« September 2006 | Main | November 2006 »

alles klar, Herr Kommissar?

The Living Church is now reporting that all dioceses formerly requesting "Alternative Primatial Oversight" have changed their request to match +Stanton's for a "Commissary." In honor of the proposed revival of the office created (as +Stanton's statement notes) for the established church of the British Empire to supervise her outposts in the colonies, I offer this 80's tune, along with its lyrics in German and English. "Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?"

October 27, 2006 in Churchiness, Current Affairs, Just for Fun, Music, Silliness | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

ah, the Anglican 'good old days' ...

... when being Anglican meant being in England or a colony of England!

That's one of the things I read, in any case, from this statement from Bishop Stanton of Dallas explaining why he worded his request to the Archbishop of Canterbury as being for oversight from a "Commissary":

A "Commissary," Stanton explained in his statement, is "a sort of vicar used by the Bishop of London in colonial days. The colonies which became the United States were under the oversight of the Bishop of London until the end of the American Revolution.

+Stanton may be unaware of the resonances of the language he's choosing, but I thought it remarkable to see such a transparent statement that his wish is in at least some ways for a return to Anglican colonialism (or colonial Anglicanism -- seems to me that both phrases apply well to the vision).

You can read the whole ENS article here. The full text of +Stanton's statement to his diocesan convention is here, and his "Response to the Announcement of the Diocese of Pittsburgh," containing that choice quote about the "Commissary," is in the "click to continue reading" portion of this post.


A recent announcement made by the Diocese of Pittsburgh has raised some discussion about the status of the Diocese of Dallas in an "appeal for Alternative Primatial Oversight. It reads:

"With the approval of the Standing Committee, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has released the full text of the appeal for Alternate Primatial Oversight (APO). The appeal, which lays out the request of the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Central Florida, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Joaquin, South Carolina, and Springfield, was sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury on July 20. It explains why the dioceses involved believe that APO is necessary and what that oversight might look like. Since July, Dallas has withdrawn its request, but Quincy has joined the other appellants." (Diocese of Pittsburgh website)

There is a problem here: I never asked for APO. This is well known to most of you based on our Clergy meeting on July 5, 2006, where I discussed this matter. I offer this response for further clarification.

The consolidated appeal to which this release makes reference, and which I did sign and had a hand in writing, doesn't ask for APO either. Look at the third paragraph:

"Seven dioceses are seeking to reshape their life together as dioceses -- faithful to what the Episcopal Church has been and submitted to what the Anglican Communion has taught -- under the oversight of a Canterbury appointed Commissary, temporarily exercising some of the responsibilities normally assigned to the American primate. Some of these dioceses have requested "alternative primatial oversight." One has requested "a direct pastoral relationship." One has requested "alternative primatial relationship and, as appropriate, oversight." While worded differently, what these requests seek in common is a special relationship of pastoral care and accountability under the Archbishop of Canterbury described more fully below."

The consolidated appeal notes that different requests were made originally. It then seeks to clarify what "these requests have in common." It is a "special relationship of pastoral care and accountability" under the Archbishop, and a designated point of contact called a "Commissary". ("Commissary" being, of course, a sort of vicar used by the Bishop of London in colonial days.) Once past this paragraph, the term "alternative primatial oversight" is never used again. I maintain that the appeal is NOT for APO.

The first I ever heard of the concept of "alternative primatial oversight" (APO) was at the General Convention of 2006, when the Bishop of Fort Worth announced that he was appealing for APO, with the support of his Standing Committee. The next time I heard of it was when the Standing Committee of Dallas discussed this with me prior to the issuing of their Statement on July 5. Eventually even they modified the language, calling for "a direct primatial relationship."

I had misgivings about the use of the APO language at the time. Among other concerns, we do not have "primatial oversight" in this Province as some other member Churches of the Anglican Communion do. Consequently, in a letter to the Diocese released at the same time as the Standing Committee's Statement, I wrote:

"They [The Standing Committee] ask me to 'appeal to the Archbishop of Canterbury for a direct primatial relationship. . .' Several dioceses have called for 'alternative primatial oversight,' as you will know through news reports. I will discuss a direct pastoral relationship with the Archbishop. This will be for the pastoral support of our mission, and assurance of our place in the Communion. I must emphasize that this relationship will be consistent with our Constitution and Canons, both of the Diocese and of the General Church." (Pastoral Letter, July 5, 2006)

I immediately wrote to Archbishop Williams making my request in terms of a "direct pastoral relationship."

Press reports and various blogs continued to use APO terminology, however. This language caused confusion and some anxiety within the Dallas Diocese. This is understandable, since I had announced and maintained a different sort of request from the beginning. Following the New York meeting in September, I shared this concern with my colleagues and indicated that I would quietly withdraw my own request. I did this before the Windsor Bishops' meeting at Camp Allen, in a simple note to the Archbishop.

I continue to share with my colleagues a deep concern over the direction and coherence of the Episcopal Church. With them, I share a commitment to the health and unity of the Anglican Communion. I stand with them in their hope and work for a robust Anglican Covenant. There are no divisions among us. My own misgivings about the concept of APO is not a judgment on those who have made this request or what they intend by it. I certainly have not had any change of mind or resolve on my own part.

Since I never requested APO, it is incorrect to say that I have withdrawn from an appeal for APO.

The Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton
Bishop of Dallas

The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas
1630 N. Garrett Av.
Dallas, TX 75206
Office: (214) 826-8310

October 27, 2006 in Churchiness, Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

my secret ambition #2

I want a cool nickname -- cool like The Edge cool. Why should rock stars and professional athletes get all the good nicknames? Why not preachers?

October 18, 2006 in Just for Fun | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Internet anonymity

I find fascinating the story of The Mystery Bullshipper, who (it seems to most reasonable observers) adopted an online persona so he could post glowing reviews, supposedly authored by a female layperson, of his singing, preaching, and liturgical sense. What grabs me most, I think, about it is the question of why someone as successful as this priest seems to be (he's a Priest Vicar at Westminister Abbey, and travels internationally as a preacher and presider at Anglo-Catholic services) would feel the need to lie repeatedly and publicly to get more publicity.

I suppose that's not such a mystery, though. I've met many very successful people who are so successful in part because they're so driven; they take risks to achieve what they see as great things, and if they're bright enough they can calculate those risks well enough to choose mostly the ones that will pay off. I imagine that same drive and compulsive need to be seen as great could motivate someone to take risks that are unlikely at best to pay off, and a constantly nagging fear of being found out as not so great could lead a person to make some very unhelpful choices in hope on some level of being caught, and hence not having to keep up the charade.

Dave Walker of the ever-brilliant Cartoon Church was led by the story to offer these helpful observations on Internet anonymity. I sometimes envy friends who have pseudonymous blogs; there are lots of things one can share and receive sympathy or applause about when one is anonymous that would be irresponsible or self-destructive to post when one's identity is known. But whenever I've thought about finding or developing some venue where I can post anonymously [*], I've thought about how exhausting and worrying it must be to wonder whether or when I'd be found out, and concluded that I'm better off taking the advice I've given to many a pseudonymous blogger: not to publish anything, even pseudonymously, that would deeply embarrass or hurt someone (including me!) if it received wider publication in a different context, and with my name attached. I figure that posting anything pseudonymously would just tempt me to think I wouldn't be held accountable for what I said, which would serve mostly to tempt me to say things better left unsaid for my own sake as well as others'.

I do know many pseudonymous bloggers -- Gordon Atkinson of Real Live Preacher, for example, who blogged in anonymity as far as the public was concerned until his book came out -- who have done it well. Gordon used anonymity not to find more opportunities to attack opponents without accountability, but to be more honest about his own struggles and doubts, and I think the degree to which he used anonymity responsibly can be seen in his ability to keep going both as Real Live Preacher and pastor of his congregation after revealing his name. But for me, the accountability of being Sarah Dylan Breuer everywhere is helpful and perhaps even necessary.

* [Of course, I am unfailingly sober, honest, and godly, and never have any less-than-deeply-admiring thoughts regarding any of my superiors or less-than-charitable thoughts about any sister or brother in the human family, so why on earth would I need an anonymous posting venue anyway? And if you believe that, I've got some beachfront property in Frederick, Maryland I'd like to sell you.]

October 11, 2006 in Current Affairs, Life and Whatnot, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

30% less ...

My honey and I had a very, very nice holiday weekend with a couple of our best friends in the world, and in a gorgeous corner of New England at peak color under an astonishingly clear blue sky.

One of the most fun things about it was trading barbs with a couple of the wittiest people we know, leading to some pretty good dialogue. This was from me, as I found myself ruminating about some particularly silly bit of silliness in church politics:

"I give 30% less ass than the leading rat about it."

October 9, 2006 in Churchiness, Just for Fun | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

she just LOVES the New Testament

Why wait until Friday for catblogging when today is St. Francis' Day?


Some people say that too many Episcopalians just aren't sufficiently attached to scripture, but this clearly doesn't apply to our Foster, who just LOVES the bible -- especially the New Testament in Greek. Wonder where she gets that from?

October 6, 2006 in Cats | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

apocalypse drinking game

Thank God! If it turns out that all that Left Behind dreck really is going to happen, at least I'll be well prepared with this:

The Apocalypse Drinking Game

October 5, 2006 in Just for Fun | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack