 at 10:50 AM • top

Truly brilliant, Sarah.  And, though long, it is a very concise way to bring up to date one of those Beloved Moderates who has been sleeping in the pew.

What is intriguing is this.  In some sense the institutional progressives must now realize that in a very real sense they needed the conservatives, and must to some degree regret how they have run them away.  Indeed without the conservatives they are nothing, and the Episcopal Church will soon be nothing.  And once the conservatives leave, they don’t return—and they in fact hemorrage in exponentially greater numbers.  And so there, alone, are the institutional progressives having lost everything, and they must know at some level it’s their own fault.  They can blame the Louie Crews and Susan Russells if they want, but in truth they have done exactly what they said they would do.  They can blame the Africans or they can blame the Bob Duncans.  But they, too, have done what they have said had to be done.  It is the institutional progressives, those pretending to be what they are not, whose lukewarmedness and lack of wholeness—that is, lack of integrity—has brought this result down upon them.  John Howard’s increasingly hollow shell of a diocese is Exhibit A in this respect, but there are many others—and more to come (including those of the institutional conservatives, those that remain).  It’s a funny ol’ world, as Mrs. Thatcher used to say, but by September I suspect there will be some institutional progressive bishops who will be truly sad for what they have done.  And maybe, just maybe, within them will be the germ for a return to the Gospel once the radicals have well and truly run the Episcopal Church into the ground.

[35] Posted by VaAnglican on 07-18-2007 at 10:51 AM • top

Kaeton wasn’t “in an emotionally heated moment” - she was dealing with her ENEMIES.  Of course she’s nice and happy and relaxed when she’s safe in her own parish, cozily surrounded by friends and supporters.  But the world isn’t set up so that we never have to encounter people who disagree with us - when she does, she loses her mind.  That’s a person who shouldn’t be in any kind of leadership role.

[36] Posted by Dr. Mabuse on 07-18-2007 at 10:55 AM • top

Sarah’s article is absolutely first class analysis. Here is a point to consider that she doesn’t emphasize:

TEC’s disintegration as a juridical entity is now advanced. No matter who holds the lever of power, those levers are rotting and increasingly likely to break off in the hands of those who wield them. Consider the reaction among the Ideological Progressives after GC 2006. As I recall, the bishops of most of the prominent cities (Boston, New York, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco) disavowed B-033 and promised to defy it. That defiance is manifest in other statements since.

Now that defiance limits TEC’s ability to fudge, let alone even partially comply with, the Dar communique. If the Institutional Progressives manage to cobble together a majority of the bishops in September who promise to comply with Dar, or seem to so promise, a significant number of Ideological Progressives will ignore that promise. Worse, they will shout their defiance and intent to disobey from the rooftops.

The point is that TEC cannot enforce any decision that defies the will of the Ideological Progressives, even if the Presiding Bishop and the curia at 815 wanted to, which they don’t, because they agree with the Ideological Progressives.

I think that the Institutional Progressives will analyze the situation this way: the break up of TEC is inevitable, and has already started. The break up cannot be stopped now. The leadership can still influence who leaves. Who is least regrettable to lose? Viewed this way, the group “easiest” to lose is the Conservatives, who are unhappy anyway, and who are leaving anyway. The deal the Institutional Progressives need to cut with the Ideologicals is to permit the Institutionals to proceed with the agenda at their own paces within their dioceses; no mandates from the General Convention imposing same sex blessings, etc., at least for a decent interval. The women priest pattern shows how to do it. Wait 20 years or so until you make same sex blessings, etc. mandatory.

[37] Posted by Publius on 07-18-2007 at 10:57 AM • top

Re:  Ms. Keaton

I know someone who goes to her church, and she is supposedly totally different when she’s not blogging.  How many people lose their cool when it comes to blogging?

That’s no excuse - makes me think of a Lewis quote:

“Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light. “

I have to remember that when it is  I who have been rude, unkind, or unjust.  It only demonstrates for all to see, the depravity of my own character.

[38] Posted by Eclipse on 07-18-2007 at 11:07 AM • top

Cousin Vinnie says:

The more TEC is recognized as the left-wing political action committee that it has become, however, the less utility it will have to the Cause.

It maintains utility as it maintains social prestige. However, this is only maintained by 1) high prestige facilities and liturgy/services, 2) parishioners with social prestige and 3) elite status mission work. I think their stategy is 1) fight for the facilities so as to keep the great and ones and get cash for sale/rent of others and 2) proclaim the MDG mission so as to provide the facilities and social mission to attract parishioners with elite social prestige.

Cousin Vinnie says:

In my (now dated) experience, the “shrinking center” of TEC was neither progressive nor conservative, but resembled a bunch of sorority girls and frat boys, who didn’t really care what the church professed, but just liked getting together on Sunday with people they knew.

Maybe they agree. Maybe they are thinking that if they can provide the venue for the Sunday get together and the cover of the good work of the MDG, they think they can survive.
But the aging “married with children” sorority girls and frat boys are going to stop coming to church when they find their children’s Religious Ed Director and/or Youth Group Leader do not support hetrosexual family formation, and in fact, have a LGBT agenda.

[39] Posted by Deja Vu on 07-18-2007 at 11:14 AM • top

DioTexas,
No offense,that she may be ‘totally different’ offline is no excuse or justification for it,the poison came out not once,not twice but abundantly.Myself,I believe that Matthew 12:34-35 rings especially true here,‘it is from the heart’s overflow’(Knox).From what I’ve generally seen that rings true of many of the ideological progressives from bishops down.They got busted on a number of things so a little cosmetic work is needed,the cup may be clean on the outside but the malice,the desire to hurt and destroy,the venom is still there,in spite of all the sophistries(misleading but clever reasonings-Websters)denying it,a shining cockroach is still a cockroach.

[40] Posted by paddy c on 07-18-2007 at 11:15 AM • top

Wow. Double Wow. Makes me think back to the wild and wooly early days of StandFirm when Sarah was known as Samurai Sarah-Warrior Princess. Her metamorphasis from those early days to now is nothing short of astonishing. This article is truly amazing. You could do the same thing for the period from GC2003 to the present and have one helluva book (hint hint). At any rate, I consider it an honor to be allowed to post on the blog as Sarah, and I say that with all sincerity.

the snarkster

[41] Posted by the snarkster on 07-18-2007 at 11:41 AM • top

Should be “post on the same blog as Sarah”. Sorry.

the snarkster

[42] Posted by the snarkster on 07-18-2007 at 11:44 AM • top

I found this a good refresher and an excellent analysis, Sarah.  Thank you for this detailed essay. I have only a few comments.

“Revisionists” never were eager to engage in real “debate over ideas” which suggests that we shouldn’t call them revisionists, as there is no vision where there is no real engagement of ideas. 

This crisis has never been about ideas as about control.  You express this well when you point out that they desire “to co-opt what they can of the tradition to serve their own goals of dismantling any authority structures other than their own.”

This may be a generational difference, but you describe debate with “friends” and I would describe the debate as being with “former friends” because I believe that the division in TEC does touch on First Things.

Your observations about the conservative nature of TEC adherents are sound.  Obviously, the majority doesn’t rest with the wildly radical and you are correct that the radicals now recognize this and have changed their tone, determined not to lose any hard won ground, no matter the ultimate cost.

Of the 300 circulating radical progressives, Louie Crew’s influence is significant.  The man should be given credit for his communication and organization skills.  The locations of the shrinking number of Integrity chapters is telling; 3 in SE Florida.  We’ve already seen the hardliners in the Diocese of SE Florida take issue with the proposed Anglican Covenant. Bishop Ottley was one of 185 bishops to sign the August 1998 “Pastoral Letter to Gay and Lesbian Anglicans.” He did so as the Anglican Observer to the United Nations. In his capacity as U.N. Observer, he said, “The world’s agenda is the agenda of the church.” (The Ministry of the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations - Annual Report, 1997)  Ottley holds the full inclusion of gays as his foremost priority, and one doesn’t have to search far to find ties between him, retired Bishop Swing and the ubiquitous Crew.

[43] Posted by Alice Linsley on 07-18-2007 at 11:48 AM • top

Eclipse,awesome Lewis citation,with you as well on our own sinfulness coming forth and our own responsibility for it when it comes forth.

[44] Posted by paddy c on 07-18-2007 at 11:49 AM • top

The locations of the shrinking number of Integrity chapters is telling

I would guess the number of Integrity chapters is shrinking because gay Episcopalians no longer have to go to Integrity meetings to feel welcome in the church.

[45] Posted by Episcopalian2011 on 07-18-2007 at 11:56 AM • top

RE: “I disagree with your analysis that most laypeople, except in the urban areas of the West Coast and New England, are traditional.”

I am sure that you do!  I would expect nothing less from progressives on a public blog!!!  ; > )  But keep in mind that that is not at all what I said.  I did not say that “most laypeople, except in the urban areas of the West Coast and New England, are traditional.”

I said that the vast majority of revisionist ECUSA enclaves of LARGE PARISHES would largely be where their target market of progressives, vaguely spiritual, and liturgically interested folks are, which is precisely those locations.

And furthermore, I said that I believed that the radical progressives in the pews make up about 10%, radical traditionalists about 20%, and the rest falls elsewhere on the line.  Again, taking Hadaway’s research into account where he adds up both the radicals and the “somewhats”, we’d end up with about 43% conservatives, 30% liberals, and 27% in the “middle” which I actually also think trends conservative, not progressive.

Furthermore, the rest of your reasoning, unfortunately, merely repeats the same errors.  The fact that the BISHOP AND STANDING COMMITTEE of a diocese approves of same sex blessings mean nothing in regards to the people in the pews.  And of course, Atlanta is the type of enormous urban area that I am speaking of.  Urban areas will actually be the ones where we will also see the most number of Anglican church plants, since the people are fleeing the parishes in droves and they’ve got options.  Raleigh and of course Atlanta are clear examples of this, and the other large urban areas will be trundling right along, simply because the traditional people in the pews will leave.  So I suspect that both Raleigh and Atlanta will thrive both amongst orthodox Anglican church plants and Episcopal progressive parishes.  But as we all know . . . “the South ain’t particularly urban”.

You also have a compadre in Texas who ardently disagrees with your take on your diocese.

And I and Matt are both in my 30s.  The 20s and 30s that I know aren’t trending progressive at all . . . which merely proves that you hang out with folks who believe your foundational worldview and I with mine.  We’re not going to know how the millenials will end up until they start working for a living and raising families . . . actions which marketing research shows tend to have a “clarifying effect”, shall we say, on the mind and values.  ; > )

But regardless, my task is not to convince unconvinced progressives of my thesis in this article—it is not my concern if you do not believe my analysis.  My task is to explain and analyze as best I can the state of things to my allies.  I am serenely confident that institutional progressives who read this article—particularly bishops and clergy—will experience many qualms of unhappy recognition.

[46] Posted by Sarah on 07-18-2007 at 12:01 PM • top

RE: “The locations of the shrinking number of Integrity chapters is telling . . . “

Hi Alice!  Thank you for the kind words and additional analysis!

I think I pointed out in the article that I don’t really pay much attention to numbers.  I listed that stuff merely to point out that the pool of gay activists is about the same, despite its fluctuations over the decades.  So I wouldn’t describe it as shrinking so much as randomly fluctuating over the decades.

[47] Posted by Sarah on 07-18-2007 at 12:05 PM • top

Ms. Hey,

Thanks for your reply.  I’m sorry that I misunderstood what you were saying about liberal enclaves.  I had previously read what my “compadre” said about the diocese.  I don’t think he’s right about the diocese leaving the church.  I just don’t see it happening.  I do admit that the lay leadership in the diocese is more conservative/traditional than the bishops and the clergy.  For example, the clergy order voted overwhelmingly for our first female bishop (suffragan) last year, while the lay delegates came close to giving their majority to a much more conservative, male candidate. 

I agree with you that we (meaning the general “we,” everyone) hang out with people who hold the same views as we do, but I do think that even those in their 20’s and 30’s that I don’t hang around tend to be more progressive.  I’ve spent a lot of time with Episcopalians in my age group outside of the rather liberal congregations I attend (through our diocesan young adult ministry, for example), and I think they have a range of theological beliefs, but in areas where theology intersects “culture war” issues, they tend to be progressive.  I think this is borne out by social scientific surveys that have found that for the younger generations, the issues of the culture wars are—for the most part—non-issues.

I realize you’re not trying to convince me—an unconvinced progressive—but I hope you realize there are many progressives out there with open minds, interested in an exchange of ideas.  One of my best friends is extremely theologically conservative, and we have great discussions about ideas sometimes.  We usually don’t convince each other of our opinions, but I don’t think we should give up on the conversation.

[48] Posted by Episcopalian2011 on 07-18-2007 at 12:26 PM • top

I have read the entire delightful and well-researched article carefully, and am left with two strong conclusions:
1. There are few beings on the planet less truly liberal than a modern American “Liberal.”
2. To paraphrase ++Orombi’s wonderful homily, those dry bones are coming to life now, with God’s blessing, in the spiritual desert. Orthodox Anglicans have now won the strategic battle, although I am not sure we realize it yet. Many difficult and trying days lie ahead, and the ‘tidying up’ will appear to take forever, but the long-term outcome for our worldwide Communion no longer seems in doubt. My only uncertainty is the nature of Caterbury’s role be when the dust settles. Guess that is up to Canterbury. And God.

[49] Posted by rkreed on 07-18-2007 at 12:27 PM • top

I forgot to mention that I enjoy reading your analyses because they are thoughtful and insightful.  I may disagree with you on much, but I like that you really think through things.  I also respect you for avoiding the meanness that can sometimes plague the “blogosphere.”  I did find something you said unfortunate: “My task is to explain and analyze as best I can the state of things to my allies.”  Aren’t we all allies in Christ?  I consider you my sister in Christ, even if we disagree about quite a few things.

[50] Posted by Episcopalian2011 on 07-18-2007 at 12:31 PM • top

Hi DioTexGuy,

Interesting that you should mention the diocesan youth ministry.  In my diocese—a generally conservative diocese from a lay perspective—many parents have simply boycotted the diocesan youth ministry for their kids.  Again . . . I think you underestimate how little conservative laypeople in the pews have to do with diocesan structures.

Regarding giving up on the conversation . . . I am more than happy to discuss different brands of coffee, great food, hiking trails, movies, good books, and all sorts of things with progressives Episcopalians.  But we don’t have a common enough worldview or gospel to talk about the really important stuff. 

I’m glad that you have good conversations with your friend.  I also have very good conversations with my progressive friends—but none of them are Episcopalian.  They are mostly pagans, feminists, and flaming [political] liberals.

But I do love them and we do have a fantastic time together!

[51] Posted by Sarah on 07-18-2007 at 12:36 PM • top

DioTexGuy, thank you very much for the kind words.  I’m afraid that some people think my frankness and humor are signs of blogosphere meanness, but I think if people sometimes saw my face and my smiles when I read stuff, they would know how funny I think some of us [including me] are!

You ask a good question: “Aren’t we all allies in Christ?  I consider you my sister in Christ, even if we disagree about quite a few things.”

You and I may both be Christians—in other words, Jesus may have saved us through His work on the cross—but we do not believe anything remotely similar in regards to the gospel.

I try to always make certain not to say that “people aren’t Christians” since we don’t know.  But I am quite clear that progressive Episcopalians do not believe the Christian gospel—which is subtly different from their identity in Christ.

Of course, an honest progressive Episcopalian would also say the same about me!  We just don’t share the same belief in the same gospel.  If they did not believe that their views and their goals were the gospel . . . they would be more laid back and casual about their implementation.  They’d say “oh, okay . . . since it’s not that important to us, you can have your way in this matter.”  But it is important—it is *vital* to their gospel for their progressive agenda to be implemented.

So the short answer is that, even though you may or may not be saved by Christ’s work on the cross and simply be greatly misinformed, we are not at all allies.  We do not have the same goals or values or principles in any respect for Anglicanism, Christianity, the Episcopal church, or much else that is religious.

If it helps any, though, that belief of mine [that you are not an ally at all] helps me to think very well of you.  I am able to keep a much more level head about progressives as a result.

I do not have any hard feelings for our not sharing the same foundational worldview.  It also helps me in my conversations.  I simply do not expect for us to behave or think or feel or speak similarly—we just don’t share enough philosophically in common.  That allows me to be objective and calm in my conversations and thoughts regarding progressives.  They just are who they are. 

On the other hand, if you want to catch me fulminating or gnashing or denouncing people—it’s about my allies who *do* share the same goals and values and principles. 

Sometimes my fellow Roistering Episcopal Adventurers drive me stark staring mad—and I am certain that they feel that way sometimes about me!!!  Sharing the same worldview gives us a bit more of a “claim” on one another, and thus causes more intensity and less of a casual sense of one another. 

I have much higher expectations of them and frequently they are dashed into the ground, causing me to tear at my hair, pour ashes on myself, and cast myself on the ground in fits!  ; > )

[52] Posted by Sarah on 07-18-2007 at 12:49 PM • top

Sarah,

Nice analysis!

I suspect—if I’m understanding your categories correctly here—that the split between Ideological and Institutional Progressives is more of a continuum than perhaps you suggest, based on the following dilemma.  The ideology demands acceptance: so do they focus primarily on acceptance within the institution, or on acceptance outside it?

Ideological Progressives are more focused on acceptance (read purity) within the institution.  This approach offers the possibility of using the institution as a platform to preach to those (primarily) outside it, thereby shifting the parameters of the cultural discourse—a little the way the Amish, despite insignificant numbers, were able to raise the profile of forgiveness in our national consciousness (at least briefly) after the Nickel Mines tragedy.  As you so clearly show, the Ideological Progressives are currently winning.  But they can see, as well as the rest of us, that the institution is shrinking and fracturing under them even as they win, and they have to be worried (with good reason) that by the time they have made their victory complete the institution will be so small and so compromised by its public infighting that it won’t be a very useful platform for much of anything.

Institutional Progressives are more focused on acceptance outside the institution (read: prestige, money, membership figures, and so on).  The strategy here is to use the institution as a vessel to carry substantial numbers of people (particularly culture-shaping kinds of people) along on the progressive tide.  This is more of a New Yorker or New York Times kind of strategy, where the Ideological Progressives are more Village Voice or Mother Jones.  (On the right-hand end of the Institutional Progressives, they fade off into folks who are more committed to the institution than to the progressive agenda, at which point we’re really getting into the Beloved Moderates.)

I think that the Ideological Progressives are still angry because, as noted above, the ideology demands acceptance, and they aren’t really getting it.  Declining ASA numbers mean that fewer and fewer Americans are accepting the message (at least in its Episcopalian form), and the rejection of Episcopal innovations by the Global South means that the Progressives find themselves playing a nationalist card that many of them aren’t totally comfortable with. 

Furthermore,  Ideological Progressives are still angry in part precisely because they’re Progressives; the conservative voice in the larger American culture, and in the world, shows no signs of going away, despite the passage of half a century since the inauguration of the Age of Aquarius.  The liberal faith in dialogue as a way to make one’s opponents see the light is being falsified here, and they’re Not Happy about that.

Have I butchered your categories too badly?

Peace,
—Peter

[53] Posted by Peter Brown on 07-18-2007 at 12:56 PM • top

Sarah-
A wonderful article.  Your research confirms what observation has been showing us for a while- which is that there is not a “united” progressive wing in the church.  But as you note, they have tight hold on the levers of power. 

I read the essay a couple hours ago, and pondered it over lunch.  A couple thoughts occur to me.

1) Would it be useful to differentiate the “Christian” progressive (ie: someone who genuinely believes that God has called him or her to right social “wrongs” through the mechanism of the church) from those who are using TEC as a vehicle to further a social agenda in which the will of God is secondary, if it has a place at all in their thinking?

2) As I have noted once or twice on other threads, while TEC likes to pretend to be “democratic” in reality its governing process has more in common with Soviet style socialism.  In particular in terms of the GC- the deputies have been well sieved, sorted and vetted before ever getting to GC, it seems seldom that one gets to the floor who is out of sync with their bishop and standing committee (in essense, if you are not a good party member, you aren’t going).

3) One is tempted to speculate on a 3-way split (as opposed to 2-way) come September 30.  Clearly, some “moderates” and “institutional progressives” are trying to pull back from the brink.  I wonder if come the end of the year we will see traditionalists aligned with a new province (with or without recognition from Canterbury- although I am inclined to say “with”), the hard core left broken away from the AC “doing their own thing”, and a rump of the old TEC trying to hold on to its liturgy and vestments and churches and maintain some kind of association with Canterbury.

As a sidebar, there has been some chatter on the listserve regarding the legal fees that TEC is running up, and that apparently earlier in the year the budget was substantially modified to allow for substantially more than originally budgetted.  Some of the participants who appear to be objecting are folks we might otherwise castigate here for their theology (or lack thereof).  It has made interesting reading (I assume set off by the recent letter from the retired bishops highlighted on another SF thread).

Thanks again Sarah for a well done, thought provoking and informative article. (Does this mean a “Little Stone Bridges II” is in the works?)
TJ

[54] Posted by tjmcmahon on 07-18-2007 at 01:02 PM • top

Sarah,
  The ideological progressive / institutional progressive pair sort of calls for a corresponding ideological conservative / institutional conservative pairing, doesn’t it?  Which leads me to wonder why the “progressive” bonding is stronger than the “institutional” bonding and to speculate that, for Protestants the progressive vs conservative distinction must be stronger whereas for Roman Catholics the ideological vs institutional distinction must be stronger, for historical and doctrinal reasons.

[55] Posted by tdunbar on 07-18-2007 at 01:10 PM • top

We do not have the same goals or values or principles in any respect for Anglicanism, Christianity, the Episcopal church, or much else that is religious.

Maybe not in the specifics.  But don’t we both want to make God’s love in Christ known to the world?

[56] Posted by Episcopalian2011 on 07-18-2007 at 01:58 PM • top

But DioTexGuy—we do not define even something as broad as “God’s love” in the same way!!  Nor do we agree on how or what we should make “known” to the world.

I mean—reasserters believe that progressives are deliberately violating scripture, seeking the church’s blessing on immoral behavior, denigrating the sacrament of marriage, lowering the authority of scripture, and on and on [and that’s just about sexuality, not even counting all the other differences on first order theology].

I mean, I understand that for reappraisers the whole homosexual issue is about their vision of justice and hospitality and authority and overturn of oppressive institutions . . . and thus is about The Gospel.  And of course, they cannot violate The Gospel.  The Gospel must be implemented.

But that necessarily means that my—and other reasserters—vision of The Gospel is in fact diametrically opposed.

So I really don’t understand it.

If our difference were minor then of course the reappraisers would have said “oh—our bad—we don’t need gay blessings, same sex unions, membership in the RCRC, consecration of non-celibate homosexuals—and of course we’ll pass your silly Jesus is the only way resolution and delete that trifling resolution about the anti-semitic passages in Holy Scripture, if that will make you happy.”

But . . . the reappraisers did not say that, because it would violate The Gospel.  It is, in fact, Core Doctrine for them, otherwise they’d be all laid back and casual.

They are not all laid back and casual.

We are not all laid back and casual.

The two parties have separate and distinct and opposite gospels.

So . . . how on earth, given these circumstances, which have been plowed over endlessly over the past several years on this very blog, can you then turn around and say “but don’t we both want to make God’s love in Christ known to the world”?

My mind just boggles.

So no.  We do not “both want to make God’s love in Christ known to the world”.  Maybe neither of us does.  But there is no way that BOTH of us do.

Because the two ways of making “God’s love in Christ known to the world” are diametrically opposed, which fact has been well and publicly displayed for all the world to see for years now.  And neither side will give in. 

Why? 

Because it’s about the gospel.

[57] Posted by Sarah on 07-18-2007 at 02:15 PM • top

There is no way to speak of God’s love for humans except to proclaim and live out the Cross as the level ground upon which we all either stand or fall on our knees.  The Cross is central as is the substitutionary atonement for sin, which requires repentance.  Repentance means “about face!”  Sarah’s essay makes it clear that TEC’s leadership doesn’t intend to do an about face.

[58] Posted by Alice Linsley on 07-18-2007 at 02:29 PM • top

First, I don’t agree with the Episcopal Church being a member of the RCRC, and I think it’s a little silly to talk about the gospels being anti-semitic since Jesus was a Jew.  I disagree with what a lot of my fellow progressives do and think, but I’m still willing to kneel at the communion line with them.

Second, I’ll address this: “We do not “both want to make God’s love in Christ known to the world”.  Maybe neither of us does.  But there is no way that BOTH of us do.”

I disagree.  Maybe we disagree on some of what that means, but surely we both want people to be in relationship with God.  For me, relationship is first order; doctrine is second.

[59] Posted by Episcopalian2011 on 07-18-2007 at 02:31 PM • top

DioTexGuy, you illustrate what Sarah speaks of in this essay when you state, “For me, relationship is first order; doctrine is second.”  So you would not advocate becoming a Buddhist, since there is no God in Buddhism.  However, you might advocate becoming a Muslim or a Unitarian, since these stress relationship with God?

[60] Posted by Alice Linsley on 07-18-2007 at 02:47 PM • top

I loved the post by Peter Brown. However, I would like to explore the statement:

The liberal faith in dialogue as a way to make one’s opponents see the light is being falsified here, and they’re Not Happy about that.

Progressives view “dialogue” as a tactic to make one’s opponents see the light of the Progressives’ point of view.
Liberals did have a genuine faith in dialogue as way to reach beyond their own point of view and toward a greater understanding.

[61] Posted by Deja Vu on 07-18-2007 at 02:54 PM • top

DioTex,
If relationship comes before doctrine then both the Apostles John and Paul were wrong.
For instance,2 John brings out in verse 9 :‘Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ,but goes beyond it,does not have God;whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.’ NRSV
According to you relationship comes before doctrine,reasserters would say that if one’s teaching and life doesn’t jive with the teaching of Scripture and the Creeds ie doctrine then relationship would be in doubt.

[62] Posted by paddy c on 07-18-2007 at 03:08 PM • top

And that is being charitable,non existent would be more that case in many conservative reasserters’ views.

[63] Posted by paddy c on 07-18-2007 at 03:13 PM • top

Luke 12:1-12 showed up as a Morning Prayer lesson (‘28 BCP) this week.
Fear God the Father, who can cast into hell.  Don’t fear those who can just harm the body.
CONFESS Jesus Christ, the Son.  Do not be ashamed of him in your public witness.
Honor (don’t blaspheme) the Holy Spirit and rely on the Spirit when hassled by the powers of the world.
Another look at how both ideological (interested in factional advantage rather than fidelity to God) and institutional (interested in earthly status) progressives are incompatable with serious Christian faith, witness and lifestyle.

[64] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 07-18-2007 at 03:20 PM • top

Sarah,
Simply Suburb as always…  Bless you.

[65] Posted by Spencer on 07-18-2007 at 03:26 PM • top

Paddy C., you are correct.

DioTexGuy, I’m glad you’re posting here because you’ll have your belief system challenged, and hopefully by being challenged, your worldview will be strengthened and improved.

Regarding relationship 1st, doctrine 2nd.  This is far, far, far too simplistic.  A person has to be in Right relationship with God.  How do we understand what is “Right” relationship?  Answer:  Sound biblical doctrine.

Therefore, Sound Doctrine, Right Relationships, A Proper Theological Understanding of what TRUE LOVE is and how to express it, all go together .

Otherwise, you simply have this sappy, sentimental, wrong-headed idea of what “Love” is and you have fallen for a most subtle and insidious lie by Satan.  I.e., “Love is doing your own thing and letting other people do their own thing.  Let’s not judge and interfere with others’ pursuit of what makes them happy.  And besides God loves us all so much that all of us will end up in heaven, so why “judge” anyone.  I don’t like this “in” and “out” business.  Ooooh, that’s so divisive.  And that’s not me because I’m a loving person.”

[66] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-18-2007 at 03:39 PM • top

TU&D,
Is there a way to have a private dialogue from this site?

[67] Posted by Deja Vu on 07-18-2007 at 03:46 PM • top

Deja Vu, oh-oh.  Am I in trouble?

But to answer your question:  You can click on “Your Account” at the top of the page and that’ll take you to a page where on the left-hand side you can send private messages to anyone registered on SFIF.

Pax.

[68] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-18-2007 at 03:53 PM • top

Ms. Linsley: No, I don’t advocate becoming a Muslim or a Unitarian.  While I do not think Christianity is the only way to be in relationship with God, I do believe that it is the best and most complete way. 

Truth Unites: I’m glad that your glad I’m posting.  You make some good points.  You do need to be in right relationship.  It does go together with love.  By the way, I don’t think that love is “doing your own thing and letting other people do their own thing.”  I think part of love is caring for others enough to tell them when they are doing the wrong thing.  I was a little sloppy in how I phrased my relationship vs. doctrine idea.  Doctrine does point us toward how to have a relationship with God, but believing a theological laundry list is not the same thing as having a relationship.  I think what I mean about the relationship vs. doctrine thing is that we share in common a story, the gospel, and that story teaches us how to have a relationship with God.  How to interpret the story is second-order.

[69] Posted by Episcopalian2011 on 07-18-2007 at 04:30 PM • top

How we interpret the “story” depends on whether we have received the Tradition in full or take it cafeteria style.

[70] Posted by Alice Linsley on 07-18-2007 at 04:51 PM • top

Ms. Linsley,

Who is the arbiter of what the tradition in full is?  The early Christians were quite diverse in their theological beliefs.  I’m not endorsing Gnosticism, but that is part of our early tradition.  Unless you endorse a papal-style system of authority, I don’t know how one decides what’s authoritative and what’s not.  One can, of course, appeal to scripture alone, but scripture has to be interpreted.

I think we all take scripture and tradition in cafeteria style, at least a little bit.  We may have complicated ways to defend our a la carte practices, but we all still do it.

[71] Posted by Episcopalian2011 on 07-18-2007 at 04:58 PM • top

DioTexGuy,
It’s possible that you have been misunderstood, I’m not sure. However, relationship with God has alot to do with whether God says we are in relationship with Him. While I believe that those who TRULY seek will find, as Jesus said, what is important is NOT whether we have a hold on God, but whether God has a hold on us.

So, my hope for you and I and Sarah and indeed the whole world is that God has a hold on us. The best way to be confident that God has a hold on us is the combination of fruits revealed in a person’s life. One of the fruits is right doctrine, and other fruits are desire to live according to Biblical morality.

I realize that people can come up with all sorts of different understandings of what Scripture requires of us, but suffice it to say that people like Sarah, and I suspect most conservatives, will not feel confident about whether a person is truly known by God in a salvific way unless a person’s stated doctrine and morals conform to traditional Biblical and Ecclesiastical standards.

On the other hand, it’s a good thing that you and I are not in charge of who is and who is not known by God. ...By their fruits you will know them…

[72] Posted by Capn Jack Sparrow on 07-18-2007 at 05:22 PM • top

A kind and wise reply, Captain Jack Sparrow.  But then I would expect such from one who walks on water and saves those who cling to him whose arms are outstretched over the waters.

I’m a fan, Captain Jack!

[73] Posted by Alice Linsley on 07-18-2007 at 05:31 PM • top

DioTex Guy:  Maybe we need to back it up a bit before we talk about relationship and doctrine.  Can we first of all agree on who God is?  Can we all agree that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and nobody comes to the Father except through Christ?  If we couldn’t agree on who God is, it really makes no difference whether we are in relationship.  For example, Alice Linsley is no longer an Anglican.  I am, and yet we probably agree on who the Triunune God is.  So when we discuss the Gospel, we are talking about the same Gospel and we share the same worldview.

Splendid article, Sarah!

[74] Posted by Maria Lytle on 07-18-2007 at 05:32 PM • top

I think what I mean about the relationship vs. doctrine thing is that we share in common a story, the gospel, and that story teaches us how to have a relationship with God.  How to interpret the story is second-order.

I would respectfully disagree about the 2nd-order categorization of Interpreting Scripture properly.  Eg., the Mormons share a common story of the Gospel.  They use the Bible (among other texts).  And they teach how to have a relationship with God.

Yet most “orthodox” Christians do not consider Mormonism a Christian religion or that Mormons are Christians.  Many Christians regard Mormonism as a “Christian” cult.

Doctrine, based on sound hermeneutics and proper exegesis, is critical and not to be casually dismissed.

There’s an old saying that still has legs despite its obvious fatal flaw:  “Doctrine Divides, Love Unites”. 

The obvious lesson is to avoid doctrine at all costs and to just concentrate on what you subjectively think is the “loving” thing to do and say.

[75] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-18-2007 at 05:50 PM • top

DioTex,
Sorry,you may call them laundry lists of belief,but for Christianity to be true,they’re necessarily true.
It’s the exclusivity of Christ as the only way of salvation that Christianity hinges on, one denies that and you have a sub-Christian belief which has no connection to Christ and in truth he calls the Apostles,God the Son,and God the Father liars(2 Peter 1:16-18,John 1:1-4,John 10:1-15,1 John 3:22-23).
Would seem a bit silly as well for Paul to write Col.1:13-22 if your supposition were to be considered true.

[76] Posted by paddy c on 07-18-2007 at 06:28 PM • top

DioTexGuy writes:  I think part of love is caring for others enough to tell them when they are doing the wrong thing.

Excellent.  Now how do you discern when someone is doing a “wrong” thing?  And how do you know what is a “wrong” thing?

[77] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-18-2007 at 06:34 PM • top

“Many Christians regard Mormonism as a “Christian” cult. ”

Indeed!  Mormons teach that Satan was Jesus’ brother!  (and a great many other heresies)  Where they get that from with the “only begotten son of God” scriptures, I don’t know, but they do.  From those I have known, they are very nice fine and moral people, the kind you really want to have over for dinner.  BUT, I can’t accept their religion as being Christian at all. 

So, is relationship more important than doctrine?  That question cannot be answered.  Both are required.  That’s like asking if it is more important for an airplane to have wings or a tail.  As Sarah points out in this article, we can’t even debate with those who do not share our same basic gospel, much less have a genuine relationship with them.  BTW Sarah, I simply loved this line…  wink

The game of politics is a hobby for many progressives. The game of argument over ideas is a hobby for many traditionalists.

So it seems to me, we can have shallow superficial acquaintances with those who do not share the same morals, values and faith, but we cannot share genuine relationship with them.  And similarly, as TU&D points out, we can’t have a genuine relationship with God unless it is a relationship based on scriptural principles.

[78] Posted by Spencer on 07-18-2007 at 06:54 PM • top

Before we get too far away from Sarah’s article folks,a question.
Given the seeming ambivalence toward Jesus and His Lordship by several folk in the TEC,ie Muslim Episcopalians wanting to get rid of Jesus,Bishops and open disdain towards His atonement and people cherry-picking what part of the Creeds and the Scripture should and shouldn’t be considered valid,any bets on the life span of TEC come October?
Also DioTexas,it seems that your universalism is a bit trumped by John 1 as well(John 1:9 He shined on all men,the world didn’t recognise Him for who He was(and is),He wasn’t received by even His own people(10-11),yet,‘On those who have accepted Him,however,He has conferred the right of being children of God,that is,on those who believe on His Name.’(v.12 Moffatt).
As Arsenio used to say hmmm hmmmmmm.

[79] Posted by paddy c on 07-18-2007 at 07:29 PM • top

Mormons teach that Satan was Jesus’ brother!

ARE YOU SERIOUS SPENCER?  C’mon now.  Ya gotta be pulling my leg.  That cannot be official Mormon doctrine. 

That’s just utterly ridiculous.  Are you telling me that Mormons are a variant of the Arians who believe that Jesus was created?

Aw Geez.  My directly-across-the-street neighbors are super-devout Mormons and we get along great and our children get along great.  I went in my neighbor’s den and I saw all these Gordon Hinckley books, but I didn’t want to say anything. 

We’re neighbors!  No need to get into a huge religious, knock-down, bruised feelings, never-talk-to-you-anymore argument!  Don’t even want to get near that possibility with a 20 foot stick.

Hence, the deaf, dumb, mute silence from me when seeing all those Mormon tomes. 

But I will have to limit my daughter’s playtime with his daughter.  cheese

[80] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-18-2007 at 07:32 PM • top

Brilliant analysis, Sarah.
There is, I believe, another variable that contributes to the shift of power toward the ideological progressives. Many institutional progressives, and certainly Bishop Lee is a case study for this group, have no firm foundation of truth on which to stand. When one defines oneself as a centrist, one naturally seeks the the shifting center. It is only from there that one so oriented can continue to exercise institutional power.

A partial explanation for Bishop Lee’s more militant stands and progressive pronouncements since last year’s General Convention is that he has moved towards the new center of his Diocese and TEC. Once it became clear that the reasserting parishes were leaving, the center shifted hard left. Leading and speaking from this new center must in some ways feel liberating to those like Bishop Lee because it aligns more closely with their heretofore camouflaged personal values

The primary mitigating issue for this group, of course, is their desire to preserve their standing with the Archbishop of Canterbury—and, especially, their invitations to next year’s Lambeth Conference. I believe they would, for the most part, be perfectly content with a resolution to the current mess that would see most of the GS split away, as long as Canterbury continued to recognize TEC as member in good standing of the remaining establishment and a primary financial supporter of its bureaucracy.

[81] Posted by Georgeb on 07-18-2007 at 07:51 PM • top

Bishop Lee is a case study for this group, have no firm foundation of truth on which to stand. When one defines oneself as a centrist, one naturally seeks the the shifting center. It is only from there that one so oriented can continue to exercise institutional power.

A partial explanation for Bishop Lee’s more militant stands and progressive pronouncements since last year’s General Convention is that he has moved towards the new center of his Diocese and TEC.

Brilliant analysis!  I’d substitute the word “significant” for “partial”, but I do understand that you’re wanting to be charitable.

[82] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-18-2007 at 07:59 PM • top

Thanks, Sarah. I know I’m coming in late in the day for this comment. However, I think another reason for the ascendancy of the Ideological Progressives is that the Conservatives have abandoned the battlefield increasingly since 2000.
With the formation of the AAC following the Righter Trial in 1996, there was a surge of conservative energy to stop the unravelling of the church and to save its “technical virginity” in terms of its formularies, Resolutions, etc. After Lambeth 1998, there was some hope that TEC might pull back from its radical innovations. However, that battle was lost in 2000, and with the formation of AMiA and later the Anglican Communion Network, more and more Conservatives decided TEC was unreformable and their energy was channeled into forming alternative networks and building international ties. This affected the politics of the GC and other TEC entities. There is surely a spectrum of the Progressive ranks, and the Institutionalists had sometimes gotten the Ideologues to hold back or to accept some compromises in order to build a majority against the Conservatives. Now that the Conservatives have left the battlefield, the Institutiionalists are staring the devil in the face. And of course they have no theological or intellectual basis to oppose the radical agenda.
I suspect the same process is happening with regard to the Anglican Communion. So long as they think they have to be on good behavior for the Communion or for the ABC, the Ideologues will moderate their most outrageous programs and ideas (e.g., Resolution B033, if you call that moderate). But if they are cut off from the Communion, or if they are given an assured safe haven by the ABC, then the Ideologues will push their agenda forward, e.g, consecration of another homosexual bishop, same-sex marriage rites, etc.
For those who are interested, I have just posted three articles I wrote between 1996 and 2000 on the official teaching of the Christian Church and the Episcopal Church. I argue that in 2000, TEC lost its technical virginity as an orthodox Christian body. You can find these on my new website http://www.stephenswitness.com. (Sorry, I can’t figure out the esoteric instructions for highlighting.)

[83] Posted by Stephen Noll on 07-18-2007 at 10:16 PM • top

Wonderful article as always, Sarah!

Re: your reference to the Kaeton remarks and “apology”...and the comment from someone who knows someone in her parish….  She must have lots of people on her Blog Surveillance Team!  This is from her blog yesterday: 

<i> Keeping Close Watch
There are those of us who are keeping close watch on the unfolding implementation of the newly revised canons in The Episcopal Church, known as “Title IV” or collectively, in shorthand, “the disciplinary canons.” <i>

TEC better watch out…. the EKBP (Elizabeth Kaeton Blog Police) are on the job once again.

It’s such a cry for help that I really can’t laugh too much over it…

[84] Posted by Liz Forman on 07-18-2007 at 10:25 PM • top

Oops!  Messed up the italics bit.  The quote from the blog should end with <i>“the disciplinary canons.” <i>

[85] Posted by Liz Forman on 07-18-2007 at 10:27 PM • top

Sarah, this is the best piece of yours I’ve ever read - a masterpiece from top to bottom.

If I had known what pure joy - luxury, even - it was going to be reading this, I would have poured a bourbon instead of tap water.

[86] Posted by Phil on 07-18-2007 at 10:59 PM • top

A tour-de-force, Sarah Hey.  Masterfully thought-out.

[87] Posted by Marty the Baptist on 07-18-2007 at 11:07 PM • top

Excellent article and praise from a very infrequent poster moved to compliment and to comment on the categories of worthy opponents so aptly described by Ms. Hey.  DioTexGuy has played a positive role in my case by prompting me to deliberate his critique of Ms. Hey’s analysis in the context of his own experience and world view….an experience regionally similar to my own (formerly under the Diocese of NW Texas), and a world view I certainly recognize, but cannot say I particularly understand very well.  Notwithstanding Ms. Hey’s excellent replies to DioTexGuy, I truly believe there remains a need for all to understand the circumstance of individually continuing a TEC affiliation in the expectation that some sort of institutional (not ideological) balance will be restored. I have seen this phenomenon first hand in the tragic separation of a congregation replete with a pending lawsuit over property…a separation that had less to do with a conflict over different world views than it did different perspectives on the eventual chance for a restoration of institutional stability and at what point in the future might that stability be restored. I suppose what I am saying is that it is important to understand that amongst those considerable numbers of laity who think of themselves as institutional conservatives or even beloved moderates, there will continue to be a considerable reluctance to move away from TEC regardless of whatever opportunity may be presented to do so.  I think that this is what DioTexGuy might be observing as a matter of his original comments concerning his description of institutional stability. Most likely, what this means for him is a chance to observe a long term withering away of institutionally conservative and moderate members who will eventually, but (unfortunately) independently, see that there is no “light at the end of the tunnel.”

[88] Posted by rudydog on 07-18-2007 at 11:50 PM • top

Sarah - when you post something with the warning of a long post, my heart sings and my spirits soar.

Everytime you do an analysis like this, I see new patterns and think new thoughts.

Thank you so much for the insights you bring.

[89] Posted by MargaretG on 07-19-2007 at 05:22 AM • top

TU&D,
Not to take us further of thread, but according to info I have, Mormons believe that god was once a man who became a god.  A council of gods got together and decided to create the world.  They created spirit children who inhabited this world.  Jesus was then appointed the savior of this world but one of his brothers, Lucifer, got upset at this. Furthermore, one day when we all get to heaven, we too will become gods and be given our own little worlds to lord over.  Then we too will have spirit children to populate those worlds.

Can anyone really believe that any of this is remotely Christian?  If you don’t believe me, please do not ask or comment further on this thread, just pick up a book on the heresies of Mormonism.  It will open your eyes.

Yes, I’d say doctrine is pretty important…  Very nice friendly people… BUT…

[90] Posted by Spencer on 07-19-2007 at 07:31 AM • top

DioTexGuy,
Revisionists like you do not believe that doctrine is important.  I find that very sad.  I think this is because revisionists see doctrine as restrictive rules to govern and control thought.  But doctrine is not a list of church rules.  Doctrine is not a list of strict beliefs that the church brainwashes its members into.  That is not the way to view doctrine at all. 

On the contrary…  If “theology” is the study of God, then it is through theology that we get to know God.  Just as with any other relationship, it is through getting to know God that we come into relationship with Him.  Doctrine is just a list of things that we have learned about God by getting to know Him.  For instance, if I were to claim that I know Sarah, but then described her in a manner totally against her character, then I would be demonstrating that I really do not know Sarah at all; furthermore those that did know Sarah would be quick to point out my error.  Our doctrine of God is simply a description of God as mankind has gotten to know God through the ages.  If we don’t have right doctrine, then we don’t know God.  If we do not have doctrine, we cannot have relationship with God and if we do not have ‘right’ doctrine, we cannot have ‘right’ relationship with God. 

Why is this so hard for revisionists to see?

[91] Posted by Spencer on 07-19-2007 at 07:35 AM • top

Re: Mormons being Christians… I was told by an Eastern Orthodox priest who served a parish in Utah that his bishop directed him to receive Mormons by Chrismation (Confirmation) instead of Baptism, since they’d already received Christian Baptism. Then the priest arranged a tour of the LDS visitor center for the bishop, where he was able to find out about Mormon doctrine from the horse’s mouth. As soon as the tour was over, the bishop directed the priest to start (re)baptizing converts from Mormonism, since whatever Baptism they’d received in the LDS Church certainly wasn’t Christian.

[92] Posted by BillyD on 07-19-2007 at 07:46 AM • top

DioTexGuy wrote, “Relationship first and doctrine second.” I am currently working through Dr. Stephen Noll’s essays on the Righter trial. The first The Righter Trial and Christian Doctrine is a detailed analysis of doctrine, what it is and isn’t, why it is not only necessary but good, etc. Recommend it highly, DioTexGuy!

[93] Posted by rob-roy on 07-19-2007 at 07:49 AM • top

Dear All,

I really appreciate all of your kind comments and kudos.  It did take me a long time to put together, but I thought it would be really helpful, and maybe it is!

Again—thank you for the encouraging words in these comments!  It really warms my heart.

[94] Posted by Sarah on 07-19-2007 at 09:36 AM • top

Spencer,

“Our doctrine of God is simply a description of God as mankind has gotten to know God through the ages.  If we don’t have right doctrine, then we don’t know God.”

I agree with the first sentence.  Of our Anglican three-legged stool, that would be scripture and tradition.  So, yes, doctrine points us toward God.  But then there’s that other leg, reason.  Some understand reason to mean what we learn from science and natural law, but I also think it includes our experience as individuals.  For me, there is often a struggle between my desire to affirm traditional church doctrine with what my mind and heart are saying.  It’s not enough for me to accept revelation.  Doctrine also has to become real to me in some sort of experiential way. 

So, I don’t think I agree with what you said about not knowing God if we don’t know right doctrine.  I think that God is seeking relationship with us, and if we open ourselves up just a little bit, God will start coming in.  So, I guess what I think is doctrine is helpful (and maybe necessary) to start us on the path, and that then God will help direct us toward the right doctrine.  And I think God helps us do that through scripture and tradition, and having us weigh our own reason and experience against them.

[95] Posted by Episcopalian2011 on 07-19-2007 at 09:39 AM • top

<blockquote>And I think God helps us do that through scripture and tradition, and having us weigh our own reason and experience against them. </blockquote>  DioTex,
I think you are missing the point, or perhaps have a misunderstanding of Hooker and the Anglican tradition.  One does not weigh one’s own reason and experience against scripture and tradition.  Holy Scripture provides us with guide, or channel, if you will.  Any of our “reasoning” that falls outside the bounds of scripture is, in a sense, unreasonable.  Likewise, tradition is our inheritance from past generations of Christians- the summation of the best thought and guidance of centuries.  Any “reasoning” which we come up with that contradicts the traditions of the Church should be held suspect until it can clearly be shown to be “more correct” (from a scriptural point of view) than what tradition tells us. 
In the first case (scripture), conduct that clearly violates scriptural teaching is sinful, regardless of whether it is socially acceptable, and regardless of whether we can develop a “logical” reasoning for it. 
In the second case (tradition), until and unless a new concept can be shown to be equal or superior to the existing doctrine (from a scriptural point of view) we should continue to accept the traditional doctrine and practice. 
A metaphor for this is to view the Church as a river.  The banks of the river are scripture.  The current of the river is tradition.  Reason may move us back and forth between the banks of the river.  But if we move outside scripture, we have left the river altogether.  What is happening now in TEC is that breeches are being cut in the banks, and part of the current of Anglicanism is being diverted.  What we are trying to do is to shore up those banks again.
Perhaps another way to look at it that is more in keeping with the terminology you have chosen is this: We do not weigh scripture and tradition against reason and experience.  Rather, scripture is the scale.  There may be times when reason will outweigh tradition (the Protestant Reformation, perhaps), but these will be few, and must be well considered before new doctrine or liturgy are adopted as a result.
TJ

[96] Posted by tjmcmahon on 07-19-2007 at 11:19 AM • top

DioTexGuy,

Jeremiah 7:19—The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?

1.  I’m not trying to slam you, but it seems that the progressive wing of the church has put heart and feeling on a pedestal.  If I feel it’s right in my heart then Scripture must either be wrong or needs to be reinterpreted in light of my heart.  I find Jeremiah a humbling check on my feelings.  Comment:  This is also a problem in much of American Evangelicalism, so it may be something more endemic to the American culture than it is to a progressive/conservative debate. 
2.  There should also probably be significant debate over your statement: 

I think that God is seeking relationship with us, and if we open ourselves up just a little bit, God will start coming in.

 
Your statement strikes me as semi-pelagian, but I’m no theologian.  I see in Scripture a profoundly different dynamic.  I was not seeking God, I was drawn from death to life.  I know this is a question we will not answer here, but the difference in “doctrine” on that issue fundamentally colors all we do.

[97] Posted by rwkachur on 07-19-2007 at 11:23 AM • top

Excellent. I think you have dissected it correctly.

The old Henry Kissinger quote: “to bad they can’t both lose” may be applicable here. 

The normal reaction is to root against the ideological progressives given their “full steam ahead” mentality, and to cut whatever deal can be cut with the institutional progressives to slow the advance.  However, I believe that it was the institutional progressives that allowed the church to descend to the current point by not “standing firm” and misleading those in the pews about the seriousness of the problem.  Recognizing this, reasserter leaders belatedly began emphasizing the need for “clarity,” a call which has been answered within the last year. 

Your warning about the possibility of a Chamberlain fudge by the HOB in September is appropriate.  On that issue, it is certainly possible that one or two Network Bishops—those who are resolute about staying within the Episcopal Church under any circumstances—may be enticed to join the effort for a compromise.  (One drafted the resolution calling for a meeting, presumably with a purpose in mind). However, regardless of where one is a Federal Conservatives and Communion Conservative, optimistic or pessimistic, a return to the days of fudge would be the worst possible outcome.  As much as I personally support a new “Anglican” province (whether tied to the ABC or not), I would rather the word “Anglican” or “Episcopal” be erased from the North American lexicon and its members scattered throughout other Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches than for the denomination be a vehicle by which sinners are deceived about their need for a Savior.

As Archbishop Orombi has stated, souls are at stake.  That trumps every other consideration.

[98] Posted by Going Home on 07-19-2007 at 11:32 AM • top

DioTexGuy,
“I agree with the first sentence.  Of our Anglican three-legged stool, that would be scripture and tradition.”

No, we really do not agree on my first sentence.  Herein lies the problem between orthodox and revisionists.  I said “doctrine” was man’s description of God.  I never said “Scripture” was man’s description of God!  Quite the contrary!  Orthodox believe that Scripture is the very breath of God, not merely man’s impressions about God from long ago.  That is why we have this great divide.  We believe that scripture is authoritative because it is God’s revealed word to us, not just a bunch of old books written by man.  It is precisely this different view on the authority of scripture that is the cause of this crisis.

Experience is not in any way part of Scripture, Tradition and Reason.  You are trying to add a prominent fourth leg to your stool.  I am an Engineer.  I certainly trust in science and the laws of physics and I certainly don’t check my mind at the door of the church.  The problem however with just “opening up and experiencing God” is that you really have no way of knowing that what you are experiencing is truly of God.  Using Reason we must square our belief with Scripture and Tradition.  However our personal experience is not part of that stool.  Experience is not the same thing as reason.  If our experience says something contrary to scripture, then our experience is wrong.  The problem is that people value their own experiences over scripture (authority issue) and therefore they reinterpret scripture in a way that suits them or they deny scripture is truly God breathed all together by claiming it was just an arbitrary collection of writings made by less enlightened men.

All I can say to you is that I have “experienced” the God of the scriptures personally and He does not conflict with the scientific world in which I work.  If what your “heart” tells you does not square with scripture, then I suggest you not trust your feelings.  Rather, I would suggest you use your reason to help you read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the Scriptures.  Then and only then will you not only know about God, but as you pray and meditate on His Word, you will become to truly “know” God.

[99] Posted by Spencer on 07-19-2007 at 12:09 PM • top

Of course, the problem with the “three legged stool” concept is that Hooker never said anything about a “three legged stool”. He spoke of Scripture, Tradition and Reason but he always said that Scripture had primacy over Tradition and Reason.  A stool based on Hooker’s writings would not have worked, at least as a stool, because one leg (Scripture) would have been longer than the other two. A more accurate depiction might be a bicycle with training wheels with the bicycle representing Scripture and the training wheels representing Tradition and Reason. I wish the revisionista crowd would stop with the “three legged stool” business because it is not what Hooker said or meant.

the snarkster

[100] Posted by the snarkster on 07-19-2007 at 01:27 PM • top

Sarah,

I just can’t see it. How come someone not believe the Christian gospel, and be a Christian believer?

Part of the reason I feel that we should affirm GLBT inclusion in the church is because I think a position of exclusion may hinder gay and lesbian people from being open to the gospel, coming to faith in Jesus, and into the church.

But, I can tell you this with total sincerity. I know that there are sincere, good Christian people who would struggle with this and disagree. My unity with them is based in the work of the cross, not in total agreement concerning the sexuality issue.

On the other hand, I think there are folks out there in the institutional church who are gay and lesbian affirming who have yet rejected and scorned the sacrifice of our Lord. (I’m not talking about just a difference of opinion relating to a specific theory or analogy of the atonement, but a rejection of the thing itself.) I love and care for them, but I know deeply in my spirit they are not my brothers and sisters in Christ.

[101] Posted by Grace17033 on 07-19-2007 at 01:49 PM • top

Snarkster, whuddayawannabet that the folks who read a “three-legged stool” in the writings of Hooker, are the same ones who see a “high wall of separation” between church and state written in the US Constitution?

[102] Posted by Cousin Vinnie on 07-19-2007 at 01:59 PM • top

Yeah, it’s the same crowd that thinks we are guaranteed freedom from religion instead of freedom of religion.

the snarkster

[103] Posted by the snarkster on 07-19-2007 at 02:06 PM • top

<blockquote> Of course, the problem with the “three legged stool” concept is that Hooker never said anything about a “three legged stool”. He spoke of scripture, Tradition and Reason but he always said that Scripture had primacy over Tradition and Reason. </blockquote>
Snarkster, you’re a funny guy so I’ll share with you my recollection of a quote by either JM or Jeffersonian about the 3-legged stool.

He said that the liberal revisionists have taken Hooker’s 3-legged stool and cut off the legs of Scripture and Tradition.  Then they turn over the now 1-legged stool and sit on the protruding leg of Reason alone.  (They now translate Reason as Personal Emotion and Experience).

Naturally because of this, what spews forward from these liberal revisionists is a bad-smelling stool.

[104] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-19-2007 at 02:08 PM • top

Of course, the problem with the “three legged stool” concept is that Hooker never said anything about a “three legged stool”. He spoke of scripture, Tradition and Reason but he always said that Scripture had primacy over Tradition and Reason.


Snarkster, you’re a funny guy so I’ll share with you my recollection of a quote by either JM or Jeffersonian about the 3-legged stool.

He said that the liberal revisionists have taken Hooker’s 3-legged stool and cut off the legs of Scripture and Tradition.  Then they turn over the now 1-legged stool and sit on the protruding leg of Reason alone.  (They now mistranslate Reason as Personal Emotion and Experience).

Naturally because of this, what spews forward from these liberal revisionists is a bad-smelling stool.

[105] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-19-2007 at 02:12 PM • top

Thanks TUD. I try to add a little levity to the conversation whenever possible. Yeah, I do remember seeing that quote somewhere. But I have to go back to my main point above. Hooker never said anything about a three legged stool and Anglicanism has never embraced the idea that Scripture, Tradition and Reason are all equal. Hooker never ever said anything other than Scripture had primacy over Tradition and Reason which would have made a workable “three legged stool” impossible.

the snarkster

[106] Posted by the snarkster on 07-19-2007 at 02:22 PM • top

Grace,
i don’t know of anyone who wants to exclude GLBT people from the church. What you and many people hear is what you want to hear. The discussions on GLBT people is about their lifestyle. They are expected to be as, anyone else, celibate unless they are in a married relationship. by married i mean just as jesus said, a man married to a woman. If you are unmarried then you should be celibate. After 2003 with the election of an active homosexual to the bishoporic I asked my bishop if then it was ok for me to live with a woman without being married and he said NO you would be served with presentment if you did. He said that celibacy is required for anyone not married but for GLBT it was different and ok

[107] Posted by art+ on 07-19-2007 at 06:05 PM • top

I try to add a little levity to the conversation whenever possible.

Me too.  Dr. Snarkster, would you please conduct a stool analysis for all the liberal theological revisionists that you know and love in TEC/AC and let us know the results that you find?

[108] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-19-2007 at 06:13 PM • top

I understand Father Art. But, many gay and lesbian people who love the Lord, do not feel that it is sinful for them to be in loving, committed same-sex relationships. They would marry each other if they could.

There is no reason why any heterosexual priest needs to just live with a woman apart from life committment.  But, gay and lesbian people can’t marry and recieve an official blessing from the church.

What are they to do if God has not gifted and called them to celibacy? Can you see how many may feel estranged and pressured just to give up on the church, even to forget about following Christ?

[109] Posted by Grace17033 on 07-19-2007 at 07:49 PM • top

But, many gay and lesbian people who love the Lord, do not feel that it is sinful for them to be in loving, committed same-sex relationships.

Grace, do what Paul commended the Bereans for doing, test all feelings against Scripture.

But, gay and lesbian people can’t marry and recieve an official blessing from the church.

Neither can polygamists or those wanting to marry close relatives.  If you think I exaggerate or smear to make a point, advocates of polygamy and incest have published articles and are preparing legal challenges based on the same arguments that you, Grace, and LGBT advocates have used to get the church to strain at Scriptural gnats and swallow heretical, blasphemous camels.  Try again, thank you for playing.

[110] Posted by Milton on 07-19-2007 at 08:23 PM • top

Grace, bless you for ministering to all, regardless of how they live, for we are all sinners.

But please keep in mind Proverbs 16:25:  “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”  Please don’t buy into the false logic of “if it feels good, do it.”

I was a lesbian myself for 15 years, and I didn’t want to hear the truth from the Bible—I wanted to hear what I wanted to hear.  Then the Lord changed my heart within days, and I haven’t had a homosexual impulse in 13 years.  People CAN change. 

Yes, everyone is entitled to salvation and everyone should be welcome in church.  But no, “everyone” doesn’t get to make up their own rules for living…and leaders are held to a higher standard.  I used to also feel quite strongly that I was entitled to drink as much as I liked…and I was wrong.

[111] Posted by WhiteH2OWoman on 07-19-2007 at 08:56 PM • top

Just to be clear, Grace, it’s not about what WE humans think or feel is sinful.  It’s about what God says.  Keep the focus on His Word!

[112] Posted by WhiteH2OWoman on 07-19-2007 at 08:59 PM • top

Sarah,
Rather than add to all of the wonderful spirited kudos to your brilliant piece, I am going to instead IMMEDIATELY get off of the computer, get on my knees and thank our dear Savior for the abundant gifts He has given you, and inspired you to share with all of us. 
You are something else…..

[113] Posted by HeartAfire on 07-19-2007 at 10:39 PM • top

But, many gay and lesbian people who love the Lord, do not feel that it is sinful for them to be in loving, committed same-sex relationships.

But Grace, it has nothing to do with “feelings”!  That’s the whole point.  In my younger years there were occasions when I “felt” like taking revenge and doing physical harm.  Just because I felt that way does that make it right?  Even now, if I followed my natural “feelings” then I would have sex with as many women as I could without any bonds of marriage.  This is what my natural male instincts drive me to do, but thank God I do not live by my “feelings”!  Yes, I am a male homo sapiens which scientific studies have clearly shown to have their brains “wired” for multiple partners and this can be clearly proven by brain chemistry and hormonal agents.  All the scientific study reveals that men are naturally conquerors.  We are wired to seek as many conquests as we can.  Like it or not, that is man in his natural barbarian state. 

Do you honestly believe that man should follow his natural instincts and do what “feels” right?  Or do you think that just perhaps there might be a better way; and that this is why God has revealed himself to mankind and furthermore that Christ came into the world to reveal this more fully?

[114] Posted by Spencer on 07-20-2007 at 06:53 AM • top

What are they to do if God has not gifted and called them to celibacy?

Grace,

I did not meet the person I finally married until I was almost thirty.  During the long single years of my twenties, I certainly did not “feel” as if God had gifted me with or called me to celibacy.  I now see that those long single years of my twenties could have been a lot more interesting!  And, of course, even now, after many years of marriage, there are times when I don’t “feel” that God has gifted me or called me to a life of monogamy.  I have a “feeling,” however, that try to persuade her as I might, my wife would not be sympathetic to my “feelings” about my gift or calling.

[115] Posted by William Witt on 07-20-2007 at 07:47 AM • top

Friends,

Thank you for sharing all your thoughts and concerns. I think part of the difficulty may be in a difference of interpretation of the Scripture. I personally have a very high view relating to the truth and authority of God’s word. But, I truly don’t feel that the Scripture is addressing the issue of people who are constitutionally gay, involved in committed, loving relationships. “Evangelicals Concerned” has some good information about this posted on their website if anyone is interested.

Of course, even the Bible scholars disagree. And, it maybe that we can only agree to disagree.

White woman, I can’t look into your heart. I think people can experience same-sex attraction for many reasons. Perhaps not all are constitutionally gay, and this is even why reparative therapy is effective for some, and not others. Or it maybe for some people there is also a strong component of latent bi-sexuality that is there.

Basically, you need to have a peace inside, and be persuaded that your manner of life is God’s will for you. I certainly cannot judge that.
God knows, and He’s promised that ultimately, He will complete His good work in all of us. Praise be to God!

I think there is a huge difference, though, in making decisions we know are wrong and harmful, based in willful rebellion, such as unfaithfulness to a spouse, or being involved in sexual promiscuity, than in sincerely trying to follow the will of God for our lives.

There are many gay and lesbian people who are faithfully walking out the gospel, in loving, committed relationships with a partner. They are deeply hurt to hear their relationships disparaged as immoral, or their sexual orientation compared to alcoholism or drug addiction. If they are somehow deluded, then surely only God’s spirit is able to reveal this.

I also wanted to share something concerning incest and polyandry. Jesus knew what He was about in affirming monogamy.  Among other things, I’m sure everyone agrees that in our fallenness, it is difficult enough, to maintain a truly loving, equitable relationship with one partner.

I cannot imagine the many occassions of sin, inequity, and jealousies that would arise through trying to maintain some kind of group arrangement over a lifetime. I think ultimately some form of exploitation would become inevitable, and sooner rather than later.

Because the church may choose to bless monogamous gay union, doesn’t mean that we are open to any and every opinion that comes down the pike. God have mercy, brothers and sister!!

Let’s hold each other up in prayer.

[116] Posted by Grace17033 on 07-20-2007 at 09:14 AM • top

Let’s hold each other up in prayer.

Posted by Grace17033 on 07-20-2007 at 08:14 AM

Grace, I’ve read through your posts and your conception of what compassion means shines through. 

However, I am now compelled to exercise the gift of compassion that I have been given by God, and I ask you to politely consider that you are enabling and fueling SIN with your sense of compassion.  Again, please consider the possiblity that you are Aiding and Abetting SIN, sexual sin, with your belief system, and propounding your belief system to others.

I say this in all sincerity.

[117] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-20-2007 at 09:29 AM • top

For Grace: 

This is why I disagree with those who think that people who embrace homosexuality and those embrace Christian teaching can coexist in the same church. Anywhere that homosexuality is embraced at all will eventually prohibit anyone who would seek deliverance from it. They would simply tell those who desire to free of homosexuality that they are “self-hating” and just need to embrace their desires as we have seen re-appraising commenters say here on stand firm. The fact is that transformation does happen and God supplies the strength to be celibate when it does not.

Posted by MattJP on 07-20-2007 at 11:27 AM on the APA thread

[118] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 07-20-2007 at 12:38 PM • top

Sarah’s brilliant analysis describes a situation
that is eerily similar to the takeovers of Russia,
Germany, and China by small groups of zealots,
headed in each case, by a mad man who was
eager to foist his theories on a willing public. 
The “ideological progressives” may not have a
dictator, per se, but they are as ruthless as
Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao in “purging” those
who do not follow the party line.

[119] Posted by profpk on 07-20-2007 at 01:27 PM • top

Truth Unites,

I can see your concern, and I certainly can’t speak for other Christian believers, but I personally would be able to live with this tension. I would never want to tell people like White Woman or dear Episcopalienated that they are “self—hating,” or show an unloving, disrespectful spirit toward them in anyway. It is only the Lord who can judge the thoughts and intents of the heart, and show us His will for each of our lives.

I’m willing to let this up to Him, Truth Unites.  (And, as I’ve shared it maybe that people experience same-sex attraction for many reasons. All are not the same.)

I’m going to be away for the weekend, but I want to thank everyone again for sharing their honest concerns and feelings with me.

God bless!

[120] Posted by Grace17033 on 07-20-2007 at 02:52 PM • top

The figures for distribution of progressive, traditionalist, moderate is interesting.  I would not expect a Gaussian or “normal” distribution, but rather a power law or Pareto distribution: 80-20.  That is, 20% of the population controls 80% of the wealth, 20% of employees are responsible for 80% of the work, or 20% of Hollywood hits account for 80% of the revenue. This is not ironclad: In the Ivy League schools, 75% of the students come from the top income quartile.  With the power law, one might expect that 80% of the Episcopal leadership is progressive, and 20% is traditional (or thereabouts), with these proportions reversed in the laity.  Of course, some of the categories would have to be consolidated to leave only two.  Extending the study of the power law to church denominations might be an interesting exercise.  Take the Amazon or Net Flix phenomena, for example.  In both books and movies, 20% of the releases are heavily promoted, and account for 80% of revenue.  With the advent of Amazon and NetFlix, the number of titles purchased/rented has exploded; it constitutes a huge number of virtual niches, satisfying a large variety of preferences .  In other words, a large number of small sales accounts for about 80% of sales.  We might speculate that the proliferation of Anglican off-shoots in the US is merely a reflection of the power law: a large number of religious niches which fill the needs of a large number of people better than TEC as currently configured.  If that is true, we can expect to see even more splintering. 
profpk: For a chilling look at how secularism and hedonism are accepted as fairly normal today, especially among the younger cohort, see David Kupelian’s The Marketing of Evil.

[121] Posted by Charles III on 07-23-2007 at 08:31 PM • top

I may have missed this in the comments, but this article raises a big question for me: if conservatives out number liberals in TEC, why are the HOD delegates disproportionately liberal?

[122] Posted by texex on 07-26-2007 at 11:15 PM • top

“. . . why are the HOD delegates disproportionately liberal?”

Because they are often selectively appointed and indoctrinated by the rectors who are products of the intensely revisionist seminaries.  The ordinary people do not know how far out the seminarians are who are presiding over their congregations, and they leave such matters in their hands.  The “democracy” that TEC touts is a manipulated pseudo-form of democracy.  I know some of this from the inside.

[123] Posted by Paula on 07-27-2007 at 02:50 AM • top

Paula, the canons stipulate that each diocese gets to decide how its deputies are chosen, right? Has there ever been a serious attempt to change the canons so that deputies would be chosen uniformly by some sort of one-communicant/one vote fashion? Would this make the HoD more like the Church at large?

[124] Posted by BillyD on 07-27-2007 at 07:02 AM • top

I don’t believe that uniform rules of representation has been attempted, BillyD, but the problem is that any change would have to go through the very group of leaders that is the problem.  These leaders won’t give up the power they attain by the present system.  And I feel it’s too late, anyway: we should have been alert about this long, long ago.

[125] Posted by Paula on 07-27-2007 at 07:15 AM • top

“The Dar es Salaam Communiqué affirms the principle that boundary violations are impermissible, but then sets conditions for ending those violations, conditions that are simply impossible for us to meet without calling a special meeting of our General Convention.”

Of course, the HoB could have callled a special GC, but that of course would run counter to their own interests which has always been to buy the time that is always advantagous to them.
They therefore, if they were truly honest and compassionate about it,  have no right to object to the boundary crossings which are necessary to protect traditional parishes from the persecution they experience from revisionists.  Sadly, honesty and compassion is not a hallmark of the progressive leaderchip of GCC.

Sarah, I wish you would remove the comments from the original posting and perhaps provide a link back for those who want to peruse the long list of past comments. 
They are not irrelevant but I would prefer to read present thoughts.
My opinion!  smile

Bill

[126] Posted by Bill C on 09-22-2007 at 12:16 PM • top

Sarah,

As always, a great effort to pull it all together.  Helpful now, and no doubt a major source in the future for church history specialists.  I will add that the predictions will almost certainly be overtaken by events outside the hermetic world of TEC.  Hari Seldon had that problem as well.  smile

APB

[127] Posted by APB on 09-22-2007 at 12:24 PM • top

APB:  Hari Seldon had mathematical knowledge that we can only dream of.
wink

Bill

[128] Posted by Bill C on 09-22-2007 at 12:41 PM • top

Staggeringly good post…interesting how I’d forgotten so many of these little things.

Do we need to add Rhetoric 101 and Rules for Radicals to our orthodox seminary curricula?

[129] Posted by ElaineF. on 09-22-2007 at 12:47 PM • top

Sarah,
By laying things forth as clearly as you have, you have made sense of what has gone on in TEC for those of us who have been spared being part of the Episcopal Church but who are Anglicans. I want to thank you and hope that many people will take the time to thoughtfully read your article.

[130] Posted by RMBruton on 09-22-2007 at 03:43 PM • top

... what does this massive shift mean? And why did it occur so dramatically and suddenly?

Sarah, this analysis is a great contribution to “rightly dividing” the Decline and Fall of ECUSA.  Many thanks for both posting it originally and reposting it now, when the issues are more urgent than ever.

One conclusion that I’ve come to, looking at the flurry of strange activity among our moderately-liberal-but-basically-nebbish bishops in early January this year, is that the Bruno/Beers regime in 815 looked seriously at the situation, panicked at the realization that given a choice probably more than 75% of ECUSA congregations would leave, and took the only action they know how to do: threats and vituperation.  At some point around New Years’, they put out the word that any bishop allowing congregations to leave peacefully would be faced with a personal fiduciary-duty lawsuit and probable inhibition. 

Consider that at this point the radicals realized that institutionally they held all the cards—the Canons have long since meant only what 815 wants them to mean, and the Executive Council of GC makes a rubber stamp look creative.  Consider further that Bruno picked Mrs. Schori as a pliant, inexperienced administrator whose basic management style was the same as his: if the bigger hammer doesn’t work, get an even bigger hammer.

So not only were our institutionally-minded bureaucrats in purple quietly removed from GC power, they were now subject to terrorist tactics from 815.  No wonder some of them flip-flopped, and others (like +Loutit of Georgia and +Jelinek of Minnesota) just flipped…

[131] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 09-22-2007 at 08:30 PM • top

Sarah,
Given your keen mind and analysis above, I invite your and others’ attention to Graham Kings’ essay from BEFORE Tanzania, “To Cleave or To Cleave? Primates Meeting in Tanzania,” which you find right here at the Fulcrum site.  If I understand you correctly,  your ideological progressives and institutional progressives mirror Dr. Kings’ streams 1 and 2 in “To Cleave or to Cleave?”  Is that correct or close?

One interesting thing about this is that Dr. Kings also predicts what appears to me to have happened on the conservative side. He has Camp Allen bishops as stream 3 (which is where I would locate many of the Covenant writers), Bp Duncan and ACN in stream 4 and CANA and AMiA in stream 5.  It appears that this summer, Bps. Duncan and Iker and others in Kings’  stream 4 have merged with stream 5, while some in the ACN have remained in Stream 4 or moved to Stream 3.  (I am amazed that Dr. Kings wrote this 7-8 months ago!).  Is Kings’ schema for the conservative side similar to yours, and how does his analysis on that side compare to yours?

Blessings,
Craig Uffman

[132] Posted by Craig Uffman on 09-22-2007 at 08:56 PM • top

Jill Woodliff says,

After 27 years, the ideological foothold will have been transformed into a stronghold.  The further we go into this 27-year process, the more rapid the ideological transformation will be, because the institutional resistance will have been effectively neutralized.

Jill, as you I’m sure you know, you are a missionary every bit as much as much as Gladys Aylward!  Our prayers <u>must</u> be with you!

Robert

[133] Posted by Robert Easter on 09-22-2007 at 10:42 PM • top

TUD—off topic, but <sigh> yes Mormons do believe Lucifer is Jesus’ elder brother—and pretty much everything else Spencer said, except that WE don’t get to become “gods”—only good Mormon men in good standing, do.  Then they can have spiritual sex and populate their own worlds w/ the multiple “wives” they had sealed to them in the temple, if they chose to call them forth from the grave.  Very chauvinistic religion, Mormonism, among other things.

On topic: so yes, good doctrine IS important.  Life and death important.

I should know.  I am an ex-Mormon.

[134] Posted by Pat Kashtock on 09-23-2007 at 12:32 AM • top

Pat Kashtock:  “...but yes Mormons do believe Lucifer is Jesus’ elder brother…”

I’m very glad you’re ex-Mormon!  Here’s a response that I received from a very staunch and devout Mormon about this question:

Mormon view of the Pre-existence (our term for pre-earth life)

We are all literal spirit children of Eloheim or God the Father (and Mother, but She is almost never spoken of in Mormon teachings).

Christ or Jehovah is our “eldest spirit brother.” First among us.

Where Lucifer fits in ranking-wise, I don’t know. But he also is our spirit brother. So the bare statement you quoted is accurate.  (“Mormons teach that Satan was Jesus’ brother!”)

Among the spirit children of God the Father were many of varying intelligence and power. But Father was pre-eminent among us all. Christ would be listed first among the “noble and great ones.”

We lived with our Father and learned from Him. His purpose in dealing with us was that we become like Him. But at a certain point, further progression became impossible for us. God was fully realized not only in spirit, but also in material. Namely, He had a perfected and glorified body and we did not.

God the Father proposed a plan to us. An earth would be created for us, we would inhabit it and gain bodies. We would be tested there, to see if we would choose God or not. A Savior would be provided to reconcile our imperfections with God’s perfection.

Two of our fellow spirits volunteered to fill the role of Savior. One was Jesus Christ or Jehovah. The other was Lucifer, Son of the Morning.

Jehovah was willing to carry out the will of our Father in full - “thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” were Christ’s words as recorded in Mormon scripture.

Lucifer however, had his own ideas. He insisted that Father should send him, but he - Lucifer - would ensure success. He would force us to obey Father, and would ensure that not one of us would be lost.

This idea did violence to the fundamental law of free agency that God had decreed. The result was a “war in Heaven.” It has been interpreted as a “war of ideas.” Some sided with Jehovah and the Father. Some sided with Lucifer.

In the end, Lucifer was cast out of Heaven along with one third of the host of heaven who had chosen him. Lucifer became Satan and vowed to work to thwart God’s designs from that point on. He, and those who followed him lost their “first estate” and remain spirits with no opportunity to gain a mortal body.

All those ever born to this earth are those who “kept their first estate” and sided with Father in Heaven.

We aided God in creating the earth. God delegated the task to Jehovah, who enlisted us as well. We did none of this of ourselves. All power and authority derived from the Father alone.
————

Mormon theology is not good.  But I confess to liking Mormons very much!

[135] Posted by Truth Unites... and Divides on 09-23-2007 at 02:18 AM • top

Glad you like them, TUD.  For me it depends on the individual.  There can be a real spiritual presence around some that is not Christ, and it bothers me—probably sensitive to it as a result of long term exposure.  My Mom was dying, and put us into the Mormon church when I was eight years.  The Lord snatched me out of it when I was 18.  That was 35 years ago.

[136] Posted by Pat Kashtock on 09-23-2007 at 02:59 PM • top

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