Christianity for the Rest of Us

Christianity for the Rest of Us


Mitregate: The Anglican Crisis Over Women’s Hats

posted by Diana Butler Bass

This week, what is surely one of the most bizarre
religion stories of the year came across my email.  No, it wasn’t the story about lightning hitting the giant Jesus
statue
in Ohio.  Instead, it is the “Mitregate” scandal, part of the continuing saga of Anglican
travail.

Both the Guardian
newspaper in England and Episcopal News
Service
here in the States report the following:

When Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts
Schori preached and presided at a Eucharist June 13 at Southwark Cathedral in
London, she carried her mitre, or bishop’s hat, rather than wear it.


She did so in order to comply with a
“statement” from Lambeth Palace, the London home of Archbishop of
Canterbury Rowan Williams, that said “that I was not to wear a mitre at Southwark
Cathedral,” Jefferts Schori told the Executive Council June 16 on the
first day of its three-day meeting.


A mitre is the pointy hat that bishops wear as a symbol of
their office and authority.  Rowan
Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, forbade his ecclesiastical equal, Katharine
Jefferts Schori, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church  (“Presiding Bishop” is the American and
democratic term for “Archbishop”) to wear her mitre while preaching in an
English cathedral.  In addition,
Lambeth Palace ran the ecclesiastical equivalent to a background check on
Presiding Bishop Schori–just to make sure she was rightly and duly
ordained. 

American Episcopalians are up at arms.  After all, their church was founded
during the Revolutionary period as a response to English interference with
their new style, New World democratic Anglicanism.  During the War, the Church of England tried to force their
colonial offspring to pray for the King. 
Many American parishes closed rather than obey the directive; others
cut those prayers out of their prayer books and replaced them with
supplications for George Washington and the Continental Congress. 

After the War, the Church of England–still in a snit–refused
to consecrate a bishop to the new independent church because the former
colonists would not swear allegiance to the Crown.  American Episcopalians turned to Scotland for help.  There, Scottish Episcopal bishops gladly
consecrated Samuel Seabury to be the first bishop of an American Episcopal Church,
a move that also served to further aggravate the English (thus
pleasing both the Americans and the Scots!).

The Episcopal Church in the United States has always had a
difficult relationship with its Mother Church–from arguments over the separation
of church and state to missionary competition in Africa and Asia to concerns
over “foreign interference” of bishops.

So, it is particularly galling to American Episcopalians to
have the Archbishop of Canterbury direct their Presiding Bishop not to display
any signs of her spiritual authority–sort of treating our “archbishop” as if
she is a visiting ecclesiastical serf from some colonial outback.  That she is a she mightily compounds the insult, as most American Episcopalians
are pointedly proud to have consecrated the first woman archbishop in Christian
history. 

Over on Facebook, three new pages, “The Anglican Resistance,” “Rowan Williams Needs to
Apologize to the Episcopal Church,” and “The Archbishop of Canterbury Hath No
Jurisdiction in this Realm” are drawing fans–as is the Twitter #mitregate
conversation.  But this is more
than a petty church quarrel.  In
the larger picture, Rowan Williams’ actions demonstrate something much more
troubling.

Christianity in the west is in a persistent state of decline
(this includes England and the United States), losing spiritual market share in
favor of other religions and atheism. 
Why?  Some of the loss is
due to the fact that most western people find Christianity boring and
hypocritical–sentiments that the spiritual head of the Church of England
underlined by Mitregate.

The world is facing global warming, an economic meltdown,
massive immigration crises, continued international terrorism, interreligious
tensions and warfare, nuclear escalation in the Middle East, poverty, the abuse
of women and children, human trafficking, genocide, oppression of LGBT persons,
and a massive environmental cataclysm in the Gulf of Mexico–and the Archbishop
of Canterbury is worried about a woman’s hat? 

In case the Church of England hasn’t noticed, this is why
people are rejecting Christianity. 
It isn’t because some Christians chose women to lead their churches, ask
questions about traditional renderings of theology and the Bible, doubt God’s
existence, or want their gay and lesbian friends and relatives to be part of
their church communities. 
Canterbury, please know that western people are rejecting Christianity
because–as noted in a recent survey of young Americans–Christians are “out of
touch with reality.”

Worldwide, Anglicans do care about any number of profound
social justice issues and are working to make the world a better place in God’s
name.  But if the Archbishop of
Canterbury’s staff can issue a directive about Katharine Jefferts Schori’s
mitre, then they have too much time on their hands.  Being worried about ecclesiastical millinery while Rome
burns certainly counts as being out of touch with reality. 

And Rowan–a humble suggestion from here in the colonies–if you see lightening, best take off your mitre.



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Tracie Holladay

posted June 17, 2010 at 12:01 pm


RE: “This is why people are rejecting Christianity.”
TEN THOUSAND AMENS! I’d rather hang with a million neo-pagans and witches and Wiccans than ONE sanctimonious Christian of ANY stripe, as long as Christians are going through this kind of utterly avoidable nonsense. It’s all crap. It’s all stupid childish reindeer games, and EVERYONE who cares about real people need to just totally stop attending ANY Christian church (Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal, United Church of Christ, Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran of any synod, etc etc etc) and TAKE THEIR MONEY AWAY FROM THEM ALL if they refuse to treat human beings with real human dignity, no matter their race or gender or economic class or sexual orientation or handicap or whatever.
I am so over this nonsense.



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John Harwood

posted June 17, 2010 at 12:03 pm


The symbolism (a hat carried but not worn) is hilarious. I can imagine how much fun Jonathan Swift would have with the drama. I agree that the political pressures that Lambeth felt (and responded to) trumped the more customary collegiality and respect that we would expect.
I trust that the ECUSA will not reciprocate the gesture.



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David Justin Lynch

posted June 17, 2010 at 12:47 pm


Rowan Williams personifies the lower terminus of the alimentary canal.



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John Hamilton

posted June 17, 2010 at 1:25 pm


Here, I must quote advice form that great theologian, Randy Newman: “You can leave your hat on.”



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James

posted June 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm


I am disappointed at the insinuation that opposition to Schori’s teaching the Anglican flock in the UK is simply due to not “chose women to lead their churches, ask questions about traditional renderings of theology and the Bible, doubt God’s existence, or want their gay and lesbian friends and relatives to be part of their church communities.” It implies that these are the reasons that people oppose this, while I know of no single Church of England Anglican who has any problem with any of these – I know for a fact that there are some who don’t support womens’ ordination, but I don’t know of any who would state this as their reason for not wishing Schori to come. The teaching of the Communion on sexuality explicitly states that we must be welcoming of gay and lesbian people in the church, though it does not go as far as many would like in affirming particular matters of what some refer to as “the gay agenda.”
The situation is more complicated, and dire. Our church holds soundly to the notion that Jesus rose from the dead, and that He is the Son of God. Schori has been known – in publicly available materials – not to help questioning of these things, but to actually teach against these doctrines, without providing relevant contextual information for a view opposed to her own which, seems to be, denies both of these. You may read more about this here: http://anglicanecumenicalsociety.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/what-do-people-mean-when-they-say-that-presiding-bishop-schori-has-denied-the-resurrection-or-the-divinity-of-christ/ .
Much of this opposition is because of Christology: because we do not wish the church to invite such a high-ranking church leader who has been known to teach contrary to what our church teaches on these things.
I would have hoped that as a church historian, Diana Butler Bass would have been more honest on these matters.



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Rebecca

posted June 17, 2010 at 2:12 pm


@James I think even if it is really about Christology and not gays, woman’s ordination or the other things DBB mentioned it is still insulting for them to refuse to allow her to wear her symbol of authority. They invited her – however controversial that invite might be – and now they are going out of their way to remind her of their authority in a pretty petty way. This doesn’t seem like actual compromise – just flexing of power.



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Rita

posted June 17, 2010 at 2:45 pm


@James, it’s not about Christology, or KJS’s stance on various issues. It’s about the fact that the Church of England does not allow female bishops, and KJS is a high profile female bishop. Had it been Catherine Roskam, or someome like that, the ABC might not even have known she was going to be at Southwark. Has Victoria Matthews not preached or presided before in CofE? I’m willing to bet she has, but no one knew she was there, probably. But it was incredibly rude, and KJS was gracious. The ABC totally blotted his copybook on this one.



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James

posted June 17, 2010 at 3:24 pm


Honesty is much needed in the Anglican Communion, and this reminds us of how Schori’s election was marred by what is likely election fraud. I hope that I am being honest, and I hope that I am not offending.
@Rebecca – Southwark invited her, but the head of the Church of England, Williams, requested that she not wear the mitre, making clear that while she was welcome to teach, she is not coming in the capacity of a bishop. This was a condition which Southwark and Schori accepted, you can see it as a kind of “compromise,” but I agree with you that it is a very uncomfortable and embarrassing one, and very unhelpful in the current debate in our church regarding women bishops.
@Rita – one would have to ask Archbishop Williams himself about why he asked her not to wear her mitre; there are many possible reasons, and Schori did not tell us why. I am informing Diana here, and her readers, that describing opposition to Schori’s visit is not as simplistic as she says here, and that indeed her characterization of such people contains gross inaccuracies. It seems like she wishes to disparage those who disagree with the Presiding Bishop by resorting to deception. This is very unbecoming of a woman with such gifts as a writer and a historian.



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The Reverend Canon Susan Russell

posted June 17, 2010 at 3:34 pm


Three words: Tea. Boston. Harbor.
Best thing we EVER did!



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withyobadself

posted June 17, 2010 at 3:37 pm


what does wearing hats have to do with the teaching of jesus???jesus never said make a religion out of me and call yourself christians … but the romans did to control and gain power of the world… which they did … now the roman catholics have trillions of dollars invested in the world… this jesus corporation spreads out into all countries in the world and gives people corporate titles such as arch bishop and other titles all design to gain power and money of the world… then you have all the self claimed preachers in america getting rich by telling people they are not good enough to talk to god unless they come to thier church and follow thier rules and give the preacher money…. but if you question the preacher authority you will be kicked out of the preachers church.. without a refund…. man made all religion.. god is truth… all these people gaining power of the world in the jesus corporation are now and will still be punished by god… only two rules god wants you to follow…. LEARN TO LET GO OF THE WORLD.. LEARN TO LOVE EACHOTHER AND GOD…….you dont need religion or churhes to do that.. religion and churches are evil and corrupt cause they are of the world… jesus warned about being involved in the world…… NO ONE FOLLOWS THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS…. people follow the rules of the jesus corporation…..



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The Reverend Canon Susan Russell

posted June 17, 2010 at 3:38 pm


P.S. — @James …
” … this reminds us of how Schori’s election was marred by what is likely election fraud.”
What on EARTH is that in reference to? (Speaking as one who was present at the General Convention which elected our Presiding Bishop in Columbus in 2006.)



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+++Caroline Divines

posted June 17, 2010 at 3:50 pm


Why wear the hat at all? Anglicans are just trying to pretend to be all “high church”. Nothing more laughable than grown people playing dress up; no wonder religion attracts so many gays! Vestments are just another form of drag.
Anglicanism is dying because we’re educated beyond believing in talking snakes and people rising from the dead and flying up into the sky. If we want to do politics, we don’t need clouds of incense or candles or organ music to collect votes.



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Dennis Roberts

posted June 17, 2010 at 4:21 pm


I’m so sick and tired of the bald faced lie that she supposedly has some defective Christology. That is a oft repeated lie that right wing bloggers have built up on the fact that she said that we should respect other religions. And from that she has been accused of everything from heresy to worse. Well I want to call it out as a deliberate and intentional falsehood. It is part of the traditional right wing tactic of delegitimizing those they disagree with.
It grows out of what in psychology is called the Fundamental Attribution Error. If someone disagrees with you it can’t be because they came to a rational decision that is just different; it must be because they are “bad” people. Authoritarian personality types can’t imagine that rational people come to different conclusions on significant issues. Those who propose a different answer must therefore have a character defect.
Because they disagree with our Presiding Bishop and all liberal Christians they assume it must be because of some inner fault that keeps people from being conservative. Thus conservatives become willing to repeat and exaggerate stories about how bad someone is who sees things differently. It is convenient because the person with an authoritarian/ black and white personality doesn’t have to take a different viewpoint as a legitimate alternative. The bearer of the different point of view is assumed or reported to be bad and therefore everything they say lacks legitimacy. It is a tactic to reduce “cognitive dissonance” and, unfortunately, in an ideology founded on black and white thinking (the political and religious right) cognitive dissonance will appear whenever there are alternatives proposed.
So, stop it. Rational good religious people have come to different interpretations because of deep prayer and thought. People can disagree with conservatives and authoritarians for good thoughtful reasons. Quit demonizing people (like the Presiding Bishop) who disagree with you. Quit delegitimizing the Presiding Bishop. Quit making up stories about her beliefs and doctrines not being sufficiently orthodox. Quit the lies. They make it easier to reject the alternatives proposed by liberal Christians but they are not true.



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The Rev. M.E. Eccles

posted June 17, 2010 at 4:41 pm


@ +++Caroline Divines
What does liturgy have to do with politics? Connecting to God in a gym, nature or a church with organ music and incense has absolutely nothing to do with “collecting votes”. It is the politics that is getting in the way of Christ’s message, not the liturgy.
Additionally, vestments are not magnets for homosexuals. Perhaps a course on the history and traditions of the Anglican Church as well as learning about the Reformation and Oxford Movement would be helpful toward your understanding what vestments are all about.
And the “+++” before your name — are you a priest? Or just “dressing up”?



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withyobadself

posted June 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm


you people are the same kind of people that killed jesus…. jesus said have nothing to do with the world…. but people love the ways of the world to much to let go…. all of you walk with lucifer!!!



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carrieb

posted June 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm


Alternative perspective: While Christianity in the West is in decline, Christianity in the global South and East is growing phenomenally — to the point that my own US Methodist church receives missionaries from places like Korea and Africa. And they’re doing a great job revitalizing dying US churches. Maybe the problem isn’t that Christianity has become irrelevant. Maybe it’s that most of what people get to see and experience isn’t Christianity at all.



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James

posted June 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm


@The Reverend Canon Susan Russel
Since you were there, you may be able to shed light on what happened. Did anyone tell the delegates that the CV you all received as delegates for Schori was doctored before you had the vote? If so, it wasn’t election fraud, but rather a mistake with an honest correction.



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James

posted June 17, 2010 at 5:54 pm


@Dennis Roberts
I am in agreement with you that there have been many horrid errors committed by “fundamentalist” types, but it’s sort of missing the point when I’ve provided you with ample evidence from Schori’s own quotes, in context, from the Episcopal Church website that she denies the resurrection and the divinity of Christ, to simply say that this is a “lie” – maybe you think that I am deliberately misquoting, maybe you think that the Episcopal Church site was wrong about what she said … etc. etc., but it’s just silly to go talking about fundamentalist conservative lies and “making up stories” when the evidence is laid out very, very clearly. It sounds more like you who are exaggerating and employing “cognitive dissonance,” and being “authoritarian,” rather than being “rational” and allowing for “different interpretations,” since you aren’t even bothering to address the evidence. I think you should admit that it’s often the people who try to dismiss the problems in the Episcopal church who are acting authoritarianly, using ample cognitive dissonance, and rather short on “reason.” Though I don’t doubt that these are problems which from time to time surface in the critics of the Episcopal Church, as well.



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+++Caroline Divines

posted June 17, 2010 at 6:18 pm


Of course I have the character indelebilis; bring me a wafer you’ve consecrated and one I’ve consecrated and see who can tell the difference.
You don’t think that gays are disproportionately over-represented in the ranks of clergy? That Anglican/Episcopal monasteries are disproportionately gay? The the “High Church” is more “gay friendly” than the evangelicals/low church?
This is an example of what Chris Hedges calls “Boutique Activism”; a lot of noise and “activism” about something virtually nobody cares about except for those already in the church. No wonder Mainline Protestantism is shrinking away to nothing.
Mainline Protestantism has become NPR at prayer; another “Thing White People Like”.
If the politics get in the way of jesus’s message, you should tell that to both the Fundiegelicals and the “progressives”; they’ve become mirror images of each other and politically and socially as predictable as broken metronomes.
The US should remove all tax breaks from religions. Why should the reality-based community make up for the taxes lost paying for people to talk to someone invisible?



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AuntScilly

posted June 17, 2010 at 6:36 pm


@James
I note that in your blog post a you several times refer to the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church as “Schori.”
Some people may find this confusing, since her last name is Jefferts Schori, and she should properly be referred to as “Dr. Jefferts Schori” if one is not going to use her ecclesiastical title.
I give you this information under the hopeful assumption that you made this error out of ignorance rather than in some childish attempt to hurt her by using the wrong name. You wouldn’t do that, would you?



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James

posted June 17, 2010 at 6:49 pm


@AuntScilly
You’re very right. I see her referred to pretty much everywhere – conservative & liberal – as “Schori” when she’s just referred to by her last name – but she likes to be referred to as Jefferts-Schori, and it’s not right of me to simply go on perpetuating this mistake. I’ve modified it, haven’t added the “Dr.” – but then again, we’re also frequently using just plain “Williams” for the ABC.
Thanks for being sweet!



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Paolo

posted June 17, 2010 at 7:14 pm


Precious! I’m loving the first comment: “TAKE THEIR MONEY AWAY FROM THEM ALL”!
Ok, your “church” is what the NYT ever dreamed of: and so… ?
Unfortunately, you’re not able to understand that the issue has to do with… faith. Do you know? the Gospel, sin (for example, sodomy), the will of God, conversion, the church: that kind of stuff. Got it?
Yes, I know you are enlightened, so that all this traditional mythology is just evolving rhetoric material to be used to promote the real in-touch-with-reality agenda of today: global warming, the oppressed LGBT lobby, etc. Tomorrow, “global warming” will be what “global cooling” (the trend of 25 years ago) is now, and there will be transgendered and bisexual parents with all the damage evident for everybody: then you will follow the next ideology, yearning for popular acceptance. [Btw, is anyone able to explain to me how a bisexual has to live, as you say, a "faithful, committed relationship"?]
But please, continue to dress the traditional mitre: the non believers will keep doing their not-out-of-touch-with-reality business without your paternalistic help.



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withyobadself

posted June 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm


there are believers in god … that are not believers in mans religion… the reason why the government wont end the no taxes for church law is,politicians need the votes… CHILDREN OF GOD SHOULD NOT BE INVOLVED IN THE WAYS OF THE WORLD… That means politics too… it is easier to feel patriotism than it is to feel close to god… patriotism is lucifers way of taking people away from god .. end the jesus corporation.. GOD IS EVERYWHERE..



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MikeCDM

posted June 17, 2010 at 8:21 pm


Our local Episcopalian Church is the same size or smaller than it was 32 year ago. In that time, Saddleback, Calvary and the Vineyard have apppeared, the RC’s are doubling their capacity and a bishop recently visited us to extract more money from the smaller and older congregation. The complacency of the Episcopalians now putting their last touches to liberal cleansing is very sad to watch. It seems to me an extraordinary mistake to elevate social justice (code for politics) above Christ the King on the Cross.



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Dennis Roberts

posted June 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm


Hmmm… having looked over your “evidence” (nothing new there, just the same old hyperbole over the same quotes. Seriously, conservatives having been flogging these same claims over the same quotes for 3 years and they must think that we just haven’t seen them) I see nothing incompatible with Christian belief. She isn’t a fundamentalist (which appears to be your standard.) Do you see what you are doing here? You are confusing your interpretation of the faith with the faith itself. When people reject your interpretations the anxiety can be a bit much. Two options appear: accept that there are other interpretations that reasonable and good people come up with that differ from yours, or fall under the sway of the fundamental attribution error and decide that people can only hold a different opinion than you because they are willfully bad and morally perverse. Since the Presiding Bishop and other religious progressives hold opinions that differ from yours, the easy solution is to demonize them rather than live with the possibility that other people can be a good Christian and hold different opinions than you.



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James

posted June 17, 2010 at 9:19 pm


@Dennis Roberts
Thanks for taking the time to read.
1. Yes, these quotes have been circulating for a long time. Some, like Spong, identify as “fundamentalists” people who believe that the bodily resurrection of Christ and the divinity of Christ should be taught in churches. This is a ploy for making their beliefs seem somehow compatible with “mainstream” Christianity; however, no Trinitarian churches (even, “offically”, The Episcopal Church) hold to a doctrinal standard other than the bodily resurrection and the divinity of Christ. It is true that “fundamentalist” is a flexible word – but if it is what Spong says it means, it means all Christians who hold to what their national churches officially teach – i.e., all Lutherans, Presbyterians, Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Orthodox, etc. etc.., and those who are not “fundamentalists” are then part of the family of non-Trinitarian believers who embrace some teachings about Christ – e.g., Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, etc. etc..
2. Confusing the interpretation of the faith with the faith itself. I must disagree Dennis. Interpretation is very important; however, it’s also not something that is totally bereft of standards and norms. When we speak of “the faith,” we mean different things, and you would also need to designate here what you mean by, “the faith itself.” Anglicans – and all Trinitarian churches – hold to “the faith” of these points. There have been various ways of interpreting how we understand the divinity of Christ – however, saying that Jesus was “a great figure,” and that divinity means nothing other than an ethical standard, is itself an interpretation, and neither an acceptable nor a reasonable interpretation – it is, in fact, a re-definition, since these things are so far from one another – we are no longer speaking of the same thing.
Sometimes, we may be speaking of the same thing, but with a different way of describing that thing – then we can meaningfully speak of different “interpretations.” However, if the two are mutually exclusive, we are indicating entirely different things, and speaking of entirely different things. This is the case of Schori and Trinitarian Christianity. At some points, her notion of “divinity” is closer to what Mormons mean with the word “God” than Trinitarian Christians.
Previously, when theologians denied the resurrection, or the divinity of Christ, they were rather candid about it: they simply said they denied it, they did not try to convince others that they were offering another “interpretation” of said doctrine. When I speak of the resurrection and the divinity of Christ here, I simply mean these things as not re-interpreted into something contrary than what the church and what Scriptures teach about these things.
This is in no way to “demonize” her, as you put it – it’s simply to state: she denies these things. Though I must add: scriptures are quite clear, I believe, that just about the worst thing a church leader can do, is to teach such things in the church. So I must admit: there is an edge here.



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withyobadself

posted June 17, 2010 at 10:10 pm


END THE JESUS CORPORATION… THIEVES MAKE A LIVING OFF OF MAKING PEOPLE FEEL THEY CANT HAVE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD UNLESS THEY JOIN THE JESUS CORPORATION… GOD DOESNT NEED A RELIGION OR A BOOK TO EXPLAIN HIMSELF.. GOD IS EVERYTHING AND EVERYWHERE… AND BELONGS TO EVERYONE.. END THE JESUS CORPORATION!!!!!!!



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Anne Mee

posted June 18, 2010 at 12:16 am


Thank you, Diana. Very well said!



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James

posted June 18, 2010 at 7:43 am


To MikeCDM, if I apply a strict Fundamentalist Baptist interpretation of the Book of Revelations to your comments, I could conclude that the growth of some churches in your area versus the lack of growth in Episcopal congregation could be a sign of the end of days, when there will be a falling away from the true church as the great masses of humanity embrace the false religion taught by the prophet of light that is actually the Anti-Christ. But to do so would be as far fetched as your description of the Episcopal Church in America as having elevated social justice over Jesus Christ.
There are literally thousands of references in the scriptures urging and requiring the righteous to take care of the poor and tend to the needy. No other issue is as profoundly discussed and even Christ himself in talking about being saved tells the rich young ruler to sell all he has and give to the poor. Social justice is the way the love of Christ plays out in this world. It is through social justice that the face of God is revealed to humanity. The Episcopal Church doesn’t elevate social justice over Christ, but rather, because of Christ’s love and commandment to love one another, attempts to live fully into the faith.



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Jay Thomas

posted June 18, 2010 at 8:49 am


“Jesus is the ultimate sacrament of God in human flesh – that’s what we’re getting at when we say he’s the only son of God. He’s the unique demonstration of divinity in human flesh,” she said.
++Katharine Jefferts Schori as reported here;
http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/religion/stories/DN-episcopal_13met.ART.Central.Edition1.4bd941e.html
Sounds pretty “Christological” to me! But feel free to parse that into UU’ism.
As for ‘election fraud’ at her election, perhaps you are referring to the bloc of conservative TEC bishops who switched their votes to her in the last rounds of voting?
Maybe you should ask > what their true motives were. From here it looks like calculated, utterly cynical politics on *their* parts, and the hopes that electing “that woman” would inevitably lead to the collapse of TEC. It’s well known that they bragged about their political machinations as well. Shameless!



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James

posted June 18, 2010 at 10:07 am


Yes, I came across that statement as well. It ‘sounds’ good – we have to read it in context though, of where “God” is taken to mean simply: “a great figure, a good man, good things one does” – i.e., simply human ethics. Schori is adept at using sacred-sounding language, the question is, “what is under this language?” The answer is in her remarks on the resurrection and on the divinity of Christ in the article posted above.
It’s simply odd, theologically, to refer to Jesus himself as a “sacrament” – seeing that a sacrament is an “outward sign of an inward grace.” You will find many statements in Schori’s sermons about Jesus that sound very “ultimate,” etc. – here she describes him also as the “unique Son of God”, which He most certainly is. But if we are re-defining “God” to mean: “a set of ethical principles,” it’s clear that this is all merely symbolic – i.e., literary, poetic language describing the social plan of the church.
She will need to back-track, and either retract, or re-explain her previous comments before we can really take any of this “sacred talk” to be anything more than metaphorical amplifications upon how important she finds the church’s vision of social justice.
Read the article. It contains a section on this kind of thing.



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Dennis Roberts

posted June 18, 2010 at 10:33 am


It is amazing how James is able to say, “Well, yes she says… but what she REALLY means is…”
I’ve never seen such an amazing act of mind reading in my life.
Look, he obviously needs her to be a Unitarian or some such. So he invents it. Makes it up. Creates it out of nothing. There is a word for that: lying.
Throughout his little essay he presents one case after another of taking her words and twisting them beyond recognition to mean what he wants them to mean. He even says that she hasn’t openly said anything unChristian. All that he is able to prove is that she has made statements that are in the progressive wing of Christianity. Which is where many of us are. Look, there is a Progressive Christian! Gasp! And she is saying progressive Christian statements! Who would have guessed?
No matter how hard he twists her words, they don’t mean what he claims that they mean and he doesn’t have the power of mind reading. All he can do is continue to imagine that somehow being a progressive Christian is somehow heretical (his unstated assumption, that is what he is really claiming here) and then showing the obvious: that our wonderful Presiding Bishop is a progressive. Taa dahhh!
James: As you admit, she hasn’t said anything unChristian. And here is a big wake up call: you can’t read her mind. And you can’t make the spurious claim that progressive Christians aren’t Christian. Stop the games, please.
Oh, and James – in your last answer to me you confused me with Bishop Spong. I have no idea where that old chestnut came from. It was funny that you left out that other old rightwing bugbear, Bishop Pike. Whatever issues you have with Spong or his theology, take them up in discussion boards about him. That has nothing to do with your deliberately false claims about our Presiding Bishop.



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Frank Dunn

posted June 18, 2010 at 11:30 am


I usually agree with Diana. I certainly do not take exception to the thrust of this column. But, Diana, I see you slipping into the kind of popular, over-simplifying journalism that serves only to perpetuate the kind of non-thinking that infects Americans in spades. “After all, their church was founded during the Revolutionary period as a response to English interference with their new style, New World democratic Anglicanism.” This is a sweeping, slipshod statement on the level of “Henry VIII founded a new church.” The founding of The Episcopal Church was far more complex than that, not to mention the events surrounding the consecration of Seabury, as you present them. I know how hard it is to reduce complex history for largely unsophisticated readers, but some qualifier is surely in order.
Best,
Frank



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Drane Spout

posted June 18, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Jason

posted June 18, 2010 at 1:05 pm


Diana,
May I just say that I find this statement particularly odd: ‘But if the Archbishop of Canterbury’s staff can issue a directive about Katharine Jefferts Schori’s mitre, then they have too much time on their hands.’ I can’t imagine that decision taking more time to make than it took to compose this essay. And while I think the ABC’s decision was the wrong one, it seems like a great deal more energy and time have spent on publicly decrying this move than was actually spent on making it.
It is therefore rather disingenuous to claim that the ABC’s office’s unfortunate decision (‘being worried about ecclesiastical millinery’ rather than real-world issues) is somehow ‘out of touch with reality’, when your practice (being every bit as worried about the bishop’s hat, and the ABC’s decision) does precisely the same thing. Are we to conclude that you have too much time on your hands?
Indeed, if being worried about bishops’ hats really is such a distraction, then why are we so upset that the PB wasn’t allowed to wear it?



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drdanfee

posted June 18, 2010 at 1:30 pm


I rather concur with D. Roberts in his brief comments.
The really, really odd thing shaping too much of traditionalist Anglican life is the remarkably closed presupposition that (A) progressive believers are either fake or crazy in their church life (suggesting no doubt that their daily life is also probably suspect? Dirty? Dangerous?); plus of course the equally closed and loudly drum-thumped Anglican notion that queer folks and friends are innately dirty and dangerous?
A third sharp oddity is Rowan Williams making passing remarks from time to time, usually about some sort of Big Tent Anglican stuff (listening across differences, tolerating differences, all manner of typical mentions of Anglican church life adapted locally as the rubric goes) while strongly taking police-punish actions which make having a real big global tent across the many global Anglican differences, not only unlikely but also appearing absurdly foolish.
What sort of free-handed, high and mighty scapegoating is this?



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dWilfredM

posted June 18, 2010 at 1:53 pm


The writer of this hatchet job exposes her own lack of knowledge of some very basic matters, and thus would do well to do a little fact checking:
First: The Presiding Bishop is not the equal of the Archbishop, she is a bishop first among equals in that she has presiding charge over a much more decentralized eccliastical structure than obtains at Canterbury.
Second: a bishop does not wear a mitre when preaching.
Regardless of the valid points made in this screed, the writer is reduced to that of any other journalist who would twist facts – or just make them up: hack.



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James

posted June 18, 2010 at 2:12 pm


Dennis Roberts,
You’d have to give me some examples of where I am “mind reading” in the essay.
Re. “Progressive Christianity” – yes, I realize that TEC has some ties to the Center for Progressive Christianity, that e.g. the organization Via Media doesn’t have much of a theological statement of their own, but then they link to the Center for Progressive Christianity.
What the Center for Progressive Christianity espouses is not Trinitarian Christianity. So they would be in agreement with Schori on this – the bodily resurrection of Christ is unimportant. I don’t know how they deal with the word “divinity” – and they don’t seem to deal with the divinity of Christ so I think that the divinity of Christ for the CPC is, like for Schori, unimportant. It can basically be interpreted into anything one wishes.
It’s exceedingly important to make a distinction between Trinitarian Christians and Christians who espouse a faith like that promoted by the Center for Progressive Christianity. One can easily be an atheist and a Progressive Christian at the same time – if with the word “God” one is taking the Don Cuppitt approach, in not believing that God is real in any significant sense (i.e., apart from our religious language).
I don’t want to make an issue of the word “Christian” since I know that some people get very upset when it is implied that some people are Christians, and some others aren’t … however, the word “Christian” is sort of becoming somewhat nonsensical, when it can mean a Trinitarian Christian, an atheist, a rock, a tree, etc. etc.. Crisis of meaning problem.
It’s better to use the word “Trinitarian Christian” so as not to upset those who are easily offended.
I’m not sure why a Progressive Christian would have a problem in just honestly stating he or she doesn’t believe in the resurrection or the divinity of Christ, and why something like “I feel good this morning” can somehow be a stand-in for the resurrection. Then really everyone believes in the resurrection. It’s all simply a set of metaphors which can be applied to anything anywhere, and no longer a specific set of meanings.
I don’t believe I say anywhere that Progressive Christians aren’t Christians. I may well have said that not all Progressive Christians are Trinitarian Christians.
I do understand that my essay has upset you, and I would like to correct any parts that contain errors or exaggerations. You need to do more though than simply accusing me of lies and creating things out of nothing. Put on your hermeneutical / exegetical hat and help us all out here, spot the real problems in the essay.



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Dennis Roberts

posted June 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm


well your essay hasn’t upset me. It has given me a good laugh, really.
And who brought up the Center for Progressive Christianity? Progressive Christianity is an approach that many of us share that is not defined by one organization that takes the name. (for example, plenty of companies have the word American in their name but they don’t represent this country.) I can’t say that I’ve ever had contact with that organization. I know nothing about them but I will look them up. Seriously, you have a remarkable ability at trying to tie together lose ends that don’t match. Progressive Christianity is much larger and much more diverse than one group. Do you imagine that progressives are really all in some deep conspiracy and really all connected together? You might have bigger issues than merely thinking that you can read the Presiding Bishop’s mind.
Listen, the Episcopal Church is the best example of progressive Christianity. Did you ever see the ads that the national church ran in the late 1980s and early 1990s? One was a picture of a medieval woodblock with devils dancing on suffering souls. And the words of the ad that accompanied the picture were “if all you want from church is hellfire and brimstone, burn this ad. Hell fire and brimstone you won’t find in the Episcopal Church.” (I linked it to an example I found through google)
It was one of the best ads that we ever ran. It told who we are. It said that we were a welcoming church that isn’t interested in scaring or condemning people. That is progressive Christianity.
Many of us, myself included, have escaped from evangelical and fundamentalist churches. We had to get out of fundamentalist or evangelical churches and the Episcopal Church was there for us. It is one of the great things about the Episcopal Church: that it is a refuge for people who want out of angry black-and-white literalistic Christianity. The Episcopal Church has been a welcome and open church were people are free to think and worship in a way that doesn’t turn off the brain. It isn’t a church for people who need literalistic and angry approaches to the faith.
If you need the rigid and black and white approach to the faith, then please go find peace there. The Episcopal Church is probably not the place for you. But then please quit repeating stories and tales about our church and our leaders that are not true. We should leave each other in peace.
As we hear each Sunday at the end of Eucharist, go in peace to love and serve the Lord. And we will do the same.



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Frank Lockwood

posted June 18, 2010 at 4:24 pm


Presiding bishop is the American term for archbishop. It is not, or was not originally, the “democratic term” however. The title “presiding bishop” of the Episcopal Church dates to the 1780s. For the first 140 years, it referred to the bishop with the most seniority and was not an elected position.



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James

posted June 18, 2010 at 5:50 pm


Dennis Roberts -
Thanks for the link to the ad, I enjoyed it.
I in no way wanted to imply your own parish is deficient. I know there are still many Episcopal parishes where thinking is encouraged, and where God is still worshipped in spirit and truth. I’m happy that thinking is encouraged in your parish.
Unfortunately, I’ve also met numerous Episcopalians who laud the great “thinking” they are taught in their churches but can’t get past “bubblegum theology” – i.e., simply stringing together a number of sacred-sounding words, but unable to articulate what the substance is of what they’re trying to get at – and nary a clue about some of the church’s most basic teachings, and unable to present cogent arguments for the causes they espouse. It seems that emotional arguments about feelings etc. have largely replaced reason. There is a severe problem in TEC, even if your own parish is quite healthy. What is even more disheartening is that some seem to connect Spong with thinking. From what I make of it on the web, and from my experience with actual Episcopalians, in most parts of the church, the level of theological education is very low indeed.
I’m glad you do not associate yourself with Spong or with the Center for Progressive Christianity – I made this assumption based on the Episcopalian organization Via Media which is linked to them, that you are defending the Episcopal Church here – so thought that this might be your channel to that word “progressive.” Again, Episcopalian acquaintances of mine associate themselves with the Center for Progressive Christianity – another reason for my assumption, but please do forgive me for this mistake.
I wish more Christians would try to be “progressive” in the sense of finding a healthy integration of faith and reason; that we would all be more eager to examine the history of the church and the world around it, and engage philosophical issues which arise from our theology – and not eschewing the secular philosophers in our quest to better understand our own culture and modes of thinking, as we are all influenced by assumptions from our culture’s current paradigm of thought.
I’m much in agreement with you that things do not usually need to be “black and white” – though in some TEC quarters, I have noticed that things are becoming quite polarized with over-simplified answers – so new “black and white” type dichotomies are arising. This may not be the case, however, with your parish.
On the other hand, we also need to get away from the simple dichotomy: “literalistic Christianity / progressive Christianity” – this is yet another bipolar opposition, “black and white picture” as it were, that isn’t helpful – and too often, the ones criticizing the one pole end up being merely inverted carbon copies of what they are criticizing – or rather, suffering from the same flaws, but then in the opposite direction. For most issues of serious theological reflection, we have to get beyond this simplistic dichotomy as well.
More later, perhaps



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withyobadself

posted June 18, 2010 at 6:36 pm


jesus said there are only two commandments to follow 1.have nothing to do with the world 2. love eachother and love god… how could some one make a religion out of these two commandments?? the romans couldnt.. the romans couldnt even make a religion out of just what jesus taught… the romans needed to make a religion that had alot of rules …to control the people..a religion that teaches its ok to be involved in the world its ok to kill if you have to..the romans created the christian religion and just added SOME of the things jesus said..NO ONE FOLLOWS THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS .. and now in america there are so many different names of christian churches that make up thier own rules and traditions.. none of these churches follow what jesus taught… all of these christian churches will be destroyed by jesus…THERE IS ONLY ONE CHURCH… AND THE CHURCH ISNT A BUILDING OR A RELIGION MADE BY MAN…



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Meg

posted June 21, 2010 at 1:44 pm


Having served on the Steering Committee for Via Media USA I can say that James’ assumption that this organization does not believe in Christian orthodoxy is far from the truth. I know that I am a firm believer in the Trinity, in the Resurrection, and in the articles of the Nicene Creed. Maintaining Episcopal property for Episcopalians is not a shabby reason for being, nor is attempting to retain Episcopal polity from being highjacked by the many different organizations who want the property, the prayer book, the name, and the power (if there is power) of being Anglican. Given Mitregate, and the continued court cases for Episcopal property, they have gained or been given a power of sorts over who we are as an independent church in fellowship with other Anglican churches throughout the world.



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+++Caroline Divines

posted June 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm


For a “welcoming and inclusive church”, you Episcopalians sure have a knack for staying over 96% white and middle/upper middle class. And staying in the Senate in grossly disproportionate numbers. And out of the Enlisted ranks of the military. And out of blue collar jobs.
But credit where credit is due: you’ve got about the same proportion of gays as clergy as the Jesuits-although you’ve got a lot more lesbian clergy.
I guess it depends on what you mean by “diversity” and the people you truly want to “welcome”.



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withyobadself

posted June 22, 2010 at 6:49 pm


does religion really have anything to do with god??? doesnt seem like it does… it seems to have to do with money and power of the world. people start searching for truth and walk away from these churches… it will bring you closer to god…



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canucklehead

posted June 23, 2010 at 1:30 am


This is precisely why the bishops in the sorely divided Canadian Anglican Church have simply taken to wearing Budweiser caps.



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James

posted June 23, 2010 at 11:06 am


Meg,
I am delighted to hear that you believe in the Trinity, the resurrection, and every point of the creeds. The creeds are such important guidelines for our faith.
I was assuming that the organization Via Media was associated with The Center for Progressive Christianity because, a while back, on one of the chapter sites, there was no statement regarding beliefs, but prominently linked – I believe from the front page – was the site of this center. If you do believe the creeds and value Trinitarian theology, I think you will find that their eight points are not compatible with Trinitarian theology or the creeds.
Take the first point – all points prefaced by, “By calling ourselves progressive, we mean we are Christians who…” and point one is: “Have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus.”
The “study guide” makes clear that the absence of the notion of salvation here is deliberate, and entreats us to see Jesus as merely “a teacher.” One might say that this does not preclude Christians like yourself who are Trinitarian from signing on to this statement. However, we do not consider the “life” and the “teachings” of Jesus “an approach to God” – Jesus is, Himself, our approach to God, and not merely a teaching of his, nor any analysis of His life on earth. Furthermore, “we,” nor does any group find for itself “an approach to God” – this sounds innocent enough since certain characteristics of “Jesus” are designated as how this approach “works,” but … we know from what Christ taught about grace, and from the epistles, that “we” do not “find” God, but rather that God finds us. The problem with point #1 is arrogance: no group is in a position to claim to have found an “approach to God.” Such an approach will always include some things, and exclude other things … and this is the case of the eight points, as it would be with any “approach.”
Much to be found in the study guide is very true, and deserves to be emphasized; however it’s also filled with such grevious error that anyone acquainted with the very basics of Trinitarian theology would know that the two are incompatible.
The original eight points made clear that agnostics could also call themselves “Progressive Christians.” This has since been modified.
I hope that you, with your belief in Christ as described by the creeds, can also do your own part in steering The Episcopal Church back onto the path of Trinitarian Christology.



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meg

posted June 23, 2010 at 11:59 am


James I think you have a small penis



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Aggie Panthis

posted June 23, 2010 at 3:31 pm


Mitregate. What about Gardengate? Colin Slee is rapidly becoming the most unpopular man in Southwark with his own congregation. He appears to have a number of battles on his hands, not the least of which has brought him into direct conflict with his own community. He is threatening to demolish an old church (All Hallows on Copperfield Street in Borough SE1) to make way for a private flats’ development that is being opposed by hundreds of local people as it will take away their light and destroy their quality of life. The proposed development – which Colin Slee has publicly admitted will not see a return on investment for 25 years – is being built in the heart of a conservation area. He also appears intent on destroying the adjoining community garden and removing it from community management which it has been in for over 40 years. The fact that he refuses to guarantee continued public access in writing suggests he intends to close the garden off for private use. Colin Slee argues he is legally bound to maximise profits for the church even if that is at the expense of a community. But legal advice secured by campaigners trying to save All Hallows Church and Community Garden says the ‘legal obligations’ Slee describes are open to interpretation. This is the third time he has tried to develop the All Hallows’ site, three times trying to sneak it through without any community consultation. He has been beaten twice by the community who objected en masse to the planning applications. And he has stated publicly that if he doesn’t get planning permission third time around he will just keep on submitting planning applications. No-one has really been able to establish why Colin Slee is so determined to develop this site. More information on his community track record at http://www.saveallhallows.com



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William

posted June 23, 2010 at 5:10 pm


I don’t really know what to make of the original article here but I am appalled at the lack of civility of the comments.
I recommend you read about the First Council of Jerusalem as contained in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, in any translation of the Bible you choose. Then compare and contrast that with how recent General Conventions have been conducted and how standing committees act within the Episcopal Church today. Then look back over the past 40 years. Then, finally, reread the article above and all the comments.
I suspect you will see quite a dichotomy.



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withyobadself

posted June 23, 2010 at 6:00 pm


william.. go watch some porn and masturbate we wont even get into the kind of porn you watch… stop acting like your better then others… we are all the same … some have bigger ego’s and are selfish and fake , thats you, and some dont care what others think of them…your not any better then anyone else..



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withyobadself

posted June 23, 2010 at 6:03 pm


william.. go watch some porn and masturbate we wont even get into the kind of porn you watch… stop acting like your better then others… we are all the same … some have bigger ego’s and are selfish and fake , thats you, and some dont care what others think of them…your not any better then anyone else..



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Henry

posted June 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm


Why does Jefferts Schori want to dress like a man in the first place? If she says, it is the traditional garb of a bishop, then why did she not follow tradition in the first place when she sought to become a cleric in the Anglican Tradition? After all, the majority of world Christians belong to churches which don’t have women priests in the first place and historic Anglicanism is no different. Schori wants to have her cake and eat it, too. If she knew how risible she looked in that hat, she might not be so eager to wear it.



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Bonnie

posted July 2, 2010 at 9:57 am


I believe that there was a woman pope, Pope Joan, who was most likely the first woman ordained to archbishop-dom. There is a cathedral to her honor in Spain. Sorry, don’t think that your Presiding Bishop is the first woman in Christian history to receive such a high standing in the Church.



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Paloma

posted July 7, 2010 at 8:52 am


Hardly a crisis as the title suggests. Just a storm in a teacup!



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douglas_macneill

posted July 12, 2010 at 1:55 pm


A few notes on this issue:
1) As Presiding Bishop, Dr. Schori would outrank all mere archbishops among Anglicans in the USA, whether you call their church TEC or PEC-USA (The Episcopal Church or Protestant Episcopal Church-USA, respectively). Her peers would include the Primates of Anglican Churches in (for example) Canada and South Africa, the Primus of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, and so on.
2) I suspect that the advancement of a woman to Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada is a matter of when rather than if, as women who happen to be bishops gain in esteem and position within the Church.
3) The advancement of capable women to the rank and post of Bishop is going on all the time in Anglican Churches outside of Africa and South America (where more conservative forms hold sway, so I’m told). One example from close to home is Dr. Jane Alexander, now Anglican Bishop of Edmonton.



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Cris

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That’s not right. Women have every right to wear women’s hats whenever they feel like it.



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Trevor

posted February 9, 2011 at 12:54 pm


I can definitely see your point that from a PR standpoint this seems to be a waste of time and it appears that the Church of England is focusing more on petty things than on a crisis of international importance.
But, at the same time, I can also see the point that the time spent here really isn’t any more than any other leader would spend. The letter itself, thought it seems like a grand waste of time, probably took 10 minutes of an intern’s time. My guess is the Archbishop already knew whether he considered the Episcopal church to be legitimate enough to have their head received as an equal, so he knew immediately what his reply would be. It takes 5 seconds to state it, and then the intern goes off and does the work while the Archbishop is free to concentrate on other things. The background check, though very time intensive, doesn’t seem all that much of a waste to me either. Anyone who invites a speaker to come and speak to the souls under their care should be pretty careful. And, don’t you think the president or the PM would spend many more man hours doing security checks on everyone who comes on a diplomatic visit? I’m sure those two are also facing issues more important, but logistical items must get done if we’re to accomplish the greater tasks



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