Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ah, Houston? Houston, We Have a Problem ...

After trying and trying to soften or mitigate what follows, I have given up. There is simply no way to avoid an impression of, well, astoundment and despair from reading the answers to a radio station interview given in Sitka, Alaska, to ECUSA's Presiding Bishop on the occasion of her visit to the Diocese of Alaska. Perhaps I should have left well enough alone, and allowed the Master Fisker, Christopher Johnson, to take it on (as no doubt he will, in due course).

But again -- I simply cannot let what she says to the public pass without commentary, so long as she is enabling all the litigation against Christians who used to belong to ECUSA, and so long as she (implicitly, through her budgets) supports and sends ECUSA's money to abortion organizations like the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

The Bishops in the House of Bishops are not calling her on these things. Nor has General Convention. Nor has any Diocese, except for the ones that she has driven out of the Church. So I, along with the readers here at SF, shall have to do what they should all be doing. After all (see below), she encourages individual Episcopalians like me to contribute to the "tension and conflict" in the Church, because only in that way can the Church "grow" and become "creative."

Just think of what follows as one Episcopalian doing his part for his Church, in the manner she indicates below that it should be done. Here follows the main part of the interview, with my comments and responses indented and highlighted:

KCAW: There are often conflicts, or tension, between science and faith. How do you handle that tension in your role?

Jefferts Schori: Many in the general public believe there’s a conflict because of what they hear from very conservative Christians.
Oh – and not because of what they hear from Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris, or the mainstream media, or from Your Own Most Reverend Self? 
Right -- just from "very conservative Christians."
... I think it’s more a myth than a reality for many people.
Wait – “many” believe there’s a conflict between science and religion, but “many” also think the conflict is a myth? So who prevails, and how?
... There are two creation stories in Genesis, in the first book of the Bible, and they tell rather different stories about how things came to be the way they are.
When one has no more to say than “many think this,” and “many think that,” switch the subject.
... The first one talks about creation on six days of the week, and God resting on the seventh. And at each point during that week, God says “It is good,” what’s been created that day. God gets to human beings and says “It is very good.”
Not so fast – my Bible says that “God saw everything that he had made [not just the humans], and behold, it was very good.” So what about the rest of creation?
... I believe I’ve got a much richer view of the way things are than I would if I only used one of them.
Well, that of course answers my question. You surely are entitled to your belief – but you might want to be a bit mindful of the position (and responsibility for souls) that you hold.
KCAW: So many churches right now are experiencing schisms or division or difficulty dealing with a lot of current social issues, whether it’s gay rights, or even just theology differences between a congregation and its pastor.
Note that the questioner, who is otherwise quite good, buys into the entire “gay rights” meme – when no one, saints, sinners, gays or numismatists – has any “rights” to claim before God.
... The Episcopal Church is experiencing that; the Anglican church is experiencing that. Can those be avoided, or is that just a natural evolution of people and an institution?
There’s that “evolution” meme again – as though it were in the hands of others (Mother Nature? randomly colliding molecules?) than in God’s.
Jefferts Schori: I believe conflict is an opportunity.
Just like President Obama – don’t let a good crisis / conflict go to waste. But wait -- didn't you imply above that all the "conflict" came from those "very conservative Christians"? And so now the conflict they are causing is a good thing, because it brings an opportunity? For whom, and to do what? I'm afraid I am a bit confused. I hope you clarify your point here.
... It’s a sign of the possibility of growth and development, if it’s well managed.
Wait a minute, wait a minute – just who is “managing” this “conflict”, and who, or what, gave them the authority to do so? (Somehow, I don't get the notion that it's the "very conservative Christians.")
... If it gets too strong and too arduous, if it explodes, it’s not being used for the possibilities it has.
Hide behind the passive voice: it’s not my fault if it “explodes” -- it's the fault of those darn conservative Christians.
... If there’s no conflict, there’s no possibility for growth, because there’s no tension, there’s no invitation to look at things in a different way.
All right, let’s be charitable here, rather than dwell on the contradictions: growth comes out of tension and conflict. Sure, I can buy that on an elementary level: all living things compete for limited resources, and one man’s meat is another man’s poisson. But “invitation to look at things another way”? Again, just who is doing the “inviting”?
... We’re going through a time, as Phyllis Tickle calls it, it’s the “500-year rummage sale.” Every 500 years the church, or religious communities, look at the way things are and discover that something’s really not working.
You agree with that? Henry VIII engaged 500 years ago in a “rummage sale” of the Pope, because his marriage to Catherine of Aragon wasn’t working? (How did the Pope feel about that? -- oh, right: the "conflict" thing.) And the Catholic Church rummaged off Martin Luther, because it couldn’t digest his 95 theses? So that’s what’s going on!
... You referenced earlier the tension many people see between religion and science. That’s a conversation of the Enlightenment.
At least she’s got that down pat. But, wait – didn’t she say earlier that “many people” still think today there is a conflict, while “many people” today think it’s a myth? (Go back to her answer to the first question.) So are we still in “the Enlightenment”?
... We’re coming to a time when people are more comfortable with a variety of viewpoints, and that is in significant tension with people who believe there are only black-and-white answers in the world. We’re wrestling with that transition right now.
Oh, I see – we’re coming out of “the Enlightenment,” when those who are “enlightened” will leave behind those who still think in black-and-white terms. It’s a wrestling match, but she is confident: gray wins, black and white loses. That is one very perilous way to view God's revelations to man.
KCAW: So what’s the successful model for handling it? Jefferts Schori: The Anglican tradition at its best has always said a diversity of viewpoints is a sign of health, that none of us knows the fullness of the truth, but that together in community, we have a greater possibility of discerning something truthful.
Really – is that what Hooker said? Those whom I trust to read Hooker must have studied at a different school of theology – but then, of course, not many of them were deans.
... We’ve never been black-and-white thinkers.
Who is “we”, Your Reverence? Are you saying that Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, or Nicholas Ridley thought in a different mode from Thomas Moore? That none of them knew what was white, and what was black in terms of their theology, but they all thought it relative? (And “relative” to what, by the way?)
... We’ve insisted that dialogue and conversation is the way to discover and to discern more of God’s truth. It’s hard work, and it does lead to some conflict — that tension I talked about — but it’s creative.
Like the “dialogue and conversation” you engaged in with the parishes in Virginia? Or in Connecticut? Or In South Carolina? You have a strange notion of what constitutes “dialogue and conversation”, and I’m beginning to suspect your use of the term “creative”, too -- as in: who is doing the "creating"?
KCAW: I know a lot of people who profess to a faith, or some sort of belief, but are skeptical of organized religion. What’s the case you can make for why organized religion is an important thing in the world today?
A great question, by the way – but asked of the wrong person.
Jefferts Schori: I think we have to be skeptical of it.
Do you see what I mean?
... We have to insist that no human institution can ever have the fullness of the truth, and therefore there has to be possibility for questioning, for doubt, for push-back, or the institution simply ossifies. It tends to ossify in unhealthy, even sinful directions — that the person at the top has got all the truth and is going to tell people what to do, or it only answers old questions and doesn’t deal with new ones.
Please remember this answer for later: “no human institution -- and she apparently includes the Church Catholic, since she offers no qualification -- can ever have the fullness of the truth.” (And of course, she is right, as far as she goes. In fact, she is dead on, but doesn’t know it, when she speaks of human institutions, i.e., ones guided by the spirit of man, rather than ones led by the Holy Spirit. See what follows.)
... Institutionalized religion, if you will, that which binds people together (which is what religion means) works in a constructive and creative and Godly way when it continues to move and evolve. It has to.
Note that it is the “institutionalized religion” which continues to “move and evolve.” And who else “moves and evolves”? Man, that’s who – while I’ve never heard of God “evolving.” Is she saying that man's evolution is of one piece with that of the organized church? Or is only the evolution of man "mechanical"? (See above.)
KCAW: I think there’s a spectrum that especially Christian denominations operate on, from “the door’s open, we’re here if you need us,” to “we have to go out and save the atheists.” On a spectrum, where do you see the Episcopal Church? What’s the mission of the church, especially in terms of nonbelievers?
Once again – wrong person to ask. Just ask all those whom she has personally sued.
Jefferts Schori: You will find Episcopalians spread out across that spectrum. That’s part of our characteristic DNA. We’re not all in the same place.
“Characteristic” of our “DNA”? What about characteristic of our lack of spiritual leadership?
... But I think overall, the Episcopal Church is coming to understand its part in God’s mission to be present in the world,
Watch what she does with the passive verb of “being present in the world.” For her, the passive is really the active, because there is no Prime Mover other than man.
… not simply to expect people to come inside our beautiful buildings and find us there, but for us to be present and active as agents of transformation in the world around us,
“agents” of transformation – got that? It would be fine if she meant “God’s agents of transformation” – but watch what she actually says.
… toward something that looks more like the kingdom of God, shalom, a beloved community, where people treat each other with justice,
And who defines what “justice” actually is for any people? Aye, there’s the rub. Somehow, I don’t get the notion that she intends to leave that function to others than those who think as she does (i.e., forget those very conservative Christians, for example).
... because we see the image of God in our neighbors, and we understand that loving our neighbors means responding to needs and issues and pain and fear, and not avoiding it.
Fine – all well and good – but where is the acknowledgment that we and our neighbors are all fallen creatures, and need first of all to repent before we can be of true assistance to our neighbors?
KCAW: What does the church get right? Jefferts Schori: The church gets right the wonder of God’s creation, the beauty that is present all around us, that life is a gift, and therefore every human being whom we meet is a gift to be unwrapped and discovered.
The "wonder" of God's creation -- as (for example) a fetus in the womb? 
The Church gets that “life is a gift”? Really? A gift bestowed by whom? Is that why the Episcopal Church (USA) supports the Religious Coalition for “Reproductive Choice”, because it believes that life is a "gift" from one’s mother, which she may also withhold, as she chooses? 
Do you begin to see why someone needs to call her out on these hypocritical platitudes?
... The church gets right its understanding that mission means leaving the worship service to go back into the world to respond to that gift and opportunity in human beings, and the needs of the world around us.
I don’t think so – not so long as it encourages support of present-day abortion practices as a “blessing.” You might want to consult Dr. Gosnell – he used to live in Philadelphia, but I’m sure you can still find him.
KCAW: What does the church get wrong?
Once again: great question; wrong person to ask.
Jefferts Schori: The church gets wrong understandings that issues are political and therefore not significant to life as a Christian.
Was that a slap at the CCAB’s of General Convention? Who spend all their time debating “disinvestment” in Israel, the “justice” of the Palestinian cause, and all that other nonsense that General Convention wastes millions of dollars on?
... And that doesn’t happen everywhere, thanks be to God.
What about in your own Church? Can you be so blind to what the main "accomplishment" of each General Convention actually exemplifies?
... The church gets wrong a narrow understanding that we’ve figured it out for all time. The church gets wrong a tendency to believe that we’re better than other Christian communities because we’ve figured it out. We haven’t. We’re all on the road, always.
Yes – “on the road”, as in maintaining over 75 punitive lawsuits against fellow Christians in some 35 states, at a cost of over $25 million. But guess what? We have it from the highest authority that they still haven’t figured it out yet. Now, that should be reassuring.
KCAW: All the time, reporters ask you about science and faith and your background and schisms in the church and all the things I’ve asked about in this interview. What’s the question you wish reporters would ask you more often, and what’s the answer to it?
Talk about a softball pitch … watch carefully what she does with it.
Jefferts Schori: I think the question that people almost everywhere ask in the depths of their heart is “What does it mean to be a human being in relationship to all that is around us?”
Note that our “relationship to all that is around us” comes before she mentions God. (Just sayin’.)
And I think that’s the deeply spiritual question. Where do you find God?
I thought she’d never ask. But watch how she answers her own question.
Where do you find the presence of God? Where do you find God at work in the world around you, in the depths of your own heart, and how do you live a good life in response to that? KCAW: Is there an answer?
The best question yet – kudos to this interviewer for putting it to her straight.
Jefferts Schori: The answer, I believe, lies in membership in a community of faith. That’s what the church is for.
Wait, WAIT!! Didn’t she say earlier that it’s the community that is the source of conflict and tension, because no one has the right answer, and no one can agree? So to find God we have to add to the conflict and tension? How does that play out on Main Street? (“The Episcopal Church welcomes you: come and be a part of our tension and conflict -- we put the 'fun' back in 'dysfunctional'.”)
It’s to encourage and challenge us in relationship to continue to grow. It is the useful reason for conflict and tension,
“Useful reason”? By whose standards? Oh, that’s right – I forgot. You set the standards; the rest of us dissenters just add to the conflict and tension.
...because no one of us gets it completely. It’s in that tense, even conflicted relationship with another human being who disagrees with us that we find the opportunity to discover God at work.
Again (sorry to harp on this, but her platitudes simply invite it) – just as in all the lawsuits you are maintaining against those who disagree with you and your Church. And of course, I understand now why you make a point of suing individual rectors and vestry members – and not just for damages, but for punitive damages. It's all just part of the "tension." 
Be a sport, eh? That's the point of it? 
It’s all so the ones sued -- and those who give (and gave) the money used to sue them -- will finally see ... [wait for it: drumroll and cymbal flourish]

God at work." 

Right. Got that.

Over and out.


  1. We have the leader of a church which once proudly proclaimed you did not need to check your mind at the door spouting this nonsense, with no response from even one bishop. We have a president who flouts the law and blocks any investigation in a manner which would make Nixon envious, and virtually nobody objects. Nations do suffer fits of insanity, but one must at least ask whether there may be an element of spiritual punishment involved.

  2. You managed to find more contradictions and obfuscations than I would have, Brother Haley! Well done!

    But there is one thing I noted, which you did not mention (or maybe you did and I missed it). The Presiding Bishop seems to be very sure that SHE has the answers. It is implied in the way she speaks!

    So much for absoulutes being a no-no!

  3. Her Witchness is error personified. Someone trained in Science should have more acute reasoning and discernment of distinctions.

  4. Agreed Allen Lewis! She is indeed sure about *her answers. Alice - spot on. I checked out her background in science. Seems she did not do so well as a researcher either. She got her Ph D in Oceanography but left a career in science after a few years when she had a hard time finding funding for her research. This was at a time when AIDS research was going great guns and everyone and their brother were trying to find a link to AIDS or HIV to compete for funding for their project. So hardly stellar credentials for a scientist.

  5. No mention of a personal relationship with God, no mention of salvation and sin, no mention of humility or the authority of Jesus over HIS church (not yours, Madam Bishop). If this is all that The Episcopal Church has to offer, no wonder folks are staying in bed with coffee and the paper on Sunday mornings.

    Was there ever and office of, The Pastor, approved of or mentioned in New Testament Scripture? No, there was not. There was no single pastor appointed as the authority over any local church congregation.

    The word pastor is mention one time. (Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, (NKJV)
    Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, (ESV)

    Pastors were shepherds. Bishops, elders, and overseers are one and the same; and they were the pastors or shepherds.

    1 Timothy 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; (NKJV)
    1 Timothy 3:2 So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. (New Living Bible)
    1 Timothy 3:2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (New International Version)

    Titus 1:5-7....appoint elders in every city....7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, (NKJV)
    Titus 1:7 Since an overseer manages God's households, he must be blameless--not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.(NIV)
    Titus 1:7 An elder is a manager of God's household, so he must live a blameless life. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered; he must not be a heavy drinker, violent, or dishonest with money. (NLT)

    Acts 20:17,28 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 28 "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (NKJV)
    Acts 20:28 Pay attention to yourselves and to the entire flock in which the Holy Spirit has placed you as bishops to be shepherds for God's church which he acquired with his own blood. (God's Word-Translation)

    Notice that the apostle Paul called for the elders (plural), he did call for The Pastor (singular).

    Acts 14:23 So when they had appointed elders in every church,and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

    The apostle Paul and Barnabas appointed elders (plural) in every church congregation. They did not appoint a pastor (singular) in every church congregation.

    Elders, bishops, and overseers are the same office and their responsibilities were to pastor or shepherd the individual church congregations.


    Men today like to called Reverend Pastor.
    Reverend means awesome. So they want you to refer to them as Awesome Pastor.

    Psalms 111:9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name. (KJV)

    The Lord has earned the right to be called reverend (awesome).
    Is there any man that has earned the right to be called Reverend (awesome) Pastor?



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  7. Finished my third reading. Randomly colliding molecules near the tar-pits have allowed me to deduce that the Shepherd of this wonderful space and every responding poster to this blog entry all have substantially more intelligence that the madwoman who thinks herself wise and anointed in all matters sacred and/or secular.

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