[Diocese of Virginia] A Little Flashback: Bishop Johnston’s Pastoral Address At Annual Council
You know, when I first saw this address, I was overwhelmed with the pretentious, overweening, self-important grandiosity of it.
Bishop Johnston spent most of the talk speaking about how great and rich—particularly rich—the diocese was.
If you’re interested in some background from earlier this year, there are some good comment reviews of the speech and the situation of the Diocese over at the T19 thread.
But now, as I peruse the speech, I realize that it’s more the schoolyard talk of a bully, trying to build up the egos of his fellow bullies. “We’re the biggest, we’re the strongest, we’re the fastest…” sort of talk. And that’s what you do when you realize that a group of people—including yourself—needs to be artificially inflated. It’s also what you do when you need to deal with some major issues, but issues that you don’t want your fellow bullies to recognize as major.
The reason why I realized it was because, when one outlines his talk, one comes up with the following, with nary a hint of recognition of the irony:
I This Diocese Is Really Awesome and I’m going to devote eighteen paragraphs to describing its awesomeness.
A. We’re awesome because we’re really rich.
B. We’re awesome because we’re really big.
C. We’re awesome because we’re really talented.
D. We’re awesome because we’re just like the Anglican Communion.
E. We’re awesome because we’re “the most ‘outward’ looking diocese that I know of.”
1) We’ll develop relationships with every single province.
2) We’ll influence the State and local governments.
F. We’re awesome because unlike other dioceses we have two “signature” camp and conference centers.
II Despite our awesomeness, and our winning our legal property battles, we have three small problems which means I’m starting a new program and devoting five paragraphs to describing it.
A. We need to all “put our shoulders to the wheel” to figure out how to get some people into these properties we won legally; I’m going to call that team “Vision & Strategy.”
B. We’re going to need a lot of money; I’m going to call that team “Resources.”
C. We’ve gotten absolutely creamed in the public relations game—people don’t seem to recognize our general awesomeness despite the fact that we are really awesome and we won our legal property battles; I’m going to call that team “Messaging” and they’re going to “communicate both inside the Diocese and to the world the redemptive effort, the redemptive work we undertake with” this new program.
III. I’ve had a clever idea and I’ll say it towards the end of this lecture in one swift paragraph. If we let some of the people from whom we legally stole their property stay in the property, we can solve both the “resources” problem and the “messaging” problem and we can try to “have a witness to the world, particularly the Anglican world” like you know, “an epoch-shaping witness.”
IV. Now that I’ve gotten through my lecture, I’ve realized that I haven’t said very many spiritual things and I only have two more paragraphs. So ... “ministry of Jesus Christ,” “the Gospel,” “our mission,” “the Risen Christ,” “Jesus as Savior and Lord,” “The Church,” “His Body on earth,” “His ministry incarnate in human life,” “Baptismal Covenant,” “God being our helper,” “in God’s providence,” “the Son of God,” “Youth & young adult formation,” “serve our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Seriously, folks, have you ever read anything more preeningly vacuous in your Episcopal life?
In fact, I challenge my fellow Episcopalians to go hence from this post and find something more empty-headed and vain by an Episcopal bishop. Bonus points if you can find it with an additional “we’ve got just a small problem and here’s my cunning solution” paragraph or two inserted in the midst of all the twaddle.
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