It's a good question ... and the kind one asks with a certain measure of fear-and-trembling because one doesn't REALLY want to know the answer.
Recent case in point: David Anderson's rant on the Apostate American Episcopal Church which included this "accusation" in the laundry list of our crimes against the Anglican Orthodox State:
It is not just the top level of TEC's leadership that has theologically and spiritually gone astray. The Rev. James Knowles of Grace Church in Syracuse, New York, during a service in 2005 dipped an eagle feather into cedar ashes and brushed the smoke towards worshippers and asked the congregation to face the four cardinal points as he read a prayer praising the sun, the moon, the alligator and the turtle. I imagine they skipped the creed at that service.
Here's the "back story" from an email I received yesterday:
"I went back to Anderson's article and caught that the Native American smudging ceremony happened to occur in my diocese (CNY). I was curious about the context in which it occurred and started googling. No surprise but Mr. Anderson certainly distorted what reportedly occurred. While he left an unspoken implication that the ceremony occurred inside the church and perhaps even at the altar right before the Eucharist (note the crack about no creed likely was used), even the free excerpt from the archived newspaper reports something quite different:"
TWO CULTURES, ONE GOD;
GRACE EPISCOPAL CHURCH HONORS NATIVE AMERICAN SAINT
From: The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)
Date: April 17, 2005
Byline: Renee K. Gadoua Staff writer
The Rev. James Knowles, of Oklahoma, dipped an eagle feather into a small pot of burning cedar Saturday and brushed the smoke toward worshippers gathered outside Syracuse's Grace Episcopal Church. "It's just a way to recognize cleansing," Knowles told about 80 people who stood in the garden of the church at 819 Madison St. After walking among the crowd for the traditional Native American smudging ceremony, Knowles asked the people to face east to begin a prayer to the four directions ...
My email correspondent went on to say: "Now I haven't checked with anyone involved, but there is also this pdf document on the event available online which shows that it was all about dedicating a stained glass window in the name of David Pendleton Oakerhater, a Native American who was an Episcopalian, who was baptized and ordained deacon in the Syracuse area, who returned West and, among other things, founded Christian missions. He was recognized as a saint by the church at GC 1985. (And pictured above in a stained glass window from St. George's, Dayton OH)
Anderson's statement "The Rev. James Knowles of Grace Church in Syracuse, New York, during a service in 2005...." erroneously suggests that a priest "of Grace Church" was officiating, when in fact he was visiting from a mission church in Oklahoma. Needless to say, whether it occurred outside or inside, to suggest that any of this reflects some kind of regular or irregular liturgical practice in the Episcopal Church is nonsense, and it is horrific (though not surprising) that Anderson would slander the commemoration of Oakerhater and the stained glass windows in Grace Church in order to advance his political agenda in England.
Don't know if any of this matters much now, but I thought I'd bring it to your attention in case you did not know it already."
Yes, yes I think it DOES matter. I think it matters because for too long well meaning folk in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion have allowed the architects of this looming Schism to represent fiction as fact, to slander, lie and misrepresent the truth of our corporate lives as members of this Episcopal Body of Christ and to bring into being the very rupture of the Communion they are now bewailing.
I think it matters because I believe the time has come to draw a stark, marked, clear distinction between faithful members of church-at-large with differences on matters theological trying to work to stay together in relationship in spite of those differences and the Schism Mongers who have been orchestrating this rupture of the Anglican Communion for the last decade and now want us to foot the bill for the sackcloth and ashes they wear in mourning for the rupture they have wrought.
It's like the old story of the man who killed both of his parents and then looked for sympathy because he was an orphan. The commentaries and comments on conservative blogs (and you know who you are) make it abundantly clear that there is NO room for reconciliation for those who profess the absolutist abberation of Anglicanism which David Anderson, sinking lower and lower all the time, defends as "Orthodoxy."
It is time for us to echo Mark Harris who is willing to call Rot when he sees Rot. It is time for us to speak out -- to step up -- to remind our bishops and our congregations and our clergy and and our colleagues that what unites us in Christ is far greater than that which divides us. Let those waiting for September 30th with the same sense of expectation the rest of us wait for Advent each year wait alone. Let the verses of their hymn -- "Come Thou Long Expected Schism" -- fall on deaf ears.
Come, Thou long expected Schism
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears of queers release us
As we quest for Purity.
CANA’s strength and consolation
Hope of homophobes thou art
Dear Desire of “Network” nations
Joy of every “Windsor” heart.
Reasserters you’ll deliver
As you split the church apart.
Come thou long expected schism
Let the glorious rupture start!
May our absolutist spirits
Rule not just our hearts alone
But exclude all who resist us
‘Til we capture Cantaur’s throne!
Make no mistake about it ... what they are after is not just the cleansing of the church of LGBT folk or women clergy or Native American smudging ceremonies. These are the people who believe the Archbishop of Canterbury is no long "necessary" for Anglicanism ... and it is truly hard to imagine how much lower they can sink than that.