Friday, June 03, 2005

Pontius Bishop Pilate

Shrimp here: The following comes from a certain bitterness born of hearing many speaches while watching many parishes close. It is not meant to personally condemn any individuals as much as castigate the group as a whole.

"Speaking of blithering idiots, er, I mean bishops (did we say already that we won't be happy until all of them--Ok, maybe about six will be spared if they explain why they weren't louder in their defense of orthodoxy--serve prison sentences for malfeasance), I happened to run across this gem of an elca news release. It goes back to the BIG SPIN they tried after the release of TFR. How's this for lyin' through your teeth? (Now remember, they knew how upset the majority of the membership was going to be because two-thirds took the trouble to fill in their asinine forms and said NO CHANGE)

OK, let's start with Prezbish:

"The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, did not comment on the report's contents [that should give you a hint about how bad this was going to be-even he knew it was best not to get into anything he could get pinned down on later, better to be very, very vague and say things like "We thank you for your hard work"]but reminded the ELCA that the "work is not done, nor have decisions been made."
"The task force report and recommendations give focus to our continuing conversations moving toward decisions at the 2005 Churchwide Assembly in Orlando," Hanson said. "I am deeply thankful for and proud of the people of this church for the way we have discussed sensitive issues. I have witnessed a church praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, studying the Scriptures, engaging in dialogue, challenging and listening in a climate of mutual respect. These conversations have taken place within a deep concern for the unity of the church and the mission to which God calls us for the life of the world. I trust these will be the marks of our continued work as we pray, study and share comments on this report and recommendations."

You got that? We were all praying, we were all being guided by the Holy Spirit, we were all deeply concerned about ... Give me a break, this is POLITICS FOLKS it has nothing to do with religion for the folks who are trying to force this upon us. As Carl Braaten says, "If doesn't come from Scripture, it doesn't come from tradition, it has to come from culture."

Now get ready, let's do a perp walk:

"Here is a sampling of comments in letters, news releases and statements from ELCA synod bishops:

+ The Rev. Roy G. Almquist, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod, Norristown -- "I am frankly encouraged that so much of the recommendations by the task force encourages us to address this sensitive issue pastorally rather than legislatively."

Yea, that would be the pastoral highway patrolman who does not give you a ticket for breaking the speed limit. We're with you Roy, given the way people are already driving, if they choose to cross lanes and drive in the opposite direction, you pull them over and counsel them. We feel much safer.

"We need to address issues of poverty and injustice in our nation; we need to focus on outreach and witness, particularly to young Americans and immigrant people; and we need to strengthen and undergird our congregations. These concerns require that we come together and rise above any one divisive topic."

Translation: this issue is going to kill the church, can we please talk about something else?

+ The Rev. Edward R. Benoway, bishop of the ELCA Florida-Bahamas Synod, Tampa, Fla. -- "While I understand and appreciate that the recommendations affirm the present practices of the church as is reflected by the majority response in the church, it is also good to hear the position of the minority and to be open to discover ways in which to follow the Spirit's leading in not only welcoming but also including those who are different from us in the ministry that God gives us."

Translation: ER, you guys sure you want to go ahead? I looked over my shoulder and no one is following me?

+ The Rev. Robert D. Berg, bishop of the ELCA Northwest Synod of Wisconsin, Rice Lake -- "The task force believes this is not a change in policy, but as I see it, it clearly is at least a change in practice which is not consistent with the current policy. For this reason, I expect there will be considerable debate regarding this [third] recommendation."

Berg speaks English, gets to keep his job.

+ The Rev. Paul J. Blom, bishop of the ELCA Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod, Houston -- "This [first] is by far the most important recommendation. It is the foundation of the entire report as well as the basis of further discussion on any topic where we disagree."

Blom is brainless. Unity is spin, its nothing else. Unity in itself has no moreal or religious value.

+ The Rev. Stephen P. Bouman, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod -- "The report is honest about our disagreements, does not seek to force a false unity, declined to change existing policy regarding same-sex unions (left to pastoral discretion) and standards for ordination (celibacy outside of marriage), but left pastoral room and space in the application of these standards. Â… Those hoping that the proposals would call for full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons into the church will be disappointed. Those hoping [for] no change in the policies and no pastoral discretion in their applications will also probably be disappointed."

Translation: Bouman wants to be your next Prezbish and is very good at saying, "Look. I am standing in the middle. I am a moderate see." Ocoursese, he does this while neveinvestigatingin much less disciplining any gays only investigating heterosexuals while bishop in one of the synods most populated by active gays. When it hits the fan he will say his hands are clean, no charges were brought forward.

+ The Rev. David L. deFreese, bishop of the ELCA Nebraska Synod, Omaha -- "We are a church that has always publicly nailed issues to the door so all could discuss them. ... The church can offer a safe, insightful place to talk about hard issues. I am grateful for how our church has conducted this conversation."

Translation: deFreese is grateful that talk is cheap.

+ The Rev. Richard J. Foss, bishop of the ELCA Eastern North Dakota Synod, Fargo -- "The first recommendation is crucial, i.e., [that] the task force urges us all to continue to find ways to live together in the midst of various issues upon which we don't all agree. ... The report clearly states that the biblical-theological case of changing our current policies has not been made, and thus recommends maintaining our current standards; at the same time, they [task force members] tried to find a way to create space to live together acknowledging strong and differing understandings. Â… I believe that the task force had excellent intentions, did hard, faithful work on our behalf, and has provided a clear picture of the current complexities in this church."

Translation: Foss is a double-speak wizard.

+ The Rev. Carol S. Hendrix, bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod, Harrisburg, Pa. -- "As bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod, I will continue to advocate for establishing consistent policies and practices in the ELCA that maintain our current standards for ordination and that do not provide for the blessing of same-sex relationships. At the same time, I affirm the ELCA's position to welcome gay and lesbian people to participate fully in the life of its congregations and to reject discrimination, assault and harassment of these individuals."

Hendrix comes off pretty good. She get high marks.

+ The Rev. Callon Holloway Jr., bishop of the ELCA Southern Ohio Synod, Columbus -- "Caring for all people, regardless of their place in life, is always a very high priority and responsibility of us all. That will guide my exercise of responsibility and how I will seek to amend this particular [third] recommendation." [Holloway said a policy that would allow for divergent practice could create distrust and confusion.]

Holloway keeps his job.

+ The Rev. Marie C. Jerge, bishop of the ELCA Upstate New York Synod, Syracuse -- "I find the task force report's prayerful and pastoral approach to be consistent with the Lutheran tradition. When there is significant disagreement, this church has often turned to pastoral discretion and discernment. The intent is that the church will continue to be in dialogue around issues about which we don't agree."

There is no defense for such naivite. Surrounding people in prayer was double-speak for blessing same-sex unions, wasn't it?

+ The Rev. Craig E. Johnson, bishop of the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod -- "I am grateful for the space which these recommendations propose to give to congregations and synods. These recommendations allow the discernment process concerning sexuality to continue because there are deeply held differences of opinion in our church."

Johnson will be grateful if he has a job in a few months.

+ The Rev. H. Gerard Knoche, bishop of the ELCA Delaware-Maryland Synod, Baltimore -- "My hope is that we can model for the world a new way of dealing with strongly held disagreements, a way that is different from what we find in the society around us. Our unity in our common baptism and our common sharing of the Lord's Supper should be more important than these issues about which we have not yet found agreement. Pray for our church, pray for the Church Council, pray for the Spirit to lead us into all truth."

Well Knoche, we have been praying and we will, but do you think ycoulduld find some spine, too?

+ The Rev. Michael A. Last, bishop of the ELCA Western Iowa Synod, Storm Lake -- "What's new is the encouragement of the task force to 'create space' of compassion for a diversity of beliefs among conscience-bound people of faith where there is no consensus on these matters of the blessings of same-sex unions, nor ordination, consecration, commissioning of non-celibate gay or lesbian individuals."

Brainless. I think this is the guy who told his assembly, "We've only had four years of this, it takes a generation to accomplish this kind of brainwashing, er, I mean change in beliefs."

+ The Rev. A. Donald Main, bishop of the ELCA Upper Susquehanna Synod, Lewisburg, Pa. -- "I am basically supportive of the three recommendations presented by the task force.... This option [recommendation three] has many problems but especially goes against my understanding of the ecclesiology of the ELCA."

Well, I'm basically going to ask you to not run for reelection because you did not say anything substantive when you had a chance.

+ The Rev. Gerald L. Mansholt, bishop of the ELCA Central States Synod, Kansas City, Mo. -- "I encourage all in this synod to read the report carefully and to continue the conversations around these difficult issues in respectful ways."

Hey, Mansholt, what do you think, another 10 years be enough talk? Can we wait until all the 75% of our rural and urban parishes that are in deep trouble officially close? Will then be enough time?

+ The Rev. David G. Mullen, bishop of the ELCA Sierra Pacific Synod, Oakland, Calif. -- "We need to allow for the consciences of all good-hearted ELCA Lutherans to be heard and given room in the church. We need to allow for gay and lesbian leadership to be acknowledged, experienced and reflected upon by the church."

I've heard this guy is sold GLBT and even closed immigrant ministribecausesue they did not support heresy, now I believe it.

+ The Rev. Michael J. Neils, bishop of the ELCA Grand Canyon Synod, Phoenix -- "The task force report recommends that existing practice be continued and our standards be upheld but suggests that if there is departure from our normative practice based on conscience and for the sake of mission that in some instances discretion may be used by bishops and synods in determining possible disciplinary action. Our church does not take stands of conscience lightly. ... Our church body is handling a very difficult set of issues with grace, patience, trust and respect for both individual conscience and traditional Lutheran teaching.... I affirm the task force recommendation that we stay focused on that mission. The other two recommendations are less clear to me."

Translation: They used a lot of big words and run on sentences and I don't really understand what they were saying and if I use a lot of words but make them small will you think I am a good bishop?

+ The Rev. Richard R. Omland, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod, Great Falls -- "It has become clear to the task force that the disagreement over these issues before the church is deep, pervasive, multi-faceted and multi-layered. This church is not of one mind. How true these words ring! If one of the purposes of the Law is to show us our sinfulness by giving us a clear picture of ourselves, this report has done the job. The key challenge -- and good news -- comes to us all in the test of recommendation one as it recommends the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America concentrate on finding ways to live together in the midst of our disagreements. I'm heartily in agreement with this and call upon us all to work together to make this happen."


+ The Rev. Margaret G. Payne, bishop of the ELCA New England Synod, Worcester, Mass. -- "The intent of the recommendations is to preserve the present written policy of the church while creating a space for further study, experience and discernment together of the role of gay and lesbian people in the ELCA. The task force is acutely aware of the problems and limitations associated with the recommendations, yet hopeful that this report can initiate a new phase of churchwide discussion that will result in resolutions that are wise and hopeful for the Churchwide Assembly in August 2005."


+ The Rev. Peter Rogness, bishop of the ELCA St. Paul (Minn.) Area Synod -- "The ELCA is a very public church. This report comes from listening to thousands of responses to this point, and will be shaped by responses and conversations in congregations, synods, among laity and clergy, throughout this church."

This report comes from listening and ignoring what they didn't like.

+ The Rev. David R. Strobel, bishop of the ELCA Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod, Wescosville, Pa. -- "I am confident that we can find common ground in spite of our differences and continue to work together in mutual respect for the sake of the mission of the church in northeastern Pennsylvania."

Well, we got a big surprise for you Dave. Common ground there is little in a polarized nation, and if you check you will see you have little mission in you neck of the woods.

+ The Rev. Ronald B. Warren, bishop of the ELCA Southeastern Synod, Atlanta
-- "Because I find sections of the report of the task force confusing, and because I think recommendation three is contrary to this church's position on sexual ethics (see Vision and Expectations at, I am, therefore, unable to support the report and its recommendations in their present form. One area of the task force report of which I am in full agreement is a portion of recommendation one, which reads: "the task force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality recommends that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America concentrate on finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of our disagreements."

Warren keeps his job on this one.

+ The Rev. Martin D. Wells, bishop of the ELCA Eastern-Idaho Synod, Spokane, Wash. -- "This was a week to be proud of our church. The release of our task force recommendations confirms what we have experienced: a careful, faithful, biblical journey into questions of human sexuality.... I look forward to our church's conversation over the next seven months. I support these recommendations as a good and healthy way to bring focus and clarity to the next phase of our conversation."

Wells is so sold liberal, so sold. Nice guy though.

+ The Rev. Gary Wollersheim, bishop of the ELCA Northern Illinois Synod, Rockford -- "I am proud of the manner in which our church has considered these difficult issues prayerfully, openly and with respect for differing views. I am confident, with God's help, that we will make faithful decisions in August of 2005."

Bad bet, Gary.

Listen folks, I almost quit this rant a few bishops into it. I'm going to have to go and pray and calm down and ask to be forgiven again. But, I tell you, these guys are not only living proof that no charism comes with having Episcos laying hands on you, on a practical level, they are going to have to pay for their spinelessness. They had a chance to save the church and they took a pass. They know it themselves, they care more for prestige, power and pension then they do about the truth.

Come to think of it, Pilate would be the going typology in the above story.

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