BB NOTE: I've been thinking about this rather intriguing "pre-House of Bishops Meeting" article by veteran Post writer Alan Cooperman, a longtime observer of the Episcopal Church crisis who has written extensively on it over the years. I am frankly surprised that he's written this article since it's seem clear that liberal Episcopalians are working very hard to show a happy, sunny face ("Katharine didn't really mean it, she was just saying that she agreed that this is what the majority of the Anglican Communion believes, not that she herself believes it - which of course she doesn't - she just wants us to fast and wait and be good little boys and girls so she can have tea with the Queen and then take all of our money and give it to the ACC and make the entire Anglican Communion turn into the Episcopal Church which is why The Executive Council gave the ACC so much money, even though The Episcopal Church is under discipline at the ACC and can't send anyone to get a nametag and vote, but oh well).
No, the real division (which Cooperman masterfully identifies) appears to be between two liberal Episcopal groups: what I might call the "Activists" and the "Institutionalists." Both hold the same theological and social-political views. But one group is devoted to the "Cause" and the other group is devoted to the "Institution." They have aligned with one another for a long time (and that is worth a book in itself) - but if Cooperman is right, this alliance is finally coming to a crossroads.
David Brooks calls these two groups the "bohemians" (Activists) and the "bourgeois" (Institutionalists). Together they care called the "Bobos." TEC has been the perfect "Bobo Church." It looks structurally quite "bougeois" on the outside, but inside it's theological bohemia all the way. Now, if Cooperman is correct, the TEC Bobos are not in paradise anymore.
When the orthodox were engaged in the struggle inside the traditional structure of TEC, they were a convenient punching bag to unify these two very different groups together. They were indeed "Bobos in Paradise." But now the orthodox have their own ballgame to play (as recognized by the Communique as being Windsor, CANA, or AMiA) - leaving the Bobo TECies to decide what they are going to do next. They can keep punching in the wind at their old strawmen, or turn on each other. Coooperman says the latter. I'm not so sure - the activist/bohemians seem to be carrying the bourgeois standard, just as the institutional Episcopal Church needs them to do (remember what happened in the House of Deputies when B033 was on the floor?).
Unlike conservatives - who have always had no problem tearing each other apart in public - liberals like to do their own bloodletting in private and it's often difficult for observers to know what has happened until it's all over and the losers have slunk off into the shadows to write their memoirs. They keep the outward appearance of sunny faces by slamming their convenient punching bags in public, but what Cooperman seems to be saying here is that behind the sunny facades all is not happy in Whoville.
Susan Russell and Michael Hopkins have said they had a little meeting with the PB up in Oregon during the Executive Council meeting and explained things to her. They happily report back that "In our conversation in Portland when 'why did you sign the Communique?' came up +Katharine specifically (and emphatically said) 'Nobody 'signed' anything.'" Au contraire - not from the Archbishop of Canterbury's point of view as well as the other Anglican primates - and they are the view that counts. We are not sure if Susan and Michael are trying to convince us that she didn't agree to the Communique - or the wool is being pulled over their eyes yet again by an Institutionalist telling them what they want to hear so they can go back to their classic punching bags (Mark Lawrence, call your office).
If Cooperman is right and the real battle is raging (though perhaps not in front of all of us) then perhaps each time we here this ranting and raving against the orthodox, or the Anglican Communion, or the Windsor Bishops or anyone except Katharine Jefferts Schori (and perhaps in the end the TEC House of Bishops, be aware) - the venom is really a redirection away from the real institution who is selling them a spin.
What's their alternative? They have to support the Presiding Bishop - what other choice do they really have? It wasn't enough that she walked into the House of Deputies and compelled them to pass B033 (which didn't do the job she promised). Now she makes more promises and they nod their heads and smile, telling us she didn't sign away anything - and certainly not the prophetic witness of the spirit that's doing a new thing. Cooperman says different. So who will win the day? Chane or Marshall? The Activist or The Institutionalist? The Bohemians or the Bourgeois?
Notice what the Activists/Bohemians say in Cooperman's article - they have principles and they are not turning back the clock. The Institutionalists/Bourgeois appear to point their fingers at the Usual Punchingbags, rather the the bohemian agenda that got us all into this mess in the first place. Brilliantly, the Institutionalists appear to be doing all they can to get the Activists to do the unpleasant work for them, anything but find public fingers pointed back at those who may be playing "Let's Make a Deal" to retain their institutional facade. Tea anyone?
LATER NOTE: What we may be seeing played out today over the consents for the new bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina is the breaking of the "Bohemian/Bourgeois" Alliance. It was clearly the Bohemian/Activists that lobbied the Standing Committees to reject Mark Lawrence and now the Bourgeois/Institutionalists that are fighting back. The Orthodox have alliances with the Institutionalists because - like the Institutionalists - the Orthodox respects the institution of the church, but not for the same reasons. However, as is now occurring in South Carolina, the Orthodox remnant and the Institutionalists are aligning together against the Activists to preserve the institutional church (especially now that Mark Lawrence has voiced assurances to do what he can to keep the institution together - what the Institutionalists needed to hear). This certainly could be the case in Virginia. The Actvists have gone strangely silent (hitting their punchingbags even harder instead) - but will they prevail in the end? We shall know by day's end.
New Criticism for Episcopal Bishop
Her Liberal Allies Wonder Why She Signed Ultimatum on Gays
By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 11, 2007; A05
Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, is used to hostility from the right wing of her denomination. Now, she faces a rebellion among her longtime allies on the left.
With more puzzlement than rancor, liberal Episcopalians are questioning why Jefferts Schori signed an international statement last month that, in their view, demands a halt to 30 years of growing acceptance of gay men and lesbians.
"The overwhelming response I'm hearing is, 'Wait a minute! We're not prepared to turn back the clock,' " said the Rev. Ruth Meyers, academic dean of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill.
The bishops of all 111 Episcopal dioceses will meet this week at a church retreat center near Houston to consider their response to an ultimatum issued in Tanzania on Feb. 19 by the primates, or heads, of the 38 national churches that make up the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the 77 million-member communion, which is still reeling from the consecration of an openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, in New Hampshire in 2003.
In an attempt to prevent a schism, Jefferts Schori and her fellow primates gave U.S. bishops until Sept. 30 to make an unambiguous, collective promise that they will not consent to the election of any more gay bishops and will not authorize blessings of same-sex couples. The primates also agreed to establish the post of "primatial vicar" to oversee U.S. dioceses unhappy with the Episcopal Church's recent course.
If the Episcopal Church rejects the ultimatum, it will face unspecified sanctions, such as a downgrading of its status within the Anglican Communion. But even before the U.S. bishops gather in Texas on Friday, more than a dozen of them, including Bishop John B. Chane of Washington, have indicated they are inclined to rebuff Jefferts Schori's recommendation and politely but firmly say "no" to the primates.
"We have to be very clear about where we are as a church. We have consented to the consecration of Gene Robinson, and we have -- the majority of dioceses in this country have -- allowed the blessing of same-sex couples for some time," Chane said in an interview.
"We have done these things, and the one thing we're not going to do, in my opinion, is we're not going back to Egypt," he said, referring to the biblical exodus from slavery. "These are positions that have been taken, really, at some cost to the unity of our church, but for the integrity of our church."
Liberal Episcopalians also object to the ultimatum on procedural grounds, noting that the primates' Tanzania communique was addressed solely to U.S. bishops, as though they can speak for the American church. "There isn't a bishop I know of who will say we can do that," Chane said.
Bishop Paul V. Marshall of Bethlehem, Pa., said many of the primates rule autocratically over former colonial churches and do not understand the "democratic polity" of the Episcopal Church, which broke away from the Church of England during the American Revolution.
The Episcopal constitution was written by many of the same people who drafted the U.S. Constitution, and it vests power in a legislature with two equal chambers: a House of Bishops and a House of Deputies, which contains lay people and priests, Marshall said.
Marshall predicted the American bishops will call for discussions throughout the Episcopal Church, rather than respond directly to the primates at the Texas meeting.
"Historically, the House of Bishops seeks ways around conflict. If there's a way to pass the buck, we will," he said.
Conservative Episcopalians generally have welcomed the ultimatum. They see it as a clear demand for the U.S. church to repent and return to traditional positions on sexual matters.
But the response from liberal Episcopalians has run the gamut "from sadness to anger and everything in between -- a lot of disappointment and frustration," said Meyers, a member of the House of Deputies. Above all, she added, "we're trying to understand why our presiding bishop thinks this is the right way to proceed."
Jefferts Schori declined to be interviewed for this article. But she explained her position during a Feb. 28 live webcast from New York in which she answered questions from Anglicans worldwide. Poised and unhurried, with an easy laugh, she projected calm.
"We are being pushed toward a decision by impatient forces within and outside this church who hunger for clarity," she said. " . . . If we can lower the emotional reactivity in the midst of this current controversy, we just might be able to find a way to live together."
In 2003, Jefferts Schori voted with a majority of Episcopal bishops for Robinson's consecration. She also allowed the blessing of same-sex unions in her former role as bishop of Nevada.
She has made clear that she still supports the "full inclusion" of gay men and lesbians at all levels of the church. But she is urging the Episcopal Church to accept the primates' call for self-restraint, which she has compared to "a season of fasting," so that the U.S. church can continue to be a voice at the Anglican table.
Although some conservatives have praised her for recognizing the communion's value, she has not won their trust.
"She calls for patience and says in time the entire communion will come around to embrace the new theology. She's trying to play a longer game, for a bigger prize," said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, a conservative theologian in South Carolina.
Liberal Episcopalians have questioned Jefferts Schori's recent judgment, but she has not lost their allegiance.
Bishop Chilton R. Knudsen of Maine said she is worried that the primates' ultimatum is a step toward turning the Anglican Communion into a "magisterial" church with centralized authority, something much closer to Roman Catholicism than to the loose "bonds of affection" that have tied Anglicans together.
But, she said, "I'm reserving judgment. I know Katharine well enough to have an instinctive trust in her, and I want to hear from her about this."