Monday, May 27, 2019


Today is Memorial Day, 27 May 2019. This is an appropriate time to stop and think about wars and how we remember them. 

The schism in South Carolina is a kind of war. It is a civil war. It started in one diocese of one church. A part of that old diocese split off, declared its independence, and opened a war in court to claim the rights and assets of the old diocese. Six and a half years after the split, the two sides are still locked in a bitter legal fight. The war goes on, and although the end is in sight, it is agonizingly slow in arriving. This is a very long war. 

Although no one has been killed in this war, at least no one that I know of, there are still many war casualties. The walking wounded are all around us. Church families have broken up. Friends have parted. People have had to leave home churches and meet wherever they could. Battles have been fought in numerous courts. Words have been weaponized as the secessionists hurled all sorts of accusations against their old denomination to justify their choices. Their missiles in words such as false teacher, heretic, pagan have wounded their opponents. In time, the war actually worsened. The secessionists turned down every offer of a truce. This is to be a war of unconditional surrender. It is also a war of attrition. Meanwhile, everyone is shell shocked. Everyone is suffering from war fatigue. Nerves are on edge. Exhaustion hangs over all as a heavy blanket. In a sense, everyone involved is a war casualty.

So, one may wonder, when this war is finally over, what sort of memorial should we make to it? How should we remember it? The war memorials I know are in every shape, form and size imaginable. The grandest that I have seen anywhere is the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. This is the colossal architectural monument to the French armies of the Revolution and Napoleon. It is a spectacular glorification of war. 

(l'Arc de Triomphe, Paris)

Washington DC is loaded with war memorials. Interestingly enough, there are two that are polar opposites even though they stand fairly close to each other, the World War II memorial and the Vietnam War memorial. The former is a lavish and wide space right between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. It is a grand and monumental tribute to "the good war" with big displays to the Atlantic and the Pacific. This is entirely fitting for this war.

(aerial view of the World War II Memorial in Washinton DC.)

 Close by, though, the Vietnam memorial is not grand and glorious at all. It is a gash in the earth with two long arms coming out. The arms are faced with slabs of reflective dark granite etched with the names of nearly 60,000 American soldiers killed in the war. That is all it is. To me, it is a great war memorial because it is so appropriate to the war. It simply lists the names of the dead but in a gesture of embrace and healing. If the Second World War was the good war, Vietnam was the bad war. Sacrifice for everything v. sacrifice for nothing. Thus, both of these war memorials are entirely fitting for the wars they recall.

(The Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC.)

If we really want to memorialize the war dead, there is no better way to do it than to go to them, the dead. Of course, the greatest collection of the dead is at Arlington, across the Potomac River from the WWII and Vietnam memorials. Thousands upon thousands of the war dead and veterans lie buried on the hillsides here, from the Civil War to today. It is sacred ground. One cannot help being in solemn awe just being present in Arlington. It gives me shivers every time.

As moving and awesome as Arlington is, it is not my favorite war memorial. When I really want to remember those who suffered, gave everything they had, and died in a war for a just cause, I go to Andersonville, Georgia. There, one will find 13,000 headstones of the most pathetic war victims in all of American history. These were among the 45,000 captured Union soldiers sent to the Andersonville prison camp in 1864 and 1865. Andersonville was hell. There, men died like flies of wounds, diseases, starvation, thirst, exposure and the like. There was no housing to get out of the weather. There was no water to drink except from a tiny, polluted stream. The rations were meager portions of corn, ground cobb and all. Highly contagious diseases ran rampant in the crowded conditions. To me, the Andersonville cemetery is the greatest of all war memorials. It shows war at its worst and why there should be no more wars. I challenge you to go there was not be profoundly moved.

(Some of the 13,000 graves at Andersonville.)

(My grandfather knew a man who had visited the Andersonville prison. A prisoner told the man he had not eaten in three days. The man reached in his knapsack and pulled out a baked sweet potato and tossed it over. In a moment came back a rock with a quarter tied on it.)

Now, back to our question about what kind of war memorial will we make once the war of the schism ends. In the future, how should we remember this war? I think the best memorial will not be a physical object. It will be the healing balm of love and charity, one party to the other. We must accept the reality that the old pre-schism diocese will not come back as it was, at least not in the foreseeable future. It is gone. We have to accept that two dioceses will come out of this war, even if the secessionists will have only six parishes and a few other local churches. There will be two dioceses, one in TEC and one in ACNA. The best memorial the two sides can make to this war is to repair the broken and hurting relationships between the two sides. They do not have to reunite, but they should follow their Lord's commandment to love one another. This would be the best war memorial of all.  

My best wishes to you and yours on this somber Memorial Day, Ron Caldwell. 

Friday, May 24, 2019

FRIDAY NOTES --- MAY 24, 2019

Once again, it is Friday, and once again, I am sorry to say I have nothing to report on the litigation of the schism. It has been almost two months since we have seen any public action from any court. We are still waiting on the circuit court, the South Carolina Supreme Court, and the U.S. District Court to act. They will act, of course, but in their own time and in their own way. Meanwhile, we have no choice but to wait, however impatiently. As always, I will relay news as I receive it.

To continue with some of the themes of last Friday, it is clearer than ever that the schism in South Carolina was primarily a socio-cultural event. It was, and is, part of a reactionary backlash against the democratic reforms of the post-Second World War era, particularly in equality for and inclusion of African Americans, women, and homosexuals. The DSC leaders led their diocese away from the Episcopal Church in opposition to the egalitarian reforms that the Church had adopted. 

For blacks, DSC virtually ignored the ones who followed the schism (the only two historically black parishes in the old diocese, Calvary and St. Mark's, remained with TEC). For gays, DSC adopted a harsh, Draconian "Statement of Faith" condemning homosexuality and denying all rights to open gays. That leaves women as the present targets of DSC's reactionary moves.

Much of the thrust of the DSC leaders' efforts now is to force women into their pre-defined gender roles. Women are to be submissive to men. On the DSC website, "Ministries" breaks down into "Men's Ministries" and "Women's Ministries." Scrolling down to the bottom of Women's, we find "Biblical Womanhood: Mastering the "S" Word---Submission." Here one will see a man in authority and control, lecturing a room full of women on how to be women. 

One may notice too, a very gender specific event at Christ/St. Paul's, of Yonges Island, on May 18. Find it here . This screams reactionary gender-role assignment. For men it is "Manly Men Living Authentic Lives, Let's Ger Real." The operative word here is "manly." What is manly? Look at the picture in the notice. Two men  are apparently hunting, presumably shooting birds in a marsh. They are armed and  carry heavy backpacks. This is the image of the macho man as aggressive, dominant, conquering provider. In the afternoon, women are to meet separately in a "Ladies Spring Fling." They are to "come dressed in 'finery' flowers, feathers, and pearls if you like." This is the image of women as nesters and caretakers. While the men are off hunting, the women are taking care of the home waiting for the conquering man to arrive.

It is clear that the DSC leaders are now engaged in a concerted campaign to force conservative gender roles on the communicants. Men are to be dominant. Women are to be submissive. In fact, this is very much a part of the counter-revolution against the democratic reforms of the late Twentieth Century, just as is the anti-abortion campaign in high gear right now. The reactionaries want women to return to their pre-1960 (when the pill appeared) status and the world of "Father Knows Best" and "Leave it to Beaver." This is not going to happen, of course, but this does not stop the leaders of DSC from trying even if their efforts are humorous and ridiculous.

One may wonder why women in the Lawrence diocese allow themselves to be treated this way. When a women is told constantly by an authority figure that she is less valuable than he is, she will eventually believe it. Her confidence will wane. Her self-concept will be worn away into emptiness. At that, there is nothing left but dependence on the dominator. In this case, religion, that should be lifting up people, is putting down a certain element, actually the majority of church members. Submission, the overt goal of DSC's "women's ministries," appears to be effective. It may be working among the present middle-aged and older women in DSC, but one cannot imagine any young woman volunteering to sign up for this blatant misogyny. This is another red flag for DSC's future.   

Why do conservatives want to return women to the pre-democratic revolution days? Good question. I wrote an observation on this subject for this blog on Nov. 1, 2018. Find it here . Society's understandings of what defines masculine and feminine has changed drastically in the last sixty-odd years. Many white working class men have found this shift disorienting and threatening to their own perceived roles in society and they have lashed back against their imagined enemies. One big way in which they can make this reaction tangible is the anti-abortion crusade in which women are removed from the right to control their own bodies. Once again, men will be in control. That is the issue, men's control over women. And, that's the issue at stake now in the DSC in its gender-identity campaign. 

This also helps us understand the phenomenon of Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay, and married-to-a-man, presidential candidate. Conservatives see him as a real danger. A few years ago, he would have been laughed off the stage. Not any more. It is said that President Trump is worried most about two rival candidates, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg. Why the worry?

The worry is not that Mayor Pete is gay, it is that he breaks all the conservative stereotypes about gays. He is a military veteran, having served in Afghanistan. He exudes a demeanor of traditional masculinity. He is assertive, outspoken, and unafraid to take on opponents. In addition to this "manliness," he is highly intelligent and educated. He is also overtly religious, a devout Episcopalian unafraid to talk about faith. He went head-to-head with VP Pence. Pence lost. Buttigieg is clearly not playing by the rules the reactionaries expect a gay man to follow. The reason they are so afraid of him is that he very effectively destroys their pre-conceived notions of what is masculine and what is feminine. Keep an eye on Pete Buttigieg. At age thirty-seven, he is a man with a future.

Meanwhile, turning from the culture war, let us walk about my garden. This is how it appeared this week. We are continuing to enjoy a beautiful springtime in the south.

A shady place for the hydrangeas. A woman at a well overlooks Blue leaf isu (Distylium myricoides), an unusual spreading evergreen shrub with small blue-green leaves. The oak leaf hydrangeas are in full bloom, the blue ones are not.

The day lillies are beginning to bloom. There are hundreds of varieties of day lillies. These blooms are yellow and rusty red.

The gardenias are also in bloom now. This is Daisy gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides 'Daisy'), an unusual, small shrub.

The most popular form of gardenia in the south is "August Beauty." Of the numerous varieties of gardenia in my garden, this is the most aromatic. It should be planted where the scent can be enjoyed.

Anthony Waterer spiraea is commonly found in southern gardens, and for good reason.

No southern garden would be complete without magnolia. However, the standard magnolia tree will grow too large for many yards and gardens these days. I would not recommend planting it unless one has a great deal of blank space to fill. There is a much smaller version of magnolia tree called "Little Gem" that I would recommend. It is compact enough to fit into a sunny spot in almost any garden. Too, as this one, it will produce an abundance of the sweet smelling flowers.

If you do not know what this is, you should. It is poison ivy. I am showing it here to dispel the myth that my garden is perfect. I'll assure you it is not. When I bought my garden lot, it was a natural woodland profuse with this vine. In spite of my best efforts to eradicate it, it keeps popping up in shady spots here and there. It spreads by underground runners. The slightest glance of any part of this plant produces itchy, red blisters on my skin for two weeks. Unfortunately, the best way to get rid of it is to use one's gloved hands to pull it up by the roots. This is risky. Best to have long gloves and long-sleeved shirt. I have found that if I have any contact, if I go immediately to the faucet and wash the skin with water, this will prevent the rash. If you think I love all plants, you are wrong. I would be perfectly happy living without poison ivy.

On another note, I offer my best wishes for you and yours in the week to come. I have been a bit under the weather this week with a bad cold. It caused me to postpone a plan in my second favorite hobby, train travel. I had planned to ride Amtrak's Crescent to Washington DC and back. I am a "foamer." In railroad speak, a foamer is one, usually an older white man (ahem) who foams at the mouth at the sight of a train. When I was a little child, I formed a lifelong love of trains, particularly the steam locomotive. As a boy, I thought it was the most awesome and magnificent thing in the world, a great living, breathing dragon on wheels. I still think that.

My revered widowed grandmother (my mother's mother) lived in the rural village of Molino (Spanish for mill) FL twenty-five miles north of Pensacola on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad line. I adored her and she returned the love unconditionally. She was the only person I knew who never criticized me or said a harsh word to me. Fortunately, she lived a stone's throw from the L & N depot.

(This Molino depot was built in 1910 and demolished soon after the L & N discontinued all passenger service in 1971. As every train station in the south, it had two waiting rooms. The Molino-Mid-County Historical Museum, Molino FL.)

So, from the time I can remember, I rode back and forth often to her house on the L. & N., "the Old Reliable." In those days, the 1940's, the steam locomotive was still in common use. 

(A typical L & N steam locomotive. There were two men in the front, the engineer and the fireman. The latter shoveled the coal from the tender [152 here] into the fire box. A hundred yards south of the depot stood a water tower. The train stopped and the fireman lowered a long arm on the tower to fill the water tank. Steam locomotives devoured huge amounts of coal and water. L & N passenger coaches were typically navy blue or army green with big gold letters above the windows. Trains were commonly air conditioned after the 1930's. The L & N was called the Old Reliable because it almost always ran on time. Amtrak could learn a lesson. L & N is now part of the CSX Corporation, a major freight carrier.)

I found the steam locomotive to be simultaneously awesome and terrifying. Perhaps it was this wild combination that made it so appealing. Going south toward Pensacola, there was a slight curve in the tracks before the Molino depot. At a certain point in the approach the engine looked as if it were heading straight for me. Once, when I was four years old, I saw that, panicked, slipped from my mother's hand and fled to the back side of the depot (I did not know the train would stay on the tracks). When the train stopped and the conductor put out the little stool and shouted "'Board!" my mother could not find me. Frantic, she started calling my name and ran around the back side. She grabbed me by the hand firmly and hustled me quickly to the waiting conductor (she did not scold me, but I did not pull that stunt again). Usually, though, I just stood transfixed as the roaring black engine approached, ground trembling, with its enormous billowing cloud of dark smoke, hissing jets of white steam shooting from the sides, giant iron wheels taller than I being pushed by huge arms, and the bell on the top clanging loudly as the deafening whistle wailed. What little boy would not be impressed by this fantastic presence? It was as if the whole power of the universe were compacted into this iron monster. I and a lot of other little boys wanted nothing more than to be locomotive engineers. We were sure it was the best job in the world.

The trains during and just after the Second World War were always packed with sailors going to and from the Pensacola naval bases. My mother always called them "sailor boys." I did not know why because to me they were not boys at all. They were tall men. And, in those days they were unfailingly courteous. Mother and I never had to stand. A couple of sailors always got up and gave us their seats. I was in awe of their uniforms, which were white in summer. I always wondered how they stayed white because my clothes never seemed to stay clean for long. I loved playing in the dirt.

One day, around the year 1950, I was standing at the Molino depot waiting on the 4:15 when I did not see the tell-tale plume of dark smoke rising in the distance. In fact, I did not see or hear anything until the train was in sight rounding the bend. I was dumbfounded at the sight. There was a funny looking, snub nosed painted engine with a giant cyclops eye and a big red and yellow "L & N" beneath. It was a diesel locomotive. I had never seen one. My heart sank. I missed the fire-breathing dragon that always made my heart race.

 I have grieved ever since at the disappearance of the most awesome machine on wheels ever invented, the mighty living and breathing steam locomotive. Children today just do not know what they are missing.

Even though the steam locomotive is virtually gone, I can still ride the train and close my eyes and I am back in the happy days of long ago when travel was awesome and fun and my favorite wheels took me to see the grandmother I adored and who adored me. So, if I am not working in my garden, I am longing to be on the train, to anywhere.

"Travel" by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

My heart is warm with the friends I make,

And better friends I'll not be knowing;
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,
No matter where it's going.

(Home. A postcard of the L & N station, Pensacola, in the 1920's. This beautiful and remarkable 1912 building has been well preserved as the lobby of a new hotel.)

If you think about it, the train is a metaphor for life. We are all on the train. We are all on the journey called life moving inexorably, relentlessly through time and space. We ourselves did not choose to be on this journey, but here we are. Sometimes the journey is awesome, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes terrifying, sometimes wearying, sometimes boring, sometimes hard, sometimes disappointing, but always with the sure and certain hope of a happy and good end. 

We are not alone on this journey. The train is crowded with a lot of other people, of all sorts and descriptions. Although we make choices all the time, the train itself is driven by an unseen engineer who is an expert on guiding our train on its journey. After all, this force created the train. Sometimes, some people on the train choose to stand in judgment on their fellow travelers and wrongly force them apart. When I was a child, every rail coach car I saw had a partition near the back end and every person of African ancestry had to sit behind this simply because of the color of his or her skin. I did not know then how wrong that was. I know now. Yet, there are acts of grace too. Although bone weary from days of travel, "sailor boys" invariably vied with each other to offer their seats to a woman and a little child. Then, as the engineer glided the great rolling fire-breathing beast to a gentle stop under the canopy of the beautiful station at the end of the ride, the black-coated conductor put out the little stool for each person to get off the train, safely and soundly. 

We are all on the journey called life. It is how you live your life, how you make that journey that matters. We can be the segregationists or we can be the sailor boys. We can be the people who divide us up or the people who bring us together. Such are the life denying or life affirming choices we make every day for ourselves and other people on our journey. The schism has rocked our train back and forth because of the decisions that some people made and imposed on others, dividing us and turning us against each other. In the end, however, the train remains on the tracks. A force infinitely greater than ourselves is in control. Despite some riders' bad choices, the great engineer will drive this train home, into the last station, safely and soundly. You can count on it. 

Friday, May 17, 2019


It is Friday, May 17, 2019. Another week in the schism has passed. And, alas, once again, there is nothing to report. We are still waiting on the three courts to act: 1-the circuit court to implement the SCSC decision, 2-the SCSC to respond to TEC's petition for a Writ of Mandamus, and 3-the federal court to move on the TECSC bishop's suit against Mark Lawrence. Almost two months have gone by now without a word from any of these three legal fronts. The waiting is tiring and frustrating if unavoidable. 

My purpose on this blog is to provide information and opinion on the schism in South Carolina. I do not usually presume to give advice, and certainly not to judges. However, given the inexplicable inertia of all of the courts at once, it may be time to make an exception. So, as opinion, here is my unsolicited advice to the judges to get things moving toward a much-needed resolution: 

1-circuit court Judge Edgar Dickson. The South Carolina Supreme Court remitted its Aug. 2, 2017 decision to your court on Nov. 17, 2017, a year and a half ago. Your task is to implement the SCSC decision, nothing else. The three orders of the SCSC are clearly listed on the last page of the decision. You are now facing the probable embarrassment of having the high court order you to do your job. You can avoid this public humiliation by proceeding to order the enactment of the SCSC decision before the SCSC responds to TEC's petition for a Writ. TEC has offered means to expedite this by a Special Master and an accounting firm. You have the tools at hand. Implement the decision and forestall an impending loss of face.

2-SCSC justices. Almost two months ago, TEC filed a petition with you to grant a Writ of Mandamus to the circuit court directing it to implement the SCSC decision. The circuit court has had the remittitur for a year and a half and has done nothing to carry it out. It appears to be unwilling or unable to do its assigned job. You must step in and protect the integrity of the legal system in South Carolina. Issue the Writ ordering the circuit court to implement your decision. You  must not allow a circuit court judge to ignore or re-litigate a final decision of the state supreme court.

3-federal judge Richard Gergel. Both sides have asked you to render a decision in the case before you of vonRosenberg v. Lawrence. This case has been in the court for six years (a year and a half with you). Justice delayed is justice denied. You have suggested the possibility of a formal courtroom trial on or after May 1. You, and the public, do not need a trial to decide this matter. You have volumes of information and arguments before you that provide the positions of both sides in detail. You are clearly a thoughtful, careful, and thorough jurist. Consider the material at hand and issue a decision. Spare yourself and everyone else the trauma of a full trial. The public on both sides is longing for closure.

Now, let us shift gears from the legal war to the underlying culture war. Anyone who has read my history of the schism or reads this blog regularly, knows my thesis that the schism in South Carolina is part of a larger culture war going on in contemporary America, and to some extent in the world, particularly in the Anglican world. This week has brought the culture war back into full focus and has revealed some interesting shifts in the battlegrounds of the war. And, unsurprisingly, Alabama is leading Pickett's charge. Two days ago, the governor of AL signed a bill into law that is so crazily over-the-top even the Rev. Pat Robertson said it was ridiculous. Now, that is saying a lot. The new law is brazenly and wildly unconstitutional and will be struck down in an instant by the first federal judge to get it. The stated purpose of the law is to take the abortion issue back to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes the 5-4 conservative court will overturn Roe v. Wade. I will bet my bottom dollar SCOTUS will never touch AL's new blast of madness.

Stunts such as this leave a lot of us in Alabama pulling out what is left of our hair. Of course, we are used to bad government. In the last couple of years the heads of all three branches of the state government have either been forced out by self-made scandals or convicted in court of felonies. The unofficial AL state motto is "Thank God for Mississippi." Not even Mississippi is this corrupt and inept. Every time we in AL think things are getting better, we are jolted back to reality as our state officials seem resolved to preserve our reputation as the most regressive state in the nation. The new anti-abortion law is just that. These Neanderthal legislators do not realize just how damaging this sort of self-inflicted wound is to the overall health and well-being of the state. It is as if they learned nothing at all from the George Wallace disaster. South Carolina, you may be next. There is an anti-abortion bill in the state assembly similar to Alabama's.

This leads us back to the subject of the culture war. What we are in now is a counter-revolutionary backlash against the democratic reforms of the second half of the Twentieth Century and early years of the Twenty-First Century. In particular, three groups were beneficiaries of the great democratic revolution of this time: African Americans, women, and homosexuals. They gained equal rights and inclusion into American society. The Episcopal Church played an important role in carrying out this democratic revolution.

Interestingly enough, the struggle for the last group is largely over. After the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, the counter-revolutionaries mostly closed off this part of the war as a lost cause, a dead horse. Instead they have reverted to the first two as renewed battlegrounds.

For blacks, the counter-revolutionaries have been carrying on a long fight to remove or minimize their power and role in American life. Mass incarcerations for crimes, targeted at the ghetto, packed prisons with young black men. The U.S. has by far the highest incarceration rate in the world. This is no accident. It is deliberate racist policy. Meanwhile, conservative state legislatures passed voter suppression laws to decrease the number of black voters and gerrymandered electoral districts to segregate black voters. In addition, they have changed polling places and reduced the days and places for voter registration. Recent elections show the effectiveness of this racist anti-democratic movement in America. Conservatives know they cannot undo civil rights, but they can work around the edges to reduced freedom and equality for blacks. Too, the anti-immigrant and anti-foreign moves now popular among the conservatives are nothing more than extensions of white racism. 

While giving up on homosexuality and just fighting around the edges on race, the counter-revolutionaries are now aiming all of their big guns on rights for women. This is the obvious new focus of the reactionaries' backlash against democracy. This is why state legislature after state legislature is passing overtly unconstitutional anti-abortion laws. These are not about "protecting life." They are not about babies. They are about gender. They are all about keeping women under male domination. Under these new laws, made overwhelmingly by men, women are not allowed to control their own bodies. In fact, they, and the medical professionals who attend them, can be imprisoned for trying this. This is a direct attack on a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion. It is outrageous.

President Trump has been ingenious at combining the economic conservatives and the cultural conservatives in his scheme to undermine our constitutional system and replace it with autocracy invested in himself. For the former, he gave the largest transfer of wealth in American history from the middle classes to the very wealthy in his so-called tax-reform law. For the latter, he has persecuted immigrants and packed the federal courts with conservative judges, most importantly two new justices on the Supreme Court. Cultural conservatives, such as the angry white working class man and evangelicals, now believe the courts will roll back rights for women. That is the big push now in state legislatures to pass anti-abortion laws some of which may work up the the Supreme Court and perhaps cause the court to seriously diminish or remove the present constitutional protection of a woman's right to control her own body. Thus, interestingly enough, it is on women's rights that the culture war is now focused. This suggests that all along it was not blacks or homosexuals that reactionaries saw as most dangerous; it was women, who are, after all, the majority of the country. Apparently, the counter-revolutionaries see empowered women as the biggest threat to their future.

This helps us understand what is going on in the schism in South Carolina. In the two dioceses, the issue of homosexuality has been settled for all practical purposes. In 2015, the breakaway leaders imposed on the DSC a stringent policy banning same-sex weddings and declaring all sex outside of lifetime heterosexual marriage as sin. The hypocrisy of divorce and re-marriage, common in their diocese, did not seem to bother the people who made this Draconian law. In the Episcopal Church diocese, same-sex marriage is perfectly legal and regular. Thus, in both dioceses, the issue of homosexuality has turned moot. 

While the schism in SC was directly caused by the issue of homosexuality, it also involved a less-visible backlash against equal rights and inclusion of women in the life of the church. This has worked out on several levels. As for clergy, women priests are tolerated but not promoted in DSC. No woman priest has ever headed a large or medium sized parish in DSC. Moreover, no woman has ever chaired a major diocesan committee and women have never been in a majority on any major diocesan committee. Indeed, women have never had more than a quarter of the places on the DSC standing committee. When it comes to attendance and work, women form a large majority in every local church. When it came time to join a larger group, DSC chose to unite with the Anglican Church in North America which is an unabashed male chauvinist bastion. Women are not allowed to be ordained as bishops. The all-male bishops control the institutional structure of ACNA. Women are left powerless, and, indeed, are taught (by men) to submit to male authority. Check out the "Women's Ministries" page on the DSC website. Too, it is interesting to note that the very first resolution passed by the DSC convention after the schism was a restriction of women's freedom (an anti-abortion resolution). Both DSC and ACNA are strongly anti-equal rights for women. They are part and parcel of the counter-revolutionary movement against the reforms that brought freedom, justice, and equality for women.

Thus, DSC has made its stand in the culture war very clear, on the side of the counter-revolution. For blacks, DSC has done virtually nothing. In fact, as with women, no African American has ever been promoted to a position of authority in the diocese. Very few blacks have ever been allowed into the DSC leadership. DSC is entirely controlled by white males. As for women, DSC has kept them as second-class communicants and is actively striving to keep women from the right to control their own bodies. For homosexuals, we know the story there all too well. DSC has an absolute ban on equality and inclusion of open homosexuals and transgendered. If DSC is anything, it is up front about this. What all this tells us is that the schism in SC was primarily a socio-cultural event. It was part of the backlash against the great American democratic revolution of the post-Second World War era.

Then comes the question, What does DSC's role in the counter-revolution portend for its future? Driving out the homosexuals and keeping blacks and women down does not exactly promise a rosy future for growth in this "diocese." Even in relatively conservative South Carolina, the counter-revolution is generational, the older the person the more conservative in this culture war. Even in SC, ninety percent of people under the age of thirty support equality and inclusion of blacks, women, and gays. DSC will have a very hard time attracting young people. As we know, DSC has actually lost a third of its communicants since the schism. The downward trajectory is clear and relentless. Given the demographics in the culture war, the DSC decline will only worsen in time. This means it is hard to imagine a long-term institutional viability of DSC. After the court cases are over, DSC will have six parishes and a handful of other small churches. I expect this remnant will eventually melt into Steve Wood's diocese in ACNA.

Anyway, enough of war. It is Friday and time to take a break and stroll around my garden. We are having a beautiful springtime in the south with abundant rain and mild temperatures. The plants are flourishing. Here are a few pictures of my garden this week:

A walk path at the back edge, in the larger part of the garden. The purple shrub is barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow', the green one Abelia "Little Richard.' The pine tree is a longleaf pine. It was a seedling gift of Bok Tower, in Lake Wales FL, my favorite getaway place in winter.

In the smaller part looking toward the central lawn and the larger part of the garden beyond. On right is Japanese silver grass, on left Burning bush shrub. The low, yellowish plants by the chairs are dwarf bamboo. The tall plants by the chairs are Italian cypresses.

Sun drops (Oenothera fruticosa). Reliable perennial that likes some shade. Bright small lemon-yellow flowers.

St. Francis overlooks much of the garden although he is about to be enveloped by a camellia bush. Somehow I do not think he would mind. The ground cover on right is Algerian glacier ivy.

A Persian maiden adorns a seating area in the farthest part of the garden. This is my favorite spot. The shrub in front is Eurya japonica "Green Thinly Margined.' It is an unusual evergreen with small leaves, kin to the tea plant.

Pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana) is a tropical shrub that produces small edible fruit from unusual flowers. 

Japanese pea shrub (Lespedeza thunbergii) is just starting to flower. Soon this 6' wide bush will be covered with these flowers for months.

My garden is an eclectic collection of some 700 plants from far and wide. Except for the large trees already present, I chose and planted all of them myself. I have no training in horticulture, so I planned the garden on my own just to suit myself. My landscape scheme was as a bowl, open and flat in the middle (the central lawn) with sides gradually rising in height. The guiding principle of plant choice and placement was democracy. I chose a wide variety and mixed up the plants by color, size, texture, form, and the like, put them together and treated all of them the same. As one can see, most of the plants have loved this arrangement. Now, all of us should learn a lesson of how to get along from this flourishing democratic community of flora. This would end the culture war. 

My best wishes to you, reader. My advice to you---get outside and enjoy the wonders of God's creation in this glorious springtime. You do not have to have a big garden to do this. You can just go outside your door, breathe in the fresh air, enjoy the plants around and listen to the sweet singing of the birds. Be still and remember what is really important in life, life. It is good for the soul.   

Friday, May 10, 2019


It is Friday, May 10, 2019, and time for our weekly update and garden walk. I wish I had some news from court to share with you, but, alas, I do not. Waiting is the name of the game now. We are still waiting on the courts. We can do nothing else. One would think we would get used to this, but such is not easy to do. The schism has been time consuming to say the least:

37 years since the Diocese of South Carolina began differentiating itself from the mainstream of the Episcopal Church.

16 years since DSC began moving in earnest to depart from TEC, in the wake of the Gene Robinson affair.

11 years since Mark Lawrence became bishop of DSC.

6 years and 6 months since the DSC leadership declared the diocese to be separate from TEC.

6 years and 4 months since DSC started the legal war by suing TEC.

6 years and 1 month since TECSC opened its lawsuit in federal court against Mark Lawrence. Judge Richard Gergel now has this case.

21 months since the South Carolina Supreme Court issued its decision recognizing TEC ownership of 29 parishes and Camp St. Christopher.

16 months since Judge Edgar Dickson took the remittitur assignment from the SCSC. He has taken no action to implement the SCSC decision.

Thus, it is no wonder that people are worn out and a bit disheartened at the frustratingly slow pace of the litigation. Shell shock, war fatigue, whatever one wants to call it is all around us. Everyone on both sides (except perhaps the lawyers) wants closure and peace.

While we may want an expeditious end to it all, it must not be an end at any cost. The Episcopal Church is fighting for a just cause: the dignity and worth of every human being. There are some things worth fighting for, and this is one of them. Sixty-odd years ago TEC resolved to right the wrongs of the past, to champion equal rights and inclusion of people previously persecuted, condemned, and ignored: African Americans, women, and homosexuals. This was a courageous thing to do, even though it came at a high cost. But then, as we know in our religion, sometimes we pay a high price for doing the right thing, but we still do it because it is morally right. The Episcopal Church fight now is a struggle for human rights; and we must not forget that. This may not take away the weariness and hurt, but remembering the cause will help put our feelings in perspective. The diocesan leaders pulled DSC from the Episcopal Church in order to keep open homosexuals and women from having equality and inclusion in the church. What they have done since the schism makes this aim very clear. The battle lines in the war are also very clear.

Do not give up on the courts. Chances are good that we will be hearing from two of them in the next few weeks. The SCSC will have to respond to TEC's petition for a Writ of Mandamus. Federal Judge Gergel will decide whether to issue a decision on his own or to call a trial. These things will surely happen, maybe not as soon as we might like, but they will occur.

Meanwhile, let's turn from the gravity of the schism and lighten up with a walk around my garden to revel in the glory of God's magnificent creation.

Climbing rose "Don Juan." Put it in a sunny spot on a support, and you will be rewarded with numerous deep red flowers.

Florida Leucothe (Agarista populifolia) is a shade-loving large evergreen shrub that puts out tiny white blooms in spring.

Golden Sunset Spiraea (Spiraea japonica x bumalda 'Monhud'). Spiraea is one of the best families of shrubs for gardens in the south. This one has yellowish leaves and purple flowers.

Hosta, "Paul's Glory." I have never met a gardener who did not favor Hosta. If you have a bare shady spot that needs interest, try Hosta. The varieties are seemingly endless. They thrive on neglect and, since they are perennials, they return every year in their leafy glory. The problem with hosta is garden critters like them too. I think I have gotten rid of my resident rabbits, but not the chipmunks.

Fatsia japonica with variegated leaves. Being a native Floridian, I favor tropical plants in my garden. Fatsia is a tropical evergreen shrub that grows to five feet. If you have a shady spot with a little protection, fatsia will grow well in middle and lower south. This one is a companion to a stand of camellias. Otherwise, it has to be a houseplant.

Dwarf oak-leaf hydrangea (Hydrangea, Pee Gee 'Chantilly lace'). The oak-leaf hydrangeas are just coming into full flower. My garden has a half-dozen hydrangea bushes of various varieties. Hydrangeas thrive in our acid soils and can be seen in abundance growing naturally in the woodlands of the south.

Loquat tree, aka Japanese plum (Eriobotrya japonica). My garden is on a house building lot that is pie shaped, the narrow part on the street. The wide part has an L-shaped steep and weedy drainage ditch going along the very back edge. On the highest point, the elbow, I planted this Loquat tree. It was being crowded by a large shrub which I recently removed. Loquat is a tropical evergreen tree, similar in appearance to magnolia. It has small orange colored plum-like edible fruits. This tree is twenty feet tall.

I hope you enjoyed our little garden stroll today. These are some of the app. 700 trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, groundcovers, palms, and bulbs in my garden. Everyone needs therapy hobbies. Gardening is a great one: fresh air, beauty, and exercise. Besides, there is something liberating about one's primal return to the earth. Remember when you were a child and how much fun you had playing in the dirt and mud? Getting one's hands in the soil is good for the soul. Gardens certainly are good for the soul too. Just look at the number of times gardens appear in the Bible. In fact, humankind started out in the greatest garden of all. Indeed, many of the key events of the Gospels occur in gardens.

My parents dabbled with growing things when they could. This must have been good for them as my father lived to 96, mother to 94. For their funerals, both of them requested the hymn, "In the Garden." It is one of my favorites too.

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses...

Tuesday, May 7, 2019


At this point, it is appropriate to ask, what is the status of GAFCON and its participation in the 2020 Lambeth Conference? A few days ago, the GAFCON primates' meeting in Sydney adjourned and the Anglican Consultative Council, in Hong Kong, likewise ended. This is an appropriate point to ask, Is GAFCON boycotting Lambeth?

Reports have been circulating on the Internet that the GAFCON bishops will not attend the Lambeth Conference of 2020. As far as I can tell, these reports come form two sources. One is a website in England called "Premier." Twice in the past few days they have posted assertions of a GAFCON boycott. The most recent is here . Ironically, the article is entitled "Calm Urged as Anglican Split over Sexuality Threatens to Deepen." Then follows this, "Conservative group GAFCON says its bishops won't attend due to the fact gay bishops will be permitted to attend." The article gives no substantiation, documentation, or other verification for this serious charge. One wonders how such an inflammatory assertion can "urge calm." Nevertheless, this article has been reposted on respected Internet sites.

The other source is the blog of David Ould. Find it here . Ould was actually at the press conference that was posted on video with YouTube. Ould wrote on May 4, 2019, "At an event hosted by GAFCON Australia today here in Sydney, Archbishop Foley Beach (Primate of the ACNA and now chair of the GAFCON Primates Council) reaffirmed that they will be turning down Archbishop's of Canterbury's invitation to attend the 2020 Lambeth Conference." Once again, the author offered no substantiation, documentation, or other verification of this sweeping charge. And, once again, popular websites have reposted Ould's article.

Thus, we are left to wonder, is it true that GAFCON has told its bishops not to attend LC 2020?

What do we know as facts now?

---On June 22, 2018, the GAFCON assembly issued "Letter to the Churches." Find it  here . It urged the Archbishop of Canterbury to invite to LC 2020 the bishops of the Anglican Church in North America and not to invite the bishops of the Episcopal Church. "In the event that this does not occur, we urge Gafcon members to decline the invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of Communion." Note the operative word, "urge." This means the decision to attend would be up to the bishops. This is not a coordinated boycott.

---On May 6, 2019, the GAFCON primates issued "A Communiqué from the Gafcon Primates Council." Find it here . It said that GAFCON had not received a response from the ABC to its letter of June 22, 2018. It left the matter there. It did not offer any stance on the Lambeth Conference although it went on to announce its own bishops' conference a few weeks before LC 2020.

---On May 4, 2019, ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach, chair of the GAFCON primates' council, held a press conference. Find it here . He said the GAFCON primates had sent a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and were awaiting a response. He gave no other details. He did not give a date, or description, of the letter. It is possible he was referring to the 2018 "Letter to the Churches." He said nothing about GAFCON attending the Lambeth Conference. Beach did not say GAFCON would be turning down the ABC's invitation.

These are the publicly-known facts now: 

1. The GAFCON primates are awaiting a response to their letter to the ABC.

2. GAFCON, in 2018 and so far in 2019 have not issued a public stand on attending the Lambeth Conference other than the conditional "urge" in the 2018 letter.

3. The Archbishop of Canterbury has, in effect, answered GAFCON's 2018 "Letter to the Churches" by inviting all of the bishops of the Episcopal Church and inviting the ACNA to send "observers" only, not participants.

4. Since the ABC in effect denied GAFCON its request, the presumption is that GAFCON will publicly urge its bishops not to attend the LC. However, they have not done so yet.

Bottom line---

To answer the question above, Is it true that GAFCON has told its bishops not to attend the Lambeth Conference of 2020? 

No, it is not true.

It is not correct to say that GAFCON has called on its bishops to boycott the Lambeth Conference. In fact, it has not made an official, public stand on attending LC 2020.

Indeed, some GAFCON bishops were highly visible and active in the Anglican Consultative Council meeting last week in Hong Kong thus disregarding the GAFCON primates' urging to avoid meetings of the Instruments of Communion.

Only three of the forty Anglican primates have publicly announced they will boycott LC 2020.

Moreover, obviously many GAFCON bishops have already registered for the Lambeth Conference since a clear majority of all Anglican bishops have signed up to attend. 

Of course, it is entirely possible the GAFCON primates agreed in private to boycott, or will publicly announce a position in the future. I am not saying they will not. A boycott would certainly be in line with GAFCON's trajectory toward schism in the Anglican Communion. However, all we know for sure now is that they have not declared a formal policy on the Lambeth Conference.

Therefore, unsubstantiated Internet reports of a GAFCON sanctioned boycott of LC 2020 should be regarded warily and set aside until and unless there is verification of such an action.

Monday, May 6, 2019


GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference) has taken a giant step toward schism. This occurred last week when the GAFCON leadership met in Sydney, Australia, from 29 April to 2 May. Today, May 6, they issued a formal statement, "A Communiqué from the GAFCON Primates Council." Find it here . This is GAFCON's strongest assault yet on the Anglican Communion.

The major news in the statement is that GAFCON is calling a rival meeting challenging the Lambeth Conference:

The conference will be primarily designed for those who will not be attending Lambeth, but all bishops of the Anglican Communion who subscribe to the Jerusalem Declaration and Lambeth Resolution 1.10 are invited to join...

Recall that the Jerusalem Declaration and 1998 Lambeth 1.10 were manifestly homophobic.

GAFCON's anti-Lambeth Conference conference will be held in Kigali, Rwanda, 8-14 June 2020, just a few weeks before the real Lambeth Conference meets in Canterbury. This is a bold challenge to the Anglican Communion and to its unifying force, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who just won a significant victory of unity in the Anglican Consultative Council in Hong Kong. If this is not schism, it is the next thing to it. The people of South Carolina (and Pittsburgh, Quincy, San Joaquin, Ft. Worth) should not be surprised. They have seen this sad movie before.

To reiterate a point, GAFCON is a recent fundamentalist interpretation inside historic Anglicanism. All great religions experienced fundamentalist movements in the late Twentieth Century. These were backlashes against what some of the faithful saw as the threats of modernism against traditional religion, thus a defensive retreat into "fundamentals" of the religion. (In Protestant Christianity fundamentalism is defined as:  literal interpretation of the scriptures, dualism of the universe, authoritarianism, social conservatism.) In the Anglican world, GAFCON led this fundamentalist backlash identifying it primarily on social terms under the guise of the scriptures: opposition to some Anglican churches' moves to equality for and inclusion of women and open homosexuals in the life of the church. Thus, GAFCON's basic raison d'être was to prevent women and homosexuals from gaining equality in the Anglican world. 

In the old diocese of South Carolina, the leadership moved to fundamentalist Anglicanism in the early 2000's, then broke from the Episcopal Church in 2012, and subsequently joined the Anglican Church in North America which was set up by GAFCON to be its proxy in the United States. GAFCON has declared the ACNA to be the only legitimate "Anglican" province in the U.S. and has made the ACNA archbishop, Foley Beach, the chair of the GAFCON primates.

Thus, the two dioceses in SC today are on the opposite sides of the wider Anglican civil war. DSC has thrown in its lot with GAFCON. The church diocese, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, is part of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. DSC is anti-equal rights for women and gays. TECSC is pro-equal rights for women and gays. The differences are starkly clear. 

The anti-women and anti-homosexual stands are very clear in GAFCON's new communiqué. It is mostly about 1.10 but also addresses women:  the provinces of Gafcon should retain the historic practice of consecrating only of men as bishops...

A showdown in the Anglican world is at hand. The two sides are 1-Anglican Communion, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury. This seeks to retain the historic structure of Anglicanism and the AC, that is, 40 independent churches in communion with the ABC; and 2-GAFCON, led by the equatorial African primates and dissident Americans. This side seeks either to gain control over or to divide up the old Anglican Communion in order to remake Anglicanism into a confessional religion forcing a fundamentalist conformity on its individual members. 

At the moment, it appears that GAFCON has given up on the idea of unifying the AC under a fundamentalist "covenant." They are apparently moving to plan B, that is, to divide up the old AC into two parts. They believe they will have the larger part since tha majority of Anglicans reside in GAFCON provinces. If they succeed, the Anglicanism of the future will be radically different than anything we have known. There will be two expressions of Anglicanism. Old Anglicanism will remain in the progressive First World while new Anglicanism will prevail in the Third World. In the end, the schism will be about social policy, not theology.

At any rate, it appears now that the year 2020 will be the deciding moment for the future of Anglicanism. All we know at this time is that GAFCON has failed to take over old Anglicanism. What we do not know, and will not know until next year, is the effect of GAFCON's challenge to the old AC. As a student of the schism in South Carolina, I conclude that all signs point to an impending schism in the Anglican Communion. If today's statement from GAFCON says anything, it says this.

Saturday, May 4, 2019


Foley Beach, archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America and chair of the GAFCON primates council, has reiterated his claim that the Archbishop of Canterbury has insulted him. On May 1, I posted an entry about Beach's reaction entitled "Bishop Lawrence Not Invited to Lambeth; Archbishop Beach Says He Is Insulted." Find it here . 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has invited all of the 887 bishops of the Anglican Communion to the Lambeth Conference to be held in Canterbury next year. At first, he verbally invited all of the bishops' spouses, then announced he would not invite the same-sex spouses. Then, last week, the ABC announced he was inviting other Christian denominations to send observers to the Conference. He included the Anglican Church in North America among these. This made it plain that the Archbishop did not recognize ACNA bishops as members of the Anglican Communion, something he had already made clear long ago. Beach said he was "insulted" by this.

In the past few days, Beach has been in Sydney, Australia, for a conference. Yesterday, May 3, he held a news conference and part of it was posted as a video on YouTube ( Referring to Welby's invitation to observe the Lambeth Conference, Beach said, "they insulted us in the way they issued it to us." Apparently, he expects special treatment from Canterbury. He also said the Lambeth Conference was in violation of itself for failing to follow Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Actually, the Conference is not self-perpetuating. It does not invite the participants; the Archbishop of Canterbury does. Moreover, the LC is not a governing body that makes law. It is only a deliberative body that can adopt non-binding resolutions. The forty provinces of the AC are independent churches that govern themselves.

The invitations to the LC are entirely at the discretion of the host, the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 2008, the ABC (Williams) pointedly did not invite an Anglican Communion bishop (Gene Robinson), because of his sexuality. This time, the ABC (Welby) is inviting the partnered homosexual bishops but pointedly not inviting their legal spouses, a half-way solution that has really pleased no one. At any rate, Archbishop Beach, who is not even in the Anglican Communion, is loudly proclaiming his offended state at the way he is being treated. 

Finally, Beach said in the video that the GAFCON primates had sent a letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury and were awaiting a response. He did not say in the video that GAFCON would boycott Lambeth or that ACNA would refused to send observers.

Watch the video that was posted on YouTube:

All of this amounts to a manufactured crisis. Beach, and all the bishops of ACNA, are not members of the Anglican Communion. They have absolutely no right to expect the Archbishop of Canterbury to invite them to participate in the Lambeth Conference. Beach, Lawrence, and all the other bishops of ACNA are not in the Anglican Communion. 

Three GAFCON primates have already said they will boycott next year's Lambeth Conference in protest of the inclusion of open homosexual bishops. This is their prerogative. What remains to be seen now is how many other GAFCON bishops will go along with the boycott. At the moment, the fundamentalists (they call themselves "orthodox" although they are not) and their friends are throwing up every criticism they can in an effort to sabotage next year's Lambeth Conference. 

In the last two decades, GAFCON created a new fundamentalist form of Anglicanism devoted to certain social views: the subjugation of women and the condemnation of homosexuality. As part of this, they have created a parallel organization directly challenging the longstanding structure of the old Anglican Communion on what it means to be an Anglican. GAFCON has declared some church that are not in the Anglican Communion to be "Anglican." They have even made the head of ACNA as the chair of GAFCON. Thus, what we are seeing now is a tug-of-war between the classical Anglicans, led by the ABC, and the fundamentalists, led by GAFCON, for the soul and the future of worldwide Anglicanism. The Archbishop of Canterbury has the tenuous upper-hand at the moment but it remains to be seen whether he can maintain this in the face of the fierce challenge of GAFCON. The future of universal Anglicanism is at stake. It is in the interest of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, and the Episcopal Church, that the Anglican Communion survives, indeed thrives.



The ABC apologized today, not to Beach, but to the Anglican Communion, particularly the Anglican Consultative Council for his handling (bungling) of the spouse invitations. Must read article by Mary Frances Schjonberg in the Episcopal News Service, here . 

The apology was part of an amazing conclusion of the ACC meeting in which the members arrived at a unanimous statement (88-0) "The dignity of human beings" promising to move toward healing on issues of sexuality. It was a remarkable display of classical Anglicanism at its best. This scores a big victory for Welby, for the Anglican Communion, and for the Episcopal Church and it should help make next year's Lambeth Conference a big success.