Saturday, September 29, 2007

Who is Worth Killing?

From Episcopal Life, regarding the recent Common Cause meeting:

...During his short homily at Eucharist, (Bishop) Duncan urged the congregation of about 100 to be fruitful even if their fruit is not what the world wants, and to be willing to face the consequences of their actions. Those consequences in the past, Duncan said, have included death.

"My prayer for us who have gathered here is that...we will be such a threat to the present order that we will be found worth killing, if only Columba's white martyrdom, but, if it be so, let it be the red martyrdom," Duncan said, contrasting the "martyrdom" of asceticism with that of death...
Mark Harris found a further quote from Bp. Duncan's homily:

...During his sermon in the cathedral, Duncan said that there hasn't been an Archbishop of Canterbury worth killing since 1645, citing Anglican historian Philip Jenkins...
When viewed within the context of his entire homily, perhaps Bp. Duncan's comments about who is "worth killing" are actually quite benign. But I still think they were a poor choice of words, considering the volatile nature of the current situation. It is not a great leap to begin with speaking of killing and being killed as a metaphor for spiritual warfare and end up with acts of violence being threatened against those with whom you consider to be "evil."

Is my concern evidence of just being paranoid? I don't think so.

For instance, consider this conversation that occurred recently at Stand Firm, an ultra-conservative site that is managed by Greg Griffith. The responses were to some "notes" from Bob Maxwell of a clergy conference. Here is part of those "notes." "Jeffrey" is a reference to Bp. Steenson of Rio Grande, who recently announced his intention to resign:

...Third, two bishops threatened +Jeffrey, over this agreement with St. Clement. CO and I believe XX were the bishops. He was really upset by this –in tears and shaking- and it included deposition, law suits, not allowing him to resign. . . We were quite angry on hearing this and wondered if they realized they were talking to a NM – TX bishop. Their cities may have a lot of urban gang problems; but, they don’t realize most of us have guns, know how to use them and nobody’s gonna mess with our bishops!
We don't know the full story behind these accusations of "threats" by two unnamed bishops, but if this is true, I think that we can all agree that such behavior is inappropriate for a bishop. I would hope that the bishops involved in this would offer Bp. Steenson an apology.

Regarding the part about "having guns...so don't mess with our bishops," one can assume that this is a reference to the cliche "Don't mess with Texas." Most likely, it was an attempt at humor. But, in light of Bp. Duncan's recent homily, I think this was also a very poor choice of words. The comments that followed give evidence that it was indeed a poor choice. Here's just a few of them. Note that the most troubling comments were initiated by the manager of the site:

Greg Griffith: I’m already reaching for my pistol…

Anthony: Threatening in a blog to shoot people is serious. Just sayin’.

Greg Griffith: Anthony, Agreed. However, “reachin’ for my pistol” is an old expression I use around here. No threat is being made.

Charles Nightingale: Alisdair+: Perhaps it’s time for the “Small band of former paratroopers” to mobilize and deploy!

Virg: "they don’t realize most of us have guns, know how to use them and nobody’s gonna mess with our bishops!...”
At last… a perfect solution to all this bickering going on in the church. We’ll just kill the sobs. God help any dissenters on Fr. Maxwell’s vestry.

the snarkster: "I’m already reaching for my pistol…"
Hey, what gives with this? The Commenatrix (Blessed be her name) got on my case for saying a lot less than that.

It should be quite evident to all by now that our Presiding Marine Biologist and all the 815 gang are not liken to a school of angelfish. They are sharks, pure and simple.

Frances Scott: Frankly, Fr. Maxwell, I wouldn’t waste a bullet on her.

Greg Griffith: Of course, no one is threatening anyone with anything here. I’ll caution anyone pondering a real threat to read our comment policy, but I’ll also remind those who think we’re under orders to keep everything here cupcakes and bunny rabbits not to fall for the caricature of Jesus that our Worthy Opponents have tried to sell us… how was it put the other day? - A sort of zoned-out hippie pacifist, wandering from town to town, spouting Zen koans and harmless parables?

Let’s not forget that the people in these churches have in many cases put their life’s work into them; that their parents and grandparents are buried in the graveyard; it’s where their children were baptized, confirmed and married; and that the people we’re up against are nasty - there’s no other way to say it - and they’re playing for keeps.

I won’t criticize those who think the best course is to play the pacifist, but they shouldn’t find fault with those who want to pick up their sword along with their trowel (emphasis added).

The manager of one of the most popular ultra-conservative web sites read by many Anglicans is advocating for a place for those who want to "pick up their sword." Unbelievable.

We need to say something loud and clear. Threats of violence are never to be tolerated among those who call themselves Christians. I can see no other interpretation of the conversation quoted above; a conversation that evolved shortly after discussions of Bp. Duncan's homily (which explains the "wouldn't waste a bullet" comment).

In your responses to these outrageous statements, please keep in mind that this is a Christian site. Further threats of violence are not the appropriate response. We stand up against such behavior that would seek to harm another. But we will not make new victims. Those with whom we struggle are also children of God, regardless of our personal opinions. Threats of violence against anyone separates us from the love of God made known to us through Jesus Christ.

For the sake of our own spiritual health, and for the sake of the world, let us speak out against violence, while also refusing to make new victims.

Pray for the Church.

J.

UPDATE: The manager of the site quoted above has responded. Here's part of it:

...I refuse to conform my posts to the delicate sensibilities of Jake and his gals. This will always be a place where men can feel free to be men… the kind of place our church used to be, once upon a time...

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