17 October 2008

Schofield's folly continues

As those who have read my comments over the past several years are aware, I’ve known David Schofield since 1971 or early 1972. David was a brilliant man and a fine theologian. His oratory skills were astounding (proof of that is the way he talked most of a diocese into blindly following him like lemmings).

David once gave a two hour talk on Forgiveness and another on the Holy Eucharist; each is unquestionably the best lecture on the subject I have ever heard. Large portions of my understanding of both topics are because of David's lectures. I would listen to David's theological lectures any day of the week, and I would choose them over those of any other clergy person in any religious organization. David's lectures were absolutely stunningly brilliant.

My observations of him are not as an uninformed bystander. I still like David; I simply do not like what he has done to our Episcopal Church. I suppose that's why I still have a "fatal attraction" to his actions.

The Oakland Tribune has an interesting article about Schofield written by his childhood chum, Dave Newhouse. You’ll find the article here.

It is actually a good article and there are a number of interesting bits therein. What comes though crystal clear though, is David’s immense ego. Make sure to read the whole article slowly. This is not the article to give a “once over.” There is a subliminal message in the article which I’m sure neither Messrs Schofield nor Mr. Newhouse intended.

He was David Schofield then, but now he's John-David Schofield, having added another first name through his rise in the Episcopal Church to his current title as Bishop of San Joaquin. The deposed Bishop of San Joaquin.

At least, that's how the U.S. church voted in March when its House of Bishops ousted Schofield as head of his Fresno-based diocese and replaced him with Bishop Jerry Lamb.

But it's possible to be deposed and not lose power, at least in the Episcopal Church. Schofield continues to sermonize throughout his vast diocese, which stretches from just below Sacramento to just above Los Angeles.

Did you notice that wee word “power?” That’s David’s middle name.

"That has never changed," he said Friday of his bishop's role. "I am doing just fine."

It's been some 10 months. Last December, pushed by Schofield, the Diocese of San Joaquin became the first diocese in 400 years of Anglican history to secede from the Episcopal Church, placing itself under the authority of the conservative Anglican leadership in South America that's known as the Southern Cone.

That commenced a semantics war. Schofield now is the Bishop of San Joaquin while Lamb has assumed Schofield's former title of Episcopal Bishop of San Joaquin. However, Schofield believes he has the greater clout within the diocese.

Well, knock me down. The press has acknowledged David forced the illegal realignment—it wasn’t the diocese, but its bishop. And, of course David believes he has the greater clout. He has believed that since the doctor introduced him to his mum in the delivery room. He has always been “the god’s gift.”

This whole blowup began in 2003 when Schofield opposed the U.S. church consecrating a gay man, Gene Robinson, as Bishop of New Hampshire. Schofield cited the Holy Scripture's disapproval of homosexuality as his reasoning.

David’s plan started long before he was even nominated for bishop. Savvy people recognized David for what he was/is and did their best to see he was not given consent by General Convention. Unfortunately, the consent was given. The sad truth is that the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of San Joaquin died the day the mitre was placed on David’s head. Bishop Robinson's consecration was merely the excuse David needed to “justify” his machinations.

"As Anglicans, from the very founding of the Church of England, our basis of faith is the Bible," he said. "And what we have said is that you cannot teach anything based on faith that cannot be supported by the Holy Scripture. ... Scripture is against homosexuality. You cannot read Scripture and think any differently."

David will have a difficult time proving that the Church of England had as its basis of faith the bible alone. Henry VIII certainly didn’t see that way. It is true that the Calvinists did, but Calvinists were not, and are not, Anglicans. As for the comment about homosexuality (the second time in the article), our modern concept of homosexuality cannot be applied to and compared with that of the world in biblical times. The bible has nothing to say about homosexuality. The term and our understanding of same-sex attraction/marriage were unknown in biblical times according to the “experts.”

Despite his courageous, and controversial, stance, Schofield contends he has maintained 90 percent of the followers in his diocese. "It wasn't even a matter of courage," he said. "It was a matter of my own conscience."

Ah, “my” led him to steal church property and misuse the position to which he was ordained. As for the numbers, we’ll need to confirm that with our friends over at The Grapevine. I emailed “Dusty in Fresno” and according to their attendance statistics the figure is closer to sixty percent have remained loyal to David.

According to diocesan statistics, there were approximately 3,000 members of the diocese last December. The most recent count of those attending Episcopal Churches in the San Joaquin Valley is now about to 1,100. That does not include the number who are “trapped” and hoping to be rescued in areas where there is no Episcopal Church and age and/or economic conditions prohibit them from driving fifty to one hundred miles to worship in an Episcopal Church. That means that at least one-third of the "my people" are not following him.

The above figure also does not take into account those who just “disappeared” for parts unknown. Fed up with David’s pontificate and the prospect of an even worse future, they just faded into the sunset.

There is no way that David’s figure is 90 percent is correct except by using “Schofield Math” as Dusty expertly points out.

A large percentage of those who left last December had no idea why they were leaving. When they asked their priest, “Why do we need to leave,” the answer would be, “We’ll have to talk about that later.” Being good Episcopalians, they didn’t question their clergy who must “know more about church things than we do.”

After lunch, we headed back to the bishop's swank home in Fresno, where I interviewed him about his role as a theological trailblazer, albeit somewhat maligned.

"Emotionally, it hurts to be deposed by a church I have served since 1963," he said. "They thought the Diocese of San Joaquin would collapse, and it didn't. In fact, they've strengthened the opposition of my clergy and my people to what they're doing."

Schofield contends he was deposed illegally, that there was less than the required two-thirds vote needed to remove a bishop. After the vote, he added, Katherine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, ordered him removed anyway.

"She's on a roll to get her own way," he said.

Well of course he was deposed illegally. Lawbreakers never admit they are guilty – it’s always someone else’s fault. Any correction officer can tell you that.

Now, notice that he says the Presiding bishop is out to get her own way. Go and read all of the article and count the number of times Schofield’s ego comes out – “my clergy ... my people” I would have thought they were God’s clergy and people. Make up your own mind about who is on a roll to get his/her own way.

By that vote [to withdraw membership form the Episcopal Church], he already had been accepted by the House of Bishops in the Southern Cone, which includes Chile, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay — and now San Joaquin.

By the time of the vote, David had already bolted and been received as a bishop in a province whose canons and constitution have no provisions for accepting non-resident clergy or laity property.

So why is David kvetching about an illegal deposition? He’d left the Episcopal Church already. Let’s see, “I quit my job and stole most of the property, and those bastards had the audacity to remove me from the list of employees and ask for the keys to the buildings.”

Lamb was recruited out of retirement to become the bishop of a new diocese. His acceptance has been "underwhelming," said Schofield, who feels "undermined" by the U.S. church.

One simply must laugh at David’s hubris. He masterminded and brainwashed the people of the diocese, and forced the leaders leave the Episcopal Church but in reality, it is the Episcopal Church that is undermining him? There is that ego again.

Also, Lamm is not the bishop of a new diocese. He is the bishop of the Diocese of San Joaquin of which David is the former bishop. It is not new; it is continuing.

He accused the church of ripping off his shield, letterhead and mailing list, and of painting him as a "closet homosexual," and of starting allegations that he stole $5 million to $7 million from church coffers. All lies, he said.

The shield, letter head and mailing list belong to TEC as it did long before David became the bishop. David leaves and says TEC stole the corporate symbols that belong to him? Talk about delusional. By the way, that’s the third time in the article David brought up homosexuality.

So, then, who is the real bishop of San Joaquin? Schofield sought and received a letter in July from the Archbishop of Canterbury acknowledging that he is, indeed, the official bishop.

Really? Is there a letter from the ABC that says that? What I remember is a letter, in that British masterful manner of understatement, rescinding his Lambeth invitation.* Only ordinaries, suffragans, and coadjutors in good standing with their province were invited. (Remember that Bishop Robinson is the one who suggested that he (Robinson) not be invited as a way to help ++Rowan out of a difficult situation.) Since David was invited before the vote, and then uninvited after the vote, that would put David on the “out” list. I’ve written Schofield’s office asking for a copy of the letter he mentions.

The bishop, 70, weighs 300ish, twice his weight from high school. This week, he began a diet under doctor's orders to lose 40 pounds in three months. Health permitting, how much longer does he plan to remain a bishop?

"Until I choose to retire," he said, defiantly.

I hope that David is successful in losing weight. Carrying that much weight is dangerous to one’s health – I know that first hand; I used to weigh much more than Schofield does now. I’ve been concerned about David’s weight for years.

That said, again I ask, “who is on a roll to get what they want?” All of David’s actions were to retain power. In TEC, clergy must retire at age 72 I believe. David amassed too much power to walk away from it – he is addicted to power and has been since long before I met him thirty-seven years ago.

All of the Presiding Bishop’s actions have had the backing of the strong majority of the House of Bishops. In addition, she has not initiated any actions. (If that is incorrect, please let me know.) If she is “on a roll,” it is to preserve TEC from the Roundheads who seek to destroy and supplant it.

So, what do we make of this article. It is pure propaganda.

If one did not know David, or know about his two decade history of abuse of power, the article would be great. It would show David as the poor persecuted Christian out to save the former Episcopalians in his former diocese. For whatever reason he is not getting the local press he used to receive and which he craves. So the question was where to get it.

We know his plan to add “Most” to his title has come to naught. Things must not be going so well for David if he needed to use a childhood friend to do some PR work for him. And that is the subliminal message in the article.

As I reread this post, a phrase from Roman history kept running though my mind: 'Varus, Varus, give me back my eagles!"

UPDATE: Thanks to a regular reader of TTLS, the letter in question is here. Please note that the letter is to David from Presiding BishiopVenables, not from Archbishop Williams. Take note of the highlighted section and keep in mind that it is Venables "take" on Williams' aledged comments. If ++Williams' had sent such a letter, David and the Gafconites would have released it to the world in bold, italics, and all caps with the caption "see, we TOLD you."

To date there has been no letter made public from the ABC stating that Schofield is the rightful bishop of San Joaquin. David is either suffering from a moment of dementia, or . . .

It is interesting that 24-hours before the the letter in question was made public, Schofield was jubilant to reporters about his attending Lambeth. Less than 24-hours later, he is not going. All things added together, it certainly appears that someone told David to "stay home."