Sunday, June 21, 2009

Where theologians are called out like Klansmen, the crew try to call the shots, and Sarah Palin makes a surprise appearance

I wonder if Jenny Te Paa from our church will find she is at a convention or the shooting of another few shows of complex TV drama in Anaheim in a few weeks time?

Here's the plot so far. Everyone watching the show think that most of its cast are on the side of progressiveness and thus control the fortunes and destiny of the company at the centre of the show (aka TEC). Some watching are drawn sympathetically to the minority of the cast who, siding with conservativeness, are relentlessly squeezed out of power in the company. To all intents and purposes the show is heading to the conclusion of the current series in which the forces for progressiveness will triumph.

But for some reason the script writers have thrown a couple of twists into the plot. One is the creation of a shadowy group of anonymous theologians examining one of the key progressive issues. The other is the threat by the minority conservatives not just to leave the show but to start up another one. The first twist has led to an amazing scene in which an 'open letter' is sent to the organising bishop for the shadowy group:

" An Open Letter to Bishop Henry Parsley from Two Named 'Louie Crew'

Bishop Parsley,

In 1911, when his son Erman was only six, the local Klan came in the dark to the home of my grandfather and demanded:

"Louie, it is time for you to do your civic duty."

Louie stood them down while Erman watched from behind a window, frightened by the torches and the hoods.

Then to Erman's amazemenet, Louie called out the name of every hooded man. Erman thought his father had magical skills, not realizing that as president of the local bank, his father had loaned the money used to buy most of the buggies and horses of the vigilantes.

"John! Gary! James! Henry!......" Louie called to the panel before him; "you know that you are up to no Christian good when you have to hide your face to do it."


+Henry, Bishop of Alabama, Ernest and I still pay taxes on Louie's property in Coosa County. You know that you are up to no Christian good when you have to hide the identity of the special panel that you have appointed to study us secretly.

Nor do you treat all parties equally. This week the MISSIONER, published by Nashotah House, identified The Rev. Daniel Westberg, a professor at Nashotah House, as a member of the secret panel and Dr. Ellen Charry, a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, as the panel's chair. (See page 3 of the
current issue)

The writer had sufficient knowledge to characterize the theologyical position of each member of the secret panel.

Why does one of our most conservative seminaries have access to information that you have denied to all who have requested it, including those of us who share fiscal responsbility with you at General Convention?

End the duplicity. Take the hoods off all members of the committee. Let there be transparency and decency.

I have been baptized.

Louie Crew, L1 Newark"

Talk about the crew trying to call the shots :)

So some reviewers of the show here and here have noticed the striking and somewhat controversial imagery of Klansmen as theologians. Or, is that theologians as Klansmen?

To be fair to the producers a second and more diplomatic version of this twist has been produced - read here.

But this watcher wonders, why the anxiousness being displayed here (or here at Preludium where many posts and comments gnaw away at ACNA and the claims and counter-claims involved re true Anglicanism in North America)? To this observer of TEC it seems inexplicable. Is this anxious presence on the internet a sign of the hidden strength of the second twist in the plot of the soap opera? Could it be that the apparent triumphant progress of progressives is less far advanced than some suppose? As solid an achievement, say, as a Gordon Brown cabinet reshuffle or an Iranian election landslide? Is there, somewhere in the middle of TEC a weight of undecided voters susceptible to the charms of Canterbury or Lagos who may yet either block progress and/or leave for the new show in town, ACNA? Is there a nervous Twitter in TEC which could bring the equivalent of Tehren street protests to the floor of Anaheim? In other words, have the scriptwriters taken a trick from the show "24" and left themselves a thread in the plot that can be unexpectedly reversed? Is the hint of this, for the discerning viewer, the anxiety of certain representatives of the majority!

The anxiety I detect is strange compared with the confidence of Susan Russell (one of the leading members of the progressive cast of the show) in this report from NPR via BabyBlueOnline:

"Reed says the Episcopal Church is following culture, not the Bible. When it ordained a gay bishop in 2003, he says, the conservatives finally decided to offer an alternative. That view irks — but does not worry — leaders in the mainline church.

"The folks that are gathering in Texas [for the foundation assembly of ACNA] represent a small, conservative fringe within the Episcopal Church," says Susan Russell, a minister at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Calif., and a leader in the church's gay rights movement.

"Their goal has been to vote the American Episcopal Church off the Anglican island," she says. "They failed at that over and over again, and now they're trying to re-create a new province in their own image."

Russell believes they won't succeed this time, either. For one thing, she says, they would probably need the approval of two-thirds of the 38 Anglican leaders around the world to create a separate Anglican province in the United States. Currently, only a handful of those leaders have signed on publicly. Plus, she says, leaders of the breakaway faction would need the recognition of the archbishop of Canterbury — and that hasn't happened.

"It would be as if Sarah Palin were to take a small, but vocal, percentage of very conservative Republicans and decide that they were going to create a parallel United States without having the White House at the center," Russell says."

That would be Sarah Palin the feminista certain feminists cannot stand!

I shall watch developments at TEC's Anaheim Convention with as great an interest as Lambeth last year!

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