Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Faces of Compassion

For freedom for tyrrany, injustice, and poverty.
Buddhist monks remind us all of the power of non-violence.
May they be blessed with all that they hope for.

from the Mad Priest by way of Preludium

Leaning on B033

So the House of Bishops has released a concise, clear statement, to the broader Church.
Yet it only clarifies that we remain very much with one foot in the closet, and the other out of it.
I concede, at least from a political angle, it is probably all our bishops could do at this point without over-stepping the bounds of their limited authority. The moratoria the Primates called for in their February Communiqué demanded almost draconian action of our episcopacy, a virtual running over of the laity and clergy in a number of dioceses without reference to their view or input. In short, the bishops were being asked to stop any legislation or decisions moving through General Convention and other authoritative bodies that would open the door of the episcopacy or authorized rites to our LGBT brothers and sisters. . . and for an indefinite period, as there is no timeline for the Anglican Communion reaching "consensus" on these matters.
Could they have done it? In theory, yes. Some would say they should have. Unless you are a stranger to this blog, you will know I'm very glad they didn't. Beyond the dreadful face it would have turned to some of our sisters and brothers in Christ, I think it would have spelt pastoral suicide for some bishops in their home dioceses and made heroes out of others. And finally it would have ultimately undermined the spirit of governance in this Church -- and I mean the Spirit being able to work freely across and through all four orders without bishops dictating terms and arrogating to themselves a great deal of power.
Fair enough.
But the other side of this statement is sorry in its own right, for the simple reason that the House of Bishops has staked our continued participation in the Anglican Communion on Resolution B033 from General Convention 2006, a piece of legislation that was pushed through in a tired moment and left many deputies (and some bishops) in frustrated, conflicted tears: hardly a reflection of prayerful contemplation and discernment. As friend, colleague, and General Convention deputy John Kirkley describes, it was the outcome of an "exercise in spiritual violence."
But then, B033 perhaps reflects the general state of the Communion at the present time -- where compromises over the manifesting issues come with gritted teeth and grumbling.
Because, at the end of the day, we are wrestling with a series of fundamental yes or no questions, which Anglicans, historically, don't always handle that well.
These include:
Do lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and trans-gendered persons deserve to be treated with full dignity in Christian community?
Are their committed relationships with others of the same gender blessed by God?
To these questions, our House of Bishops answered, in effect, a reserved "no," though I know many of them scarcely agree. They conceded to limit themselves to the boundaries of B033, hemming in their actions within the sorry and somewhat strange place our last General Convention left matters. . .all in the name of unity.
So, for that reason, I am saddened by what our bishops wrought. Especially for our LGBT sisters and brothers, including my colleagues in ministry who must continue wading through the gray of uncertainty as to whether or not they are fully welcomed as baptized members of this Church.
Despite the clear call "for unequivocal and active commitment to the civil rights, safety, and dignity of gay and lesbian persons," we refuse to embody this as a Church.
This is how systemic "-isms" work, including racism, sexism, and heterosexism. Promise all that is good and deliver. . .well. . .porridge.
It is my heartfelt prayer that our bishops will take up the "pastoral duty" they cite in this statement with enormous care. Pastoral duty and careful, sometimes painful conversation, will be the fare of the coming days in many places -- probably both in "conservative" dioceses where full accession to the Primates' Communiqué was desired, and in more "liberal" ones, not least of which is Chicago, where one nominee for bishop now has good reason to question whether it's worth the terrible media scrutiny she's already endured.
Betrayal is, in the best of circumstances, a terribly bitter pill to swallow.
God have mercy on all of us, and may we find tender places in our hearts for one another in the coming days.
Finally, the question remains whether B033, a flimsy and suspect piece of legislation, will be enough for our bishops to shield the integrity of the Body against our harshest detractors and help maintain the unity of the Communion.
In my view, probably not.
And just as well.
After all, God is "our strength and our shield," and a "very present help in trouble."
Christ is the ultimate source of our unity when it is threatened.
With all respect to our bishops, and my best prayers, B033 is most certainly not.
See more commentary over at The Lead.
Jared Cramer offers a more optimistic appraisal at Scribere Orare Est.
Episcopal Café is tracking news articles and other reactions here and here and here.
Tobias Haller offers up his usually profound insight.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Virtual Bishops

Our bishops gathered today not to debate the latest conversation with the Archbishop of Canterbury or our future disposition with the Anglican Communion, but to help, with their own imperfect hands, re-build a still Katrina-ravaged Gulf Coast.

Meanwhile, a handful flew to Pittsburgh to continue plotting the usurpation, if not complete demise of our "lost" Church. It apparently wasn't worth their time or effort to stay present with the House of Bishops and engage in the hard conversation of what kind of statement the House will offer the Church next Tuesday...or even just submit a humble hand to recovery efforts in New Orleans. Perhaps they have made plans to help in other ways instead. I hope so.

Tomorrow, Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria stands up in Wheaton, Illinois, apparently to speak to those sympathetic with his clear view that we are a raving bunch of heretics and need a Christian revival. He flew to his destination without any hello in New Orleans, and, it seems, not even a single word to the Bishop of the Diocese of Chicago.
Heretics are easiest to cope with when they're virtual, after all. Then they are conveniently encapsulated in sound bites or, worse, locked in the hell of our bitter imaginations.

And framing all of this for me today is a marvelous piece from the Church Times by Giles Fraser, where he writes in part:

Call me old-fashioned, but I think the diocese is necessarily a geographical unit. It is geographical because communities are necessarily geographical. It may be the web that is responsible for the idea of non-geographical communities. On the web, I can be a member of a discussion group for dachshund-lovers, Star Wars fanatics, or like-minded Christians. But these are virtual communities, not real ones.

Now I'm a techie, no doubt about it. I enjoy (too much, my beloved Hiroko would remind me) blogging, Facebook, RSS, HTML, and podcasting. But this is all meant to support something else -- a real, fleshy, incarnational community that we call The Body of Christ. It has a place. It has a culture and local color. It has foibles, mistakes, tragedies, joys, sorrows, and challenges. But it is real people engaging with a real God on a journey towards a destination more real than even the reality of our blood and bones.
Dear Mr. Fraser: I'm old-fashioned, too.
Giles Fraser is right. A lot going on in the Anglican Communion these days is in someone's head or ephemeral bits and bytes set to disappear when a plug is pulled. Too much, I'd say. And it's not always rooted in what's real, what's incarnational.
The other attractive thing about a virtual reality is that we can walk away at any time with impunity. It's safe for us. Maybe the luxury of having what Giles Fraser calls a "virtual bishop" is precisely that. We can batton down the hatches and preserve a world view that feels safe and non-threatening. We can swap out a bishop or our allegiances like swapping a CD, a browser window, or changing our home page. Okay, so it's a bit more involved than that, but at least we can work to a place where we don't have to deal with any undesirable differences, or if one comes our way, we can always hit the off switch or its moral equivalent:
We're leavin'.
And as we all know in the blogosphere, I can always write or say things in a virtual church that I couldn't say or write if I were facing a real human being, a breathing person made in the Image of God, with nothing between us but air and the charity not to throw punches, metaphorical or otherwise.
In the final analysis, our bishops were brilliant -- and I mean that -- to invite Rowan Williams for a face-to-face, in-the-flesh meeting. Whatever the ultimate outcome of the meeting, the language of the Archbishop of Canterbury before the press yesterday was conciliatory -- even hopeful.
Maybe next time, they should invite Archbishop Peter Akinola to come. But then, the way he talks and if he remains true to form, he would probably decline the invitation. Should we wonder why?
The problem is that while our detractors keep us virtual, they remain virtual to us as well. Someone(s) at some point, on one side or the other, will have to break this pattern, before Christ can fully reconcile the real, incarnational, fleshy, crucified and risen center of our fragile and fractious Communion.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Heartfelt Truth

Most Reverend Sir, Honored Guests from the Communion,

I am Marc Andrus, Bishop of the Diocese of California. I have been given the grace of serving a diocese that encompasses enormous diversity, both in what we call the natural environment, and also in what we might call human ecology. I grew up in the American South where to my consciousness human diversity was cast in terms of Black and White.

In the California Bay Area the societal parameters for inclusion, outside even the concerns of the Church, are wide ranging: gender, ethnicity, economic, and sexual orientation. All of these parameters have received intense attention in the civil society, and have also been the concerns of the Episcopal Church in the Bay Area.

With respect to sexual orientation, it must be said that the Episcopal Church is the main refuge for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people who are seeking to lead a Christian life. These people are primarily not natives of the Bay Area, they come from all over the United States and indeed the world. They have come to San Francisco and the Bay Area seeking a life where they are not subjected to discrimination and violence, where they can lead normal lives, and in some cases, Christian lives. It is my responsibility to provide a context for this search for holiness of life.

It is also important to say here that the Episcopal Church in the Bay Area is immeasurably enriched by the presence of LGBT people in our parishes and missions. These are gifted, faithful Christian people, lay and ordained, passionate about their faith and church. It is hard to imagine what the Diocese of California would be like without these great people, but I can get something of a picture by remembering the many places I’ve lived from which they have come to the Bay Area, places where they were barred from employment, pushed out of their homes and families, and yes, found cold welcome in churches, and tragically in some instances, were subjected to physical violence. For every one of these men and women enlivening the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of California there are empty places all over the United States where their graceful presences are missing.

This is also true for me regarding Gene Robinson. He has helped this body of bishops of the Church with intelligence, passion, humility and great courage over the past four years, and I know he has served his diocese in the same manner. I hope, simply, that there will not be a Gene-shaped space at the Lambeth Conference where the living child of God Gene should be.

News and Blogging of the Day:
Our beloved Grandmère Mimi reflects on her impressions of the opening HoB Eucharist.

Rowan Cantuar roundly rejects any notion that September 30th is the deadline for an "ultimatum" and closes with a hopeful note.

The Church of Wales defers on the draft Anglican Covenant, not ready to accept it in its present form.

Mark Harris reflects briefly on the "frustration" of the Network bishops leaving the House of Bishops meeting before the dust behind the Archbishop of Canterbury's carriage settles.

and Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona offers his perspective on the meeting thus far.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bishops' Menu - Updated

I like making lists.
Here's an index of articles arranged by the primary topical matters that our Bishops will be engaging with the Archbishop of Canterbury beginning Thursday. I'll be updating this as more is posted around the blogosphere.
No predicitions to be found here. Just hopes, news, and opinion. I try to take Jim Naughton's advice seriously!
Update: Walking with Integrity has writers attending the House of Bishops Meeting and offers up-to-minute posts and information.
The Anglican Covenant
  • The Archbishop of Wales raises serious concerns about the draft in its present form.
  • Our own Bishop Marc has outlined his concerns as well.
  • A group of five bishops have offered the House a 98-page report, which concludes:
    The Anglican Communion already enjoys a Constitution that has served us well. The novel idea of a Covenant is out of order unless the Anglican Constitution is employed and properly amended or replaced. The fundamental issue in the current conflict, the most important and lasting reality, is not the matter of theological innovation, but the proposals and actions that would revolutionize the Anglican Constitution.
Human Sexuality and the Primates' Recommendations
  • Jim Naughton has offered an important overview and analysis of the situation.
  • Friend and colleague John Kirkley responds to Jim's thoughts.
  • Sister Joan Chittister has brought her Benedictine eyes to the situation.
  • It's generally understood that our Presiding Bishop is bringing a counter-proposal for the Primates' scheme for alternative oversight to the HoB meeting. Episcopal Life Online reports today that eight bishops have agreed to serve as "episcopal visitors" in lieu of the Presiding Bishop, in dioceses that requested alternative oversight. Fr. Jake offers a first take. The story accompanied with commentary is also over at The Lead.
  • The Lead posts that, according to local news reports, Bishop Jenkins of Louisiana and ten others will bring a resolution to the House of Bishop's meeting calling for assent to the recommendations of the Primates. John Kirkley questions the reasoning behind Bishop Jenkins' published arguments for this position over at meditatio.
  • Since this item is getting the most focus in the press, I'll post a link here to epiScope: House of Bishops Day One, which is tracking articles as they are published.
Communion, Schism, and Loyal Dissent
  • Bishop Duncan Gray writes about being a Windsor Bishop and remaining part of the Episcopal Church.
  • From The Guardian, Andrew Brown links, in a rather dark piece, Rowan Williams' recent work on a book about Dostoevsky with the present situation in the Anglican Communion.
  • At the evangelical Anglican website, Fulcrum, Graham Kings has this piece looking at the situation through the words of classical Anglican theologians. Intense commentary is ongoing.
  • And for my two cents, I argue over at Daily Episcopalian that a major task of leadership for our bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury at this meeting is to keep the present controversy in proper perspective.

Prayers be with all of them in the ensuing hours.

I have updated the Anglican/Episcopal timeline here to reflect recent events.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Deep Breath

...before the plunge.

So the House of Bishops meets next Thursday, September 20th, and the Global South merrily continues to consecrate bishops for their missionary bodies in North America. Leaders of the Episcopal Dioceses of Pittburgh, Fort Worth, San Joaquin, and Quincy, are now all in various stages of planning to divorce themselves from The Episcopal Church. The effort seems afoot to attach as much weight as possible to the HoB response to the Primates this month. It's a shrewd, albeit classic political ploy, because it allows the Network and the Global South band to blame the HoB, and perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury as well, for whatever endeavor they have set their hearts on -- even schism. Whether it's deeply honest or not in the light of Christ is quite another question entirely. And many of the tangible repercussions are sadly ending up thrown to the secular courts, where they will play out in costly ways for years to come.

Here are some links for gaining perspective on the present situation:

An advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury's office has declared that the Primates' Dar Es Salaam Communiqué does not represent an ultimatum to The Episcopal Church. I disagree to some extent, as the language seems very much like a veiled threat or demand. . . but of course without any real teeth. The Primates in particular have no authority by themselves to enforce any policy internally in The Episcopal Church or even see us trotted out of the Communion.

My quibble aside, it seems clear at any rate that the Archbishop of Canterbury has no intention of arriving in New Orleans bringing threats of excommunication, let alone hell-fire and damnation. And it does me well to grant that the Archbishop of Canterbury was at Dar Es Salaam in February and I wasn't!

So September 30th is not D-day, although some would wish it so. Ironically, the "invasion" has already begun. Indeed, it is well under way.

If you ask me, the schismatic dioceses and their allies in other Provinces have already stacked the deck. They are in advanced stages of planning to leave and set up an alternative Anglican Communion that will look and behave very different from the old one. Whether it will succeed or not, and who or what will ultimately be in charge of it, is another question entirely. But it is hard to ignore that indeed, "things are now set in motion that cannot be undone."

The upshot of all this, it seems to me:

Our bishops would do well to respond to whatever is real, and I trust that they might indeed do so. Their initial response in March was a hopeful sign. Speaking in person with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others in the Anglican Communion might make cutting through the bluster and red herrings coming from some quarters all the easier.

Our Presiding Bishop offers a succinct overview of the House of Bishops, their authority, and what we can expect at next week's meeting. My takeaway is a general sentiment is that there is every intention to move forward with a sense of Spirit-filled mission, and to continue conversation with the greater Communion according to the rules: both those in The Episcopal Church, and according to the structures in place in the Anglican Communion, particularly the Anglican Consultative Council.

Some might mock appeals to polity and rules at this stage, claiming that the Bible trumps all, or, even more rightly, that Jesus comes first. Fair enough. But there is always a danger of excusing ourselves from moral responsibility for our actions by hiding behind Scripture, or even the name of Christ himself. Rules, imperfect as they are, help us navigate that important distinction, and more importantly, bound us in a community of mutual assent while we work out our disagreements.

Tom Woodward addresses the schismatic rejection of time-honored principles of Anglican Christianity in four well-worth-reading essays over at Episcopal Majority.

Tobias Haller is continuing an illuminating discussion over sexuality in the context of Christianity and Scripture, speaking to the heart of the manifesting issue that is driving much emotion around the present discord.

Granted there will be a great deal in the Anglican blogosphere about the HoB meeting next week. If you want to keep up, I suggest heading on over to Episcopal Café, where Jim Naughton plans ongoing coverage and to host a great deal of commentary from a variety of authors.

But a lingering concern for me these days is how many of us, myself included, have forgotten how the spin-doctors and a handful of bishops and their the enemy of my enemy is my friend alliances have, in various ways, hijacked the focus of the Anglican Communion with a very narrow set of issues now for over four years.

Perhaps it is past time to begin wresting it back. Some are already hard at it.

So I'll close this reflection by returning to the more personal, referencing an essay I posted recently on children's baptism over at Episcopal Café, where it received some well-worth-reading comments in reply.

I look forward to attending our diocesan clergy conference late this month that will welcome our Presiding Bishop, and we are doubly blessed with Archbishop Ngundane's visit to this diocese during our annual convention in October.

Finally, last Wednesday, I was privileged to be elected Rector of Church of Our Saviour, Mill Valley, California, where I have been serving for the past year as priest-in-charge ("Long-Term Interim"). So Hiroko, Daniel, and I are planning to stick around these here parts for quite sometime with some really loving and (thankfully) patient people!

Naturally, the concerns of the greater Anglican Communion, while important, have been taking a back seat for me recently to more local matters of Christian life and ministry.

But then, that is probably just as well...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Scoring Points

Many seem to be trying to make hay out of the upcoming meeting between the Archbishop of Canterbury and our House of Bishops. The latest to join the fray is John Shelby Spong, retired Bishop of Newark, whose name and perennial reputation places him at the center of the Anglican equivalent of Godwin's Law.

A word to Bishop Spong from a (not so humble) parish priest: No thank you!

While many of us who agree with Bishop Spong on some matters and disagree with him on others have learned to tune out his condescending style, at this stage, I frankly cannot see how this point scoring is helpful. In fact, I worry that it undermines the very witness that is needed to effectively address the concerns that I and many others share with him.

There are so many better counterpoints to play against the hateful rhetoric that has been spewing forth in recent days. All the best prayers for our House of Bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury in that regard.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Home to Roost

Now, at last, the long-brewing situation is coming home to roost for all parties involved.

Fr. Jake, Susan Russell, Davis Mac-Iyalla, Greg Griffith, and Kendall Harmon have all joined in repudiating outrageous statements reportedly coming from the episcopate in Nigeria. The real hatred and violence of rhetoric in parts of the Anglican Communion is now being shouted from the rooftops, it seems.

I am struck by the self-fulfilling prophecy, almost apocalyptic in tone, that this September is already coming to embody for the greater Church. It is a bold, raw moment for true Christians to step forward and show the light of Christ to one another. . . or to recoil into the darkness of schism and vituperation.

This will provide a true measure of the Archbishop of Canterbury and, to a lesser degree, our House of Bishops, and their sisters and brothers across the Communion.

Who will stand and be counted, indeed?

We watch, pray, and speak with hope of our God in Christ, who is the light "when all other lights have gone out."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Proportion and Absurdity

So here's a concluding snapshot of Archbishop Drexel Gomez' sermon at the recent consecrations of two new missionary bishops. . .
. . . for former members of The Episcopal Church . . .
. . . who have now joined the Church of Kenya:

My brothers, you are entering the Episcopal ministry within the Anglican Communion at a time when the Communion is being severely challenged in each of the three related areas of the patristic tradition concerning Episcopal ministry. I refer to:

* The maintenance of eucharistic communion

* Continuity and apostolic teaching.

* Oversight of the churches.

The present impaired state of the Communion is due mainly to actions taken by the Episcopal Church of the United States of America in respect of human sexuality with special reference to the consecration of a bishop living in an opened homosexual relationship. The actions of the Episcopal Church have created a situation in which some Anglicans in the United States and throughout most of the Provinces of the Communion are convinced that the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is clear in its teaching and must take precedent over culture. Holding fast to this belief, they cannot accommodate those who believe the contrary. The issue is not primarily on of sexuality but one which seeks to answer the question "which relationships correspond to God’s ordering of life, and violate it?" It is a division of opinion between those of us who firmly believe that homosexual practice violates the order of life give by God in scripture and those who seek by various mean to justify what scripture does not hounour. We, in the Global South, whole heartedly support the position outlined by Richard Hays in ‘The Moral Vision of the New Testament:’

‘Paul singles out homosexual intercourse for special attention because he regards it as providing a particularly graphic image of the way in which human fallenness distorts God’s created order. God the Creator made man and woman for each other, to cleave together to be fruitful and multiply. When human beings ‘exchange’ these created roles for homosexual intercourse, they embody the spiritual condition of those who have ‘exchanged the truth about God for a lie.’

We believe that faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ prevents us from compromising the truth so clearly revealed in holy scripture.

There is so much material here, that it would require days of careful writing to address in full. An assumption of responsibility is laid "mainly" at the doorstep of The Episcopal Church, laden with a quote based on a very narrow and disputable reading of a brief passage of Scripture, homosexuality is roundly condemned as "exchange" of choice. . .

And upon this the entire ecclesiological framework of communion, apostolic ministry, and oversight seems placed.

Despite all this, it is acknowledged that the current disagreement is a "division of opinion."

Is it to this that our House of Bishops must rationally and carefully respond? Thankfully, no. But then Gomez was instrumental in the Windsor Report as well as the more recent draft Anglican Covenant. He is not a minor player in the present crisis. So if this is indeed the substance behind the demands made by the Global South Primates through the most recent Communiqué, we have truly left the realms of faithful and rational disagreement altogether.

I do not envy the new bishops just consecrated in Nairobi. They have been handed, and have taken, if the Archbishop's words are to be understood at face value, the episcopacy entirely on the merits of a narrow argument over sexual ethics. Somehow, fidelity to this one way or another is equated in toto with fidelity to Christ. That seems to me to get the cart entirely before the horse. It makes Christ so small next to the specter of "homosexual practice." That is truly a mistake of proportion. Surely Christ for the good Archbishop is bigger than that. I dare say, Christ might be big enough to even belong as well to those of us who conscientiously and prayerfully disagree with the stance that Gomez++, Nzimi++, and other Global South Primates have taken . . . and then together have hung, if not hanged, the Communion upon it.

The question remains: why this particular ethical question, when any of us could name well over a dozen (many pertaining to sexuality) that have been disputed in the Anglican Communion and greater Church for years and some centuries?

I do not agree with the Archbishop's theological or scriptural interpretation, of course. But this is not my point here.

Rather, it is this:

Would I ever want to take up any ministry, regardless of the Order, under the auspices of a narrow and now clearly destructive contention over Christian ethics?

The answer is a simple no.

When I took up my vows of priestly ordination, it was to respond to the calling of Christ and the Church, and not really against or for any one particular issue or a particular understanding of a portion of biblical texts, but about embracing the whole of Scripture as "containing all things necessary for salvation." It was about furthering a life-long Christian vocation by following the lead of the Trinity through the discipline of Orders in the Church.

Archbishop Gomez, probably in an effort to make ecclesiastical-political hay out of a controversial action, hands these new bishops a sermon that seems to me quite sad, simply for its confining the reason for these irregular consecrations to a single issue. In doing so, it makes the present impasse almost cosmic, and relegates the potential for grace in this mess to hardly an afterthought.

And it begs the long-asked question: once the sexuality issue is settled for these new bishops and their flocks (in some ways it already is settled through a purifying march away from all who disagree with them) well what then? What will be left? In twenty years, will they look back and relish a sermon that implies their ordained ministry was re-defined by opposition to homosexuality?

I certainly hope not. To do so would be patently absurd.

My university chaplain warned me once never to define myself or my work by what or whom I am against.

These seem to me wise words for all of us in a contentious time.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

For Some Insight

September is now here, and the Dar Es Salaam Communiqué's September 30th ultimatum looms large, especially for those who are desiring a break with The Episcopal Church. The House of Bishops meets later in the month to decide how best to respond, and the Archbishop of Canterbury will join in conversation with them.

Meanwhile, some refreshing clarity is emerging from a number of stalwart bloggers. Here, for what it's worth, is what I have been reading:

First is this piece by Robert J. Brooks over at Episcopal Majority. It addresses the desire of some to expel The Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion, but more than that explores where the real constitutional authority resides as far as the Communion itself goes. In a word: look to the Anglican Communion Council. Fr. Jake offers a take on this analysis, and lots of commentary follows.

A second is a biblically rooted, pastoral, unflinching and at times scathing reflection by a colleague and neighbor, Rob Gieselmann, who honored me with a glimpse of an early draft before he posted it. I've already quibbled with him over some of the argumentation; indeed, as Jim Naughton writes, Rob has something to offend everyone; but the theme of his writing -- that we should all endeavor to handle the ongoing "crisis" with charity -- seems more than sound to me. Take a look.

Third, Tobias Haller is unfolding an argument on the matter of human sexuality, the manifesting question in all of this. Truly a Hooker scholar and a classical Anglican in the very best sense, Tobias' careful, cool, and pithy analysis is virtually unequaled in the blogosphere at present. His treatment has invited even a refreshingly civil conversation with Matt Kennedy of Stand Firm fame. It's well worth watching where this goes. Despite some efforts, including my own rather inept one, to widen the topic of conversation, Tobias will (quite rightly) not be deterred from a very focused and erudite treatment of the scriptural and theological questions at hand.

When all is said and done by the powers that be on all sides, prayers remain with our bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Communion as a whole.

May Christian hearts and charity prevail, and, indeed, may the will of God.