September 23, 2007

Out of Egypt

some thoughts on patience and perception

I've been doing a lot of listening lately, and taking the time to read the commentaries, from the moderate and thoughtful to the aggressively pugnacious. I've also read through the address by +Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East, delivered to our House of Bishops. I have a few observations to make.

  • Patience is best called for by those who are themselves patient. It is a behavior better modeled than exhorted.
  • One is at least as much responsible for ones own perceptions, and what one does with them, as the stimulus that gave rise to them. If the stimulus is an indirect or third-hand report, examination of evidence is a helpful step in forming an opinion.
  • People should listen to the perceptions of others, but not necessarily believe them to be objective, unless the others have shown themselves to be objective in other ways, or can offer independent objective evidence for their conclusions.
  • However, one can learn even from ill-informed criticism. The Episcopal Church has been given ample opportunity to do so.
  • Thus, caricature serves a function less refined than portraiture, but of some service in helping one to be aware of the features to which others may give undue prominence.

Tobias Haller

6 comments:

rick allen said...

In otras palabras, the wise can learn from both the wise and the foolish.

Erika Baker said...

I would like to add that there should be room for the subjective: on the one hand because it shows the underlying reasons for people's beliefs and prejudices, and on the other hand because it allows those an authentic voice who are otherwise only being talked about not talked to, and whose personal experience is often dismissed as irrelevant.
It’s not so much clearly identified subjectivity that is the problem, but self-righteousness, extreme discourtesy and the tendency to present option as fact.

Marc in Texas said...

I would like to offer several proposals in response to the action of the HoB by a special meeting of the Executive Council on behalf of the GC:

1) All confirmations of Bishops in TEC be placed in abeyance until GC 2009.

2) Should a Diocesean ordinary vacate his see, voluntarily or otherwise, that the Presiding Bishop of the TEC place a retired bishop in that diocese as Episcopal Vicar until GC 2009 - no confirmation needed.

3) That in accordance with the teaching of Our Lord Christ Jesus, no one may receive holy orders, or be moved into a higher order, having divorced or married a person who has been divorced until such time as the issues raised by B033 be resolved for the benefit of all ministers of the Church.

4) That any person in holy orders of the TEC attending the Common Cause Convocation will be brought up on charges of presentment for abandoning the TEC, will be inhibited, and be stripped of authority in their cannonically assigned diocese.

5. That the parish and/or diocese of any person inhibited under item 4, will be subjected to an immediate legal and financial/Fiduciary audit.

6. That any diocese attempting or actually modifying a diocesean Constitution to attempt to remove themselves from under the authority of the TEC Constitution, By-laws, and BCP and its legitimate authoratative structure be declared a vacant see, its territory a mission field, and a Missionary Bishop will be appointed to reconstitute a new loyal Diocese within 30 days of the attempt.

Thoughts?

Tobias Haller said...

Marc in Texas,
This is rather off the topic, but I approved the post in the spirit of the interests of the moment.

I would support points 1 and 2 in principle, but not in practice. Point 3 I think too much echoes the reasserter position, with which I disagree.

4-6 I think very appropriate in direction if not in practice. I think mere attendance at the meeting falls short of grounds for deposition; but other actions surely do warrant that kind of response. For my money, the dioceses who removed the accession clause from their constitutions should have been disciplined years ago -- declared vacant, and restructured as missionary dioceses of the neighboring dioceses until they could be properly reconstituted.

Paul (A.) said...

Episcopal Church canons have provisions for declaring a missionary diocese vacant upon a finding of impairment of the missionary bishop (III.12.6) but that goes to medical impairment only. And it doesn't reach beyond missionary bishops to regular diocesans, nor does it reach, say, Standing Committees.

Canon I.17.8 imposes a duly on lay officers to follow the constitution and canons of the church, but it provides no enforcement mechanism for its violation. A proposal to include lay leaders in Title IV has been deferred until GC 2009.

The Presiding Bishop can inhibit a bishop against whom Title IV charges have been brought, but only diocesans can inhibit clergy in their dioceses. So if a Standing Committee joins with their bishop in, say, revoking their accession clause, the PB can inhibit the bishop but cannot reach the SC. And if the SC functions as Diocesan Review Committee, then presumably they would never approve charges against themselves on a diocesan basis.

So, commendable as Marc in Texas's point 6 may be, how is this to be done?

Tobias Haller said...

Paul (A),
Good points. I think the problem is that the situation we are now facing was literally "inconceivable" and so not foreseen and provided for in our canons. Once a bishop, standing committee and diocesan convention go off the rails, there are precious few ways to engage the canons to bring about discipline. As the old saying has it, "Qui custodiet ipsos custodes -- who will guard the guards?" When the very people charged with the maintenance of discipline are the violators of that discipline, what is to happen. The Title IV committee will, I hope look at this question...