Friday, October 29, 2010

Presiding Bishop interviewed by The Washington Post

From The Washington Post:

Question - who in heaven's name is she talking about in the opening statement? "If you are going to stay as a leader in THIS organization you HAVE to be engaged even if you don't like this decision over here, AND if you are not willing to be engaged it's time to let go of your leadership position."

Engaged in what??  What does that mean?

Is she referring to The Rt. Rev'd Mark Lawrence, the Bishop of South Carolina?

One wonders what Dr. King would make of such a statement.


Anonymous said...

Clearly states she is primate of TEC, including 15 countries.

States her equivalency to the ABC.

No mention of God or Jesus or the Great Commission.

Seeks a "more nimble" organization.

KJS at her finest...

Daniel Weir said...

I think Dr. King would have said that if your organization goes in a direction you can't support than it's time to step down from a leadership position.

Wilf said...

A very intelligent editor who selected that first quote as the introduction.

It does sound like she's calling +Lawrence to step down or convince the people in his diocese to follow her program.

Fr. Weir, do you find it interesting that the PB is calling for someone here to consider stepping down from leadership, while no PB ever called on Spong to remove himself from leadership?

She reiterates here what I've said all along about her - notice her words about the "Kingdom of God." It's simply descriptive words about a "healthy society" that follows good ethical precepts, and is the equivalent of Shalom or "peace." This is a beautiful message, it's just not Trinitarian Christianity.

Daniel Weir said...

Ah, but it is an aspect of Trinitarian Christrianity, it is what God seeks for us and we are called to share in that seeking.

A friend once thanked me for not attempting to say everything there was to say about orders in an ordination sermon. I cannot fault the PB for nor saying everything there is to say about the reign of God.

I have no idea if she was suggesting that Bp Lawrence or any other person resign. I also have no way of knowing whether or not a PB ever suggested to Bp Spong that he resign.

I respect those who have decided that they can no longer remain in the Episcopal Church, a decision I might have made had the ordination of women not been approved or NH's election of its bishop not been confirmed.

Galletta said...

Dr. King would have challenged the status quo. This can go a number of ways depending on which side the issue you stand. I think Bp Lawrence is challenging the status quo and is willing to be engaged but will not depart from the faith once delivered.

Father Weir,
I do believe that there were calls for Bp Spong to be brought up on charges of heresy.

Pageantmaster said...

I thought she might have been talking about Rowan as she went on to bellyache about mitres!

Pageantmaster said...

btw polite bishops would not wear their mitres when visiting someone else's cathedral where they do not have jurisdiction. End of.

Anonymous said...

Can't be sure, but it seems like the opening statement was edited from some other part of the piece. It seems to hand in mid-air. It may be an editing problem.


Lapinbizarre said...

".... polite bishops would not wear their mitres when visiting someone else's cathedral where they do not have jurisdiction." Utter bullcr-p, Pageantmaster. Bishops wear their mitres outside their own diocese regularly. Guess evangelicals don't dabble outside their own pond much.

FWIW the Church of England has no canon regulating the wearing of mitres. "Absurdity .... Unhelpful uses of power" nails Lambeth's infantile behaviour precisely. Pretty obviously sections of a longer interview edited to highlight what faint echoes of controversy the interviewer could wring from the interview,

Pageantmaster said...

Hello Rabbit - thanks for your dropping. I have seen this happen. Over here, a full mitre [miter] is worn by a diocesan along with a crozier [very evangelical!], and I am told sometimes a white one by his suffragans. I have seen this happen when a number of other bishops were present and did not wear mitres. The exception to this is when an archbishop is also present presiding in [again] his own jurisdiction.

Now with the prior permission of the diocesan, other visiting bishops might be permitted to wear anything they please, but it should not be in an episcopal function. If you think about it, this makes sense, and avoids confusion for a diocesan in his own cathedral:

"Which one is the bishop?"
"I think it is that one"
"No I am sure it is that one over there"
"What about that one?"
"I don't know, they are breeding like rabbits"
See what I mean?

Mind you, it has to be said that in this case, KJS was asked to make it clear that in taking a presiding role in relation to a sacrament [which if you think about it is a considerable honor and allowance considering that 22 of the 38 Communion provinces would not allow her to do that] it was in the capacity of priest, and not as a bishop.

Of course, what people wear outside of the Cathedral is another matter.

The considerable suspiciion remains over here that KJS, having been given a considerable honor in our church, and one which many including myself remain unhappy with, that she has abused that hospitality by making trouble in the Church of England for her own political purposes and to attempt to embarrass our chuch and its authorities. They should have just have refused her permission to officiate at all and saved us all a lot of bother. But that is TEC amd its Presiding Bishop for you.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness we have KJS...she is honest.....real contrast to the deception of those who could say one thing with all the Primates of the AC before 2003 and then return to TEC and do the exact opposite. KJS is honest...she is a revisionist....she and her friends have been taking over TEC for decades, "an inch at a time"..... she is now in power and is not pretending that those who hold views in line with the AC's "mind of the Communion" have any place...... much prefer her honesty to the duplicity that some think is 'Anglican' but which is just mere...duplicity.

Lapinbizarre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lapinbizarre said...

"I am told" ....... "I have seen this happen" - and facts, Pageantmaster? I repeat that the C of E, unlike the Church of Rome, has no regulations concerning the wearing of mitres. And no prior permission from the diocesan is required for a visiting bishop to wear episcopal insignia. Except, of course, if someone at Lambeth decides to invent a regulation to put an uppity American broad (tho' not, be it noted, another US bishopess who preached at Gloucester Cathedral a few months earlier) in her place.

The lack of politeness here began and ended at Lambeth.

Pageantmaster said...

Rabbit's on the hop.

"I repeat that the C of E, unlike the Church of Rome, has no regulations concerning the wearing of mitres."
1. We do - Canon C2 and the regulations regarding foreign ministers performing functions in the Church of England, which includes presiding at Eucharist. If permission is granted to preside, it is subject to the rules of the Church of England and such stipulations as the licence permits. In this case the PB was granted permission to perform the functions of a priest in the Church of England. Under our Canons she could not perform the functions in the capacity of a bishop and so was asked to dress appropriately.

"if someone at Lambeth decides to invent a regulation to put an uppity American broad in her place."
No danger of that, I'm afraid.

"tho' not, be it noted, another US bishopess who preached at Gloucester Cathedral a few months earlier"
All sorts of people preach in our churches in all sorts of garb, it does not involve performing any function reserved to priests, such as acting as celebrant at the Eucharist.

I imagine the diocesan authorities there invited her to robe, or perhaps [as in the case of Griswold] the diocesan decided not to embarrass him when he turned up in a mitre by asking him to take it off.

But yes, there is a convention about not wearing mitres without permission when visiting another bishop's diocesan services which our bishops and most visitors observe, but it is like those "bonds of affection", some Americans don't think they apply to them, and even if they do, will break them anyway.

Pageantmaster said...

Oh and by the way, regarding RC rules, they are not binding on us as the Bishop of Rome has no jurisdiction here in England. However, with variations, we do follow the practice of the ancient church which Rome follows as well. For a long period after the Reformation, bishops here did not wear mitres, although they were sculpted in them for burial, and used them in their coats of arms. In the 17th Century the practice was revived, and with the Anglo Catholic revival in the 19thC it became generally acceptable to wear it when performing their formal functions in their own churches.

jschwarz42 said...

The simple answer to BB's question should have been: We do not know who or what she meant. The entire video was highly edited so as to remove every statement from any kind of context. The opener was given no context at all. The (un-quoted) first sentence, in the past tense, seemed to refer to some decision regarding leadership that she had made in the past - but its impossible to tell. The statement could well have been about herself and her own approach to her leadership role - for all we know, based on what we have here. (That would have been the more natural reading, given that she was supposedly being interviewed about leadership). It could equally have been about Duncan... or anyone. And she did not say a leader should leave if they disagree with things that are done, just that they have to be remain "engaged", even if things are done they do not like: which I take most naturally to mean "engaged" as in involved, responsive - not apathetic or dis-engaged - getting in there, rolling up your sleeves and taking a stand.

KJS is an extraordinary leader whom TEC is fortunate to have: immensely wise, smart, and strong. I find it distressing that among those who disagree with her she is so unremittingly and unreasonably reviled and every word she says seems determinedly taken out of context and/or misunderstood. Every speech I have heard from her has been thoughtful, nuanced, and filled with insight and a deeply "engaged" commitment to justice and compassion. But she is also (unlike some other bishops) smart and strong enough not to have one put over on her, despite the often Byzantine and disingenuous machinations of those who oppose her in the church and in the AC.

I am also tired of all the paranoia regarding Bp. Lawrence (and regarding the revised disciplinary canons). So far as I have seen, all that is happening is that he has been warned forthrightly ahead of time what will happen if he chooses (despite his unceasing protestations which seem constantly belied by his actions) to "do a Duncan" ... or a "Schofield". He is, it would seem, being told nicely up-front that the days of sitting idly by while someone plots to steal a diocese and head off to the Southern Cone (or whatever) are over. Beyond paranoia, I see no actual reasonably-inferred indication that any punitive action is contemplated if SC does not actually attempt to leave. But the actions of SC would lead any independent observer to conclude that this is probably where they are in fact headed. (If it quacks like a duck, ... etc, etc) Given all the gnashing of teeth about how Bp. Lee supposedly "led on" Truro et al. and then pulled the rug out without warning, one would have thought that it would be viewed as a good sign that KJS is being very open ahead of time about what the consequences would be for taking what would seem to be the logical "next steps" to what SC has already done.


BabyBlue said...

I too wondered if she was talking about a past decision, but she seems to be speaking in the present tense. As many know, Title IV is going through massive revisions that - if successful - will give the Presiding Bishop extraordinary power. In this context, we can look at the comments in this video juxtaposed with the revisions to Title IV. ACI writes in their excellent analysis of the new powers proposed in the Title IV revisions:

In one small phrase on page 150 of a 262-page document, the previous references to “Bishop Diocesan” “in all matters in which the member of the Clergy who is subject to proceedings is a Bishop” are transformed to mean the Presiding Bishop. IV.17.2(c) (2009). . It would be easy without this understanding to believe that the broad new powers of Bishop Diocesan are limited to that office. However, what new Title IV gives the Bishop Diocesan with one hand, it effectively (and stealthily) takes away from him with the other.

Thus, under the revised Title IV, the Presiding Bishop would control the outset of the process in the case of Bishops by appointing the Intake Officer and sitting with that appointee on the three-member Reference Panel that makes the initial determinations to investigate and proceed. The Presiding Bishop would issue “restrictions on ministry” of other Bishops. Nowhere is the unconstitutional authority purportedly given to the Presiding Bishop more egregious than in the case of the inhibition of Bishops, now called restriction on ministry. As is the case when a Bishop Diocesan restricts the ministry of his clergy under these new revisions, revised Title IV allows the Presiding Bishop “at any time” and “without prior notice or hearing” to place a Bishop on restricted ministry. This can be based solely on the Presiding Bishop’s determination that the Bishop “may have committed any Offense.” Even more ill defined is the Presiding Bishop’s ability to restrict the ministry of a fellow Bishop whenever she determines that “the good order, welfare or safety of the Church or any person or Community may be threatened” by that Bishop. As with the new restriction of ministry for diocesan clergy, there is not even a requirement that a disciplinary proceeding ever be initiated against the restricted Bishop, and the restriction can be of indefinite duration.

Moreover, the Presiding Bishop no longer needs Standing Committee consent to restrict a Bishop’s ministry (offenses other than Abandonment) nor the consent of the three senior Bishops to restrict the ministry of a Bishop for abandonment. Compare IV.9.1 (2006) with IV.16 (2009). The Bishop retains the right to appeal the restriction, but this is after the Bishop’s ministry and the life of the Diocese have been interrupted without the consent of the Diocese.

You can read the whole thing here:


Lapinbizarre said...

Rabbit's on the hop, Pageantmaster, because you have invented, and continue to invent, "facts".

"...yes, there is a convention about not wearing mitres without permission when visiting another bishop's diocesan service" - for which, I trust, you will provide evidence stronger than "I am told"?

The only garments canonically specified for bishops of the Church of England are the rochet and chimere, PM. The mitre has no legal standing and the cope no standing beyond its having been specified under the Elizabethan Settlement for celebrations of the Eucharist in cathedrals and collegiate churches.

Pageantmaster said...

Law has a number of sources, O Rabbit. These include convention and precedent commonly called Common Law. We after all have an unwritten constitution which is drawn from these sources and principles, but that makes it no less real and part of the 'Law'

Convention says that bishops wear mitres and carry croziers - priests do not; convention also says that a bishop in his cathedral exercises jurisdiction, including performing his functions in conventional dress. Other bishops who are visitors, may be invited to participate and dress appropriately, but the 'jurisdiction' remains that of the diocesan.

What however, a foreign priest may not do is celebrate communion if invited to do so, in any other way or capacity than he or she has been granted permission to do in the Church of England. We do not currently have women bishops so KJS could not have celebrated as a bishop, but was granted permission [which please remember is a considerable privilege, and not a right] to do so as a priest.

But frankly it was more trouble than it was worth giving her any permission at all.

Pageantmaster said...

because you have invented, and continue to invent, "facts".

A prosaic way of putting it, but I did check my facts on this, straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

The bottom line is that you may not like it, but if legislation requires permission for overseas clergy to officiate, then please observe the terms of that permission, and moreover respect the framework in which the natives operate - particularly when they have made an effort to accomodate you in a role normally reserved for those ordained in the Church of England.

And please do not storm up the aisle as though you were the metropolitan, and then go home bellyaching for months on end and slagging us off.

When in Rome, do as the Italian Rabbits do.

Lapinbizarre said...

The legislation does indeed require permission for overseas clergy to officiate, Pageantmaster - a fact which you have only now added to the brew and which has not the slightest relevance to what we have been discussing. What (let's go through this one more time, shall we?) legislation does not do, is have anything whatever to say about mitres, about the wearing of mitres, or about the wearing of mitres by overseas bishops or by English bishops in a diocese which is not their own.

The Church of England, as we both know, exists and operates under Statute Law and has no "Common Law" of its own. And, as we also both know, the conventions and precedents of English Common Law are rigidly codified, regardless of their origins.

Smokescreens aside, your statements on mitres continue to hinge on the "because I say so" argument. Once again, evidence, please, beyond "convention says" and "I am told" - in legal matters, the mouth of an unnamed horse carries no weight.

Pageantmaster said...

We are off on a rabbit trail - please reread what I wrote carefully and your questions have been answered, and check with some bishops, as I did.

If you are granted permission to perform functions, as a CofE priest, you may not do it dressed and in the capacity of a bishop unless you have a license to minister in the CofE in that capacity.

Wilf said...


I'd challenge you to read this and then ask yourself if you are still so pleased that +KJS is leading TEC. For me, this means no less than that it's clear that the entire Communion is suffering a condition of apostasy which we all share (and I don't wish to point fingers, I think +KJS's leadership is more of a symptom here, and in no way wish to imply that this is "all her doing" or other such things - it simply shows us "where we are").

Perhaps you don't mind what people are taught about Christ - and don't understand how the teaching of the church effects one's actual faith and relationship with God. If this is the case, however, please do understand that some in the church still do understand these things, and that outside of the Communion, all Trinitarian churches understand these things. Even if one thoroughly believes in "the new thing," one should at least have understanding for those who do not wish to leave Trinitarian Christianity in embracing a different religion, out of general inter-faith sensitivities, and recognition of the injustice involved in coerced conversion.

From what I have read here, it sounds like most of the Virginia churches are not embracing +KJS's and Borg's Christology; and Scout goes so far, from his experience, to doubt that any parishes do (which seems utterly odd that someone who so passionately posts here about property, does not acquaint himself further with the state of TEC). I can assure you that in some areas of TEC, it is the case that parishes worry about their future with regards to the most basic elements of Trinitarian Christology. In the diocese where I used to live, parishes have worried about being assigned rectors who are non-Trinitarian, and in at least one case, this did occur; those in that parish are now taught that belief in the resurrection is unimportant (and perhaps even dangerous to the point of making one genocidal). In a Church of England parish I was involved in which had a TEC priest, the priest seemed intent on teaching various things from Bishop Spong until I intervened with some factual counterpoint (which is not difficult, but beyond the abilities of most TEC laity and clergy I have known who are not openly critical of TEC). Much of the problem here is simply lack of education and hermeneutical laziness. I don't believe any clergy have tails or hooved feet, or are even intent upon "changing the Christology" of TEC - they simply believe what they've been taught, and have little means of understanding or articulating a sound Christology in our times.

If you "don't agree" with the article - what you could do to reasonably show that this situation in TEC (and the Communion) is not problematic, is to find one other top church leader (equivalent of a primate) in a significant Trinitarian church who has ever made statements which are comparable to these statements which +KJS has made in their implicit denial of the divinity of Christ and the resurrection. If you are able to do so, you will have proven me quite wrong (and I shall be delighted that we are not, in all history, the church which has gone the furthest in denying Christ). So far, no one has, so I fear that it is true that our Communion is truly denying Christ beyond anything we have yet seen in more than a century and a half of Trinitarian history.

You may not have "seen" much regarding +KJS in the diocese of South Carolina - I'd encourage you though to familiarize yourself with the hiring of Thomas Tisdale, the former chancellor of South Carolina, by +KJS, as her attorney, without any correspondence with +Lawrence.

Daniel Weir said...

I find the discussion of the PB's mitre interesting. However, I think there is something akin to angels dancing on the head of pin about this. Can a bishop ever really be seen as functioning as a priest? Yes, some of the things that bishops do, priests do as well, but when bishops do them they are bishops. When I set the table at the Eucharist, I am doing something that is the proper work of a deacon, but I am a priest nonetheless. Given the fact that women bishops have not been told to refrain from wearing a mitre when they were invited to preach in England, the decision of Lambeth to demand that of the PB, while perhaps legally correct, strikes me as legalistic and a bit petty.

Lapinbizarre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pageantmaster said...

Actually Rabbit, I haven't responded to your ever more wild comments on my integrity, while I admit to having a bit of fun with your moniker. No offence intended with that.

But the basic position remains the same:
1. Under the Overseas Clergy measure, to perform a reserved function [in both senses] in the Church of England requires both vetting and permission. It is not possible for a woman to act as a bishop here so the only permission which could be given was to act as a priest, and that was what happened and she was asked to dress appropriately for that role while presiding.
2. The convention is that when visiting someone else's cathedral where you do not have jurisdiction you do not wear your mitre, unless invited to do so by the diocesan or archbishop with jurisdiction. It is both a convention and good manners, just like observing 'bonds of affection'.

No intellectual dishonesty, just the way our canons and conventions work out, and also the conventions which our bishops observe, but to which apparently the PB and you object as somehow insulting.

Anonymous said...

rabbit....basically, the CofE has its way of doing things...and can be quite flexible....and inconsistent. If KJS led a major province in the AC, she may be treated with more respect....but revisionist ideas have led to such decline that very few Americans (fewer than 1 in 400) go along....even the CofE does better than the CofE and the AC do not have to change their rules to accomodate or TEC or its PB. You're PB and province are not as important as you think they are rabbit....were it not for the inherited money, the rest of the AC would have been less tolerant years ago....which is not to our credit! Lambeth invitations....well TEC picked up the bill....even though one of its bishops was not invited! Want to talk about integrity??

Lapinbizarre said...

I was bit oversnappy there Pageantmaster, for which I apologise, tho' I'm leave the post up, since your basic premise has been more than a little fluid. [The mitred American she-bishop at Gloucester, and a second at Salisbury, as I recall, fits into this argument where?]

Apropos of nothing, you do owe an apology to the Byzantine Empire for the schoolboy howler you posted about it at SF a week or so back. (This is a serious observation.)

On the terms on which you make your claims Anon ("1 in 400" says who, BTW? Carey, Nazir-Ali, the ever-right Curmudgeon?), if there's an integrity question relating to TEC & Lambeth, it's a problem for those who whored themselves out to false prophets for financial gain (your frame of reference, remember not mine), not to the integrity of those who paid the piper without calling much of a tune.

Pageantmaster said...

Peace to you Rabbit. God bless.

Lapinbizarre said...

And you, Pageantmaster

redleg82 said...

I am prepared to accept her resignation at any time.

Anonymous said...

Appropos of nothing, KJS appears to have aged quite a bit since her election.

Lapinbizarre said...

If she hadn't aged quite a bit, Carolyn, I'm sure there are those who would suggest she has been using Botox.

Anonymous said...

I would think that that job in these times would not have spa-like effects on anyone.


jschwarz42 said...

[Part1] Wilf wrote: "I'd challenge you to read this and then ask yourself if you are still so pleased that +KJS is leading TEC." Well, I did read "this", and frankly it seemed a little silly, and I am still thankful that KJS is leading TEC.

Everything I am going to say would need to be unpacked more fully. But in brief: nothing your author says indicates that KJS does not truly believe in (or teach) the resurrection and the divinity of Christ. Offhand, I know of no Christian (even including Spong) who does not. She MAY indeed well believe and understand it in a different way than you do, and than many so-called "orthodox" churches have doctrinally defined those "beliefs" in the past. I do not know; nor do I care. But, essentially, the referenced quotes simply show that she actually understands some of the most profound and difficult insights of contemporary philosophy and theology (remarkable in a bishop, let alone a primate - although I am sure ABC Williams understands what she is saying, even if it is not politically expedient to admit doing so). And your author apparently does not understand these things - although he can talke the half-baked lingo of the somewhat discredited and sterile reductionist 20th century tradition of British "analytic" philosophy (which never quite knew what to make of religion and religious "belief" - as its best and most honest exponents would have readily admitted).

Your author clearly has no understanding of the richly nuanced sense that the term "meaning" has come to have in contemporary philosophy and theology (especially in the European traditions). For reasons too long to explore here, talking about ontological realities has become more problematic in the 20th-21st century than when "Trinitarian" doctrines were formulated. For today's ways of thinking, what is "real" is best expressed as the "meanings" that we experience. To talk about the "meaning" of a religious belief is indeed to talk about its essential existential reality, not (as your author seems to conclude about KJS's use of the term) to somehow "belittle" its ontological status (which is essentially unknowable to us). [cont.]

jschwarz42 said...

[Part 2, cont] Anyone who believes in and experiences the ongoing living presence of Christ as the most important spiritual reality in their (individual and community) lives essentially "believes in" the "resurrection" - for every faith purpose that really matters. Likewise, everyone who experiences the person, teaching and ongoing presence of Christ as the presence of God in their lives and communities "believes in" the "divinity" of Christ. It was such faith "experiences" that led the early post-Easter Christians to believe in Jesus' resurrection (and finally in his divinity). They believed in a resurrection in the "body" ["sarx" not "soma" in Greek], which meant for them (and for us), not a "resuscitated physical corpse", but a resurrection, inherently incapable of being fully understood or expressed in human concepts, of his entire "whole" human person (or being), understood in a holistic sense: the indisputable experienced reality of his being "really there" in the fullness of who he was, but in a new "higher" form of life of which he was the "first fruits" [Paul], and into which we have the hope of following him. WE all accept this. But we each of us simply seek to understand the "MEANING" of these ineffable truths, that we experience in faith, by using a variety of different conceptual tools, metaphors, images, "languages", theologies, doctrines. To say that someone does not "believe in" the "resurrection", because their theological way of expressing and understanding the "faith" that underlies that "belief", is unnecessarily narrow. I am sure that countless numbers do continue to find God through the old doctrinal, pre-modern ways of speaking about these things. But to many others (myself included) these "old ways" are a hindrance, and we find our way to a "right relationship" with God (through Christ) better with the aid of different more modern ways of thinking. It does not mean we disagree on fundamentals or that we have different "religions". We all "put our faith and hope" in Christ. We just explain what that "means" differently. [cont]

jschwarz42 said...

[Part 3, cont] There is a fundamental difference between "faith" and "belief" (see Borg for clearest explanation of this). Increasingly we today have come to recognize that what is important is to have "faith": which is what allows us to be drawn into right relationship with God and to live our lives "fruitfully" in the "flourishing" way that God "wants" (and "invites") us to live. Yes, we all "believe" that "having faith" in the "meaning" of Christ's "resurrection" and "divinity" (etc) are a crucial part of this "Way" to God as Christians. But "belief" in (i.e., intellectual assent to) specific traditional "teachings" (as opposed to other "newer" ways of explaining-understanding), that have in the past been used to attempt to "understand" these parts of our whole "salvific" (i.e., leading-to-spiritual-"health"-and-right-relationship-with-God) "faith experience" of living into the "Body of Christ", are NOT crucial - (although they may [or may not] be helpful in our "journey" of "faith").

You talked about being "Trinitarian". But, again, almost all mainstream Christian believers and theologians are "Trinitarian". But their understanding of the Trinity and its "meaning" - that word again! - (or importance for faith) may differ from yours and your author's (and more traditional churches'). Theologians who evolved the "ortho-dox" Trinitarian doctrinal system, culminating in the 4th cent., did so, not through the Bible or "revelation", but rationally and prayerfully, through applying the philosophical ideas and assumptions of their day to make sense of what they believed (i.e., the "content" of their "faith"). Their specific theological and doctrinal solutions are not necessarily so useful in a world which does not share those (largely Platonic) philosophical assumptions. New "ways" of understanding may be better. That does not make their advocates un-"Trinitarian".


Wilf said...


I wish I had more time to respond to you personally here.

You are quite enthusiastic about Marcus Borg, and I'm sure that many in the Episcopal Church are.

Your plea here is, as we often find in Borg and Schori, about "meaning," going so far as to jump into caps in using this word.

e.g., But we each of us simply seek to understand the "MEANING" of these ineffable truths, that we experience in faith, by using a variety of different conceptual tools, metaphors, images, "languages", theologies, doctrines. To say that someone does not "believe in" the "resurrection", because their theological way of expressing and understanding the "faith" that underlies that "belief", is unnecessarily narrow.

I'd say that this confuses two senses of the word "meaning." We speak of meaning in a narrower sense when trying to construe meaning in the sense of "the meaning of what someone said." In doing so, we strive to comprehend, as precisely and authentically as we can, what we should understand by that person's words.

The second sense is a looser sense in which we might speak of "the meaning of life" or when we say "I have a hard time finding meaning in it all." Here "meaning" has to do extra associations, in addition to the meaning in the first sense; along perhaps with finding an application of such extra associations to ourselves.

You (and Borg) are asking us to take church doctrines no longer literally (Borg constantly uses this word; he seems fixated on it; I'll use it here since he uses it but do not encourage such fixation) ... what you mean is, skip the "meaning" of meaning #1, and rather jump immediately to a play of various associations and possible life applications in which we might find some very "deep meanings." I.e., the resurrection could mean, as it means for +KJS sometimes, improved cooperation (when she speaks of "finding resurrection).

In asking what the "meaning" of the word is, we aren't being too "narrow," neither are we being less than "modern," as you put it. In fact, one of the hallmarks of a "modern" understanding of hermeneutics is precisely that we work hard at meaning #1, before we engage too elaborately in meaning #2 - and while engaging in meaning #2, we agree not to go too far in embroidering our own subjective meanings to the text, but try to work around something shared which as such posesses some "objectivity."

So for you, and Borg, and Schori, someone who says, "I believe in the resurrection, because I feel great this morning; but the idea that God raised Christ's body from the dead is utter claptrap." This could be said to be finding some kind of meaning #2, with meaning #1 entirely skipped over.

There is nothing "modern" about finding "I have a great feeling of overcoming today" to be an adequate expression of the meaning of the word "resurrection."

Wilf said...

I'd add: though speaking of being can be challenging - we are still able to speak of it. Some seem to assume that since Heidegger is a rather challenging read, that we must give up all hope of speaking of being. (Did you know that +KJS claims to have read Being and Time?) We could indeed speak of how Heidegger illuminates new ways of seeing being - some of which I find enormously helpful - but this would be quite an undertaking in itself. But Heidegger's use of the word "existential" is sometimes conflated with a rather atrophied sense of Sartre's sense of "existential" - and I don't believe that either of these philosophers provide us with a warrant for skipping meaning #1 in order to engage in a rather free-ranging project of discussing meaning #2 without concern for #1. If you're particularly intrigued by the issue of being and ontology I'd suggest reading Jean-Luc Marion's God Without Being, which specifically addresses understanding God outside of the paradoxes Heidegger illuminated in the discussion of being (not describing God as not "being real," but rather not using the category of being for describing such reality). I have not gone very far down this path simply because I understand that when we are discussing God and being, we arrive at the outer limits of our understanding and find even the word "being" to be limited in use, and even potentially deceptive when we try to "shoe-horn" it into particular uses.

I think that most who have read a good bit of continental philosophy will agree: +KJS does not read like a person who is particularly well-versed in such, or even moreso than your average layperson. She, like Borg, is often confounding things epistemically, and creating more muddle than clarity.

It is true that some people in the church have thought that the word "Resurrection" could mean things like replacing lightbulbs, getting up in the morning, and changing the operation rules of institutions. This however does not make this "meaning" of Resurrection "modern"; I think it's best described as a more pre-modern, pre-critical way of engaging in hermeneutics.

What Borg is basically saying amounts to: "I don't accept church teachings; they are narrow-minded; but I believe other things which are very true and beautiful. I can also fruitfully use church teachings metaphorically in describing those things which I do believe. Ergo, the things which I believe may be substituted for these church teachings, and even described with the very same words and phrases as those church teachings."

Wilf said...

I would counter that this way of thinking and attitude associated with it goes very much against the "modern spirit" and its insistence on critique. It's an attitude which, in the end, makes all critique impossible. It means: we all believe these things, and it is impossible for us to discuss any issue; since it is permissible for us to re-define words in any way to suit our needs. E.g., if I kill Joe Blow, it is perfectly permissible for me to stand before the court and say I have not killed him; because "existentially," I do not believe I have annihilated everything about him; some still have memories of him, etc. etc., so I allow myself the license of re-defining the word "kill" at that moment, in that way. And with every objection or clarification, I can simply move on, redefining my words so they mean different things in each sentence.

I hope that when you reflect on Christ's bodily resurrection, you come to understand its significance for who Christ is for us - "existentially" (to use a nice catch-word).

Actually, you might enjoy reading the Preface of Being and Time. Note Heidegger's words on the etymology of existence. If you have MacQuarrie's translation, you'll see that he points out that Heidegger was, at this point, influenced by Karl Barth's book on Romans.

To understand better Christian doctrine in the light of modern critique, actually, you would do well to look to Barth, or more particularly, the more accessible theologians in this same movement (neo-Orthodoxy), such as Niebuhr.

I should perhaps go further in speaking of reference and intentionality regarding meaning. But to put things simply: when you use the word "resurrection," if it "means" for you: "I feel great this morning", you and I are not referring to the same thing. It would thus be better for us to use different words in describing these things. I could agree to use the word "resurrection" to refer to the feeling of feeling great or "in an overcoming mood," but then I would need to find some other way of describing faith in Christ, and it would not have this word "resurrection" in a central place, if it were used at all.

This is simply a problem of confused referents.

No church claiming to be Trinitarian is promoting Borg the way TEC is - or accepts anything other than Christ's bodily resurrection as the proper referent for the word "resurrection" as we use it in its primary sense.

We may use the word "resurrection" in a secondary and metaphorical sense. But doing so in absence of teaching the first sense, or even worse, denying the first sense, or worse yet, pretending that this is completely understood by its metaphorical sense, encourages the "fundamentalist" tendencies in some of over-rigorous critique of language and metaphorical usage. And I am afraid that TEC has done much more to (indirectly) encourage fundamentalism in the last three decades, than it has to help allay this phenomenon.

Probably the best way you can set aside the claims I make is to do that simple exercise: find another leader of +KJS's stature of a significant church claiming to be Trinitarian who makes statements similar to hers. You have a vast field - 1500 years - if what she says is really "Trinitarian," I'm sure this will be an easy task for you, and you will also help me rest better when I think of the Anglican Communion.

John, is Marcus Borg being taught in your parish?

Wilf said...

I'll add one more comment since you bring up Borg's distinction between faith and belief, and I am thinking you will likely respond along these lines.

It does make some sense to critique how we tend to speak of "beliefs" and I think Borg may have a point, in that we have somewhat "reified" this word belief, especially when speaking of "beliefs."

However, this is our "modern language" speaking - we are speaking in English, and this is how we describe things in English - for all its faults, and all its tendencies to lead us into unhelpful presuppositions and thought patterns. We use this word "beliefs" in a manner which isn't particularly scriptural, and in ways which at times may be unhelpful.

However, we remain thinking beings, we remain cognizing beings; our thought processes are part and parcel of who we are. Borg goes very far in trying to make "beliefs" appear to be superficial, and in critiquing what he sometimes calls "propositional faith." No, we don't want the creeds to function as mere dry bones of "points of belief." This was never their intent.

However, we do speak with propositions. Everything Borg writes is a proposition. He is creating, really, his own propositional faith. He formulates his own beliefs. One of these is in encouraging us to see the word "belief" in a very particular way, and to avoid it, and instead to strive for other things which he describes - with, e.g. the word "transformation." All in all though, it's simply another dogma. You could maybe say it's a dogma about dealing with dogmas. It encourages some things, and discourages other things.

All of our knowledge is made up of beliefs; as knowledge is simply, philosophically speaking, true justified belief. Our thoughts are all, in some way or other, characterizable as beliefs, albeit in different modalities ("true," "possible," "false", etc.).

We probably do ourselves injustice when we emphasize the creeds too much, and make "beliefs" seem to be like atomistic, dry bones. But we must nonetheless acknowledge that our minds are important; that our ideas shape who we are; and that what we believe about God is incredibly important in how we relate to Him.

Wilf said...


I notice the above messages have quite a few typos in them. My apologies for some sentences which may seem confusing at first glance. I hadn't yet had my coffee (got up at 4AM), should have probably waited.

Anonymous said...

rabbit....TEC nos show ASA at 0.7m ....that is less than 1 in 400 Americans...... hope you trust TEC nos!!

Looks like the US public ain't easily fooled by 'ubuntu' and whatever else revisionists dish up.....

Lapinbizarre said...

English translation appreciated, Anon

Wilf said...

Lapin, ASA means Average Sunday attendance. "Ubuntu" was the name of TEC's last General Convention. I think the rest of Anon's should be legible.

Lapinbizarre said...

I know, Wilf. But I have a problem with people who think that deliberate subliteracy is cute and that it shows that they are too terribly, terribly busy to take the trouble to compose a coherent clause, let alone a sentence. But thank you - seriously - for your time and trouble, Wilf.

Wilf said...

Agreed, Mr. Rabbit. Though it's become so common everywhere I tend to think "not my battle." But maybe Anon now will make a bit more effort here in posting, which is surely a good thing.