Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Radner makes a Proposal

BB NOTE: Ephraim Radner acknowledges that it's "unrealistic," this proposal of his. But oh, to live in a world where such a proposal would be taken seriously. That being said, Radner's so-called "unrealistic" proposal hearkens to other past proposals deemed unrealistic, does it not? Proposals, say, well, like this one:

How unattainable Reagan's vision seemed at the time - but oh, how it sparked hope. In the wake of one of the most horrific events within the borders of The Episcopal Church, would that we could take Radner's proposal seriously. The Diocese of Haiti, as we were told back in 2006, "is the largest diocese of the Episcopal Church. It has more than 100,000 baptized members in 109 congregations." Imagine that - and they are utterly destroyed.

As we now gaze on the
Wall of Litigation that divides us, a voice cries out - Bishop Schori, let us rebuild the Diocese of Haiti together. Bishop Schori - tear down this wall.

The Living Church:
In the face of the tragedy in Haiti, I want to make a proposal. It’s not a realistic proposal, I grant; but it is a serious one. My proposal is this: that all those Anglicans involved in litigation amongst one another in North America — both in the Episcopal Church and those outside of TEC; in the Anglican Church of Canada, and those outside — herewith cease all court battles over property. And, having done this, they do two further things:

a. devote the forecast amount they were planning to spend on such litigation to the rebuilding of the Episcopal Church and its people in Haiti; and

b. sit down with one another, prayerfully and for however long it takes, and with whatever mediating and facilitating presence they accept, and agree to a mutually agreed process for dealing with contested property.

Before addressing the “unrealistic” character of this proposal, let’s be clear about the money that may be involved. As I read TEC’s national budget, for instance, over $4 million has been spent already on “Title IV” and litigation matters in the dioceses, and over $4 million more is budgeted for the next triennium. Let’s assume that some comparable amount is being spent by the opposing parties — maybe not as much, but still a lot. I don’t know … $3 million over the past three years and $3 million more over the next? Maybe less. Then there are the dioceses alone that are spending their own money. I know that Colorado has spent upwards of $3 million in these matters, and its opponents again, perhaps less again but certainly a sizable amount. I really don’t know what we’re talking about here — maybe $20 million already spent, maybe more? And certainly another $10 million in the pipeline.

Isn’t this rather crazy? Isn’t this in fact unfaithful? Isn’t this, indeed, perverse and even blasphemous?

And it is certainly so in the face of the needs we have just been witnessing in Port-au-Prince, needs which, it must be said, have been around us all the time these past years, but here have come into a blinding and heart-rending focus.

In this case, however, we are also facing something rather concrete with respect to Anglicans: a large and active and vibrant Anglican church in Haiti now overturned in so many ways: church buildings in rubble, schools destroyed, nutritional projects undercut, training programs gone, a seminary in ruins, hospitals and clinics collapsed, irreplaceable religious artwork gone forever, the means of supporting priest, teacher, doctor, nurse, evangelist, worker dissolved. American Episcopalians have been extraordinarily generous in Haiti, through individual parish outreaches and other programs. But this is now beyond anything anyone could have dreamed. TEC, through various national funds (none of them, as far as I can tell, detailed in public budgets), has also, over the years, helped to support the work in Haiti, but again, in ways that pale in comparison with the sudden void now placed in the midst of the church’s life there.

And in ways that pale in comparison with money spent in interchurch litigation! From what I can see, only 25 percent of the amount budgeted for suing each other is currently budgeted for Haiti!

Who cries for justice?

Read it all here. And Ephrain Radner, God bless you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I liked ER's proposal. There are some details to work out, like how continuing Episcopalians get access to properties that departing parishioners are holed up in.
But, those are details. The general idea is to stop throwing God's treasures into the maws of law firms. Both sides are doing this.

Of course the Reagan (wasn't that a great speech?) analogy misses the mark. The Communists could have torn down the wall unilaterally. The Episcopal Church cannot just let people leave and take property with them without breaching faith and duties to those who stay behind. There would be no litigation but for efforts to seize property. If we want litigation to stop, those whose consciences require them to leave should leave. They certainly would have my respect and admiration (not that that matters too much).