September 22, 2010

Thought for 09.22.10

The polity of the Episcopal Church is not that of a chain of command, but a network of service.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

16 comments:

Ann said...

And God is the spider knitting us together

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Not a great fan of spiders... but I take your point. The Spirit weaves us together with consummate art and skill.

klady said...

A deep Amen.

Hope we can read that essay someday.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks klady.

It struck me this a.m. that where we get into trouble in TEC is largely when priests and bishops think they can act like RC (or even C of E) priests and bishops simply because they look like them!

As to publication... we shall see!

Anonymous said...

"where we get into trouble in TEC is largely when priests and bishops think they can act like RC (or even C of E) priests and bishops simply because they look like them!"

AMEN, esp with regard to the Canonical changes that allow the PB aka METRPOLITAN IN WAITING to restrict the ministry of other bishops.
John 2007

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

John, the canonical change you refer to is very carefully hedged about with provisos, and anything the PB might do is open to immediate review on the request of the person placed on leave.

It sounds to me as if you have imbibed the South Carolina Kool-Aid: and it is all of their misuse of such concepts of "sovereignty" or a mistaken belief they can prevent the PB from entering their diocese that typify the attitude of which I speak. They are not a law unto themselves, as much as they would like to think. The fact is, they are terrified at the notion of a discipline as strict as they would like to impose on others.

Christopher said...

That is certainly a vision to live into. I think that in the facts on the ground there is a tension between the two visions. One is that of the tail ends of a dying Christendom (I don't want to suggest that the Church did not serve at any time previous to ourselves), the other is the missional shift necessary to be Church when Christendom is coming to an end.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Amen, Christopher. There is considerable tension between the authoritarian and the relational models for the church. But I have no doubt as to the one Jesus favored. In my essay on polity (just finished) I note how the emergence of the monarchial episcopate coincided with the emergence of the Christendom model, aping the Empire (itself in decline). Perhaps we are now seeing the film run backwards and the Pauline model of organism can be recovered?

In the meantime, it is bemusing to see autocratic or authoritarian bishops cringe when it might be suggested they themselves are answerable! Witness the inconsistency on the application of the much ballyhoo'd moratoria, which for the Global South have become like the rules of Animal Farm.

Ann said...

Last week both the pope and the abc said in various ways that it was "vital" that the church be listened to - I think when you have to tell people you are and important voice -- you are no long that.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Indeed so, Ann. There are times when a "prophet is not heeded" but it is also the case that those with lost credibility can talk until they are blue in the face, and even the truths they speak will be ignored. Hypocrisy, or even failure to live up to the standards one proclaims for others, can rob one's voice of any impact it might, or even should, have.

Fred Schwartz said...

Tobias,
It is time to dissolve the House of Bishops in favor of a single house. The power, such as it rests in our church, should be spread equally among all persons of the church. The bishops political power should be severely limited and then permit them to do what they were designed to do, i.e., pastor to those in need, primarily, the clergy (Lord knows there is a bunch in need!) and allow the politics of the church to be performed by equal parts of clergy and laity.

Secondarily, this "brotherhood of priests" (I think you know what ZI am talking about here) thingy needs to somehow go away. The idea that clergy is in some way shape or form "special" is nonsense.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Fred, I agree completely, on both counts. I became anxious at the additional special separate meetings of the HoB that started happening in the days of Browning -- and have gotten worse even to the extent of adopting "resolutions." The junior house was originally not even given a vote on matters, and only gained the full veto in 1901!

As to priest-craft: I can see a value in clergy support groups, to deal with the tensions and practical issues clergy face, but that's about the extent of it! When it starts to go all spiritual, I begin to wonder what's being talked about. There is no "priestly spirituality" different from Christian spirituality.

Lynn said...

Tobias,

I believe all of Christianity is a network of service - to God and neighbor. I have but one RC friend who has remained devout; this concept is our one, true point of agreement - and we come close on many other points.

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Amen, Lynn. I was thinking primarily of the polity of the Episcopal Church here; I think all Christians are called to be networked in the love of God and neighbor. I just wrote an essay for Mad Priest's new blog (due up soon!) in part on that very theme. Great minds and all that...

Todd Ousley said...

AMEN, Tobias. Please accept belated thanks for your succinct and wise comment on TEC polity. Keep preaching!

Tobias Stanislas Haller said...

Thanks, Bp T! It takes some living into, but I think the relational model works...