Skip to comments.Griswold Agonistes (Part II)
Posted on 06/10/2006 5:46:39 PM PDT by sionnsar
[All, there are aspects of this article I don't particularly like (unnamed sources quoted at length, the "Do you know" elements, etc.) but despite those there was interesting material so here it is. --sionnsar]
A moderate bishop in the Episcopal House of Bishops told VirtueOnline recently, following my story on Frank Griswold "GRISWOLD AGONISTES" (http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3367) that the half hath not been told me. "You have, in my opinion, missed the worst parts. Nobody is happy with this man," the bishop wrote to VirtueOnline.
The bishop agreed to speak to VirtueOnline on the understanding that he remain anonymous.
"In the case of Griswold, you will find that many on the left resent him more than those on the right, who in a sense do not have to put up with him," he wrote.
He then said the following things:
* Do you know that Frank is controlling the Presiding Bishop election process going on now to the extent that even the search committee has offered to pay for background checks on the flood of nominees they assume will come from the floor given the mandate they have not to select candidates who actually believe anything and can state it clearly?
* Do you know that he resisted firing Dan England (former ECUSA Communications Director) even after sexual misconduct and credit card irregularities were proved because Dan is Phoebe (Griswold's) creature (he was married to his current squeeze in their home)?
* Do you know that without even asking their permission he injected the handsome young boyfriend of the Bishop of Massachusetts (Tom Shaw) into the bishop spouses' group, even unashamedly using the word "companion"?
* Do you know that there was an uprising at the last HOB meeting, led entirely by the left who are sick of personal rule that simply ignores canons, resolutions, and the idea of democracy?
* Do you know the extent of the anger among bishops over the bland team of inoffensive southern good-ole boys he sent to Nottingham?
Among the more egregious decisions Griswold made during his tenure was the move that should have been made from the enormously expensive church center at 815 Second Avenue to General Theological Seminary at 175 Ninth Avenue, NYC. The move died when Griswold became personally miffed, costing the Church hundreds of millions of dollars, and was simply ended by personal order. He plead, at the time, that he was concerned with the church's "mission." In truth he really didn't want to give up the penthouse. At his first meeting with the bishops he announced that unlike Browning, who offered frequently hospitality in the apartment, he was inviting us to stay away from the place, and was giving it its own address. Nobody goes inside. It is no secret that the cost of operating the church would be cut at least in half by moving out of NYC to an air hub in the center of the country, but he clings to the high-status address for dear life.
Most of us who happen to be on the left on the sex issue, put our energy and focus on evangelism and church growth find bishops' meetings not just a waste of time, but spiritually damaging. The number of bishops who become physically ill at these meetings and have to leave is noteworthy.
As one looks at the Griswold Years, the Episcopal Church faces the biggest split in this church's history because of one man's needs. There can be little doubt that Frank Tracy Griswold has become the 800-pound gorilla in the kitchen that everyone skirts around.
20/20 Battle and Evangelism
The 20/20 battle to double the church's size by the year 2020 is a fiction because it isn't interesting to Griswold. Furthermore the Episcopal Church is losing faithful members because he refuses to address issues in an honest and forthright manner. It's all double speak with Griswold, with sentences that can be interpreted in numerous ways. Under Griswold the 20/20 movement has ground to a halt. Any sense that ECUSA could double its size by the year 20/20 has evaporated with the Robinson controversy. Over the next five to ten years, ECUSA will get smaller, not larger.
But worse than that 20/20 has been ignored; the man who should be chief evangelist of the church has kept his focus on other issues - socio-political issues, issues of ecumenical interest, flying around the world talking to leaders, trying to ignore the fact that both the Roman Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church will not speak to him because of l'affaire Robinson. ARCIC is largely a sham and is going nowhere. It's a shell game, a distraction from the main ECUSA event which is brokering sodomy into the church. For Griswold evangelism is considered vulgar and low-class, and class is everything to this man. In many ways he reflects the 'limousine liberal' mentality of the 70s and 80s of bishops like Paul Moore, late Bishop of New York.
All attempts to get evangelism some attention in the House of Bishops has failed. Griswold is just not interested in anything so humiliating as standing as an apostle and telling the world that it has and needs a Savior. The 'pluriform' truth is also due to the fact that he doesn't believe non-Christians need saving, since everyone has their own truth.
From the first House of Bishops meeting he led the way and set the pace. Everything was to revolve around him as teacher, preacher and liturgical leader. He brooked no opposition. After he told the mandatory poet Sufi Rumi stories, the bishops were told that his new regime would begin with the "Circle Dance of Dispossession." Many of the bishops nearly threw up at this ludicrous notion of this excessive trendiness; it reeked of New Age not the Anglican Way. But the bishops went along with it; he was, after all their leader.
Griswold also chose his inner circle carefully, and it did not include anyone from the Browning era. It became very clear, especially to those who had served during the Browning years, that "the Griswold circle of trust" would be very small and definitely by invitation only. Seasoned bishops, that is, those with seniority and with long experience in the House of Bishops suddenly found themselves neither sought out, nor listened too or consulted. They were shelved. The business of the house was increasingly being settled off the floor where Griswold could control matters.
Early on the former Bishop of North Dakota, the Rt. Rev. Andy Fairfield was made an example of and shown how unsafe it was to cross the Presiding Bishop or his circle. Fairfield had gotten into trouble during the Browning years. Fairfield had crossed the line and "done wrong", he admitted his guilt, "submitted to discipline" under Ed Browning, discipline was imposed, and the case was closed. Griswold allowed it to be reopened by angry feminists and Fairfield was lynched, a fairly clear case of double jeopardy. Because Bishop Fairfield is a conservative, some of the bishops wondered if that didn't make him a target for (t)his unique approach to justice. Ed Browning had administered discipline, but had not burned Fairfield at the stake.
All this was done to appease The Episcopal Church's angry women, women like Barbara C. Harris the former suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts whose push for the mandatory ordination of women and pathological hatred of orthodoxy alienated Forward in Faith and evangelicals as well. So they waited, and Griswold, always frightened by women and eager to please, allowed the first recorded instance of double jeopardy to occur.
Never willing to show his hand, Griswold used the "Office of Pastoral Development" as his tool. His consigliore for bad boy bishops the Rt. Rev. Clayton Matthews did Griswold's dirty work and made problems go away. Witness what happened with the former Bishop of New York Richard Grein. In his case 39 charges mysteriously disappeared.
That Andy Fairfield was conservative on faith and morals, a position he later defended at the Righter Trial, and not a member of the circle dance of dispossession set, he was perceived by bishops on both sides to have been the determining factor, as it required the consent of the Presiding Bishop for this circus to happen.
But the attempt to squelch individual voices among bishops began early on in Griswold's reign.
In Arrowhead in March of 2001 bishops were forced to sit through lectures by a Jewish faculty member from Griswold's alma mater in Massachusetts on how to lead the Christian church. This was clearly the rudest man ever to address the bishops: quite literally yelling at one elderly bishop that he had no right to get up and relieve his bladder during the presentation. In the midst of many rudenesses and arrogant displays, he was telling us that real leadership is gentle, respectful and makes room for diversity of opinion! Some people were quite rightly offended. Later, following the lecture, the then Bishop of Vermont, Adelia MacLeod, dragged him to the altar rail for communion.
Wrote the bishop: "Others, the sicker kind, had a sick need to make up with this offensive person and actually forced him to receive Holy Communion, one dragging him on either side, managing to violate his integrity and the integrity of his religion and ours. The perpetrators were women who did not care that he was clearly not in love and charity with his neighbor and who see the sacrament as nothing more than "hospitality."
There was no apology for his behavior, no apology for the violation of the sacrament, and we went on. One of the bishops with a scientific background later pointed out the ideal of the bishop as the special "silver back" kind of gorilla was nonsense: gorillas who live long enough get silver hair.
When Griswold tried to bring this man back, there was some resistance, and bishops were told to shut up, as all could be explained and anybody who had real concerns could come to a discussion group.
Several decades ago, tyrants of the left learned that the way to prevent democracy was to keep discussion off the floor. The more liberal the bishop, the more you will find topics discussed in small groups rather than on the floor. This has been the consistent ploy of this administration. The conservative side has the most to lose under this strategy, but its cries for fair play have been ignored.
What became clear early on, and remained the state of things, is that the bishops were no longer in charge of their own life. The committee that has the fastest turnover is the planning committee, which is not allowed to plan and which routinely has its decisions overturned arbitrarily.
Another mark of this administration is Griswold's willful neglect of General Convention directives and canons when they don't suit him. If he does not like the way something is going, he unseats the leadership or re-writes the job description. Most ludicrously, while attempting to elevate the status of the "primate" part of his title, he attempted to rewrite the canons so that he was no longer required to visit all dioceses. He wanted more time to fly around the world (and he preferred the ultra chic and pricey Concorde while it was still in the air). He could have spent that time making conservative dioceses know that they were safe and a welcomed part of the church. He could have been on talk shows getting the church's message out.
Noted the bishop: "You have to give Jack Spong credit: he is a wack job, but he knows how to communicate with the masses."
Griswold was so afraid of letting everybody have their say that at Minneapolis, with no real authority to do so, he appointed a special committee to operate outside the regular process (a hallmark of his administration) to handle all resolutions about sexuality, precisely so that conservatives in particular could not air their point of view. The last thing he wanted is free and open exchange of ideas, despite his claiming to be the gorilla who makes everybody else safe.
In Griswold Agonistes Part I, I wrote that lay people find his preaching incomprehensible. He used language in such a way as to make it mean whatever you wanted it to mean and thereby drawing your own conclusions. Pluriformity means never having to be comprehensible. "This is probably for the best, because it if became clear that he has no gospel to preach, things would be far worse for the church," wrote the bishop.
Like many untreated adult children of alcoholics, Griswold has tremendous control needs. He also has the tendency to make everything about himself: He tells tales most often of how he has born the wrath of the outsider over the path of the church-none of Browning's forthrightness or "happy warrior" mentality. Phoebe Griswold reinforced this with the staff of 815, the national headquarters of the church. Griswold takes all suggestions as personal criticism and keeps independent thinkers very far away.
During his tenure he also reduced the status of George Werner, president of the House of Deputies to little more than an errand boy and hatchet man. VOL personally saw this in a meeting of the Executive Council in Philadelphia recently, where Werner, who has been forced to step aside as HofD, continually parroted His Master's Voice.
He also likes to stage manage public events in order to manufacture the illusion of consensus. At the famous Camp Allen meeting (this time without the police barricades) where Gene Robinson lisped at Bob Duncan (the rather obvious fact that nobody on either side of the church believes much of what Duncan says), Dallas Bishop Jim Stanton and company are in charge, and so he takes the flack.
The House of Bishop's response to the Windsor Report and the international commission created to respond to Windsor was the clearest possible example of Griswold's deceptive technique. First the bishop of Manchester Bishop the Rt. Rev. Nigel McCulloch was introduced as bringing us general greetings and observations. The Bishop of Manchester repeated no fewer than five times that he carried no brief from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and after and during this exercise in protesting to much, give us a specific 12-point detailed program of what the American church must do in response to the Windsor Report. George Wayne Smith, the Bishop of Missouri finally called him out on this.
Step two was that close associates of Griswold floated the main idea of the "covenant" at group meetings with the evasive plan to consecrate no bishops at all (rather like children pouting) rather than clearly agreeing or refusing to honor the Windsor Report request to abstain from ordaining gay bishops. Some groups bought it, some didn't. Then an allegedly self-gathered think tank met outside of the sessions of the house (this is standard operating procedure: important decisions are never made on the floor but come to the house pre-packaged often delivered by New York Bishop Mark Sisk), chaired by one of Griswold's protégées from Chicago, announcing that they had just thought up the idea that had been field-tested the day before by Griswold operatives. It was presented to discussion groups with extraordinary high pressure not to edit or amend. Griswold almost got away with pretending that he and the Bishop of Manchester were not behind this, then at the end, when one of the far-left bishops asked what the penalty would be for disobeying the covenant that was being imposed, Griswold's determination to get this passed overcame his determination to remain the man behind the curtain, and he jumped to his feet and said that no, this was merely to be a mind-of-the-house resolution. There was tittering throughout the room. A number of bishops said that they were thoroughly disgusted, and some have not attended subsequent meetings because it is expensive and a waste of time to go to vote for what has been decided beforehand.
Griswold simply ignored (totally in character) the entirely legal request for a roll-call on the covenant because he knew that bishops would have to vote against it (from both sides) if their names were to be known. The spinmeisters went to work and presented the result as being almost unanimous (an assertion they had to retract). What has never been discussed is the fact that conservative bishops also saw this path as dishonest and the attempt to buy peace at any price.
Although the Windsor Report made requests of the American bishops as a group, Frank Griswold took over the response entirely. The bishops as a group did not get the chance to select or brief the bishops who were to speak in their name at Nottingham.
None of the bishops who actually had to vote on the Robinson matter were included in the panel charged with explaining why they did so. (The one bishop, the ever-present Catherine S. Roskam, Suffragan Bishop of New York was on the writing team, had no vote in the Robinson matter as she is not a diocesan.) In choosing bishops for the public presentation at Nottingham, to the irritation of both sides, Griswold selected two southern good-old-boys noted for their likeableness and slightly overdone charm, but not for their theological abilities, and then had them deliver short "let's all get along" speeches at Nottingham. (VirtueOnline was there and can confirm this to be true).
Their words there are a matter of record. Neither was permitted to express the theological position he represented in any depth at all. The assigned mission was niceness, a much ballyhooed "doctrine" of liberal bishops. As both Bishops J. Neil Alexander of Atlanta (liberal) and Louisiana Bishop Charles Jenkins (orthodox but not evangelical) very much want to be Presiding Bishop, they complied, although Griswold does not intend for either of them to be elected.
But Griswold's final display of arrogance is that he is attempting to control the election of his successor. He has been privately promoting Tom Shaw, Bishop of Massachusetts, his special friend of many years, but the one obstacle is that Shaw isn't married, so how would the traditional role of Presiding Bishop's spouse as convener of the bishops' spouses group be filled?
At the last House of Bishops meeting two very strange things happened to cut this objection off at the pass. Shaw stood on the floor and quite unnecessarily reminded us that he is celibate. Shaw never talks at these meetings (the key to being elected is not having well-known ideas and not ruffling feathers). While Shaw was making this announcement, the spouses were having the shock of their lives. Without consulting the spouses or the bishops, Griswold had decided that Shaw could bring a date (actually had the gall to call this pretty young man a "companion") and Phoebe Griswold had by herself decided that Shaw's date could be a participant in the spouses' group.
This is the sign of total breakdown of the moral order in the Episcopal Church: the Presiding Bishop deciding for himself who can attend the meetings, and the PBs wife deciding to change the nature of the spouses' group without ever consulting them. Did anybody complain? They wouldn't dare but they will stay away. So the next Presiding Bishop may very well have his young "companion" presiding over spouses' meetings.
(Note: At this time of writing Shaw is not on the short list, but he could be nominated from the floor next week. We shall see.)
In direct violation of the rules of the house, a spouse spoke on the floor at the casino-resort in San Juan on September in the Diocese of Puerto Rico. It is all a disaster. The HOB is an embarrassment. The HOB goes down to PR stay at the Ritz Carlton and talk about injustices in this country. The HOB say hurricanes are bad and read the Windsor Report -- it is all simply rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic.
But even a worm will turn. So, for the first time in history, the search committee proposed that the church pay for the medical and background check of nominees from the floor. They know that they have been bound in what they could do, and were showing at least a little spine. Every other bishop in the church is elected is in a vote that gives priests and laity a direct vote. This is the only way to get to "confirm" the Presiding Bishop and imagine the constitutional crisis if they didn't. This made sense when the Presiding Bishop was simply that, but now that he is seen as national leader, the election process must change.
On the eve of his nine-year tenure Griswold faces the specter of seeing the world he created come apart at the seams. ARCIC is a sham and to all intents and purposes is dead. It is maintained as an ecumenical fiction. We are growing even further apart in our ecumenical talks with the Roman Catholics and the Great Orthodox churches of the East and West. ECUSA has more in common with liberal Protestant denominations like the Presbyterians, the Lutherans (ELCA) and United Methodists because of our pro-homosexual positions.
Griswold has frantically rushed around preaching reconciliation, reconciliation and more reconciliation, even as the Episcopal Church implodes from within.
Global reconciliation has been one of the hallmarks of Griswold's tenure and he will tout it at a forum, "Toward a Reconciled World," at next week's General Convention. He will focus on the Episcopal Church's ministry of healing in the international community.
Griswold will offer an overview of the Church's role as the embodiment of reconciliation. "It is my hope that our discussion will open us to a greater understanding of how we might individually and collectively seek a world healed of poverty, civil conflict and global pandemics," Griswold will tell us.
But the sad reality is that Griswold's notion of reconciliation has changed no one and nothing. From his sad, pathetic statements on the day of 911 in New York City to his oft repeated mantra on the need for reconciliation of the gospel "for the sake of the world" - not, it should be noted, for the sake of the Kingdom of God -- Griswold will step down as the Episcopal Church lurches towards schism. In his final word and blessing, Griswold will deliver "a plea for mission over division."
It won't fly. Mission that is, Griswold's notion of mission, has nothing to do with the Great Commission, and pouring millions of dollars to support U.N. Resolutions and Bush bashing, has changed absolutely nothing.
The divisions in The Episcopal Church and the world are greater now more than ever, and they only gained momentum while he was Presiding Bishop. He has alienated himself and the Episcopal Church from the vast majority of the Archbishops and Bishops of the Global South in order to broker in a handful of pansexual sodomists into his Church. His most egregious act being to consecrate V. Gene Robinson within weeks of telling the Primates of the Anglican Communion that he would not do that. He flat out lied. His agenda, should it continue, will continue to gain momentum if a liberal/revisionist Presiding Bishop is chosen to succeed him, and that seems almost assured.
The truth is the Episcopal Church is on a gadarene slide into the abyss and nothing much can stop it.
Sources tell VOL that Griswold, post retirement, is planning on becoming the rector of St. Martin's in Chestnut Hill, a tony neighborhood in Philadelphia. The question of how the Rev. Robert L. Tate, rector will handle that is unsure. He did not return calls when asked. Tate and his wife still live in the shadow of Frank and Phoebe Griswold, and now that Griswold has announced that he and Phoebe are coming back to St. Martin's when he retires, one can't but imagine how Tate will respond. Complicating all this is the crippled Bishop of Pennsylvania, Charles E. Bennison, who may see it as payback time for Griswold for not supporting him over the Moyer affair.
Said a bishop, who asked not to be named; "This is so against our practice and tradition that nobody knows how to respond to the gall. If Bennison permits this, he will have lost all credibility in his diocese and with fellow bishops. Even priests do not return to the parishes on retirement; for the Presiding Bishop and his strong-willed wife to do so will end the ability of anybody else to be rector of that church for twenty years." While not canonically wrong, it is entirely inappropriate for him to do that. This, however, will not stop Griswold.
Even as he leaves 815 morale is terrible, VOL was told. ENS stories are squelched or heavily edited by the Presiding Bishop's office, and Phoebe Griswold decides what will be the "real" news for Episcopal Life.
As he ends his incumbency and the Episcopal Church goes down the tubes, Griswold prances around like everything is fine. The truth is; he has been a disaster. Some of his priests were in Chicago when he was bishop think he was disaster and were glad to see him gone. One told VOL that "we voted him for PB just to get rid of him."
As Griswold leaves he merits little or no respect even from liberals, and he would not be welcome even in some liberal dioceses, VOL was told.
Wrote Fr. Mark Lawrence, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal parish in Bakersfield, California; "The Episcopal Church in the United States of America is dying -- a comatose patient on life support. The insufficient apparatus of aging communicants, and the evaporating wealth of prior generations will not sustain the patient indefinitely. It has lost its Anglican identity, even while it has failed to reach its own American culture in any significant way."
He is right. And Frank Griswold must take the credit for the decline and fall of a once proud church. He has single-handedly achieved what no one else could possibly do - destroy a church in one generation.
I disagree with this conclusion. ECUSA was well into its decline long before Griswold (and Browning, whom I assume is Griswold's predecessor); IMHO it was already well into its "gadarene slide into the abyss" before I left 23+ years ago. IMHO -- and I pray for the faithful remnant, including some members of this list.
Goodness -- my Episcopalian Goddaughter is subject to this bishop. I fear for her soul's safety!
Witness what happened with the former Bishop of New York Richard Grein. In his case 39 charges mysteriously disappeared.
Former Bishop Grein managed to ruin what turned out to be my last Maundy Thurday service in my old church. Normally we'd have had Bishop Taylor speaking, but for some reason, that year we got Grein. For some reason he felt compelled to rip into "The Passion of the Christ", which had just been released, and then proceeded to condemn "fundamentalism" and call for a more "nuanced" view of Scripture. Yes, he used the word "nuance". Kerry had already used that word so many times that Grein tripped my buzzword alarm.
So I'm quite curious as to the nature of these 39 charges, if they exist. Anyone have a clue?
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