Tuesday 28 July 2009


There is a response from Northern Michigan itself (carried on Episcopal Café) after the consents never came for Kevin Genpo Thew Forrester, which has proved to be something of a doctrinal boundary marker for The Episcopal Church. Stating that the diocese is of just 27 churches scattered across towns in economic decline, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Northern Michigan, who have had their choice of bishop rejected, states:

Among the issues ripe for discussion are how bishops and standing committees can best be made aware of the particular needs of individual dioceses, and how new communications technologies affect the consent process.

What happened with the communications technologies was this. First of all, the conservative bloggers went into overdrive, but their claim about a "Buddhist Bishop" went nowhere, as it was just a spiritual discipline. When it came to liturgical change, however, there was more solid ground for accusations of revision, and then this became even a chance for some liberal bloggers to draw a line in the sand and demonstrate orthodoxy, thus to give the lie to conservative bloggers keen to demonstrate that The Episcopal Church was a breeding ground for heterodoxy, Unitarianism and Paganism.

Sacrificing one of your friends rarely works, however, to placate the other side or as a (futile) demonstration, as the labelling just continued. Ask Rowan Williams. He did it and it did him no good. Indeed it can be a dangerous starting point, because in Rowan Williams's case you can start with The Body's Grace and opposition to the scrum at Lambeth 1998 over resolution 1:10, then in your new job sacrifice a friend to placate the opposition, and finally end up with a statement that includes:

...whatever the human respect and pastoral sensitivity such persons must be given, their chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church's teaching sanctions, and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires. [Para 8]

In other words, the question is not a simple one of human rights or human dignity. It is that a certain choice of lifestyle has certain consequences. [Para 9]

In other words, start small and end up with the rhetoric that once you would never state: in this case that being gay and fulfilling being gay is a "lifestyle choice", that such choice carries consequences, and that such people in ordained ministry cannot represent the Church, especially in the episcopate. In other words, never mind bishops, those priests who have such a 'lifestyle choice' do not represent the Church and ought to resign.

Except the person who ought to resign knows who he is, just as the person knows who he is who would have been a creative selection for the episcopacy in the United States.

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