The Presiding Bishop of The Protestant Episcopal Gay-Straight Alliance, Wine Appreciation, Handfasting, and Swanning About Society, Inc (A Hierarchal Church, you better believe it), recently visited South Carolina to lend encouragement to those who, not happy with a nice, orthodox Anglican diocese, are setting up their own. This visit is not itself very interesting, since it’s what she does, after all. But her little speech – not quite a sermon, though she seems to have been vested, but certainly an oration – was remarkable. I wasted a couple of hours dissecting the dissimulations, outright deceits, outrageous theology, and general vapidity, before throwing it up (that comes too close to a metaphor) as hopeless. Some sort of award should be forthcoming.
The outstanding image from her speech (read the whole thing here, if you dare; it’s quite short) avers that folks who make judgements contrary to GroupThink are not that far off from the thought processes of terrorists and homicidal maniacs:
Somebody decides he knows the law, and oversteps whatever authority he may have to dictate the fate of others who may in fact be obeying the law, and often a law for which this local tyrant is not the judge. It’s not too far from that kind of attitude to citizens’ militias deciding to patrol their towns or the Mexican border for unwelcome visitors. It’s not terribly far from the state of mind evidenced in school shootings, or in those who want to arm school children, or the terrorism that takes oil workers hostage.
It’s this passage that has gotten most attention, but the truly subtle deceit comes in her interpretation of the meaning of the first Council at Jerusalem, the one that largely freed Gentile Christians from observing the minutiae of Jewish Law. Of course, this Council, it’s meaning and application, are still matters of robust discussion today. That’s not her point. Her point is to raise the possibility that the debate about homosexual behaviors is pretty much the same as debating the application of the dietary law to Gentiles. That is genuinely – well. I don’t know. It’s possible she’s created a need for a new noun.
But that she says things like this isn’t especially interesting, new, or even diverting anymore. There are other things to do than gape at this sort of thing. But I wonder about her role, a bit. After all, we all serve God, will we or nil we. Perhaps her role is that of a smoke (fire-and-brimstone?) detector, or radiation dosimeter, for those genuinely faithful Christians who remain in The Protestant Episcopal Gay-Straight Alliance, Wine Appreciation, Handfasting, and Swanning About Society, Inc (A Hierarchal Church, you better believe it). A hardy bunch, they are, determined to stick it out to the end. They have an endless supply of last ditches. Perhaps the Peeb’s function is to make it clear that she will fill every last one of those ditches with fire.
It’s a matter of intense amusement that on the website linked above, the first and most laudatory comment (“Brilliant! As always. . .”) comes from Bishop-in-Waiting Albert Cutié (oh, look him up if you’ve forgotten). And it’s also worthy of note that this speech may mark the final abandonment of “pluriform truth” (whatever that meant) in favor of an elaborate doublethink combined with a cult of personality.