Comments: Bishop Griswold gives an interview

>>Aware that the crisis has been fuelled - and worsened - by some internet bloggers and the speed of communications

Does he mean TA? ;-) Seems a slightly random comment to me about what may or may not be exacerbating the situation.

Posted by David at Friday, 21 April 2006 at 9:45am BST

I wish he would be more careful in what he says. The comment about it being 'the evil one' focusing the church on a particular manifestation of sexuality and taking our attention away from poverty, famine, etc., could easily sound like he's saying that attention to justice issues for glbt prople in TEC is the work of the devil - something I suppose Bp. Duncan would agree with!

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 21 April 2006 at 1:03pm BST

>>Does he mean TA?

No, I'm sure he does not mean TA. The reporting here has been thoughtful and sane. I'm sure he's referring to blogs like Virtue Online and Titusonenine which have been inflammatory and insane. But in the United States, we have always highly prized our freedom of speech. So that's the price we pay.

Posted by Bill at Friday, 21 April 2006 at 1:17pm BST

TA would be on their list of offending blogging sites. The issue is to do with public embarrassment and "keeping up appearances", irregardless of the suffering of LGBTs. There is the continuing red herring that treatment of LGBTs should be "put aside" because there are more worthy causes, the same as mistreatment of women should also be put aside. The theme of the "evil one" is consistent with some bloggers commenting that those who advocate hospitality to LGBTs are prophets for Baal (refer this forum a few weeks earlier). (And as a personal comment, the greater sins will not be stopped if the private sins are not stopped. Domestic abuse becomes public abuse. Tolerance of unseen victims ripples into indifference of the suffering of others).

The big issues for them is that many of their existing planks have been seriously compromised. They used to argue that we had no theological basis to justify hospitality or compassion. They used to argue that it was against the principles of the Reformation articles. They used to rely on us lacking a vocabularly to explain or defend ourselves. They relied on us being isolated and marginalised. They relied on exclusive and absolute "temporal power" over the interpretation of scripture. They relied on being able to paint a stereotyped image of us (as they have Jews and others) with us being unable to put forward an alternative voice that exposed their lies e.g. homosexuals don't believe in God or monogamy. They relied on us being "unworthy" and "unwanted" by the community at large so that we were fair game for open attacks where any of us were foolish enough to stand against them and not submit to the behind the scenes re-education and recriminations.

They are no better than my earthly father who relied on these tactics to enable him to abuse my mother, my sister and myself for decades; each oblivious to the extent of damage being done to the other and each tolerating the abuse because we were told that if we submitted we were protecting the other two (which my sister and I only found out in our early 20s was a manipulative lie when we first shared the truth of our childhood with each other).

The churches (yes more than the Anglicans in this case) who are upset about things such as the Gospel of Judas and the Da Vinci code have started a smear campaign that anyone who talks that way is paranoid or suffers from "conspiracy theories". They would be wise to contemplate that the reason such texts are so popular is because so many have either experienced first hand or witnessed abuse by priests, or absolutely no or useless intervention by the priestly castes. In my own case the local Church of England priest when I was a teenager (nice guy but 30 years ago they had absolutely no idea) told me that my suffering was either because I didn't really believe in Jesus, hadn't prayed hard or often enough, or secretly wanted to be abused by my father... That's no conspiracy theory that is cold hard fact.

So if people such as myself then started a campaign thirty years ago to stop people being abused, and since reforms were actively stifled by the church authority... The process then began with womens refuges and vocabulary in the womens movement, rippling out more broadly through the human rights advocates, developing onto legislative models, moving onto supporting the early victims who tested the legislation, using precedent and communication to demonstrate what was being done and the efficacy of strategies to stop abusive behaviour. Using successful precedents to ripple out to the next level and bring more and more victims into shelter against those who would abuse them. If we have fought against the churches, it is because the churches chose to stand against us, thus by their conduct they proved they support those who abuse.

If there is a question of "evil", then the question is what is more "evil". Those who move to stop abuse and heal the victims, or those who hinder human rights advocates because it jeopardises their "reputation". Who would Jeremiah, Isaiah, Obadiah, Malachi, Micah, Jesus have sided with? And if perfection is required, then Jesus' sacrifice was for nothing and we all (both sides) stand condemned.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 21 April 2006 at 3:34pm BST

With all due respect, Simon, I don't know that I would describe this article as "an interview." It's clear that Bates interviewed Bishop Griswold. However, the interest is less on what Bishop Griswold said than on Bates' interpolation of how that might be heard in the current controversy.

With that editorial remark out of the way, this is interesting. I am certain that as an American, and a self-styled Progressive, I hear this somewhat differently than Bates. I think I hear some grief. There are times when doing what we think is the right thing isn't going to be convincing, much less compelling, for others in the argument. I did note the comment about California, but also the acknowledgement that this is not under his control. Many in the rest of the Communion don't accept the American understanding of the importance of autonomy in recognizing the many ways in which God might work. At least grant us the integrity of maintaining that principle internally as well as externally.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Friday, 21 April 2006 at 6:54pm BST

This reporter really discredits himself by his own words. Here's what the reporter says, with some text omitted to make the error plain:

"The leader of the US Episcopal church ... has warned parishioners of the diocese of California that they would widen the confrontation it they chose another gay bishop" by way of an interview in which he was "[s]peaking exclusively to the Guardian."

Sorry to disappoint the folks at the Guardian, but their newspaper is not widely read in the Diocese of California. If Presiding Bishop Griswold wanted to send us a message through the press, he probably would have chosen the San Francisco Chronicle.

Now ignore the Guardian-created headline and read what the Presiding Bishop actually says:

"The diocese needs to respect the sensibilities of the larger communion. It will note what is going on in the life of the church and make a careful and wise decision. It will then be up to the house of bishops to give or withhold their consent. Given what has happened over the last three years, I think there will be increased sensitivity."

I don't find in those words any message that we should favor particular nominees and oppose others. I find nothing but sound advice for our discernment, which could easily result in the election of any one of our seven nominees.

Posted by San Franciscan at Friday, 21 April 2006 at 7:26pm BST

Please rest assured, Bill, the "Thinking" Anglicans has indeed had its inflammatory moments. I agree about Virtue, he's a fully-engulfed flame thrower. Just like TA, T1:9 can appear inflammatory, but it also has many very thoughtful discussions. There is currently a very solid discussion going on now about something Bp. Griswold said in his interview.

Posted by Tom at Friday, 21 April 2006 at 7:50pm BST

I think from talking to him that Presiding Bishop Frank had in mind different websites to this one. I expect you can guess which ones.....

Posted by stephen bates at Friday, 21 April 2006 at 7:53pm BST

Another thing: +Frank says that at our peril do we ignore famine, disease, poverty etc. in order to discuss sexuality. Too true.

But we - TEC - are NOT ignoring such things. TEC and particularly the Diocese of Virginia and individual parishes in the diocese have been working hard in Sudan with the Diocese of Renk. We have a priest from our diocese more or less permanently stationed there. ERD - Episcopal Relief and Development - is busy working with victims of famine and natural disaster at home [Katrina etc.] and abroad - well - see their website.

We - TEC - have NOT stopped reaching out to the hungry, the homeless, the naked, the prisoners etc.

Those aac/network folks who have refused to support their diocesan budgets or the general budget of TEC are the ones who have let sexuality keep them from our common call to compassion. They are the ones whom +Frank should be scolding.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 21 April 2006 at 8:59pm BST

The crisis has been made worse *for the establishment* because they can no longer control the flow of information... Fewer and fewer people accept at face value what pBp Griswold says!

I'm surprised that Bill thinks that Kendall Harmon's blog is less than thoughtful and sane.. it's just not liberal Bill !

And I can think of plenty of liberal bloggers who post much more inflamatory hysteria than V-O-L !

Posted by Dave at Friday, 21 April 2006 at 9:20pm BST

Bill,

Titusonenine and virtue are in completely different categories. Dr. Kendall Harmon+ posts articles from other sources that evoke comments. These comments are closely moderated to allow debate and sharp discussion while at the same time preventing threads from becoming personal or insulting.

Please be careful to check the facts before making accusations

Posted by Matt Kennedy+ at Saturday, 22 April 2006 at 12:06am BST

Sorry, I hadn't seen San Franciscan's comments when I posted before. I am sure that your local newspaper is read more widely in California than the Guardian, though we have a million hits a day on our website from the US alone and I have had several email messages in the last 24 hours from American correspondents who have seen the article, in California and elsewhere. And, of course, I am aware that it has appeared on US websites as well as this one.
I was invited to interview Presiding Bishop Griswold when he came to London. The initiative was actually his, so he clearly chose to speak to the Guardian.
Contrary to the implication that I either did not really conduct this interview, or misinterpreted what he said, we had quite a long chat and an on-the-record interview in which I naturally asked him about the implications of the California election, so he (and I) was well aware of what he was saying and, given his other remarks about websites and our discussion of that phenomenon, he knew that the interview would indeed be seen in the US.
Incidentally, I gather the implication of the introductory paragraph to my article may have been misunderstood. The paragraph was rephrased slightly in my absence (though read over to me by telephone, when I did not spot any problem) - this may be a difference in convention and usage by the British press than the American one. The warning to parishioners was in what Bishop Griswold said to me in our interview and was not meant to imply that he had been lobbying privately or otherwise interfering improperly in the electoral process.

Posted by stephen bates at Saturday, 22 April 2006 at 10:57am BST

I am surprised really that not even San Franciscan (who does mention the correct number) complained to Steve about the error in the first sentence of the second paragraph: there are seven nominees, not six, for California.

http://episcopalbayarea.org/joomla/content/view/307/27/

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 22 April 2006 at 11:25am BST

Just take a cursory spin to those blogs. You will see a couple of things.

#1, The Episcopal Church is regularly called antiChristian, pagan, in league with Baal, and is said to be going to hell. Gays and lesbians are regularly condemned in harsh and derogatory terms. Specific priests, laity and bishops are attacked.

#2, A good number of the posters who post angrily at them, are not Episcopalians, and attack the Church.

Posted by RMF at Saturday, 22 April 2006 at 11:32am BST

san franciscan,

I don't think it a fair observation to cite Stephen Bates for improperly quoting or in some way misconstruing Bishop Griswold's words. He has a good track record.

Posted by RMF at Saturday, 22 April 2006 at 11:35am BST

In attempting to analyze the whys and wherefores of this story, don't overlook the fact that Bishop Griswold was in London to meet with Archbishop Williams. I haven't seen that bit of news anywhere else, yet it is important for Episcopalians to know that their presiding bishop is among the people that the ABC is meeting with as the Communion tries to find its way forward.

Posted by Jim Naughton at Saturday, 22 April 2006 at 6:26pm BST

Sorry Simon. You are right on seven. Neither the presiding bishop nor myself could quite remember (which rather shows he has not been obsessing about California) and I am afraid I forgot to double check when writing the piece........

Posted by stephen bates at Saturday, 22 April 2006 at 6:41pm BST

There is a messenger - message problem with some posters to this blog.

Attacking Kendall Harmon for providing a forum for the expression of the views and opinions of others says more about the ignorance of the poster than anything else. Kendall (and Simon) and a number of others provide an invaluable service to the Church.

The heart of Kendall Harmon's blog are not his own opinion pieces but a clipping service showcasing the work of others. Now the selection of articles, and the access to Kendall's own work offered by his blog lays out his views ... as do his occassional comments. But his blog is not a megaphone for his own views. Nor does he engage in the politics of personal destruction (to use a favorite 90's phrase) as bsome bloggers and some posters on this blog do.

The same can be said of Simon Sarmiento's blog. Both are daily must reads ... they complement each other nicely.

To accuse Stephen Bates of sloppy journalism is simply idiotic. While I disagree with some of his views, I cannot recall a time over the past five or six years of regular reading of his work (I am unsure when he started writing on religion for the Guardian) that his personal integrity and professional skills have ever been in question.

The fact that Stephen Bates professional colleagues thought enough of him to name him religion writer of the year either points to a massive conspiracy (my guess would be freemasons based upon Stephen's love of leather) or a recognition that he is one of the best at what he does.

Posted by George Conger at Saturday, 22 April 2006 at 6:44pm BST

To Mr. Bates: I stand by my comments, to which I believe you are overreacting. I did not question whether you actually interviewed PB Griswold, nor whether he was talking about the Diocese of California, nor whether you quoted him accurately in your third paragraph. It also does not surprise me that he asked you for the interview.

Whether intentional or not (by you or your editor), your lead paragraph does not merely imply but in fact directly asserts that PB Griswold has "warned parishioners of the diocese of California." Of course he knew some Americans might read your article. Nonetheless, the natural target for an interview with an English religion reporter is the Church of England. The natural implication of PB Griswold's statement to you is that the CofE should know that PB Griswold believes the Diocese of California is and should be doing its work carefully.

I find the statement in the lead paragraph unfortunate because many readers will believe the faulty conclusion without examining whether the reported facts support it. I fear that your article is getting more attention for that faulty conclusion than for the facts that you report (no doubt accurately).

To Mr. Conger and to RMF: You are overreacting to Mr. Bates's overreaction. I did not question Mr. Bates's "personal integrity and professional skills." To examine news reports critically is not "idiotic"; it is the duty of an informed reader.

Posted by San Franciscan at Sunday, 23 April 2006 at 12:37am BST

Come on, san franciscan. Looking at my comment about the article, I mentioned that I thought it unfair to conclude stephen had been misconstrued. I don't mention anything about anyone being idiotic.

At any rate the more interesting question is, maybe, Bishop Grisowld's intent. You seem to find in his interview, just a repeat that we continue to exercise caution when electing and consecrating bishops. This is a fair reading, because this is exactly what he says.
Another fair inference given the climate, is that Bishop Griswold is politely and gently suggesting that the Diocese of California not elect a gay partnered bishop. He is not saying this outright in these exact words; true. He is being very pastoral in his advice. Another inference, is that when he says the HoB has increased sensitivity to the issue, is that they may not be willing to approve the election of a gay partnered bishop.

Personally, I think this is what he is saying--don't elect a gay partnered bishop, but if you do, we may not approve it.

Posted by RMF at Sunday, 23 April 2006 at 2:23pm BST

In some ways the election of a second openly gay bishop by California would be a further sign of discernment, if it actually happened. Like New Hampshire, the folks would be telling us that local thorough discernment processes override controversy and doctrinal disputes - with the level playing field being that Anglicans are actually not of a single mind on LGBTQ issues, contrary to typical conservative claims. No doubt such changes or elections would also quicken and sharpen the conservative realigment campaign that simply says, Conform, because nothing else is actually workable. The fundamentally messy and open-ended ways of democracy thus do contrast with the ways of absolute monarchies or even theocracy. Thus the particular bishop would have been locally discerned as fitting and called; but the larger matter of discerning what falls inside the historic Anglican leeway which marks us would also be discerned. I think Anglicans need course correction on both counts, conservative hoo-ha notwithstanding. But I am just a single person.

A second element is the recommended changes to canons which may be considered at GC, withdrawing the current requirement that elected bishops be approved at national convention. This allows the local processes to carry things forward in ways which are likely to continue sweeping towards radical changes, from the bottom upwards as it were.

In California, we tend to live in a very multicultural, interfaith range of settings. When religious folks get together, the first question may be, What service are we doing to rebuild the broken world? Not, How do your beliefs or dogmas conflict with mine? We are all aware of small or large differences to various degrees, depending. But using our overt and implicit differences to pass by the many people lying in the many ditches along our many roads, victims of all manner of assault and other detriments, seems contrary to both out understandings of God's c'hesed, compassion, charity, and the deep witness that service and repair of the world makes to a living Jesus.

Posted by drdanfee at Sunday, 23 April 2006 at 3:59pm BST

"The diocese needs to respect the sensibilities of the larger communion. It will note what is going on in the life of the church and make a careful and wise decision. It will then be up to the house of bishops to give or withhold their consent. Given what has happened over the last three years, I think there will be increased sensitivity."

Does this, or does this not, mean that the Diocese of California should behave any DIFFERENTLY in 2006, than the Diocese of New Hampshire did, in 2003 (that is, listen to who the ***HOLY SPIRIT**** is leading them to call?)

That, to me, seems to be the crucial question . . . and hinges, I think, on how one interprets "what has happened over the last three years". Despite the genuinely faithful, genuinely full-of-integrity episcopal ministry of +GR, I would characterize the "sensibilities of the larger communion" as manifesting "the work of the Evil One, making us fixate on sexuality rather than the more urgent things of the world."

Does the latter reflect the guidings of the Holy Spirit more than the former? (Is that even a debateable question?)

While I'm not going to get into whether the Guardian (and Bates) played the headlines correctly or not, I do think that +Griswold has left himself open to the charge of seeming swayed by the "Principalities and Powers" of this world (the same ones shaping the "sensibilities of the larger communion"), and then trying to pass along these worldly whispers to the faithful in California :-(

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Thursday, 27 April 2006 at 9:33pm BST
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