Friday, July 6, 2012

Charge of the Lie Brigade

Here we are after only two days of the 77th General Convention, and already I have to invoke Alfred, Lord Tennyson in order to introduce the scenes of mayhem and violence which resulted after bringing ten thousand-plus Episcopalians and their camp-followers together in the same place at the same time. (I have edited Tennyson's "six hundred" down to "two hundred," to square with the approximate number of Bishops attending GC77, and made a few other minor modifications to match the circumstances, e.g., "CP's" = Communion Partners.)
Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the two hundred:
"Forward, the Lie Brigade!
Charge for the guns" they said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the two hundred. 
On the first day of the Convention, two provisional bishops of two of the four pseudo-dioceses which General Convention has never taken steps to formally admit into the Church thrust their way to the forefront of the House of Bishops. They insisted that the Presiding Bishop immediately lead a charge of their colleagues into the thick of the litigation which she began on her watch, but which she has loftily left to others to wage -- until now.

No sooner had the demand been made than the assembled Bishops, under the direction of and following their Captain, immediately complied, mounted their chargers, and rode into the thick of the enemy's guns, oblivious to the forces of truth ranged against them on all sides, and the infirmity of the ground underneath them:
"Forward, the Lie Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd ?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Some one had blunder'd: 
"Blunder'd" is not the half of it. In her haste to air their charges before the full House, the Captain of the Lie Brigade overlooked a pertinent fact: thanks to the machinations of the two instigators, charges were already pending against the unruly dissenters before the Disciplinary Board of Bishops. That Board is made up of nineteen members, of which ten are sitting diocesans -- i.e., members of the House of Bishops, i.e., of the two hundred that jumped into the battle. By tomorrow (already today in Indianapolis), they will have spent two solid hours discussing the pros and cons of the charges leveled against the dissenters.

Thus they are now disqualified from sitting to review any of the charges as members of the Board, if the charges are carried to the next level. (Oops! Didn't think of that, did we, Captain?) But still, the troops soldiered on, under their spirit-guided leader:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the two hundred. 
According to the only report of the sessions thus far, the discussion among the Bishops was "warm." (Imagine what "heated" would have been like.) Oblivious to all the big guns of truth surrounding them, the Bishops took up the accusers' claims. (The formal reply of the nine Bishops accused of those claims may be read here.)
"So! You nine have betrayed us in Fort Worth! You 'represented that dioceses can leave the Church.'" 
"Well, actually not. Here's what we wrote in our amicus brief -- did you even bother to read it?
"The individual amici curiae submitting this brief are all bishops and clergy of The Episcopal Church....  These amici remain in The Episcopal Church and submit this brief solely because they disagree with the characterization of the governance of The Episcopal Church as submitted in support of the motion for summary judgment that the trial court granted in this case. The amici oppose the decision by the Appellants (“Diocese of Fort Worth”) to leave The Episcopal Church .... " 

"OK, so maybe you didn't. But then you 'denied the Dennis Canon and failed to safeguard Church property...." 
"You lie. Search the text of the brief: the words "Dennis Canon" do not appear in it. And 'failed to safeguard Church property?' Whom are you trying to kid? This is the property of a Diocese we are talking about. The Dennis Canon has no language applying to the property of dioceses.
"You people are each Bishops, with your own dioceses. Do you really want to argue, on behalf of your diocese, that it does not own its own property, but that it all belongs to the Church of your Dear Captain?"
[Stunned silence. No one speaks for a moment.] 
But then, blind to the truth all around them, the Lie Brigade plunged onward.
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the two hundred. 
"You recognized +Iker as the Episcopal Bishop of Fort Worth, not +Ohl; and you implied that +Morales is the Bishop of Quincy, not +Buchanan. You have betrayed the Church!"

"Not so fast. We didn't 'recognize' anybody. That's not our function. It's the Texas Supreme Court which has to decide whom to recognize as the head of the Diocese, not us. 
"And the last lawful Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, when your dear Captain filed her lawsuit, was, and is, Jack Iker. Your Captain lied when she claimed she received a 'voluntary letter of renunciation from him.' He sent her no letter of any kind. But you, the Lie Brigade, compounded her lie and played along. 
"In fact, you're still playing the lie today. You pretend that +Ohl and +Buchanan each leads a diocese, when neither of whatever it is they preside over has ever applied for admission to union with this Convention, and when this Convention has never taken steps to formally admit either as a diocese.  
"So don't accuse us of 'betraying the Church.' You are its betrayers, sitting here and pretending that All Is Well.™ The Church is dying before your eyes, and you carry on as though there's nothing wrong. What's worse, you turn on and attack the Church's real  defenders, who want only for it to return to the principles that guided its founders."

Flash'd all their sabres bare, 
Flash'd as they turn'd in air 
Sabring the gunners there, 
Charging an army while 
All the world wonder'd: 
Plunged in the battery-smoke 
Right thro' the line they broke; 
CP's and orthodox 
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke, 
Shatter'd and sunder'd. 

"Well, try to get out of this one, if you can. You violated their jurisdictions. Don't try to deny it." 
"Now, that is rich. First you accuse us of 'not safeguarding the Church's property,' and then you claim that the property is in their jurisdiction, after all? Which is it? In fact, your dear Captain was the first one to violate Bishop Iker's jurisdiction, come to think of it. Also, well before we filed our brief, your own attorneys filed one for the Church in the Diocese of Northwest Texas case, Bishop Ohl's old diocese. 
"At any rate, don't try to tell us about 'jurisdiction' until you have complied with Constitution and properly admitted their rump dioceses into union with this Church." 

Then they rode back, but not 
Not the two hundred. 
Cannon to right of them, 
Cannon to left of them, 
Cannon behind them 
Volley'd and thunder'd; 
Storm'd at with shot and shell, 
While horse and rider fell, 
They that had charg'd so well 
Came thro' the jaws of Death, 
Back from the mouth of Hell, 
Ten that were left of them, 
Left of two hundred.

Quos deus vult perdere, prius dementat.


  1. Could this be construed as witness intimidation? Isn't that illegal?

    David Katzakian