Tuesday, May 27, 2008

*Updated* Greg Griffith predicts what might happen at GC09

Update: For another considered point of view, I've added a comment from young joe at old oc below Greg's predictions.

Original: From the Stand Firm comments, Greg Griffith outlines what he thinks might happen at General Convention 2009 [boldface mine]:

. . . It may not be a foregone conclusion, but it is far likelier than not that at GC09, three major pieces of legislation will be passed:

The first will be a significant expansion of C051. The exact scope of that expansion obviously we won’t know until we get much closer to convention, but rest assured it will fall somewhere between a nationally comprehensive authorization that reflects Susan Russell’s “full inclusion, including holy matrimony” goal at a minimum, and perhaps a proposal for inclusion in a new Book of Common Prayer, whether as a separate rite, or as a modification of the existing Rite of Holy Matrimony and the accompanying rubric; which strikes gender-specific language and adds some predictably stomach-turning treacle.

The second will be some kind of clampdown on dissenting clergy and lay people. I won’t venture a guess as to details, but suffice it to say it will probably make life for outspoken orthodox priests anywhere from much more interesting to crazy interesting, and for loudmouth lay people anywhere from somewhat interesting to much more interesting. I half-expect to be summoned by my bishop or some of the resident Eddie Haskels at Allin House at some point by summer of 2010 at the latest.

The third will be a jaw-dropping clampdown on property issues. Schori and Beers will not leave Anaheim without something that relieves them of the pain being administered to them in Virginia right now.

Then here’s what will happen as news filters out on the blogs and such:

Lay people to the immediate left of us - those “moderate conservatives” who didn’t see any reason to get worked up about what happened in 2003, because it was “way off in New Hampshire” - will be informed that gay marriage is the law of the land in TEC, that it is no longer something that’s confined to a few wacko fringe dioceses like San Francisco and D.C. Think women’s ordination in 1997 - the way it was changed from “local option” in the 70’s, to mandatory in ‘97. I don’t rule out the possibility of goon squads being sent around much like they were in 97, “encouraging” bishops and standing committees to get in line.

Lay people will then realize what the form these rites will take in that of an “amended” and soon-to-be-revised prayer book, and they will stop in their tracks. They will look around for options, and begin planning how they will take their parishes out of the Episcopal Church.

It’s then they’ll be horrified to learn that, according to 815, they don’t actually own the property into which they have poured their time and fortune all these years. There will be outrage, disbelief, and chaos.

Many of them will come here, looking for a detailed plan on how to save their church. Not finding one, some of them will take us to task for being nothing but a bunch of loudmouths who have done nothing to help them, and they can’t believe we’ve let them down this way.

Some will stay and pledge to fight. Others will storm out of the church, and stand on the sidelines berating those who chose to leave.

Then things will get interesting.

So make a copy of this, pull it out next summer, and see if Greg is right!

And an update from young joe in old oc [boldface mine]:
Greg is extremely smart and capable, but I disagree with his approach on this as I do with most of the bloggers and editors on Stand Firm. They don't realize how their attitude has created, to some degree, a profusion of self-fulfilling prophecy.

There are many very traditional/conservative folks who always see us on a slippery slope to death and destruction (I was one of them back in the late '90's as we had just embraced the liturgical/sacramental vision of the Faith and tried to get involved in a handful of different episcopal parishes in the Pasadena area - after that short tour, we ended up rejecting ecusa). Unlike Greg and his staff however, they are not generally fully engaged at parish, diocesan, or church-wide levels, nor do they really know how to be, and that lack of engagement has been the acceptable sub-culture in episcopal parishes, progressive, mainstream or traditionalist, for at least 70 years. However, these average, often very committed lay churchmen and women will take what they read on blogs like Stand Firm as confirmation of the rightness of their perspective, and give up on the possibility of making serious breakthroughs as individuals on any level (We saw this happen at the parish in Glendale). They will take comfort in their para-church groups like Forward in Faith or the AAC (nothing wrong with these groups at all - they just don't know how to break people of their americanized habit patterns), or ecumenical ministries they're involved with, and further separate themselves from the political aspects of parish life, except where the para-church provides the tools to make some specific challenge. As this has occurred all across TEC over the last 25 years, we now see the "prophecies" being fulfilled, and the only place then for many orthodox folks to go is the exits.

I probably have the same turn of the stomach Greg does when I read about the false teaching and apostasy that is becoming the norm in may parts of episcopalianism. But I will not allow myself to become so deeply cynical and always convinced that the end is near. I am sick to death of what the PB and her henchmen at 815 are trying to form in their own image with their ersatz inclusiveness and twisted, secularized (false) gospel. My bags are packed and I am ready to leave ecusa the moment that a consensus forms at the parish about where we should go. And I have been pushing for the parish to begin the process. However, I'm not going to let myself believe that all the orthodox traditionalist folks who remain and don't have the same perspective I do are simply sheep that will go right to the door of the slaughterhouse.

Greg may be right in 80 percent of what he is predicting in this article, but if he is only 80 or 90 percent correct, he does not possess prophetic gifts and so shouldn't be writing as if he is indeed a prophet.

Two approaches to the same issues - some will agree strongly with one, some with other, and many fall somewhere in between, so how do we remain focused on what is best for the church?

11 comments:

young joe from old oc said...

Ann:

Greg is extremely smart and capable, but I disagree with his approach on this as I do with most of the bloggers and editors on Stand Firm. They don't realize how their attitude has created, to some degree, a profusion of self-fulfilling prophecy.

There are many very traditional/conservative folks who always see us on a slippery slope to death and destruction (I was one of them back in the late '90's as we had just embraced the liturgical/sacramental vision of the Faith and tried to get involved in a handful of different episcopal parishes in the Pasadena area - after that short tour, we ended up rejecting ecusa). Unlike Greg and his staff however, they are not generally fully engaged at parish, diocesan, or church-wide levels, nor do they really know how to be, and that lack of engagement has been the acceptable sub-culture in episcopal parishes, progressive, mainstream or traditionalist, for at least 70 years. However, these average, often very committed lay churchmen and women will take what they read on blogs like Stand Firm as confirmation of the rightness of their perspective, and give up on the possibility of making serious breakthroughs as individuals on any level (We saw this happen at the parish in Glendale). They will take comfort in their para-church groups like Forward in Faith or the AAC (nothing wrong with these groups at all - they just don't know how to break people of their americanized habit patterns), or ecumenical ministries they're involved with, and further separate themselves from the political aspects of parish life, except where the para-church provides the tools to make some specific challenge. As this has occurred all across TEC over the last 25 years, we now see the "prophecies" being fulfilled, and the only place then for many orthodox folks to go is the exits.

I probably have the same turn of the stomach Greg does when I read about the false teaching and apostasy that is becoming the norm in may parts of episcopalianism. But I will not allow myself to become so deeply cynical and always convinced that the end is near. I am sick to death of what the PB and her henchmen at 815 are trying to form in their own image with their ersatz inclusiveness and twisted, secularized (false) gospel. My bags are packed and I am ready to leave ecusa the moment that a consensus forms at the parish about where we should go. And I have been pushing for the parish to begin the process. However, I'm not going to let myself believe that all the orthodox traditionalist folks who remain and don't have the same perspective I do are simply sheep that will go right to the door of the slaughterhouse.

Greg may be right in 80 percent of what he is predicting in this article, but if he is only 80 or 90 percent correct, he does not possess prophetic gifts and so shouldn't be writing as if he is indeed a prophet.

young joe from old oc said...

Oh, and as I did at the end of an exchange over the weekend with Greg and a couple of the other editors at Stand Firm that was rather fruitless because they saw me as approaching sheephood or having achieved it already, and as such, misinterpreted virtually everything I wrote, I include my phone number in case anyone wants to break through blog custom and try to really break down barriers with God's help - 949-309-0730

Hening said...

Within all of this chaos, the Holy Spirit is still at work. Leadership at the congregational level is key, as is how the routine of parish life will change. The Church is fortunate to have orthodox members, who stay and support, preach and witness for Christ.

The Holy Spirit works from the inside out, and that's the only hope for the TEC.

Perpetua said...

Actually, Greg may have prophetic gifts. I'm not sure why young joe is saying he doesn't. Have you read crystal balls?

Anne Coletta said...

Thanks for the link, Perpetua!

young joe from old oc said...

Perpetua & Anne:

Please understand that I am not trying to discredit Greg or Stand Firm. They have done a truly outstanding job of keeping folks apprised of what is actually going on with the PB and with the House of Bishops, and elucidating what's actually happening all around the Communion. They have also succeeded in breaking down the propaganda techniques of the postmod/progressivist cabal and the tacit complicity of moderates in the distortion of the Faith and the rewriting and redefining of the Anglican tradition. In addition, on moral doctrine I think they have been spot on regarding homosexual behavior and what it means. My problem is really a very simple one that involves asking them to explain how they go from being an Anglican news and theological education site to acting as critics and prophets and rhetorical interlopers in the relationship between orthodox bishops and their diocese. They simply need to accept that as members of the Body of Christ, they, as all of us, need to place limits on their speech and their authority, even if it is only a persuasive authority.

In this particular instance, I think Greg has legitimately tried to anticipate what the strategy of the other side will be at GC09, and he has done so congently and thoughtfully. However, I think he has omitted two very basic things that should be a part of this article: 1) there will be an effort by heretics to weaken the core theological doctrines of the church, and make the kind of "Jesus is for me, but not for everybody" views of the PB as the standard. This will produce a reaction from some "moderates" that will bring them to cooperate in limited ways with conservatives and traditionalists to challenge it. This presents some opportunities that should be explored. It will also cause some middle-of-the-road bishops to realize that any such affirmation from the convention will almost certainly mean the end of the Communion as we know it and probably spell the end of TEC as an Anglican body. 2) There are all kinds of unorthodox political strategies that should be tried by the traditionalist/conservative coalition, even by those who have left TEC. These strategies might include any number of filibusters or other parliamentary maneuvers, or hard-nosed lawyer tactics like burying the delegates with paper or publicly discrediting leading progressivist figures through the mass media just before and during the convention. There are a number of traditional, biblical Christians who have a serious platform, like Rick Warren of Saddleback Church, who would be of service in such a media blitz. Then there are good post-1960 tactics that could be employed like sit-ins and loud demonstrations, or traditional techniques like just good old fashioned picketing. The organizers could give me a call, and I'd be happy to head up the 5 Fwy into the county where I grew-up and get arrested after handcuffing myself to the door of the convention hall.

There are other tactics that would be effective such as bringing in dozens of traditionalist youth to take over the microphone and tell how the Gospel that they know is being perverted. We could also take over the video equipment and show dramatic presentations that show how illiberally the so-called liberals in the church have treated their opponents (one strategy might include variations on the excellent satirical work of Little Brother of Ecusania). We could also simply bring thousands of people of all races to kneel in prayer together in front of the Convention Center amidst banners showing the internal contradictions of the new religion, and the entirely new paradigm that the new religion sets up that has no precedent in the true and enduring old Faith of the Church and the Anglican Way.

Now it would obviously take a lot of these tactics used together to make an impact and there would still be many who would laugh it off. But if you shock them a little bit, if you constantly surprise them, you may throw them off balance and then make the GC very much about what those horrible protesters are doing. Ultimately, however, I'm not writing all of these things as suggestions, hoping that someone will take up the campaign. I don't expect that the traditionalist/conservative coalition will go out with much more than a whimper. Why? Because there really isn't a traditionalist/conservative coalition. There should be, but we have all been far too comfortable defending and upholding our particular sub-traditions within Anglicanism to take the time to understand and forge any clear expression and united vision of the one orthodox Anglican tradition. Do I believe that there is a single, unified Anglican tradition? You bet I do, and I would have become Western Orthodox many years ago if I did not. But as American Anglicans we fight for our particular turf and our particular soteriologies and priorities and many still consider it a badge of honor to come up with a strong or cleverly worded slam of those other orthodox folk on the opposite end of the churchmanship spectrum. Even as we are in the middle of fighting together against the forces of darkness.

There is also one other fundamental reason why I don't believe that there will be a concerted effort of traditionalists and conservatives to upset GC09. And that is that we are generally far too well-behaved and well-bred to really get out there and get into a scrape with the false Christians in ECUSA and their far more insidious collaborators. Oh, a lot of us, like many at Stand Firm, are really good at talking tough and taking it to the establishment with soaring rhetoric and clever put downs, but in the end, we're not going to risk our reputations or our careers by being seen as extremists or ill-mannered or rabblerousers. This is the common thread of many of the sub-traditions of American Anglicanism and the reason for the comfortable disengagement of so many otherwise solid laypeople of TEC. The main sub-tradition of TEC - generally Reformed or semi-Reformed, semi-rationalistic, and very American in its careerist individualism - the one that provides the cloth from which most of the editors at Stand Firm are cut, just cannot fathom behaving in such an unseemly fashion. They are far too busy trying to show the traditional Presbyterians how well they think and behave.

And so on occasion, they will write beautiful and powerful arguments (very much in line with their sub-tradition) and very good prose to challenge the views of all of the rest of us; get very tough with strong, well-structured language or seemingly meaty polemic in debate (now the underlying attitude and the sarcasm they write or speak with may border on being very offensive, but they will never use profanity or ethnic slurs, mind you), but they are simply not the type of folks who take it to the streets. I'm not suggesting that they would never stand up in a physical way if the situation called for it. However, their intellectual leaders, like the good folks at Stand Firm, have already done all the measuring, careful research, figuring, projection, and calculation and they are sure that in the final cost-benefit analysis, they are better off just doing what they've always done and keep fighting the good fight on paper and forecasting the doom that TEC is destined for. So, they will have little to do with we "moderate conservatives" who believe that prayer, service, quiet evangelism, and right worship may save some on the inside, even if we pay a price later on when we depart, but that's our problem I guess. I'm sure they'll be happy to meet us in cyberspace.

Greg Griffith said...

young joe,

I appreciate your compliments on the efforts of those at Stand Firm, but I still take issue with your characterization of the site as a paper tiger, and of its bloggers as people who talk tough but who aren't willing to risk careers and reputations to actually do something substantive.

As one example, I point you to the way we neutralized the lawyer-bishops' report that was released just a few days before the HoB meeting in September. The obvious intention of the report's authors was to time the release of the report such that the bishops heading to New Orleans had time to read and digest it, but laypeople keeping up through the blogs would not be able to get their hands on it. This is why the bishops released it in the form of a paper document and an accompanying audio CD, and provided no digital text format such as a Word or PDF document that could be easily posted to the web. The network of people and technology that we have established - and which runs more or less continually behind the scenes to bring interested Anglicans the news we bring them - instantly kicked into gear to get the paper documents scanned into images and the audio CD converted into MP3 files, and all of it posted to our site within about three hours of its release. Once those core documents were up, several dozen readers of our site volunteered to transcribe and OCR-scan them into text that we could then post to the site. The same group of volunteers then cleaned up the errors inherent in the OCR process. If I remember correctly, we had the entire report - completely corrected and in digital text format - on the blog in less than 8 hours from its release, and 2 or 3 days before the HoB convened in New Orleans - which was plenty enough time for the theologians, canon lawyers, and other analysts in the church to go to work demolishing the report. Remember that the report was designed to be the foundation on which the HoB worked during its meeting, to make the case to Rowan Williams that the cause of the crisis in the communion was not, in fact, TEC's actions but rather Anglican polity. In a coordinated operation involving the SF staff, several dioceses, and a couple of dozen volunteers from our site, that plan was torpedoed.

As another example, I mentioned on SF that we received a note of thanks and commendation from leaders in an overseas province who credited Sarah's book "Little Stone Bridges" with providing them the blueprint for defeating a major revisionist initiative that would have profoundly changed life in that province.

Those are just two things I'm able to talk about. We do plenty of things which one day I hope to be able to reveal, but for now I'll have to trust that those who are interested in such things will just give us the benefit of the doubt that we're doing more than crafting essays and reporting news.

I also take issue with your criticism that we should be something we aren't, that doing what you propose doing is the best use we could make of our time and resources, and that what you're talking about it so easily done in the first place or would have the effect you think it would.

First of all, let me repeat that what SF does, it does with 5 volunteers, all of whom have families and/or day jobs. It supports itself mainly through small donations from its readers. And - what it does, needs to be done. This is not at all to say that what you propose should *not* be done; it's simply to say that there's only so many hours in the day, and there's only so many people and efforts and projects the 5 of us can oversee. Again, I encourage you to spearhead the projects and activities you're proposing, but you need to be aware that doing so - and doing it well such that it is effective - will require of you at least as much time as full-time job does.

Second, it is not as though we haven't considered - at great length - doing the kinds of things you're proposing. The problem is this: There are three main groups in American Anglicanism who are unhappy about the situation and would like to see something done about it, and here's what we have found about them:

At one end are moderates, who by definition do not stage protests and engage in guerilla tactics. They are not going to join you in Anaheim or anywhere else for that matter, and carry a sign, chant slogans, or whatever.

What you really need are people who have grown thoroughly sick and tired of the antics of TEC, and are boiling over with the kind of righteous indignation that prompts them to want to do the kinds of protests you're talking about. Unfortunately, almost all of those types have left TEC in their rear-view mirror. they have joined AMiA, or the REC, or another one o the Anglican splinter groups, and are no longer interested in what TEC does. They have moved on, and aren't about to waste their time staging protests against TEC. Of the few in that crowd who might be candidates for your protests, a startling percentage of them are fixated on one issue - women's ordination - and will insist that you either focus all of your protest efforts on that one issue, or you're blind and a fool for not realizing that you should.

In between the moderates on one side and the very, very few "leavers" who are both interested in engaging in protest, AND not fixated on WO, there are some Episcopalians who are willing to join you in staging marches, hoisting banners, and generally raising hell, but they are very, very few in number, and there are not enough of them concentrated in one location to make an affective demonstration, and they cannot all - because of the cost, or logistics, or whatever - join you in those locations around the country where such protests need to be staged.

This is what we have found in almost five years of doing this, with one of the largest readerships and volunteer pools in the Anglican community at our fingertips. Again, it isn't that I think what you're proposing shouldn't be done - I'm simply saying that we've run these numbers many, many times, and they just don't compute.

Finally, I'll repeat a variation of what I asked you over at SF: If you think your ideas will help make a difference in this crisis, then I cannot encourage you strongly enough to get out there and implement them. As I asked you at SF: What have *you* done to help fight this battle? It would be one thing if you had actually done any of those things you prescribe in your post above, and could point to their success as part of your critique of SF does (and a very good case can be made that without what SF has done these last 4.5 years, there wouldn't be enough people out there informed and motivated enough to offer themselves for your protest efforts). But as it is, it sounds to me like what you have done in the way of fighting this battle - beyond writing a few strongly-worded essays - is little to nothing, yet you criticize SF for doing plenty of X but not enough of Y and Z in addition. I say that not to provoke you, but in the hopes you can understand why I've taken issue with your criticisms the way I have.

Greg Griffith said...

"...make an effective demonstration..."

Anonymous said...

Young Joe does not seem to be able to make up his mind as to how he's decided that StandFirm ought to spend their time.

StandFirm is to "place limits on their speech and their authority, even if it is only a persuasive authority".

StandFirm is to organize "unorthodox political strategies".

StandFirm is "too well-behaved and well-bred to really get out there and get into a scrape with the false Christians in ECUSA and their far more insidious collaborators".

StandFirm needs to stop being concerned about "our reputations or our careers by being seen as extremists or ill-mannered or rabblerousers".

StandFirm should not be sarcastic -- especially to Young Joe when he is in full-flight at this thread here, which thread appears to have left lasting irritation in Young Joe:
http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/12685/

StandFirm should be willing to "take it to the streets".

While at the same time, of course, StandFirm should have more "to do with we "moderate conservatives" who believe that prayer, service, quiet evangelism, and right worship may save some on the inside, even if we pay a price later on when we depart, but that's our problem I guess."

So while we're placing limits on our speech [in regards to the folks that Old Joe likes], organizing unorthodox political strategies, and not being so concerned about our reputations, but also not being sarcastic, while at the same time taking it to the streets, Old Joe will be praying and worshiping and doing quiet evangelism, and we should definitely have more to do with these sorts of moderate conservatives.

I believe I have all of that straight now and the five of us have met to discuss our options. ; > )


Sarah Hey

Greg Griffith said...

All good points, Sarah, and they deserve a response from joe: How are we supposed to square his plea to restrain ourselves and be more respectful of bishops, while "taking it to the streets," all the while bearing in mind that we are "too well-behaved and well-bred" to stoop to "unorthodox political strategies"?

Which is it, joe?

Perpetua said...

Dear Young Joe,

Whatever criticisms you may have made about Stand Firm and its leadership, the intent I perceived from your comments was that you wanted to help and didn't know how to volunteer. And that you were looking for leadership and didn't want the leaders you could identify to be lashing out at each other.

So, it occurs to me, Young Joe, you may like to contact someone who used to post on Stand Firm under the name bluenarratve. Although my memory is that bluenarrative is not in California, you two had a similar desire to organize a large public action and a frustration that nothing was happening. I think he may have joined the New Reformation Advocate (NRA) fan club. So maybe you could use the great member contact system at Stand Firm to make a connection with bluenarrative and/ or New Reformation Advocate.