Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Anglican Theater of the Absurd

With thanks to Elizabeth Kaeton, from her blog "Telling Secrets:"

Well, with this latest article from Archbishop Peter Jasper Akinola, Primate of Nigeria, we have now officially entered the Anglican Theater of the Absurd.

First, the last minute, last ditch effort to get us invited to Lambeth in 2008 by calling a Joint Session of House of Bishops and Deputies and then sending the Presiding Bishop Elect just before the House of Deputies vote to twist our arms even further (the tea and crumpets must be exquisite, they come at such a high cost).

Then, +++Rowan says, "Hmmmm . . . maybe, maybe not," and, as we dangle in the wind for a while, he floats his "Covenant" plan, which is no more than an Anglican Communion-wide "Upstairs/Downstairs" maid arrangement the British are so good at devising - which is really designed to keep the British in firm control.

Then, some of the African bishops, meeting in Kampala, in a letter demonstrating amazing restraint, say, "Thank you. Don't call us, we'll call you."Now, with this missive, Akinola not only rejects +++Rowan's plan (clearly seeing it for what it is), but produces a final, new, all-time low blow (he must be taking lessons from David Virtue) and calls the Episcopal Church a "cancerous lump in the body."

But wait, there's more! Akinola, who professes to know EVERYTHING about being Evangelical and Conservative and Orthodox and (like Pat Robertson) CHRISTIAN (for goodness sake!) is brash and arrogant enough to tell the flippin' ARCHBISHOP OF flippin' CANTERBURY what it means to be an "authentic" Anglican! You just can't make this stuff up!

I note, however, that Sunday's New York Times article by Laurie Goodstein, carried the headline: "Episcopalians Shaken by Division."Are you kidding me? Episcopalians 'shaken'? Never! Like a good Episcopal martini, we are stirred, but never shaken! We may be a "cancerous lump" but we do know enough not to bruise the gin.

I don't know about you, but I'm just sorry that, after the history of this time in the life of the church is written, I probably won't be around to see the movie version.

My vote is to let the guys at Monty Pythons' Circus to have at it. The updated version of their classic swipe on Christianity, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," should prove to be hysterical.

Samuel L. Jackson would get my vote to play his role. Can't you just hear his roar? Ben Kingsley should play +++Rowan - he does complex but dignified suffering so well. Meryle Streep should play ++Katharine - because, well, like Katharine, she's simply the best there is. Michael Cain should play ++Frank, although Clark Gable would have gotten serious consideration. Can't you just hear him saying to ++Katharine, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." I should stop now. I'm already limp with laughter. Besides, I have no doubt that the comment section will be jam-packed with casting suggestions.


Texican007 said...

A certain element has smart-alec confused with clever.


"a certain element?" ... is that like "manner of life?"

Anonymous said...

" is brash and arrogant enough to tell the flippin' ARCHBISHOP OF flippin' CANTERBURY"

But it is not "brash and arrogant" to use the word "flippin'" twice in reference to the ABC? My children even know that flippin' is just a not so creative substitute for the other "F" word. (and that there is a good chance to get their mouths washed out with soap!) It is good to see that Rev. Keaton fights with class. Apparently TEC brings out the best in all of us.

Ellie Finlay said...

The previous commenters need to get over themselves. Susan, you post was spot on. The current situation HAS turned into the theater of the absurd. And I don't think you could have expressed what you were trying to say adequately WITHOUT using the word "flippin'". In addition to being a euphamism for the other "f word", it also indicates an utterly disbelieving emphasis. The very idea of Akinola explaining to ROWAN WILLIAMS what it means to be Anglican is beyond absurd.

Well done!

Anonymous said...

Now that the great actress Anne Bancroft has passed on, I vote for Edie Falco (with dyed hair) to play Elizabeth and Glenn Close to plat Susan and Mariska Hargitay to play anybody. And can I hang out on the set?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Edie flippin Falco as me? Get flippin outta hea! Even with flippin'dyed hair, she'd be flippin' FABULOUS! And, soooo me, if I must say so, my flippin' self.

That scene from last year's episode where she flippin' confronted Tony! Was that not flippin' worthy of a flippin' Oscar?

Every flippin' battered woman in the flippin' USA and on any ship at sea flippin' understood completely.

She is flippin' amazing.

Glen flippin' Close is a bit too old to play Susan (we'll talk later about compensation for saying that publicly, Suze).

There! Have I used "flippin'" in as many inappropriate ways as I possibly can?

You know what, Laura - whoever you are (and, it seems to me, the greatest vitriol these days comes from "anonymous" sources. Hmmm... how hard must it be to sling mud anonymously over a wall?

Suddenly I feel very much like I understand Malcolm X when he taked about being "bamboozled, swindeled" by the White man.

I'm angry and hurt.

I'm angry and hurt by good, noble, devote Christians who voted for B033 because they REALLY TRUELY believed it might make a difference - for ++Katharine, for Rowan, for +3 PJA (self-proclaimed archbishop, metropolitan and primate), indeed, for the Anglican Communion.

alas, it hasn't.

I'm angry and brash and perhaps even a tad arrogant.

You will excuse me, please for being a priest who is human.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

I vote for Dame Judy Dench for Susan, Sally Field (a la Sybil) for the flippin ABC, and Darth Vader for Peter Akinola.

We'll need to lighten it up a bit, though, and so we'll want a big musical drag number to make sure that we meet the stereotype and we can put Leslie Jordan in the part of Katherine Jefferts Schori and Lily Tomlin in the part of Gene Robinson. They'll sing a whimsical but poignant number about the humanity of living in a world that doesn't understand them, which will leave us all laughing on the outside but also wiping just a little tear of sympathy as we leave.

It'll be wonderful.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

OK, I've thought again. Even though it doesn't match the drag theme, Leslie Jordan is going to have to play Gene. I'll have to think of somebody else to play Schori. Maybe Mr. T in drag. I think that works better anyway.

Texican007 said...

There are still many religious who exhibit a measure of piety and that is a good thing. God-willing others will find some. Surely one needs leave behind anger, sarcasm and egotism when they try to be more Christ-like.

Jeff Martinhauk said...


Piety can be also confused with taking oneself too seriously.

God does have a sense of humor.


Texican007 said...


don't post anything on the Susan Russell (president of Integrity)website ("inch at a time")

she uses an attack dog named Jeff Martinhauk, who will write emails to you in vulgar language threatening you with lawsuits and telling you that he's got a bead on your computer internet number or whatever that is. this will happen even if your postings include no hostile language or anything else to which an ethical person could take exception.

"God does have a sense of humor"

You know this how?

Anonymous said...

I 'flippin" love Elizabeth Keaton....and the more she flips, the better. After all, priests are people too.

How about Sissy Spacek to play Susan?

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Elizabeth, for your kind response. It is good to see Christ-like behavior alive and well in TEC.

I have no problem with a little sense of humor...I am even ok if I am the brunt of it. but I would like to think that a priest that represents our church, and who's main goal is to lead people to Christ would be more concerned on portraying a Christ-like attitude in actions and words...especially words that can be read all over the world.

You know- I am hurt and angry too. I have feelings about all that is going on- just the same as you do. (just because they are differing opinions doesn't change that I am hurting about this also)I get that you are human...do you get that so am I? There is no need to attact me, use "flippin'" to describe someone in our church that you are fighting awefully hard to stay in communion with, or be rude. I get you are upset. The question is can you be upset and still be respectful?

I am not sure why you attacked me for posting anonymously- I always put my name on any post. Just because I add my last name isn't going to make you know me any better. But I am not ashamed for you to know. I am proud to be a member of the Diocese of Central Fl, and worship at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke. (I know- alot of groaning going on right now) So if by adding my last name I will help you in some way, I will try.

My heart breaks for this church that I love. but I will work every day to behave in a manner that will reflect Christ to all, regardless of the situation. That is all I was asking of you to do as well.

Anonymous said...

The absurdity begins and ends in the attempt to redefine 4000 years of Jewish/Christian teaching to conform to current errant American hubris. After that bit of absurdity, it is very difficulat to find competitors. Not that I don't appreciate the irony of attributions here, you understand.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I think Ed Begley, Jr. should play the role of Griswold. His acting abilities include being able to play commanding roles while at the same time displaying acquiesence.

Gerald McRaney should play Bishop Howe. He should be able to do that well, especially as his wife is from Orlando (I went to school with her as we lived down the street from each other!).

Anonymous said...

To Laura:
You might be hurting because the Episcopal Church is going in a direction that you don't agree with and that's fine you are entitled to your feelings. However, that is not quite the same as hurting because you are not fully included in the church or society because you are gay or lesbian. I ask you to think about how you would feel about the church, or the people in the church, if you were not fully included. The passage of B033 further emphasizes that the lives, ministries, and partnerships of gays and lesbians are still not fully accepted by the church.

Catherine said...

Inked, would you look in a mirror and say that? Then you would be accurately addressing the right audience.


Catherine said...

I think Alison Janey should play +Katharine, Sharon Stone as Susan+,
yes, Leslie Jordan as +Gene, Michael Cain definitely as ++Rowan, and Ice T as +Peter Akinola. Now were could we fit in Ellen DeGeneres??? And Harry, Curly and Moe could play any assortment of reasserter bishops you choose.

Playing make believe is fun! Too bad the reality sucks but then it can be changed too, into something positively radical like Jesus would do!

Catherine said...

Elizabeth Kaeton is a mighty fine writer as well as priest. WE can be called to do more than one thing, ya know!

Mike in Texas said...

texican007 said: "don't post anything on the Susan Russell (president of Integrity)website ("inch at a time")"

Texican007, I would to suggest that you follow your own advice.

Catherine said...

"Amen" to Mike in Texas! Isn't strange that they don't follow their own advice>

Mike in Texas said...

Yes, Catherine, it is very strange.

Unfortunately, it is also very common.


Jeff Martinhauk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Texican007 said...

I was just wondering who J. Martinhauk was. It took only a nano second to find that information and a lot more all over the net.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Laura -

I can explain why I call the ABC the "flippin'" ABC.

I do it out of exasperation. I do it because I think he has abdicated his role.

I do it because I think that instead of finding multiple, parallel paths forward, he has capitulated to the right and is seeing solutions through a singular lens.

Think of the God which passes all understanding and those which follow him like the elephant and the blind man. Each person has a different experience. Each person knows that his or her experience is correct. But God, like the elephant, is bigger than any of the people individually can comprehend.

It is the ABC's role to ensure that none of us get too stuck in our own perceptions to get mired down in a singular viewpoint. His last "edict" does just that. And, out of exasperation, I will say the "flippin" ABC because he, taking this position, does not choose to remain in a position where he can ensure that all of the people who have touched the elephant can have their view heard. Instead, he chooses to place priority over the view most similar to the view that follows process, rules, and regulations for being heard.

It can be quite an extraordinary event, when in the history of discovery of this elephant- the smooth, and known surface of the torso- an ear is found. Or a trunk. Or whatever. It can be jarring for those that haven't yet felt it. Maybe they would rather not hear about it.

It is the ABC's job to ensure not that everybody feels it but that everybody stays at the table to discuss it. That's not what he is doing. He is not doing his job.

And that's why I say flippin.

Texican007 said...

I just wondered who J. Martinhauk was. It took a nanosecond to find that info and a lot more all around the net

Jeff Martinhauk said...


I won't answer to the post, which you have copied from David Virtue's site.

The readers here are smart enough that they can search for it themselves, remember who the poster is, what he was posting, and the history of what we had to go through on this site to remove his pornographic posts so that we could continue in our conversations.

They also know my character enough to know what of his posts could be true, and what of his character would be false characterizations of me.


Anonymous said...

Ummmm.... why are you All Saints folks leaving out Bradley Whitford from West Wing (Josh)? Surely there's a role for him?!?

He'd be yummy in a collar (clerical collar, of course!). Maybe he could "play for our team" ;-)

If I'm going to have to watch "Anglican Communion - The Movie" then I'm going to need some eye candy!

Texican007 said...

Know what? I'll just say what I have to say and leave this icky place.
You think you are going to use our church to somehow sanction what you and I both know is repugnant to God, and you think you can change Holy Scripture while you're at it. You think Ecusa is a perfect target because most Episcopalians are kind and accepting people. You nor I may live to see it, but at the end of the day God's people will inherit the kingdom. Male and female created He them. Those who don't fear God should be doubly fearful for their souls.

Anonymous said...

Ooh! There's gotta be a role for Jodie Foster in there somewhere!

Anonymous said...

"Mace Windu" for Peter Akinola? Sounds good to me.


Trey said...

Just a view from the cheap seats:

We need to figure out a way to communicate with each other so we can understand each other's point of view and try to figure out a way to reconcile them ALL while understanding that God loves us all, the same amount, not matter who we are.

I understand the passions involved in the discussions and the need (desire?) for curse-like (or is it curse-lite?) words to describe that passion. I don't believe any of these words are meant to malicously denigrate anyone, especially the ABC, but are used out of a sense of frustration and despair.

I think the frustration and despair that many feel lends itself to the humor being offered. Sometimes when we can't cry, we can still laugh. And I think that is what a lot of people are doing right now. If we don't laugh, we will surely cry.

The ABC has asked for a time of reflection and I truly think we all need to take a step back and think about how our actions, and words (in anger or jest), effect each other. Regardless of our positions on these issues, we need to figure out a way to love each other, and express that love, or we will never be able to be truly in Communion with God, much less the Anglican community.

I'm new to this discussion so I'll apologize if I've offended anyone.

May the Love of Christ be with you all.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Trey et al-

Isn't this Susan's blog?

If she wants to offer a sanctuary for those of us who want to laugh instead of cry, doesn't she have that right?

If those who are offended by the laughter, or the frustration, or the exasperation, cannot take it, why do you come?


j - aka Susan's attack dog, although she never sanctioned me as such and my "dog name" is Fifi

arf arf (and I say that in that yappy little fluffy dog annoying bark)

Anonymous said...

I'm curious about something, and I'm completely serious about my inquiry. Perhaps, Laura, you'll be kind enough to address my question?

It's easy for me to understand why GLBT persons would be hurt and angry. The lack of full inclusion into a church that one loves is extremely painful.

What I don't understand is why persons on the opposite side of the debate claim to be hurting. I'm not being snide. I really don't get it. So we have a gay bishop? How does that cause you pain? Frustration, maybe. But pain and hurt? You're not losing anything. You're not being kept from anything.

Please, help me understand.

Anonymous said...

Jeff said
"I do it because I think that instead of finding multiple, parallel paths forward, he has capitulated to the right and is seeing solutions through a singular lens."

That's the crux of the problem...the other side thinks that there is only One Path. we can no longer be at the table because there is nothing more to discuss. We have two different religions. We need to go our seperate ways. And that is what he was leading up to. We can't stay at the table forever. Neither side is willing to give enough to please the other, so it is time. As sad as that may be.

Anonymous said...


You are more than welcome to stay. I don't have a problem with you being in The Episcopal Church. Please note that you said:

"we can no longer be at the table because there is nothing more to discuss."

Hmmm... 30 years ago General Convention passed a resolution that gay and lesbian Episcopalians ..."are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the Church." Considering I was present at your Cathedral several years ago when Bishop Howe proclaimed that "gay people are not children of God" I have to say that I just don't buy the "pain" comments... especially coming from people who aren't excluded from anything yet don't hesitate to exclude others even though official church positions state otherwise.

"We have two different religions."

Laura, stating that those of us who advocate our church fulfilling its promise of full and equal claim for gay people puts us in a different religion is a desperate attempt to justify taking away our plates at the table... a table that doesn't even belong to you. Frankly, Laura, I've been to churches around the world that are part of the Anglican Communion... many of which are very conservative. None have been as unwelcoming and hostile as what one encounters in the Diocese of Central Florida.

"We can't stay at the table forever. Neither side is willing to give enough to please the other, so it is time."

Laura, what part of "full and equal claim" have you not understood for the past 30 years? We don't have to give anything away, Laura, because there is nothing for us to give away. We have been promised for 30 years a "full and equal claim". If you thought that was just window-dressing and not serious business then that is something for you to deal with. Please don't place the blame on LGBTQLMNOP Episcopalians.

And last, but not least, Laura, First United Methodist Church (which is down the street from your Cathedral) has a substantial number of Episcopalians who go to that Methodist church because they've been told by your clergy that they aren't welcome. And boy, do they tell stories about you at Sunday School!

Hiram said...

Jeff said, "Think of the God which passes all understanding and those which follow him like the elephant and the blind man. Each person has a different experience. Each person knows that his or her experience is correct. But God, like the elephant, is bigger than any of the people individually can comprehend."

I was in my early teens when I first heard "the blind men and the elephant" analogy. To a degree, it makes sense. It is also true that God is beyond human comprehension; our minds are not big enough to understand the fullness of God.

But this analogy fails on two points:
1) Who has the privileged position of being able to see the whole elephant at once, and thereby know that the many and various partial views of God are simply parts of the whole? I think it is quite a claim to be able to say, "Every one in past ages got merely a glimpse, but I/we have seen the wholeness of God."
2) Every historic religion has said that something is wrong with humanity, and the historic Christian faith says that the problem is a darkened and rebellious heart -- or as Luther once said, "The human heart is an idol factory." Human beings do have spiritual experiences -- but these experiences can be false. Some of the blind may indeed be examining an elephant -- but others may have hold of a tiger.

I keep coming back to Scripture -- God's message to a rebellious humanity, given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through prophets and apostles, and validated by the Lord Jesus, who used Scripture as his highest authority: "It is written..."

Anonymous said...


I do look in the mirror and say that every day. Which is why I have an objective view of reality involving history, reason, and scripture and am delivered from the purely subjective attribution of my emotions to the Holy Spirit. In the Anglican Communion outside of the decadent Western pretense to inspiration from politicism, there is a constant appeal to that objective reality. Alas that pure subjectivism and self-aggrandizement to attempt to deconstruct all that should triumph however briefly! But there's good Biblical evidence that such has occurred previously and returns to the Faith once delivered has triumphed. Elijah and Baal come to mind, for instance.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Hiram -

You've misunderstood me. To continue the blind men and the elephant analogy, I have not said anywhere that I have understood "the entire elephant" or that I believe anyone has. Quite the opposite- that is the entire point.

AND- I believe that the orthodox have, out of the idol factory you mentioned, turned Scripture into an idol, believing it to describe the entire elephant. The Bible helps us to understand how people have historically seen the elephant, helping us to build out the picture but not to complete it. Even then because it is so rich and textured we can walk away with different understandings of those historical views. And reading it just your way is only one view of the elephant. Reading it my way is viewing it from another angle- filling the picture out more completely.

Laura got it closer here when she said that the orthodox believe their picture of the elephant is complete. I believe in one "elephant", but not one singular view of the elephant.

Your view of the elephant and my view of the elephant may well both be proper views. We don't know, because neither of us has seen the whole elephant. But that doesn't give you cause to say that my view is inappropriate or incorrect. You have not seen all that I have seen, nor vice versa.

That is my point.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that we have this whole "bible is an idol" and "words are an idol" argument whenever anyone who is orthodox wants to express the orthodox view. Suddenly the meaning of words and the meaning of scripture are changed to fit the argument (rather than the argument changed to fit the scripture) because scripture is very clear about the role of sex in human relationships. So in order to get past it we have to say that suddenly the text has become an idol if the rest of us doesn't buy the new meanings. We keep forgetting that England and Nigeria and Uganda have scholars and theologians for bishops. Not even Ian Douglas is a bishop. We just don't make our theologians bishops. Therefore we are almost a biblically illiterate church - we just pick out the words we can read and call the rest idolatry.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Anonymous, you are partially correct.

You are correct in the fact that we are selective literalists. We do pick out the parts of the Bible that make sense in our context and guide us best through our journey.

What you miss, though, is that you do it too. Your theologians, your conservative bishops in Nigeria, Uganda, and the US, are also selective, while claiming to be wholly literalist.

They conveniently ignore the passages of the Bible that do not fit in with their exclusive theology, while spending much, much, much time on a very, very, very few "clobber passages" in scripture. In so doing, they miss the overall purpose and intent of the text. It is selective literalism at its worst.

See my last few posts on my blog for some of the passages that support inclusion rather than exclusion, that support not the teachings of tradition but the teaching of radical acceptance, of newness in Jesus.

Just because we do not read the Bible the same way does not make your way correct. It neither makes mine correct- it only makes them different.


Anonymous said...

"Suddenly the meaning of words and the meaning of scripture are changed to fit the argument"

Anonymous... and everyone else... should listen to linguist Geoff Nunberg on today's "Fresh Air". On the program he talks about how it's the conservatives who are the one's controlling the language and redefining the meanings of words... even redefining the meaning of "liberal".

"We keep forgetting that England and Nigeria and Uganda have scholars and theologians for bishops. Not even Ian Douglas is a bishop. We just don't make our theologians bishops. Therefore we are almost a biblically illiterate church - we just pick out the words we can read and call the rest idolatry."

It doesn't work to make the connection that because our bishops are allegedly not theologians they are therefore biblically illiterate. The Bishop of my diocese is a monk, and I can assure you that during the time before he was a bishop he wasn't just hanging out in the kitchen at the monastery making jelly.