Anglican Affairs

I suspect all who care know that the Diocese of San Joaquin voted to disassociate from the Episcopal Church this weekend. Every time I come back to study this event and my reaction to it, I always come away with the same feeling—this is another link in a long chain of events that reek of personal aggrandizement and power politics from both sides of the fence than the sweet savor of Gospel truth. (So sorry, but give my experience with Anglo-Catholic parishes and clergy, the idea that this Anglo-Catholic diocese split because of homosexuality is laughable; furthermore, given the way that many “pragmatic liberals” trumpet “full inclusion” yet act as they will when they will makes me question the purity of their intentions.)

That’s all I have to say on the matter—but I have two thoughts from others to commend to you:

1) More on the split from Fr. David at Ayia Iluvatar.

2) On intemperate blogging from the Morning Office (being myself under the word of judgment):


Psalm 52



  Why boastest thou thyself, thou tyrant :
  that thou canst do mischief;


  Whereas the goodness of God :
  endureth yet daily?


  Thy tongue imagineth wickedness :
  and with lies thou cuttest like a sharp razor.


  Thou hast loved unrighteousness more than goodness :
  and to talk of lies more than righteousness.


  Thou hast loved to speak all words that may do hurt :
  O thou false tongue.


  Therefore shall God destroy thee for ever :
  he shall take thee, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling, and root thee out of the land of the living.


  The righteous also shall see this, and fear :
  and shall laugh him to scorn;


  Lo, this is the man that took not God for his strength :
  but trusted unto the multitude of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.


  As for me, I am like a green olive-tree in the house of God :
  my trust is in the tender mercy of God for ever and ever.


  I will always give thanks unto thee for that thou hast done :
  and I will hope in thy Name, for thy saints like it well.

11 thoughts on “Anglican Affairs

  1. Christopher

    Well, it’s Advent, and I simply will not devote all of my time to things Anglican in Advent. So this comes as something of an anticlimactic event that I just can’t get overly worked up about, though there is a low-grade sense of sadness.

    I rather liked A.K.M. Adam’s thoughts on the matter especially in tandem with my latest post on power, Smashing the System?, because they get to the heart of something that tends to go missing on “both sides” (this is one term I’m sick of, “both sides” namely because it’s used as a power trump by some and it doesn’t reflect the multifacetedness of many of us), namely mercy. Mercy requires our hearts to be stretched, to contemplate how the lion can lay down with the lamb.

    If we can have leniency for bending and breaking rules, and I make no bones about it that I can have a life because there is room for such flexibility in Anglicanism, why can’t we find a way all around to accomodate a system that really needn’t be described as in chaos except by power mongers who use it for their purposes; it’s a system in adjustment? And I say that to San Joaquin and Canterbury as much as to 815 and California.

    Many “full inclusioners”, another phrase I wish would go away because it’s often used so widely as to have no bounds in terms of “what gives life/what builds up/what makes holy”, will break rules and yet they want to apply the full force of the law to San Joaquin. One cannot have it both ways. Or one can and be a damned hypocrite in my opinion.

    Which gets me to the thing I harp on the most, namely, that our bishops tend to demonstrate a failure to grasp the pastoral. And that continues to trouble that a layman would have to point out the pastoral obvious, such as: Issuing multiple public letters of warning is not the same thing as purchasing a ticket, traveling cross country to fulfill an appointment and make a personal meeting, converse, and look for a way to “include” those whose consciences are troubled. Or to send delegates who might be a mediating presence. But then we all get into big wig egos where one is a Luther (and both sides have played this one to death…I haven’t read any of them yet that is on par with the good Doktor’s scholarship) or a heavy carrying out the finer points of the law to the nth detail no matter how much harm it might do.

    What I want to know is that within our Anglican latitude, why it is we cannot accomodate and make provision for the consciences of both? It seems finding points of conversation and a pastoral plan of some sort for the diocese as a whole and for those whom the diocese does not pastor well (namely gays and the few moderates and liberals there in a culture I might add that is rapidly changing to the point that that diocese as now constituted will be isolated from its surrounds, a perfect museum).

  2. Derek the Ænglican

    Hadn’t seen AKMA’s–didn’t realize he’d changed platforms…

    We have “both sides” because a joint decision was made that there should be two sides and that they should fall along these lines. This decision has been reinforced by a skillful adoption of certain patterns of rhetoric. Of course there are many sides—but selecting and promoting terms like “reappraiser” and “reasserter” make sure that they are simplified into two…

    It has nothing to do with Anglican latitude as far as I can tell–it has to do with purple shirts: who wants ’em, who’s got ’em, and who wants to be in whose club.

    Not that any of this is new…

    Reconciliation takes two willing parties; are either side in this dust-up willing?

  3. Anastasia

    “Reconciliation takes two willing parties; are either side in this dust-up willing?”

    should they be if their positions are genuinely incompatible? Just asking…

  4. Derek the Ænglican

    What genuinely incompatible positions might you be referring to Anastasia?

    Where one party believes in the inerrant nature and perspecuity of Scripture, rejecting out of hand that Tradition is required to read it and thereby and therefore asserting that “The Romish Doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, Worshipping and Adoration, as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture, but rather repugnant to the Word of God” and that “The Sacraments are not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about…”

    and where the other has full truck with the invocation of Saints, the adoration of relics and Solemn Benediction?

    Perhaps not…

    There are a lot of groups in the Episcopal Church and I imagine that a number of them hold genuinely incompatible positions from one another. My point here is that this debate, while theological in nature, is driven by personalities in conflict as well as theologies.

    The two sides as currently constructed will neither reconcile nor back down. And I’m not convinced it had to be that way.

  5. John-Julian, OJN


    The problem is that the Movers-Towards-The-New (hereinafter MTTN) are entirely institutionally accepting of the Keepers-Of-The-Old (hereinafter KOTO). The MTTMs have been consistently been accepting of the presence of KOTOs, however much they disagree. But KOTOs don’t want to be in any way associated with the MTTMs.

    And, on the pastoral level, a compromise on the part of the KOTOs would merely mean that they would have to hold their theological noses a bit, while a compromise on the part of MTTNs would mean serious pastoral/emotional/physical damage and harm to actual living and breathing LGBT human beings. One is highly objective and theoretical, the other very subjective and practical.

    Finally, the MTTNs are not in any way demanding that the KOTOs agree with them or be forced against their wills/consciences to ordain LGBTs or bless SSMs. All they are asking is, “Allow us to….”

    It is not a case of balancing “a” against “b” – there is no equivalence between the two demands. One (KTTO) thinks “all must”; the other (MTTN) thinks “some may”, and the difference between “must” and “may” is not just rhetorical, it is of the essence.

  6. Derek the Ænglican

    As much as I’d like to believe that, Father, I don’t agree with your first sentence…

    Philosophically, I think your MTTN could be “entirely institutionally accepting” but I don’t think this fits what we’ve seen. There are axes being ground on the right, no doubt—but they’re there on the left as well.

  7. Mother Laura

    I agree with Fr. John-Julian, though I understand the frustration with liberal/progressive TEC leadership, especially the misuse of cross and fasting language. (Though I think they could use that with more integrity if they followed through with some stronger and radical steps toward the full sacramental equality that they and I see as just but they are inching toward while pretending to take great strides. E.g., as some have suggested, perhaps refusing to bless any marriages or consecrate any bishops as long as they are not allowed to do this equally for LGBT Christians. There are problems with that approach of course but it would simultaneously concede to some of the traditional demands/Windsor agenda while spreading the suffering-for-justice around a lot more).

    Also, wouldn’t San Joaquin and other dioceses on the verge of leaving themselves cite growing tolerance of homosexuality (or, as they would probably put it, sodomy) as a major reason for their departure? And don’t they deserve for their words to be taken seriously?

    Traditional A-C life had plenty of powerful closeted male gays and sometimes this functioned as an “open secret” to some folks and in some contexts. But that’s a very different thing from explicitly re-visiting interpretation of Scripture and Tradition and rejecting much of tradition’s teaching and policies on homosexuality as contrary to the Gospel and the heart of Tradition.

  8. Christopher

    Mother Laura, personally I feel used as a pawn in other people’s agenda, and all the worse by the “liberals” because they think they are “making great strides” as you say and notice never bother to ask lgbt people about their “strides”. Until they use that language with more integrity in some sense of solidarity, they need to shut it; it comes across as patronizing in the worst possible way.

    I’m sick of hearing how great the pastoral and ritual care of gay people in TEC is. I live in one of the most liberal dioceses in this church and frankly it has only been in the last year that this diocese has gotten explicit about what that means. Mostly in TEC it means we’ll let you have a place in the pew, we’ll say a nice welcome statement, take your money and talent, and feel good about ourselves, but don’t ask for anything concrete.

    At least with the conservatives there’s no pretending that they’re going to treat me as they would wish to be treated or they will disagree with me civilly depending on the type of conservative. Adrian Thatcher got it right that we’re a pawn in everyone else’s theopolitics.

  9. Derek the Ænglican

    Mother Laura, I’d say that the real issue on the table for DSJ is that of women’s ordination. The argument against homosexuality seems to me to be a tactic for radicalizing the base and get those not worked up over women’s ordination on board with leaving TEC.

    Yes, traditional A-C life has always had plenty of closeted male gays. And you’re right that this stance doesn’t reject the teachings of Scripture and Tradition (and in saying so are on the same page entirely with the Young Fogey who’s often argued the same thing).

    But neither does hypocrisy conform to the Gospel.

    To my eyes, the overt condemnation yet “covert” practice of homosexuality is a greater breach of the Gospel ethos as it undercuts the rest of the moral teaching of the Church. That is to say, if we know the clergy say one thing and do another in this particular case, it’s logical to assume it happens in other cases –if not all cases–as well…

    As I’ve argued elsewhere here, I’d rather change the Tradition in this respect to move back towards an equally Traditional understanding of virtue ethics than to uphold this form of institutional hypocrisy.

  10. Mother Laura

    Derek, you may well be right that the basic issue in San Joaquin is women’s ordination–at least I’m sure it’s equally important.

    I agree with you about the moral bankruptcy of traditional closeted A-C life (which often goes along with plenty of misogyny of course). That was actually the point I was trying to make as I thought you were saying something else, i.e. that that system was actually gay-positive, rather than that their bigger issue was about women.

    I completely agree with you when you say: “To my eyes, the overt condemnation yet “covert” practice of homosexuality is a greater breach of the Gospel ethos as it undercuts the rest of the moral teaching of the Church. That is to say, if we know the clergy say one thing and do another in this particular case, it’s logical to assume it happens in other cases –if not all cases–as well… ”

    A literal interpretation of certain parts of Scripture and much of tradition does result in homophobia–and, again, misogyny. But I think a better interpretation of more crucial parts of both results in challenging these sins, as in your point about reclaiming virtue ethics. This is what I was trying to get at with the majuscule and miniscule “t’s” recalling Yves Congar’s distinction of Tradition and tradition(s). Clearly I didn’t do that very well. The same thing goes for my expansive language breviary, which I consider deeply in line with classical theology and the heart of the Tradition though very different from much of tradition…..

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