Saturday, February 02, 2008
Yesterday the Standing Committee replied to the Presiding Bishop via open letter. It is well worth reading. The reply has not been picked up by the ENS as of the writing of this post. Stand Firm reprinted the letter in its entirety and pretty much left it at that. Father Dan Martins, who is most knowledgeable about all things San Joaquin also ran with it early. On the revisionist side, the only person to post anything has been junior jailer Jake, who put something up seven hours after Stand Firm posted.
The timing means little, even bloggers have lives. What does mean much is that Jake excerpted the letter with his own inaccurate, biased and erroneous commentary (in abler, more coherent hands, this is known as fisking). Father Dan Martins also commented on the Standing Committee's response, favourably I might add, whereas the StandFirm post was 'as is' with no official commentary (but check out the comments following).
In my opinion, Fr. Dan Martins is right. However, Jake's point of view will prevail. Why, you might ask? Because the sole authority to decide such matters is the General Convention. The next meeting of the full General Convention is in 2009. The House of Bishops is meeting in March. If Bishop Schori has the votes, they will vote to confirm her actions. If she does not, then the vote will not happen until she does. The safe bet is that she has the votes. I think she has the votes due to her background. In an earlier life our Presiding Bishop was an oceanographer who studied certain aquatic invertebrates. This has well equipped her for handling our bishops, the overwhelming majority of whom are completely spineless.
So did the Standing Committee act in vain? No. For one thing, the Episcopal Church's litigation position just got worse. A lot worse. Part of being allowed to sue people is actually having what attorneys call 'standing'. You have to be an affected party. The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has standing to sue Bishop Schofield and the Southern Cone Diocese of San Joaquin. So the question as to who may act for the Diocese of San Joaquin has just become a great deal cloudier.
Also, the Presiding Bishop has either exceeded her authority in a rather dramatic fashion (Dan Martins) or is doing a new thing (Jake). Either way, there are political considerations here. Until this whole secessionist dust up, the Presiding Bishop was considered simply the primus inter pares. If the other bishops move to confirm her actions, then they will be yielding her a great deal more power than she has under the canons.
Regardless of what happens, life in the Episcopal Church just got a great deal more interesting.
Addition: BabyBlue has much worth reading over at her site.
Friday, February 01, 2008
The difference in points between #1 California (79 points) and #49 Kentucky and Oklahoma (2 points) is 77 points. Georgia had 9 points, so we are only 7 points higher than the bottom feeders. I have every confidence that with diligence and hard work we can be last in the nation, where we belong.
Also interesting is that all but 12 of the states have 20 points or less. The big divide is between #8 Hawaii (43 points) and #9 Illinois (28 points).
My dream is that one day we will have a zero point nation and all 50 states will be tied for last.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I've been involved in a relatively civil if somewhat heated discussion with a minister over the necessity of free speech. He believes that hate speech should be illegal. I do not.
I'm not going to repeat the discussion other than to say that I am right and he is wrong.
But the whole argument reminded me of one of my favourite scenes from one of my favourite movies
Samizdata, that blog of wacky English libertarians, has the scoop.
Personally, I see the ENS side of it, when you are dealing with a church that is growing as fast as the Episcopal Church is, it's easy to lose track of some folks. What is 50 or even 100 people when you have the huge crowd like they had at Hanford?
Monday, January 28, 2008
But to those who do not believe that leaving the Episcopal Church is an acceptable option, that schism is worse than heresy, let me pose some questions.
First, is the Episcopal Church the only Christian church? If you answer in the negative, think about that. If someone leaves one Christian church and joins another, are they schismatic? Does your answer apply if more than one person leaves to join? What about a whole lot of people? What about a diocese?
Second, suppose your bishop is truly awful. I don't mean lying sleazy jerk awful, I mean stealing from the diocesan funds, holding black masses during the childrens' services awful. A truly wretched person who abuses power for kicks. Let us also suppose that for whatever reason, the denomination refuses to discipline your bishop in any way. Heaven knows you have tried, but no one will listen to you. What recourse do you have? What remedies may you rightfully employ? If you remain, your children will have Satan's 666 names memorized backwards and forwards and that black candle wax is nigh impossible to get out of their clothes.
Third, what if the whole church went seriously wonky. I mean the new Presiding Bishop decides that abortion is always wrong, any priest who is not married or celibate gets their marching orders, every church for the entire season of Lent is required to do the penitential service at all services, the 1928 prayer book has been reimposed, and the hymnal has sexist language again. Would you stay? If you stay, would you obey the rules? If you stay, but find you and those who agree with you are being marginalized, would you organize?
What sort of pressure would you put on the organization to change? How would you react if you were told you were free to disagree, but all services would still be in antique language. What would happen if your bishop told your church it was free to send seminarians to either Trinity or Nashotah House, but no where else? Or your parish could choose any priest you like from a list of priests all of whom either believe in predestination and salvation of the elect or are secretly members of the Opus Dei sent to infiltrate the Episcopal Church or were thrown out of Oral Roberts University for being too rigid and doctrinal?
How would you react if you discovered the fix was in, and no amount of pressure, lobbying, politicking or discussion would ever change the composition or opinions of the governing bodies?
Schism or heresy?
I'm just asking.
The sixth in the series will be published at the end of next month. It's already pre-ordered over at Amazon!
And no, I am not getting paid for this.
The krug is an absolute necessity. When I wake I fill it to the top with the world's best coffee and enjoy through the course of the morning.
The world's best coffee you ask? What kind is that, you inquire? I purchase my green coffee beans online and roast them myself in relatively small batches. It's relatively inexpensive, it very much benefits the growers and I get perfect coffee every morning without sacrificing variety. Home roasting coffee is dead simple. Most people who try it and get the hang of it never go back to store bought.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
The best quote so far as regards to this is from a newspaper article: "We wish them well," said the diocesan spokesman, the Rev. Bill Gandenberger. "We're moving on."
My sentiments exactly.
Remain Episcopal is a group of members of the formerly Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. San Joaquin voted last month to leave the Episcopal Church. Remain Episcopal has organized to leave the Diocese of San Joaquin. There are five churches that form the core of Remain Episcopal. In 2006, these churches had a combined membership of around 1,400 with an average Sunday attendance (ASA) of 470.
Yesterday, the Episcopal Church held a pep rally on behalf of Remain Episcopal. It devoted a fair amount of resources to the effort (buses and satellite feeds aren't exactly cheap). According to the official organ of the Episcopal Church, The Episcopal News Service, around 350 people showed for the service.
The diocese of San Joaquin is not especially large, geographically. It takes about three hours to drive from one to the other (you may easily gauge how quickly I drive from this). Despite this and despite being advertised, transportation provided and the best efforts of the organizers, 350 people officially showed. Think about that. That figure includes a significant number of people who were never part of the diocese in any way.
No matter how you look at it or try to spin it, the attendance was pathetic. judging from the photos, the crowd was older and white. The demographics do not favour Remain Episcopal. My opinion, for what it is worth, is that when the dust settles and everyone has declared their allegiance to either the Episcopal Church or the Diocese of San Joaquin, then the Episcopal Church will be looking at closing some of the Remain Episcopal churches. The rule of thumb for churches is that you need an ASA of around a hundred to remain viable. Three hundred and fifty people, even assuming they all are from the area, yields three and a half viable churches.
If you go to the Remain Episcopal website you will see six churches listed. The five churches I have already mentioned and a sixth, St Nicholas, which is shown as a mission. There's a reason they're keeping St Nicholas around, even though it was dissolved by the bishop earlier. Article V.5 of the Constitution of the Episcopal Church require a diocese to have six churches before it can apply for membership. Retaining St Nicholas, despite it's manifest unhealth, gives Remain Episcopal six churches. This keeps the options open as to whether the Reamin Episcopal churches are a new diocese or the faithful remnant of an old one.
What puts all of this into focus is the declaration by the Presiding Bishop that the Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin have been naughty and are therefore no longer the Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin. This follows a declaration by the Bishop of San Joaquin that they could no longer be the Standing Committee as they were members of the Episcopal Church and not members in the Province of the Southern Cone.
Before the Presiding Bishop's fiat, it was entirely arguable that the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin still existed, and that it existed in the persons of its Standing Committee. Now it is a dead diocese. It is defunct. It is an ex-diocese.