|Are these morons getting dumber or just louder?|
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Saturday, July 14, 2012
|KNLB4ZD was taken as a license plate.|
Rankings will be according to Crusty Old Dean's formula:
Axios! (Greek: worthy! what is shouted at ordinations by the congregation) = COD nailed it.
Meh: (like Revelation 3:16, neither hot nor cold) = COD sorta got it right
WTF? (self explanatory) = COD has been using the same sources as the Wall Street Journal.
Predictions in italics, rankings and potential Crustenfreude in regular font:
--Same Sex Blessings: the proposed blessing of same sex unions will be adopted as a trial rite. Will pass handily in a vote by orders in the House of Deputies, will be a bit closer in House of Bishops. The vote by orders will be requested by the following deputations: South Carolina, Central Florida, and Springfield. Crusty Old Dean will tweet his predictions of the HOB vote total (trying to recreate the magic of picking 62 as the number of "yes" votes for Gene Robinson in 2003) after listening to the debate.
Ranking: Axios! The authorization did pass handily in the House of Deputies, exceeding the 75% threshold that calls for a reading of the results in a vote by orders. COD more or less nailed it in the House of Bishops -- while predicting it would be "closer" (thereby raising the possibility of Crustenfreude) but, after listening to the debate, COD tweeted a predicted "yes" vote of 109. The actual vote was 111. So slide it on back, Crustenfreudians. According to COD's notes deputations from the diocese of Honduras, Venezuela, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Southwest Florida, Central Florida, Western Louisiana, and South Carolina, Dallas, and Albany requested the vote. Frankly COD is surprised Springfield is not on that list, but all of the others were.
--Anglican Covenant: some version of the compromise resolution proposed by Ian Douglas will pass. Something which affirms what we can endorse in the Covenant (pretty much all of Section 1-3), which raises concerns about Section 4, asks us to be in further discussion and study on this, and affirms our commitment to the Anglican Communion. COD has opined on this before; why reject the Covenant? It's going down anyway, and except for parts of Section IV there's good stuff in it; why hand the Communion an opportunity to marginalize us? Force them to marginalize us.
Ranking: Meh. D008 and B005 were passed, which did contains affirmations of our commitment to the Anglican Communion. But we did not affirm what we could endorse in the Covenant, instead agreed to "monitor" developments and "declined" to a position on the Covenant.
--The House of Bishops will go off the rails on the question of confirmation as a prerequisite for holding certain offices in the church. Just like you double down on 11 in blackjack -- always, no matter what -- always, not matter what, bet on the House of Bishops to spend at least 20 minutes in any discussion that involves confirmation.
Ranking: Meh. Resolution A042 was not acted upon, and referred back to a CCAB. COD gives himself a "meh" here for two reasons: the HOB didn't go as off the rails as he thought, and it turns out the HOD didn't really know what to do either about this mess we've made of mixing confirmation with membership while at the same time trying to live into baptismal ecclesiology.
--PB&F will propose some version of a compromise budget between what was presented by the PB and what was handed to them by Executive Council. COD thinks PB&F was already planning on reworking the budget to look more like what came out of the PB's office -- not that there's any collusion between the two, but that PB&F would try to come up with something that has a little more equity in the cutbacks. Crusty Old Dean isn't entirely thrilled with the PB's budget, but a) he sees it more as a transitional budget, and b) it's a step up from the inchoate Frankenstein budget Executive Council spat out.
Ranking: Axios! For another feather in COD's cap, the Presiding Bishop, when she went rogue and added 3-5 minutes of remarks to the Joint Session before it adjourned, stole the tag line from the Acts 8 Movement Crusty Old Dean put together with Susan Brown Snook and still-allied-like-Stalin-and-Roosevelt Scott Gunn, asking the assembly to share "What kind of church they dreamed of." So, Double Axios!
--Gay Jennings will be elected PHOD. While COD thinks she would be a fine PHOD, he is discouraged there has not been other candidates who have announced. Like when Louie Crew ran against George Werner in 2003, we should at least have a choice, and a discussion, and hear a vision from different leaders in the church. It's not healthy for a democratic institution to hand off leadership in a Politburo-style succession: someone from the former PHOD's council of advice and her chancellor are the likely next President and Vice President.
Ranking: Axios! Recall COD predicted Gay's election pretty much right after she announced her candidacy. And, indeed, there was another candidate, Frank Logue from the diocese of Georgia. Martha Alexander and Frank made a respectable showing, as Gay received 51.9% on the first ballot and Martha and Frank received 48.1% combined.
--The real battle is going to be over what entity emerges from this Convention that will look at restructuring the church. It seems evident we have a reached a tipping point, and there is consensus that we need to take a long, hard, look at how the denomination is organized and funded for mission.
[There's more to this lengthier discussion, see COD's original post here.]
Ranking: Axios! There was considerable discussion about how to synthesize the resolutions on reform and restructure of the church.
The legislative committee came out with an omnibus resolution, C095 -- COD gave his thoughts on that here. While Crusty Old Dean is, in general, pleased with the Task Force process, there is still much to be seen in how this will be implemented. We will have to be wary less the Task Force be stuffed with the usual suspects and spend three years trying to undermine and neuter the process.
COD was amused with the conflicting attitudes towards restructuring and reform. On the one hand, we were warned repeatedly by some that we should be careful, cautious, and move slowly, less there be any unintended consequences of decisions made. We were also told, repeatedly (and, in COD's opinion, falsely) that restructuring and reform leads to marginalization and exclusion. Yet the HOD seemed to have no problem in acting quickly and without thinking of any possible unintended consequences of voting to sell 815 (did they take into account, say, severance for employees unable to move? how moving 815 would probably mean women and people of color losing their jobs?) yet got their knickers in a twist on B027, which would have radically reduced the number of Standing Commissions. And did no one see the irony in the Standing Committee on the Structure of the Church both recommending lengthening the time of General Convention from 8 days to 10 days, while also proposing a resolution that the House of Bishops decrease its meetings from two per year one, as a matter of "stewardship"?
COD had no problem with voting down B027 and B015 (which proposed a unicameral General Convention). This is not because COD is not in favor of the sentiment of these two resolutions -- COD told the proposer of B015 that he proposed something very similar back in October on this very blog. But COD opposed them for the same reasons he opposed the draft Executive Council budget: both put the restructuring cart before the horse. Just as we shouldn't restructure by budget cutting and dumping things onto diocese and other networks every three years, we shouldn't restructure piecemeal resolution by resolution.
Of these predictions: four Axios, 2 Meh, and no WTF.
COD is confident he has vanquished those willing to engage in Crustenfreude, and welcomes you all to KNEEL BEFORE C.O.D.! (using the period in the acronym for once to prevent confusion with a tasty fish served best with malt vinegar and fries and Old Speckled Hen).
Trying to figure out how to move forward from Convention?
Join the Acts 8 Movement! We will continue to nurture this movement, prayer for the future of our church, and incarnate this in our diocese, parishes, and networks.
Check out our Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/Acts8Moment
And go here as well:
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
|All together, Ren and Stimpy fans!|
Crusty Old Dean wishes he didn't have to keep coming back to this issue, but, once again, he is perplexed by the effort to link those who want to look at reforming the church as somehow promoting racism, sexism, and exclusion.
Two recent actions have once again thrust this distortion into the spotlight. As reported here (COD is still looking for the actual text) Bishop Catherine Roskam preached that "If Katharine Jefferts Schori were a man...the bishops wouldn’t be debating a measure to make the job of being Presiding Bishop into a part time post." While not suggesting this was Bishop Ian Douglas' intention (who was the proposer of the resolution) she nonetheless warned that "his honest attempt to rethink how the church works is caught in a perfect storm of conflicting wind and waves." Poor Ian -- his heart was in the right place, only to be caught up in a maelstrom of restructuring sexism. Really?
Once again we here the refrain: rethinking or reforming leads to exclusion and marginalization; this time, even if done with the best intentions.
And, once again, Crusty Old Dean must aver: he acknowledges the church still struggles with racism, sexism, and inclusion. Bishop Roskam is absolutely right that some bishops on the church's conservative wing elected Bishop Jefferts Schori in a misguided attempt to try to undermine the church's standing in the broader communion (thinking having a woman Primate would make it easier to marginalize the Episcopal Church). Bishop Ben Benitez openly admitted this was why he voted for her. Yet once again COD must question facile efforts to make a direct link between taking a good look at our structures and inevitable exclusion and marginalization. The President of the House of Deputies did so in her opening remarks. The same reporter who wrote up Bishop Roskam's sermon argued much the same in a different column here.
Which makes Crusty Old Dean ask: are these people looking at Convention?
While these words were preached "to one of the most powerful men’s club’s of the Episcopal Church: the House of Bishops", have folks overlooked how Resolution A144, calling on a study to look at why so few women are being elected bishop, was hotly debated (though adopted) by the House of Deputies?
Or this other matter Convention addressed:
The Convention rejected the one way to ensure diversity in its midst: adopting representation guidelines on appointments. Proposed resolution D043 requested that on any commission or task force to look at restructuring the church, at least one-third of the persons be under 40. Crusty Old Dean had no involvement in this resolution at all, but has argued something similar on this blog: if we are going to engage in rethinking the church, we must include substantial representation of those persons under 40 to co-create the church they will lead. At the Committee hearing on the topic, no one who signed up for public testimony testified against this resolution. Yet the legislative committee moved to discharge it to a committee, saying the matter was handled in C095, the omnibus resolution COD blogged about here. Yet that resolution does not mandate inclusion of people under 40 on the Task Force, only to the gathering which will meet with the Task Force. When the vote on discharge was called, none of the bishops voted for discharge. The deputies were tied, 10-10. The chair cast the deciding vote, 11-10, to discharge -- effectively to kill this resolution. The chair who cast the vote is Gay Jennings, newly elected President of the House of Deputies.
The General Convention is a body which has supported passage of the Equal Rights Amendment (here) and has endorsed the Anglican Consultative Council's Resolution 13/31, which calls for equal representation of men and women on commissions of the ACC (here). It requested that several dioceses establish affirmative action programs (here). And these are just a few samples of this Church endorsing and affirming other efforts to legislate equality, mandate representation, and endorse affirmative action. Why is it more than willing to do this when speaking to others, but unwilling to apply any of these principles to itself?
As COD has said in previous posts, other denominations do have proportional representation rules, requiring, in different ways, representation from certain groups. The ELCA has quota requirements in place for its Churchwide Assembly, and the United Methodist Church has requirements in place for various governing commissions of the church.
What is the Episcopal Church afraid of when it comes to taking actual steps to try to bring about diversity? It has shown itself grumpy about even studying the question when it comes to the paltry number of women bishops! Why do some keep trying to claim that people who ask questions about structure are setting us down a road of "unintended consequences" leading towards marginalization and exclusion? How can than these charges possibly stand when Convention itself has shown that is is unwilling to take any real action on ensuring diversity in its own midst? Jesus said, "Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?" How can a Convention that is overwhelmingly white and old not see the log in its eye while straining at the specks of unintended consequences from others?
COD has always been concerned that those who derive power and authority from the current system will be capable of reforming it. Crusty Old Dean likes the structure resolution. But rest assured he will be watching how its implementation unfolds, and will continue to ask that we all see the log in our own eyes before constantly pointing out the speck in others'.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
|As Homer might say, "Mmm...pie..."|
Crusty Old Dean found himself thinking, "You know, that's exactly what we were trying to do in our Acts 8 meeting earlier in Convention -- get people outside the legislative process to think about the church, not to be an affinity group of some kind, but just have people talk."
Then the PB concluded, saying, when we were in those kind of settings, maybe we could ask a question of each other: "What is it that you dream for this church?"
Monday, July 9, 2012
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Notice that Crusty Old Dean didn't reference selling "815" (though he did in the title of this blog post, purely to catch people's attention, a necessary concession). COD doesn't refer to "815" for several reasons.
For one, it makes the building is synonymous with staff, which simply isn't the case. There are an increasing percentage of staff persons who do not work out of the building. COD worked for the denominational staff from 2001-2011, and only spent two years, 2001-2003, with an office in New York. From 2003-2011 he was based in different places outside of New York. So I didn't say "815" because that's not where everybody works. There's a Washington office, a Los Angeles office, and many people working out of different places.
For another, the denominational staff isn't a building. It's people. 815 is an address.
COD's concern is not about "selling 815". It's about a more holistic rethinking of what a denominational staff would be. For many the building is a symbol, a relic, an idol, even, of a kind of establishment mentality -- as one person testified, "Constantine has left the building," referencing a kind of end of any notion of Christendom. Well and good, to a certain sense. We no longer have over 400 staff, nearly 100% of whom worked out of the building. Yet who cares if Constantine leaves the building if we don't rethink the church?
COD has written a lot on this blog about what he thinks the future church will look like -- more network based, more focused around specific areas and concerns -- in short, more like 1850 than 1950. For the vast bulk of the Episcopal Church's history, if you wanted to get something done, you gathered a group of like-minded people, formed an organization, and just did it. If it had implications for the church as a whole, the General Convention might appoint a commission or committee to serve as a liaison and help coordinate the work. The story of the 20th century is the consolidation, professionalization, and institutionalization of how the church organizes its mission work.
There's two challenges to this. One has to do with the networks. While we have lots of great networks in the church, we'll need to make network development a key priority. Provide resources and training to networks to help them do what they are going to be asked to do. We will also need to work to develop new leaders for new networks, with training and resourcing. Part of this will be done by dioceses and provinces, but COD thinks there will still be a place for denominational staff in this transition back to a future which will have elements of our past.
Another has to do with the denominational staff. Denominational staff, correspondingly, are going to be folks who coordinate, resource, and develop networks -- there will be less "doing" on behalf of the church and more empowering and working with the church. Just like the deacon in a church shouldn't "do" outreach ministry on behalf of the congregation, but should motivate, coordinate, and train the congregation to do that ministry. There are lots of staff persons doing this kind of thing already, it will need to continue to be placed at the center of how staff relates to provinces, dioceses, networks, and other parts of the church. One project COD had on the drawing board just before leaving staff, working closely with people scattered across the country, was to develop a network of seminarians and lay leaders under 35 interested and committed to interreligious dialogue and witness -- with not-yet COD (then he was EO) seeing his role in this project as a denominational staff person as providing an organizational, convening, and resourcing function, but letting the network itself choose and develop what it would actually do.
We can't stop at selling 815 and think we have slain Constantine. COD is enthusiastically supportive of this resolution (I thought we should move most everything to the ELCA building in Chicago) with two caveats.
1) We will need to be OK with the transition needed. Those staff who may not be able to relocate due to personal or family concerns, including support staff as well as program staff, will be needed to be treated fairly. Otherwise we will continue to pay lip service to justice, more than willing to lecture others without noticing the log in our own eye. Like terminating a union service contract in 2009 without negotiation.
2) We must also think broader and more holistically, and not rush to obsess over things like where the new denominational building might be. We must also have conversations about what function our staff should have and how they will connect to all levels of the church.
If we don't begin to think in this way, it won't matter where the denomination gets its mail.
Friday, July 6, 2012
"I'm a candidate for Presiding Bishop," he said, "and when someone is a candidate for PB, we don't put them in any prominent positions of leadership like chairs of legislative committees or giving daily devotions in the House, because it wouldn't be fair to put that person in a position of prominence whereas another bishop might not have those opportunities."
Would that the House of Deputies followed a similar way of being. COD was stunned to hear from deputy colleagues that two candidates for elected office had prominent roles in the orientation session for deputies. What's more, they were wearing their campaign buttons. Could no one see the impropriety of this, or perhaps considered letting someone else lead the orientation session other than declared candidates for office?
Perhaps this is why no other major candidates have announced their intention to run other than the ones we have so far. The current candidates include someone from the PHOD's council of advice and the current chancellor to the PHOD. There is one other candidate declared for PHOD, to be sure, but frankly COD is disheartened and disappointed there have not been other people who have stepped forward. COD has spoken with several people over the last few weeks, asking them to consider either VP or President. All -- and for good reasons -- have declined.
Which leaves with a fait accompli -- which is what concerns COD. COD knows the candidates, thinks quite highly of them, and knows that they will do wonderful jobs, they have the background and experience. But lack of discussion and debate, lack of viable and differing candidates, is not healthy for any democratic organization.
And putting candidates in places of prominence did not help COD's mood. Are we slouching towards Chinese democracy, with the Politburo anointing their successors for acclamation?
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Sunday, July 1, 2012
Well, looks like we're getting started early. Over at Anglican Ink, George Conger is reporting that nine bishops are being charged with misconduct for endorsing legal briefs in the lawsuits involving the former Episcopal dioceses of Quincy and Forth Worth. These bishops endorsed legal briefs filed that challenged the Episcopal Church's efforts to request "summary judgment," more or less the effort to have the judge find in the Episcopal Church's favor and dismiss everything before even going to trial (in the Quincy case) or for endorsing a friend of the court brief in the Forth Worth case. The bishops involved seem to be: (COD will be using "thinks" and "seems" and "appears" a lot in this post since all we have right now as of this writing is Conger's reporting and we have no real first-hand accounts):
1. Rt Rev Maurice M. Benitez, retired Bishop of Texas,
2. Rt Rev John W. Howe, retired Bishop of Central Florida
3. Rt Rev Paul E. Lambert. Suffragan Bishop of Dallas
4. Rt Rev William H. Love, Bishop of Albany
5. Rt Rev D. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana
6. Rt Rev Daniel H. Martins, Bishop of Springfield
7. Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas,
8. Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr., former Bishop of South Carolina and Dean of Nashotah House
9. Rt. Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, former Bishop of Springfield
Seven bishops had disciplinary charges filed against them in the Forth Worth case and three in the Quincy case; Bishop MacPherson is on both lists -- so while "seven bishops" are reported in the Forth Worth case and "three bishops" in the Quincy case, it's nine actual bodies since Bishop MacPherson is apparently charged in both cases.
Here's the apparent quotation from the email from Bishop Clay Matthews:
"As the Intake Officer for the Church, I am obliged to inform you that a complaint has been received against you for your action in [COD editing: relevant actions in the Quincy and Forth Worth situations depending on ]. In the next few weeks, I will initiate a disciplinary process according to Title IV Canon 6 Sec. 3 & 4 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church."
OK, couple of thoughts here.
1. COD finds it very interesting that this information is released just before 10,000 Episcopalians, including most of the elected leadership and many of the bishops, arrive in Indianapolis. The only reason we even know about these charges is that someone connected to this, someone who received the email from Bishop Matthews, has leaked this information. There is a pattern here; after all, the only reason we knew about charges filed against Bishop Mark Lawrence in the fall is because the diocese of South Carolina made the decision to release the information. Seem to be clearly an effort to don a mantle of persecution. In case you think COD is exaggerating, Conger's website reporting this information has a photo of someone wielding the kind of paddle used to strike children back in the bad old days with "DISCIPLINE" in the caption accompanying this release.
2. This is how the process works: a potential "offense" gets reported. The first step -- Title 4, Canon 6, Sections 3 & 4 referenced in the email -- is to determine whether the information, even if true, constitutes something which is legitimately an Offense under the Constitution and Canons. Charges get filed against bishops and clergy; first thing is to determine if it's even a legitimate charge. A bishop once told me had had been charged with misconduct because a member of the diocese thought the bishop's decision to grow a beard was an effort to make fun of his own beard. Many of the potential offenses reported under Title IV are dismissed without ever going forward.
3. Which begs a question: what is the ground for accountability [the Title IV language] in question for endorsing the legal opinions of those representing the former diocese of Quincy and Forth Worth? That is, what are they violating which would warrant reporting an offense?
There's always the two catch-alls:
--conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy
--violating the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of The Episcopal Church
COD is not a canon lawyer but he can't imagine endorsing someone else's opinion in a legal case in a secular court somehow rises to the level of conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy or violating the doctrine, discipline, or worship.
--It would not seem to be a charge of abandonment of communion, since that process is different and is governed by Title IV, Canon 16.
--COD thinks the most likely ground for accountability is Title IV, Canon 4, Section 1(e). A member of the clergy is required to "safeguard the property and funds of the Church and Community."
Perhaps the argument is being made that by endorsing these legal efforts by the former dioceses of Forth Worth and Quincy to retain title to property and assets, these bishops are in violation of this requirement by supporting those who would seem to be in clear violation.
4. If so, Crusty Old Dean certainly hopes these charges will be dismissed by the Intake Officer. These bishops are third parties expressing opinions in cases that do not directly relate to them. The majority are retired (or soon to be -- four are retired and MacPherson will soon join them) bishops and one is a suffragan. This would seem to be a bit of a stretch that they are not safeguarding the property and funds of the church, since the retired bishops and the suffragans are not directly involved in oversight of property or funds at all, and the diocesans in questions are expressing an opinion which does not [currently] involve their diocese. If any of these bishops were actually to be intimately involved with any property or funds directly under their oversight, that would be a different matter, and disciplinary charges would be certainly appropriate.
One could argue that these bishops in question are joining this legal argument so that, in the eventuality that the opinion they are supporting prevails -- that the Episcopal Church is not a hierarchical organization and dioceses have control over their own assets and property -- they could then, if that is indeed the ruling, move to take control of the property and assets that they do have oversight of. But proving a conspiracy is different from proving actual failure to safeguard property.
5. It could be that this is another chapter in this Church's long history of using the disciplinary process as a weapon against others with whom we disagree, or as a way to end episcopal pastoral relationships that aren't working. The Onderdonks, George Cummins, Stephen Tyng, Walter Righter, and so on. This is something liberals and conservatives, evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics, are both guilty of. Just as the disciplinary process was stretched in an effort to dissolve the pastoral relationship between the bishop and the diocese of Philadelphia, it smacks to COD that the disciplinary process may being stretched here as well. If those bishops who have actual involvement in the church's property or assets make a real move to violation Section 1 (e), by all means bring the hammer down. But the ones listed here haven't, other than express an opinion. And why go after retired bishops? One of things that was so distasteful about the Righter heresy trial was that he was a retired bishop only acting on the request of the bishop diocesan and performing an ordination authorized by the bishop diocesan and Standing Committee.
6. Keep in mind recent efforts and let's tone down the histrionics. The over-reach in the Bennison case was struck down by a court of review, and the charges against Righter were dismissed. Those bishops who have actually tried to take control of assets and take their dioceses out of the church have been deposed. The charges against Bishop Lawrence were dismissed. The system has been working, in COD's opinion.
7. And again, this is all hypothetical since we have no clue what the actual charges are -- because the leakers haven't leaked that information yet.