Monday, June 13, 2011

What Kind of "Icon" Heads the Episcopal Church (USA)?

Peter Wallace of the Day1 radio program interviewed the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori on his show on February 3, 2009 -- some two years after she had assumed her office as Presiding Bishop of ECUSA. Toward the end of the first segment, this exchange took place (starting at 05:49 in the video):
WALLACE: And now you are the top woman religious leader in the world . . . what does that mean to you?

JEFFERTS SCHORI: Well, I'm certainly aware that it means I'm an icon, in some ways, for people . . . I'm simply doing the job I think I was called to do. I don't -- I don't have another experience with which to compare it, but I do know it says something to others about the dropping of some barriers.
With the news of her having misled the Committee that nominated her now resurfacing on a number of blogs (e.g., Baby Blue, Viderunt Omnes, Cranmer, StandFirm, and more), when it caused only a mild stir immediately after her election, one has to ask: just what kind of icon is the Presiding Bishop, and for whom is she an icon?

She sometimes sounds as though she is a pluralist, and not a Christian; and she certainly is not an Anglican in the sense that Thomas Cranmer was. She likes to provoke and confront more than she likes to pastor, and she has long advised people to "learn to live with" the resulting tensions. In that same vein, she sends her Chancellor to harass fellow Episcopalians and autonomous Dioceses. Her pastoral messages sound as though they were inspired by her taking the word "pastoral" literally. She believes schism (as long as it is not ECUSA's own) to be worse than heresy, but she still accuses Western Christendom of having succumbed to the doctrine of individual salvation (as opposed to salvation through the community), which she called "the great Western heresy." Later she danced around what she had said, but did not retract her words. Her agility in skirting around and defying the Canons knows no bounds, and she sees nothing wrong with letting her Chancellor throw millions and millions of dollars' worth of litigation business to his former law firm.

So: what kind of icon is Katharine Jefferts Schori? She believes she was "called" to do the job she is doing -- even though she had to falsify her resume to get there. (It appears that the ties between her Diocese of Oregon and the Diocese of Nevada in 2000 were too close for her to have tried the same trick there.) And once President Obama had selected her to be on his Faith Advisory Council, just two weeks later she sent her minions (perhaps as a result of the White House's own vetting process?) to eradicate all mention of the incident in her official biography. I am not sure what to regard as worse: that she sent one of her staff to do it for her, or that she thought that history could be so easily erased. (Hint: the Web is a very large place, and the excised language remains on many sites.)

Those who are not Episcopalian have no difficulty in seeing through the "icon" to what lies underneath. Episcopalians themselves, however, have not only failed to check her excesses, but have given her new and sweeping powers which are blatantly unconstitutional -- and which go into effect this July 1.

So what kind of icon is Katharine Jefferts Schori? In a few short weeks, we are about to see whether Lord Acton was right (in more ways than one).


  1. Brilliant article. Thanks so much for this, dear Curmudgeon.

    I find particularly striking the timing of President Obama's appointment and her Wikipedia deletion.

  2. The woman is a train wreck. I have a hard time mustering basic Christian charity towards her. Having little patience for pagans assuming Christian leadership and women who make the rest of us look so very awful (and incompetent), she is pretty much at the top of my list of reasons why I'm glad not to be an Episcopalian anymore.

  3. Ouch! I keep seeing images of a +KJS icon with that crazy oven mitt miter. After reading that quotation, I'll never be able to look at traditional icon without her image popping up. Thanks alot Curmudgeon.

  4. Dear Mr. Haley,

    I am reasonably confident that, without looking, I know to which quotation from Lord Acton you refer. And I am also reasonably confident that, based on her past history of disregard for truth and canon law, the predictive accuracy of Lord Acton's observation will be upheld.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  5. We agree, MA -- but if you click through the link, you will see that any one or more of the first four of his quotations listed there may be proved correct in the coming months.

  6. Many happy Winter Solstice returns from the South. My comment is not about the above article but some heavy summer reading from JETS (54:1) on John Rhoads, Josephus misdated the Census of Quirinius, pages 65-88. The first few pages bring some recent bibliographic info concerning the dates and activities around the Nativity and may be a help for your research. Blessings. +Frank

  7. Dear Curmudgeon,
    I think Carl Jung would be able to offer an excellent understanding of why KJS wields so much power.
    I would add that the Craig Bernthal link is probably another bug on the windshield of the KJS Wiki page. Craig is a friend from the same former parish and has his JD in addition to his Ph.D.. We pleaded with the former rector, "Don't do it" but he joined the lawsuit and we both left. Now he is gone also but that is another story.

  8. Some are saying that she was an affirmative action hire. I'd be interested in knowing your take on this.

  9. Possible election fraud in bishop of Tanzanian Anglican Church - arrest warrant for Primate of TAC. Very likely election fraud for American Presiding Bishop - virtually no one notices. What does this say of western Anglican church governance?
    - A Tanzanian reaction to possible episcopal election fraud; and US / African comparison