Monday, September 21, 2009

Professor Mullins and the Sounds of Silence

I have been trying to be good for all these months and yes, my dissertation is almost on track. But, there comes a time when silence needs be broken and this is one of those times.

Father Mark Harris has published a couple of pretty good posts on the recent spate arising out of South Carolina and Fort Worth. Professor Mullins on the Polity of the Episcopal Church is critically important document that is just now coming to light. It has probably been around for some time and I would hazard a guess that this document is the written form that has been the basis for much if not all of the actions (or reactions?) taken by The Episcopal Church.

I have had a chance to read this document and, IMHO, it is a document that bears some significant scrutiny. Well, actually, having lived through the antics of Mr. John David Schofield and his gang of thieves, it will be well worth the time to investigate the travels and travails of the Diocese of San Joaquin in light of Professor Mullins deposition. I believe there is much yet to discuss with regard to not only the actions of those who would destroy our church but also those who would or are chiefly responsible for preserving our church. We will discuss missed opportunities, we will discuss actions taken and never brought to light let alone responded to in a meaningful way and we will talk about the motives and the means and the ultimate goals of those who "in good conscience" just had to reestablish themselves in a right relationship with Canterbury.

So, by all means read the deposition and the work Father Mark has developed and you might also re-read the work over at Father Jake's place just to refresh your memories a little. Then hop in and put your seat belt and shoulder harness on 'cause we are going for a ride!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Who Is In and Who Is Out or The Big Tent Revisited

There is a growing debate over at Jake's Place about who gets to stay and who gets to leave the Episcopal Church. I know the heading and the initial post doesn't say that but take some time to read the comments section. Fr. Bill, along with I think one other, asks the question should he stay or leave the Episcopal Church. More specifically, is there "room" for his viewpoints, I would assume as a priest in TEC.

This is no small question and yet I think stands somewhat apart from the more general question of the big tent. I would like to comment on that more fully here, allowing each of you to do the same.

Let me start by saying that I have lived and worshipped in some very different places. St. Matthias had a Rector that in his retired years, was the president of the local chapter of the United Nations. His successor, when asked by city council to stop serving the poor and close the soup kitchen at his parish, "God has called me to this service, I will not close it just because it makes you uncomfortable." A true parish in Menlo Park, Trinity Parish. Because of the proximity to Stanford University we got not only a very Anglo-Catholic overtone but some excellent sermons as well. Moved to San Jose and attended briefly St. Francis. The moved to Virginia where we were first part of a mission, Holy Spirit (thank you St. Margaret's) then merged with a church from Triangle,VA and became All Saints Dale City. (A quarter to the first person who recognizes and correctly identifies the "Rector". During this time we had a terrible fight over the building -- some of us wanted to go inexpensively and "green" by building a dome while the leaders wanted the traditional steeple and all that jazz church. Moved to Fremont,CA and St. James Parish. Then moved to Trinity Orange where I served on the search committee and we recommended a woman for Rector- - WOWsers! Moved to Messiah Santa Ana -- probably the greatest single parish I have had the privilege of attending. back to St. Matthias in Whittier (we still attend on Christmas since Wilma's folks live there) and then to St. Matthias in the valley and finally moved to Christ the King in Riverbank. My point, in all of this, we have seen and heard a lot of different clergy, served on a bunch of Vestries, Stewardship Committees, LEm'ed, and searched. Travelled through time and space with the original astronut, JDS. We have seen and worked with probably every type of clergy there is and from all walks. Is there room for both liberal and conservative, anglo-catholic and evangelical? Let me state it this way -- If someone is discerning their way why would there not be room for them? We are/have a huge tent that can cover everyone. The operative words are discerning and of course not doing harm. Our communion is all inclusive and all encompassing we MUST or we fail our own self-imposed litmus test. Oh, and, by the way, anything else falls short of the gospel.

So, now it is your turn -- is there room for Fr. Bill? Is there room for conservatives and liberals and everyone or have we come too far and cannot go back? Must we now play the hand that has been dealt TEC to it's logical conclusion?

In closing, and to help everyone think about this Lynn has put up some music for us at Off Topic please listen as you write.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Beauty of It All

I got it! The diocese of South Carolina is going to discern what road to take over the next 40 days. During the course of this time each parish is going to determine that they wish to leave the Episcopal Church. Each time that decision is reached the parish will strike a deal with the Bishop of South Carolina so that they can take the buildings and the property with them. Generally, the Bishop of South Carolina, the honorable Mark Lawrence, will extract some form of token payment in exchange for the land and buildings. This exchange will "compensate" the diocese for the loss of property and therefore mollify the Episcopal Church. Any extra holdings such as retreat centers will be permitted to spin off by themselves ostensibly to become a "private going concern". Finally, the cathedral, acting as a parish will do the same as any other parish. The bishop, holding no TEC property, or very little except the amounts derived from the compensation from the various parishes leaving will then turn over to the Episcopal Church in the United States of America the remainder. Mark Lawrence will then "leave the Episcopal Church", completely in tact as a bishop in good standing and move to ACNE ACNA to become the heir apparent to the prime minister Archbishop, Robert Duncan.

TA DA! The Beauty of it all. Simple. Elegant. No fingerprints and no hooks, lines or stinkers sinkers.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

When You Come To A Fork In The Road

Much is being written about the General Convention 09 and the two resolutions passed during that convention. B025 and D056 have apparently stirred quite a bunch of emotions for the orthodites. It sort of reminds me of the Chief High Priest the night before the crucifixion where he rents his garments and says, "What more must we hear? He has blasphemed".

Here are a couple of blogsworth your time:

Grandmere Mimi:

Who Can Adopt This Covenant

Father Mark at Preludium:

Realignment Crowd Ramps Up War Talk


Seven Bishops meeting at Canterbury. . .

That is just for starters. There are more around and these point to others.

My point is as it has always been, what is being planned by the Episcopal Church as things move forward? What do I mean? Well, for starters there were seven bishops that travelled to Canterbury with not so much as a "by your leave". What is being done there? Had 7 lay persons chosen that path they would have never been received by the Archbishop of Canterbury AND would have be severely rebuked by both the Presiding Bishop and their own diocesan bishop? What is going on with the Communion Partners, both bishops and rectors? They are claiming to be Episcopalian while acting like Robert Duncan. Apparently, at least for the moment, TEC is buying what the Communion Partners is selling and that is genuinely too bad. But now, is it not time for the Presiding Bishop to ask, politely but firmly, "come down from that fence and have the courage to act on your convictions. Again, where is the plan?

GAFCON snd ACNA and AMiA and CANA and the ACI and a whole host of conservative folks are pressing on all sides hoping that TEC will collapse.

Rather than use any more words I would offer the following from the West Wing (please watch it all, you will not be disappointed nor do I beleive you will miss the applicable points):

As Yogi Berra once was purported as saying, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Friday, September 4, 2009

And So It Goes

Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite authors (read most everything he has written) tends to end things like sections and chapters and books with "and so it goes." Never quite sure what that means until a day like yesterday. Actually two partial days.

On Wednesday evening we all went to the mortuary for a 5 - 7 visit. I have never been a big fan of "visitations" in fact I do not go when invited. This was/is different. Too close. And so we went. And, the casket was open at the request of Jerry's mom and dad. (There is a stoic couple. They have 3 children, two are now dead. Can you imagine outliving two of your three children?)

That was hard. I have seen enough death to last a couple of lifetimes. Picked up too many bodies of battlefields and flown with too many comrades-in-arms. One does certain things because to not do them would be a worse. Occam's razor and all that stuff.

Then on Thursday we did the funeral thing. A relatively Small church, holding about 260 or so was filled to capacity and the outside held another 60 or so. Jerry had friends, a bunch of them. Interestingly enough, though he was not enamoured with the Episcopal Church in later years. If, however, we measure Christians by Matthew 26 and not by ASA Jerry would be at the top of the list. He helped everyone. Want to build a car -- no problem he would work side by side with you doing whatever you wanted him to. Jerry, me and both of my children built cars. My daughter built a bug and my son built a truck and Jerry was the catalyst. We had truly great times. Ask, and you shall receive. Jerry built the mascot for the local high school. Kathy, his wife works there but Jerry built it because he could and they needed it.

Anyway we did the funeral thing with full military honors. He was retired Lt. Col. in the Army and the briefing officer for Edwards Air Force Base. Jerry led many lives. We had an amazing soloist, Jerry's brother-in-law's wife has an incredible voice. She sang Amazing Grace flawlessly. Oh, did I mention she was Jewish? Great lady. That, Taps, and the presentation of the flag to our friend Kathy were faltering points for me. But we did get through it -- don't we always?

Then, as if to punctuate this whole thing with one last laugh, the 41 Ford, Jerry's pride and joy, the car that was driven to the funeral by his son and carried Kathy, failed to start. But, after everyone left and Nathan (Jerry's son came back) the Ford fired right up. It was Jerry, saying goodbye in the only way he could.

To finish this post I offer the following, it will give you a glimpse of the soul of the man I called friend.

And so it goes.