Philip Turner: Unanswered Questions on the ACI Email Leak Kerfuffle

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet

35 Comments
Posted April 28, 2009 at 8:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Hmmm.  Kendall labels this sad affair a Kerfuffle, while Dr. Turner implies it’s an outrageous scandal.  Maybe it’s something in between, but I do hope that Mark Harris+ at least is willing to answer some of these important questions.  As a member of TEC’s Exectutive Council, as well as a priest, I think he is honor-bound to justify his action in publishing those private emails.

Alas, too often both sides in this church war act as if the end justifies the means, or as the saying goes, “All’s fair in love and war.”

David Handy+

April 28, 9:00 pm | [comment link]
2. Fr. Dale wrote:

Susan Russell said the following on her website:

So now the word is out, the lights are on, the “men behind the curtain” have been “outed.” And now—in an effort to reframe the story from the lengths this bunch of division focused schismatics will go to split the church they have been unsuccessful in re-creating in their own image—they are (of course) blaming those who have turned on the lights—not those who have created the mess.

 
I don’t see these folks as “division focused schismatics” but if Susan Russell were candid and honest she would probably like the CP folks to leave TEC also. I don’t believe she could publicly state this, however because of the “inclusiveness” thing.

April 28, 9:05 pm | [comment link]
3. Crackers wrote:

As offensive as the publishing of these e-mail’s is as a straight up ethical issue, it is the total disregard for the possible harm it could have caused a good priest in a very hostile liberal diocese that really offended me.

No matter one’s position on an issue, causing personal harm is simply not an acceptable tactic to be used by Christians in a debate.

The priest outed in this case was put at real risk as his thoughts about alternative oversight were revealed to a decidedly mean spirited bishop. This poor guy is apparently the last guy standing in the way of his bishop’s total homo-sexualization of the diocese. I would imagine he is now under careful scrutiny at this point, and pretty much taken out of the fight.

It is also true, and sad to say, that this is the least of the down and dirty sorts of things the TEC agenda managers are up to these days. Threats, extortion, abuse of process, personal lawsuits against vestry members and clergy are daily weapons used against conservatives. Much of this is never posted on this fairly sanitized web site, but its happening.

This theological genocide going on in TEC has the same root cause Dr. Turner has pointed out time and again, the failure of bishops to exercise authority. That the Lilleybridges and Stantons refuse to insist on putting boundaries on the viciousness of their fellow bishops is the real problem in our church.

Unless our bishops begin to assert some self restraint and discipline among themselves, unless they begin to name unchristian behavior in their ranks, posting private e-mails will be just one of many destructive behaviors perpetrated against those who resist the liberal agenda in our church.

April 28, 9:44 pm | [comment link]
4. Crypto Papist wrote:

Not a “kerfuffle”. Truly outrageous. The bishop of Fr Mark Harris should have him in for a chat about good manners. But it won’t happen. The problem is that bishops are no longer gentlemen.

April 28, 9:46 pm | [comment link]
5. seitz wrote:

‘crackers’—Fr Theron Walker has already given his account of things:
I’m getting a kick out of the idea of being “outed.” I really find that hilarious!  I’m no camo-con.  I love to get in the ring with the bull, I love a good, clean, contest.  I love tilting at windmills.  I would rather have had the opportunity to learn more about PV, to have a real conversation with these brothers in Christ whom I trust deeply, to talk with my vestry, and my lay and clerical colleagues, and yes, my diocesan, before it became a blogoshpere topic.  And btw, the idea that these guys “outed” me for political gain is just crackers.  We talked because of a multi-year relationship, because CO’s bishop has made certain public statements, and because I’m no novice in this business.

So, the bishop and I enjoyed two long conversations yesterday.  I can say, we love one another with the love of the Lord.  My position with regard to the theological necessity who is my bishop is no secret.  I have published my thoughts on my own blog(http://walkerinthefield.typepad.com), and here at SF.  O’Neill himself calls the change in teaching an “innovation”, and we are in a time of “adaptive change.” He has publicly stated a commitment to “creating space” for the conservatives in his diocese.  Our conversations get heated, tempers flare, trust is spread thin like too little butter on too much toast, but a connection remains, and we usually manage to push through the emotional static and get to a meaningful disagreement.  Meanwhile, he is completely aware of my full compliance with the Constitutions and Canons of TEC, and my commitment to keeping them.  If I break one, it will be one created around marriage to hunt folks like me down, and that will be a Birmingham Jail moment (may I be found worthy).  All funds are carefully tracked, and even with designated giving, this pastoral sized parish is more generous than many liberal places.  Our by-laws fully comply.  We take great pride in being responsible for ourselves—we don’t want hand outs, or pity.  My position is, succinctly, I will not leave my post.  If I am driven from the parish I am blessed to serve, and if I am driven from this church I’ve given twenty years to, then I’ll go.  I simply will not divide the congregation I serve.  Period.  If I can’t take it anymore, that’s my problem, not theirs.  If they can’t take it anymore, that’s their issue, not mine. 

My aim with the whole topic of PV is simple: an incarnational connection to the church Catholic.  O’Neill is my bishop.  I gain absolutely nothing by making him look bad, by surprising him.  None of my people are interested in nuking the parish.  They do not want me to keep my head down and mouth shut, nor do they want our life taken over by “issues.” Some in my parish, some clergy and some lay people in the diocese, are interested in fellowship and charismatic gifts of a bishop who stands fully within the stream of catholic Christianity.  PV is a band aid, but band aids can be very effective.

I would caution anyone, left, right, in-between, about reading too much into this.  As has been said, the whole concept is not new, and its no secret.  Meanwhile, strategies get thought through, but aren’t necessarily acted upon.  Ideas are exchanged and considered that may or may not get legs under them.  It would be a wonderful distraction here, let’s focus on the people, rather than on the substance.  Meanwhile, I’ve got teens getting ready for a World Vision 30 hour famine, a building meeting to get ready for, and maybe I’ll watch an episode of Hornblower this evening with my 10 year old son.  That’s the good stuff!
“Outed”.  I really am laughing out loud.  Perhaps now I can stop living a lie and be who I really am, until I’m something else.  Thank you ACI and CP….

April 28, 9:47 pm | [comment link]
6. Crackers wrote:

Off topic deleted by elf.

April 28, 9:58 pm | [comment link]
7. First Family Virginian wrote:

The ACI Bishop’s Statement will most certainly be given appropriately serious consideration at the highest levels of Anglican Communion. 

Personally I think it a misguided position ... but that’s beside the point.  My opinion matters little on this subject ... after all ... I’m simple Episcopal Church laity ... having an education designed to fund rather than run the church.  I sit in the pew on Sunday—reciting the Apostles Creed with gusto—and participate heavily in terms of giving time, talent, and money. 

As for the e-mail kafuffle as Canon Harmon calls it ... if it is found to be a violation deserving of reprimand, it certainly won’t go unnoticed by the appropriate authorities ... although it might be dealt with a bit more discreetly than it would be here in an Internet blog. 

As for the e-mails and the choices made surrounding their being made public ... it appears that they are being given more attention than the actual ACI Bishops’ Statement.  To me ... it seems that too much is being made of what happened ... on both sides. 

For this reason, I propose that this entire incident be referred to—well, at least amongst ourselves—as Holy Water…(add brief hesitation)...gate.

Uhhhh ... that’s in response to question #3 and the “break-in” … be that break-in a literal incident or – far more likely—a figurative occurrence.

And please, if the elves determine my post is best deleted—this is pushing the limits for me so I don’t know how it will be received—please let it be known that it was a good-natured attempt … and was without words that might have been censored by the Supreme Court.

April 28, 10:05 pm | [comment link]
8. Intercessor wrote:

is it not the case that priests’ publishing the private emails of bishops is a matter of grave pastoral disorder?

Your Episcopal Church in a nutshell.
Intercessor

April 28, 11:30 pm | [comment link]
9. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “Seitz-ACI—this looks like Walker running for cover to me.”

Really?  Doesn’t look like that to me.  I laughed over his post—and it sounds just like him.  The amusing—but common by now—purple prosed, swooning-couch, lavender-water rhetoric from SR about people like the ACI and Theron’s Evil Schemes being outed and after they’ve both been perfectly, publicly, and in writing clear about their beliefs and actions I expect made Theron laugh as well.  And . . . I suspect SR has to smile herself at the High Drama of that kind of inflated, portentious, florid rhetoric.

It’d be a bit like my taking a portion of her blog and saying:“Revealed: Lesbian Progressive Activist’s Shocking Agenda Finally Outed—Desires To Make Church Parishioners, Clergy, All of Society Pretend To Approve Of Same-Gender Sexual Activities!!!!!!!”  Everybody would just roll their eyes and yawn.

Knowing Theron, I heartily doubt he’ll be “taken out of the fight” in the least.

I do have a slightly different take on the whole publishing of the emails. 

Unless there has been an illegal action—hacking of computers or something along those lines—I’m not certain I can respond with anything approaching moral outrage.  Mark Harris knows good and well that he’s in the fight of his life—he’s in a war.  The idea of appealing to some sort of “civility” or “honor” is frankly ridiculous, especially looking at the lineup of Executive Council.  Rather, one should expect brass knuckles, lots of foam flecks flying through the air, petty sniping, emotional retardation stuck at the age of 3-year-old boy, and theological incoherence.  I mean really—has anyone ever just posted the list of Executive Council with a few brief notes about their beliefs, theology, and past actions? 

And as such, Mark Harris will do all in his power, whatever he can, to combat anything he doesn’t approve of with regards to the church; he’s in a teeth-clenched, fingernails flying fight to win with his agenda.  It’s all in play and the sooner traditional Episcopalians figure that out [and after five years of Rich Clarity about that, it’s looking unlikely I guess] the better.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I would have been quite shocked if he had had emails and not published them.

The main thing I want to know is . . . who’s out there looking for the good revisionist emails, as they . . . well, you know . . . “fellowship” and “dialogue” one with another, never planning or strategizing, of course.  ; > )

April 29, 12:03 am | [comment link]
10. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

I have to say I was quite shocked by this.  Perhaps I am being naive. 

I read through the blog entries and time stamps. As far as I can see the first use of these stolen emails was on 4/21 by Mark Harris and shortly thereafter by his friend Simon Sarmiento.  There was comment on them and then extracts from the emails quoted.  The emails were then posted by Susan Russell [if her name on the pdf as author is anything to go by] to her church site and thereafter by the Washington Blade with an article.

Is this the standard we are called to?  For priests and church members, is the need to get one up on the opposition a justification of ends over means?  It seems to me that in the desire to win a short-term battle one loses the war if this is the road we go down.

This is very serious indeed and Fr Harris, Simon Sarmiento and Susan Russell need to answer.

April 29, 5:53 am | [comment link]
11. tired wrote:

“Is this the standard we are called to?”

Well, no.  But it is a standard of the executive committee of TEC.

BTW, I too find the concept of outing laughable - but then, I am not among the audience for the rapid and shallow breath outrage.  Perhaps the mounting “no” votes for KTF are causing radical reappraisers to question whether the eyes of the moderate institutionalists are wandering…

Perhaps these folks want to generate fear and outrage in order to secure their objectives at GC.

: - |

April 29, 6:39 am | [comment link]
12. Sarah1 wrote:

PM, I’m not sure that I agree with you.

How is this “very serious”—[I assume you don’t mean the actual content of the emails, since there was literally *nothing* in there that is a surprise to anyone on either side in the church who has been reading ACI essays for the past year]—and why would Harris, Sarmiento, or Russell answer anyone at all?  To what purpose should they answer any questions?  What would possess them to do so?  To whom do they owe allegiance?  I can assure you that it’s not to CP bishops or ACI clergy.

I think this merely highlights the two different sides that are in conflict within the church.  We’re in conflict.  Trying to deny that, or act as if people should behave nicely, while all the while they’ve been playing and winning the political game for the past 30 years, sneaking around, infiltrating, pretending to be one thing in the early days, gaining larger percentages, growing their cabal, etc, etc, etc is simply astounding to me.

These are the progressive activists in the church, PM!

Why should they now suddenly behave any differently from how they’ve behaved over the past thirty years, in being the trojan horse and taking over a tiny institution to suit their larger political goals?

Asking them to balk now at publishing a few paltry emails, when they’ve spent the last thirty years carefully evacuating words of meaning, substituting their own progressive meaning, and then proceeding merrily to destroy a formerly Christian institution while using its facade to cloak their efforts, simply boggles my mind and I can’t grasp the concept.

I think people need to learn to think of this conflict as a very very very very nasty divorce, while the parties are also living in the same house.  Think here of the black comedy movie, The War of the Roses.

April 29, 7:35 am | [comment link]
13. tjmcmahon wrote:

I mean really—has anyone ever just posted the list of Executive Council with a few brief notes about their beliefs, theology, and past actions?

Why, Sarah, there you go being divisive- suggesting that one’s beliefs, theology and past actions should be considered by the GC delegates when electing the executive council.  Next you will be suggesting such things should be considered in episcopal elections.

Pageantmaster- It is unfortunate that we now live in an age where one must guard one’s email account from one’s priest, co-workers, and probably from one’s own email provider.  Remember a couple years ago, ++Peter Akinola, Archbishop and a Primate of the Communion, wrote a letter.  What is remembered about the letter is not its content, but the fact that “investigators” got hold of a Word copy of the document, dissected it, reported every edit made in it, and, lo and behold, it was written on a laptop that was registered to +Martin Minns.  From which they concluded another right wing conspiracy.
As I said on Ruth Gledhill’s blog, what’s next?  VGR’s love letters? ++Peter Akinola’s phone bill? KJS’s college diary (ok, I did not have that one on Ruth’s blog, but I bet inquiring people would like to know)?

April 29, 8:00 am | [comment link]
14. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

#12 and #13 Sarah and TJ

In the cut and thrust, lines get blurred and the objective becomes all absorbing, information must be obtained and used, whatever its provenance, irrespective of its ownership, its nature or how it was obtained.  Winning becomes all.

Such a line of thinking taken to its limits led to the impeachment of Richard Nixon.

So yes, there are questions to be answered.

April 29, 8:11 am | [comment link]
15. Peter Frank wrote:

I’ve got to say that for those of us involved in the ACN, all of this looks a lot like where we were five years ago.  I’ll be praying for all involved in the ACI as they do their turn as “enemy #1.” 

What a sick, sick system.

April 29, 8:36 am | [comment link]
16. Sarah1 wrote:

Nixon and his people literally broke in to a headquarters and stole documents.

Unless you are saying that you think Harris, Sarmiento, et al broke the law, then I don’t think there are questions to be answered.  They owe absolutely nothing at all in the way of explanation, unless again they broke the law in which case I assume they would then owe the court.

April 29, 8:38 am | [comment link]
17. Fr. Dale wrote:

#12. Sarah,

I think people need to learn to think of this conflict as a very very very very nasty divorce, while the parties are also living in the same house.  Think here of the black comedy movie, The War of the Roses.

I agree with this comment and the ensuing outrage reminds me of Pope’s Classic “Rape of the Lock”. This is what #11. tired referred to with the following:

Perhaps these folks want to generate fear and outrage in order to secure their objectives at GC.

They are stirring up the troops with concocted outrage.

April 29, 8:47 am | [comment link]
18. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

Sarah - Dr Turner’s piece above summarises the questions:

1. Why would one publish, without confirmation by the parties involved, a thread of private and privileged emails that came from a source not previously known?

2. Is it not the case that priests’ publishing the private emails of bishops is a matter of grave pastoral disorder?

3. How can one confirm that the source is not lying about how the private correspondence was obtained, and that instead the emails were stolen and a convenient alibi provided?

Fr Harris and Susan Harris claim to have received the emails from different sources.  I have formed no conclusion as to whether the law was broken.  But should Harris, Sarmiento et al answer the prima facae allegation raised by their coming into possession of and use of confidential privileged correspondence posed by ACI?  I would say yes, although it is perhaps too early to say whether civil, criminal or ecclesiastical consequences are likely to follow or not.

April 29, 8:56 am | [comment link]
19. tjmcmahon wrote:

Pageantmaster,
re:14
I indeed agree with you that a serious breech of ethics has occurred.  It is certainly within the realm of possibility that a breech of the law has also occurred, as it is difficult to believe that any of the correspondents inadvertently addressed the email to, say, a blog, instead of +Mark Lawrence.  It may be that Mark Harris is innocent of any knowledge of how the emails
However, with the state of TEC being what it is, and given the history of recent years, I am not shocked, nor even surprised, that ethics are being tossed by the wayside.  In truth, I am not going to be shocked when the day comes that I read on a blog “Five years ago, Bishop X, asked me to hear his confession, and told me that…..”

April 29, 9:20 am | [comment link]
20. tjmcmahon wrote:

Oops, lost a bit of my number 19-
“It may be that Mark Harris is innocent of any knowledge of how the emails….” were obtained by his source, but as a matter of honor, he was obligated to inform the Bishops that he had them, and request their permission to publish them.

April 29, 9:24 am | [comment link]
21. miserable sinner wrote:

I’m mostly with Sarah on this matter.

I’m a bigger ACI fan than most.  But really guys, while the other side has formed into guerrila bands don’t be so offended as you are shot at while you stand there with your Red Coats and formed in line of battle on the open plain. 

I only know what I read on the blogs.  But, if you didn’t want this to get out, then control who you CC it to a bit better. Email encryption & electronic watermarking schemes exist.  Try some. 

It sure seems to me that to get the broadest number of possible signatories it got spread around to at least one bishop’s staff too many.  With all due respect, if you’re so shocked, maybe you don’t belong on the front lines.

As for Fr. Walker’s being outed, I say ‘asked and answered’  he’s not worried, so neither am I.

Now back to the merits of the arguments.

Peace,
-miserable sinner, (techie & lawyer)

April 29, 9:45 am | [comment link]
22. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Ethics as demonstrated in this matter are purely Voldemortian: “there is only power and those who are afraid to use it”.  Alas, no such fear amongst the Executive Committee - as in RCRC membership
http://www.rcrc.org/about/members.cfm - and emails.  Merely another exempla gratia in a long line of howlers!

April 29, 9:48 am | [comment link]
23. Randy Muller wrote:

How can one confirm that the source is not lying about how the private correspondence was obtained, and that instead the emails were stolen and a convenient alibi provided?

Assuming that nobody was bcc’ed on the original e-mail, the account of how the e-mails got loose (which is on Russell’s website) can easily be verified.  Any original recipient of the e-mail or the sender can look at the “to:” list and might be able to see which one is the mistake.

If the account is true, the original unintended receiver of the e-mail is apparently in Bp. McPherson’s contact list, and thus is known to him, probably through previous correspondence.

April 29, 11:37 am | [comment link]
24. jamesw wrote:

I am largely in agreement with Sarah.  A few pointers:

1) Nobody and nothing was “outed” by the exchange of emails.  They were revealed precisely BECAUSE they were confidential and the liberals counted on that fact alone causing the controversy.  The liberals knew that the ACI would get upset about private emails being leaked, and the liberals knew that their liberal constituency would lap up the “secret emails reveal sinister plot” story like a cat drinking tuna water.  But the fact remains that there was NOTHING surprising nor untoward in the exchange of email messages.  Had the ACI simply publicly released these emails the next day, nobody would have noticed or cared.

2. The TEC liberals have proven time and again that ethics and logic are not their strong suits.  So why be surprised at yet another example of it?  I have the greatest of respect for the ACI and CP folks, but they haven’t yet felt the full force of TEC liberal wrath and hijinx while the nasties Duncan, Schofield, Iker, et.al. were still there to be kicked around.  I agree with Peter Frank - this is deja vu all over again, and makes me think of what the Network was met with 5 years ago.  I am wondering how the CP/ACI group will fare under constant TEC attack over the next few years, and whether Rowan Williams will hang them out to dry (already seems to be happening) or whether the moderate/conservative non-GAFCON primates will step up to the plate.

3. Everyone in TEC who is not an all out supporter of KJS and her cronies and agenda, needs to EXPECT and PLAN FOR the liberals to do this very sort of thing towards them - on the national level, on the diocesan level and on the parish level.  Because the liberals ARE planning for US.  If we don’t plan for THEM, then we are being shortsighted and foolish.  We’re in a civil war, people, and while we might not like to be in that position, we do need to govern ourselves accordingly.

April 29, 1:55 pm | [comment link]
25. Choir Stall wrote:

I think that the rancor and lack of ethics (e-mail theft) demonstrates how truly worried the reappraisers are about this Church. They see threats at every turn. They can’t abide having loud dissent from their views and assume that schismatics are afoot rather than mainstreamers.
There IS worry. Deep down the Russells and Harrises of TEC know that their type of view won’t fly in the pews or ultimately pay the bills. They want indulgence.  They are worried that they can no longer say that there are “just a few” who differ. Now it looks like the bulk of the strength and vitality of this Church is ready to walk off and let these children tear the playhouse down around themselves.  Who are they gonna blame then? Can they sue HALF of the Church? Can they then explain WHY their views as theological/ecclesiological liberals have brought about the dissection of the Church?  Can they then be taken seriously by anybody in the Communion?
Nope.
They’re worried.
I can’t wait until they really screw things up at GC 2009. Wait ‘til they have a clear road to knock this Church down and the folks at home get word.
Deep down, they’re worried that they’ve gone too far, but they lack the honesty and courage to admit it. They’ve got to keep going to keep face, and they would rather lose the mainstream of the Church rather than admit that their lives have been pretty wasteful in this corner of Christ’s field.

April 29, 2:17 pm | [comment link]
26. seitz wrote:

I have read the responses on Titusonenine to the ACI posting ‘Unanswered Questions.’ A number of things needs to be borne in mind here (independently of comparisons with ‘the Chapman memo’ or discussions about whether one should just expect ‘reprehensible tactics from adversaries’ and so forth).

1. The public explanation from those who did this is that the emails were sent out by acccident or serendipity – and that the same person who received them passed them on to activists, very quickly; this second activity is of course fully premeditated and not serendipitous in the least;

2. How do we know—except for the explanation given by those who did this—that the story of happenstance sending is true, and not simply a helpful explanation for those who otherwise got these emails by a different route?

3. Anyone viewing the public roster of the emails can see that some have been omitted and that the sending to ‘dbme’ appears to be the rouge link to an outsider, though as some have been omitted, the general public cannot determine when or with whom this ‘dbme’ originated; for that, one must be a principal in the emailing;

4. This effort to rearrange and omit cannot itself be serendipity; neither can the dissemination to a secular newspaper, or to All Saint’s Pasadena, whichever of these precedes the other;

5. Mark Harris appears to be the first to publish select emails, and he defends his actions as OK because names are not named; why does he have need to defend himself at all; and why is his own version of publication (or his subsequent justification) not imitated as the emails get passed around in new forms, appearing in Pasadena and in DC, but with different time stamps? He also mentioned attorney Mark McCall and challenges his credentials, so at a minimum he is conscious of this being privileged information between a Lawyer and those he is in professional relationship with;

6. It is far from clear for those of us who have the actual emails—the entire sequence—in our file that an accidental sending is credible. The point in this is not to encourage speculation—there is enough of that already underway, as the selective list of emails is in the public domain. The point is that the explanation given cannot be taken as true without further evidence being provided, and up to this point the parties in question have chosen not to do that. That leaves us to try to find this out (a ‘chapman leak’ idea is not high on the list of possibilities; the disanalogy with a ‘Chapman memo’ is of course that the emails are not much of a surprise except for those who wish to say that this is so, in the shadow of a much more significant public posting of the statement; and, no one describes their possession of private emails as due to a ‘leak’).

The second point is that Mark Harris, Susan Russell, Simon Sarmiento, Washington Blade people, and likely many others tried to make this into a major ‘discovery’ when it was far from obvious that anything being reported was not already part of the public logic of ACI and CP, if they had bothered to read the original charter of CP or the papers of ACI. This means that we have a member of Executive Council, a leading Gay activist in CA, and others sharing and assembling a series of private and confidential emails, and justifying this on the claim that a secret source said they got them by accident. Why should people who are busy cobbling this all together be credible accountants of where they got them when they are prepared to work this way? Who is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)? Why does this person not respond when contacted? This person claims to have an email address close to that of +Bruce MacPherson (but not really that close, in point of fact). Fine, since they received the emails innocently, let them identify themselves. That might help rule out potentially criminal activity, and explain what up to this point, given the email sequence in its entirety, cannot be verified. It would not of course explain or justify the actions of a member of the Executive Council or his colleagues, who received private and confidential emails and did not confirm with senior Bishops in this church that they had got them by credible means or that they were accurate in respect of drafts, names attached, and so forth.

The very fact of selective publishing of emails, and of an anonymous justification by an anonymous (but well-connected) source, means there is more here than we can be asked to believe. At a minimum, this is very dubious conduct unjustified by the claimed ends.

Our Lord speaks of bringing things into the light, indeed.  Yes, please do.

April 29, 2:52 pm | [comment link]
27. Sarah1 wrote:

Pageantmaster [#18], I’ve been gone all day and am finally back from the coal mines.

But I’m going to continue challenging on this a bit.

You listed three questions—which I think are rather easily responded to.

Here would be my responses:

“Why would one publish, without confirmation by the parties involved, a thread of private and privileged emails that came from a source not previously known?”

Well, why not?  Why would I want to get “confirmation by the parties” when I’m quite confident that the emails are authentic, and I don’t like “the parties,” and their theology and agenda repels me, and when I think I see an opportunity to do their agenda damage by revealing their Dire Evil?

“Is it not the case that priests’ publishing the private emails of bishops is a matter of grave pastoral disorder?”

No.  Publishing emails that the senders wish to be unknown  is not a matter of “grave pastoral disorder.”  Obviously the writer may believe that.  But I doubt very much that the progressive activists in our church do.

“How can one confirm that the source is not lying about how the private correspondence was obtained, and that instead the emails were stolen and a convenient alibi provided?”

One can’t.  And why would one want one to?  The ACI’s opponents are certainly not remotely interested in convincing the ACI of anything.  The ACI can take the explanation or leave it—makes no odds with the ACI’s opponents.  The only way that I can imagine their being owed answers to fishing questions or the ACI’s efforts to discover for themselves what happened would be, I suppose, under oath in a deposition or in a court of law.

RE: “But should Harris, Sarmiento et al answer the prima facae allegation . . . “

Allegations are a dime a dozen.  I imagine they give the same respect or credence to allegations from their opponents as conservative Episcopalians give to allegations or accusations from the progressive activists.

I just don’t think that our opponents are responsible for helping conduct an investigation or convincing conservatives of anything.

April 29, 11:10 pm | [comment link]
28. Ephraim Radner wrote:

I’t s not clear to me, Sarah, whether you think that priests taking their bishops’ private emails and publishing them without their permission is okay because:

a.  they are able to to do so, it’s in their political interests, and they can get away with it (this would be a kind of pragmatic “all is fair in love and war, get used to it” point of view); or,

b.  there are in fact no moral-religious limits on such behavior (this would be an “all is fair, period” point of view).

I can understand the perspective of a.), but not b.).  Furthermore, if b.) is wrong, then a.) is instrinsically unstable.  I would argue that the moral dumbing-down of the church is certainly entailed by an acceptance of a.), whether one is a conservative or liberal.

April 30, 7:12 am | [comment link]
29. Sarah1 wrote:

Dr. Radner, it is not clear to me if you would 1) think it is wrong to publish the bishops’ private emails if they did not take them or 2) the idea that they took them, and then published them is the wrong thing in your opinion.

If they did not “take” the emails, was it wrong to publish them?

In other words, is the publishing of emails without the permission of the sender intrinsically wrong in and of itself as long as nothing illegal occurred in their acquisition? I don’t think so.  Were news only to be published upon permission of the object/key participant/creator of the news, we wouldn’t have any news at all.

If you will recall, someone published Kenneth Kearon’s little email tete a tete with his friend and ally, Louie Crew, several years ago, and I was certainly glad that they did.  It demonstrated what people had suspected all along, which was that the internal leaders in Canterbury were strategizing with the progressive activists in TEC.  That email alone meant that the staff simply could not be trusted, since they weren’t objective and in fact supported Crew’s agendas and goals.  I’m not certain what precisely these emails that Mark Harris published demonstrated that you folks hadn’t been clear about all along, in public and in writing.  But hey—the progressive activists are desperate and angry, and they needed to have something to wave about, and this is the best they could get.

The reason why both a) and b) are blurred I suppose is that 1) I do not think it intrinsically wrong to publish emails and 2) even were it intrinsically wrong to publish emails, I find the idea that the progressive activists would be interested in the ACI’s good opinion and thus interested in responding to the ACI’s questions to be simply astounding.

Dr. Radner.

The progressive activists in our church have done immensely immoral things over the past 30 years, while promoting their false worldview, and plan to continue on doing so.  That is what traditionalists believe and that is why we are in deep, broad, and long-standing conflict.  They have urged and promoted sexual activity outside of marriage—sexual activity that is physically, morally, and spiritually destructive to individuals and cultures.  They have lied—frankly and clearly—about God’s word written, claiming sometimes that He does not object to their beliefs, and then, when bolder, claiming that it does not matter what scripture says anyway.  They have lied about their adherence to the most basic of Christian concepts; indeed, one can hardly cast a stone without running over a lie by a member of the clergy about his beliefs—and when called on that lie, a resulting sophistic spin that would shock Plato.  And they have lied to individuals about their agendas while attempting to gain power.  Right now, we have one progressive activist bishop appealing his conviction of covering up his brother’s sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl, by publicizing her letters to the abuser.  We have another happily riding in a gay pride parade that flaunts and promotes the sickest of perversions.  We have a nominee for one dying diocese who does not even begin to hold the barest of Christian theologies.  And I could go on and fill pages and pages, Dr. Radner, as you could too; example after example after example archived in cyberspace.  And that’s just the bishops or bishop nominees, who have to maintain a higher standard than the clergy of our church. 

Furthermore, they hate—and I mean hate—traditionalists in the church.  They wish them ill.  They hope for bad things for them.

The idea, therefore, that there is some sort of veneer of “civility” or “rules of the game” overlaying this escalating conflict is—to use the word again—simply astounding to me. 

All that one can hope for is to maintain one’s individual honor and integrity and pray that God will allow one to not do wrong, and that His Holy Spirit will guide and protect one’s actions.

There is an offended sensibility about the publication of emails that baffles, confounds, and shocks me to the core —far far far more than the publication of trivial emails that demonstrate the progressives’ desperation.

I know that you have been in this battle far longer than I am.  You’ve been dealing with these people far more than I have.

So the idea that these are “men of honor” or interested in anything at all, Dr. Radner, but grinding your face into the dirt and striking it over and over and over and over and over until you stop doing what they wish you to stop doing and furthermore make you an example to the surrounding throng, so that others will never even think of doing what you are doing out of fear of the same thing is simply astonishing to me.

I had not realized until the past few days the extent of the differences among traditionalists concerning the nature of the people with whose ideas we are in conflict.

The differences are profound. 

I have said, I guess, what I needed to say on this thread, and have nothing more to offer here.  But I am leaving quite saddened and shaken, and it is not over the publication of emails.

April 30, 8:41 am | [comment link]
30. Fr. Dale wrote:

28. Ephraim Radner,
I do not believe that Susan Russell, et all believe they fit scenario “a.” or “b.” Their prime directive is to further their agenda.  Anyone who is seen as getting in the way is seen as unenlightened at best and “cretins” at worst. When she describes revealing the emails as

So now the word is out, the lights are on, the “men behind the curtain” have been “outed.”

it means that she sees this as preemptive justice.  When they see themselves in the position of victims that others such as yourself conspire against, any action is seen as justified and moral. Acquisition of power is also acquisition of security. There is no sense of guilt or wrongdoing.

April 30, 8:58 am | [comment link]
31. seitz wrote:

My purpose in #26 is not to encourage intense discussions of the kind Sarah Hey here indulges. It is simply to indicate the facts as we have them, the reasons why simple inadvertant sending are unconvincing, the obvious character of collusion (against a backdrop of alleged happenstance), the incongruity between what has been offered as explanation and the facts as we know them to be. I tend to agree with #30, but regardless, there are matters here that need to be set forth clearly so that the record of ‘what happened’ is not misperceived and then altered. Indeed, that is the worry that comment #30 gets at: the ability to create a virtual reality within which only one story is real: ‘injustice’ being corrected, or whatever. That is why we are not likely to get answers to these real questions. OK, but it is still important to keep the facts in front of us.

April 30, 9:40 am | [comment link]
32. optimus prime wrote:

Sarah,

In other words, is the publishing of emails without the permission of the sender intrinsically wrong in and of itself as long as nothing illegal occurred in their acquisition? I don’t think so.  Were news only to be published upon permission of the object/key participant/creator of the news, we wouldn’t have any news at all.”

There are a few things I must wonder about here.
1. Are you implying that we should order our Christian lives according a secular ethic (in this case, what makes news)?
2. You ask ‘is it wrong?’ I think that in this case publishing private emails in a public forum when in fact they were intended for private exchange and assume a context likely understood only fully amongst the recipients shows a lack of charity toward one’s neighbor (or I suppose enemy). Why did those who published these emails not directly confront the members of ACI or the Communion Partner Bishops? Are we not given Scriptural precedent for such a response? Or once again, are our ethics ordered by secular political agenda?
3. So yes, what was done is intrinsically wrong for it demonstrates an action contrary to God’s command to us to love our neighbors and our enemies. It is indicative of politics, not faith.  This in fact seems rather morally repugnant and indicative of willful actions stripped of Christian ethic and replaced with the will to satisfy political agenda rather than the will to submit to being formed according to Christ’s own image.
4. Having said this however, I also cannot buy into an ethic that says well they’ve done it, so should we; that is not a fruitful means of providing Christian witness as it simply continues to perpetuate, rather than address the destruction of the peace and order of the Church necessary for coming to understand God’s purposes for our lives.
5. As Christians - and I refer here both to liberals and to conservatives in this matter - our ends cannot justify means that defy a constant and continual witness to Jesus Christ. We will not be known for what we accomplish - Christ has already taken care of that - however we will be known and judged according to the way, the manner, the means by which we live into that reality.
6. To say “The idea, therefore, that there is some sort of veneer of “civility” or “rules of the game” overlaying this escalating conflict is—to use the word again—simply astounding to me,” is to live into a secular game of politics. Just because one group in a Church does not live with ‘civility’ does not give other groups within that Church the spiritual leeway to respond according to the new ‘rules of the game.’ We are called to respond, even to our enemies, to sinners, to those who do not know or have forgotten who God is, as Christ responded to us. That is what it means to be a disciple of Christ and that charity and humility is what must order our actions.

April 30, 3:46 pm | [comment link]
33. Fr. Dale wrote:

32. optimus prime,
This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday. Along with the trust of God as expressed in the 23rd Psalm we are comforted by the words of Christ as good shepherd expressed in the tenth Chapter of John’s Gospel. There is another passage however that echos what you have said. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.” Matt 10:16

April 30, 4:59 pm | [comment link]
34. optimus prime wrote:

Amen Dcn Dale!

April 30, 5:37 pm | [comment link]
35. Lapinbizarre wrote:

So Ben Franklin acted improperly in the matter of Governor Hutchinson’s purloined letters? 

Thanks for your enjoyable insights, Sarah.

May 27, 8:29 pm | [comment link]
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