02 October 2008

Exodus to Fundi-land or a limp and a wimper?

Being the great and powerful Oz, who knows all things (yeah, right!), I feel confident in offering my prediction about Saturday’s event in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

We cannot examine the coming events without keeping in mind what happened last December. David Schofield had twenty years to lay his dominoes in order so that when he was ready to really play the martyr card, all the dominoes went down in order as planned. He very nearly succeeded, too. But there were a few sane individuals in the diocese and his putsch was not a exactly the world stopping even his ego expected it to be.

So, how do I assess the situation in Pittsburgh.

First, Duncan only had twelve years to do his dirty work. Compare that to Schofield’s twenty-year reign that followed a long reign by a bishop just as conservative, although far less mentally unstable, as Schofield.

Second, we are dealing with a group of Episcopalians who are long-time Episcopalians. Per capita, there are more Episcopalians whose families have been Episcopalians for generations in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. By comparison, the Episcopal Church in the San Joaquin Valley is a relative newcomer. It has a disproportionate percentage of people whose ancestry is in the Mid West/South (think Dust Bowl migration), and Baptist/Pentecostal.

Third, Pittsburgh has a more educated membership, per capita, than in San Joaquin. That is not a “bigoted” statement. Statistically, San Joaquin has fewer college graduates. I learned that at CPSU a couple of years ago. In all of California, San Joaquin’s college graduate population is lower than the rest of the state. Also, the central valley is still largely a farming community. Farming skills are more valuable than English degrees (and I completley agree with that!).

Fourth, we have the events of December 2007. Instead of Schofield being the leader of the pack (that his ego thought he would be), he has been the source of reassessment. Schofield didn’t have all his ducks in a row, nor did he even know what ducks needed to be lined up. His was the test case, as it were, and the other Donatist bishops have watched and learned valuable lessons.

Fifth, the realignment changed absolutely nothing for the people in the pews and the priests. In David-land, absolutely nothing has changed. Schofield and his clerical minions wanted no female priests; they already had that. They wanted no out clergy; they already had that. They did not want a female primate telling them what to do; they already had that. The requested APO was proposed to them; they rejected it. They wanted to teach a charismatic-fundamentalist version of Christianity; they were already doing that. Everything they said they had to leave to obtain they already had. Well, except power but in Schofield's case he had power and he abused people with that power.

So, what did realignment actually do? It gave them more headaches than they had already and fed Schofield's immense ego. But it did not give him the ultimate power he craved -- it ended in an insult from Canterbury.

Pittsburgh doesn't want more headaches. Like David-land, everything that the Duncanites want, they already have, except for more power which the polity of TEC does not allow them to have, and the pride of saying "me, me, me," and false martyrdom.

But, not only were the bishops watching the Schofield show; the laity were watching, too. And they were learning. They do not want the mess that Schofield created. They do not want to be in limbo in the Anglican Communion. Schofield’s invitation to Lambeth was rescinded.

Regardless of what the donatists want to believe, the World Wide Anglican Communion has not opened its arms in welcome and admiration to Schofield or Duncan. Yes, the Gafconites have, but they are not the people who count in the communion. (That will come as a great shock to them, I’m afraid.) Unless Rowan completely loses what mind he has left,and welcomes these two former bishops, they remain persona non gratia.

So, what is going to happen.

The vote will be taken and a majority will vote to flee the apostate church and the evil witch of 815. But, the vote will not be reminiscent of last December’s vote in California. In fact, the vote may be very close. Too many people and parishes in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are going to vote “no.” Although they still feel TEC is headed in the wrong direction, they’ve seen the writing on the wall and will stay in TEC. In fact, twenty-five percent of the congregations have already declared that they are stying in The Episcopal Church,. That statistic is from Across the Asile who have a list of "no" parishes/missions.

And, there is room for them at the table. TEC needs communicants from all perspectives. If we are not diverse, we cannot grow nor can we see our reflection, correctly. I know that that statement is not going to be popular, but it is truth, none the less. We must have the ultra conservatives in our midst just as we must have the ultra progressionists in our midst. We have much to learn from one another.

But on Saturday, expect to see Bob on the tele yelling “we just stole a ton of stuff from TEC and we are going to FUNDI-LAND where the most popular ride is delusion."

It is an ironic tragedy that 4 October is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. Blessed Francis, pray for us.

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On an unrelated personal note, I would like to mention two good friends, Jack and Marian Smith. Jack died last Friday. He was a WWII veteran and sang in a professional choir I directed for a decade. He had an absolutely wicked sense of humour and found something funny in every situation. He had Alzheimer’s the last few years, but fortunately, he was able to write his war experience and it is now part of the permanent record of World War Two. He and Marian were married 64 years. They were my bridge partners as well as close friends.

Yesterday, 1 October, Marian quite unexpectedly died – just five days after Jack did. After 64 years, I wouldn’t want to be separated from my spouse, either. Please pray for them and for their daughter/caregiver, Helen.

I leave them, and you, with an Osage blessing:

My you long travel the path in days that are calm and peaceful.