I Don’t Know, Therefore I Sue
“I certainly can’t claim to know the details of this emerging church – no one can, yet – but it will need to be more flexible and open to varied expressions of church community.” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
It is difficult to write rationally and charitably about this statement.
First, I want to avoid the temptation (strong though it is) to rip just the Presiding Bishop for words so manifestly untrue to her actions. That this statement even shows up on our denominational website is the ugly evidence of sin and death “emerging” all over our church.
So let me make and be done with the point that her time as PB, judged by her deeds and her use of church money, gives the lie to her pretense of being a person “flexible and open” to “varied expressions of church community.” Her actions are so full of personal and ideological certainties that her claim to “not know the details of the emerging church” is fake humility, unctuous and sickening to read:
This PB sets records for purging the church of clergy representing “varied expressions of church community.” Her flunkies ultimately rewrote the disciplinary canons of the denomination, removing pretty much all substantial legal protections for clergy. Team Schori attempted to create sanctions for use against lay people, an idea at first turned back but on stand by for an opportune time.
Fellow SF blogger Allan Haley, in his Anglican Curmudgeon incarnation, investigates the PB’s litigation campaign to stamp out “varied expressions of church community.” At least $25,000,000 (twenty five million dollars) fueled at least 75 (seventy five) lawsuits against dioceses, congregations and even lay volunteers who disagreed with the PB’s ideology of a lockstep LGBT&c church. This is the single most measurable undertaking of her time as PB.
Most damning is her nonstop assertion of “hierarchy” as the defining quality of Episcopal Church organization. “Flexible, open and varied” indeed.
But as I said above, the denominational rot cannot be blamed on this one person.
She was elected to her office - she is our denomination’s choice.
There have been numerous efforts to get an accounting of the lawsuit spending. Most of these didn’t have to reach her desk to be ignored - they were shouted down by clergy and laity at the diocesan level. “We shouldn’t make problems for Bishop Katharine” was just one of the objections used to defeat a call for accountability put forward at the Diocese of South Dakota’s Convention a few years ago.
Too many clergy and congregations (I and my own being no exception) make do by ignoring the excesses of the PB and the “hierarchy” she’s invented. We have an array of excuses for “keeping things local” and “not upsetting the good work we are doing here.” Despite several years of preaching, blogging, teaching and otherwise outing and confronting denominational problems, I find that a significant chunk of my congregation has no idea what’s going on. Among those who do, only a few want to differentiate as a “varied expression of church community;” most just want to duck and cover and a few, it turns out, want to kneel and pledge fealty to her.
The biggest problem is our willingness to sit and cluck and never recognize that you can’t have all of our purported “flexibility, openess, variety, inclusion, tolerance, freedom of thought, etc.” and then accept the unilateral spending, actions and claims of a “hierarchy” or (even worse since a hierarchy has at least some coherent order) a cult of personality.
That “Bishop Katharine” can blush and softly proclaim herself “unknowing, open and flexible” while initiating lawsuits to stamp out those who question her views reveals that we have a great many empty hearts inhabiting our increasingly empty pews and pulpits.
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