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Why do the primates rage and furiously take counsel together?
- To: Deputy-Bishop Discussion for GC 2000
- Subject: Why do the primates rage and furiously take counsel together?
- From: Louie Crew <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2000 09:36:04 -0500 (EST)
A friend wrote asking for my advice about his anger in response to what he
views as Bishop Griswold's lack of leadership in the wake of the
consecrations in Singapore. Here is my response.
I share the concern about the Singapore consecrations, but I do not assess
our Presiding Bishop in the same way. In a highly volatile situation in
which other primates are attacking him, Bishop Griswold is remaining calm,
assessing his options, and connecting with his colleagues. His ranting
about his power will not make him powerful; his calm patience with those
ranting at him is one of the most effective ways to manifest any power
that he has.
One of the mysteries exposed by this whole affair is "How much power does
a primate have, especially to effect matters outside one's own province?"
Tay and Kolini make grandiose claims to such power, as indeed did the
several other primates demanding that ECUSA follow Lambeth. Lambeth
resolutions have never been binding. Those attacking ECUSA are trying to
make them so. I doubt they will succeed, and their failure will make it
clearer than ever that they are not binding unless they win the
consciences of those to whom they appeal.
Note that many other bishops are speaking forcefully on behalf of the
American church, and that seems to me appropriate. Look closely at the
comments by Archbishop Peers and at the delightful parody of an American
Airlines offer by Bishop Swing. Both are in my collection at
A sense of humor is vital to all of us in this.
Any fighting the PB must do would be best reserved for the ring of the
primates meeting, with no energy spent on managing a battle through the
press in advance.
I spent Thursday and Friday at a conference of scholars addressing issues
of authority, sponsored by the Episcopal Church Foundation. The PB spoke
to us on Thursday. I found him forthright, circumspect, concerned, and
neither belligerent nor cowering. I do not always agree with him, but I do
trust him. At one point, before all present, I asked him to respond to
the demand several primates have made that he disassociate himself from
the Koinonia Statement. (See
http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/koinonia.html) He said that he would not
do so because that would be a betrayal of lesbians and gays. He also said
that even if he did so, no one would believe that he did it from anything
except a political motive. He noted that as Primate he is in a different
place with different responsibilities from those he had as Bishop of
I think the best ways that we can support the Presiding Bishop at this
time are to share with him our candid views, without expecting him to take
time to answer each of us; and to uphold him in fervent prayer. We should
also continue our ministries of love and compassion uninterrupted by the
challenges raised by the Singapore consecrations. We would be very wrong
to misdirect onto our Presiding Bishop our frustrations with those who
performed the consecrations. I suggest that we redeem those frustrations
by finding an anonymous way to bring joy into the life of a person with
whom we radically disagree on these issues.
In these struggles we will all lose, regardless of the outcome, if they
are merely about power. Love is the only way.