Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Schism that is to Be

I have continued to put off writing about the Diocese of Fort Worth. For a variety of reasons, actually. Time is an issue – strangely, though at one time I might never have thought so, there are a great many things in this world that are more important than the schism that Jack Iker is fomenting in Fort Worth. An eight year old baby in Arizona being charged with murder is just one instance.

The fact that I am in a “safe” diocese is another. I am the Director of a Christian Education program. I am on a committee for Social Justice. I am also part of the committee planning a service for World AIDS Day on December 1. All of these are just a part of the privileges I enjoy in this truly Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Missouri that I never could have experienced to this degree in Fort Worth.

Yet another reason for putting it off is that I feel a bit out of place. I am not there. I know why I am here and it is because here is not there and that is good. I know what I have left behind – all the good and all the bad. I know that I left Fort Worth because of the fact that even though we attended a parish that “accepted” us as members, albeit it as noisy members, being who I am and what we are left us totally unable to work for the “church” simply because we might offend someone somewhere. Goodness knows, we would never want to offend narrow minded bigots … and add ignorant fear-mongers in that description.

So, even though I know all the reasons why I am not there, I am not there. As a result, my voice rings a little hollow from way up here in the land of all things truly c/Catholic and Episcopal (and orthodox to boot!).

Being who I am, that is, that part of me that is so offensive to those in Fort Worth even in parishes where I have been endured, here in St. Louis, it is not a problem. Or even an issue. I am not tolerated, I am welcomed, joyfully and warmly, as are Debbie and Tucker. There is an amazing amount of difference between being tolerated and being welcomed. It fits right in there with that “separate but equal” thing. It is a difference that the newly formed diocese of Fort Worth should set as a major goal as it reconstitutes itself as soon as possible after +Jack leads the schismatic group out of the Diocese.

The now-bishop of Fort Worth wants everyone to believe that his disagreement with the Episcopal Church at large is a just and right-minded affair of the Scripture. He feels that the Church has strayed from its biblical foundation. He has tried to call it to task yet far too many of the people within that same Church disagree with him and the small number of people who do agree with him. It is the polity of the Church.

So, this weekend, +Jack will lead the Diocese of Fort Worth as we now know it into a second vote to “leave” the Episcopal Church and to align “temporarily” with the Province of the Southern Cone. Jack will argue that he is not leading anyone anywhere but that is just an empty argument. He says it. It is so. It is what he says because he says 'I say it' therefore it is. I sometimes think that maybe the little bitty verse of Scripture, “I Am” got twisted and someone (who I will not name) may have thought that “I” was “he” and as a result, a whole lot of confusion resulted. It is all in the interpretation. And the people around him say, “Don’t confuse me with the facts.”

Perhaps I am wrong...maybe it is just a bad case of Popeye the Sailor Man syndrome.

And so I come to the very last and probably major reason that I have refrained from writing about the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth as it now exists and as it ceases to exist in the very near future – It is just such a ridiculous thing to even contemplate from afar. Even I, having been so involved in trying to let the Church know that not everyone in Fort Worth agreed with Jack Iker, see it now and can hardly believe it.

There is a reason why the rest of the Church has allowed the Iker/Duncan/Schofield/Ackerman (and don’t forget Beckwith in Springfield) debacle to go on and on and on ad nauseam and that is because it is easier to ignore the brats in the room than it is to deal with them. Let's just talk over/around them and maybe they will just play by themselves. There is also the idea that “they elected them – they must want them” and it plays a large part. Too many in the pews just “want to go to church to worship” and don’t want to get involved in the “politics”. As a result, Jack Iker was called as the bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth. And as is always the case, silence is only considered golden by those who demand no disagreement. Lesson to note for future use, do not sit silently while those around you are fomenting schism. Sit up and listen. Stand up and speak.

And guess what - a note to others in the pews – we all want to go to church to worship. Sadly, too many of us have been refused that privilege OR been given it provisionally. We can be there if we are good little boys and girls. Don’t cause trouble; sit down and be still.

Reading this, one might come to the conclusion that I am still a bit peeved at the whole situation. That would be correct. I am. I used to be hurt though. I am not hurt anymore. And truly, I am not really, really peeved. I am just really into personal accountability right now.

I wasn’t really ready to write about that in relation to the Diocese of Fort Worth until this point. Now it's time.

So, here are my thoughts. Jack, you need to resign. Just step down. Go be a bishop somewhere else, retire or whatever but you know good and well that to keep up this farce of “taking the diocese” is a bunch of malarkey. You are the one who is tearing the fabric of the communion.

People who are following Jack, good grief, grow up. Use your own brain to read and interpret…to think. Stop and think about why you are following so closely to Jack’s coattail. And what is in it for you? What is it to you? Think about it. Seriously.

And to all of you who are in so much pain right now because of the true rending of the fabric – that is, the parishes you all have built and love and where you have raised your families (many of you alongside my own), grieved over lost loved ones, my heart goes out to you. I love you all – on both sides of the situation. I know and love some who are staying; some who are leaving and some who are simply following a building because they are too tired, too tied to those memories to walk away. May God bless and keep you everyone. And may one day come where we all will truly be One in the Body of Christ, united in the true idea of Love.

To all of you who are watching and waiting, anticipating a new day, I wait prayerfully with you. And I remind you (even though you already know it), there is a better church out here. You can be a part of it. Or you can remain apart from it. Don’t let the same things happen as have happened in the past. This is your Church. Keep on working for it. You all have come a long way and done a great job getting the word out.

Remember, the via media is broad and diverse. The other thing about the via media – there is no shoulder, not even a ditch…we all belong within it.

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