Saturday, August 23, 2008

Un Cri de Coeur

I know I have an active fantasy life. But answer me this: What could anyone do if an Episcopal bishop said to his dissenting clergy "Go with God. You may not leave the diocese with debt, and if there are any in your congregations that wish to remain Episcopalian you must make provision for them. If the diocese has helped you financially, you must repay us. But except for these things, you may leave. If ever you change your mind, we will welcome you back."

What could anyone do to such a bishop? Now some dioceses are on life support from 815, and they are vulnerable. But if the diocese is self-sustaining, what then?

So why don't more bishops behave as above? Is it wounded pride? Fear of the Presiding Bishop or of censure from their peers?

The litigation posture of my church bothers me far more than the ordination of Gene Robinson. The latter was the ordination of an unworthy fellow. That has happened before and will happen again. That it offended the majority of the Anglicans the world around is bad and needs to be addressed, but it was a one time event (so far). The lawsuits represent the Episcopal Church turning on its own members. And they represent an ongoing gross breach of the conduct required of us as Christians as well as a monumental lapse of grace and charity on our part.

The Episcopal Church is dying. Even if the numbers improve, it will continue to die so long as we not only sue our own, but think it appropriate. We need a lot less of Bishops Mathes, Bruno, Lamb, Schori and Lee and a lot more of Bishop Howe.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Last Time We Split

I read a quotation from this on the House of Bishops and Deputies mailing list. Here is a taster. The entirety is well worth the read.


We meet, to-day, under circumstances very unlike any which have ever surrounded us since our connection as Bishop and people. Hitherto we have assembled as an Ecclesiastical Council, with no cares resting upon our hearts save those which concerned the Church of Christ. To-day we feel most painfully, in addition to these, the sorrow which arises from the severed ties of friendship and of country. Hitherto peace has ever smiled upon our meetings with her bright face of prosperity and security. To-day the whole land is resounding with the preparation for war--war with those who, until a few months since, were our countrymen and our brethren. Hitherto our Church has moved undisturbed through all the storms which have agitated the civil State. To-day a stern necessity is laid upon us to examine relations which we fondly hoped would be indestructible. May God's Holy Spirit shed more abundantly than ever upon us the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, and may we receive grace to put away from us all pride, prejudice, and passion, and to consult together as the children of the God of Love and disciples of the Prince of Peace.

As an ordinary rule, the Church of Christ has but little to do with political events, and our own branch of that Church has most scrupulously avoided all entanglement with parties and their unceasing conflicts. She has ever inculcated the Apostolic rule that "the powers which be are ordained of God," and has enjoined upon her members the Christian duties of reverence for established authority, and of obedience to law and order. Even up to this moment, through all the angry discussions, and excited passions of the last seventy years, she has never, in any of her numerous synodical conventions, taken any part in the sectional movements which have agitated and convulsed the Union. Although the ablest laymen of the country, many of them politicians, warmly engaged in the current strife of the day, have held seats in her councils, they have invariably abstained, while in Ecclesiastical session, from all interference with politics, and have ever confined themselves to the legitimate business of the Church, the advancement of "Peace on earth, good will towards men." Whatever may have been their private opinions, they have carefully held them in abeyance, while engaged in the councils of the Church. This wise and Christian conduct has made the Episcopal Church a wonder and a glory in the land, and while most of the other Christian bodies of the late United States have been engaged in strife and bitter contention, and have many of them long since severed all christian union and communion, our Church has never permitted these distracting questions to enter within her consecrated walls. Amid the present confusion and distraction of the country, she can lift up clean hands and a pure heart and appeal to the God of Heaven that she has had no part nor lot, as a Church, in producing the strife which is rapidly marching to dip its feet in blood.

But while, as a Church, she has had no share in producing the condition of things which exists around her, she is nevertheless involved in that condition, and cannot, by any means, be made independent of it. Every member of the Church is a member likewise of the Commonwealth, unless, as Hooker says in the 8th book of his Ecclesiastical Polity, "the name of the Church be restrained in a Christian Commonwealth to the Clergy, excluding all the residue of believers." And being members at the same time of the Church and of the Commonwealth, the circumstances and relations of the one must affect the circumstances and relations of the other. 'Tis true that "under dominion of infidels" as in the times of the primitive Church, "the Church of Christ and their Commonwealth were two societies independent," but in that case a state of antagonism existed between Christianity and Paganism, which absolutely forbad any mutual dependency between them. But when the Commonwealth, as in our times, is, if not professedly, at least practically, Christian, it is almost impossible to draw any line which can separate the relations of the Church from the relations of the Commonwealth. The actions of the Commonwealth being the actions of the citizens of that Commonwealth, and those citizens making up the body of the Church and forming its Legislature, there must be, inevitably, a mutual relationship and dependency. It can not be got rid of, without abolishing the whole framework of constitutional and canonical law which binds the Protestant Episcopal Church of this country.

See For Yourself

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wiki Wonderfulness

An alphabetical list of eponymous laws.


Just watch:

(H/T Anchoress)

Virginia and the Prediction Biz

Judge Bellows has handed down yet another decision in the Episcopal vs Anglican suit over in Virginia. The Episcopalians got their clock cleaned yet again and all that remains is a sixth decision in October. That means that its that time of year when losing litigants thoughts turn to appeals.

Some Virginia based gurus have indicated that the case would likely go straight to the Virginia Supreme Court. From there the only possible appeal would be to the US Supreme Court. Either court could send the case back down for more hearings, review or revision.

As far as predicting the future, my crystal ball has been wonky of late. I can say that the burden of persuasion is on the appellant when a decision is appealed. But appellants do win from time to time. Regardless of what Judge Bellows decides in October, the smart money is on the case being appealed. So it seems entirely likely the Virginia Supremes will get this case. Regardless of what they decide, both sides have the wherewithall to appeal to the US Supreme Court. But that is where it gets tricky.

There are only a few cases that the US Supreme Court must hear. The vast majority of cases they do hear are ones they decide to hear, that is they are discretionary. As near as I can tell this suit presents no issues that would require a hearing by the Supremes. Further, as far as discretionary suits go, they generally only like to select cases where the US Circuit Courts of Appeals have split. That is where the lower federal courts disagree.

This case concerns an obscure and unique Virginia law. Unless there is a gross miscarriage of justice, I do not see the Supremes picking it up. Virginia just doesn't have the reputation for shameless injustice that state supreme courts like Florida, New Jersey and California have. The Supremes have already had their big constitutional law case with Heller, so they are guaranteed legal immortality.

That means, unless something goes horribly wrong, one appeal and it's all over.

Of course I may be wrong....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Musings on Politics

The Mainstream Media has gushed over Obama like a fourteen year old girl over Menudo. At the same time his polls have declined steadily. McCain has been ignored by the press since he cinched his nomination. His polls have improved steadily.

I'm thinking that at this point in time in America, it's better to be ignored by the press than not. And further that it counts as a mark of honour if the press does not like you and a mark of shame if they do like you.

Maybe what Obama needs to do is slap a reporter around.

I'm just saying.....

Every Home Should Have One

From here.