We've been reading a fair number of slams against the new PECUSA Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schuori. Here at the Egg, we continue to be a little disturbed by her comparatively brief tenure as a priest, and her remarkable lack of parish experience before ascending to the throne.
But that said, these various slams -- many of them made in passing, by writers with other concerns -- have been troubling us. They are often pretty nasty in tone, but short on details.
Several complain that she apparently permitted same-sex unions in her former diocese, but provide no details. Now, for a bishop to "permit" something may mean any of several different things. It might mean that she was gung-ho for the practice, or simply that she lacked the canonical ability, or political clout, to discipline a popular maverick in the ranks of her parish clergy. She really ought to be judged not by an unspecified case or two from years ago, but by what she does in the next few months, as the Episcopal Church wrestles with its internal divisions and with the divisions of the Anglican Communion.
Others among the slamming community, however, don't even have this much ammunition to fire. They just write mean, sneering stuff, the general tone of which seems to be "I don't like her, and you -- my readers -- already know why."
Exhibit A: Bill Murchison. Our beloved godfather recently forwarded us a piece Mr Murchison had written for the Dallas Morning News. It mocked the new bishop's installation sermon, apparently -- one couldn't be sure -- for having a political agenda. The sermon argued that God's peace is made real in the world through care for the poor, and for the environment. Murchison said, essentially, that these were not the Church's business, but the business of politics and government. He accused her of betraying her heritage.
Oh, and he doesn't like Bono. Not sure how that fits into his article, but he mentioned it.
"Hmmn," though the Egg. "How odd." We had always thought that care for the poor was very much the Church's business. And we had also thought that the Church had a duty to promote that concern by speaking to politicians and governors. As to the matter of "heritage," we had thought -- been entirely certain, rather -- that the Anglican churches had been created in the crucible of a complex interrelationship between matters of faith and matters of public policy. (See under: Cranmer, Thomas; Stuart, James I et seq.; Tudor, all of them).
And for the record, we think Bono is a pretty decent guy.
So, having read this article, and finding it strangely free of ideas and just as strangely filled with nasty remarks, we were moved to wonder: "What's with this Murchison guy?" And we Googled his sorry cracker behind. Here's what we learned:
Bill Murchison used to be reporter; he teaches at Baylor, and has a reputation for solidly conservative Episcopalianism. No problem there. (Well, small problem -- he was brought on board by Sloan, a president so bad the faculty demoted him before he could dfestroy their institutional credibility.)
But a few more clicks revealed the remarkable fact that Murchison is part of something called the League of the South. This is a neo-Confederate organization. As in the Confederate States of America. As in the guys who lost the Civil War. The slaveholding, union-busting, Lincoln-assassinating Confederacy. The league is committed to secession from what it calls the American "empire." It's elected president, Michael Hill, advocates not only strict immigration control, but also kicking out "aliens," including Arabs and Jews.
The South will rise again, and my gorge with it.
Basically, these people are to Timothy McVeigh what the Wahabis are to bin Laden: the theoreticians of terror. They don't actually make the bombs; they don't even tell anbody to use the bombs; hell, if pushed, they'll talk about how bad bombs really are -- but they do explain why it might be nice if some bombs exploded. And for the same reason: the bad old American Empire.
So if one of their mouthpices doesn't like the new Anglican primate of the United States, then we say "Rule Brittania."