In its report of the recent meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church – in post-Katrina New Orleans, of all places – the Associated Press accompanied its article with a color photograph of several vested bishops taking part in a rendition of "When the Saints go marching in"!
Considering what had, or more importantly had not, transpired at that meeting, my first reaction on seeing the photograph was to recollect a poem by the late T. S. Eliot entitled The Hollow Men. On further reflection, and taking into account the visually gender-correct prominence of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in the front row, I was at length struck by the realization that the entire Anglican process of "compromise" since the publication of the Windsor Report in 2004 has been all too much like the re-arranging of deck chairs on the Titanic.
Although I have commended the Christian virtue of patience as we watch and pray during this time of a New Reformation, it is becoming more and more questionable whether the present Archbishop of Canterbury, in his repeated reluctance to assume the risk of prophetic leadership, is able or willing to see what is lurking in the ecclesiastical waters rising around him. But is there not now a clear irreversibility to The Episcopal Church’s institutional descent into apostasy? Even if the Windsor process has so far taken the form of indecision and procrastination, the imperative of decisiveness is now, with the collapse of any common witness on the part of the so-called Windsor bishops in this country, looming over us.
Those seeking to re-arrange the ecclesiastical deck chairs want to persuade us that the disagreements in the Anglican Communion are "really" about polity, power and the purse rather than doctrine, theology, and biblical faithfulness.
1. Nasty, Brutish & Short wrote:
Thank God someone in active duty—and with a collar—is saying this.
September 27, 4:58 pm | [comment link]
2. David Keller wrote:
Interesting he should mention “Hollow Men”:
September 27, 5:02 pm | [comment link]
This is the way the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.
3. Sherri wrote:
I was thinking the same thing, David Keller. An image more evocative to me than the Titanic for our present situation.
September 27, 5:34 pm | [comment link]
4. Paul PA wrote:
T S Eliot “Hollow men” - Fitting but….ouch
September 27, 5:45 pm | [comment link]
5. R S Bunker wrote:
The Dean, is indeed in active duty, and I am happy that Dr. Harmon has published something from him on this occasion. That God Himself is at work in Dio. of South Carolina one can have no doubt.
Thank you, Dean for your clear strong and reaffirming message. would that all our leaders were so clear.
September 27, 5:51 pm | [comment link]
6. Bob Lee wrote:
But is there not now a clear irreversibility to The Episcopal Church’s institutional descent into apostasy?
Doesn’t this say it all?
September 27, 6:08 pm | [comment link]
7. Judith L wrote:
I prefer another Eliot poem, Prufrock:
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker.
September 27, 6:44 pm | [comment link]
I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.
8. Pageantmaster [KJS to Coventry] wrote:
Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours
September 27, 6:53 pm | [comment link]
And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.
In this decayed hole among the mountains
In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing
Over the tumbled graves, about the chapel
There is the empty chapel, only the wind’s home.
It has no windows, and the door swings,
Dry bones can harm no one.
9. David+ wrote:
The collapse of any common witness on the part of the Windsor bishops in all of this is what disturbes me the most. I pray the Common Cause bishops have the faith and courage to take the ball and run with it. If not, then the future of orthodox Anglicanism in North America is finsihed.
September 27, 7:26 pm | [comment link]
10. Jim the Puritan wrote:
41 degrees 43 minutes 35 seconds North, 49 degrees 56 minutes 54 seconds West, 12,460 feet below sea level
—Present coordinates of the RMS Titanic
September 27, 7:29 pm | [comment link]
11. Robert Dedmon wrote:
Thank you, Mr. Dean.
September 27, 7:42 pm | [comment link]
12. Dee in Iowa wrote:
Is it possible the Windsor//Network bishops agreed beforehand not to make a minority report or say very much, in that CC meeting started the same day the HOB meeting concluded. Even if there wasn’t an agreement by the Windsors it is possible they are waiting to see how CC comes out…...bet me, they are being kept informed (Network Bishops)
September 27, 7:50 pm | [comment link]
13. Sherri wrote:
Pageantmaster - thanks for those lines.
September 27, 8:00 pm | [comment link]
14. Irenaeus wrote:
“The entire Anglican process of ‘compromise’ since the publication of the Windsor Report in 2004 has been all too much like the re-arranging of deck chairs on the Titanic”—-Wm. McKeachie
Not least because the chairs have been sliding in one one direction.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Between the idea
September 27, 8:55 pm | [comment link]
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
15. Irenaeus wrote:
In #14, make the first line:
September 27, 8:58 pm | [comment link]
Not least because the chairs have been sliding in ONLY one direction.
16. Stephen Noll wrote:
While we are quoting prophetic poetry, don’t forget Yeats’s “The Second Coming”:
September 27, 9:08 pm | [comment link]
“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold…”
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity…”
17. BabyBlue wrote:
In its report of the recent meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church – in post-Katrina New Orleans, of all places – the Associated Press accompanied its article with a color photograph of several vested bishops taking part in a rendition of “When the Saints go marching in”!
“When the Saints Go Marching In” is a hymn traditionally performed at New Orleans funerals.
September 27, 9:20 pm | [comment link]
18. Sherri wrote:
Stephen Noll, Irenaeus - it’s amazing how the poetry seems to fit the times, isn’t it?
In fairness, Baby Blue, “Saints” is played all over New Orleans at the drop of a hat *and* at New Orleans funerals.
September 27, 9:58 pm | [comment link]
19. Daniel wrote:
Following along with the Titanic theme - It Sank, Get Over It!
September 27, 10:13 pm | [comment link]
20. dwstroudmd+ wrote:
Apropos of the ECUSA/TEC, Daniel, very apropos. The Windsor bishops were lookout, radioman, and Captain, and also the crew locking the steerage doors to trap the lower class below decks (yea, I saw the movie and it’s rerun in NO at the HOB).
September 27, 10:59 pm | [comment link]
21. masternav wrote:
lol - I think perhaps these are the coordinates of the Titanic now:
September 27, 11:03 pm | [comment link]
lat: 40° 45’ 4.0068” long: -73° 58’ 17.598” and as close to sealevel as no matter.
22. Allen Lewis wrote:
In any case, it is certainly mischievous at best for anyone to try to lay the blame for schism on those, like the Diocese of South Carolina, who have gone so many extra miles in seeking to repair the breaches in the Anglican Communion which have developed and widened so relentlessly in recent years. After all, it is not traditionalists who have broken faith with the biblical teaching of the 1998 Lambeth Conference or two thousand years of Christian moral consensus. It is not we who have played fast and loose with the content of the creeds or the conciliar tradition of the church catholic. It is not we who have sundered communion and continuity.
While the Dean’s analysis of the present situation is pretty much correct, the above paragraph rather ignores the fact that those who claimed to be orthodox went along with women’s ordination in the 1970’s; they went along with the malicious revision of the prayer book in 1979; they went along with the liberalization of the seminaries beginning in the late 1950’s and continuing in this present day. The fact is, the so-called reasserters in this country gave away the ball 30+ years ago! it has been up to the Global South Primates to try to call the Communion back to orthodoxy. I sometimes wonder if this is too little too late.
September 28, 12:08 am | [comment link]
What would be the effect of the Global South effort today if those who knew better in the 1960’s and 1970’s had dug in their heels and started raising the alarm then, instead of playing pat-a-cake with revisionists and outright heretics like +Pike and +Spong and tolerating Louie Crew’s infiltration of the Executive Council and the other committees, commissions and boards with his LGBT allies? What the heck were all these “faithful witnesses” doing back then when something might have been accomplished. It is really too little too late now. The game is over, folks. Some people just have not figured it out yet.
23. Vincent Coles wrote:
An excellent piece - the best I have seen for months - which deserves to be circulated widely.
September 28, 5:23 am | [comment link]
24. clancy1928 wrote:
Ref. #22 While I agree with your view, I take some exception to the first sentence of the comment. Not all were culpable, as you suggest. The authors of the Affirmation of St. Louis were courageously principled and prophetical. The section titled Incompetence of Church Bodies to Alter Truth speaks very well for their defense of the faith.
September 28, 6:46 am | [comment link]
The Provinces created by this movement go forward today as the vessels of the faith handed down from the apostolic fathers. Have not the APCK, UEC and ACC done for 30 years what the Global South is doing now? Not perfect, not always pretty, but a righteous struggle all the same.
25. Larry Morse wrote:
I thought of Prufrock first too, but I was reminded of his comment that he had heard the mermaids singing each to each, but feared they would not sing to him.
September 28, 8:12 am | [comment link]
And I thought of the ABC and Prufrock’s questions whether he could eat a peach or wear his trousers turned and walk upan the beach. LM
26. Sarah1 wrote:
RE: “The fact is, the so-called reasserters in this country gave away the ball 30+ years ago! it has been up to the Global South Primates to try to call the Communion back to orthodoxy.”
Yikes—Allen Lewis, according to your definition of orthodoxy, the Global South Primates—at least the vast majority of them—are not orthodox either, so I am unsure how they can call the Communion back to orthodoxy.
September 28, 9:26 am | [comment link]
27. David Keller wrote:
#22 Allen Lewis—I have been thinking about your post ever since I read it last night. I understand your frustration, but I think it is mispalced. I have realized that what happened in TEC is much more insidious than I ever considered. When I was in my 40’s, my peak earning years, I was going to GC, serving on councils, commssions, standing committee, vestries, etc., etc., etc. Everytime I mention the theological drift of TEC or stood up at a meeting for orthodoxy people would roll their eyes and sigh loudly. I finally figured out why. As a professional, I was supposed to be spending that time earning money so that when my children got out of college, I could start giving to the various endowments, and when I died, at my funeral, a young rector who hardly knew me would say “How he loved the church”. That has been the TEC norm. In most places we send teachers, professors and government employees to GC, many of whom ended up going to seminary later on. You have no idea how many times the managing partner of my law firm, a conservative Epsicopalian, chided me for wasting too much time at church. The point I am trying to make is, many of us were trying to fight the good fight, but our conservative and orthodox lay allies weren’t there with us; and usually didn’t want to hear what was happening in TEC/GC. And for me , I was a dupe. My bishop and rector (and church) have totally marginalized me, and many others like me. There is plenty of blame to go around, but lots of us fought the fight only to come home upon our shields.
September 28, 9:34 am | [comment link]
28. stevenanderson wrote:
David Keller—exactly right in so many cases. And too many of us are allowing bishops and rectors to continue this marginalization. It certainly is true where I am. Vestry meeting agenda are not available, parish members can attend vestry meetings ONLY at the invitation of clergy or vestry members—and then only to sit still and listen—never to speak or question. Vestry minutes are four to five months in publication—long after most care or anything can be done about the actions recorded in them. And never, never, never any discussion—never even recognition—that ECUSA is in the crisis it is. “People might get upset.” And I allowed too much of it myself. Now I will withhold all dollars, including from the parish. I will no longer take Communion from the woman assistant who has been “ordained” (and is seen as so very orthodox). I will do all I can to distribute news within the parish so that at least my friends there can never say “Why, I had no idea.” And I can do all of this without being nasty in any personal way to anybody or about anything involved.
September 28, 10:47 am | [comment link]
And if, by the wildest chance, anybody (clergy, wardens, vestry, parish neighbors—anybody) notices the change (except that almost at once the dollars will be missed, though they will decide that I am out of town this week), I am ready to explain clearly, calmly and in my Faith exactly who I am and why I am doing what I’m doing (thanks in part to many of you and your comments).
Will any of this make a difference in the parish or diocese? Maybe not. But I will be doing what I firmly believe I need to do. And if it comes to only that, that is enough.
29. Allen Lewis wrote:
To all who responded to my #22, I wish to offer some clarification.
1) David Keller: I did not mean to say that no one tried to fight the theological drift. If I gave that impression, then mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, mea maxissima culpa! . I know that there were faithful men and women who tried to do something and were thwarted in that effort.
2) Clancy, #24: I am very much aware of the Continuum. Those folks had the courage to stand up and walk out when it was obvious that ECUSA was not going to pay them any attention. What did they get for their efforts? Scorn, derision and marginalization. It is a sad fact that for various reasons that group split up into many factions. But we should note that the ACC (Anglican Catholic Church), the ACPK (Anglican Province of Christ the King), and the UECNA (United Episcopal Church, North America) are trying to overcome their differences and present a united front. Perhaps there will be a movement toward unity there.
3) Sarah (Hey from Stand Firm?): from the standpoint that some in the Global South have accepted some of the “innovations” such as women’s ordination, then, yes, Houston, we have a problem. I know that some people want to maintain that WO is somehow different, but, let’s get real. If one wants to claim that “we maintain the faith as handed down from the Apostles and the Church Fathers,” then one must look at what came out of the Seven Ecumenical Councils from 325 AD through 787 AD. Not only was the doctrine of the Trinity and the two natures of Christ defined and refined, there were many Apostolic Canons promulgated for the maintenance of proper order in the Church. A men-only priesthood is part of that order. For the most part, Rome and the Orthodox East still honor those acts. Anglicanism used to do the same early on (and the ACC, APCK, UECNA still do), but the Lambeth Communion has drifted away from a lot of that. This is not to say that women can not and should not have leadership roles within the body, it is just to say that those roles do not include the priesthood. That does not mean they are inferior, it just means that God has assigned different roles for men and for women. It is time we learned to start paying attention to those differences and obeying what God has established. There is no vagueness about what the Church Fathers promulgated.
While the Global South has accepted some of the innovations, such as women’s ordination, they have done a better job of keeping the faith where the nature of Christ and the Trinity are involved. You gotta start somewhere. If the Global South can slow down and begin to correct the revisionist drift in the Lambeth Communion, then there will be time to deal with the other slides from orthodoxy. But, yes, eventually, women’s ordination will have to be recognized for the folly that it was. But keep in mind that the movement to vanquish Arianism and the other heresies which were the proximate cause for calling the Councils took many years to accomplish. But one has to start somewhere.
If you want to maintain that because the Global South is not orthodox enough “by my definition” - and please note, I did not give one, the product of the Seven Ecumenical Councils is good enough for me - then what you will do, is abandon Anglicanism altogether and join some non-denominational church or some other Christian body. Recovering an orthodox praxis in the Lambeth Communion is going to require a lot of effort from laity and clergy alike. It will take humility, charity, and a realization that all have fallen short of the mark. In saying that, I am not trying to pass judgment. Part of the intent of my post was to remind us all of what Dr. Harmon has said many times: we are all under judgment for sins of omission as well as sins of commission. By the way, I include myself in that number. I did not press hard enough for information. I did not raise my voice loud enough for transparency and accountability in my parish, my diocese and nationally. So I accept whatever culpability may fall to me in this crisis. I just felt that Dean McKeachie was going too far in trying to excuse the Diocese of South Carolina from facing that reality. After all, the bungling of the initial search process which resulted in the election of Fr. Lawrence, the shameful way that Bishop Skilton was treated, and tendency of SC leadership to keep things “hush, hush” is still with us, even in this bastion of orthodoxy. There are lots of lessons for all to learn here, myself included.
September 28, 12:42 pm | [comment link]
30. Sarah1 wrote:
Hi Allen Lewis . . . I had assumed that when you said this—“the above paragraph rather ignores the fact that those who claimed to be orthodox went along with women’s ordination in the 1970’s; they went along with the malicious revision of the prayer book in 1979; they went along with the liberalization of the seminaries beginning in the late 1950’s and continuing in this present day”—that you were defining a part of a list of things that definitely made people “not orthodox.”
Thus that those who held to WO were “not orthodox.” If those parts of the Global South [the vast majority] who hold to WO are “not orthodox” then how can it be “up to the Global South Primates to try to call the Communion back to orthodoxy”?
That’s all I was trying to get at. But it seems that you were not intending that list to mean that people could not lay claim to “orthodoxy” by their beliefs in those things. Or . . . maybe I’m misinterpreting your last comment?
September 28, 2:46 pm | [comment link]
31. Judith L wrote:
#25, Larry Morse, it’s just great to meet another Prufrock fan. For years now, I think of that poem whenever I read an official pronouncement from the HOB.
September 28, 4:28 pm | [comment link]
32. Allen Lewis wrote:
Sarah (#30) -
I think that WO is definitely a problem. If flies in the face of roughly 2000 years worth of tradition. It is certain that for Rome and the Eastern Church, that would imply a lack of orthodoxy. I personally think that it is an error, not because women are less than men, but because I believe that God intended different roles for the two sexes. Women’s ordination disrupts that order. I have no prolbem with women in leadership positions, but they do not belong in the clergy.
But we digress. Since the Anglican Communion is still, technically in a mode of “reception” regarding WO, it is possible that the several provinces may conclude that it was not such a good idea. I think the experience within ECUSA/TEC demonstrates quite clearly that it has been a disaster.
But as I have said before, you have to start somewhere. The GS Primates have definitely held the line when it comes to the authority of Scripture, Reason and Tradition. There is hope that they may come to see the foolishness of ordaining women to the priesthood. But for now, the important thing would be to keep the Anglican Communion from shattering. The attack on the Trinity and on the Nature and Person of Christ by the LGBT agenda needs to be stopped first. Then, perhaps, the issue of WO can be revisited. It takes time for these things to be worked out, and I recognize the difficulty of building consensus. I think that the Common Cause Partners are going to have their challenges in that area eventually. But for now, the thing to do is to create a safe haven from the ravages of TEC. For that purpose the Global South is orthodox enough. The rest may, or may not, come in time.
September 28, 7:40 pm | [comment link]
33. Ross wrote:
#32 Allan Lewis says:
I personally think that it is an error, not because women are less than men, but because I believe that God intended different roles for the two sexes. Women’s ordination disrupts that order. I have no prolbem with women in leadership positions, but they do not belong in the clergy.
If it’s not a matter of equality, but different roles—then what role in the church is forbidden to men? Not “uncommon,” not “would raise some eyebrows,” but “ontologically impossible for a man to fill”?
September 28, 8:06 pm | [comment link]
34. Allen Lewis wrote:
If it’s not a matter of equality, but different roles—then what role in the church is forbidden to men? Not “uncommon,” not “would raise some eyebrows,” but “ontologically impossible for a man to fill”?
The role of “wife” and the role of “mother” come readily to mind.
I gather from the way you phrased your question that you have fallen for the modernist idea that if one is not allowed to do “everything” then one is being discriminated against. This is sheer nonsense, and in more educated times, be recognized for the silliness that it is.
Frankly, Ross, your quarrel is with God. He set things up that way. I didn’t. Take it up with Him.
September 29, 2:57 pm | [comment link]
35. Ross wrote:
No, you happen to imagine that God set things up that way, and I disagree.
“Wife” and “mother” are simply the female equivalents to “husband” and “father,” much as “abbess” is the female equivalent to “abbot.” But in your mind the female equivalent to “priest” is… nothing?
I’ve never seen an “orthodox” argument for the exclusively male priesthood that doesn’t leap from “God made men and women different”—true, and obvious—only to touch down on some unfounded and highly questionable assertions about just what those differences are, before springing straight on to “therefore only men are capable of being priests.” I am unconvinced by this line of reasoning.
September 29, 5:15 pm | [comment link]