Sunday, June 19, 2011

Real Unclear Politics and the Anglican Communion

Time for a little confession. I am a keen follower of politics. I have toyed with the idea of adding to the sidebar of ADU the links I regularly click in order to feed my keenness. Problem: some of these sites are somewhat more robust (shall I say) in the language they use to describe people, not all of whom are miscreant politicians. One site I have no problems linking to, and it is already here on ADU's sidebar, is Paul Krugman's The Conscience of a Liberal. This is a model blog written by a genius of both economics and English. I read it to learn economics and to be forced to think about what economic strategy really ought to lead the world forward out of this Great Recession. If Krugman is wrong (and mostly I think he is but I cannot match his 'wonkish' analysis) then the economist(s) showing us the right way forward will be very clever.

Another site which is invaluable for feeding a political habit, also US orientated, is Real Clear Politics. Two or three times a day, seven days a week, it provides a dozen or so links to articles written by the best of political writers from the best of newspapers and journals. I do not read them all, but enjoy the pleasure of clicking on one or two which catch my eye. As far as I can tell this is a balanced site addressing a highly partisan scene.

If I have learned one thing from my reading of US politics, it is that it is far from clear. What is really going on within US society? Why is it so partisan? How come the Republicans have moved so far to the right? Or have they? Is that agitprop misinformation from leftist elements in the punditocracy? What is this thing with Sarah Palin? Is she the vacuous, ill-informed person widely portrayed in the media? If she is, how come she warrants all the attention she effortlessly secures? Surely if she has an actual chance of gaining hold of real levers of power the attention should be on US voters? Last time I looked US elections could only be 'bought' via publicity, some of which can be secured for advertising dollars. Are the media in Palin's pay? They seem to be giving her a lot of free publicity!

As an Anglican trying to keep abreast of Anglican Communion politics, I cannot avoid paying attention to what is happening in the North American Anglican/Episcopalian world, in particular what is happening in TEC and its mirror Anglican images, ACNA, AMiA, CANA, etc. Sometimes the mirroring of those politics and US politics seems uncanny, especially when measured with a gauge called 'partisanship'. Again, I am often left feeling quite unclear about what is really going on.

That means I also feel unclear quite often about what is going on in the Anglican Communion. Are dark and devious forces at work in (choose from) the mind of the ABC//the AC office//the ACC//the PB and her officers in 815? Are those forces working to bind us together under an Anglican pope replete with Anglican curia to enforce his or her rule, or divide us in two (or more parts), one of which will be an enlarged TEC with the "C" standing for "Communion"?

Interestingly, some of what is going on (if, indeed, there is anything at all) will likely come to a head at the next ACC meeting, set down for Auckland, November, 2012. How do I obtain press accreditation? :)

You will understand then that I do not quite know what to make of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. I find some people talking about her in exalted terms, reserved for modern and post-modern saints (Mother Teresa, ++Tutu, Dalai Lama). She has her critics, not least in the area of theology, since among her few pronouncements with analysable theological content are some statements which, at best, are subtle-but-ambiguous explorations of great doctrines. At worst, these statements lie on a continuum with statements of liberal or progressive Anglican bishops since Charles Gore was a lad.

Now an old observation pertaining to her election is receiving a new examination in some blogs (one example here), also noticed in a Church of England Newspaper article. This too seems to be part of the unclearness of TEC if not also Communion politics. Was ++KJS elected with forward propulsion from a supporting resume which evidenced an exuberant confidence about skills and experiences? Or was a vetting process costing $200,000 curiously disinterested in checking the most basic of facts, facts which recently have been wiki-tidied up? Were the  forces which elected her expressive of a concerted political effort to secure a political outcome as much as the election of a specific person? Are those forces still at work in the backrooms of TEC and the Communion?

Yet Conger's article reminds me of a very curous fact about ++KJS' election: among those forces were some of the extreme conservative bishops of TEC, intent (it would appear) on a form of political wrecking.

Generally I subscribe to the 'cock up' theory of politics rather than the 'conspiracy' theory, at least in states and organisations where free votes take place. Outcomes come about through accidents and failures as much as through planning and procedure. Conspiring to change the course of history in democracies is a kind of indulgent fantasy always liable to be frustrated by the good sense of voters. So, unclear as I am about these matters, I wonder if anyone in the Communion really knows what is going on, least of all what the ending might look like.


Brother David said...

Truthfully, I doubt that anyone elected +KJS because of her resumé. I doubt that many saw this doctored up resumé. I am not a member of TEC, but I had heard nothing of the resumé issue until it was brought up here on your blog Peter. I believe that if you made 1000 random phone calls to TEC members, that few would even know anything about the resumé, let alone have an opinion regarding the issue.

It is a non-issue that muck rakers appear determined to stir up for lack of anything else. There is not much news really when it comes to +KJS. She just quietly goes about her duties mostly. Which entails visting a number of dioceses a month, consecrating an occasional bishop and a bit of travel at times.

I think that she is kind of boring, only topped by the boring life of my own Presiding Bishop, +Carlos and the other 5 primates of the Americas.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,
The people who saw the resume were the electors at the GC. I expect 100% of the electors there read the resume. A notable proportion of them had an opinion about the resume, namely, the opinion they expressed in their vote to secure her election.

Be that as it may, she has been elected and goes about her duties. Perhaps it is all as boring and uneventful as you make it. In many ways I hope that is true. It would be a pity to wake up one day to find that the Communion was being organised via the opportunity its haphazard structure presents, according to a plan which very few knew about.

Anonymous said...

An interesting post.

I don't think the PB was elected based on her resume, which obviously the deputies at GC saw since it was distributed there -- other than that the resume needed to make her at least somewhat credible and it *clearly* needed padding as far as actual *paid ecclesial work experience*, compared to the other revisionists running like Neil Alexander and Gulick.

The "Rascally HyperConservative Bishop Cabal Elected KJS" theory got wheeled out almost instantly by -- ironically -- the moderate to moderate revisionist bishops who were really depressed over her election, had their own ideas of who they wanted to see elected, and who 1) knew she was a radical revisionist activist who would be like a bull in a china shop and 2) were trying to figure out a way to explain to their parishioners that she would never ever have been elected but for the Rascally HyperConservative Bishop Cabal. There was a big motive for them to propagate that theory, since her election really appalled them and they had guessed that Bishop Parsley would be elected as the front runner "moderate" [sic, big time].

The theory, as they postulated it, was that the only way someone as radically revisionist as Bishop Schori [who was almost as unknown and as much of a long shot as Duque-Gomez of South America] could have won is through other votes than the radical revisionists at the convention. [At the time they really didn't want to acknowledge that the vast majority of the bishops of TEC *are* radically revisionist activists -- they were still living in the "surely this is still a moderate HOB" world.]

Problem was . . . almost *none* of the conservative bishops were going to vote for someone who was a weasely calculating second version of Griswold. As I recall from my conversations with them or their acquaintances, only one conservative could bring himself to vote for Parsley when it looked as if Schori was going to be elected.

And there was apparently a revisionist bishop voting bloc led by Bishop Bruno that had unified their vote around Schori [for political reasons I won't get into].

On the final ballot, Bishop Schori received the necessary 95 votes out of 188 to win. Bishop Parsley received 82. Bishop Jenkins 3, Bishop Duque-Gomez 6, and Bishop Alexander 2.

There was a 13 vote difference between the two leading nominees and the supposed four conservative bishops who voted for Schori weren't going to make up that difference.


Brother David said...

That is the point that I am trying to make Peter. I followed the GC that elected her. I remember nothing about her resumé. I have heard nothing about a paper resumé that was submitted to both houses of GC that contained this one line of over exaggeration. I have only heard of it on a Wikipedia page. Not likely anything that she put up.

Most Anglicans in Mexico, Canada and the US are aware of our seminaries here. We would have known if she had been a seminary Dean, long before her election. The time period of her involvement with the school of theology in Oregon was even before her election and consecration as a bishop.

Various parishes and dioceses in North America have educational programs labeled schools of theology and no one confuses them with accredited theological seminaries.

No one voting for +KJS thought that they were electing a former Dean of an accredited Anglican theological seminary in North America and it is ludicrous for anyone to assert that that was what folks believed.

Folks raking this muck are desperately grasping at straws and insulting the intelligence of Episcopalians/Anglicans of NA, as if we are ignorant and unaware of our own educational cultures.

The fact that you are giving any weight to this as you have makes you appear uninformed about the realities on the ground here in our part of the world.

Paul Powers said...

I'm sure that either David or Sarah will correct me if I'm mistaken, but it's my understanding that the House of Bishops elects a PB from its membership and the House of Deputies confirms that selection. Bishop Jefferts Schori undoubtedly attended previous meetings of bishops, so many of the bishops would have known her personally and perhaps saw qualities in her that outweighed her relative lack of experience (12 years from ordination to the priesthood to election as PB). I really don't think her being "dean" of a small school of theology that nobody ever heard of (since it never existed) was a significant factor in the decision to elect her.

Those in the TEC who are dismayed at her election should take some comfort in the fact that the PB serves a 9-year term. Her successor should be elected at GC 2015 in Salt Lake City and should be installed sometime in 2016.

Peter Carrell said...

I am grateful to the clarification from Paul and David here that being named as 'dean' of a 'school of theology' within the United States of America (which must have thousands of schools of theology/Bible schools, etc) would not cut any particular ice with electors, all of whom would know which were the accredited schools of theology and which were glorified parish educational programmes.

Father Ron Smith said...

This sounds to me suspiciously like the U.S. conservatives 'beat-up' over the alleged origins or the President.

Whenever sometime attains to high position - even in the Church - there will inevitably be detractors - It is the sport of the disaffected.

My first impression - on meeting up with Bishop Katherine and having conversations about TEC policies while she was in Christchurch - was that she was a person of great personal integrity, who wants to open up the grace of the Gospel to all comers - regardless of their perceived differences from the mainstream of Episcopal con-evos.

James said...

David, your theory might be credible if she weren't described as "Dean" of "The Good Samaritan School of Theology," and this was just a paper CV passed around, and not the official election booklet, which describes the "vetting" process in some detail on the first page - so readers would be expecting quality, "vetted" information - and not a "parochial" designation, or "what the rector called it." $200,000 was spent in nominating & vetting by the committee.

This speaks to how we're willing to use language in different contexts. If I call our Sunday School "St. Matthew School of Theology" amongst the members of the Sunday School - it's no deception. If I use this language on a CV in order to try to get a job - it's a different context, and has a different meaning. If I want to claim that it just means "My Sunday School" - I need to explain that on the CV, and not explain later.

When this language was spotted - if only by +KJS herself - she (and anyone else who saw the potential for deception) should have alerted others. It also says a great deal that, as far as we know, no one asked for clarification of this entry in her Ministry Experience - were many reading according to the hypothesis you suggest, one would expect at least one person to ask for an explanation, in order to provide clarity for the rest who don't assume that parishes can claim their adult Sunday School class as a "school of theology" in official publications with the expectation of important discernment for an election - especially that of a Presiding Bishop and Primate. And if many knew, but did not speak up or seek clarity for all - what does this then tell us about this group of many, and possible embarrassment or fear of repercussions? And of the general political culture?

I think, David, that in the broader issues here, there's also a prominent role of "the conservatives" in the general political climate that prevented transparency in this case. But we will be largely speculating until there's a credible investigation.

I'd suggest, David - that it's important that this issue not be indiscutable - this is a rather large election anomaly. Simply saying this is a non-issue just isn't credible - we even have TEC Church Center trying to remove this information from Wikipedia. If it were such a "non issue," ENS should have sent a release about the Presiding Bishop's version of events shortly after the 2006 article that contained her words on the matter.

Part of what prevented transparency in the beginning was the polarity between TEC loyalists and "conservatives." This isn't healthy. Many "conservatives" actually believe this will never be investigated, and that simply: "revisionist activists lie." I'd suggest: trying to keep this indiscutable by questioning motives of those who wish to draw attention to this election anomaly, or suggesting various things about their character, won't help the problem of polarity, and "conservatives" will see it as part of "revisionist" cover-up (with justification, after the Wikipedia deletion). It's better to encourage Episcopalians and Anglicans to think about this and discuss it openly, looking at facts, thinking of real consequences, and thinking of real means of improvement - for the sake of maintaining transparent and honest church governance. Because this is an essential part of democratic process, and that's also something The Episcopal Church prides itself in.

James said...

FWIW - I'm not sure it was the PB herself who is ultimately responsible for the language in the booklet - I'd tend to think the Nominating Committee would be more responsible. There are also reasons why they may have, at the moment, found this language acceptable. There are a number of ways of looking at all the facts so they make rational sense, without imagining the PB or her supporters to be evil conspirators - plenty of possible "mitigating circumstances" at play here. One way of seeing this is more a case of ill-chosen language and acts of omission.

But the "this is no issue" response - this response most certainly doesn't wash with me, and smacks of a bit of a "knee-jerk" reaction (which is understandable at first) in a church political climate which is highly polarized. I do think that at this point, we need to invite more discussion and investigation, rather than trying to smack it away. This can also be an opportunity of helping the polarity - so "conservatives" learn more trust of "liberals." If bringing awareness to this issue and discussion of it is always smacked aside, that polarity will only grow. At the very least, what can be said of this issue is it's a transparency and honesty question; the language is most certainly questionable. It's also not as if this general issue has no consequences for the church - in its rather indiscutable character amongst loyalists, and the assumptions made amongst "conservatives," it's done a lot already to create a wedge between the two. That alone is worth thinking about and discussing - about what we can do about that political culture to heal and bring understanding.

Brother David said...

James, now three North Americans, who would certainly be more in the know about the milieu in which we live and move and have our being, and who come from very different positions, have told you it was pretty much a none issue.

Why not spend this energy investigating the Archbishops of your own church who beat up on the members of the CoE group who choose bishops in your church and make them cry, as well as dragging them off to the loo for a thrashing.

Paul Powers said...

I realize this is somewhat off-topic, but as a further clarification, I should explain that some dioceses in TEC have non-accredited "schools of theology." The George Mercer School of Theology in the Diocese of Long Island is an example. While these schools may have some students who are studying for the priesthood, their primary focus is often on diaconal and lay ministry formation.

The lack of accredidation means that they cannot issue degrees (they often give certificates or licences instead), and their credits may not be transferable to other institutions. Nevertheless, the quality of instruction is usually higher than in a typical parish adult Sunday school.

The bishops and deputies may have assumed that this was the kind of theological school that she was dean of. However, I agree with David and Sarah (that's not something you're likely to read very often) that it probably wasn't a major factor in +KJS's election.

I'm not a fan of +KJS, and I don't see her primacy as being as placid as David depicts it. And I'm happy that she isn't my primate anymore. But this whole deal with the padded CV and the Wikipedia edits made its way through the "blogosphere" here several months ago. I'm not sure what George Conger and others wish to accomplish by bringing it up again.

Anonymous said...

RE: "James, now three North Americans, who would certainly be more in the know about the milieu in which we live and move and have our being, and who come from very different positions, have told you it was pretty much a none issue."

Not certain who those three "North Americans" are who state it was a "none [sic] issue."

What I said was that I didn't think "the PB was elected based on her resume."

Of course, padding's to be expected, since her CV desperately needed paid ecclesial work experience on it.

It's never a non-issue to attempt to deceive on a resume -- but it's certainly no surprise to see the words " "Dean" of "The Good Samaritan School of Theology," so that's where I differ from folks like James.

So a revisionist activist or her handlers "massaged" her resume.


No surprises there. Any informed traditional Episcopalian knows how they are and accepts it and moves on.

But still . . . I don't believe she was elected on the basis of the padded resume. I've already explained the various confluences that I think were in play that caused her election -- and quite frankly, I was and remain thrilled that she was elected. She was easily my first choice, since she had the least rhetorical facility to pretend to be vaguely moderate or balanced. She was a wrecking ball waiting to happen -- due to her clear and radical ideology and her desire to communicate her views -- and that's precisely what was needed for TEC -- blessed *clarity* and then *consequences.*

I'm grateful -- over the past 5 years we've had clarity and consequences in spades and it's gone a long way towards opening eyes of so many moderates in TEC that would have otherwise remained firmly closed. Now they can make good decisions about their funding levels of parishes and dioceses, which has had a good effect on national church budgets and finances.


Father Ron Smith said...

And, just like the nay-sayers about the President's origins, these whingers never stop whinging! Once these people make up their minds about anybody whose capabilities are proven to outreach their own, there's just no stopping them. I Guess Bishop Katherine is used to it by now - just look at virtueonline!

James said...

This remains an issue whether or not it was important in swaying the election. Watergate was a very, very important issue - even though the facts gathered wouldn't have changed the election outcome, given Nixon's landslide victory.

Nonetheless, Americans saw the importance of investigating this matter. Because it is necessary for the preservation of honesty in governance process and maintenance of electoral justice.

David, I think the reason that you yourself state in the beginning is a very, very good reason to raise awareness about this issue: that few Episcopalians know about the resumé, nor have had the opportunity to decide for themselves what this means about the integrity and honesty of church governance in TEC, and about the Presiding Bishop herself. I also know a number of Episcopalians who think this is a very big issue. I myself have been a part of two Episcopal congregations in the past, and my last Church of England church was headed by an Episcopalian priest; so I can also rely on my own knowledge of "the Episcopalian scene."

The same goes for awareness and education of other Anglicans - she is seated in three of the Instruments of the Communion.

As long as this is the case - that there are so few Episcopalians aware of it - it's, in my eyes, a major issue.

As for Paul Powers and Sarah's thoughts that it's a non-issue - the reasons they see here are different. Sarah simply expects dishonesty from certain TEC leaders. Paul here is assuming that this is only relevant if it's likely that the CV swung the electoral behavior. This, I would argue, is incorrect, for two reasons: 1) it's quite possible the PB would have been deemed as too unexperienced to be slated as a candidate without this item; 2) whether or not it changed the outcome, it still speaks to honesty in electoral governance. The issue is deception. If I lie to get something, but then discover I would have gotten it anyways without lying - it doesn't change the fact that I lied.

At this very moment, there's an arrest warrant out for the Primate of Tanzania, which has its origins in the possible misstatement of the age of a priest in materials for the election of a diocesan bishop. The utter contrast here - with us being quite certain that there was a deception in the materials for the election of a Primate - is humbling and should call ourselves to examine the larger issues that made this insensitivity to honesty in governance possible.

We know for a fact that there is deception here. What we don't know is: the scale of the deception, what mitigating factors there might be, who was involved in it, who knew it was a deception but didn't speak out, and who tried to cover it up.

It's our duty as Episcopalians and Anglicans to seek clarity, discussion, investigation, and healing. It's come to the point that we can no longer expect TEC itself to investigate without prompting; and given its inaction, every quarter that goes by makes argumentation for a Communion-level investigation more compelling (if it's not already the case that only a Communion-level investigation should be trusted).

There are a number of reasons that this is being brought up again. One must simply read the various available accounts of the evidence; Peter here doesn't claim to present all the relevant facts. Assuming this is "not an issue" or "shouldn't be spoken of now" without examining the evidence is rather narrow minded and raises the question why we are so keen on putting a lid on this so quickly.

Fr. Ron, since you've linked this issue twice now to "the birthers" (Obama and the birth certificate), why don't you bring some reasoning to the table in arguing why this is more like "the birthers" than it is Watergate?

Brother David said...

Me entristece que cuando pongo gran esfuerzo en intentar comunicar exactamente con usted en su lengua materna, alguien deba poner en ridículo ese esfuerzo.

Brother David said...

It is obvious James from your past posts, that you have made up your mind and will not be satisfied until TEC has done what you have decided must be done, regardless of which side of issues speaks to the subject. And I expect that like the rest of your obsessions regarding TEC, you will never let this rest.

I think that you will also be disappointed in your demands with this issue as well.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi James,
There is actually no traction here for your concern that the election in some way or another be investigated. None whatsoever from commenters here who clearly indicate they represent various streams within TEC or within its external observers.

I suggest the issue in which people are engaged, on which there is traction, is the overall direction TEC is moving in (some cheering it on, others not) and whether this direction is or is not becoming determinative for the Communion as a whole.

The discrepancy in the resume between what was written and what was reality is now in the public domain. As with a number of anomalies in life the question then is whether a threshold of concern has been breached. I cannot detect any breach. Have you any sign from any other blog that George Conger referred to that anyone anywhere has a high enough concern about this matter to pursue it further?

James said...

Peter, as I've responded to this issue elsewhere, I don't think that TEC is ready yet for an investigation. We're still at the point where many people "in the middle" are uncomfortable speaking about it - probably fearing that thy will be called muckrakers or weirdos by people who strongly support the PB. This in a way is understandable given the great polarity within TEC; it's normal that attitudes of those most zealously in favor of TEC are utterly defensive and exclusionary.

On the other side within the U.S. and in TEC, we have others who, rightly or wrongly, have come to expect that many top-level TEC leaders will lie and dishonestly seize power. They have limited interest in this matter because they are thinking of "the next struggle." They believe that no matter what they do, "the liberals will never listen and always call us muckrakers and weirdos" - or something like that. This I find cynical and uncharitable. Though it is worth pointing out that they have a weight of evidence to point at - of which this very issue is not the least of matters.

My hope, for the moment, is simply bringing this to discussion in a mature manner - where we can refrain from epithets, presumptions that particular parties lie, and "if you're interested in that you must be a muckraker" type speech.

There have been plenty of comments at StandFirm and Archbishop Cranmer - only one on Cranmer's article suggesting that this is "not an issue." However, they tend to be the usual "scandal!" type remarks, loading on other, extraneous issues. Cranmer's commenting public is predominantly (if not overwhelmingly) conservative, as is StandFirm's.

I would suggest that "conservatives" need to undergo a lot of reflection about their own manners of dealing with issues in the Communion, based on what I've seen ... and quite frankly, this is largely in line with my expectations ... though I had hoped for a bit more maturity.

So far, David's defense of the PB is the best (and only one that's more than a sentence or two) I've seen ... of the scant few I've seen. This thread though isn't very indicative; I think we probably could have predicted David & Fr. Ron's responses. We've also had Paul and Sarah.

Yes, I think this should eventually be investigated; it would favor the "liberal" cause for this to occur earlier rather than later. But I think it's still too early to call for an investigation, though not too early to point out the desirability of one. I hope for the sakes of those involved it comes earlier rather than later.

However, I think that from the volume of comments, with only about three or four commenters so far seeming to think that there is no substantial deceit here (two or three being on this thread) - it's most certainly a painful, lingering issue that is best addressed. And that is perhaps best done by awareness raising and attempt at channeling discussion into something mature and fruitful (and hopefully, ultimately: transformative and healing).

Finally, I think that this may be a matter where the rest of the Communion can help the polarized United States, trying to show a way forward. Many commenters at Cranmer's thought in terms of extreme (and imho, undesirable) action, like her stepping down; commenters at SF primarily expressed dislike for the PB. But at least Cranmer's have hope of some action. This can perhaps be moderated into more reasonable expectations. What's also interesting here is that the sources covering it, besides SF, have been non-U.S.: Church of England Newspaper, Cranmer's, Peter Ould, Anglican Mainstream, AUD. It may be up to provinces which are less polarized, to find ways of discussing this which don't degenerate into simple name-calling or simplistic solutions like "She should stand down" or "Stop being mean"!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi James,
The issue here is not whether there is an issue to address. There is. The issue is whether anyone (apart from yourself) is committed to addressing it. There is nothing in your last comment which constitutes evidence of any groundswell to address the issue.

Perhaps there will be a groundswell in the future. But right now, there is not.

There are many issues in my own church. For various reasons I am uncommitted to addressing them. I notice most others are similarly uncommitted. Accordingly I leave those issues to one side.

How much lack of interest in addressing this issue is required before you will leave it to one side?

James said...

This isn't "my" issue ... it's the Anglican Communion's issue. Obviously this is a thing which should not be front and center of our consciousness, but it can be somewhere in what we do.

I don't think it hurts, however, to bring it up again. Sometimes when we're talking about some issue of theology, someone chimes in, "What about inclusion, and what about the LGBT people that loves so dearly?" - and that is accepted in the Communion as normal discourse.

Yes, we can set this aside. But when we're making calls for justice, we need to recognize that our calls for justice are a lot like Kim Jung Il's calls for justice in the western world - i.e., quite hypocritical, since justice amongst ourselves has become so tainted, that we've gotten to the point that we really don't care about our highest officials being involved in deception and (electoral) injustice.

I'd say ... we simply need to be more vigilant in getting this word out, just as LGBT activists like to bring up the case of the proposed Uganda law from time to time, as evidence that some people harbor intensely negative attitudes toward LGBT people. Likewise, we can bring up the fake theology school, as evidence that our governance system doesn't work, and that Primates lie (at least one of them does), and tolerate deceit at the highest level. And we're all tickety-boo about this because - well, "Anglicans are just SO GREAT and those other Christians are just so totally dumb and hateful and they believe in divine sperm and stuff - because we say so."

Fr. Ron, you especially I'd like to ask re-thinking your muckraker appellation. I'm rather used by now being called likely insane, a likely pedophile, by David ... while he also complains that people are ignoring him if they write difficult prose ... that that is simply an element of this budding relationship with David that's to be cherished with the rest. But I don't expect the same of you, Fr. Ron. I'm also clearly amongst those who do think that this is "an issue" - furthermore, the wealth of available evidence makes this a much more presentable than many issues which you bring up, and I have never called you a muckraker.

Notice also, please, how David first claims to have heard about the resumé on Peter's blog; and then later changes his story to first having heard about it on Wikipedia. I'd suggest one possibility: David is simply being a faithful activist; and consulted some "higher up" source about what "the best answer to this question" is. And in doing so, he simply failed to remember what his original story was. Or - perhaps David simply refreshed his memory in the meantime, and corrected himself, without calling our attention to the fact that this was what he was doing (an easy enough mistake to make). But consider, nonetheless. As you know - I think that if LGBT activism in the Communion continues to too firmly embrace TEC, it is doomed. I do have my thoughts on the sex issue, and I comment on it from time to time, but it certainly isn't my "hobby horse" and LGBT activists deserve to be addressed honestly, just as anyone does.

Brother David said...

James, you really irritate me. I think that you purposely misunderstand and twist the facts even when they are present on the page for anyone here to check.

The facts as they stand for me regarding what has now become an irritating and stupid subject that you refuse to let go, in spite of our host seeming to hint to you to do so in a few polite forms at his disposal;

1. I first learned of this supposed world shattering controversy regarding the Presiding Bishop of TEC, the Most Revd Katrarine Jefferts Schori, here on Dr. Peter's blog, this past Saturday (for me, Sunday for him), when he posted this thread. Period. I have not forgotten that I knew of it at some other time in the past and then forgot that I had previously stated that I first heard it here.

2. Quickly perusing the link that Dr. Peter provided in his post, I saw that the issue was in regard to a recently edited Wiki page.

3. I was unaware that this had come up before in 2006, soon after her election.

4. I have now, of necessity, followed a number of the links and have a further and fuller understanding of this ridiculously overblown and utterly stupid issue!

5. And now that I have a comprehensive understanding of what took place surrounding the circumstances of the election of a Presiding Bishop for TEC at GC 2006, I stand by the veracity of my primary premise, that it is a non-issue.

In regard to me personally:
1. I am not a GLBT activist. I am a simple Mexican guy who stays at home a lot because my combined extended family has enough money that we, individually, are at risk of kidnap for ransom in the present atmosphere of a drug war in my country.

2. I answer to no one but myself and the Lord. There is no leader higher up with whom I consult to get the correct answers.

James said...


My apologies to you for misunderstanding you. I've read your remark now: "I have only heard of it on a Wikipedia page."

And I think I understand this now to mean something like: "I have only heard that this issue was on a Wikipedia page" instead of what I read, which is more along the lines of: "I heard about this from a Wikipedia page."

Again, you sort of want to "have the final word" here by telling me to shut up, while leaving yourself with the last word.

How often have you told me to shut up, and how often have I done the same regarding you?

Note also that our gracious host does point out that this is an issue.

The question here is really: is this, at the current moment, likely to get investigated by the Communion? I think: "No." But I do think all parties need to become more mature in their discussions about this. I do understand your defensiveness, David, and I won't use the type of pejorative terms for you that you usually sling at me.

Paul Powers said...

David, creo que es usted la victima de sus propios talentos linguisticos. Es facil olvidar que la lengua de Shakespeare no es su primero idioma.

As for the padded CV, there's no way the PB comes out of it looking good. However, whether and how to sanction her is up to TEC's leadership. I don't think there's any mechanism for the AC to investigate. The chances of any sort of sanction are nil. Fine. Life goes on. The earth still revolves around the sun. Jesus is still Lord.

Brother David said...

James, you are want to always get in the last word, even when accusing someone else of having to get in the last word.

Paul, please do not start sprouting Shakespearean English or I shall never be able to get your points.

James said...

David, the difference is: I'm not telling you to shut up. Your ideas about this matter also have value, as I have elsewhere noted the importance of your defense of the PB.

Paul Powers, I agree with you that any possible "discipline" of the PB would be up to TEC, but I'm not even thinking that far; it's most certainly not on the table at this point, and I don't think it should be at the forefront of our minds.

What might eventually work is convincing TEC to allow for some sort of informal investigation of AC members - e.g., asking them to please respond to questions in full cooperation - more like a "truth commission." I don't think the PB here is the "major mover." Eventually, the guilt lies on us all ... for simply tolerating this and remaining silent. For most parties, this will be the problem, which we need to understand better: "Why are people simply silent about such a major issue?" Because this is tied to a further question: "For what type of issue would we then not remain silent about?"

But even before we get to that point, we need to bring awareness to the issue, learn to speak of it maturely and comfortably without, e.g., simply getting into a rampage of comments about various other things we might not like about the PB (as we saw at SF and Cranmer's). So at the moment, even the spectre of an investigation isn't all that relevant. What is relevant is letting people choose what they think of the situation in TEC, based on facts, rather than choosing for them "this is none of your business - you don't need to know this" - which is, currently, the approach of Church Center with the removal of public information.

I live in Antwerp. Thousands of Jews were deported here, in full view of the public, with collaboration of the local authorities. Some, but not all, of the public would have had an idea of the conditions of where they were being deported (though not that they would be killed). A friend wrote his doctoral dissertation on this matter: in the end, the greatest problem was the silence of the people.

In other cities, where the NDSAP was not so successful ... more spoke up. There were underground papers written, flyers, etc. etc.. Information and informedness helps.

My apologies for bringing up the WW2 scenario, but it speaks most directly to me, given that I live in Antwerp. This obviously is not about deporting Jews. But the concern is large: it's about corruption at the top level of the Communion. We must at least help people become aware of this.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi James,
Your Antwerpian analogy is way over the top. There is no comparison between the election some years ago conducted in a democratic event in which people were free to ask questions and the silence of the Belgians re that deportation. None whatsoever. It entirely escapes me how such talk strengthens your argument for the investigation you seek.

Paul Powers said...

Don't worry, David. I wrote "lengua de Shakespeare" because I haven't mastered writing accents on an iPhone, and without an acute accent over the second e, "ingles" has a different meaning that I did not intend. ;-)

James said...

Granted Peter, on further thought, it is quite over the top. I suppose it "comes from living here." I have the national headquarters of the Vlaams Belang (rather nasty right-wing political party) just down the street. I did try to make a rhetorical separation there - but really, the example is so horrid it's something that shouldn't be used as an example; and is highly disrespectful to Jews.

Actually, in Antwerp, many Jews won't live above the fourth floor or so of an apartment flat. They want to be free to get out, if it happens again. There's still that much distrust. Most of the residents here also haven't yet come to terms with what happened. Every once in a while one comes across an eerie reminder.

Thanks for pointing out that the remark was over-the-top, I do need that sometimes.

Brother David said...

Accents on an iPhone.

Paul what do you get when you tap and hold a vowel on the iPhone's touch keyboard?

Brother David said...

A question for Sarah -

If the issue is that someone from another provincial church in the Anglican Communion is pressing for an investigation into the election of a bishop as Presiding Bishop of TEC and this person is raising concerns regarding the implications of what they believe to be a falsehood and so an election under false pretenses, and you say that you do not believe that the bishop was elected to the office of Presiding Bishop based on the resumé, then why would that not make the topic at hand a non-issue?

Paul Powers said...

Yeah, I got the holding down part. What took me awhile to figure out was that you have to slide the same finger over to the accented letter.

Then again, I remember when the IBM Selectric was considered a technological marvel.

Brother David said...

James, not once have I told you in any post in this thread to shut up, not in those words and not in any manner that can be mistaken to mean that.

I have repeatedly said that I do not believe that there is an issue here. I do not believe that there is any falsehood involved in the election of the Presiding Bishop. And so I do not believe that there is any issue with regard to her administration as the PB of TEC, nor any implications for the Anglican Communion by way of the so-called Instruments of Communion with which she is involved.

What I see is a point on a resumé that I believe most anyone from North America would have understood. But is perhaps an exaggeration that someone from outside of our N. Am. Anglican culture might misunderstand. I believe that anyone who read the resumé presented in the Nominating Committee's publication would have understood what was represented on the page, that she was the Assistant Rector of Good Samaritan Parish in Corvallis, OR, USA and that prior to that she was a Pastoral Associate and Dean of a school of theology with the same name as the parish, in the same city and state and would have understood that this was an educational program associated with the same parish.

May I also side track on two issues brought up by the author of the original Virtue Online article that "broke the case," Mark Ward. In her emailed answers to his emailed questions she also stated that she was the Dean of the School of Theology and Ministry of the Diocese of Oregon over a period in 1990-1991. That was not used in her resumé, perhaps because it predates her ordained status. He also made an issue of the fact that a news article stated that she had been the priest-in-charge of El Buen Samaritano, also in Corvalis, OR. But he emphasized that he could find no such organization in any official source TEC or in Corvallis, OR. Just about any Episcopalian/Anglican in N. Am. would tell you that, based on name and location, it was likely a Spanish-speaking congregation that was part of the same parish where she worked during those same years.

There is nothing to this. There is no smoke and there is definitely no fire. But you refuse to accept anything about who we are here in N.Am. and what we would have or not have understood, because you know better.

TEC was my church since birth. In 1995 the dioceses in Mexico became an autonomous AC province. We still have a close relationship with our mother church and she has an on-going financial committment to the Anglican Church of Mexico. I know our culture, I know our seminaries, I know the nomenclature of our Anglican culture. There is nothing here. And no matter how much you try to drum up interest, this will go nowhere.

James said...

Brother David:

1) I'm not pressing for an investigation. I do think that an investigation is warranted, but I've made clear multiple times: I don't think the time is now. I'm not pressing for one now, I may never. Yes, I do express my opinion that an investigation is warranted and would be a good thing, when this opinion is challenged.

2) I've attended 2 TEC churches for a period of 3 years. One GC member has blogged, indicating that she didn't have this understanding when reading the materials.

3) One would have to look at the election materials quite carefully to come to this conclusion; see especially here how they're presented in the election materials. I'd suggest: you are very right here if someone noted this, then asked General Convention for clarity on this matter. You may well be correct, this may have happened.

But: we won't know if it isn't investigated, will we? And not "anyone" would realize this from looking at the materials. I most certainly wouldn't have, and would have scanned over that resumé thinking she'd been Dean of a school of theology.

What is particularly striking here is use of the word "Dean."

With regards to her previous title "Dean," this has been covered here: here.

The most basic, "quickest" answer to the "they would have understood ..." argument is: "Then why was this language chosen?"

I think one main possibility is: without this item, she probably would have been regarded as too inexperienced to make the slate. She's probably the most inexperienced PB TEC has ever had, and in 2001 an article was published in The Living Church by what appears to be one of her fans with a title like "Her inexperience may be an asset."

This leads me to think: the deception may have been due to pressure of the Nominating Committee to use this language, since the NC may have seen her as a desirable candidate. "Let's have a woman on that list!" This is normal enough. She may have even had misgivings about the language; and may have remained silent about it, thinking it was up to the Nominating Committee to say something about the booklet they published.

The Nominating Committee may well have put this in because they really didn't think she'd end up elected. They probably saw it as - let's say, a "little white lie, it won't make a difference, but then we can have a woman candidate."

Father Ron Smith said...

James, I really do think you've had quite enough time to press your case here. We all really do understand the thrust of what you are saying about the election of Bishop Katharine. The real point is, she was selected, elected, and is now Presiding bishop. End of story.

James said...


I failed to mention in the above, another problem with the general "Episcopalians understand this" argument is:

- the language wasn't only used amongst Episcopalians. It was distributed by The Associated Press; USA Today with its 2 million subscribers used the language in a story about the PB, as did many, many, many other news sources, and the ENS never retracted.

One of the problems with TEC is: its obfuscation of language to make things "acceptable." Then it begins demanding that its obfuscatory language be accepted as "the real thing."

Does Marcus Borg teach the resurrection? If I say, "no," then someone stands up saying that what I say is a lie and insulting and just like denying my right to exist etc. etc.. Eventually, we are pressured into saying, "Marcus Borg teaches the resurrection."

So actually, I would say that this very defense should raise hackles: it's in the same line of "revisionism" we've seen in theology - but now hitting things as everyday and concrete as the language of referring to educational institutions in documents with the purpose of assessing one's competencies.

Ron: can you see how this also speaks to institutional honesty, and integrity in governance? I agree: "she was elected." "End of story" means: "stop talking about this." I don't tell you this when, as so often is the case, you ask, "well what then about inclusion / LGBT people etc.?" when I could very easily say, "Lambeth I.10 is what we have to say about it, period."

Yes, she is the PB. But that we have major honesty problems somewhere within TEC - at least with the PB (though her discomfort in speaking out can considered), and most likely with other structures of that organization. And the fact that the larger polity - including laypeople - haven't called for an investigation shows us: this isn't working as a healthy polity, and corruption isn't dealt with.

Brother David said...

<In my best Scarlett O'Hara imitation>

"No, Father Ron, no! There is something here and it must be looked after. Not for my sake, Heaven's no, but for the sake of those untold others who have been duped, yes, duped I say. Duped by that damnable Nominations Committee who spent US$200,000.00 vetting these infernal candidates. God only knows how many other lies are perhaps packed into the resumés of the other candidates!

But I press on, not for myself, not for any vainglory that would come to me, but for the little people of TEC, and of the Anglican Communion. Those fools who have been duped into accepting her participation on the Instruments of Unity, er, I mean Communion, and the vast potential of her undermining and misdirecting the unknown future of the AC.

No, Father Ron, you are wrong, and I know that you are wrong."

</Scarlett O'Hara>

James said...

I've had yet another look at the election document and find two factors which make David's theory - generally, that "no one was deceived - thus this is generally not an issue" - implausible.

1) The Rt. Rev. Alexander's profile lists under "Parish and Related Ministry":

Chaplain and Dean of Chapel, Waterloo Seminary

This tells us:
a) It's not uncommon for Episcopalian priests to make their services available to non-Episcopalian seminaries and schools of theology, and to list these as Ministry Experience (thus whether delegates in general know the names of all Episcopalian seminaries is irrelvant).
b) In general in this document, academic-related posts are listed under "Parish and Related Ministry" (this is e.g. also the case for +Parsley and +Alexander in this document)

2) There is no indication whatsoever that "Good Samaritan" is a parish. It's mentioned first as "Good Samaritan School of Theology." For the position of Assistant Rector, it is named simply as "Good Samaritan," i.e., no "Church of The" as in its official name. This would likely lead many to believe that this "Good Samaritan" simply means "Good Samaritan School of Theology" - a much more reasonable conclusion, since we don't have an indication that this is a parish. USA Today with its circulation of about 1.8 million drew this conclusion, citing her as "The former Dean of the Good Samaritan ..."

Note also: the official electoral materials don't mention the Spanish congregation. Actually, here we find an odd discrepancy - Terry Ward cites the "booklet" - and says it cites this El buen Samaritano - though this booklet clearly doesn't. Were there multiple versions of the booklet? Or perhaps Terry Ward was relying on memory, and was consulting an ENS or other article. At any rate - the file name of the one linked here contains the word "final" - the booklet "Spanish final" contains the same language translated into Spanish.

In fairness, it must be pointed out that other articles of the ENS do not simply use the words "Good Samaritan School of Theology" and "Good Samariatan" in describing +KJS's experience, but refer rather to The Church of the Good Samaritan, its official name.

However, this is the "official" booklet with the official information. After having seen so much CV information for the four candidates ... one simply forgets, and is likely to turn here.

I would suggest that the critical question here is: did any of the 800+ delegates, or 168 voting bishops, inquire about the language such that it was clarified for all? If so, there is certainly no question whatsoever of election fraud on this issue. If not - there are further questions which should be raised.

James said...

Br. David,

That's a pretty good Scarlett O'hara. That did bring a smile to my face, the gentle irony here is appreciated.

Blessings to you.

Brother David said...

An Episcopal News Service press release, issued at the time of her election as Presiding Bishop, lists one of her previous positions as "priest-in-charge" of "el buen Samaritano" in Corvallis, Oregon.

None of my sources showed any evidence of this organization or title.

The Episcopal Church Annual and the city directories likewise provided no evidence of "el buen Samaritano."

In her published interviews, Bishop Jefferts Schori made no mention of "el buen Samaritano."

WARD: What exactly is "el buen Samaritano?" Where was this ministry based? What were your duties as "priest-in-charge?"

[JEFFERTS] SCHORI: El Buen Samaritano was the Spanish-language congregation based at Good Samaritan, essentially a parochial mission. I acted as vicar, with primary liturgical and pastoral responsibility.

James said...

And you may "double" my last comment David, because coming from someone with English as a second language - that's a high degree of mastery there. You do have a great way with words.

James said...

Quite right, David - there's an inconsistency in what Ward writes. At the beginning of the article there's: "A booklet published ..." listing the Spanish congregation. Then later he mentions the ENS release. Quite possibly just got them confused.

Brother David said...

James that was from the Terry Ward link, which is why it is in Italics. It was to highlight where he got the info, ENS.

Brother David said...

BTW James, I have a four year MTh from the US. My English is usually good enough, but far from perfect.

I own my own company, with my older sister and my cousin. She has an MBA/JD from CA and he has an MPA from TX. What I cannot say correctly, usually one of them can.

We are all progressive/liberal Anglicans. Members of a local parish in la Diócesis del Norte de la Iglesia Anglicana de México.

Paul Powers said...

David, the character whom you were imitating strikes me as being more Blanche DuBois than Scarlett O'Hara. But in any case, it was very good. And, of course, both characters were U.S. Southern women played by the same English actress, so it's not hard to confuse them.