Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We all need a holiday, at least I do. For us southerners, it a great time of the year to celebrate the four F's we value in life: Faith, Family, Food, and Football (not necessarily in that order). We need a break. We need our four F's.
We need to look up to keep from being overwhelmed by looking down. Today there good reasons to feel down, 1-what happened yesterday, 2-November 22, and 3-Roy Moore. Let me explain.
My head is still reeling from the whiplash of yesterday. As you can see in my post, I started out the day optimistic and hopeful that DSC had accepted reality and wanted to wind up the legal war soon on honorable terms. Then, I learned that DSC slapped TECSC with a new lawsuit. And, then, I learned that DSC is going to appeal the SCSC decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Reality set in. I blamed myself for the mess I made in the blog. I of all people should have known better than to trust too much in the good will of people at war.
DSC's new lawsuit, that they entered in the circuit court of Dorchester County (where the trial was held in July of 2014), does not make much sense to me. I do not even know that a "Complaint" is legally speaking. What is the difference in that and a "Motion"? Even stranger is the crazy vagueness of the whole paper. It demands repayments for improvements made in both the diocese and the 29 parishes without giving any specifics of time, conditions, or anything else. My first question is, If DSC can demand reparations, why cannot TECSC charge rent for the use of the buildings for the five years since the schism? This whole Complaint is just bizarre. But, if you think about it, it is not out of character given the history of the schism.
Appealing to SCOTUS is ridiculous. There is virtually no chance SCOTUS will accept this case, mainly because it was tried and judged entirely on state laws of property and corporations. SCOTUS does not do state law. They only take cases involving U.S. constitutional issues. DSC did not argue the case on constitutional issues, as freedom of religion. Quite the opposite. They avoided these like the plague (except when it was useful for them), with a lot of help from Judge Goodstein.
Assuming that the new lawsuit and the appeal to SCOTUS are sincere and genuine and not just negotiation ploys (and at this point we have no reason to think otherwise), as of this moment, I think mediation is dead. I just cannot see DSC making a compromise on anything. They showed yesterday they are ready to fight to the last breath. It is the Vietnam Syndrome---destroy the diocese to save it. I grew up in a fundamentalist church. I know this rigid mind set. The word is divided into warring opposites. People who believe God is on their side and Satan on the other (remember Lawrence once called his courtroom adversaries the spiritual forces of evil) are not given to compromise. It is do or die. This is what I see here. If I were a lawyer for TECSC (which I most assuredly am not) I would start playing hardball. Get eviction notices to remove illegal occupants from Church-owned buildings. Prepare to go on to federal court and regain the diocese and put it in effect asap. Let's get real. DSC has never shown a ny interest whatsoever in compromise. Do not forget DSC's disdainful rejection of TEC's generous offer of settlement in June of 2015 when the church offered to swap diocese for parishes. Look where that got them.
It is useful at this point to go back to the big picture. The SC schism is part of the Anglican Realignment. This started 20 years go as an attempt to destroy or greatly diminish the Episcopal Church that ultra-conservatives believed had gone apostate, mainly by granting inclusion for and equal rights to homosexuals and women. A coalition of American ultra-conservatives and equatorial African bishops formed the Anglican Church in North America to be the (anti-human-rights) replacement province for TEC in the Anglican Communion. The breakaway diocese in SC joined ACNA. The Anglican Communion has rejected the pretensions of ACNA. The replacement strategem has failed. But, in SC, the culture warriors are leaving behind a scorched earth as they are being defeated. God only knows what will be left in SC when they are finally through and accept the inevitable. Think Vietnam.
If you are my age, you will remember exactly where you were on November 22, 1963. I remember every detail of that day. I was a junior at F.S.U. It was beautiful, sunny and warm in Tallahassee as I made my way just after noon to French class, taught by a native French woman. In the hall, a group of students huddled around a transistor radio and whispered the news. We all fell into our desks in disbelief. I will never forget what the teacher said, "Do you as American citizens wish to cancel class"? She need not have asked, but we were all touched by her concern for our nation. I walked out into the warm sunshine thinking I must be in a nightmare, this must not be real. At 5 p.m. the Episcopal chapel held a (packed) service and read the Litany. We all walked around like zombies. No one could eat. We found the nearest television and sat transfixed, on that day, Friday, and the rest of the weekend. We thought it was the end of an age. We did not know, could not have known, that it was really only the beginning of a wild decade.
The situation here in Alabama is still fluid but I sense it is firming up and Moore will probably get elected, narrowly. The whole state Republican party leadership has rallied around Moore. The governor says she believes the women but is voting for Moore anyway. It is better to have a credibly accused child molester and sexual predator in the U.S. Senate than a "liberal Democrat" (translation--one who favors a woman's right to choose). The culture war here in Alabama is still very strong and is driving this race. People will vote for Moore because they believe he stands for the old-fashioned values they cherish (equal rights for women are not among them). And, alas Alabama will embarrass itself again.
Alabamians are well aware of how practically the rest of the country looks down on them (thank God for Mississippi). In a way, this defensiveness makes them even more tribal. This is a big reason why football is so important in Alabama. It is the state religion. And, this weekend is the biggest event of them all, the Alabama-Auburn game. The whole state comes to a stop on this Saturday afternoon every year. And for one moment, one side can feel good about superiority. Better yet for one to go on to the national championship, which happens often. Football gives Alabamians the feeling of superiority they lack in virtually everything else. So what if they pay Saban mega-millions? He is a winner. He makes us feel better about ourselves.
So, it is time for a holiday. It is time to take a break from the ongoing tragedy of the schism in South Carolina, memories of a horrible day, and the moral lapse of voting for Moore. It is time to recharge our batteries with the four F's. I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving. I continue to be amazed, and a bit puzzled, at the number of people who read this humble blog. It has had 63,000 hits since the SCSC decision of August 2. So, to all of you out there in cyberspace, have a great weekend and be thankful for what we have.