Friday, August 04, 2006

I thought I'd start out with a little fiskatory dining. Our base text comes from here:
Telling Secrets

What follows is her text. My comments begin and end with *.

Bottom Feeding
I’m officially on vacation here in our wee cottage we call “Llangollen” on Rehoboth Bay, but that doesn’t mean my mind is on the fritz. Even in the midst of this oppressive heat (110 degrees Fahrenheit), I’ve been doing a great deal of walking and thinking and writing.

*Thinking is always good.*

There is vacation, but there’s no escape.

*Escape from what you ask? Seinfeld re-runs?*

The nightly news – CNN, NBC as well as the BBC – carry horrifying news of wars and pestilence and famine around the globe. And then, there’s cyberspace. And, email. And now the suddenly ubiquitous and wildly popular “Blogs” – including, it would seem, my own. There is really no escape.

*Ah, the news. The thingy only old people watch anymore. Perhaps because the younger generation gets their information from more detailed and coherent sources. Such as, the internet. As far as escape, I've found the "off button" to provide lasting relief from technology. You can also unplug the nefarious devices. I have no doubt that anyone beset by the evils of modern society will find these remedies both speedy and efficacious.*

Into this came the news of the birth of our fourth grandchild. What a wonderful, miraculous gift is this new life – a blessed respite from heady thoughts and tragic news! Thank you to every one who wrote such lovely notes.

*Everyone that Rev. Kaeton likes, that is. More to follow shortly. Can't you just feel the suspense? And birth isn't a miracle. As a priest, you ought to know better. It's a wonderful thing, but miraculous, it isn't.*

Well, imagine my absolute astonished amazement when this came on my diocesan listserv in response to the announcement of Abigael’s birth:

“Miss Kaeton’s recent ‘notices’ on the diocesan websites and others often leave me with mixed feelings. She is perceived as something like a name brand for crusades the wider communion as a whole does not agree with, things like stop-and-shop abortions, controversial bishops, euthanasia, gay marriage, life-trivializing scientific research, etc. Large corporations often do the same thing. The example which first springs to mind is McDonald’s. Salads there may be; but cheap, unhealthy junk food is still what lifts their profits. Doubtless, most of the readers at the three web-sites Miss Kaeton has addressed would agree with her outrage at the indiscriminate killing and maiming of children in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and The Lebanon. What then of the killing of children in the womb in abortion? What of the death penalty?”

*Let's see, a public post provokes a public reply. Who'da thunk it? Let the totally surprised and justified outrage commence!*

Excuse me? “Stop and shop abortions?” Guess I must have missed my own memo on that – along with “euthanasia,” and “life-trivializing (stem cell, I’m assuming) scientific research”

*Nothing says serious rebuttal more than "scare quotes"*

Oh, but wait! There’s more . . . .

“Yesterday, in ******** (the city where he lives)’s intense heat, I struggled to read to six Hispanic children in English. Where was the affinity notice-board that might have put them in the limelight for the joyous events in their parents’ lives? And, if they had had one, would they have used it to promote the only food they can afford, junk food?”

Why he doesn’t start his own Blog for this purpose, I’m sure I don’t know. I’ll spare you the incoherency of the next paragraph and leave you with his final salvo . . .

*I'll give the Rev. Kaeton mad props on this point. She's right. there's a definite call to ministry on her interlocutor's part there.*

“Dearly beloved Abigael Sophia, I hope there are no wars when you grow up; I hope the entire church is united and at peace with itself; I hope our bishops will defer more and more to Canterbury as their spiritual head and that congregations will move from their present decline to identifiable real development; (Note: Get ready for this REALLY BIG CLUE) I hope the Holy Spirit will lead many more young men (Gottcha!) to lifelong careers as priests in our diocese, hearing our confessions and absolving us when we go astray.”

*I'm baffled by her objection here. I suppose she thinks that the language ought to be more inclusive, but what's wrong with wishing more young men got the call?*

Okay, my blood started to boil when he called my new grandbaby “Dearly beloved.”

*Heaven forfend that we should mirror actual language from the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. Goshers, where will that lead? Best to nip that sort of thing in the bud, I say!*

So, after I took a long ride on my bike, and an equally long shower, I went out with a dear friend and had a fabulous dinner, came home, read for a bit and slept, as they say in Ghana, “like a foolish man.” I got up this morning and did what I always do when I get a mean-spirited salvo like this. I write. A lot. A whole lot.

*She writes snarky mean-spirited salvoes of her own. No defense like a good offense as the saying goes. Of course, the Rev. Kaeton would never write such a thing as it's a tad too patriarchal and militaristic, i.e. too male.*

It was not the first mean spirited attack of the week. The snarky, badly behaved kids over at conservative/orthodox/neoPuritan Episcopal Blogs were having a field day with my essay, “After Columbus.”

*Which to be fair was not nearly as snarky and mean spirited as the essay she just wrote. It was too sensitive and twee to be called mean-spirited. Cause she, like cries and stuff, when things she disagrees with happens. That shows she feels, and cares, deeply.*

You know, I just gotta tell ya. These are the very folk who cause some of us to think that the term, ‘Thinking Evangelical’ is an oxymoron. It’s not true, of course. I am a radical Anglo-Catholic, Orthodox Christian with a joyful Evangelical spirit. I have a brain and a heart and a body and I’m not afraid to use them – sometimes, all at the same time!

*'Thinking Evangelical' is not an oxymoron. Evangelical Anglo-Catholic very much is though. Just FYI. Both Evangelicals and Catholics can be Orthodox, but women who are in open homosexual relationships, can not be. Orthodoxy presupposes either celibacy or matrimony. It's part of the tradition. I can call myself a Californian, but unless I'm from there or live there, I'm deceiving both myself and others. And we all remember who the Father of deceit is, right? Oh dear. I just went all patriarchal again. Revise that: We all remember who the Parent of deceit is, right?*

There are lots of Evangelicals who know how to use their intellect. Where are they, you ask? These days, I think most of them are lying pretty low. Embarrassed, is my guess.

*Were I an Evangelical, I'd be embarrassed by someone who tried to be that and Anglo-Catholic. Actually, I'd be mortified.*

This current new breed of Evangelicals is born of a particularly mean-spirited viral strain. Unless theology is served up plain, no fancy gravy, no meat touching the potatoes or rice and no vegetables touching ANYthing, and everything cut up into nice, equal, bite size portions, AND (this is the most important part) made in exact accordance with the old, old family recipe, there arises such an ungodly howl as to raise the dead, and the theology is immediately dismissed as so much garbage.

*I'm pretty sure that neither Evangelicals nor Anglo-Catholics pay cookery much religious attention. All the dietary controversies that so vexed the Apostle Paul (yikes another Patriarch!) have pretty much died away.

Most Evangelicals I know like debate. The honest, non-manipulative kind. Where people don't cry 'foul' the instant their feelings get hurt. Where they are free to discuss thing openly and honestly and candidly without resort to namecalling and slander. But that's just my experience.*

And for what it's worth, most, if not all, modern theology is garbage. Based on nothing but the Zeitgeist with no relevance other than the wishes of it's proponent and no grounding in Scripture, in tradition or logic.

*It's based on a fairly unintelligent reading of outdated philosophy and a rejection of logic as being inadequate without understanding that that path inexorably leads to a Nietzschean nihilism. Modern philosophy has moved past this and it's laggard sister Theology has yet to keep up.*

The current mean-spirited tactic du jour is that one of them trolls the progressive Episcopal websites, especially the Comments Section, looking for tidbits to feed their voracious appetite for turmoil and mayhem. They need it, you see, to support their fervently held claims that The Episcopal Church is going to hell in a hand basket.

*Blogs ought to be like the letters to the editor. Nicely edited and pruned for complete blandness. And any point that the editor disagrees with reduced to stupidity. The Rev. Kaeton here mistakes Christianity for politeness. Christians may or may not be nice. We are not called to it. We are called to be good. There is a substantive difference between the two. *

These folk can create an entire banquet out of the tiniest little morsel of confusion – and, they are confused by anything that isn’t writ very, very large and plain – no subtly or innuendo, thank you very much.

*Let the snarkiness commence!. If you disagree with the Rev. Kaeton, you are stupid, plain and simple. Cause she's like smart. It says so somewhere.*

When they find one – no matter how tiny the scrap – they drag it back over to their websites and suddenly, a throw away line becomes bold-face headline. Within minutes, a veritable feeding frenzy ensues. It is the most amazing phenomenon I have ever observed in my life.

*It's such a change from my parish meetings and sermons, where no one ever really contradicts me.*

For the past week a term I used has absolutely captivated them (What do they do for a living, I wonder, these people who have so much time for the internet?).
I referred to this practice of trolling for a little speck of dirt to stir up ecclesiastical sand storms of chaos and controversy as “Bottom Feeders.”

*I referred to my opponents as 'bottom feeders'. Gee, I can't imagine why being compared to trash fish would be seen as offensive.*

Oh, Lord have mercy! Like sharks that smelled blood on the water, they were off!

You know what I mean by bottom feeders, yes? From: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

NOUN: 1. A fish or other animal that feeds on the bottom of a body of water. 2. One that feeds low on the food chain; a scavenger. 3. Slang a. An opportunist who profits from the misfortunes of others OTHER FORMS: bottom feeding —NOUN bottom-feeding (btm-fdng) —ADJECTIVE
“Bottom feeding.”

Let me be very clear. I’m not name-calling. Indeed, I’m now more convinced than ever that this is precisely the appropriate term for the dynamic which is currently at work in the church – especially in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.


I’m naming that dynamic and exposing it for what it is: “Bottom feeding.”

*I’m naming that dynamic and exposing it for what it is: “Horse shit.”*

“Bottom feeding” is the operating principle which has given birth to the present schism in the church today. Some folks have been working very, very, very EXTRA hard to make this a reality. Stir up enough controversy, create a few calamities and, voila! It has happened. We now have a church is schism.

*Oh agreed. The relentless drive by the socially concious, the progressives, the leftists, the socialists, the trendy, and the plain apostate have driven most of the old membership out and reduced the faithful to a tiny minority.*

“Bottom feeding” is the dynamic which passes for dialogue and conversation. It’s what allows someone to look at a “label” like LGBT and see a “junk food brand” as did my brother in Newark. It’s what made him see “controversial opinion masquerading as information” as he wrote to someone who complained about his mean spirited letter to me. He really thought I had an ulterior motive in sending out that announcement.

*My reading of it is that he thinks that you're a tad egocentric. It really is all about you isn't it? You want to live your life, your way, gratify your wants and desires without regard to any touch point other than your whims. The idea that you might actually be a sinner is anathema to you. And no, I'm not thinking about any sexual antics you might be up to. I'm writing about the lack of charity, the hatred, the disdain, the wrath, jealousy and pride that emanates from your writing. Being a Christian means being obedient to the will of God and learning humility. Only once your pride is broken can you really begin to serve. But I doubt that that makes any sense to you at all. *

I suppose that by offering this “good salad” of my granddaughter’s birth, I’m still “pushing the junk food” of my “controversial opinions.” If you are looking for scum on the bottom of the fish tank, that’s what you’ll find.

*More scare quotes. They convince me, the Rev is right and her [edited] correspondent is wrong, wrong, wrong!*

“Bottom feeding” is what allows my conservative, orthodox and neo-Puritan friends from other Blogs to write to me in all sincerity, and say, “I really just want to engage you in conversation. I sincerely want to understand. Tell me, please, where it is in scripture that God blesses homosexual sex?”

*Because only bottom feeders have any regard for Scripture.*

When I point them to theological texts and essays which have been written, only for oh, for the past THIRTY YEARS, they act surprised and don’t understand my frustrated response. “St. Elizabeth of the Perpetually Huffy,” one called me.

*Shoe, fit. I mean, they have no reason to be huffy, do they? The only possibly aggrieved party in this failed dialogue are the progressives. That's cause they're so caring and stuff.*

One woman made a sexual innuendo about “Bottom feeding” that made even me blush. Another was convinced that in using the term “Bottom feeding” that I was name-calling so he called me (Ready?) “Lizzy the Lezzie.” I mean, I haven’t been taunted with that since I was in the sixth grade. How old are these people?

*Oh, about your age, I'd say. Something about the generation that grew up in the Sixties makes them resistant to replying to requests directly and honestly. And the sixties crowd seem to get childish rapidly.*

So, I refer them to a marvelous essay, written in February of this year by my sister in Christ, the fabulous, Susan Russell.

*Yay Susan! Whatta gal! *

In that essay, she rightly says that no where in scripture does God bless things like: the ordination of women, interracial marriage, opposition to the death penalty, or the abolition of slavery.


*I can't imagine why! It wouldn't be because it was completely non-responsive. Naaahh.*

Swear to God! You just can’t make this stuff up.

*Jeepers, I reply by linking to an unthinking and belligerent essay that provides no reasons for anything, merely demonstrating that those darn patriarchs were like totally un-progressive, big surprise there, and not nearly as sensitive and caring as Sue and I are. And my correspondents, idiots that they are, don't like the belligerent and patronizing screed that I link to. The farging bastages.*

That’s because, “bottom feeding” does not allow you to like anything. If all you are trolling for is the bad stuff, you’ll never find the good stuff.

*Sure you can. Your former bishop, Spong, certainly did. He made up his reasons for remaining a bishop out of whole cloth. For catfish, trash is the good stuff. The moral here is don't press a bad analogy too far.*

One person did write that some of the tastiest creatures in the water are bottom feeders: lobsters, crab, catfish, and eel. I suppose that’s true. But, what makes them so good is the care with which they are prepared and served. Eating that stuff raw or from polluted waters can make you sick.

*You may know a lot about being a priest, but you know little about catfish, not to mention crab or lobster. No kidding. Stop with the bottom feeder analogy.*

If you are specifically looking to benefit from others, you are eating raw fish which has been made rancid by some very polluted waters.

*I like this sentence a lot. it insults, but indirectly and inserts a straw man jibe in there as well. It's an elegant little jab.*

I have some ideas about the reason “Bottom feeding” is the dynamic du jour, but that’s another essay for another day. Abigael is coming home from the hospital today. Her mother says she smiles a lot and moves her mouth when she sleeps. Must be gas, she says. My grandmother would say she’s getting last minute instructions from the angels.

If you pick up your heads\ from what you are doing, hush the noise in your life, and keep your mind still, you can hear them, too. The angels, that is. Tonight, a young family is bonding together and growing in love. There is great rejoicing in heaven.

Shield the joyous, Lord. There are so many who simply lie in wait to snatch away joy. Now, more than ever before, pray fervently to God to shield the joyous.

*This is what is called deflection. "I know I've been hateful and cruel, but look at the pretty baby. Isn't the baby pretty? You wouldn't want to raise your voice against me with a pretty baby present would you?" It's actually pretty contemptible. Instead of protecting the weak, she's shielding herself behind the weak. Now who else in the world is behaving in a similar manner right now? *

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