But in recent days there have been some fast-moving developments that cause us to wonder if TEC is worried, very worried on how the court will rule. 815 has suddenly fast-tracked the Primatial Vicar/DEPO scheme now euphemistically renamed "Communion Partners." The gay and lesbian brethren and sisteren have been set aside to now suddenly make a happy place for the orthodox remnant without actually touching the electrical fence that is the Episcopal Church institution. What's up with that? They have suddenly signed off on a Reservation Revisited Scheme - er, Plan - that will identify the coalition of the unhappy and corral them into virtual reservations where they will get their own chief, er bishop to drop by and swap howdies and the diocesan governor, er bishop will just smile, smile, smile.
It is imperative whether the decision is made for or against division in Virginia that all resistance is squashed and the laity are herded onto these reservations where they will be kept quiet while the litigation goes marching on. Just remember, bishops come in handy when one is looking for a checkmate.
The Archbishop of Canterbury will have to nod his ceremonial assent because if there is division in Virginia then there is division in the Anglican Communion. If the division is real it will have global ramifications.
Note how the orthodox bishops in England (with some significant exceptions) have suddenly rallied to the institution. Someone, somewhere has read the writing on the wall and it looks as though these folks think that a decision is inniment and if they can get the House of Bishops to sign off off on this before the judge rules, they will be able to point to their reservations and say with great aplomb (brought to us by the newly minted Episcopal propaganda machine euphemistically called Episcopal Life Media, for now having no editor means it is now an instrument of the legal and PR team, not for journalists) that there is no division, the orthodox are happy clappy on their reservations and the sitting diocesan bishops just smile, smile, smile.
But this will only work if the laity follow. This is a top-down created scheme and it requires that the laity to follow lock step and barrel onto the reservation where they will be a much clearer target once the smoke clears.
It doesn't seem meant for the laity to do anything, it appears to be a public relations stunt aimed specifically at presenting an "all is well" image of "Division? What Division?" Bishops Stanton, Howe, and Archbishop Gomez are in sight of their retirements. By the time anything like this gets going, they will be sitting on a beach somewhere writing their memoirs.
Do you know why we should be very careful right now? Because the Diocese of Virginia continues to try to recruit a new shadow vestry out of Truro. Over the weekend I received phone calls regarding attempts by the Diocese of Virginia to actively recruit members of Truro to join a shadow and so far all of us, however we voted, have remained committed to one another to walk through this journey together in all our diversity because we love each other.
The fact that the diocese is still trying to target Truro after over a year says that there has been no change to try to bring peace and reconciliation to the divisions in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The lawsuits still stand, in fact the Diocese of Virginia attempted to try to convince Judge Randy Bellows to authorize discovery to begin on their lawsuits against the eleven churches that followed Bishop Lee's protocol and voted to separate according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the canons of the Diocese of Virgina. The judge said no, they'll just have to wait until after his decision which is coming at any time.
A stipulation in the Dar es Salaam Communique was that the Episcopal Church would drop its lawsuits against the churches that have separated. This would show that 815 and the leadership of TEC could be trusted. But nothing has changed and in fact, the pressure continues to mount that it is very important to the Diocese of Virginia that they have a shadow vestry in place at Truro - why would we think that TEC is suddenly trustworthy?
More later ... in the meantime, read The Living Church article here. And note that the 815 media campaign is in full swing.
LATER: There has been an announcement at 815 that the national TEC newspaper Episcopal Life will no longer have an editor. The Board of Governors apparently were not consulted about this decision and have issued a statement:
As was recently announced via Episcopal Life Online, the search for a full-time editor for Episcopal Life has been suspended. The Board of Governors of Episcopal Life Media consulted yesterday with Linda Watt, Chief Operating Officer, and Bob Williams, Director of Communications, to discuss this decision. While there will always be tension between mission and budgetary constraints, as a Board we are committed to maintaining excellence in church communications and journalistic integrity.
Despite the changing nature of communications – between print and online platforms – we believe an independent editor is critical to effective church communications. We will continue to work with the staff at the Episcopal Church Center to craft a solution that both meets the church's budgetary needs and addresses continued commitment to communications.
Now, in the Living Church article, Neva Rae Fox is referred to as a "public affairs officer." As I recall, I was shown a proposed flow chart of the 815 staff at the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans and there was a new separation between the old fashioned media and a brand new office for public relations. It seemed clear at the time that legal consultants must have recommended that 815 move away from traditional church publications that report on all the happy happenings around the dioceses and morph into a full-time public relations battle mode.
The announcement that there will no independent journalist/editor for Episcopal Life sounds as though the effort is being moved toward public relations and away from any sort of pretension toward independent journalism. We can rest assured that anything now coming under the "Episcopal Life" banner is meant to shore up 815's image. Centralization is now underway, with 815 providing the image-making materials and the dioceses, like the centralized franchises they must now be, publishing or linking to them. It will not be surprising to see more old-fashioned diocesan editors fall by the wayside as diocesan publications become merely local public relation outlets for 815. Sad.
Read more about the decision to not hire an editor for Episcopal Life by Scott Gunn, a member of the Episcopal Life Board of Governors who were not consulted about the decision. You can also read Greg Griffith's post at StandFirm as well. It sort of boggles the mind that those who proclaim that they are liberal are so intent at creating a centralized institution that is managing the message at the top level and then informing everyone else what they are all going to do. Stay awake.
Senor, senor, you know their hearts is as hard as leather.
Well, give me a minute, let me get it together.
I just gotta pick myself up off the floor.
I'm ready when you are, senor.
Senor, senor, let's disconnect these cables,
Overturn these tables.
This place don't make sense to me no more.
Can you tell me what we're waiting for, senor?
-Bob Dylan, live at the House of Blues in Dallas just three days ago (Feb. 23, 2008). Thanks RWB.