Friar John's Ruminations

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Few Things I am Pondering

Theological liberals are flocking to Morgan of Wales (AKA Pelagius). He was a hyper -moralistic, excessively ascetic monk given to long screeds about the decline of society and the need to be ever vigilant against sin. Augustine, on the other hand, preached a God of unmerited grace and perfecting love to whom sinners had recourse in that same Gods' death and resurrection. Augustine's chief sin, according to his Modernist critics, is  to say that we are born in sin, and that we are unable to save ourselves. That is, apparently, offensive to the precious self esteems of many now. Next thing you know, we'll be in the middle of the Federal Theory of Atonement. Meanwhile the neo-Donatist Arminians over at Ft Viagra will, no doubt, be soon be harping upon Augustinian themes against the most recent, and ill advised, defense of the Bishop Elect of Northern MI. There is an irony in that the theologian that one side could resort to is the others mascot.  I'm also not particularly expecting to be thanked for pointing it out.

One other thing I suppose could be said about a connection between Kevin Thew Forrester+ is that Pelagius redacted his own letters and sermons to try and reduce objections to them. That is, I suppose, the fourth and fifth century equivalent of pulling sermons and liturgies down off of the internet once they start to attract unwanted attention. That is just one of the layers of obfuscation that Bishop Kimsey tries to defend with a cry for "transparency" at the end of his letter. Apparently, it's only transparency when it works in your favor. I would argue that it is transparency that has gotten us into this position. The process that elected Forrester+ was not quite as transparent as most of us are used to. While trying to find out more about him, several of us found out all sorts of things. Some of these things have given pause. Then, when they started drawing fire, and the questions could not be deflected with off hand remarks about "the usual suspects" the documents in question were disappeared. (By the way, I resorted to googeling Kindling the Ancient Fire Sharing Stories of Life- Death-Rebirth Receiving the Sacred Fruits of Earth to pull up a pdf file, it's now faded from the parish site I saw it on, but has now been redisplayed at several other sites. Surf with caution.)

The letter ends with the following:

If you prevail and Kevin’s election is not agreed to, what is the next litmus test to

be? And perhaps the telling question is: if you prevail and Kevin’s election is not

agreed to, what word do you have for the people of Northern Michigan? I would

suggest you cut us all some slack and withdraw your opposition to Kevin’s

election. In so doing you would add a moment of grace to a Communion that, I

believe, is in search of openness and transparency, not inquisitional standards

employed through the consent process.

I will refrain from my initial response to his closing paragraph since it seems to serve no other purpose than to manipulate the emotions of those of us who are reticent to see his approval. It got an emotional response, just not one that can be shared in charity. It was a blatantly manipulative pair of questions, followed with a thinly veiled implication that any attempt at applying any sort of theological standard at all is an inquisitorial  act. The summoning of an assumed violent history there is galling when it is then strapped onto Bishop Bridenthhal's well reasoned letter. It was a low and hyperbolic blow to reinforce the first questions implication of dark days and serves as a  follow up to the shrill assumption of superior empathy implied in second question.  

I think that one of the issues we have here is that to say no to Forrester+ is to be not nice. 
It would be mean to say "no" to him, and to his diocese. It is this violation of the deadly virtues of Sentimentality and Mental Timidity precisely that which Bishop Kimsey is protesting. It is to say that we do, indeed have some standards someplace, and we intend to enforce them, broad though they may be. The one thing that came out of the cowardly assault on Bishop Righter is that Anglicans poses a theological core. Now is the time that it shows. I'm just sorry that Bishop Kimsey et al do not like what they see.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

You have some excellent thoughts here.

I followed the link and read Bp Kimsey's letter. "the faucet of discussion"?!? That is a terrible metaphor. I don't think I've ever heard plumbing used as in image like that before. Good gravy.