Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Voice from the Very Heart of Church

Updated 1.18.2007

My Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall of Bethlehem, has written a think-piece which was originally restricted to the House of Bishops listserve. He was asked to allow it to be circulated so he cleaned up and expanded it. The piece has created quite a stir. Here is the original.

Here are two Episcopal news reports: ENS and Living Church.

The Church Times has a balanced report with decent background.

The Times of London published a hatchet job of a report on Tuesday, written by Ruth Gledhill (see below). It's tone is more harsh and the view much more slanted than her blog. It is an obvious attempt to slant the reporting to minimize the significance of what +Paul has written. Also, there were some basic reporting errors which she claims were due to not finding info on the Web. Whatever.

Here are some of the blogs where it has shown up or is commented upon:

The Daily Episcopalian I think brought it first to the US, although Louie Crew brought it to the HOBD list before that.

Thinking Anglicans--has it's typical complete list.

Mark Harris has his usual insightful observations.

Ruth Gledhill
of the Times of London (see above). This was written a day or so before the Times of London print piece. She is very defensive for the ABC and her headline says that +Paul "savaged" the poor man. (Now, look at that picture. Is the face of one who could 'savage' anyone??) She also attempts to downplay the piece by claiming that we are a "fringe" diocese. For some reason, many comments on this appear on Thinking Anglicans. It is very hard to know where she stands: one day she seems somewhat progressive, other days very conservative. Either way she has an opinion.

The Episcopal Majority
This one references the ATR article and the comment in the forward. Tip of the hat for Lisa Fox who did a good job getting background.

Mad Priest blogged it first. Give the man a medal for scooping the rest of the blogosphere!

Titusonenine mentions it, too, with some interesting con and some pro replies downstream.

Brad Drell, a lay deputy from the Diocese of Western Louisiana and frequent presence on the HOBD list posted this on his blog Drell's Descants. He also writes from a conservative point of view. Brad doesn't say much. The general take of the comments on this blog is that the behavior of the ABC is our fault.

Other conservative blogs including Stand Firm, and Anglican Mainstream are silent.

Fr. Tony Clavier
writes about it. He (a moderate) agrees with the general line of the calmer conservative comments on Ruth Gledhill's and Kendall Harmon's blogs: Poor Rowan. Damned if he does and damed if doesn't and, more to the point of Bishop Marshall's piece, that the ABC's style of leadership is English and therefore different than ours.

Here is my commentary on Bishop Paul's piece as posted as a comment on Gledhill's blog (see above) Tuesday morning. The point of this is to get at the effect of Williams' decision not to be even-handed in his dealings with the various parties in this long dispute by meeting and communicating directly with one side and playing a rose-garden campaign with the other. Here is what I wrote:


William R. Coats writes upstream: "I doubt (Rowan) sees his job as upholding "justice", but keeping the Communion together. This immediately grates aginst us Yanks," and "The English way of doing things clashes with the "up front who is one whose side" style we all in the US were raised on. But biding one's time, stringing matters our, seeming to talk with certain people may in the short run be offensive, but in the long run helpful."

I heard (and believed) these observations at the last General Convention in June, and they may be true. Rowan may simply be doing things in an English way that we Americans do not understand. I have decided that this excuse only goes so far. It is not really the problem, anyway.

The problem is that Rowan's style generates more anxiety that it does clarity, and this produces more and more conflict. If being vague and biding time is a strategy, then it is not working. The less clarity given and the more time given, the more things spin out of control.

Clarity of leadership does not have to come from an "in your face" approach, which many--including Yanks--confuse for actual leadership in the US. Clarity can come from being clear about what are the boundaries of the conversation. The Windsor Report attempted to do this, by saying to one side "by ordaining a gay bishop or blessing gay relationships" you breached the bounds of affection; and to the other, stop crossing borders and interfering in another's polity. It attempted to set out what each side needed to do; but only one side is held to account. Even when the drafters of the document acknowledge that the EC more than adequately responded to the Report, no attempt is made to move the conversation forward, but encouragement is given to those who demand what the WR did not require as proof of compliance.

Consistently and repeatedly only side of that equation is enforced and talked about. Groups hold up Lambeth 1.10 as if it were Holy Writ, and yet ignore, first, the requirement to listen and now the requirement to denounce persecution.

(Maybe 1.10 and WR are Holy Writ given how they are parsed and proof-texted beyond recognition!)

The clear message is that either the ABC truly sides with those who would rend, if not actually destroy, the Episcopal Church; or that he is so powerless in the face of bullying and strident people that he would rather beat up on his friends.

There may be a cultural difference between English and American style leadership, but (as we are learning daily to our everlasting shame with our own President) that does not excuse poor leadership.

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