Thursday, February 4, 2010

Clouding the issue with facts

Almost every fiction will include some things that are true. For example, The DaVinci Code is fiction, but there IS a city in France called Paris.

A Private Members Motion has been introduced for debate at the Church of England General Synod calling for the CofE to explore the possibility of being in communion with the so-called Anglican Church in North America. Like many PMMs, there is also a background paper by the mover of the motion - an expat Canadian called Lorna Ashworth.

Like The DaVinci Code, Ms Ashworth's paper includes a compelling narrative, including a band of heroes standing up to a powerful institutional oppressor.

The DaVinci Code, however, sticks more closely to the facts.

Canon Alan Perry of the Diocese of Montreal has prepared a rebuttal of Lorna Ashworth's fiction regarding the Anglican Church of Canada. Simon Sarmiento of Thinking Anglicans has prepared a similar rebuttal to Ms Ashworth's libel of the Episcopal Church.

See Thinking Anglicans here and here for further discussion.

The crux of the issue is this: People are free to leave the Anglican Church of Canada if they wish. Similarly, people are allowed to leave the Episcopal Church.

But, as Canon Perry so eloquently puts it:

The consequence of leaving is, well, to leave.

The congregation of St. Bumpkin's in the Bog, Lesser Mudpuddle can't declare themselves to be no longer a part of the Church of England and expect to keep the parish church.

The treasurer of the local Masonic Lodge can't resign from the Masons and expect to keep the bank account.

Only in the deranged dystopia of the far right do they expect that people should get to eat their cake and have it too.

What it comes down to is this: Ms Ashworth is calling on the Church of England (the official religion of most of the United Kingdom) to endorse theft and fraud.

The CofE House of Bishop's have introduced an amendment to Ms Ashworth's motion. Their amendment stops short of actually endorsing theft, but it fails to address the lies which are at the centre of this issue.

In any event, thanks to Canon Perry and to Simon Sarmiento for making the effort to challenge the slanders, libels and lies of the far right. Doubtless the irreconcilables will now complain bitterly about how the issue has been clouded with facts.


Tim Chesterton said...

You think these people are all far right? I assure you, some of them vote NDP!

Malcolm+ said...

I agree, Tim, that not everyone who is skeptical about same sex unions or the ordination of partnered gays and lesbians are far right.

But those who are using this peripheral wedge issue in order to alienate property, misappropriate finances and exhaust the resources of the legitimate North American provinces are working on the far right agenda of the misnamed Institute for Religion and Democracy. The IRD campaign to destabalize mainstream denominations is funded by right wing extremists.

There is a world of difference between conscientious reservations about current innovations and those who are using this as a wedge issue to steal property.

G said...

to eat their cake and have it too.

God bless you, Father. We're in good company with Robertson Davies and the Unabomber.

Malcolm+ said...

I'm not sure I follow the comment on the Unabomber.

G said...

Too often we hear the nonsensical "have their cake and eat it too." As I recall, the Unabomber was apprehended in part because his brother recognized his characteristic use of the correct form in one of his messages.

Anonymous said...

Steal property? Seems to me it's the ACoC trying to steal property. St. Hilda's has paid off their mortage, on their own, with no help from the diocese at all. The Diocese of Niagara has no use for the building, except to sell it. The ANiC parish wants it to continue their ministry.

Interesting, isn't it, that St. Mary's Mestotian is a building that is slated to be closed - the same building that the ACoC was so eager to kick the ANiC parishes out of.

Why are you so threatened by us, Malcolm? If what we are doing is of God, we will succeed. If not, we will fail, and you will be able to say I told you so.

Malcolm+ said...

I guess a big part of the issue, Kete, is ecclesiology.

In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a number of congregations have shifted their affiliation to other Lutheran synods. This has not been an issue because Lutheran ecclesiology in North America is generally congregationalist.

Anglican ecclesiology is not congregationalist. Congregations are creatures of dioceses. Therefore an argument predicated on denying the proprietary interest of the church outwith the congregation is (in an Anglican context) a logical absurdity.

Now, all that said, in those cases where the seccession of individuals renders the remaining congregation unviable and wheree the secceding individuals have formed a new, non-Anglican congregation, it would not be inappropriate for the property to be offered for sale to that congregation on favourable terms.

Oh, and I'm not afraid. I'm just tired of the lies. Lorna Ashworth's polemic was full of them - including the false accusation that the Anglican Church of Canada had deposed Harvey, Harding, Ferris et al.

Sometimes there are honest differences about whatt the truth is. Some stuff is just lies.

David said...

it would not be inappropriate for the property to be offered for sale to that congregation on favourable terms.

I think the dioceses in property disputes have little interest in that. Early on ANiC in New West made Ingham a very generous offer to buy the properties and was turned down.

An offer to buy the properties was also made in Niagara; again it was turned down.

Anonymous said...

They were deposed/inhibited, as was JI Packer. There have been financial offers on the part of the ANiC parishes in various places,which were turned down flat.

Malcolm+ said...

@ Kate - Harvey, Harding and Ferris all relinquished the exercise of the ministries in the Anglican Church of Canada. Those are facts, Kate. They did so voluntarily and at their own initiative. Had the assorted Americans (Iker, Duncan, Schofield et al) done likewise, one could at least see them as acting with integrity.

@David - You see? The comment appears. Without knowing all the details for all of the properties, I'll observe that the diocese has a responsibility to the remnant congregation. I understand that, at least in the Niagara cases, there were significant remnants intended to remain loyal to the Anglican Church. Unless and until that congregation conclude that they are no longer viable, I think it would be irresponsible of the diocese to sell the property out from under them.

June Butler said...

The IRD campaign to destabalize mainstream denominations is funded by right wing extremists.

Exactly right, Malcolm. The plan to destroy the ACofC and the Episcopal Church in the US goes some years back. Follow the money.

Neither the ACofC nor TEC is a congregationalist church. Why is it so difficult for those who depart to understand the difference between a hierarchical and a congregationalist church? When members of parishes or dioceses decide to leave the ACofC or TEC and attempt to take the property, they are stealing.

David said...

I understand that, at least in the Niagara cases, there were significant remnants intended to remain loyal to the Anglican Church.

Not so. The diocese is conducting services in St. George's Lowville, but is not presently conducting one in either St. Hilda's or Good Shepherd.

In St. Hilda's case the vote to join ANiC was unanimous and there was no ACoC remnant. For Good Shepherd, when the diocese was holding services there, there were around 12 people in the ACoC congregation and the "priest in charge" expressed the opinion that the congregation was "non-viable".

Malcolm+ said...

Y'know, I've never known a parish that could get unanimous agreement on the time of day. It moves me to wonder how many moderates and progressives were made to feel unwelcome in advance of a unanimous vote for a radical course of action. Rather like the Colorado Springs vote where anyone likely to vote against scism was deliberately excluded.

David said...

I have some close friends who are liberal Christians and they attended St. Hilda's up to around the point that we voted to join ANiC. They left because of disagreement with us on the issue of same sex blessings. We are still close friends; not for one moment did they voice any thought of being unwelcome.

They felt welcome and loved; this is why they attended in the first place. They left with considerable sorrow on their and my part.

I realise this is both anecdotal and what you would probably consider my biased opinion - but I truly believe that everyone is made to feel welcome, liberal or conservative.

Malcolm+ said...

It has the weakness of all anecdotal evidence - that it is difficult to generalize from a single incident or a small number of incidents.

That said, David, it is interesting to juxtapose your account of these reappraisers leaving over a disagreement even though they felt welcome with the constant refrain of reasserters about being "driven out" in what are, really, the same circumstance.

In any community, be it Christian or otherwise, but particularly in the Church, we cannot expect that everything will conform to our wishes or views. It seems to me, frankly, that most of what I hear of from reasserters as "persecution" is mostly about not getting their way.

My bishop is far more conservative than I am on the presenting issues. That doesn't mean I declare myself to be a part of the Diocese of Niagara or of the Episcopal Church. It is a geographic absurdity and an ecclesiological affront.

Anonymous said...

They relinquished their licences under the ACoC. They did not resign their orders. Cannon XIX was then initiated against them, which is the "inhibition" part .This is also a fact. They are two different things.

Anonymous said...

You know, Malcolm, you've taken me to task in other places for making comments about Ingham, and not backing them up with links. Seems to me you are doing the same thing here. Where's the evidence for Colorado Springs?

Anonymous said...

To clarify my previous comment - Bishop Hardy and the others relinquished their licences under article I of Cannon XIX, voluntarily, that is correct.

Then, article two of Cannon XIX was used to inhibit them. They are two different issues. So yes, you have stated the facts, just not all of the facts.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, here's the link:

Feel free to amalgamate my comments, if you wish.

Malcolm+ said...

You assorted comments deserve more considered response than I have time to do right now. Off to a funeral and requiem.

I may not get a chance to address these until tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the multiple comments - I plead being distracted by a four year old...

June Butler said...

For anyone who is interested in information about the money trail, here's the link to Jim Naughton's Follow the Money.

June Butler said...

Sorry. The title of Jim Naughton's two-parter is Following the Money.

Malcolm+ said...

@Kate 2/9 6 am
The relevant act is relinquishing THE EXERCISE of ministry. Relinquishment does not touch on one's ordination at all. Inhibition, historically, was most commonly a device used to address "strange clergy," meaning clergy who were exercising their ministry in a place where they were not licensed. If relinquished clerics were exercising ministry, as Anglican clergy, inhibition would be the most obvious canonical device to make it clear that they are not functioning under the authority of the Anglican Church of Canada. Perhaps we should come up with another one. The relations of the assorted Lutheran franchises might have an alternative way of approaching it.

Here is a link to contemporary coverage of the Colorado Springs rigged vote. You will note that members were not allowed to vote unless they withdrew from TEC and joined CANA first.

Don't worry about the multiple posts. Four year olds are a wonderful distraction. 've spent some time recently being distracted by my new grandson, Oliver the Wonder-Baby.

Anonymous said...

Fine, Malcolm, but you accused Lorna Ashford of lieing. She didn't. Both relinquishment and inhibition took place. Perhaps you might like to rethink your wording?

(Apropos of Tim's comment,I vote left too).

Anonymous said...

Oh, I didn't realize that you were talking about Don Armstrong's parish. I don't know what to think of that, I agree it looks bad. I don't think that is typical of ACNA though. Certainly nothing like that has happened in Canada, to my knowledge. It really isn't just to judge an entire movement based on one parish.

Yes, I realize I have used the example of Michael Ingham a lot, and you could say I am judging the whole ACoC based on the actions of one man. My point with that really is that he was allowed to remain a bishop after declaring that he didn't believe in the resurection. Any Christian institution that allows that to continue is broken.

Malcolm+ said...

I don't think I suggested that what happened in Colorado Springs was standard, but I also doubt it's unique. Certainly when I here about virtually unanimous votes for radical action, I'm skeptical.

As to Ingham, while I don't know offhand what the process is to charge a Canadian bishop with heresy, I don't believe it's that difficult. Certainly there were enough what you would call "orthodox" bishops in the House over the past few years (ie, Harvey, Harding, Ferris and Buckle all at the same time).

Your friends had it in their ability to proceed against Ingham for heresy.

They didn't.

Anonymous said...

For someone who uses the word "fact" a lot, you certainly play fast and loose with them yourself. House of Bishops meetings aren't generally open to the public, so you have no way of knowing what was, or wasn't, done.

Malcolm+ said...

The House of Bishops is quite beside the point, Kate. The House doesn't come into it at all.

That no one has ever laid a formal heresy charge against Michael Ingham (or, in the US, against John Spong) is simply a fact.

There are any number of possible reasons for this. The one that makes intuitive sense to me is that Ingham and Spong are simply too useful to the Anglican right to use as whipping boys. The last thing you lot would ever want to see is Ingham or Spong actually sanctioned because it would knocck the last remaining props out from under your self-serving narrative.

Warren said...

As to Ingham, while I don't know offhand what the process is to charge a Canadian bishop with heresy, I don't believe it's that difficult.

I'm sure J.I. Packer would agree with you. Ha, ha ha, ha, ha!

Warren said...

Certainly when I here about virtually unanimous votes for radical action, I'm skeptical.

So what's "radical action"? A parish voting to leave TEC? You kill me Malcolm.

Malcolm+ said...

Yet more empty rhetoric, Warren.

1. Packer et al demonstrate that it's really easy to stand on the sidelines and fling accusations. If they had the courage of their convictions (for those that actually have convictions), they could easily have laid charges.

They did not.

Not much courage or integrity involved in flinging accusations.

2. Are you suggesting that an atttempt to take a parish (and its property) out of an heirarchical denomination is not radical?

Warren, come on back when you have something of substaance to say.

But then, the entire ACNA apologia is built on empty sloganeering and nasty rumour-mongering.

Anonymous said...

If it makes you feel better to believe that, Malcolm,go right ahead.

Malcolm+ said...

It's not a question of what I believe or don't believe, Kate.

Michael Ingham has been a bishop for more than 15 years. At any point in that time, he could have been presented on charges of heresy had folk on the Anglican hard right chosen to do so.

You didn't.

I can only speculate on the reason.

His usefulness as a bogeyman to frighten the credulous strikes me as the most credible hypothesis. Therefore, I defer to Occam.

Warren said...

In an earlier comment you stated that the Colorado Springs vote was "rigged." My wife and I have gotten to know a family at our church who used to attend Armstrong's church (I think they left a year or two ago). If you have a specific question, I am willing to pose it to them (within reason - we don't know them that well). I have one of their boys in the Pioneer Club group I lead and will see them tonight.

Malcolm+ said...

There's not much to ask in the Colorado Springs case. Here's the link again that I posted above.

The rules that were established by Donald Armstrong and his cohorts required that members withdraw from the Episcopal Church, align with CANA and plegde to attend and to financially support the CANA affiliated congregation.

In other words, people were only allowed to vote if they were intending to support Armstrong and his cronies.

It would be like having a secular election where only members of one political party were allowed to vote.

The "vote" in Colorado Springs was a joke from start to finish. It was an egregious act of theft and fraud - so egregious that even many others in the schismatic camp aren't prepared to defend it. The courts have now settled the question and the property is back in the hands of its rightful owners, the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and the Episcpopal congregation.

In the meantime, Armstrong faces indictment on 20 felony counts related to embezzlement of nearly $400,000 - all of this PRIOR to his allegedly principled departure from the Diocese of Colorado to the receptive arms of Martyn Minns and Peter Akinola.

Warren said...

The link doesn't work - I get a 404 Error (Not Found).

Malcolm+ said...

Warren said...

If the charges against Armstrong are upheld I won't argue in his defence. Is your position that Armstrong is representative of other ACNA clergy and that many people who now belong to ACNA were tricked into leaving the ACoC/TEC? Do you anticipate that, once this trickery is brought to their attention, they will return to the ACoC/TEC? Are you observing such a return?

P.S. my previous comment about the dead link referred to the Episcopal Cafe link. The newspaper link works.

Warren said...

The link still doesn't work. It isn't an active link and it appears to be truncated. Maybe it's the computer I'm at.

Malcolm+ said...

I think Armstrong is an extreme case. The degree of deception and manipulation involved - ie, essentially only allowing supporters to vote - is probably atypical. I'm not convinced, however, that it is unique.

I also think parishioners in many defecting parishes have been fed a steady diet of half-truths and untruths about the wider Church. I certainly don't know of any parishes voting to leave where it has not been largely - or even exclusively - driven by the clergy.

I can't speak to any tendency for dissenters to return at some point after deciding they've been sold a bill of goods. The two parishes breakaway congregations we've seen in this diocese were never able to take any large number of people with them. One congregation seems to have disappeared. The other (affiliated to CANA) appears to be limited to a handful of Nigerian immigrants.

What I have heard about is a lot of people who had "left" returning when teh Episcopal Church has been given back the building. These are folk that simply kept worshipping where they had always worshipped. But I only have that second hand.

Here's the url broken into pieces. It seems the link is too long otherwise:

Warren said...

I certainly don't know of any parishes voting to leave where it has not been largely - or even exclusively - driven by the clergy.

I can only speak from personal experience and for one parish. Your description does not apply (and it is a good sized parish).

Malcolm+ said...

So, the clergy were not enthusiastic supporters?

Come now, Warren. You're being disingenuous.

Warren said...

The rector was less enthusiastic than I and I was one of the people trying to speed up the separation process. As much as I liked his preaching and the parish, I remember telling him that, if the parish refused to break from ACoC I would, out of conscience, leave the church. He was very tactful in his conversations with me, and always tried to help me understand all of the issues. I believe that, in his heart of hearts, he deeply desired that resolution could be found so that a split would not be necessary.

The rector is a leader in ANiC and, when the time came, he led the parish out of the ACoC. He never, however, tried to whip up support for something that most people were unenthusiatic about. He just faihfully and unashamedly preached the gospel, and didn't "hedge his bets", concerning the authority of Scripture. When the time came, their was virtual unanimity for leaving the ACoC.

Call me disingenuous or a liar if you want (or any other name for that matter). I really don't care.

Malcolm+ said...

I don't deny it is possible that such a case may exist. I note, however, that your description still makes the rector supportive of the act os schism, though deferring to others to promote it.

I'm also quite intrigued by the claim of near unanimity that you, David and others have put up. That strikes me as more than suspicious. Oh, not that the vote wasn't nearly unanimous. More along the lines of wondering how many people who did not agree with the overall tenor of the parish had left in the preceding year or two. People who would, by the standards you people offer up, have been "forced" to leave their parish.

Warren said...

I note, however, that your description still makes the rector supportive of the act os schism, though deferring to others to promote it.

Your exceeding graciousness never ceases to amaze me.

More along the lines of wondering how many people who did not agree with the overall tenor of the parish had left in the preceding year or two.

I was only in the parish for two years, so I can't speak to the history as an observer. My impression is that, over a period of 10+ years, several people did leave. People who were not accustomed to gospel preaching from the Bible, and who didn't like it. I'm certain that none of them were given a cold shoulder or made to feel that they were unwelcome. I believe that Heb 4:12 is a better place to look if you need an explanation.

I'll await your shredding of this comment too.

Malcolm+ said...

This is where the hypocrisy of the far right really comes into play.

The circumstances of those wwho left your parish is precisely analagous to the decision of you and others on the far right to leave the Anglican Church and the Episcopal Church. You and they didn't like the preaching and so departed.

Dress it up in all the proof texting you want. Your departure is exactly like theirs except for two small differences.

1.) Thay aren't jetsetting around the globe pretending they were tossed out on their asses and
2.) They didn't try to take the building with them.

Warren said...

Thus far, the Diocese has not tried to "repossess" the building - I don't think they want to assume the cost of upkeep and the circumstances are such that they might find it very difficult to sell. When the time comes, as it doubtlessly will, I think there is a good chance that the entire congregation will just walk away and find another location. I hope they do, actually.

I suspect that, by your definition, about 90% of North American Christians are on the "far right".

Malcolm+ said...

Thus far, then, the diocese has not taken legal steps to have you return a building which is legally and rightfully the diocese's.

I've frequently made the distinction between people who scruple over the particular issue of same sex marriage and those who have used this issue as a wedge in their attempts to rend the Church apart.

Much of the ACNA movement has been funded by the deep pockets of far right activists like Howard Ahmonson and the so-called Institute for Religion and Democracy. They have funded similar groups of provocateurs in other mainline denominations, including the United Church of Christ in the US, the Presbyterian Church in the US etc. Indeed, their focus is the take-over or marginalization of mainstream denominations in the US and the damage they have inflicted on the Anglican Church of Canada is collateral.

The folk on the ground obviously have a range of motivations, but the deep pockets funding ACNA (and the jetsetting lifestyles of Akinola, Orombi et al)don't give a rat's backside about the Gospel. It's about silencing critics of the far right agenda.

IOW, it's politics as practiced by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.

Warren said...

If the ACoC did a 180 on homosexuality, it wouldn't change my view. The matter of SSBs, etc., is just a symptom of a much deeper and much older problem (as we've discussed at length on another blog).

I'm currently a member of a large PCA church. I don't know the majority of people, but, based on my fellowship group (which numbers about 80), the minority of the people in the church are from a Presbyterian background. Most are new converts or originally started out in a different denomination. Curiously, it wouldn't suprise me if there were more people who were originally Baptist than Presbyterian. The gospel is preached unashamedly and people keep coming in.

June Butler said...

IOW, it's politics as practiced by Karl Rove and Dick Cheney.

With funds supplied by some of the same people.

Malcolm+ said...

I'm not really surprised, Warren. It isn't about sex. It's about politics. And about the use of a particular wedge issue to advance the right wing agenda.

Anonymous said...

I'm not really surprised, Warren.

I know, it is hard to surprise hard hearted people.

I think it would be best for all concerned if I said sayonara to your blog. You're no more welcoming of diverse opinions than is the Essentials blog and there aren't nearly as many people to dialogue with. I don't think anything is to be gained by the two of us picking away at each other. I'll leave you to your fans and won't further interupt the "slam" party. Real life will go on.

It's been a slice.

Malcolm+ said...

Can't leave without a departing slander, I see.

Just for the record, I have had fruitful and gracious exchanges with people who disagree with me on a range of issues.

It is difficult to have honest exchanges with people whose apparent intent is to slander and attack.

I hope you find your pure church somewhhere, someday.

Warren said...

Since my last comment came through as "Anonymous" instead of Warren (I don't understand as I didn't change anything), I owe you one more with my name on it.

If there was a pure church, it wouldn't be pure for long once I arrived. Can you point me to a "fruitful and gracious" exchange you've had on your blog with someone who disagreed with you about the split between the ACoC and ANiC/ACNA (on your blog)? I'm sure it's there, but I don't have time to go back through your history.

Warren said...

I know I'm breaking my vow to stop patronizing your blog, but I spoke to our friends earlier this evening who used to attend Armstrong's church in Colorado Springs and wanted to report what I was told - without embelishment, commentary or adjectives.

All members were permitted to vote and there was no requirement to become part of CANA. The only requirement to vote was to be a member of the parish. Some people (I don't know how many) boycotted the meeting as a "protest" and did not cast a vote.

Malcolm+ said...

"Be a member of the parish" ought to be a pretty straightforward thing. However there were several reliable reports that "member of the parish" was taken to deliberately exclude anyone who refused to support the attempt to alienate the parish from the Episcopal Church. Certainly some people were told they could not attend the meeting because they were deemed to be "no longer" members since they had not attended from the point when Armstrong was inhibited by the Diocese of Colorado.

Several loyal Episcopalians refused to participate in Armstrong's faux-legal hoax because they declined to lend credibility to his attempted illegal actions.