Monday, October 29, 2018

WAR REPORT, 2nd edition

No one should have a shadow of doubt any longer that we are in the midst of a war in America. The culture war was the theme of my last blog posting, "The Forest and the Trees," on 25 October. Since that posting, three major episodes in the war have occurred. The national character is being tested as it has not been in decades. The future of the nation is at stake. I am not exaggerating. We Americans must arise and save our country. The barbarians are at the gates. Wait. No. They are not outside the gates; they are inside. The enemy of American democracy is all among us. This is a civil war.

One of the three events was the interment of the ashes of Matthew Shepard in the Washington National Cathedral. On Friday, Oct. 26, a grand, beautiful, and moving two-hour ceremony was held in the cathedral for the placement of the remains. Shepard was a martyr for homosexual rights. Twenty years ago, he was brutally beaten and left for dead by two men who disapproved of his sexual orientation. He died a few days later. He has become the visible symbol of the gay-rights movement. Video of the ceremony is available on Youtube.

On the same day, Cesar Sayoc was arrested in Florida and charged in the case of sending at least fourteen bombs in the mail. Sayoc was apparently a fanatical follower of President Trump. The bombs had been sent to prominent critics of Trump, certain Democrats and CNN. The apparent motive of the bombs was to kill the leaders of Trump's opposition.

The next day, 27 October, police charged Robert Bowers with killing eleven people and wounding six others in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He reportedly told police "I just want to kill Jews." This was the worst attack on Jews in American history. Acts of violence against Jews have escalated dramatically since Trump became president.

Recall, too, that on Wednesday, 24 October, Gregory Bush, a 51-year-old white man, was arrested and charged with murder in the shooting deaths of two African Americans in a Kroger store in Jeffersonville, Kentucky. 

Some people may argue that all this means is we live in a violent country in a violent age. This is true and does explain what is happening to a certain extent. America definitely has a romanticized culture of violence. Our politics have long been divisive and destructive. Trump did not create the present culture war, he just greatly expanded it by his base demagoguery.

Americans love their guns. There are more firearms in the country than people. Gun stores, shows, and sales abound. Gun ranges are packed on the weekends. Many places have open carry laws so that anyone may walk down the street packing heat. We have romanticized the wild west.

Combining our culture of guns and our growing political division creates a toxic brew of violence. Adding into this mix is the Internet that provides all sorts of ways for people to share, organize, and promote their views, however bizarre and deadly they might be.

To be sure, many of the episodes of mass murder in America are not politically or culturally motivated. There is a long list of cases where the apparent aims were indefinable. To my knowledge, the police have never discovered a motive for the shooting in Las Vegas, the biggest case of mass murder in American history. Apparently, the shooter had no motive; and we will never know what was in his obviously extremely disturbed mind. And, what about the devastating tragedy at Sandy Hook? No motive of which I am aware. And, what about that case in the Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas? Apparently, that one was about a domestic dispute and had nothing to do with anything else. Thus, we cannot attribute all of the cases of mass violence in America to the culture war. Having said that, we most certainly can attribute many of them to the culture war. The information we have on the Bush, Sayoc, and Powers episodes indicate they were parts of the culture war, one apparently to kill political opponents, two apparently to kill targeted minorities. All of these came from the anti-democratic side. As far as we can tell, all three of the accused were angry, white, middle aged, working class men.

So, what are we Americans to do now? How in the world are civilized people ever to get control over the out-of-control and ever-worsening culture of violence in America? Here are my thought for what they are worth:

1---Recognize the reality of the culture war. For the last thirty years, America has been vastly divided politically. As I have said, this division is basically between those who want to expand democratic rights and those who want to diminish democratic rights. This political division includes a culture war. The basic feature of this culture war is the backlash of the Angry White Working Class Man against his perceived threats: blacks, women, gays, foreigners, and Jews. The Man sees all of these elements, and others, as ruining, or at least seriously threatening, the social, cultural, and economic power that he believed he enjoyed in the past and is still entitled to enjoy into the future. In reality, history is against the Man. Within a short time, the Man will become a distinct minority in America. The present day culture war is really his last gasp of power.

2---President Trump is a self-serving demagogue who is ingenious at capitalizing on the culture war. He has greatly expanded the national atmosphere of intolerance and violence. He has perfected the politics of divide and destroy. He has bullied and intimidated his way to power. He openly encourages acts of violence against opponents. He repeatedly calls the free press the enemy of the people. He has also completely aligned the two parties as sides of the culture war. The Republican party is fully the party of Trump. Even otherwise sensible politicians, as Nikki Haley, have bowed to the demagogue. Donald Trump is the worst president in American history but is strongly supported by some forty percent of the American people who see him as the best president ever.

3---Recognize that many Americans do not revere the ideals of American democracy. About a third of Americans prefer to have an authoritarian governing system rather than a democracy. Fascism lurks just below the surface of American life. Trump is their would-be authoritarian hero. They see in him the warrior king who will defeat their enemies and return the Man to controlling power. Even evangelical Christians are devoted to this man who apparently has no ethical or moral principles, simply because he will pack the federal courts with culturally reactionary judges. They believe the courts will return the Man to his rightful place. The eighty percent of white evangelicals who voted for Trump remain the bedrock of his base.

4---VOTE! We are not a fascist nation, yet. We are still a functioning democracy, and the best way to make it function is to vote. In fact, it is the only way to make it work. There is an election coming up on Tuesday, November 6. At this point, it looks as if the Democrats will regain a majority in the House of Representatives. Whatever the outcome of the election, however, I fear that things will get worse before they get better. If Trump's side wins, he will take this as validation and there will be no stopping his reactionary and authoritarian agenda. If his side loses, he will increase the attacks on the Democrats as the enemy of the people (along with the media). I'll bet things get more violent in the months ahead. We will see more attacks on the tree of life.

I am not telling you how to vote. I am telling you that the two parties have lined up on opposite sides of the culture war. The Democrats seek the expansion of democracy in America. The Republicans (Trumpistas) seek the diminution of democracy in America. So, you figure out which side you are on.

One last thought today. The synagogue massacre last Saturday reminds us that all of our places of worship (and other public places too) are vulnerable to the insidious and rising violence all around us. We must think of ways to secure our churches. And, this is not just for Sunday morning services. Recall that the Mother Emanuel massacre was in a Wednesday night Bible study in the basement. Churches are easy targets. We must find ways to give our people safety and security in the church buildings. Episcopal churches are especially vulnerable since this denomination is well-known to be "gay friendly." I fully expect any day now for an armed person to intrude into one of our churches to kill gays, just as Bowers wanted to kill Jews.

The Gregory Bush mentioned above in the Kentucky incident, had reportedly tried to enter an historically African American church before the shooting. Finding the doors locked, he proceeded to the Kroger store. 

Whatever happens, we must surround and protect our fellow human beings now under attack. We must all be blacks, women, gays, foreigners, Jews. We must tell people like Bowers, you have to go through us first. You kill us before you kill the others. My great personal hero is Jonathan Daniels. He made the shooter go through him, and in so doing saved the life of an innocent child. We can save our country for our children. We must.

Thanks to Forward Movement for the following (find here ).

May we stand ready to lay down our lives for others, especially the defenseless and the outcast. Amen.

O God of justice and compassion, you put down the proud and mighty from their place, and lift up the poor and the afflicted: We give you thanks for your faithful witness, Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who, in the midst of injustice and violence, risked and gave his life for another; and we pray that we, following his example, may make no peace with oppression; through Jesus Christ the just one, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


2nd edition:

9:30 a.m., 30 October.     News broke this morning that President Trump is planning a direct attack on the United States Constitution. Axios is reporting (find here ) that Trump is planning to issue an executive order removing the right of a person born in the United States to American citizenship. 

This is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
Amendment XIV, Section 1,  "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the states wherein they reside."

The president does not have the right to violate an explicit provision of the Constitution. To override a provision would require a constitutional amendment. Trump cannot change the constitution by executive order. The courts would shoot down his executive order in an instant. Therefore, I think it is safe to conclude this is an election stunt meant to foment anti-immigrant hysteria as if there is not enough already around the supposed "invasion" by a pathetic rag-tag "army" of desperate women and children. Trump's shameless demonization of helpless, defenseless, desperate people is repugnant to a moral, decent society. This is not the America that most of us want. He is not the leader that most of us want, and for good reason.

What this news does tell us is that Trump has no regard for the Constitution. There is no bound to his demagoguery. He may not be able to violate the national institutions this time, but this will not be the last attempt. He and his followers are assaulting the institutions all around us. We can be sure, there is more to come. It is not hyperbolic to say we are in a national emergency.

Thursday, October 25, 2018


As everyone who has read my history of the schism or reads my blog regularly knows, my overarching working thesis is that the schism in South Carolina is part of a big culture war now raging in America, and to some degree in the whole world. To simplify, this is a great clash between the forces of democracy and anti-democracy, or what I like to call the horizontal and the vertical. 

On the whole, the great western democracies emerged victorious in the first half of the twentieth century which included the First World War, the Great Depression, and the Second World War. In the second half of the twentieth century and the first part of the twenty-first century, the principles underlying victorious democracy were spread horizontally to social elements traditionally marginalized, neglected, exploited, and otherwise left powerless, particularly to the poor, the old, the disabled, African Americans, women, homosexuals and the transgendered. A transformed, more democratized American society began to emerge primarily through governmental reforms after the Second World War such as integration of the armed forces, economic power to the veterans, integration of the public schools, civil rights and voting acts, gender equality acts, medicare, medicaid, Roe v. Wade, and same-sex marriage. A man of African heritage was elected president, twice, something unthinkable only a few years earlier. A woman was nominated for the presidency by a major political party, also unthinkable a few years earlier. In short, America enacted an enormous horizontal expansion of power after the Second World War. 

I call this the Great Democratic Revolution. The United States was not founded as a democracy. It was founded as a republic, not the same thing. But in the provisions of the Declaration and the Constitution lay all the seeds of a future democratic society, a nation empowered in all its people; and this has been the laborious and enormously dramatic course of our history over nearly 250 years. By fits and starts we have become more and more a democratic country. This was not the accomplishment of the founders, but it was their dream, a nation of common humanity. I think we as a nation have accomplished great things ever closer to being the shining city on the hill for all of humankind. Call me old-fashioned, but I really do believe in American exceptionalism. I have studied enough history to know just how great the American experiment has been.

I am also a student of the great political revolutions of modern history. In my graduate work, I was fortunate enough to be able to specialize in the greatest of all of them, the French Revolution. My thinking was heavily influenced by the great Harvard historian Crane Brinton in his classic, The Anatomy of Revolution. Brinton taught us that, in general, all great revolutions of modern history go through the same life-cycle: overthrow of the old regime, moderate first phase, radical reform taking the revolution to its farthest point, backlash against the radical reform, and settling down to a sort of compromise. I found that to be certainly true of the great French Revolution. And so, I think it is true of the Great Democratic Revolution of the twentieth-early twenty-first centuries.

In this life-cycle of revolution, we are now in the reactionary phase. A strong backlash against the radical democratic reforms is underway now in America. What makes this reaction more intense than it might have been otherwise is an additional factor, the collapse of an external threat to the nation that had forced a unity during the radical revolution. The disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1990 and the end of the Cold War removed the external force unifying America since the end of the Second World War. This forced unity had gone a long way to allowing the democratic reforms to occur. The country held together, more or less, in the Cold War, even with enormous blunders such as the Vietnam War. To be sure, the late 1960's tested the unity of the nation which at times seemed to be violently coming apart at the seams. But, when all was said and done, the nation survived, unity held and reforms went on. Then, with the disappearance of the unifying external threat in the end of the Cold War, everything changed. The internal divisions were exposed and partisan political warfare brewed up in earnest starting in the 1990s. We have been in a dangerous, polarizing political war ever since. Some people call this the rise of tribalism. 

The outgrowth of this nearly thirty year political war in America is the Trump presidency which is the personification of the backlash of the white working class man against the democratic reforms of the last seventy years. The people who see blacks, women, foreigners, and homosexuals arising to power are terrified of losing the social, cultural, and economic preeminence they believed they had and were entitled to keep. What is most alarming about all of this is the fact that so much of what Trump and his followers want to do is to diminish or destroy not just the reforms, but the institutions that made the reforms. Our whole constitutional system is being shaken. 

Thus, we Americans are now bound in a major culture war between the forces that want to keep extending democratic human rights and those that want to roll back the reforms, even to change the institutions that were responsible for making the reforms. Make no mistake about it, this is war. (And, if you do not think this is war you are not paying attention to today's news.) Those on the democratic side would be foolish to underestimate the power and resolve of the anti forces. And so, in less than two weeks, we will have the next great battle of this culture war, a national election. President Trump has made it all about him. If his side wins, it will be a tremendous victory for the reactionary forces, particularly in Congress, who have already signaled the destruction of cardinal aspects of the Great Democratic Revolution such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare. If the other side wins, at least in the House of Representatives, they will probably curb some of the most devastating reactionary moves against democratic gains. The backlash will still be there but will be reduced somewhat. Nevertheless, the culture war will go on. 

So, what does the schism of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina have to do with all of this? Plenty. Let me explain. While the next national battle in the culture war is less than two weeks off, the next fight in SC is a bit more than two weeks off, Nov. 19 to be exact (hearing before Judge Dickson). The schism in SC is very much a part and parcel of the national culture war. It is a backlash against the democratic reforms embraced by the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church consciously made itself part of the culture war. Before 1950, TEC was overall a conservative, inwardly-directed, elitist church barely connected to the general society all around it. Then, in the 1950's, this began to change as the Church transformed itself from a vertical to a horizontal religion, that is, one less focused on individual salvation (vertical), and more concerned about social salvation (horizontal). It wholeheartedly joined the forces of reform in the Great Democratic Revolution. From the 1950's to the present it has devoted itself to equality for and inclusion primarily of African Americans, Indians, women, homosexuals and the transgendered.

However, just as reactionaries arose against the democratic revolution in America, opponents of the horizontal push arose in the Episcopal Church. Those who believed that the Church should keep only its old vertical posture fought back. They were outnumbered. Some individuals began leaving the "liberal" Episcopal Church. Some parishes began declaring their independence. Eventually, five dioceses, burned out by the reforms favoring women and homosexuals, voted to bolt the Church. The first four formed a rival reactionary church called the Anglican Church in North America. All five (inc SC) are now in the ACNA which was constituted explicitly to oppose equality for and inclusion of women and homosexuals. The immediate cause of the schism in SC was homosexuality. Bishop Mark Lawrence told the audiences on his recent tour of the diocese that he left the Church in 2012 because of its reforms for the transgendered. 

Thus, DSC voted to leave TEC in order to have a vertical rather than a horizontal religion. When people in DSC say they left TEC because of theology, in a way they are right. While homosexuality was the immediate cause of the schism, it was part of a much bigger picture of reaction going on. To consolidate its turn to vertical after the schism, DSC quickly developed into a fundamentalist evangelical sect far removed from classical Anglicanism. Its present fundamentalism envelopes its sexism and homophobia, all part of one package. Fundamentalism is the theological rationale for its reactionary, anti-democratic social values.

It did not take long for the independent diocese to consolidate and institutionalize its decidedly reactionary social views. In March of 2015, it set up a "Marriage Task Force" to draw up diocesan policies addressing the issues of sexuality and gender. The "Force" was composed of Kendall Harmon, Peter Moore, Ted Duvall, Greg Snyder, Tyler Prescott, Jim Lewis, all clergy of DSC. The Force drew up four documents (find them here , pages 56-71) establishing rigid and intolerant social policies and procedures for the diocese and its parishes. The central point of the documents was to block preemptively any chance of equality for homosexuals in the diocese. The first document was a "Statement of Faith" adopted by the standing committee. It explicitly denounced homosexuality:

"We believe all people are created in the image of God, who wonderfully and immutably creates each person as genetically male or female." 
[This sentence is non-factual and non-Biblical. It is not true that every human being is one gender or the other. It is also untrue that the Bible says "male or female." Every reference in the Bible says "male and female." The words "or" and "and" have entirely different meanings. Thus, the basic premise of the Statement of Faith is false.]

"Rejection of one's biological sex is in conflict with the created-ness and is inconsistent with our beliefs."
[Denunciation of transgender.]

"...marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in Holy Matrimony, a single, exclusive, lifelong union..."
[Taken literally, this condemns divorce and remarriage. As we will see, while all parishes were on the same page regarding some aspects of sexuality (homosexuality), they fell part on other aspects of sexuality.]

The second document of the Task Force was the same "Statement of Faith" that was sent to the parishes to be signed and dated by the vestries. This forced the parishes to conform to the anti-homosexual rights agenda of the diocese.

The third document forced conformity on all individuals employed by the diocese. They had to sign and date a statement of loyalty to the diocesan anti-homosexual policies and procedures. The individual also had to recognize that the bishop could fire the person at will:  "Conduct inconsistent with the Diocese's Statement of Faith as finally determined by, and in the sole judgment of the Bishop is subject to discipline, up to and including immediate discharge." [Shades of Louis XIV, "l'état c'est moi".]

The fourth document is a long and detailed form to be signed and dated. It regulated the use of any facility so that no same-sex wedding could occur on church property.

The four documents explicitly institutionalizing an iron-clad conformity to the diocesan anti-homosexual policy were formally adopted by the diocesan convention in 2016 and subsequently by the individual parishes. Apparently, most parish vestries adopted the Statement of Faith imposed on them verbatim. See, for instance, St, Michael's of Charleston's statement on their website here . 

At least one parish vestry took it upon itself to revise the diocesan Statement of Faith. On September 6, 2016, the vestry of St. Philip's of Charleston decided that the statement was too harsh on divorce and not harsh enough on homosexuality. Find their Statement of Faith here . The diocesan statement "marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in Holy Matrimony, a single, exclusive, lifelong union..." became St. Philip's "'marriage' has only one meaning: the uniting of one biological man and one biological woman in a single, exclusive union..." Gone is "lifelong." On the other hand, they made the anti-homosexual nature of the statement even more explicit by adding this provision to the original diocesan statement:

"We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God."
[Thus, serial marriages are not an offense to God, but undefined "homosexual behavior" is.]

The overwhelming point of all of these statements is to reject any and all efforts to grant equality for and inclusion of homosexuals into church life. This is the DSC's reaction against the Episcopal Church's democratization. It is an anti-democratic, anti-human rights backlash.

If you think I am exaggerating, I invite you to read the string of letters to this editor on this blog from 12 to 14 October. A DSC communicant made a strong and clear argument that homosexual behavior is sinful and sin condemns people to hell. This, the writer insisted, is God's word in the Bible. It must not be questioned. I expect the writer is typical of the clerical and lay members of DSC. After years and years of hearing the same message of the sin of homosexuality, I imagine the majority of people in DSC sincerely believe it. The vestry of St. Philip's certainly does.

So, where does this leave us now at this point in the history of the schism? Here is my take:

The two parts of the old diocese have radically different social understandings. Some people want to define the difference as theological and biblical, but in reality this is only a cloak around our understandings of how human beings should relate to each other in our society. The DSC demands we have a vertical posture, one person to one God. Personal submission to this all-powerful anthropomorphic being up there in space somewhere is all that really matters. God created the universe and set up the rules. We must obey the rules. TECSC prefers a horizontal posture to follow the initial relationship between people and God. Faith must be followed with works to make a better world. We are God's agents in the world to make right what is wrong. It was wrong to persecute minorities. It was right for the church to give these people equality and inclusion, not judgment.

Given the wide gulf between these different understandings of the meaning and purpose of religion, it is difficult to see the two parts of the grand old diocese reuniting. I accept that DSC will probably continue as a separate entity. Given the mindset of so many of the people in DSC, I expect large numbers, perhaps a majority of the present DSC communicants of the 29 parishes will leave the buildings to keep verticalist communities in exile rather than staying in the buildings and returning to the Episcopal Church. DSC leaders have been working on preparations of an exodus since last November.

There will be DSC members who choose to stay with the buildings and return to TEC. It is only fair to them that they understand the TEC policies and procedures concerning homosexuality. TEC generally accepts homosexuality as morally neutral, neither inherently good nor bad. This is not a canonical definition but a de facto one coming from years of reforms favoring homosexuals and transgendered. Open and non-celibate homosexuals and transgendered have full equality and inclusion in the Episcopal Church. They cannot be discriminated against. However, Church policy is that every person has the right to his or her own opinion about homosexuality and no person can be required to adhere to any certain view. Unlike DSC, TECSC does not have a rigidly authoritarian statement of conformity. Clergy and laity alike are not required to support same-sex marriage. In fact, a resolution was adopted in last summer's General Convention giving the local rector the discretion over having same-sex weddings his or her parish. No one is going to be forced into a view about homosexuality against his or her conscience. However, everyone in TEC does have to accept that others may have different views and that others do have rights within the Church to act on those views. TEC stands for toleration and acceptance.

So, the culture war goes on in the nation and in the church. After all, we are imperfect beings just trying to do what we think is best for all of us. Difference and disagreement is the human condition. It has always been there. It will always be there. It is not right to question the motives of others.  Sometimes, however, differences can turn violent and destructive. When that happens, we all lose. It is also human nature to act as a group in our own best interest. Human beings are social animals; and our greatest instinct is for survival. 

We will survive this culture war. Goodness knows, if France survived, even thrived, after all those heads rolled in the great French Revolution, we can survive the phases of our Great Democratic Revolution and thrive afterwards. If revolutions have a life-cycle, and I believe they do, our present national and religious crises will come to an end somewhere down the road in sorts of peaceful compromises between radical and reactionary forces that will leave all of us stronger. I believe that. I think we have to believe that. 

After all these years of schism, we are all exhausted, but in our weariness we must not despair. We must not give up the good fight. This conflict will end, and will end, I believe, in a better world. This is what my study of history and my faith tell me.

Ron Caldwell
25 October 2018

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


Several people wrote to me after yesterday's announcement of the court date. All of them followed the same line, frustration and exhaustion. We are all tired. We all want closure. We all want Judge Dickson to pick up the pace. We all dread having to endure more and more of this seemingly never-ending tragedy.

Here is a letter to this editor regarding the court date:


Dear Dr. Caldwell:

Thank you so very much for keeping Episcopalians, especially in SC, up to date on the legal and ecclesiastical goings on locally. I am one of the many who depend on your updates to keep current with legal news about the Episcopal schism in SC.

On the afternoon of October 23, 2018, you reported the following quote from Judge Dickson's office: "Judge Dickson request that the pending motions in the above matter be scheduled for November 19, 2018. His honor intends to hear as many of the motions as possible until he gets tired of hearing them. These motions will be heard at the Orangeburg County Courthouse."

I was astounded when I read this part of the quote, "His Honor intends to hear as many of the motions as possible until he gets tired of hearing them." What does this mean?

The phrasing seems to mock the concerns of anyone who cares about this case and understands the great need to have this work of justice completed. If the remark was meant to draw a reaction, I have one to share. The implication that the judge is bored and has little energy to give appalls me. I wonder if the court will ever implement the SC Supreme Court's decision. Episcopalians, as well as members of the Lawrence church have all waited on this action to conclude for well over a year.

I am a member of a TECSC congregation that was excised from our former church home by narrow theological judgmentalism. Not only have we, human beings each and all, survived the schism, we are thriving as an active, loving Episcopal mission. Our congregation has grown from 20+/- faithful weekly worshipers in late October 2012 to well over 100 people on our rolls in October 2018. Of course, we are aware of the cloud of litigation that hangs over us, and we are aware that there is unfinished business to be done by others.

In the past six years, we have not preoccupied ourselves with the schism. Rather we immediately continued Eucharistic worship and servant ministries and set out "to do the work [God] has given us to do." We continue to move forward. We have been led by two theologically well-grounded priests-in-charge and many faithful supply priests during the past six years. Our lay leadership is exceptional. We are the body of Christ in this place. Not only that, in these six years, we have experienced fully the promise of II Corinthians 5:17: "If anyone is in Christ, there is new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come." Indeed, we are a new creation.

The SC Supreme Court gave its decision in August 2017. The U.S. Supreme Court did not take up the DSC appeal. Episcopalians and members of the Lawrence church all need closure.

As tired as the judge might be, the people of DSC and TECSC are also tired. We are ready for the cloud of ongoing litigation to be removed. We are ready for justice to be served. To read that the judge will stop hearing arguments presented to the court insinuates that he intends to stop before he has completed his task...I pray that is not so. I pray that he sees further arguing in the court will delay the inevitable. We need an ending, we need resolution of this travesty. Only the court can make that happen. Let it be so!


A big "thank you" to this letter writer who has expressed well what I expect all of us are thinking. How many more "arguments" does Judge Dickson need? He has twenty-two papers in front of him already. Surely, the lawyers have said everything they have to say. And, who isn't "tired" of this mess? What about the thousands of people who passed tired a long time ago.

Readers, we all know this will come to an end one day, but God only knows when that will be. And, if we think we are tired of this tragedy, what must God feel? I am guessing disappointed, even brokenhearted. This did not have to happen, but it did happen by choices some people freely made. We all have to make choices in life and we all have to live with the consequences. Sometimes those consequences hurt innocent victims, in this case by the thousands.

Tell me what you think. We need to hear from you. My email address is above.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


I have just received word that Judge Edgar Dickson has set a court date. 

Here is the message from Judge Dickson to the lawyers dated Oct. 23, 2:08 p.m., from the judge's administrative assistant:

"Judge Dickson request that the pending motions in the above matter be scheduled for November 19, 2018. His Honor intends to hear as many of the motions as possible until he gets tired of hearing them. These motions will be heard at the Orangeburg County Courthouse."

So, now we know. The hearing will be on Monday, November 19, 2018, at the Orangeburg County Courthouse, in Orangeburg SC. The purpose of the hearing is for the judge to hear the lawyers' arguments in support of their various motions before him. "Until he gets tired of hearing them"---make of that what you will. 

One should wonder at how many more arguments he needs. I counted 22 separate papers before Dickson already, six as motions and 16 as arguments for and against the motions. I should think that 22 pleas would be enough to make decisions.

We also now know that when Dickson said in early September that he would set a court date in late October he meant he would announce a date for a hearing in the future, not to hold a hearing in late October.

I think we can also assume from the wording of today's announcement that Dickson will only be hearing arguments on Nov. 19 and will hand down decisions some time later. At the rate he has been moving, that could be a long time off. He has had the first motion before him for nearly a year.

I intend to be present in the courtroom on Nov. 19. This will be just two days after the TECSC annual diocesan convention, in Charleston.

The TECSC lawyers are essentially asking Dickson to implement the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017 that ordered the return to TEC/TECSC control of 29 parishes and Camp St. Christopher. The DSC lawyers are essentially asking Dickson to disregard the SCSC decision and decide on his own who should control the 29 parishes. I do not see how the judge could do anything but enforce the SCSC decision which is now the law of the land.

Monday, October 22, 2018


It is Monday, October 22. Everyone is anxiously awaiting word from Judge Edgar Dickson of an imminent hearing, or conference, in his courtroom, in Orangeburg. In early September, he told the lawyers of the two sides that he expected to hold a courtroom meeting with them during the weeks of October 22 or 29. As of this moment, 8:30 a.m., Oct. 22, Dickson has not announced a date and time for the conference. As I understand it, Dickson will inform the lawyers first and the lawyers will inform the rest of us. I will relay the news on this blog as soon as I receive it.

The news from Dickson has been scant. We know very little about how he intends to proceed. The few hints he has dropped are mixed. On one hand, he pointed out that the state supreme court order of Remittitur (Nov. 17, 2017) was a simple sentence that gave no direction on how to implement the decision, something rather unusual. On the other hand, he said he wanted to wrap up this whole case expeditiously. To say the least, Dickson has big decisions to make. But then, that is his job.

The two sides are making radically different requests of him. The independent diocesan side (DSC) is asking him to set aside the state supreme court decision and decide the issues on his own. This primarily concerns control over the 29 parishes in question. The DSC lawyers said the SCSC decision was too conflicted and vague to be enforced. I think the chances Dickson will do this are the same as my winning the lottery. On the other hand, the Church side is asking Dickson to implement the SCSC decision, specifically by a Special Master and a financial accounting of the secessionist diocese. The other issue, the Betterments suit brought by DSC in November of 2017 is frivolous. I expect Dickson to discard this right away. In fact, DSC backed away from it from the start.

At this point, we are all left in the dark about what Dickson will do. We cannot even be sure he will hold a conference in the next two weeks. It is possible he will only announce a date for a conference at some future time. Likewise, we have no idea how he will approach the various motions on his desk. He has six in front of him, three from each side. He also has four subsequent sets of papers: 1-the "lists," 2-the responses to the lists, 3-the replies to the responses to the lists, and 4-the responses to the replies to the responses to the lists. He may choose to deal with all of this as one package, or he may choose to do it piecemeal.

Confused? You are not alone. If he is anything, Dickson is excruciatingly careful and deliberate. My theory is that he knows the importance and nature of this case and he is resolved to dispose of it very carefully. Everyone knows how the state supreme court treated Judge Diane Goodstein's handling of the matter. The justices ridiculed to death her conduct of the trial and her decision. Once it is all over, no one can say Dickson did not do his best as a judge.

So, all I can tell you at this point is to stay tuned. I will relay the news from Judge Dickson as soon as I receive it. It is a perfect day at my house, to be sunny, dry and 71 degrees. I am doing work in my garden (I need the garden and the garden needs me) but will check back often with my computer.

Meanwhile.....if you have not watched the video of TECSC's "Live Open Conversation" of Oct. 11, you should. At an hour and 5 minutes long, it answers questions about the reconciliation of the old diocese. Find it here .

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


On 25-26 September, Samford University, in Birmingham, Alabama, hosted a conference entitled "What is Anglicanism?" I did not attend. Joe Gilliland, of Birmingham, did attend and kindly and generously offered this informative report of the meeting. I relay it here:



by Joe Gilliland

What is Anglicanism? More than 200 registrants, some of them from abroad, engaged this question Sept. 25-26 at a conference conducted by Beeson Divinity School on the campus of Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

It was a special event sponsored by the divinity school's Institute of Anglican Studies, which started activities five years ago. Beeson officials said this year's gathering was the first of other such conferences it plans to hold annually. Programs have already been scheduled in September of 2019, 2020, and 2021.

It would not be inaccurate for an observer to conclude that the answer to the question, "What is Anglicanims?" propounded in the title of the conference is that there is more than what the program showed.

The reason is that the conference as a whole was clearly dominated by the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), a denomination formed in 2010 by disaffected clergy and laity unhappy with some policies and actions of traditional mainline Anglican bodies. Two years ago, the ACNA-Beeson connection was strengthened further when ACNA formally approved Beeson as one of three non-Anglican seminaries in North America acceptable for training its clergy.

Thus, it is not surprising that the conference had just a token Episcopal Church presence, and, willingly or otherwise, gave ACNA a platform for asserting that its rather fundamentalist philosophy in time will overcome revisionist heresy in The Episcopal Church and other mainline Anglican bodies. Despite its name, ACNA is not part of the Anglican Communion headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but is steadily working toward that recognition.

ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach delivered what was, in effect, the conference keynote address. Although the speech was not the first agenda item at the conference, its prominence was obvious. Officially, it was the sermon for a service of Morning Prayer (from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer) that took place during the hour before the initial day's lunch break. His sermon title: "The Rise of Neo-Pagan Anglicanism."

"Neo-paganism" is the label Beach uses to describe what he considers to be heretical practices being employed by liberals in control of The Episcopal Church, as well as by the Church of England, Scottish Episcopal Church, Anglican Church of Canada, and the Anglican Church in Brazil. These are some of the examples he listed:

---Recent moves in the Diocese of Washington DC and elsewhere to use inclusive, or feminine pronouns, for the name of God.

---A recent instance he heard about in which "Our Mother" was used in the Lord's Prayer instead of "Our Father" in an Episcopal parish. (The concept of a male deity, he said, is God's preference").

---Same-sex marriages in American churches in both the U.S. and U.K.

---The consecration of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003 and subsequent approval of a lesbian as suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

---A parish (unnamed) which sponsored a "gay pride" evensong the same weekend as community "Gay Pride" celebrations.

Furthermore, said Beach, in addition to their rampant heresy in the U.S., sinful churches are "funding paganism overseas," sending aid to needy Anglican bodies abroad, and, in the process, forcing them to adopt objectionable practices that prevail in the U.S. He called this a "Trojan horse" approach. The epistle reading for the service was the entire single chapter of Jude, which contains a warning against false teachers.

Beach is scheduled next year to become head of the Global Anglican Fellowship Conference (GAFCON), an international conservative group at odds with the worldwide Anglican Communion. He was selected in June at the most recent GAFCON meeting in Jerusalem.


Before the Morning Prayer service, three panelists presented brief talks: (1) Archbishop Emeritus Eliud Wabukala, Anglican Church of Kenya; (2) Archbishop Mouneer Anis of the Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, and Primate of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East; and (3) Dr. Ephraim Radner, professor of historical theology at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto in Canada.

Archbishop Wabukala was speaking when I arrived. He appeared to be reviewing the role and influence by Global South Anglican churches in resisting what these conservative bodies consider unbiblical innovations by Anglican leaders in England and elsewhere which once exercised colonial influence in Africa and the Middle East.

Archbishop Anis, considered a strong ally of the Global South movement, was relatively non-confrontational as he told of Anglicanism's role (in which he played a central part) in arriving at some peaceful accommodations with Muslims. He said Anglicanism could continue to do so in other parts of the world, adding that this work could assure a more positive role for Anglican bodies than many might expect.

Dr. Radner, however, showed a less optimistic view. Calling his words an "assessment" rather than a prediction, he said Anglicanism appears to him to be a "dying entity." And he suggested that the Christian religion in the U.S. may eventually wind up consisting of small, relatively independent congregations.

One piece of evidence Dr. Radner cited as a sign of Antglicanism's revisionist tendencies was that there are now Episcopal churches in which no creed is recited during services. He did not identify these congregations by name or location, but he seemed to consider the omission of a creed to be a lack of faithfulness. Apparently, it did not occur to him that Baptist congregations have never used a creed but have flourished nevertheless.

Dr. Stephen Noll, a prolific author and prominent intellectual figure in conservative Anglican circles, also participated in questioning and discussion with panel members.

He reviewed the sometimes contentious international meetings involving both Global South and western Anglicans, including the controversy over adoption of Resolution 1.10 at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. That resolution declared homosexuality inconsistent with Christianity, but has not been endorsed by the whole Anglican Communion, including the Episcopal Church.

Dr. Noll questioned whether Resolution 1.10, among other issues backed by the "orthodox" bloc, would get favorable consideration at the next Lambeth Conference scheduled in 2020.

Dr. Radner---who minutes before had pronounced Anglicanism not long for this world---nevertheless said things look somewhat hopeful because younger Anglicans who are becoming more influential in the Global South may press the conservative agenda more forcefully within the foreseeable future.

Panelists seemed generally cool to endorsing one option suggested by the GARCON closing communiqué in June, that Global South bishops consider boycotting the 2020 Lambeth meeting. Archbishop Anis cautioned against endorsing such action, saying that everyone should trust in the word sof Jesus that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against" his church (Matthew 16:18 KJV).

One of the conference speakers was the Very Rev. Andrew C. Pearson, dean of the Episcopal Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham. Dean Pearson's rather bombastic speech was punctuated by one-liners he seemed to be using to highlight himself as one of the main warriors in the battle for orthodoxy.

Early in his talk, he took a verbal shot at The Episcopal Church's former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, recalling that he had "a lot of fun" being one of the S.C. diocesan clergy who taunted her during a discussion in Charleston a few years ago [2008]. He asserted that "hearing the gospel" is the most important part of worship, as compared with participating in the liturgy, whenever able, with both sight and voice.

Also, he told of his practice in interviewing applicants for clergy jobs at the cathedral. He said he asks every applicant to define the gospel, and if the candidate replies with what he considers an incomplete or inaccurate answer, "he's out the door."

One of the reforms Dean Pearson advocates is a thorough revamping of religious instruction for both children and adults. Confirmation in The Episcopal Church, he said, "has become nothing more than a gentile Bar Mitzvah." He charged that, unlike most other churches, The Episcopal Church sends no missionaries to other countries (which is untrue) and he seemed to consider it misleading or sinister that the church's legal name is The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society.


---ACNA unquestionably achieved a significant coup in the agreement signed in May 2016 that names Samford's Beeson Divinity School as one of only three non-Anglican institutions recognized to train its clergy. Beeson officials, of course, see the deal as a boost for their Institute for Anglican Studies, but the university's prestige has given a major boost to the ACNA's effort to be recognized as a part of the Anglican Communion and as the only "legitimate" Anglican body in the U.S.

---The conference was almost totally dominated by ACNA participation, with The Episcopal Church being something less than an afterthought. From Archbishop Beach's accusatory sermon to the threat of hell just before adjournment, the ACNA's influence was omnipresent.

---Episcopal Church recognition was truly at a bare minimum. The sole activity of Alabama bishop John McKee Sloan---whose office at the Cathedral of the Advent is about a 10-minute drive from the Samford campus---was to deliver the opening prayer, lasting about five minutes, for the conference's second day. Four other Episcopalians participating were also Cathedral-related---Dean Andrew Pearson, who rough-edged speech on preaching drew applause a couple of times; the Rev. Mark S. Gignilliat, a Beeson professor who is the cathedral's canon theologian and who led the congregational hymn before the bishop's prayer; Charles Kennedy, cathedral organist, who played for the Morning Prayer service the first day; and Zac Hicks, liturgy and worship canon at the Advent, who led the congregational singing. (Of course, it should be remembered that Professor Bray is a Church of England priest.)

---One can hope that Bishop Sloan will, at last, point out to Beeson officials that the design and conduct of this conference entitled "What is Anglicanism?" hardly began to answer that question and, in fact, seriously distorted the Anglican movement. I have thought that, if there had been a stronger Episcopal presence with speakers advancing the church's philosophy and mission, some bitter arguments and denunciations could have occurred. During his remarks, Professor Bray said he at times wanted to shout, "No! No! No!" when he heard speakers make historical errors, "but that wouldn't have been very nice."

---I was surprised to hear some of the questions asked of the speakers by the audience filled largely by men in clerical garb, nearly all of whom obviously were ACNA-related. I would have thought all of them already knew about such things as Anglican origins or details about the Articles of Religion. Of course, Dean Pearson's crack about confirmation being a "gentile Bar Mitzvah" revealed more ignorance than wit.

---I realize the Episcopal Church has faced challenges over the years from schism, financial problems, politics and crackpots, but it is hard to be optimistic after thinking about the implications of an experience like the two-day conference I just attended. It always worries me when individuals and organizations exploit the fears of faithful people and condemn them for their beliefs.


A big "thank you" to Joe Gilliland to this perceptive and full report. 

As Gilliland pointed out, the conference was overwhelmingly a collection of white men. In fact, only one woman was on the program. While ACNA and its GAFCON sponsor are well-known to be homophobic, they are also sexist. Women are treated as second-class citizens unworthy of authority or leadership. In fact, no woman can be elected a bishop in ACNA. ACNA is a top-heavy institution in which power rests among the all-male bishops.

ACNA's homophobia and male chauvinism lead us back to the big picture, the culture war. The schismatic movement in the Episcopal Church is part of a reactionary backlash against the democratic reforms adopted by the Church from the 1950's to the present, particularly for equality and inclusion of African Americans, women, homosexuals, and transgendered. The anti-human rights reactionaries call themselves "orthodox" although they are not orthodox at all in terms of classical Anglicanism. 

Apparently nothing much came out of the Sept. 25-26 ACNA conference in Birmingham. Perhaps the biggest news was the division among the bishops about boycotting the 2020 Lambeth Conference, something the equatorial African bishops in GAFCON are demanding. The meeting was a rally to reinforce preconceived anti-Episcopal Church notions among a group devoted to the destruction, or at least serious diminution, of the Episcopal Church and its replacement in the Anglican Communion as the legitimate Anglican province in the U.S. 

As the schismatic movement in the Episcopal Church has lost steam, so has any idea that ACNA will ever be part of the Anglican Communion, let alone replace TEC as the Anglican province in America. This reality is something no pep-rally conference can obscure.

Although schism is on the decline in the Episcopal Church, the threat is still alive. Episcopal bishops would be wise to recognize this. The culture war is far from over, both on the national scene (the Trump presidency) and in the Episcopal Church.

_______________________________________ the garden, autumn has arrived bringing with it cool(er) and drier air. It is a good thing too because I have many garden chores to do that I have been putting off as summer lingered. Asters and fall-blooming camellias are the stars of my garden this week.

Monday, October 15, 2018


Today is October 15, 2018. The schism occurred six years ago today, on October 15, 2012, at 12:00 p.m. to be exact. I suggest we all stop at noon today for a moment of prayer and meditation on what occurred then and what has happened since that fateful moment.

At noon on Monday, October 15, 2012, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, in New York City, telephoned Bishop Mark Lawrence, in Charleston. As far as we know, others on the line were Wade Logan, chancellor of the diocese, and the Disciplinary Board for Bishops. Jefferts Schori told Lawrence that she had received a certificate of abandonment from the DBB on 10 October. The DBB had certified that Lawrence had abandoned the Episcopal Church. This was akin to a grand jury indictment in which the constituted authorities would follow up with legal actions. The presiding bishop said that, per the canons, she was placing a restriction on Lawrence. He was not to exercise any ministry while the restriction was in effect pending the canonical settlement of the indictment. She asked for this to remain confidential until the two of them could meet in person on October 22. She hoped to make a quick and quiet resolution of this crisis before the news broke in public. Apparently, Lawrence agreed with the Presiding Bishop. Later that afternoon, Lawrence received the hard copies of the presiding bishop's actions via email.

Under the canons, Lawrence had two ways of removing the restriction. In one, clearly favored by Jefferts Schori, he could write a letter of explanation to the presiding bishop. She could then restore his full rights at her discretion. All of the evidence suggested this was her desire. The last thing she wanted was a fifth schism. The second way was to plead his case before his fellow bishops meeting as the House of Bishops (March 2013). The bishops would then vote on whether to restore his rights or depose him as a bishop. All signs indicated that, either way, the Church leaders were anxious to keep Lawrence in the Church. After all, they had been appeasing him for years.

As soon as Lawrence hung up the phone, he sprang into action. He had not informed Jefferts Schori that if she placed a restriction on him, the diocese would automatically declare a disassociation from the Episcopal Church. This had been a tightly held secret among a couple of dozen diocesan leaders since October 2 when the standing committee had adopted a resolution to remove the diocese from TEC if the Church took any action of any kind against Lawrence, something that everyone knew was likely in view of his issuance of the quit claims deeds in late 2011 in flagrant disregard of the Dennis Canon. Although I cannot document it, I believe it is most likely the decision to proceed to schism had been made in a secret conference of diocesan officials on August 21, 2012. At any rate, the schism was a premeditated event planned in secret by no more than two dozen people, the standing committee and a tight knit small circle around Lawrence. The later diocesan charge that the Church moved to cast out Lawrence while he was trying to make peace with the Church was not true. The truth is the other way around. It was the presiding bishop who was working hard to keep peace, ultimately to no avail. She tried several times after Oct. 3 to meet with Lawrence but he refused every offer. The idea that Lawrence was a victim of malevolent forces trying to flip the diocese from "orthodox" to liberal has no historical basis.

If it is true that Lawrence agreed with Jefferts Schori to keep the restriction private until their scheduled meeting on Oct. 22, something that cannot be documented since neither party issued a transcript of the conversation, he was not being honest with her. Immediately upon hanging up the phone, Lawrence called chancellor Wade Logan to discuss the call. Under the terms of the Oct. 2 resolution, the chancellor would have to certify that "any action of any kind" had been taken against Lawrence. Evidently, Logan did this. Immediately afterwards, Lawrence set up a conference call with the standing committee which began at 1:30. Upon Lawrence's news of the restriction, the committee agreed to enact its Oct. 2 resolution declaring the separation of the diocese from the Episcopal Church. They timed the break as the moment of Jeffert Schori's phone call, Oct. 15, 12:00 p.m. Immediately afterwards, Lawrence talked on the phone with Jeff Miller, Paul Fuener, and Kendall Harmon. Thus, within a couple of hours after Jefferts Schori's call, the two dozen people in the core establishment of the diocese were informed and agreed on the enactment of the schism they had been planning for weeks. An unknowing presiding bishop had played right into their hands. 

In the next forty-eight hours, the leadership carried out a whirlwind preparation for the public announcement of the schism. The next day, Oct. 16, Lawrence met with the deans of the convocation and the standing committee apparently planning in detail the upcoming actions such as the special diocesan convention that would be necessary to vote on the changes to the diocesan constitution and canons. The standing committee declared that it had enacted the disaffiliation with TEC on Oct. 15, but the convention would have to validate it on the books. Meanwhile, certain people prepared a massive public relations campaign to be sprung at the moment of public disclosure of the schism. This came on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at noon when Lawrence called Jefferts Schori and informed her that he could not maintain confidentiality because the diocese had declared its disaffiliation from the Episcopal Church. He told her that the diocese, including himself as its bishop, had separated from the Episcopal Church and therefore would no longer respect the authority of the Church. One can only imagine the presiding bishop's shock at learning all of this out of the blue. She had assumed Lawrence was working with her in good faith and would meet with her soon to settle the crisis privately. Immediately after Lawrence's call, the diocesan office dumped a massive collection of documents onto its website. On the afternoon of the 17th., the diocese announced to the world that it had disassociated from the Episcopal Church. The purpose of the public relations tsunami was to cast all the blame for the break on the Episcopal Church and keep the laity in line behind the diocesan leadership. It worked, at least for the moment. The Church side was caught completely unawares and unprepared. This was a tremendous publicity coup for the diocesan leaders. The majority of the clergy and laity automatically followed their leadership out of the Episcopal Church.

So, who's to blame for the schism? The diocesan leaders who planned it in advance, kept it hidden, and dropped it on the Church at the first opportunity. The leaders then informed the clergy and the laity that the diocese had left the Episcopal Church. This gave the clergy and laity two options, follow the leaders out of the Episcopal Church or defy the leadership and remain in the Church. The majority followed their leaders. The schism was the self-declared work of a couple of dozen people. Everyone else could take it or leave it. This was a coup d'état rather than a revolution. 

So, let's take a moment at noon today and reflect on what happened all those years ago and how different our lives have been since then. I think it is appropriate for us to grieve as well. Something grand died six years ago. We are all worse off for that.

For all the information on the history of the schism that anyone could want, see my 300,000 word book A History of the Episcopal Church Schism in South Carolina. It is readily available in hardback, paperback, and e-edition from the publisher, Wipf and Stock, of Eugene OR, Amazon, and numerous other outlets. One may get it in person at the Grace Cathedral bookstore. The reviewer in the professional historical journal Church History called it the definitive history of the schism.

Sunday, October 14, 2018


This is the fourth, and last, installment in a series of letters to this editor from two writers, both of whom asked that their names be withheld. The subject is homosexuality. The first letter was posted here on Oct.10. The second was a letter in response, on Oct. 12. The third was a response from the first writer to the second, on Oct. 13. Now we have a response from the second writer to the first. This will conclude this string. I invite others to join the conversation.

As before, for the sake of time and space, I will give the first writer's (Oct. 13 letter) remarks in italics and the second writer's responses in regular type. For the full text, see the original letters. 


Dr. Caldwell [in response to the Oct. 13 letter]:

Thank you so much for the opportunity to respond. I have entered my responses following the statements.

As I emphatically stated in my original comment, to exclude someone is the antithesis of Jesus' unequivocal teaching in the Gospels that all are included and none are excluded, unless they choose to be excluded. Original sin would be at work in them not to choose. This is clearly the teaching of the parables.

Everyone (EVERYONE) is welcomed in the DSC. No one who desires to be there is excluded. What's not allowed is someone desiring a leadership role who is openly living in sin. There's the problem. I (we/DSC?) believe practicing homosexuality is sin. You/TEC do not. Hence the chasm between us.

Many of Freud's theories have been dropped, but his creation of the term "homosexual" is beneficial because it is non-judgmental.

Anything non-judgmental is acceptable?

If homosexuals are not given full acceptance, the DSC, presuming you speak for it (presuming I speak for all the TEC, which I do not claim) you are excluding others as not fit for full church membership; therefore it is exclusion.

No one is denied church membership. Someone may be denied leadership, not because of homosexuality but because of practicing unrepentant sins. On "ostraciztion," please don't put words into our mouths. We're already trying to straighten out so many untruths being told about us.

This misses the point and does not address the topic of holiness. I maintain that holiness is not a result of achieving anything other than accepting the love of Christ in trust and to live toward neighbor with the same love is, in act, holiness.

Of course every believer (no matter what their sins are) can live a holy life. But as followers of Christ we desire (and struggle) to fight against our sins daily, hourly. I use the term "sin pattern" because I see patterns of sin in my own life. They may not be the same as my neighbor. I struggle daily with the sin of selfishness (among others) and it never goes away. It's a daily battle and will never go away until I am in heaven. We all have crosses to bear. God is not democratic. Some peoples' crosses are heavier and more abundant than others.

First, what do you mean by the Bible?

I mean the inspired (not created) word of God. When we read all 66 books of the Bible as a whole, it becomes very clear who God, who Jesus is, and what he wants for his Church (his bride, modeled after God's creation ordinance). When I read the entire Bible as a Text I see how perfectly it is aligned. I have never seen it as disconnected. I also see the current situation of humanity on every page of the Bible. When I read the OT I'm always surprised at how relevant it is to today's world. I think much of today's problems stem from a lack of Bible reading. We should not be "verse-a-day" Christians. 

Ps. 86:12-13, and Eph 1:4-6 are just two references to "God is love." But it is clear that it means the God is love SO WE WILL GLORIFY HIM. God's love is not about US! It's about God turning us from SELF toward God. "God is love" does not mean "so let's just do what we want and he will be OK with it!"

I see the Gospel message as Jesus describes it (and how the Episcopal Church used to believe it). We are born in sin from Adam and Eve. We have no hope for communion with God, for God is holy and we are unable to be with him as sinners. We must pay a debt for our sins which we are unable to do. So God sent Jesus to do that for us. (page 869-870 of the Book of Common Prayer).

If one considers homosexuality a sin, I direct them to the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds.

If one does not consider homosexuality a sin I direct them to the Bible.

My contention is that Paul's comments were NOT influenced by Christ.

This is why I say the schism was not about homosexuality. It is about belief in the Bible. I will not approach the Bible with eyes, heart, and mind ready to correct it or change it.

As I wrote, if one has to choose between what Christ teaches and what Paul teaches on matters surely you would agree that Christ's teachings are pre-eminent.

I see no difference in their teachings. In fact, I see no difference in any one teaching in the Bible and another. What I mean by "believe in the Bible," is what the BCP states on Pg 868 "Holy Scripture...of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church." That's what I was taught during my 25+ years in the Episcopal Church.

For example, when I "interrogate" the Bible, am I studying what the Scripture says in its own terms in its own circumstances? For example, large parts of the Bible (Leviticus, Exodus etc.) speak of the necessity of sacrificing animals which we rightly need not do anymore because of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. Consider: in the synoptic gospels Jesus institutes Holy Communion but in the Gospel of John there is no institution of Holy Communion. So, I ask you in all sincerity, do you really "believe the Bible" in toto, or interpret it as necessity, or as others tell you to?

I believe every word of the Bible to be true. I'm afraid that many Christians read the Bible in sort of a verse-a-day manner. If read that way the Bible seems like a 1000 piece puzzle dumped out on the table: confusing, overwhelming, disconnected. But taking the time (many hours per day) to read the Bible word for word cover to cover over and over again is like putting that puzzle together. Once you do it you see the beauty and connectedness in it. You see Jesus on every page. You see yourself on every page. You see it is a living, inspired book, not a book created by man. It's absolutely amazing. It demands much respect that you would dare not correct it, doubt it. Wrestle with it, yes. But doubt it, never.

Once again, Paul is putting his interpretation on this situation. I do not deny it is there and must be dealt with, but Jesus' love "trumps" Paul's condemnations. If you agree with Paul that homosexuals deserve to die, I really do not know what to say to you.

I (we) absolutely do not believe they (or me, a sinner) needs to be put to death (i.e. executed)! Please believe that! What Paul is saying is what Jesus taught, that all of us sinners will die one day unless we repent of our sins. Repentance saves us from the death Paul is talking about. We're not talking about execution here! Every sinner's soul will die and live in Hell for eternity if we do not take Jesus' sacrifice for us personally. If we do, our souls will be saved from the death Paul is talking about. We will live forever in heaven with God and Jesus.

This assumes that homosexuals choose to be such.

We do not choose our sins. Satan does that. I do not choose my many, many sins I fight with every day. I agree, WE ARE BORN THAT WAY.

Anyone who does not allow others to become full members of God's Church persecutes them.

I agree. Fortunately, the DSC agrees with you as well. No one is denied membership to our church based on their sins. We would have empty pews if that were the case. But if someone denies their sins and chooses to cleave to their sins and make it their identity it would not be best for them to take on a leadership role in the church. We have homosexual leaders in the DSC who have repented of their sins and live in newness of life. It's not easy, but it's called dying to self, taking up your cross, and following Jesus. I struggle every day.

You missed my point. The issue, which you did not address, is whether the Kingdom belongs to the poor, etc., or to the privileged.

It belongs to every sinner (everyone) who repents and turns from their sins and follows Jesus. I hope it's not just for the privileged because, if so, I'm doomed. "Sin pattern" means the absolutely horrible people we are. We are detestable, disgusting, sinful, hateful, selfish, adulterers, liars, blasphemers, on an don unworthy of the love of God. But then there's Jesus, who rose from the grave on Easter morning! Alleluia!

Every person is entitled to their opinion no matter how it is represented to others in the field.

And I hope my opinion will not receive any thing less than the respect you demand, and deserve, for yourself.

Dear correspondent: I appreciate the opportunity your letter to Dr. Caldwell gave me to express my position in more detail. The peace of Christ be with you and all those you love until we all gather in the New Jerusalem.

Thank you as well. Sometimes I (and we/DSC) feel the persecution you speak of because of the many untruths that are believed about us. Please respect the fact that we have huge differences in or beliefs and that's why "I" cannot and will not return to TEC. I know you would agree that I should not be a part of a church who espouses beliefs I disagree with.


Again, I say "thank you" to the writer for contributing this response to the response. This clarifies the writer's thinking and beliefs about homosexuality and the church. These are two articulate spokespeople, one coming from the Episcopal Church side (Oct. 10, 13), and one from the Diocese of South Carolina side (Oct. 12, 14). Today's letter to this editor ends this four-part string of conversation between the two letter writers. I appreciate their participation as I appreciate that they followed the rules. 

I have received other letters to this editor; and I encourage everyone to add his or her two cents' worth. The recent topic has been homosexuality, but I invite reflections on all aspects of the schism. I am waiting to hear from you. Just follow the rules: courteous, respect views of others, keep it impersonal.


You think it is hard to talk about God? You are not alone. See the opinion piece in the New York Times, Oct. 13, 2018, "It's Getting Harden to Talk About God." Find it here .