Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bishop Shori's Visit to Dallas

I've returned and reflected a bit on the clergy Q&A with our Presiding Bishop. Here are my impressions of that meeting. Because I have not run this by anyone else, I will only name myself and Bishop Schori.

There was a mixture of reasserter clergy and reappraising clergy - including some from Fort Worth and NW Texas. Oddly enough, the majority of rappraising clergy sat on the right and the reasserters sat on the left. This is not a word for word or blow by blow recounting. It is only the highlites from the meeting.

We started off with prayers. The Presiding Bishop then opened with the story of Jesus' baptism. She said that Jesus rose from the water and heard "You are my beloved. With you I am well pleased." (Note, she did not use the word "Son" as in "You are my beloved Son." Jesus then went to the wilderness to be tested. She said that she felt these to events recapitulated the first two ceation stories where God creates man and it is "Very Good" and then the second story with its tale of broken relationships. We then spent 5 minutes in silent reflection on hearing God say to us "you are my beloved. With you I am well pleased."

After that, we shared in pairs or groups of three about our experience. We then shared (as desired) with the whole group. I shared that I heard God call me His beloved and that He loved me just as I am, but that He loved me too much to leave me that way. "Follow Me" He said "and I will make you Righteous - I will Justify You for your life is not your own. You do not know yourself. Only I know you and your life lies hid with Christ in God."One person shared that being God's beloved involved some ethical changes. We need to know that we are God's beloved, but we also need to know that being the beloved involves living a certain way.

After a few more people sharing, the floor opened up to questions. One person asked about how we could rectify hearing that we (and everyone else) were God's beloved whileat the same time bringing lawsuits against them. Bishop Schori mentioned her fiduciary responsibility because the property was given for the Episcopal Church. The questioner then asked about our responsibility to keep the faith and that the church buildings were given first to further the Gospel and we, as the Episcopal Church ,have changed that. She indicated that she felt that all people on this issue honestly believe that they are following and proclaiming the Gospel.

Another friend of mine asked about how she decided what was holy living (living as God's beloved). She turned the question back on him and he pointed this out, but went on to talk of the importance of Holy Scripture to determining what is holy living. She said that we are not a "Sola Scriptura" church. For her Scripture is the primary source of our authority. A couple other questions were asked, then I asked my question.

First I thanked her for saying that Scripture was the primary source of authority. I said that we bless marriages, not because they are pretty or fun or we like marriages or married people, but because of four reasons:

  1. God ordained marriage in Creation
  2. Jesus adorned marriage at Cana
  3. Paul indicates marriage represents Christ and the Church
  4. Holy Scripture commends it to be honored by all people.

I asked here where, in Holy Scripture, any of those is true for blessing same sex unions. She (predictibly) asked me how I read the story of David and Jonathon and the healing of the Centurion's servant (she used the Greek word).

I mentioned that David and Jonathon was a tale of two warriors who had faced combat together. My father was an Air Force officer and he felt closer to some of the men he faced combat with than he did his wife. It is a different kind of love. She smiled. However, I said, even if David and Jonathon were in a homoerotic relationship, does that mean that David is our examplar of sexual morality? (this statement elicited a chuckle from many people). She said that no person was totally sexually pure. I pointed out that David was a rather egregious example of sexual immorality.

As for the Centurion's servant and the implies sexual relationship there, I asked if the master-slave paradigm was what good homoerotic relationships were built around. She indicated that this was not the case. She said that I just dismissed here biblical warrants. In other words, she did not have an answer to my question.

Other questions were asked - some by reappraisers and some by reasserters and some by people I would classify as moderate. Among those were what to do about the declining numbers since 1965 and what to do about the average age of the clergy. She talked about the "idol of numbers" and asked us what we were doing about the aging clergy. She asked if we were talking to 9 year olds about ordained ministry and talking to high school students about ordained ministry.

One of my favorite questions was about the "Dallas Plan." I don't know a lot about this plan in its most recent incarnation. It started out as a way to allow for the ordination of women to the priesthood from the Ft. Worth diocese. Now, as I understand it, there is a movement afoot to allow congregations in Ft. Worth that don't want to leave the Episcopal Church to receive (temporarily) Episcopal oversight from Bishop Stanton. Bishop Schori said that this was a bad Idea and that 815 was against it because it was extra-canonical. One of the reasserters asked her why she was so liberal in interpreting the scriptures, but so literal in interpreting the canons. She said that the canons are what order our common life and she didn't think she was interpreting them literally.The whole morning lasted about 1.5 hours (after the meditations).

In all, we kept a respectful tone and were treated respectfully in return. She does know how to work a room and deflect uncomfortable questions. We occasionally saw the mailed fist inside the velvet glove - especially when discussing the Dallas Plan as it pertains to congregations in the diocese of Ft. Worth.


Phil Snyder

(note: Edited to correct the spelling of Schori - I misspelled her last name and have corrected it).


Phil said...

Thanks for your reflections, Deacon Phil. Sounds like a similar performance to what I saw on video from South Carolina.

Andy said...


Thanks for the insider insights. Too, its good to see the slant back in business.


Jill C. said...

Thanks, Phil. Read it and forwarded the link to our Sr. Warden, "Edwin" (whom you met at our Mac Grill supper a couple months back) and a couple others. Looks like you're well up to the task of explaining to the folk that there were two different meetings yesterday and you were just at the morning one. Thanks for your patience with us!

Bill Cavanaugh said...

Phil--Thank for standing for the faith yesterday. Your interchange with Bp. Jefferts Schori wasd probably the high point of the morning.

Your noting that David & Jonathan were brothers-in-arms was outstanding--it should be the response whenever that old talking point is ever brought up. It was the only time KJS actually conceded a point.

Needless to say, if D & J are ever put forth as gay lovers to me again, I will know how to respond--speaking the truth in love.

Again, well done. Someone suggested that you should get the St. Stephen's Award for testifying to the truth in hazardous situations!!


plsdeacon said...

One thing that I didn't know but found out. The word "pais" that +KJS used to talk about the Centurion's "sex slave" (Referencing Matt 8:5-13) is also used in Matthew 12:18 to tranlate Isaiah's first "pais" (Servant) song. In the Septuagint, pais is used to translate "servant." I wish I had known that when she brought up the Centurion's pais; My answer would have been much different.

Phil Snyder

Erik Cowand said...

I wonder what possessed her to ask y'all about 9 year olds and the ordained ministry... I am SOOOOOO glad to be out from under the auspices of that.... lady.


Mike S said...

She might be right. She does not appear to be treating Scripture nor canons literally given the events of San Joaquin and the last HoB meeting.

I do wish she had answered the questions, you posed concerning David as our moral exemplar and the supposed sex slave of the centurion.

That last example really opened her up for an attack from both sides of this debate. Your question exposed the weakness in her thinking on this issue as it immediately raised the issue as part of justifying SSB liturgies. Do we now have to go back and readdress the slavery issue with regard to same-sex relationships? That has to be a nightmare for reappraisers.

Sioux said...

Thanks for posting this! On another note, Sunday night we celebrated Bishop Iker's 15th anniversary as a bishop. Bishop Duncan preached. Now THERE was a real rally of the faithful.

Christopher Cantrell+ said...


She seems to have only one approach. She did the exact same act in South Carolina. Bishop Lawrence reminded her that the Father was speaking to His Son!

Thanks for the report - Come hear Archbishop Venables on Saturday at St. Vincent's.


ken peck said...

Very interesting, in that pais is simply the Greek word for "boy," specifically a prepubescent male child. It's use as "servant" is not unlike the impolite English use of "boy" addressing an "inferior" male adult. I have no idea how we get from that to "sex servant."

Other occurances of "pais" include the Holy Innocents (Matthew 2:16), the epileptic son (Matthew 17:18, Luke 9:42), children in the Temple (Matthew 21:15), the servants (including David, btw) of Zacharias' song (Luke 1:54,69), Jesus (Luke 2:42 & Acts 3:13,26; 4:27,30), the wicked steward (Luke 2:45), the servants of the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:26), David (Acts 4:25 & Luke 1:69) and Eutychus (Acts 20:12)

I won't even try to list the nearly 80 times the word is used in the Septuagint.

Richard said...

Your comment about David and Jonathan as war buddies is astute. A seminary classmate of mine who served also as a military chaplain presented a paper on this approach at the SBL meeting in Philadelphia (2005?). Look for Nathan Solomon and what I hope is the article based on the paper he read. Btw - Nate was careful to say "I'm not saying this relationship could not have been homoerotic" (nor did he say it was) just "as a military chaplain, and pulling off research done on the bond between fellow soldiers both modern and ancient..."

plsdeacon said...


I can understant that the word might have sexual overtones in certain part of Greek culture. I do quite a bit of prison ministry and the word "bitch" connotes either a female dog or a rather nasty woman in normal society. However, in prison it generally connotes a person who is your (or someone elses) rather unwilling sex partner.

So, while there may be cause for saying that in some cases pais can connote sex slave, I really don't think that Matthew or Luke had that image in mind when they used it in their writings and I assuredly do not believe that the authors of the Septuagint had it in mind when they used it.

Phil Snyder

Greg On the Run said...

Sounds very similar to what she said to South Carolina clergy, right down to the exact same meditation.

FrDarryl said...

Deacon, that was brilliant. The Squid Lady winced a bit did she?

Or were you - like countless others who can defend a claim without appeals to sympathy and other forms of fallacy - also unable to penetrate her carapace of smug ignorance?

I love it when faithful Brethren in Orders take on the TECCON: