Thursday, March 6, 2008

March 6, 2008

Our tiresome inter-Nicene struggles continue, that is to say struggles among people all of whom profess the Nicene Creed every Sunday. You will recall in the story so far regarding the diocese of San Joachin that the Bishop believes he is s bishop of the Church of the Southern Cone (contra their own canons), and that he has “led the diocese out of the Episcopal Church” and that his actions are “separation not schism.” Our leadership maintains that clergy can leave the church and individuals can leave the church (even in great numbers) but that there is no such thing as parishes of dioceses leaving the Episcopal Church.

Bishop John David Schofield is trying to forestall a vote of the House of Bishop that would depose him consequent on his ‘abandonment of the communion of the Episcopal Church” by resigning. You can read his letter here (with its complete and childish misspelling and misuse of the presiding bishop’s name): http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/3-1-08_letter_to_Schori_and_HOB.pdf

It seems to me clear that he is no longer a bishop of the Episcopal Church and the rest is just games that have to do –ultimately –with money and property. It seems we have two diocese of San Joachin, --one is the Episcopal Diocese of San Joachin and another is The Southern Cone Diocese of San Joachin. The Southern Cone Diocese believes it owns the property that was bought, given and developed for the ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joachin, hence the importance for them of the obfuscation that they have ‘separated’ rather than ‘split’ or that they are ‘separatist’ rather than ‘schismatic’. I believe that our bishops have a fiduciary responsibility to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church that includes not giving away property against the intent of the donors (a rather more tricky and serious issue in legal circles than the question of ownership when many of the donors would not like the ‘trajectory’ –to use the current buzzword—of the Episcopal Church). This is leading us to civil courts which everyone from St. Paul to the current occupant of the throne of St. Augustine deplores. At one level I don’t really care how it is settled, but think we will continue to have our resources of every kind drained until there is a measure of clarity about the property.

The term ‘forestalling’ appears to come from the practice of doing business in mediaeval times before arriving at the market stall whose rent would go to the Lord of the Manor, the Cathedral or whoever was responsible for the market. To forestall therefore has some implication of depriving someone of something that they believe to be their right. I learned this from Ken Follet’s World Without End, a fun (and lengthy) sequel to his Pillars of the Earth about the building of Kingsbridge Cathedral. A the same time I have enjoyed Ian McEwan’s novella called On Chesil Beach, a rather sad story in which I have been unable to discover any greater significance or larger point than that it is an extremely well written sad and longish short story. Last, I have been re-reading James Alison who was our Holy Week preacher three years ago. His The Joy of Being Wrong is a reexamination of the doctrine of original sin. This is my third time through it and I suspect I am beginning to ‘get it’ only now. He takes the insights of Rene Girard and applies them to the Christian Story in wonderful and creative ways. More accessible are some of his essays in Faith Beyond Resentment including a re-telling of the story of the man born blind from John 9, and the subject of last Sunday’s sermon.

1 comment:

The York-Simmons Family said...

The statement in Schofield's letter that "the door to reconciliation will always be open" is irritating. For Schofield, it is a one-way door thorugh which reconciliation will happen only if we walk his direction. Reconciliation, in my understanding, requires movement from both parties, rather what the Episcopal church has been standing at the ready for, MOVING towards for several years now. Schofield's "invitation" is instead one to come play his game by his rules, disguised as a outstretched hand of friendship. It is a gross misuse of the word "reconciliation".