Skip to comments.Strategery 101: Defining the Terms -- Roistering Episcopal Adventurers
Posted on 07/07/2006 6:13:29 PM PDT by sionnsar
I now turn my steely gaze towards . . . most of the people reading this blog.
You probably aren't "Beloved Moderates" -- they haven't yet learned to surf avidly around cyberspace scavenging out information . . . and their response to those of us who ask them just how they *do* acquire information is "information about what?".
; > )
A small few reading this blog are "Worthy Opponents" . . . and they're mostly shocked that I'm grinding through "Strategery 101" since they've already used this stuff, lo, these many decades. ; > )
But most of us are . . . okay, okay, "Shattered, Distraught Reasserters" doesn't have quite the right ring to it. . . so I have chosen "Roistering Episcopal Adventurers".
As I gaze back over the past three years of chaos, rubble, and tears the phrase -- an old Chinese curse -- rings in my ears: "may you live in interesting times."
I don't think any of us can claim that as Episcopalians we live in boring, deadly dull times, where never is heard a discouraging word and where everything remains the same.
Sure . . . most bishops are releasing pastoral letters claiming things along those lines.
But both our Worthy Opponents and we Roistering Episcopal Adventurers know much, much better. It's a "thrill a minute", a news story every day, and the fault lines continue to grow deeper, the piles of rubble higher, and the distance between dock and boat's edge farther and farther apart.
I have chosen this phrase to describe traditionally-minded Episcopalians [though of course we are often not "traditional" about things that are not deemed important] in part because many of us are behaving entirely out of character for the average mild-mannered traditionalist. Many of us, after all, a few short weeks, months, or years ago were in the "Beloved Moderate" camp -- focused on our own parishes, leading the Alpha course, serving as a Cursillo lay rector, heading up a Discovery Weekend table, chairing various Christian Education committees, lay reading, chalice bearing, and so on. That was my schedule four years ago and it was probably yours too. Many of us focused solely on presenting the gospel to the pagans, seekers, and cultural-Christians in our midst.
And how we loved that work!
Some of us [ahem] were so politically disinterested that we didn't vote in Presidential elections throughout our 20s.
As I look at my past life, I can only say . . . my how things have changed.
The greatest change that took place, for me, was in the stark, clear, cold recognition that focusing on the positive message of the gospel was simply not enough if one did not defend the message against attack. In other words, as we built . . . churches, groups, classes, Faith Alives, Cursillos, and so much more . . . others tore down and attacked.
The more we built, the more they undermined. Eventually, I came to realize that, while the castle was being built, the foundations were being excavated and pulverized.
I was standing high atop a castle turret one day, doing a bit of fine brush work around one of my favorite little stone depictions of Athanasius, around about August 5, and, hearing a rather loud noise underneath me and taking a few moments to look down below, was shocked to realize that half of the turret's base was whittled away already.
Like David, many of us have realized that, for now, at any rate, we will not be allowed to build the temple. We are people engaged in a difficult and painful time of battle, rather than that of order and harmony. There will be no "peace in our time".
Beyond the enormous, tsunami-like changes that the Adventurers themselves have undergone, we are living in incredibly stressful, challenging, changing times within Anglicanism. Even the most rosy of optimists can now see that Anglicanism is undergoing a rather amazing realignment, one which will effect church history, mission endeavors, church planting, levels of discipleship, and the vast chains of global networks amongst Christians and Anglicans in the coming generations.
A pitched battle is being fought over one little stone bridge, and the Roistering Episcopal Adventurers have chosen small clusters of little stones [dioceses and parishes] of that bridge to engage in fierce skirmishes, defenses, resettlements, or advances.
Oddly enough, the sound of hammers and stone cutters may be heard down stream as another little stone bridge is being built. And some of the stones over which we -- the Roistering Episcopal Adventurers -- are fighting may well break off and hurtle downstream toward the newer little stone bridge; masons will then be working at integrating those broken-off stones into the newer little stone bridge.
I must tell you that it remains to be seen as to whether this current little stone bridge will survive the fierceness of the battle. It may be that the stone bridge will collapse in a pile of rubble, and the Roistering Episcopal Adventurers will float downstream to the new bridge [or sink like a stone in the river, due to all of that armor!]. I believe that if the little stone bridge of the Episcopal church does indeed collapse under the weight of the fierceness of the battle, that it will then be good for exactly nothing -- no movement of troops, no settlements, no "outposts of progressivism", no "launching pad" for other sorties to other little stone bridges, and certainly no "reputable megaphone" for progressive theology. It will simply have collapsed and will be a mere laughing stock or stern warning to other denominations and to our culture.
If it were to collapse, I will be greatly saddened, although I will understand.
Some things were simply not built to withstand the intensity of this sort of struggle.
But in the meantime, the Roistering Episcopal Adventurers work on.
I come now to the two great divisions that I see within the Roistering Episcopal Adventurers. And here I need to go on a slight rabbit trail and remark on the interesting article postulating a quadrant of types of Anglicans and featured by Fulcrum. In the article, Graham Kings postulates four types of Anglicans:
"1. 'Federal Conservatives', in the bottom right, consists of those who are conservative on sexual ethics but who do not consider highly the ecclesiology of the Windsor Report and especially its warnings against transprovincial interventions. They would not be unhappy with the demotion of the Anglican Communion to a Federation of Anglican Churches. Examples of this group may be the Anglican Mission in America, which began with transprovincial consecrations, parts of the American Anglican Council and the Archbishops of Nigeria and of Sydney.
2. 'Communion Conservatives', in the top right, consists of those who are conservative on sexual ethics but have a high regard for the ecclesiology and the recommendations of the Windsor Report. They are keen to hold to the concept of Communion. Examples of this group may be Fulcrum and the Anglican Communion Institute and the Bishop of Pittsburgh.
3. 'Communion Liberals', in the top left, consists of those who are liberal on sexual ethics but have a high regard for the ecclesiology set out in the Windsor Report, if not all its recommendations. Examples of this group may be the Bishop of Virginia and the centre of the Special Commission of ECUSA.
4. 'Federal Liberals', in the bottom left, consists of those who are liberal on sexual ethics and have a low regard for the ecclesiology set out in the Windsor Report and many of its recommendations. Examples of this group may be Integrity USA and the Bishop of Washington."
Although perhaps I could offer a few quibbles, I think it's a pretty sound categorization of Anglicans worldwide.
But I do not think that it is a sound categorization of Episcopalians within ECUSA, particularly of the conservatives. Since the purpose of these "Strategery 101" articles is to assist Roistering Episcopal Adventurers to navigate the political processes involved in reform and renewal -- fighting for the little stone bridge -- of the Episcopal church, all of the conservatives within ECUSA would have to be classified as "Communion Conservatives".
That is, anyone who is still left within ECUSA and still interested in fighting over the little stone bridge of ECUSA is interested in also building what is currently described as the global church that is the Anglican Communion. Those who are *Federal Conservatives* -- people who are not particularly interested in the Anglican Communion as it is presently constituted -- have pretty much left the Episcopal church already or are busily preparing escape hatches.
And the happy news for the "Federal Conservatives" who have left ECUSA is . . . they don't at all need to be reading "Strategery 101" articles. ; > ) They rather need to be learning about mirroring and reconstituting their own territorial dioceses, developing appropriate Constitutions and Canons, applying for Cursillo licenses from the Roman Catholic church, and all the myriad of details that go into building an alternate Anglican structure.
Nevertheless, there are two interesting subgroups of the "Communion Conservatives" within ECUSA. These could be clearly seen at the General Convention. The first group I will call the "Trusting Conservatives" [just to keep the parallel going here] and the second I will call the "Wary Conservatives". Both are "Communion Conservatives" understand, but both sets approach matters somewhat differently.
"Trusting Conservatives" are sincerely traditional in their theology, including that of the "tip-of-the-iceberg issues" of sexual practice and standards of church leadership. They are very concerned about the state of the theology and practice of the Episcopal church. In fact, they are as concerned as the "Wary Conservatives", and furthermore are interested in throwing themselves wholeheartedly into the reform and renewal of the Episcopal church. Thus they certainly cannot be considered "Beloved Moderates" in any respect.
But their practice is somewhat different from the "Wary Conservative". They tend to believe that if only they could offer better theological teaching, if only they could engage in more informed [and informing] conversation with most "progressives" that those progressives might be transformed into people of orthodox theology and practice. You'll find "Trusting Conservatives" volunteering to serve on committees and faithfully engaging in "the process". You'll find them, yes, "trusting" that Progressive leaders and activists actually mean what they say.
Wary Conservatives, on the other hand, are far, far less engaged in "conversation" with Progressive leaders and activists -- those people who are, in fact, our "Worthy Opponents". They may be *very* engaged in conversation with *friends* who are Progressive in theology and practice, but not, again, with our Worthy Opponents. They also tend to think that these issues are, ironically, not really about "theology" so much as about a hostile takeover of the church by our Worthy Opponents.
In other words, if it were possible to engage and inform our "Worthy Opponents" fully, downloading into their heads an entire database of orthodox teaching, those "Worthy Opponents" would not, in fact, change their practice or stated theology. Wary Conservatives have seen fleets of Worthy Opponents claim "theology" and "listening to one another's stories" and "dialogues" and "engaging in the committee process" . . . while at the same time, crushing resolutions under arcane Roberts Rules maneuvers, stacking committees and commissions with their own supporters, deceiving others about their theology until they are elected, and generally using all means within their power to advance their flag, while at the same time "claiming a truce under a white flag of parley."
In other words, whenever the "Roistering Episcopal Adventurers" are called out into the middle of the battlefield for peace talks and meetings under white flags with our "Worthy Opponents" . . . we can always be assured that there is a flanking maneuver going on behind the hills, under cover of darkness during the so-called "truce". Once the parley is over and both sides have turned to go back to their respective encampments, Wary Conservatives have experienced too often the troubling discovery that, in fact, whole units and battalions of Worthy Opponents are now encircled *behind* them as well.
For this reason, Wary Conservatives really don't worry to much about participating in "listening processes" and committees and "education" forays. They have, in general, entirely lost their trust in the good will or even interest in theology of the Worthy Opponents. Instead, they circumvent most of those processes which they deem firmly within the grasp of "Worthy Opponents" and ponder how to advance the flag using other means.
Many of them create blogs.
Many of them develop vast email lists and databases of allies.
And many of them develop "Strategery 101" essays.
Perhaps the most interesting -- and public -- display of the "Wary Conservative" outlook was the comment by David Anderson on the Larry King show. In that show, Larry King asked Canon Anderson why he stayed and continued his work as head of the AAC. Canon Anderson stated: "I like a good fight."
Certain of our Beloved Moderates and Trusting Conservatives uttered a number of "tsk tsks" . . . certain of them sniffed with outrage . . . certain of them "raised shocked holy hands in horror to the sky" over this dreadful, wascally, unspiritual, and certainly very unEpiscopal comment.
But I believe that Canon Anderson represents one of the "Wary Conservatives". Canon Anderson has a rather clear-eyed view of the battle going on over the little stone bridge. And he stated -- quite clearly for the world to hear -- that he was *ready to fight* rather than retreat, surrender, or be defeated. He does not try to spin the matter or make it appear like something it is not.
To place his comment in perspective, let's imagine once more the mugging-on-the-street-corner that I wrote about a few days ago. You may recall that I imagined a mugging, which was observed by a bunch of Ents . . . er, "Beloved Moderates" . . . who would find it very difficult to actually take an action to defend the mugee, which was me.
But now let's suppose that one amongst the Beloved Moderates is a Roistering Episcopal Adventurer. And he states, very loudly, while walking across the street, that he "loves a good fight". Now my suspicion is that the Roistering Episcopal Adventurer did not wake up that morning and hope for a mugging to take place so that he could enjoy a fight. My suspicion is that in fact, the Roistering Episcopal Adventurer has other reasons besides "enjoying a good fight" for partaking in the ensuing battle.
So why would he say that?
[Here I will descend into group therapy for a moment -- forgive me.]
How do you think that what he said made the muggers feel?
; > )
Now how do you think that what he said made the mugee feel?
: > )
I personally don't "like a good fight".
I like a good book. I like a good run. And I like a good steak, medium rare, please.
But I am more than happy to have such a Roistering Episcopal Adventurer as Canon Anderson "on my team".
[Interestingly enough, Canon Anderson back in late 2003 took several conversations to convince me to stay within the Episcopal church. Mostly he listened. And said a few choice things. And asked me to stay. Those "few choice things" did not include "stay for a good fight" . . . but that's another story.]
There is a rather interesting ebb and flow between both subsets of "Roistering Episcopal Adventurers" -- for I include both subsets within the broader category of people who are venturing forth into an arena fraught with risk and stress.
Many of the "Trusting Conservatives" are now moving into engaging in the processes of the church. Many of the Wary Conservatives are creating those rather large networks and communication structures mentioned above that are so important. At the General Convention, a Trusting Conservative I know served faithfully on a committee, voted for anything that moved that had the word "Windsor" in it . . . and asked me about what people he could trust on his committee.
A Wary Conservative I know attended the AAC lunch briefings, strategized with allies on resolutions . . . and dined with a fellow "Trusting Conservative" who enthralled him with stories about how much people needed more "theological education".
At times, certain Wary Conservatives thought that their Trusting Conservative friends were rather like a Golden Retriever running after a ball that the Worthy Opponent had only *pretended* to throw. At times, Wary Conservatives thought that the Trusting Conservatives were incredibly naive.
But then, at times, Trusting Conservatives believed that Wary Conservatives should have voted for certain resolutions. At times, Trusting Conservatives thought that the Wary Conservatives were unbecomingly cynical about the state of the church and the motives of certain Worthy Opponents.
My council to both subsets of our Roistering Episcopal Adventurers is to be gentle with one another and to learn from one another.
Trusting Conservatives will have their hearts broken by their own trust. And Wary Conservatives will make the mistake of passing up some *excellent* and helpful processes into which they could enter -- in their parishes and dioceses -- and make an important reforming and renewing difference.
We need to work together as we can, learn from one another as we can, build our own strategies and tactics, listen to one another, and show grace to one another. I believe that we are working towards the same purposes . . . but sometimes that is not always clear, as both subsets struggle with their flaws, sins, strengths, and personality differences.
Both subsets live in interesting times, and will learn, I believe, to "flexibly float" between the two subsets, if they grow and change as they should.
And if we've changed enough to become "Roistering Episcopal Adventurers" in the past three years . . . I suspect that we'll change enough to work together very well indeed.
Now . . . if only I could acquire a somewhat more decorative shield . . . and a few more crests on my banner . . . and some "medals of combat" . . . I should be good to go. ; > )
Sarah does mistake one thing. One can be a wary conservative and still communicate, hang out with, and even talk with the other side. They can and do fully engage in the process. Kendall Harmon is a prime example - serving on the education committee at GC2006.
Being a deputy to General Convention, is, lets say, a whole lot different than observing General Convention. We propose resolutions, vote, attend our committees. Largely, we know what we propose will largely be rejected in various ways. This is an extremely important witness.
I think it is an important witness that I did everything I could to convince ECUSA to 1.) Adopt the Windsor Report, 2.) Stop the abuse of the abandonment of communion canon, and 3.) Not consecrate a thrice married/twice divorced bishop.
I seriously doubt the existence of trusting conservatives, in that I dont think anyone would trust the other side, so to speak. What trusting conservatives trust in is Jesus Christ, that He is at the right hand of God, and that he calls us to be obedient, rather than successful. Maybe a bit like Don Quixote, but hopefully more like Christ Jesus.
Recently I read a comment about LIBERAL agenda items in politics, in which the speaker said, "Their intention is not inclusion but to purify thought to their way of thinking. All others must be excluded." This seems to match the present situation of the inclusive wing of the ECUSA.
Precisely. Being of "one mind" as long as it is theirs.
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