Monday, June 26, 2006
The election of Bishop Schori: Not a vast right-wing orthodox conspiracy after all
By Sarah Hey
I have noticed several "moderate" bishops producing some rather interesting analyses of Bishop Schori's election as Presiding Bishop. They usually begin with some version of how "extraordinarily gifted" she is, then proceed to explain that the reason she was elected was because of the confluence between the votes of Unnamed Vastly Conservative Bishops and the Radical Left Wing Revisionists. ; > )
One must ask, first of all, why they are so interested in theorizing that Bishop Schori had such an alliance voting for her. And the answer is rather starkly clear. Even they recognize how radically progressive Bishop Schori is and they are hastening to make certain their dioceses learn that "this doesn't really represent your church". A quick reminder: upon the close of the 2003 General Convention she returned to her diocese of Nevada and formally authorized same-sex blessings. In her first sermon as Presiding Bishop she said: "Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation and we are his children." This will be the first of many frankly and unabashedly heretical remarks that we shall hear out of our new Presiding Bishop's mouth -- the first of many, many more that we may look forward to with expectation and interest.
When I first heard the idea that an alliance of "radicals" had voted for and helped elect Bishop Schori bandied about at the convention center I thought it an interesting one, nor did I judge it. I suspect that "Vastly Conservative Bishops" are aware that Bishop Parsley was not an option under any circumstances for their vote. The reasons for that have been amply documented over the past three years, and it will suffice to say that Bishop Parsley's actions torpedoed the chances -- in my opinion -- of his being considered a viable "orthodox" or even "moderate" candidate for Presiding Bishop.
I had always assumed that BIshop Parsley intended to make up for the lost 20 or so "Vastly Conservative" votes by gaining numbers in the "Progressive" camp. But that's neither here nor there. The fact is that I didn't reallly think that it was particularly "conspiratorial" or a bad thing to vote for Bishop Schori over Bishop Parsley. In fact, before I knew that BIshop Parsley came in second to Bishop Schori, I thought two things in quick succession upon hearing of her election -- that it provided profound *clarity* as to the direction of the Episcopal church, and that I was thankful that BIshop Parsley had not been elected.
Over the past several days, though, I've doubted this hopeful analysis certain "moderate" bishops hold. Time for reflection -- and comparison with my analysis of the shrinking middle -- leads me to believe, rather, that certain Moderate Bishops are dreaming dreams and spinning . . . well, spins. The theory, as they're running it, is that the only way someone as radically revisionist as Bishop Schori could have won is through other votes than the radical revisionists at the convention.
I think, though, that the fifth ballot offers an intriguing glimpse of General Convention deputations. Here's the analysis.
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. If we were going to suspect the "Vastly Conservative" bishops to vote for Bishop Schori, we'd have to assume that they would be the 11 Network bishops, the "Most Vastly, Wascally, Horridly Conservative" bishops there are.
And yet -- at least five of those bishops have frankly stated they did not vote for her. One voted for Bishop Jenkins, three voted for Bishop Duque-Gomez, and one has not said. Furthermore, people close to two other bishops are very certain that they did not vote for Schori either. But even if we do not accept their word for it, even if all six of the remaining Network bishops had voted for Bishop Parsley, that would not have been enough to put him over the top into first place. He lost by 13 votes.
No, my theory is that most of the Network bishops voted for either Duque-Gomez or Bishop Jenkins [a total of 9 votes] and perhaps the remaining two voted for Bishop Alexander. Who knows? Maybe one or two held their nose and voted for Bishops Schori or Parsley? ; > )
Furthermore, if the 11 Network bishops did not vote for BIshop Schori in a "conspiracy", it is highly unlikely that those "traditional" diocesan bishops who are not in the Network -- Bishop MacPherson, Herlong, and a few others -- voted for Bishop Schori. I would guess that they voted for Bishop Parsley, although one cannot be certain.
We are left with perhaps three or four retired bishops who may have voted for Bishop Schori -- but the fact still remains that their votes were not enough to surmount the 13 vote difference between Bishop Parsley and Bishop Schori.
No, the number which voted for Bishop Schori represents, frankly, the number of "progressive" deputies at General Convention. To put it baldly, the progressives -- the number of people who agree with Bishop Schori's theology and actions -- are in a majority at General Convention.
Not the "center". Not the "moderates". Not the "center aisle". Not the "via media".
Those who were the majority at the convention were the radically progressives and the institutional progressives who supported Bishop Schori.
And even if all the "Vastly Conservative Bishops" had voted *with* the "shrinking center", it would not have been enough to surmount the Progressive majority.
The sooner that the dreaming, shrinking center recognizes that truth about the convention from which they just returned, the more honestly they can deal with the concrete reality of their situation, at least with regards to the national situation.
NOTE: Thanks Mike for the photo!