Readers of this blog will not be strangers to the argument that the current challenges facing the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion have virtually nothing to do with sexuality, precious little to do with theology and everything to do with power.
It used to be a little lonely on this particular bandwagon but our numbers are growing. In this op-ed in today's Salt Lake Tribune, Michael Mayor outlines the steps-toward-schism and arrives at this conclusion:
Regardless of the primates' intent, this is nothing more than a power grab by one faction. It is the very thing against which the United States fought its Revolutionary War, and it moves Anglicanism far away from its origins by seeking to impose the authority of foreign bishops, an ironic twist since the Church of England's foundation came out of refusal to accept the authority of the Pope.
Meanwhile, Fr. Jake has just posted "The Subversion of the Church From Within" -- an excellent refresher course for those who missed some episodes of "As The Anglican World Turns" and are now asking "who are these people and why are they messing with my church?"
Jake offers a MOST clarifying "step-by-step" walk down memory lane including this bit of an email from Diane Knippers of blessed memory:
"I'm still on the SCER (Standing Committee on Ecumenical Relations) - but not because I could honestly represent the Episcopal Church in ecumenical dialogue ... I'll resign when I need to, but I would like to hang in there as an obstinate and contrary voice a bit longer."
He also points to Jim Naughton's most excellent "Following the Money"as background for the whole Network strategy, leading Jim to ponder "Me, I am still puzzling over reports that a significant number of our bishops were unaware of the material he is covering until the task force on property disputes put it in front of them." As I commented on his blog, "You can lead a bishop to information but you can't make 'em read!"
Finally, a little off the beaten-blog-path I came across this little clarifying gem in a blog entitled "an undercurrent of hostility" written by a self-described conservative Episcopal priest, Anne Kennedy. (And yes, before inquiring minds have a chance to inquire, she is related to Matt Kennedy of Stand Firm Fame ... they're married.)
Anyway, nestled in her comments last week about the sad state of affairs in Colorado around the Don Armstrong mess was the gem: "That Armstrong wouldn’t have consolidated power and got rid of people who were happy to undercut him seems unwise."
And there you have it. As my seminary mentor used to say, "Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean people aren't out to get you." And now, out of the mouths of babes -- or conservative bloggers -- is affirmation that what we think they think is actually what they DO think!
And so here we are -- a church that has for years worked toward reconciliation with those who held minority theological perspectives within it faced with the grim reality that there has NEVER been any interest in healing, bridging divides, finding via medias or living our call to be reconciled in Christ by those leading the conservative fringe faction.
Instead, the M.O. of those fomenting schism in this church has been and continues to be, in the words of Ms. Kennedy, getting rid of people who are "other." Let the well-meaning deputies who voted for B033 in Columbus in the sincere and misguided hope that one more olive branch -- one more scapegoat -- one more sacrifice of gay and lesbian vocations -- would bridge the gap take note. It's not about sex. It's not about theology. It's about consolidating power. And it's time for it to stop.
It'll be time to elect new General Convention Deputies for 2009 before we know it. Let's make sure Jake's "Subversion of the Church From Within" is required reading for anybody standing for election. And let's commit ourselves to a church committed to spreading the Gospel rather than obsessed with consolidating power.