Monday, April 19, 2010

How about a little prophetic leadership please?

(Knocking of the door of the American HOB) Hello... Anybody awake in there?

(Knocking at 815) C’mon folks, doesn’t anyone have something to say on this matter? Katherine? Bonnie? Please?

(Knocking at the doors of The Trinity Institute, The Alban Institute, The Consultation)
C’mon folks, where’s your voice?

What I’m trying to muster in the above scenario is an effective response to is the latest bit of flimlammery and blatant misrepresentation from the schismatic voices of the radical right. In this case from David Bena, the retired Suffragan Bishop of Albany N.Y. who has also chosen to leave TEC for his own reasons.

It may not have made national headlines; the only reason I know of Mr. Bena’s recent public misrepresentations up here in Montreal is due to the good services of a treasured friend and living gift to our Church- Grandmère Mimi who posted on a recent opinion piece by the former Amercian suffragan bishop in the Richmond Times Dispatch. An opinion piece which has, far as I can tell, gone unchallenged in the public discourse except for Mimi’s post and the great work of Openly Episcopal in Albany

Not that I’d want to do anything to further Mr. Bena’s personal confusion- I mean, he has apparently continued to preach and celebrate at times within venues of the Episcopal Church, inspite of his very public departure and his equally public opinions. But a lie is still a lie, and I can’t help but ask where is the prophetic rebuttal from any quarter within our Church- other than the faithful Grandmère Mimi and the folks at Openly Episcopal in Albany.

I mean brother David did choose to make this public. And in such a situation I think it is more than obvious that his misrepresentation must be engaged in a similar quarter.

The first two sentences from his piece would suffice:

The painful irony is that TEC's decision to reject the authority of God's Word has been gravely injurious, and has itself caused the very division that TEC's leaders claimed they sought to avoid. Once someone rejects Scripture, then they reject Jesus Christ and Christianity as a whole.

Either former suffragan Bena has been suffering from a serious medical condition which has kept him painfully unaware of the last several decades of events both within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, or he is intentionally, and I would suggest maliciously misrepresenting the current reality.

And surely our Church can do better than yours truly for publicly rebutting these misrepresentations; but for the record:

Neither the people or the leadership of The Episcopal Church has at any time rejected either the authority of God’s Word, the lordship of our saviour Jesus Christ- or the implications of either articles of our living faith.

It is not the leadership of the Episcopal Church, but rather individuals such as yourself, Mr. Bena, who have chosen this ‘very division’ which has resulted from your personal opinions and actions, and resulted in the gravely injurious damage our Church has undergone. It is you sir who have chosen the path of schism, litigation, and if your most recent public utterance is any example, also chosen the path of wilful misrepresentation.

In addition, I would suggest that your objectification of Holy Scripture as a static, inerrant record not only denies decades of important Scriptural scholarship; it also suggests idolatry to be the standard of faithful Christian practice in your personal opinion.

Contrary to Mr. Bena's recent public misrepresentation of the current reality, I would suggest that of all of the provinces of our beloved Church, it is The Episcopal Church who has most prophetically, faithfully and courageously embodied our vocation to meet and engage the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of our redeemed lives and our vocation to be the living Body of Christ.

One need look no further than the methodology and practice at the recent Anaheim General Convention:

It was prayerfully transparent- one has only to ask any delegate about the weight of documentation provided in advance for their study, prayer and reflection.

It was intentionally structured, in both its public liturgies and collegial reflections to be open to the working of the Holy Spirit in that time and place.

It actively referenced all three principles of Anglican practice- Holy Scripture, Tradition & Intelligence, in its practice, and determinations.

And I might add, it was incarnational when our priests and bishops left their councils to march in solidarity with the exploited workers of the Disney corporation.

Which brings me to my real point- which for lack of a better term I might call the Palin effect- hopefully without giving that poor, misguided individual too much credit.

As patently obvious as Mr. Bena’s misrepresentations might be to many of us, the fact is he has made them in a very public venue. They have been read and resonated with some who may not have taken the time and effort to follow and prayerfully, critically evaluate recent events within our Church. Individuals who, for a variety of other personal reasons, may feel Mr. Bena’s misrepresentations speaks to or confirms their own feelings of powerlessness, isolation or personal frustration.

It is my sense that this is how phenomena like Ms. Palin and her ilk gained traction and momentum, and I would suggest that the time is long passed when our Church can afford to allow public spectacles such as Mr. Bena’s misrepresentation to go unchallenged.

It’s called leadership. It’s called accountability-necessarily public accountability only because of the venue Mr.Bena has chosen.

As long as we as a Church remain silent in the face of such misrepresentations we essentially allow individuals such as Mr. Bena to define the current reality within our Church in the public sector.

We need look no further than Ms. Palin’s public visibility, the ‘inches of ink’ she continues to receive, the crowds who turn out to listen to her divisive, skewed take on reality, to see what I am suggesting.

It is my sense that the Democratic Party and the American public made a serious mistake when they settled for mocking and effectively underestimating the former governor of Alaska. And as a result they effectively allowed her the unchallenged airtime and space to create her own version of ‘truth on the ground.’

In the instance of Mr. Bena, I would suggest what is at stake here is our vocation to act as the living Body of Christ. We might individually recognize his recent piece for the misrepresentation for what it is, but as members of the Body of Christ we do have a responsibility towards our brothers and sisters who for whatever reason are not likewise engaged with the current adventure of engaging with the Holy Spirit in the inescapable sacrament of our lives of faith.

I might also suggest that if the best our Church can do in this current instance is the witness of my personal Queen of the South (Grandmère Mimi) and yours truly, we might indeed be in some degree of real difficulty.

1 comment:

it's margaret said...

well --he didn't go uncontested-- !!! I promise you!