December 17, 2014

September 18, 2012


[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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16 comments

Sounds like his head has grown to fit the inside of his mitre.

[1] Posted by Greg Griffith on 9-18-2012 at 10:06 AM · [top]

Sarah,


How can you be so divisive toward our “brother in Christ”?

For shame.

Seek understanding and struggle toward reconciliation.

Perhaps, rather than indulging in uncivil carping, we should find ways to open more doors for ministry for Bishop Johnston? Make some introductions? Give him a platform in orthodox circles so that we can, one day, fully embrace Christ the “other” for the sake of our shared gospel.

[2] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 9-18-2012 at 10:38 AM · [top]

Matt+,

I fear BP Johnston would not accept an introduction into orhodox circles…that would stretch the elastic of his TEo ‘inclusivity’ too much…it would snap back and bite him below the mitre.  If Kate would even allow him to speak to an orthodox, without Title VI action.

[3] Posted by Fr. Chip, SF on 9-18-2012 at 11:46 AM · [top]

“We are big, big, big! ...Please ignore that man behind the curtain… The mighty Johnston has spoken!”

[4] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 9-18-2012 at 02:38 PM · [top]

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.</blockquote>I thought I had this won hands down, then discover that the bishop-only rules disqualify my entire Kevin Genpo Thew Forrester collection.

Sounds like his head has grown to fit the inside of his mitre.

Recent HOB meeting (poor taste and rude humor alert)

[5] Posted by tjmcmahon on 9-18-2012 at 07:21 PM · [top]

RE: “I thought I had this won hands down, then discover that the bishop-only rules disqualify my entire Kevin Genpo Thew Forrester collection.”

Mmm hmmmm.  My challenge was carefully written indeed.  smirk

[6] Posted by Sarah on 9-18-2012 at 09:33 PM · [top]

Sarah:

May heaven help me, I simply must start paying closer attention to some of your postings.  I tried skimming this one and initially thought your parody was the actual text of something our recently reclassified “brother in Christ” up in Virginia had said.

The thing is, I wasn’t the least bit surprised by any of it and only realized what you were up to when I later gave it a full reading and clicked on the link.

I’ve learned my lesson.

tjmcmahon:

my entire Kevin Genpo Thew Forrester collection

Is that a reference to the Zen action figures or to noteworthy things Mr. Forrester has said? LOL

[7] Posted by episcopalienated on 9-18-2012 at 10:17 PM · [top]

Much to parse here:

“181 congregations comprised of some 82,000 baptized members…”

I wonder why bishops insist on using meaningless bloated numbers, when it only reinforces the actual decline in the number of people in the pews.  This seems desperate.

“The Diocese of Virginia quite probably has more links, companionships and personal relationships beyond our own borders than any other Anglican diocese anywhere. The numbers tell a very compelling story. We currently have ministries with 40 international dioceses involving 75 of our congregations!...  I am so committed to our Anglican Communion, that I have set the goal of our diocese having ministry relationships with every single province in the entire Anglican Communion. We’re already in 20 of the 34 provinces. If–no, when!–we make that happen, the Diocese of Virginia will be the only diocese in the entire Anglican world with such a reach.”

Pay attention here.  He knows that the DoVA lost all credibility with the global south when it deposed all the clergy who asked for letters dimissory there, and isn’t even in communion with a number of them (Uganda sent a rather sharp letter to Lee, I seem to recall.)  He seems to be jealous that the ACNA has the predominate Anglican relationships globally these days, and plans to try to attack that.  So we should be forewarned.  (TEC has been trying this, too, and has more money.)
 
“It would be a big mistake to characterize this simply as a “legal” battle. ... At stake is our polity, that is, our ancient and defining order of our being the Church.” 

Take that, you Roman Catholics or anyone else in Virginia claiming to be a church!
 
“So far, our legal efforts are bearing abundant fruit….” 

Well, the Diocese of Virginia has received its blessing, then.  There will be no more.

[8] Posted by pendennis88 on 9-19-2012 at 08:59 AM · [top]

The world has too many people going overboard with reconciliation.  It’s better to err on the side of enmity and bitterness.

[9] Posted by S. Hamilton on 9-20-2012 at 12:38 PM · [top]

RE: “The world has too many people going overboard with reconciliation.”

Yeh yeh . . . that’s what he’s talking about after the 18 paragraphs describing how awesome they are, and the five paragraphs describing just a few slight problems.

“Reconciliation” =

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.”

[10] Posted by Sarah on 9-20-2012 at 12:45 PM · [top]

“So far, our legal efforts are bearing abundant fruit….”

If one considers tossing multiple congregations and their several thousand parishioners out of their homes and spending millions in lawyer’s fees “bearing abundant fruit,” I suppose that’s correct. At least they haven’t sold any of the empty or near-empty buildings to Muslims - yet.

[11] Posted by the virginian on 9-21-2012 at 03:30 PM · [top]

Incidentally, I just saw another article noting what appears to be a TEC initiative to buy off the global south; see “Troubling questions about the Anglican Alliance and Trinity Wall Street” by Canon Ashey of the AAC.

I don’t understand comment 9, though.  Are lawsuits reconciliation? Or is the winning of a lawsuit the reconciliation part?  Perhaps an explanation would help.

[12] Posted by pendennis88 on 9-21-2012 at 03:38 PM · [top]

One of the things I do not get is the pretend.

Look guys, you’ve denied every single tenet of Christian orthodoxy explicitly.  You have made it clear that adherence to said orthodoxy by any member of the congregation will be punished by any and all means available.  You have aligned yourselves with the Muslims, Unitarians and planned parenthood so as to distance yourselves even further from Christ.  You literally collect alliances opposed to Christianity,

It is blatantly clear you have no respect for Jesus Christ – barely being able to mention his name – and speak of polity and ‘Baptismal Covenant’ (which appears to be code for ‘Get out of Jail free’ card.) 

Why bother?  Why go through the grief of mentioning (gulp) HIS name?  Ya got the buildings.  Ya got the gays,.  You ‘won’ by taking over a denomination and denying all its tenets.  So I ask… why do you need to pretend with this Jesus talk you so clearly hate?

Why can’t you drop the pitiful facade, declare yourself a new (non)-religion and you could clean up!  I mean, it worked for Ron Hubbard.  Why bother with the pretend Christian bit? It’s not working in terms of numbers or cash.  You can’t attract those wishing to be Christian because, well, you are not Christian.  Indeed, you are anti-Christian.  But you don’t attract the anti-Christians because they do not want to be associated with that *spit* Jesus guy.

If you want to be big why not declare yourselves, I dunno, the New Evolved Celestial Consciousness Church (which, by the way is TOTALLY pro-Gay and pro-Pagan and doesn’t do that icky Jesus stuff) and you’ll be able to attract major film stars.  Fer cryin’ out loud, Bagwan became a mulch-millionaire from it and he advocated free sex so a win-win.  OK, he died completely mad but you’re half way there anyway.

[13] Posted by jedinovice on 9-22-2012 at 12:05 AM · [top]

I heard such bs at conventions in the Pisky Diocese of Lost Angels back in the early ‘80s.  It’s been going on for eons, as long as there are bishops. I even hear that stuff now although I belong to a much different church.  seems to go with ‘institutional christianity’ (note the lower cases here).  I feel your pain…

[14] Posted by rdrjames on 9-22-2012 at 11:36 PM · [top]

One little itty bitty thing i noticed in that addres to the convention:  He only mentioned “Jesus” maybe 4 times, and “Christ” once maybe.  I missed some, I hope.
it’s all about “US” I suppose.  So sad.

reminds me of that song: We are the champions….

[15] Posted by rdrjames on 9-23-2012 at 12:02 AM · [top]

Sarah,
It was not those efforts at “reconciliation” to which I was referring.

Sam

[16] Posted by S. Hamilton on 9-23-2012 at 06:43 PM · [top]

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