I got to see Bishop Jane Dixon just after the election was announced, she was still drying her tears. I caught up with Bishop Barbara Harris tonight. She told me that she said to Bishop Dixon when the election was announced on the fifth ballot, “Jane, thank God we lived to see this day.” And Bishop Dixon said, “Thank God we didn’t have to hear the news in heaven.”
As I may have said before, it is hard to underestimate that boost this has given the convention. No one thought the bishops would have the courage to make this choice, and, frankly, it is making us feel a little better about the whole notion of having bishops.
Earlier in the week it seemed that bishops existed primarily to be pressured by British bishops. It is apparently bad form to exert colonial-type pressure on African bishops, but perfectly okay to send bully boys like Bishop Nazir-Ali over here to try to push us around. I suppose it could be that those wily conservative Brits are so subtle that they actually want us to push us toward the radical left. Hard to understand the pachyderm-footed interventions of the Bishop of Durham (down blog) and the Bishop of Rochester (the above-mentioned Nazir-Ali) in any other light.
Although I will say one thing for these Episcopal Church-haters like Nazir Ali and Akinola: They come an awful long way at great expense to talk to a really, really small groups of people. (See Akinola’s nearly invisible Convocation of Anglican Churches in America.) While the runner-up for Archbishop of Canterbury, and then for Archbishop of York—that’s Nazir-Ali—was preaching to 80 people at a Eucharist sponsored by the American Anglican Council, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson was speaking to a turn-away crowd of more than 1,000 at the Integrity Eucharist.
Scanning the wires tonight, I have become weary of the privileged place that the Anglican right is receiving in news stories about the election. What about these brave campaigners who are still less than 1/10th of the house of bishops (12 of the 180+ voting today) who have endured years of condescension from their brother bishops who don’t know enough to recognize their own sexism? Where were they in today’s stories? Katharine Jefferts Schori wouldn’t even be a priest without the likes of Barbra Harris. So why is it that she isn’t in today’s stories and the usual American Anglican Council-types are? (Not that I mind people quoting the Rev. David Anderson speaking against he Episcopal Church. As the Larry King show demonstrated the other night, there are few things more beneficial for our Church than to have David Anderson speak against it.)
The press loves conflict and the quick interview, no matter how small the group causing the conflict might be. It is worth repeating here that when the clergy and lay deputations of each diocese were asked to confirm Jefferts Schori’s election, she received what amounts to 90 percent of the vote. In politics this is a landslide. In the Episcopal Church, somehow, it shows we are rent asunder.
Help me out here, brothers and sisters in the media. What is the fascination with a group of people that despite investing millions of dollars in upsetting the Church, have achieved so little influence on their native soil? I agree that from a media relations point of view they are valuable…
(It was Bishops Duncan and Stanton who bolted out the doors of Trinity Cathedral today to contact their allies by cell phone as soon as Bishop Jefferts Schori was elected—thus violating the confidentiality that the other bishops, who had given up their cell phones when they entered the Cathedral, thought was in effect. And it was the fact that several people from our diocese overheard these conversations that allowed us to tip you to the fact that a surprise might be in the offing. Conservative bishops are special, special people and they deserve special, special rules. Especially when they are betraying the trust of their brother and sister bishops for whom they show no regard.) …
…but having said that, at some point, don’t you expect them to produce something along the lines of results? I mean, is this the great schism? That the eight or ten diocese (out of more than 100) that got themselves together to oppose Bishop Jefferts Schori are going to walk? I would hate to see it happen, but schism has been your guiding narrative for three years, and what if that is all you ever have to show for it? Meanwhile, you fail to notice that we’ve know got an Episcopal Church united behind a female Primate who speaks Spanish and was elected with the support of her Latin American brethren, leaving us better positioned than we have ever been to evangelize not only the United States, Central and northern South America and beyond.
If you were financial reporters and people kept predicting a recession that never came, you’d eventually stop paying attention to them, no? Or, if you were Charlie Brown and you’d been out with Linus on Halloween waiting for the Great Pumpkin, eventually you’d start wondering whether the Great Pumpkin was ever going to come.
You go ahead and wonder. I am pretty sure we will still be here when you are done.