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Catalyst: “Our Jamestown Heritage” from Forward Movement, by Tony Clavier, 16 pages,pamphlet, c. 2007, $0.50[Source: Forward Movement] In honor of the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement, the first Anglican presence in America, this pamphlet examines the history and spiritual practices of the Jamestown colony, explains how it differed from the other colonies emerging in the New World, and relates how these inform the Episcopal Church today. Ideal as a tool for evangelism, it provides a clear understanding of how our present worship and beliefs pay tribute to the spiritual heritage brought to these shores four hundred yearsago.To order: Episcopal Books and Resources, online at http://www.episcopalbookstore.org or call 800-903-5544.

BACK AGAIN

I’ve had a rough time getting over the last chemo session. I’m not better yet! The next session has been postponed and we are going to try and different selection of “poisons”. Obviously my body can’t take the present menu.

I haven’t been able to concentrate on writing, so perhaps the fact that I am attempting a blog is a good sign. I was watching “Late Edition” on CNN and found myself thinking of the English Civil War. The King invaded Scotland and Parliament attempted to cut off funds. George, the third president of that name is stuck in Iraq -he hadn’t read his history – and Congress attempts to cut off funds. I hope I won’t be deported for saying that I believe that US governmental institutions are hopelessly stuck in a past age. As Lord Hailsham once said, England is a republic with an hereditary head of state while America is a monarchy with an elected Emperor.

Mercifully the government can’t attempt to destroy the Church as Parliament attempted and nearly succeeded nearly four hundred years ago. That’s just as well as we are doing a pretty good job of that ourselves. Part of our problem is that we have inherited our own antiquated form of church government, a frozen oligarchy largely peopled by Whigs and latitudinarians. Don’t be fooled by ceremonial and vestments. William White would love contemporary TEC, although perhaps not to the extent of blessing those who look forward to the creation of a new church in North America, free to do exactly as the majority pleases.

Our form of government, that of a wealthy establishment given to good works and light on theology, has been transformed from a well-meaning social gospel system intent on unity at all costs to a fanatically politically left wing liberal body intent on its agenda at all costs. The creaky old Articles of Confederation church has been enlivened and transformed by an injection of secular political methods and the politics of the lobbyists. The transformation was occasioned by a righteous agenda. Our church, as perhaps no other Anglican Province except the West Indies was implicated thoroughly in the politics of racism. While Anglican bishops in South Africa struggled to end racial colonialism, our church still cozied up to well-mannered racism.

The same might be said about gender equality, although once embarked upon, the form in which the debate began and prospered took upon itself a more thoroughly secular tone. By the time we reached the question of appropriate sexual behavior, any attempt to address the matter theologically was at best muted. Faced with a small number of texts in Scripture on the matter which seemed to oppose the TEC agenda, our leaders grasped for Mr. Jefferson’s scissors and the agenda of the Jesus Seminar while those opposed to “gay rights” returned to Master Calvin and to the agenda of early 20th Century “Bible College Movement.”

In the meantime the Archbishop of Canterbury has taught. He’s taught about the nature of the Church. He’s taught about the Bible. He’s taught about a sane Spirituality. He’s taught about our responsibility towards the environment, disease and poverty. What else can an Archbishop of Canterbury do but teach and love? He has no power but that of a moral authority. In an age when all authority is suspect and only legal authority valued, the Archbishop too relies on an antiquated system, patched up and modernized a bit -new wine in old wine skins -but hardly up to the task of a Communion which has emerged from the Age of Empire, a miracle in itself, and now seeks to adjust to the manifold problems and divisions of the 21at Century.

What +Rowan faces in North America an elsewhere is the “me” generation in vestments. TEC wants. Nigeria wants. The CofE wants, and so on. We all want our rights and at any cost and we want them now.

After he retired Archbishop Fisher was asked what he thought about the newly proclaimed “Human Rights Day.” He replied that he would support a “Human Duty Day.” I thought of that when I watched the movie “The Queen.” Diana seemed to symbolize the good and the bad of the “me” generation. The Queen and to some extent my own generation seemed to symbolize the good and the bad of the “Duty Era.” Somehow I believe the truth lies in between. The Duty era was about putting others first. The “me” generation at its best also puts others first. But Duty doesn’t put what I want first at any cost. As a result it can be cold and stuffy and self-righteous. The “me” generation can be recklessly sentimental, ready to advance it’s own needs at the expense of others and utterly lacking in an appreciation for righteousness.

Christianity is about righteousness but not self-righteousness. The Faith is about caring for others, but it is not about campaigning for oneself. The Church is about including all the baptized but it is not about syncretism and a laisse faire morality. It is at the bar of rightly interpreted Scripture, the living correcting Tradition and sanctified Reason that all our agendas and plans, however good, must be submitted in each age and generation. We seem to have lost the will to self-examination, at least at the corporate level. We no longer seek to do “our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits but pardoning our offenses.” One of the purposes of an Anglican Covenant should be to return us to our balanced roots. A forward movement would be to replace the Lambeth Conference with a Pan-Anglican Synod of all orders limited in its authority but authoritarian in its limits.

COLONIZERS?

In both the House of Bishops Statement to the Primates and a statement of support issued by the senior Elder of the Metropolitan Community Church the charge of being Colonizers has been laid upon the Church of England one supposes, or maybe even the Primates themselves. I am amazed that we haven’t heard protests from our Native American leaders and African American leaders. Who is calling the kettle black? At the end of the American Revolution the leadership of New World Colonialism shifted from Westminster to Philadelphia and later to Washington. Despite the new Nation’s rhetoric it did nothing about slavery and continued it journey westward depriving more and more of the land’s original owners of their property and their means of living. Long after the slaves had been emancipated, after a fashion, Native Americans were still being “colonized” and pushed into reservations which even today are places of disgrace and sorrow. Disgrace for us and sorrow for Native Americans.

When America was creating itself, and colonizing and enslaving more and more, people like Clarkson and Wilberforce were working actively and relentlessly to end the slave trade. While Southern Episcopalians, blessed by their bishops, possessed human beings as objects and property, Wilberforce, an Evangelical Anglican, achieved his life’s passion by seeing the slave trade not only abolished but slavery itself sent to hell. Anglican Evangelicals like Shaftesbury, worked to abolish child labor and to provide decent housing for the poor long before this happened in the United States.

Now this in no ways frees Britain of its Imperial misdoings, or some of them, but let us not forget that the United States was acquiring its own Imperial property when it annexed Hawaii and conquered the Philippines, Guam, Okinawa, Puerto Rico and our church’s complicity as it created its own mini-Communion out of Manifest Destiny. Our new title, “The Episcopal Church” is regarded by many as yet another isgn of American insensitivity. There are, after all, a number of Provinces which call themselves “Episcopal”

Our House of Bishops should do some collective racist training and for a start apologize deeply to our Black, Hispanic and Native American leadership for the insensitive words they wrote in the context of their reply to the Primates. One doubts whether the Primates are as ignorant of US History as our bishops seem to be.

As one reads the House of Bishops’ response to the Primates one becomes vividly aware of their apparent ignorance of the history, and thus the theology and spirituality of Anglicanism in its classical period, a period which extended in our own seminaries long after independence. If one were to hand each of our bishops a copy of one of Henry McAdoo’s wonderful books on that period, one could bet that most of the contents would be dismissed because the people who thought Anglican thoughts, and prayed Anglican prayers were racists and anti-feminists. There is no history because our saints and divines, whom ironically we still commemorate in Lesser Feasts and Fasts, have been found guilty of not embracing our contemporary wisdom. Having imposed upon Jewel and Hooker, Donne and Andrewes, Herbert and Cosin, Taylor and Hammond, even Stillingfleet and Law, the Wesleys and High Church people like our own Hobart and the Evangelical Chase who between them rescued TEC from extinction, the sentence of death, we are free to use or not use their words or rather to send them to a newly created Limbo; The Historical Documents section of our faith and life. Let us not forget the Anglo Catholic Movement, born in Oxford, whose thoughts soinfluenced our present BCP.

Yet the Primates are obviously not so ignorant of our tradition and spirituality. It is for that reason that our bishops’ Statement has been received with such embarrassment abroad. One hopes that the Theological Commission of the House of Bishops is putting together literature which will objectively address our past, the Reformation, the majoritarian delight of early Episcopalians to proclaim as their sign of authenticity their unity with the Church of England, their part in forming the Anglican Communion, the wish of many American bishops to have Archbishop Longley titled “Patriarch” and for a pan-Anglican Synod with pan-Anglican authority. Perhaps the Theological Commission might give some teaching about ecclesiology, what the church is and where local autonomy fits into the New Testament concepts about the Body of Christ, But of course, I Corinthian 12 was written by Mr. Paul, who was an anti-feminist. One can’t take notice of him, he was a gay basher.

___________________________________________________________________
I’ve been very ill and was unable to be at any services over Holy Week, or for the first time in my priestly ministry, to celebrate on Easter Day. I had a severe reaction to the pain pills prescribed, which turned me into more of a burbling idiot than before. I am now learning to walk again, with a great deal of success. I’m taking a drug weekly, designed to help women with brittle bones. I have a chemo session tomorrow.

PUZZLE 2

I was sent home from the hospital and am to report back on Thursday afternoon. If the swelling gets worse, I’m to call in. If things haven’t improved on Thursday the doctors will try to discover what ails me. The puzzle remains a puzzle!

A PUZZLE

Nearly two weeks ago my left ankle began to hurt. I was returning from a clergy meeting, stopped at Barnes and Noble and while there the pain began. That will teach me not to go to clergy meetings! The next few days were difficult and by Palm Sunday both ankles were painful and I was experiencing shortness of breath.

So on Palm Sunday I was admitted to hospital and began four days of X Rays, MRIs and PT scans. Finally a number of spots were detected, located on my inner ankle bones. These “spots” suggested that blood supply had been cut off to those tiny areas and that each spot was a “dead” place. So on Friday last I was sent home armed with a walker, a shower chair, a wheel chair and an inhaler and other lung medicines. The inhaler was for my lungs which also showed signs of congestion. Whether these problems were related to my cancer was also undetermined. Steroids may be the cause of the ankle problems. I was also given some powerful pain pills which make it difficult to concentrate. I was falling asleep while writing which is demonstrated by the poor quality of my recent blogs.

(The Diocese of San Joaquin’s blog site has published a ditty I have written about the 1991 consecration of bishops for the Continuing Churches by two TEC bishops and one Province of Central Africa bishop, none of whom were brought to trial for their participation in that service. This is in contrast to Bishop Cox’s proposed trial.)

Pneumonia was ruled out as was my usual bronchitis. I probably had sinusitis in my nasal passages but what was ailing my lungs couldn’t be determined with any certainty.

This afternoon my ankles were swollen and painful even when my feet were up on my recliner. Hitherto they were painful only when I attempted to walk or stand upright. Tomorrow I will go to the cancer center and may well be admitted to the hospital so that my oncologist and orthopedic experts can dig around to seek the origin of the problem and a possible treatment. If I am admitted poor Pat may well have a break from waiting on me hand and foot. I feel so guilty about the strain I’m placing on her. I do hope my readers will pray for Pat and for me.

The local Lutheran Chaplain to the University will take the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. The Vigil will be at the local Lutheran parish and Pastor Matthew will celebrate on Sunday. I hope I will be able to preach from my wheel chair on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. We shall see.

Do keep this old crock in Crocks in your thoughts and prayers.

THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION

Up until about 1914 one of the required texts for seminarians on both sides of the Atlantic was Bishop Pearson’s “Exposition on the Creeds.” It was first published in 1658 -I think -and at great peril to its author. Note the date. The Church of England had been abolished by Parliament a decade or so before the publication date. The ancient parish churches were under the pastoral care of Presbyterians and Independents, for the most part presbytery ordained. The use of the Book of Common Prayer was prohibited. Doctrine culled from the Articles of Religion and the Catechism was similarly illegal. Pearson demonstrated great bravery in writing a book which interpreted the Creeds in accordance with mainstream Anglican teaching.

Perhaps the fact that ordinands were still studying Pearson two hundred years later merely demonstrates how old-fashioned and out of touch pre First World War Anglicanism had become. The same ordinands were familiar with Jewel and Hooker, Donne and Herbert, with Taylor and Law. In the United States DuBose was in that same tradition of scholarship. Twenty years after World War 1 the young Michael Ramsey absorbed and disseminated the same tradition in his seminal “The Gospel and the Catholic Church.” Until recently the tradition continued in the writings of Archbishop Henry McAdoo. His heir may well be the present Bishop of Portsmouth, Kenneth Stephenson. Certainly Archbishop Rowan Williams swims in that current.

For some years now our ordinands have survived on much less robust fare. Bishop Stephen Sykes first drew attention to this nearly thirty years ago in his book “The Integrity of Anglicanism.” Part of the problem seems to have been the manner in which students are taught and part of it has been in the texts employed. Information is given in distinct course material, with little attempt to integrate subjects in an holistic manner. Little acquaintance is given to the original texts. Granted so many with undergraduate degrees still find the language of our classical authors difficult to read and digest. “The Church Teaching Series” provides at best a Readers Digest approach to scholarship.

Again it is not only Scripture which is subjected to cynical criticism it is also applied to Church History and to Dogmatics. Teachers go to great trouble to suggest that either one largely discounts the veracity and reliability of anything written before 1960 or one cleaves to the form of fundamentalism one finds taught in Bible Colleges. There is little Via Media about seminary teaching nowadays.

Most of our clerical leadership therefore finds it difficult to approach and utilize classical Anglicanism in evaluating Scripture and the Tradition. Reason is no longer regarded as a symbiotic part of Scripture and Tradition, but rather a separate facility which brings to bear critical methods which evaluate and criticises Scripture and Tradition. Skepticism is in vogue. It is in vogue because to many Scripture and Tradition are hostile to what is claimed to be enlightened and inclusive lifestyles. Such hostility must be combated and erased from our corporate memory. In other words our ordinands are taught a method which begins with a sacrosanct conclusion and then works backwards to texts once thought to be in themselves indefectable. Ironically it is the same method which produced the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. It must be so therefore it is.

I am not here arguing that such a conclusion is “true”. It may or may not be so. What I am arguing is that our clergy, for some years, have been deprived of the scholarship which determines how one approaches Anglicanism as an established reality. Instead Classical Anglicanism has been replaced by something which almost daily re-invents itself.

Note for instance the current debate about the unique nature of Episcopalianism in which a secular history of 18th. Century “Americanism” replaces or overrides a study of 18th Century Anglican ecclesiology. More credence is given to the political theory which created General Convention than to the contents to be found in the last paragraph of the preface to the 1789 Book of Common Prayer and the decisions made by the then contemporary General Conventions in response to the demands made of PECUSA by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. One may only conclude that our bishops feel much more comfortable with the texts illustrative of Revolutionary rhetoric than with those which illuminate a corpus of knowledge which then, before then, and after then until fairly recently typified Anglican scholarship.

In short not only are our seminaries not equipping ordinands for pastoral ministry and evangelism, they are not providing them with a comprehensive study of “Classical Anglicanism.” I am not suggesting that such a study inevitably leads to one preferred conclusion, or the elevation of one form of “Churchmanship” over another, or indeed to a rejection of our historical “parties” in favor of things new. It is simply the fact that our ordinands are not being given sufficient knowledge to reach responsible conclusions. In place of such knowledge what is offered is what I term social sentimentalism or selective training in ecclesiastical versions of right wing or left wing political theory.

At a time in which seminary education is under review it would seem appropriate for our church to take a hard look at curricula and to the integration of curricula into an holistic model. There was a time in which the learning of our clergy made them “stupor mundi”. Today our ordinands share the same disabilities possessed by post graduate students in many disciplines. The reality of this requires urgent and objective solutions.

EPISCOPAL WISDOM

I would commend reflections on the Bishops’ Statement by Bishops Pierre Whalon and the new bishop of Tennessee. They stand out from most other comments published on-line by our Ordinaries in that they demonstrate a command of the subject, a facility of language and the type of civility once associated with Anglican discourse. The Bishop of Tennessee found the patriotic language in the Statement as hard to justify as I did. I’m a Brit! Bishop Whalon rightly drew attention to the lack of even-handedness present in the Primates’ communique. The Episcopal Church is taken to task for its allegedly inadequate response to the Windsor Report by General Convention while those who have intruded into the territorial jurisdiction of TEC are lightly tapped in the wrist.

Neither bishop mentions that which I believe to be the crux of the matter. At the heart of our crisis is theological ineptitude. The Bishop of Tennessee notes that there seems to be general ignorance of an adequate ecclesiology. I think the problem to be wider than merely our doctrine of the Church and the churches. But ecclesiology is a good place to start.

Anyone with any sensitivity to the Doctrine of the Church must shrink and shiver when seeking to define just what our bishops meant by “the church” as they reflected about the nature and reality of The Episcopal Church and what is contemplated by those who make exclusive claims for that church, its definition and autonomy.

The bishops seem to anchor their doctrine of the Church in reflections on its organizational creation at the end of the 18th. Century with particular stress on the creation of General Convention. In that General Convention is the creation of the Episcopal Church and of its Constitution and Canons, its fairly recent definition of TEC’s relationship to and with the Anglican Communion contained in the Constitution is regarded as self-definition. There is no “other.” There’s something Humpty Dumpty about it all. Words mean what we mean them to mean! No more and no less.

For convenience sake I use a capital “C” when referring to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and a small “c” when referring to a particular or local church or province. Granted such a usage isn’t entirely clear of obvious. Most Anglicans refer to four levels of communion and fellowship. There’s the Church Catholic, the church particular and the church at diocesan and parochial levels. I list them in order of importance. The bishops seem to have a different list. At the top they place a particular church and then the province or diocese, and then the parish and far off in the distance a vague notion of Catholicity.

Our bishops in their Statement seem to place enormous stress on particularity and on the human genesis of such an organization. In common with the Anglican Reformers, our bishops seem to embrace a doctrine of the Invisible Church, “the blessed company of all faithful (and unfaithful) people” from whom God chooses the elect who reflect the reality of the Church Catholic. Such a definition is largely Protestant in origin; a denial of the doctrine of a God-created visible Church marked by those elements defined and limited by the Lambeth Quadrilateral for instance.

Only such a viewpoint permits the introduction of secular political theory as a justification for a particular form of ecclesiastical polity. The bishops seem to suggest that the Episcopal Church and its polity were created by enlightened “men” who employed the principles which created the Articles of Confederation and pre-federalist American political theory and practice. To my knowledge such a polity was tested neither by Scripture, the Tradition nor sanctified Reason. No linking reference was made to the pre-Revolutionary Anglican Church in America. PECUSA was sui generis a Church enjoying all the rights normally ascribed to the entire Church of God It was created by and through debate and the adoption of motions by a majority of legislators themselves elected by originally self-appointed diocesan conventions.

Indeed the historical creation of the Episcopal Church is unlike any other Anglican Province in the Communion. In the case of almost all other Provinces there was either clear Apostolic continuity or a process whereby a “mother” church created its “daughter” church. True the Scottish Episcopal Church was formed by people who fled the Church of Scotland. The Church of Ireland succeeded the Irish Church, founded by St. Patrick, in apostolic succession and structure. The Australian Church has its roots in the work of missionaries sent to “civilize” convicts. Most African, Asian and Caribbean provinces began with missionary bishops and other clergy who organized themselves into dioceses and then provinces. The Episcopal Church is alone in appealing to legal documents and actions as foundational material. The New Zealand church, for instance organized itself into a General Synod some sixty years after PECUSA and its General Convention were created. Bishops elected by ballot in local Conventions and a General Convention governing an entire Church were unique. Perhaps there remained some precedent in the Early Church although this is not entirely clear. Election of bishops by the local constituency enjoyed some Early Church precedent although again this is not entirely clear.

What seems to be clear is that ECUSA was a novel experiment, novel in its origins and in its history.

The puzzle remains that for most of its history the Episcopal Church remained unimpressed by its historical origins or at least saw no obstacle preventing its enjoyment of Communion with the other more normal Provinces of the Communion.

What now seems obvious in the light of the recent Primate’ Meeting, is a pressing need for the Episcopal Church to justify its unique nature by reference to a robust Doctrine of the Church founded in Scriptural norms. It won’t do merely to note TEC’s particularity and its American political roots and deduce that there is something in TEC’s DNA limiting mutual interdependence and magnifying its autonomy.

Such a deduction requires of TEC a defining construct based on a classical Anglican ecclesiology and nothing less. This brings me to the question of a revived Anglican scholarship. We will tackle that subject in my next Blog.