Friday, July 13, 2012

Wrong on Every Count

One expects good journalism from the Wall Street Journal.  What we got instead today in their reporting of General Convention was an inaccurate and nasty diatribe against the Episcopal Church in general and our Presiding Bishop in particular.

I hesitate even to give out the link to this example of muckraking, but I guess I must if I am to refute the errors it contains. If you are an Episcopalian and read it, be prepared to be slimed.

The reporter himself as an Episcopalian, but it is clear that he knows little or nothing about our Church.  I very much doubt he even attended.

The Article is entitled, "What Ails the Episcopalians" and begins by saying that General Convention "is noted for sheer ostentation and carnival atmosphere. For seven straight nights, lavish cocktail parties spilled into pricey steakhouses, where bishops could use their diocesan funds to order bottles of the finest wines."

I can tell you as a veteran of three of these gatherings, that I have never come close to a lavish party or a bottle of expensive wine.  I took my breakfast at Starbucks, and lunch was usually at Subway.  Our last  dinner get together as the Arizona deputation was at a local sports bar--pictured below! Not a bottle of expensive wine in sight!

That's for starters. The Presiding Bishop (whom she incorrectly calls "Bishop Shori"), her next target,  she calls "secretive an authoritarian", who rules through a cabal of committees which she controls and who "brazenly" carries a metropolitan cross in procession.  The first charge is laughable, the second just plain wrong.  Previous Presiding Bishops carried this cross because they are, well, Primates of the Church!

Next comes a whole litany of attacks one usually hears from the ultra-right--the Episcopal Church has declined because of its liberal stands on social issues (actually all expressions of organized religion in the United States are in numerical decline, the Southern Baptists--hardly a liberal church--being the leader).  The church is in financial trouble because of the cost of litigation over breakaway groups which have tried to take our property--also not true, most legal costs have been born by individual dioceses, and in fact giving to the church increased this year.

If the reporter had bothered to talk to those of us who attended, he would have learned that General Convention was a wonderfully hopeful and positive experience, with better collegiality and cooperation that I have ever seen.

We Episcopalians can be hopeful about a church that has the self-awareness to take on its own restructuring, take prophetic positions on the world's urgent problems, include all people in its sacramental life, and proclaim to the Good News of Jesus in many new and creative ways.  And we do it all in a uniquely democratic manner, which is sometimes messy, but always Spirit-filled. 

I am at loss to understand how the Journal would permit this kind of article to published in its paper without even checking basic facts.  Could it be that the editorial board has connections with some of those groups who seek to discredit "mainline" American churches?  In any event, such "reporting" is hardly worthy of such a venerable publication.

I have only one more thing to say to the Wall Street Journal:  I am cancelling my subscription.

[Note:  Since I wrote this on July 13, I have learned a few things.  First, the Wall Street Journal reporter is not a woman, as I originally thought, and he has written before for Virtue Online.   I was also reminded that the Journal is now owned by Rupert Murdoch who uses his media outlets to further his own right wing agenda.  I would also recommend two additional responses. George Congar is a conservative writer, but he too has panned this particular hatchet job.  Scott Gunn, head of Forward Movement Publications, provides a closer criticism of the article at]

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Arizona youth workers

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

The video below

Whoops, this posting should have come before the video. Still having trouble with wifi connection--each place we are in, room, hearing room, HOB, has it own set of challenges getting on. As time goes on, I hope to get that fixed.

There are new policies in affect about use of electronic equipment in meetings. For example, no pictures from the meetings unless we have permission of those being pictured, and no tweeting or facebooking from the floor, so most of my reports will have to be after the fact.

I will continue to do my best to keep in touch with all of you!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Trying video again

YouTube Video

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Arrival in Indy

We had an uneventful trip to Indy. As suspected it is hot and humid here, although comfortable in the hotel. We are having some phone and internet issues which I hope to get fixed tomorrow. Right now, I am trying to do this blog over my iphone!

After we arrived, we went right into a Province VIII meeting. Although the Province does some great work, the administrative logistics always upset me. The meeting, badly organized and boring was at least offset by the reports about some of the good work being done. Carmen Guerrero spoke as did our own Winnie Follett about the work of ECW. I could have done with the mind numbing report on canon changes. Let's see if I can upload a picture of Carmen giving her report and we will call it quits for this first night.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Test blog

Just to make sure everything is working.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Getting Ready for General Convention

As I have done for past gatherings (General Convention, Lambeth, House of Bishops, etc), I will make every effort to make a daily blog entry about the days events.  Having an iPhone will make this easier than before, especially when it comes to posting pictures and videos.  Some of you have asked however why my videos are so short--usually about 30-45 seconds.  That is because they still take a fairly long time to upload.

For those of you church wonks who want to get even more information about events on the floor of Convention, you can also check our Diocesan website (  There our Director of Communications, Nicole Krug, has provided links to a number of real time sites.  Episcopal Cafe is also a timely source.

To give you something to think about on the eve of the 77th General Convention.  Here are some remarks by Jim Naughton which he posted this morning on Episcopal Cafe.  He sums up well what we might expect during the next week:

I am on my way to Indianapolis for the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which begins, officially, on July 5, although I believe folks began trickling into town yesterday.
I don’t entirely know what to expect at this convention, but I suspect that people may arrive in a state of some agitation and find that there is little immediate legislative reason to be so stirred up.
I believe that legislation authorizing a trial rite for blessing same-sex relationships will pass, and am delighted that this will be perceived as something of an anti-climax. I am fairly certain that we will not sign on to the Anglican Covenant, but am wondering if we will nuance our no.
I suspect we will delay full implementation of the denominational health plan, and while this is certainly a significant issue, it isn’t what people are most worked up about.
Much pre-convention conversation has focused on restructuring the church and developing the triennial budget. But in some ways, on these issues, we are all het up with few places to go. Unless we waive the constitution—a dreadful idea—we can’t make any constitutional changes at this convention, so we are likely to end up arguing about whether efforts to restructuring the church should be led by the Standing Commission of Structure—which I would prefer—or a special commission appointed by the presiding officers. This decision will not be without consequences, but it merely determines the forum in which our ongoing conversations on this issue will take place. As for the budget, by the end of this General Convention, we will have one, and some people will like it more than others.
I think there is an argument to be made for looking at the budget that the Presiding Bishop presented, cutting much of the new spending she proposed (little of it has been subject to even cursory scrutiny) and cutting the asking to so that more of the money in the church stays on the grassroots level where the experimentation we need right now is more likely to take place. I doubt this idea will prevail, and I will be only mildly disappointed if it does not. I don’t like the way that the Presiding Bishop and her closest advisors are behaving right now, but I do not believe my sleep will be troubled if they get the budget they want, even though I don’t approve of the means by which they got it.
The problems that the Episcopal Church faces now are not of the General Convention’s making, and they will no be solved either in Indianapolis or three years from now in Salt Lake City. Have you ever met anyone who said, “Gosh, you guys have a beautiful liturgy. I just loved the preacher and I could listen to you people sing all day, but I won’t be back unless you get yourselves a unicameral legislature.” Me neither. And I don’t know of a single parish that has lost members because we have too many CCABs—although I think we do.
General Convention may be able to fund or facilitate the kind of grassroots innovation that our church needs, but it can’t make it happen. The same is true, though perhaps to a less degree, of the Presiding Bishop and the staff at Church Center. Our problem is less in our structures than in ourselves. We simply are not inspiring enough people to join our congregations. I am not sure we want to, and I am not sure we know how. Legislative bodies don’t exist to solve such problems.
This is not to say what we do in Indianapolis will not be important, but we shouldn’t expect from the convention more than the convention has to give.

Laura and I will be leaving Phoenix tomorrow at mid-morning and expect to be in Indy
around mid-afternoon.   There is a meeting of our Provincial VIII delegates that evening, so we will be getting right down to business!