Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Keeping watch on America

Faster than speeding neutrinos, news flashes out from the USA at a rate which is hard to keep up with. In the last day or so has come the announcement of Rob "Love Wins" Bell leaving his pastoral position at Mars Hill church, Michigan in order to circulate the world as a speaker and writer sharing God's love everywhere. But this is an Anglican blog so we pass reasonably quickly over a story involving a church of 7000 people and pause not to wonder if any Western Anglican church is or could be that large and what it would take for Anglicans to be so popular in the Western world. We do not, however, need to pass out of the USA to remain in Anglicanland.

This blog has kept an eye on the Diocese of South Carolina and its journey as a conservative-but-we-are-not-leaving-TEC diocese. For some time the official, canonical forces of TEC have been marshalling for a pre-emptive strike on the diocese and the progress of that opposition can be caught up with here.

The Diocese of South Carolina, should things get worse for it, should be prepared for anything to happen to it, including the bizarre and the unpredictable. Careful readers here will have noticed that I have often been taken to task for my support for Anglican churches in North America which have dared to leave TEC or ACCan, it being argued that these churches have been stealing the family silver as they have sought to retain the properties in which they are used to worship. Aside from the ugliness of the phrase, 'stealing the family silver', there is the modest question of how much those churches may have contributed to the purchase of the silver and its cleaning and polishing. But, be such arguments as they may, some churches have left TEC without any fuss, leaving their properties and taking nothing with them, not even the paper clips in the office.

On the 'stealing the family silver' argumentation you might think that such churches, that is, such congregations of people leaving their buildings and their association with TEC, have moved themselves freely and decisively beyond the grasp of TEC. But you would be WRONG.

Read here about the extraordinary attempt of one diocese to request departing Anglican people, having left all property and claims to the property behind them, to nevertheless pay up their former obligations to the diocese.  Nuts!

Anyway, I am looking forward to TEC-supporting commenters here explaining the logic behind this diocese's letter to departing Anglicans.

Finally today, and still in the world of Anglicans who are not Episcopalians, my former colleague in the Diocese of Nelson, Julian Dobbs, has been consecrated a bishop to serve in North America. He has moved a long way in ministry experience since starting as a lay youth worker in Westport having graduated from our St John's College too young to be ordained! Now I wonder what will happen if he returns to minister in NZ and seeks a licence?


Father Ron Smith said...

We have noted your consistent support for ACNA, Peter, and wonder how this squares with your being an Educator in the ACANZP, which is in Communion with TEC - which is not in communion with ACNA. And what is the reason for ACNA not being in communion with TEC and the ACANZP? Because ACNA is a schismatic body that left TEC on its own initiative! Plain and simple.

Concerning the recently 'bishoped' ex-Nelsonian The Revd. Julian Dobbs; I would presume that, as he has left TEC to join the schismatic ACNA sodality, he would NOT be given a license to operate as a clergy-person in New Zealand. however, what the Nelson Diocese might offer him, who knows?

carl jacobs said...

Property is the only leverage a Bishop has over a recalcitrant congregation. He can fume and sputter and rage and command and stomp his foot all he likes, but he really has no power at all over a congregation that can take its property and leave. He isn't a Lord with the powers of the Lord. So he appeals to confiscation for three reasons:

1. To punish those who leave.

2. To intimidate those who haven't left.

3. To protect the franchise by making the a new start for the competition as difficult as possible.

Ideally, the bishop would wish to see all break-away congregations scatter to the four winds. This would achieve all three objectives.

Of course, in the real world the breakaway congregations tend to be much more successful than the remnants left behind. The Bishop typically ends up with a building and a mortgage and no parishioners. Not a good combination. Which might explain why the DRG is trying to collect $20,000 from people who left two years ago. It is a foretaste of the massive contraction that TEC is going to experience in the next 20 years. Many many many dioceses are simply going to run out of people and then run out of money and then fold. Say, for example, pretty much every diocese West of the Alleghenies and East of the Rockies.

Not all Diocese however. South Carolina is going strong. But it refuses to submit to apostate leadership, and so the Armys of the Dark Lord are massing behind the walls of Mordor to march and destroy it. Lawyers and scribes and legal aides and legal secretaries all marshal their swords and siege engines to prove once and for all that conservatives have no place in TEC. OK, technically they are proving that conservatives have no place in TEC unless they keep their mouth's shut. Same difference, really.

I expect Bishop Lawrence will be deposed by the same extra-canonical machinations that allowed KJS to rid herself of Duncan, et al. Then 815 will establish another Potemkin diocese and use it to stage a huge legal fight over property, and in the process destroy the only prospering diocese left in this shambles of a church. On the other hand, 815s ideological victory will be complete. No opposition will stand in its way. But at what cost to itself? In its lust to destroy its enemies, it has assembled a bonfire from the wood of its own hull and used it to burn its opponents. Gratifying to say the least - until someone notices the rising water level below deck.

It is impossible to understate how irrelevant TEC will become because of this. It has waged a war against its own parishioners. It will soon have no parishioners. Who then will pay attention to it? TEC wants to be the conscience of the post-Christian world. It doesn't understand that the post-Christian world doesn't care a tinkers dam about TECs opinions, and certainly isn't interested in TEC's ex post facto blessing.

TEC has made itself into the invisible church. Twenty years from now, you won't be able to find it.


Paul Powers said...

I guess you could justify it on the theory that you can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks for comments here, all.

Hi Ron,
Nigeria is in communion with us; are you a supporter of them?

I am a supporter of Christians (including many Presbyterians, Methodists, Pentecostals etc not in communion with the Anglican Communion), of Anglicans everywhere, of Anglicans who are members of the Anglican Communion. A true ecumencist, am I, anticipating our fellowship in heaven!

Incidentally, I have friends who have left TEC: I try not to give up my friends. Are you advising me to do otherwise? :)

Father Ron Smith said...

I do appreciate your gift for friendship, Peter. I just wonder why none of them are Gay? Or perhaps, because of your attitude, you may have Gay friends but are not aware of it. Not all of them wear their friendships on their sleeve as you do

Peter Carrell said...

And the basis for you saying, Ron, that 'none' of my friends are gay, is what?

I make it a singular personal policy not to boast about what communities my friends belong to, or how many identify themselves as this or that. They are simply friends.

Father Ron Smith said...

Except, Peter, that you often do write about them - as witness your frequent reference to some of the known schismatics. If you didn't write about them - with seeming approval - I wouldn't challenge you.

Lucy said...

do I take it from the GREAT SILENCE that there is no logic behind the bishop's actions? ... perhaps he's just a bully, or bad, or bonkas.

Peter you have a policy of not including offensive personal comments, fair enough. Would you think about not including the ones directed at yourself? I'm a bit 'over' reading them.

Peter Carrell said...

I am glad you noticed the great silence, Lucy; and thank you for your personal concern. I can stand a fair amount of offence ... and prefer not to censor comments unless offensive of others (but acknowledge I miss some of the offense and let them through) or untrue.

Paul Powers said...

TEC and the Church of Sweden are not in communion with each other. That doesn't prevent the C of E from being in communion with them both. So, the ACANZP could, at least in theory, be in communion with TEC and the ACNA, even if they are not in communion with each other. I'm not sure what advantage there would be to the ACANZP to declare itself one way or the other.

There are a number of people in TEC that have the same concerns about the direction TEC is taking as do many of those who left, but who are not ready to make the break. I suspect that if Peter were a clergyman in the U.S., that's the group he would be in.

As for Bishop Vono's letter to the ACNA congregation, I would like to think that he didn't really expect them to agree, but that he figured that if he didn't ask, he'd never know (which what I meant by my earlier comment that you can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket).

Living in Fort Worth, I see the dispute between the TEC Diocese and the ACNA Diocese as something of a family squabble. Just about every parish has been affected by it, both those who chose to affiliate themselves with Bishop Iker and those that chose to affiliate themselves with the TEC. I don't anticipate the two sides reconciling anytime soon. Whether they will eventually learn to live togetherin some degree of harmony remains to be seen. Probably not until the litigation (which involves a good faith dispute on both sides over is over. I would say that blind partisanship by outsiders in favor of either side isn't particularly helpful.

Brother David said...

I find Carl Jacobs post offensive in spots, but it made it through Lucy. YMMV.

I think that there is a great silence because anything any of us would say would be speculation. Unless one of us was in the unlikely position of actually knowing.

I found nothing in the bishop's letter untoward. He was not a bully. He was not rude. He did not make a demand, he made a request. It is pretty apparent that the ball was now in the court of the parish members. They are free to say yes or no and I would expect and hope that after they have politely responded, that if the answer is no that that would be the end of the matter.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi David,
I appreciate very much your reminding us that the bishop's letter is polite etc. However, given some comments of yours in the past about dissident churches seeking to take property with them, I am surprised that you are (seemingly) unable to commend this church and have no concern that the bishop might be making an absurd request.

carl jacobs said...

Brother David said...

I find Carl Jacobs post offensive in spots

Offense in and of itself means nothing. The Lord Jesus offended many people, and did he therefore sin? Should he have been careful not to offend the Pharisees while he was walking all over their traditions? In fact there are many times when it is impossible not to offend, because the truth will simply offend the listener. That is not the fault of the truth. That is the fault of the listener who would prefer not to hear the truth.

If I might ponder a guess, I suspect that calling KJS an apostate was offensive to some. That is of no concern to me. She is an apostate. She has made many statements that give ample testimony to this fact. It is important to accurately define her relationship to the Christian faith lest any be deceived. I cannot and will not call her a sister in Christ because she is not a sister in Christ.

Now, in case anyone thinks this is nothing but an example of narrow-minded reaction from which all enlightened progressives are happily free, you should all remember that I am frequently called hateful, and bigoted for asserting that homosexuality is an unnatural sexual perversion. It might surprise the reader to learn that being called such things is offensive. But those who so label me consider my offense of no concern. Why? They think this one of those times when it is impossible not to offend, because the truth will simply offend the listener. They do not consider this to be the fault of the truth. They consider this to be the fault of the listener who would prefer not to hear the truth. The careful reader will note the parallel construction.

The nature of offense is found in the standard by which it is judged. And that is where this conflict has always resided - in the standard that governs conduct by separating right from wrong, and truth from falsehood. It's the standard by which we judge KJS a faithful servant or a wolf in a shepherd's cloth. It's the standard by which we judge homosexuality a natural or unnatural behavior. It's the standard that gives us standing to properly offend, and standing to be properly offended.


Anonymous said...

Can I too register my concern with the tone of certain comments directed against you Peter - frankly the most unappealing thing about visiting your blog, which I enjoy on the whole.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Anonymous!

And, please remember that the preference here for comments is the use of at least a first name ...

Lucy said...

David, Carl's robust and forthright critique of ideas and actions has nothing to do with what I was complaining about - I'm simply not interested in who Peter's friends are or are not, and I'm finding the regular leaking of bilge here rather tedious.

Lucy Eban

Peter Carrell said...

Frankly my friends are not up to much these days. I mean not one has a spare ticket to the World Cup final. None have invited me to go to Sydney to watch the Grand Final of the NRL on Sunday ... not that I am ungrateful for the coffee one bought me today :)

Father Ron Smith said...

When someone uses the word 'tedious' twice on this blog, I must confess, I find that rather tedious, and unimaginative.

I think that thin-skinned persons shouldn't bother to read the blogs!
It's much easier to stay in one's little private world and just 'be nice' - to those we approve of. However, internet debate can, and sometimes should be feisty to be of any practical use.'

Peter, I do appreciate your robust attitude to criticism.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
Robust debate about issues, yes.

But I am hearing the message loud and clear that I have readers who do not appreciate ad hominem, presumptuous comments. So I am going to be more ruthless ... I will not accept comments which attack me, my friends, those I admire in Anglicanland who may not formally belong any longer to the Anglican Communion, the Nelson Diocese, and certainly not those which make a presumption about what or who I do or do not like etc.

Let's stick to issues and to evidence based judgements.

Father Ron Smith said...

Too right, Peter. And I presume you will keep to your own rules - re TEC and other liberal Christians.