What would you think if I sang out of tune – Getting Down To Brass Tacks On the HOB Meeting In New Orleans

The axiom that we as human beings most use to judge people is the idea that past performance is the best indicator of future performance. It is where most prejudices and most sanity in life’s interaction come in. It is what inspires racism but also a debate on the HOBD listserv as to how to discern scammers from people in real need when they show up at the church house. I tend to think the old saying “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” is probably a pretty good rule of thumb on trusting what people say.

So, for example, while I have long criticized fellow Anglicans who have left the Episcopal Church for not doing so in a more organized fashion to make leaving an easier sell for me to folks who really don’t know what all is going on and others have expressed concern for the symptoms of purple fever the continuing church folks had in the 1970’s and 80’s, I frankly think this has been more coordinated then I’ve wanted to admit. Each new American bishop that has been consecrated has been done so in slightly different ways from the Singapore consecrations. Different procedures for determining who should be a Bishop. Bishop Minns being assigned solely to the United States, while the recent African consecrations have involved positions in Africa for these bishops – suffragan bishop at the cathedral, with an office and duties there, and so on. I have to admit though, as much as I hate to, that these folks are on the right track as far as selling leaving the Episcopal Church for another church, an Anglican church, in North America.

That is the key. The Diocese of Louisiana split into two because of many reasons, but one was the lack of visitation by the bishop in the Western part of the state, and the failure to reappoint another suffragan bishop after the suffragan became the Diocesan. Western Louisiana had its own bishop, stationed in Alexandria, who could visit the congregations in the old 318 area code. After Bishop Nolan moved to New Orleans, western Louisiana didn’t see him much, they didn’t appoint someone else, and western Louisiana did something about it.

The consecrations of these new bishops are being made in reliance on past performance indicating future performance. The number of bishops consecrated may seem like more than would otherwise be necessary, but if you think about the travel time among the interspersed congregations who are united by faith rather than geography, I tend to think maybe folks aren’t overplaying the hand on this one, as they have got good transportation, as in Bridge. Having good cards ain’t enough if you cant get to them.

But, that isn’t what I wanted to talk about. I just wanted to frame a question, and I wanted to make my point of view clear before I asked it. The question is this: what happens if the HOB takes a 180 degree turn and complies fully with the Tanzania Communique? What? My feeling is that many of us have counted on past performance being the best indicator of future performance we’ve ignored an important “what if.” One of the symptoms of groupthink is the shutting down if ideas and the discounting of fact scenarios that challenge our assumptions. If what I suggest happens, are we truly open to reconciliation with an aim toward restoring trust and unity? Or has much of what we have said been our own Braxton’s Lear?

Kendall Harmon was hinting at this sort of thing today – what assumptions are we making about how people are and really think? Are they correct, based on complete information, and taking into account all of the complexities of people? That, and Kendall, you said you don’t like to talk about yourself on your blog, but, those of us regular readers of your blog like it when you do, because, one, we all love you and your family even though we don’t all know your family, and two, because it makes us think and we understand you and this whole Anglican Communion mess a heck of a lot better from a thoughtful, Christian standpoint rather than from our own fear, anger, aggravation, and a thousand other feelings that come with trying to follow Jesus in the Episcopal Church – and just about every deadicated leader, liberal or conservative, I’ve ever talked with in the Episcopal Church has all of these feelings. +Rowan has it right in the quote I’ve had on the header of my blog lately. Church is just like that. We are part of it because of the same reasons +Rowan is –

“Well, because of the unwelcome conviction that it somehow tells the welcome truth about God, above all in its worship and sacraments. I don’t think I could put up with it for five minutes if I didn’t believe this; and – if I can’t try to say this in a pastoral, not an inquisitorial, spirit – I don’t know quite why Bishop Spong puts up with it.”

Well, with a mouthful of spiritual Coca-Cola in the teeth of my soul, I go on. Trying tell others the welcome truth about God. So do we all.

What if the Holy Spirit really showed us something in New Orleans. Would we accept it, embrace it? Again, the question is this: what happens if the HOB takes a 180 degree turn and complies fully with the Tanzania Communique?

6 Responses to “What would you think if I sang out of tune – Getting Down To Brass Tacks On the HOB Meeting In New Orleans”


  1. 1 M. Barnes September 20, 2007 at 6:21 am

    I understand the spirit in which you ask this, and I believe we should stand in humility before the will of God. But the Windsor Report and even the Dar Communique were very narrowly focused. If sex was not the deepest issue involved, and if we should not have let it be represented that way, how can compliance with Windsor be enough? Now that we have seen into the depth of hypocrisy, manipulation, propaganda, and malice in the Episcopal superstructure, how could we turn back to it for succour? I believe that many would feel they have looked into a preview of hell and could not return.

  2. 2 M. Barnes September 20, 2007 at 6:43 am

    I wish I had added to my note (above) that this was written by one who has deeply loved the Episcopal Church–still love it– and can hardly bear to leave it. I have invested many inner resources in it, taught in it, received comfort from it, and supposed I would die in it, like forebears and other relatives and dear ones. But I would still have to say I have, painfully, seen in it the same “hypocrisy, manipulation, propaganda, and malice” I mentioned. Compliance on sexual ethics would not repair all this or the other signs of the apostacy. I very greatly honor your own devoted work in the church and your ability to rejoice in your diocese. But I live where there is no alternative to a severely revisionist Episcopal Church. There is not even another Anglican presence, so it will be especially hard on those who feel they can not continue Episcopalians.

  3. 3 Tregonsee September 20, 2007 at 7:51 am

    As someone who has already left TEC, a strong HoB commitment to comply with Windsor-Dromamtine would bring tears and prayers of gratitude. It would not, however, cause me to return immediately to my previous parish.

    There are two rather obvious reasons. The first is that TEC has a solid track record of saying what is expediant, and doing what it wants. One would need to see what actually happens. I am not using hyperbole to say that seeing a bishop removed for allowing or encouraging SSB, which you know would happen in some of the more militant dioceses, would be the level of commitment I am talking about.

    The second is the fact that +VGR is almost incidental in the range of issues which afflict TEC today. He is merely the flash point. If TEC truly shows some solid signs of internalizing the needed changes, rather than simply grudging superficial compliance, I would gladly return and make the effort to continue to reinforce and advance a new Protestant Reformation.

  4. 4 Scout September 20, 2007 at 1:55 pm

    I agree with the previous posts. We hope as the father hopes for the prodigal son. But a single resolution by the HoB, made under considerable pressure and with great reluctance, containing (presumably) as many weasel words as the HoB thinks it can get away with, does not equate to a change of heart by the HoB, much less the institution as a whole. Nothing of substance will change with such a resolution. Clergy will still question Jesus’s divinity, Spong will still be revered, TEC’s gospel will still be focused on MDGs, the Bible will still be viewed as quaint stories with little relevance to today (and which should not be taught to our children), and clergy will continue to say the Nicene Creed with their fingers crossed behind their backs. The problems in TEC are so much deeper than +VGR, gay unions or gay ordinations. How does this resolution effect change as to any of these deeper issues, other than perhaps as an exceedingly-reluctant, actively-resisted first step on the road to reconciliation?

    We are now members at an ACN church where the message reinforces our family Bible studies and the teaching at our children’s school. Why should we sacrifice our children and wade back into the muck and mire of a revisionist diocese?

  5. 5 Jill Woodliff September 20, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    I think the fruits of a genuine repentance would be patently manifest.

  6. 6 Timothy Fountain September 20, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    The Dar Communique included CANA and AMiA as requiring more work, but it at least acknowledged them and would allow their members to be part of ongoing Anglican efforts to forge unity.

    If TEC did a full embrace of the Communique, it would be good news mostly for those of us still in TEC and seeking to offer orthodox teaching and ministry.


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