Friday, October 30, 2020



Today is Friday, October 30, 2020. We are now at the last weekend before Election Day in America, 3 November. I would like to share with you a summary of my thoughts on the state of our nation.

I have seen many elections come and go. I first voted in 1964, for Lyndon Johnson. I was thrilled and excited at all the to-do around that election as I have about every election since. A junior at Florida State University, I stood for hours in the student union awaiting the (late) arrival of Lady Bird and Lucy Johnson who were making a stop in Tallahassee on their famous train tour of the south. The choice that year was stark too. I saw Goldwater as hopelessly reactionary and Johnson as a fellow progressive southerner (the civil rights movement was in full swing). It was a no-brainer. I proudly dropped my absentee ballot in the slot at the post office to send it on its way to Pensacola. Florida wound up voting for Johnson although north Florida mostly went for Goldwater. I will approach voting on Tuesday with the same care and enthusiasm as I exhibited all those years ago. Voting in a democratic republic is a great honor and treasure. On this day, we all count the same.

Regular readers of this blog know my theory of contemporary America, so I will just summarize here. This is my take on where we are as a nation on the eve of the election of 2020:

This election is a clash between the two great movements in America in the last 60-70 years. The primary movement was, and still is, the Great Democratic Revolution. This brought a transforming measure of freedom, justice, and equality to blacks, women, the disabled, the old, homosexuals, and others. Notable reforms included such as Medicare expansion, anti-discrimination laws, Medicaid, housing assistance, food stamps, tuition support, expended health care coverage, and marriage equality. Along the way, overall the country prospered. In short, the late Twentieth and early Twenty-First Centuries saw a great democratization of American life. The Episcopal Church played an important role internally and externally in the GDR (this was the main point that attracted me to TEC in 1964).

The second great movement was the backlash against the GDR. It was a counter-revolution, or reaction against the dramatic democratic reforms. The people most frightened arose to oppose the social, cultural, and economic changes. These were mostly the white working class men, white southerners, white evangelical Christians, and big wealth.

From the 1950's to 1990, on the whole, the GDR prevailed, mainly because of a forced national unity in the Cold War. The differences between the two sides were kept down by the challenge of an external threat. After the Cold War ended in 1990, the internal divisions were left exposed; and ever since then the reactionaries have mounted a growing opposition to the GDR. This culminated in the Trump victory of 2016. 

Trump had the potential of raising the counter-revolution to victory over the GDR but he failed to do that primarily because of his own unique personality. In order to give the reactionaries what they wanted (as repeal of Roe v. Wade) he made a faustian bargain with them: reactionary roll backs in exchange for authoritarian (extra-constitutional) powers. This was the fatal mistake of the reactionaries because, unknown to everyone, the country would be confronted by a new unifying external threat that would wreak havoc and death on a grand scale. For the first time since 1990, most Americans would be forced into unity by the coronavirus in 2020. Trump proved to be alternately incompetent and malevolent in the face of this national crisis. The U.S. has had by far the most cases and deaths of the virus, in the world. In the course of this national disaster, the public mood turned against Trump. This doomed both Trump and his counter-revolutionary allies. The reactionaries, who lashed themselves to the mast of the Trump ship, are going down with the ship. All signs indicate Trump will be defeated for reelection along with at least some of his allies. If so, the GDR will prove to be the stronger of the two historical movements even though the federal courts are now packed with right-wing judges/justices who will continue the counter-revolution.

Even though polls are showing Trump losing the election, one should not jump to the conclusion that he will concede. In fact, Republican lawyers are out right now working by the hundreds to diminish the vote count in all sorts of voter suppression tactics. Unless there is an overwhelming landslide against Trump, we can expect major court fights over allowing votes in certain places. Since courts are already packed with counter-revolutionary judges and the Supreme Court is firmly under their control we could see the courts restrict enough votes to throw the outcome to Trump, as SCOTUS did in 2000. This would be the worst nightmare scenario. Civil war would result between the majoritarian GDR side and the minoritarian reactionary side. God only knows what would happen then. So, it is not the election that bothers me as much as the aftermath. A great deal can happen between Nov. 3 and the meeting of the Electoral College on December 14.

This is the most important election of our lifetimes. It will decide whether the country continues on its path of democratic revolution or swings to counter-revolution to undo the reforms of the GDR. This also means whether the country is governed by the majority or the minority. If the majority prevails, the democratic republic prevails. If the minority prevails, the democratic republic falls and is replaced by a fascist state ruled by force. What could be more serious in American history since the Civil War than this?

In view of the gravity of this moment in our national history, I suggest a couple of prayers from  The Book of Common Prayer.

Collect for an Election.

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all out powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for our Country.

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage: We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of they favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through observance of thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For 250 years the people of the United States have built a great democratic republic. It has not been easy. In fact, it has too often been violent and bloody. We have argued and fought fiercely over our disagreements, but in the end we stayed together as a nation because we knew we were one people, we believed we had a common destiny. Next week's election will be a test of that commitment. I believe we will pass the test because our values are deeply ingrained in our national consciousness. I do not believe the American people are ready to hand over our country to would-be dictators and anti-democratic radicals.

Remember, we are here for the living of this hour. Peace.

[P.S. The last Graham-Harrison debate will air tonight, Friday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. on public television. No race has encapsulated the current state of national politics as much as this one. Polls show Senator Graham and his Democratic challenger running even, something that would have been unimaginable a year ago.]     

Thursday, October 29, 2020



On October 27, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, in Richmond VA, issued an Order granting the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina's motion for a stay of their appeal to the Court pending a decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court. The Order said:

Upon consideration of submissions relative to appellants' motion to stay case, which the court construes as a motion for abeyance, the court grants the motion and places this case in abeyance pending a decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court...

This means that the Appeals Court will suspend action on the ADSC's appeal of Judge Gergel's order of September 19, 2019, until the SCSC rules on the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina's appeal of Judge Dickson's order of June 19, 2020. The U.S. Appeals Court had scheduled a hearing on the church case for early December. Apparently, there will be no hearing until the SCSC rules, whenever that may be.

It is important to note that this order does nothing to change Gergel's decision itself. It is in effect. The ADSC asked both Gergel and the Court of Appeals for a stay of Gergel's Sept. 19, 2019 order but both denied the petitions. Thus, Gergel's order remains in force. In fact, he has backed up his Injunction against the ADSC twice. Gergel's order will remain in effect unless and until it is overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

I found it curious that the Appeals Court order of Oct. 27 was not signed by a judge. It was signed only by one person, the Clerk of the Court. I have no idea what this means. Perhaps it is standard procedure, but I found it strange that no judge signed it.

As everyone knows, I am not a lawyer or legal expert, but this appeals court order makes no sense to me. The federal court dealt with ownership of the diocese, specifically in who owned the "marks" (trademark names, symbols, emblems etc.). Judge Gergel found they belonged entirely to the Episcopal Diocese of SC. The state court dealt with ownership of the local properties. The state supreme court left the issue of the marks to the federal court. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled on Aug. 2, 2017 that the Episcopal Church owned the bulk of the local properties. Upon Remittitur, the circuit court judge reversed this and declared that the Episcopal Church had no interest in the local properties. It is the circuit judge's decision that the Episcopal side is now appealing to the SCSC. Thus, I see no reason why the federal court should wait for a decision of the SCSC. Perhaps a lawyer who knows more about all of this could shed some light on this strange turn of events from the federal appeals court.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020





United States District Court Judge Richard Gergel today issued an "Order and Opinion" finding the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina in contempt of court for their use of the term "Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina":

The Court finds Defendants [ADSC] in civil contempt for their use of this mark [Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina].

The ADSC had used the term when they applied for a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration earlier this year. The ADSC subsequently received a loan through PPP. One can only wonder how the SBA will respond to this once they are informed of the earlier Injunction against ADSC using this term and the finding of contempt of court for claiming it in an application for a PPP loan. Will the SBA demand return of the loan? Seems fair to me.

On a couple of other points, Judge Gergel allowed ADSC leeway. Since ADSC voluntarily corrected practically all of the 27 items the Church diocese had listed as violations of the Injunction, these were really moot. Too, he found that ADSC's use of the terms "2009 Convention" and "2008 Consecration" did not violate the Injunction. 

Most importantly, it seemed to me that Judge Gergel used today's decision to speak to both the U.S. Court of Appeals and the South Carolina Supreme Court, in support of the Episcopal Church positions. The ADSC is appealing Gergel's Sept. 19, 2019 decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals. It is also petitioning the appeals court for a stay pending a decision of the SCSC. Meanwhile, EDSC is appealing Judge Dickson's decision of June 19, 2020 to the SCSC. These will be crucially important decisions; and it seemed to me that Gergel went out of his way to address the issues involved in his statement today.

1---The Episcopal Church is hierarchical.

This case arises out of a schism in 2012 in the Historic Diocese, originally known as the "Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of South Carolina," in which certain members and parishes sought to dissociate from The Episcopal Church, a nationwide hierarchical church.

2---The SCSC decision held that the Episcopal Church owned most of the property in question.

The parties have litigated property issues related to the schism in the state courts of South Carolina, culminating in a 2017 decision in the South Carolina Supreme Court holding that The Episcopal Church owned most of the property in dispute and finding that twenty-eight of the Disassociated Parishes held real and personal property in trust for TEC.

3---The Anglican Diocese was formed after the schism of 2012.

Defendant Disassociated Diocese, headed by Defendant Right Reverend Mark Lawrence and was formed following the schism in 2012 to disassociate from TEC.

4---The Episcopal Church diocese of SC is the lawful heir of the historic diocese.

On September 19, 2019, this Court granted summary judgment in favor of TEC and TECSC, finding that TECSC is the lawful successor of the Historic Diocese.

Perhaps the most important point in Gergel's order of today was what seemed to me to be a thinly disguised statement to the U.S. Court of Appeals. On October 16, 2020, the ADSC filed with the appeals court a "Motion to Stay Case." They asked the court to set aside the appeal until the SCSC rules on EDSC's appeal of Dickson's order. One of the main arguments ADSC made in its motion was that the SCSC would decide ownership of the state marks:

What the S.C. Supreme Court held in its 2017 opinions matters in this case because its decision on corporate governance affects the ownership of the state-marks...

First, with that decision in hand, the Court [SCSC] can resolve the state-marks and prior-use issues with the final decision from South Carolina's court of last resort.

In today's order, Gergel bristled at the notion that the issue of the marks had not been settled and took ADSC to task for misinterpreting Judge Dickson's June 19, 2020, order:

While Defendants [ADSC] argue that [Dickson's June 19, 2020 Order] permits such usage [Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina], this decision does no such thing, stating in relevant part that "the Federal Court has exclusive authority to decide all issues relating to the trademarks, service marks, and intellectual property." ([Dickson's Order]noting that "[a]lmost uniformly, the Supreme Court determined that TEC and TECSC owned all service marks, trademarks, and intellectual property or deferred to the Federal courts on these issues" and reiterating that "the Federal Court has jurisdiction over matters related to the trademarks, intellectual property, and service marks issues")

It appears to me that Gergel is telling the U.S. Court of Appeals that ADSC has no substantial claim to a stay order on the grounds of the settlement of marks which Gergel has most emphatically ruled on THREE times (Injunction and two enforcements). With this, I fully expect the appeals court to deny ADSC's motion for a stay toute de suite. Moreover, I continue to believe the appeals court will reject the entire appeal. Gergel has been ingenious at making and protecting his decisions. It seems to me they are appeal proof.

All in all, Gergel's order of today is a major boost for the Episcopal Church side, partly in enforcing its identity as the only legal and legitimate heir of the historic diocese, but also in sending unmistakable messages to the state supreme court and the federal appeals court in favor of the Episcopal Church. This comes at a good time for the Church side.

Find the Diocese of South Carolina's press release about today's order here .


Monday, October 26, 2020


NOTES,   26 OCTOBER 2020

Welcome, blog reader, on Monday, October 26, 2020. It is time to return to the crises we have been tracking for months now. Two of these are intensifying. In the pandemic, we are seeing the third great wave of new infections, just as the experts predicted we would see in the fall. The numbers of new cases are at record levels in some places in America. In the political crisis, the national election day is just a week from tomorrow. Both sides are pulling out all the stops to win. 

THE PANDEMIC. All signs show increasing rates of infections and deaths, particularly in the United States. The coronavirus is clearly out of control with no indication of mitigation. A vaccine is still months away at the least. 

Our usual source, Worldometers, tells us that last week, October 19-26, there were 3,058,685 new cases in the world. This was a rising rate of 8%, up from the 7% of the earlier week. The rate of deaths in the world is also rising. Last week there were 40,597 reported covid deaths, a rate of 4%, up from the 3% of the previous week. More than one million people in the world have died of the plague (1,159,930). Clearly, this deadly pandemic is spreading although at uneven rates in different countries.

New case and deaths rates are also climbing in the United States. Last week, the U.S. reported 501,564 new cases for a total of 8,889,577. This is a rising rate of 6%, up from the 5% of the earlier week. As for deaths in the U.S., there were 5,778 reported last week, a rising rate of 3%, up from the 2% of the previous week. Clearly, the disease is spreading rapidly in America although this is uneven. In all, 230,510 Americans are reported to have died of COVID-19 (the real number is probably much higher).

South Carolina reported 6,688 new cases of COVID-19 last week for a total of 170,678. This is a increasing rate of 4%, the same as the preceding week. SC also reported 152 deaths last week, a 4% rise, up from the 3% of the earlier week. Again, clearly the pandemic is spreading apace in SC.

Alabama is now one of the hottest spots in the country for the spread of the virus. Last week, AL reported a whopping 11,729 cases, an alarming rate of 11%. The previous week, AL reported a 4% rise. One of the three "hottest" counties in AL now is my home county, Calhoun. Altogether, AL has had 184,355 infections and 2,866 deaths. Last week, the death rate was 3%, actually down from the 5% of the earlier week. Public health officials are sounding the alarm in AL but the governor seems indifferent, or at least refuses to take any new mitigation measures. 

Charleston County SC continues to see the pandemic spread apace. Last week, it reported 417 new cases for a total of 17,045. This is a rising rate of 3%, up from the 2% of the earlier week. In all, 275 people in the county have died of the disease.

In sum, the experts are telling us we are in the third wave of the pandemic and it is to be the worst yet (the first was in April, the second in July). We can expect a hastening pace of spread of infections and mortality in the next few months. The worst is yet to come. Unfortunately, our political authorities in the U.S. are mostly ignoring all the warning signs of this public health emergency.

 POLITICAL CRISIS. Election day is eight days off, Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Of course, nearly 60m voters have already voted, so we have an election season rather than a day.

All signs indicate that Joe Biden will win the popular vote and, in all probability, the Electoral College. To be sure, many Democrats are hesitant to say so because of the bitter disappointment in 2016 when everyone, even Donald Trump, expected Hillary Clinton to win. Dems are still spooked about making predictions.

No one can tell yet whether this will be close or a landslide. Many states are showing neck-and-neck races for president. Also, some states are showing toss ups for senator, most famously South Carolina. The race there is too close to call in the polls but some surveys are showing the Democrat, Harrison, running ahead of the incumbent Republican Senator, Graham. Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, all usually red states are all having unexpectedly close races between the Dem and Rep candidates for the Senate. Overall, the bookies are betting the Democrats will win a majority of the seats in the Senate.

My greatest fear continues to be that the losing side will challenge the legal and legitimate election results in court on trumped up charges. If they can create enough doubt in the validity of the results in certain states, this could lead to the state legislatures and/or the courts deciding the outcome. In this scenario, the Republicans would have a good chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, against the will of the people, as they did in the Election of 2000 when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 for the losing candidate, W. This would be the worst nightmare outcome in 2020 that would throw the country into an upheaval the likes of which no one can imagine now. The subsequent widespread violence would allow the Trump administration to declare a national emergency and use armed power to suspend the Constitution and solidify minority rule in America. If so, fascism would be complete and the democratic republic of two and a half centuries would slip into history. It has become a cliché to say this, but it is none the less true: This is the most important election of any of our lifetimes. The future of our country depends on it.

Regular readers of this blog know my theory of contemporary America---revolution v. counter-revolution. In the last few years, Trump has brought the counter-revolutionary side to its greatest power ever, but his fatally flawed personality is bringing himself, and therefore his faustian allies, down. The key to his fall is the coronavirus. In the historical theory of Challenge and Response, America was challenged with a pandemic the likes of which had not been seen in a century. The country looked to the administration to respond (defend the country from deadly invasion) but there was no coherent, unified national response, indeed, quite the opposite. Trump failed to lead the country in a meaningful way as the majority of the people expected. The majority will now reject the president. In rejecting the president they will also be rejecting the president's train, the counter-revolutionaries. If Trump loses in a landslide, the counter-revolutionary reaction against the Great Democratic Revolution will also be diminished even though it will live on in the federal courts.

So, I see this election as a great showdown between the forces of those who want to continue the democratic reforms and those who oppose them. The reform movement has the force of history behind it. However, the counter movement has a leader who will do almost anything to keep from losing. He has already told pro-Trump, white racist, heavily armed thugs to "stand by." Unfortunately, that means we all have to stand by as our country heads into a political crisis of historic proportions. "In God We Trust" now takes on new meaning.

Although the election is a week from tomorrow, I have the unsettling feeling Election Day will be just the beginning of a great political crisis that will extend at least until December 14 when the electors of the Electoral College cast their votes for president. 

Today, it is more important than ever that we remember none of us chose any of this. Nevertheless, we are here for the living of this hour, as fearful and tragic as it is. May we all find the strength and courage to be our best selves whatever happens around us. Peace. 

Sunday, October 25, 2020


The Rt. Rev. William Love, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, has announced his resignation. The effective date is February 1, 2021. 

Find an article on this here .

Find another here .

Find the Episcopal News Service press release about this here .

Love also announced that his ban on Resolution B012 will remain in effect in the diocese until his last day. 

Love was unanimously found guilty of violating his ordination oaths of loyalty to the Episcopal Church by the Disciplinary Board for Bishops. The board was to meet tomorrow to decide on the appropriate punishment which could very well have removed him as a bishop.

As a student of the history of the schism in South Carolina, I am struck by the difference between the way Bishop Lawrence handled SC and the way Bishop Love handled Albany. It is night and day. And so, I for one greatly admire William Love for his honor and integrity. He was faithful to the principles that he fervently believed to be right and true but he also recognized his role in a larger community and respected the necessary unity of that institution. On the other hand, the schismatics in SC believed they, and not the Episcopal Church, were guided by the Holy Spirit. We have seen the bitter fruits of that belief.   

Wednesday, October 21, 2020


How are you doing, blog reader? Most of the hundreds of people who read this blog I do not know, but I am still concerned about their well-being. I would not be here otherwise. I hope and pray you and yours are well.

We are enduring crisis on crisis at this dark hour of our lives. We have discussed most of them here, but one we have not spent much time on is our mental health. Experts tell us, on top of everything else, we are in the midst of a mental health crisis. Suicides are up, particularly among young people. Alcoholism, drug abuse, spousal abuse, and child abuse are all up. Apparently these are all terrible side-effects of the pandemic. We must start by recognizing there is a problem. 

Our mental and emotional states are not usually things we want to talk about, and that is part of the problem. Too often we hide these issues only making them worse. A few years ago, a nephew of mine committed suicide. This was incredibly shocking because no one in the family knew he had had a problem. The people closest to him were wracked with guilt for a long time--- If we had only known we would have helped him.

Look around at the people you know who might need help the most. One group we often overlook is children and teenagers. Their lives have been disrupted too. If they stay at home to do remote learning, they are missing their friends, their old lives. Even if they go to school, they cannot interact with others the way they used to do. The isolation and social distancing are having bad emotional effects on our young people. Then there are the people who live alone, and the people who cannot get out at all, or out much. They are suffering too.

The point I am trying to make is that we have to take extra care these days to look after ourselves and our friends, family, neighbors, and acquaintances. These are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures.

Taking care of ourselves is an individual thing. Here  is a helpful article on methods for coping. We can all add our own ideas to this list. For church people, I would add enhancing Bible reading, prayer life, and reading reflections of bright minds (as N.T.Wright's book, God and the Pandemic).

I am fortunate to have a large botanical garden which I am enjoying especially in these cool days of autumn. Everyone should have some satisfying interest of his or her own in which to devote time and energy. It does not have to be elaborate. It could be just simply walking around your neighborhood.

Finally, we must be conscious of looking after others. If you have children and grandchildren, you might reach out to them more than usual, the same with people you know who live alone.

We live in difficult times. We must recognize this. We must also recognize that there are ways we can help ourselves and others get through this dark night. No one should feel alone. We are all together in this boat. We will make it through the darkness together. Peace.

Autumn is arriving in my garden as this maple tree attests. In a week or so it will be at its full color.

Bottlebrush (Callistemon) is an old favorite in the south. This bush is still small but blooms well.

Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo 'Compacta') is an attractive evergreen shrub that blooms strawberry-like flowers. This one is just budding out. Each flower will make a "strawberry." This plant grows in abundance in the mountains along the coast of California. I brought this one back, in my car, from San Luis Obispo county, CA.

Cool weather means camellia time. This is an early form called Daikaigura variegated. Most camellias bloom in the winter, hence "the winter rose." 


Monday, October 19, 2020


Greetings, blog reader, on this Monday, October 19, 2020. Here's a wish that all goes well with you and yours in this trying hour. It is time for our weekly check-in on the issues we have been following for months now.

PANDEMIC. All signs are that the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading apace. There are indications of an up-tick in the numbers as cooler weather is driving people indoors. 

In the world, over 40m people have become infected with the coronavirus and over a million of those have died. According to our usual source, Worldometers, last week, October 12-19, there were 2, 552,974 new cases, a rising rate of 7%, the same as the previous week. As for deaths, 37,388 people in the world died of the disease, an increase of 3%, down slightly from the 4% of the earlier week.

The United States is showing consistent rates of cases and deaths. Last week, the U.S. reported 395,081 new cases, a rate of 5%, the same as the previous week. The U.S. also reported 5,026 deaths of the disease, a rising rate of 2%, the same as the week earlier. In the last seven months, the U.S. has reported 224,732 deaths from covid. With 4 % of the world's population, the U.S. has suffered 20% of the world's deaths in this pandemic. This is a reflection on the failure of a national program to mitigate the spread of this highly contagious and deadly virus.

In South Carolina, there were 6,584 new cases last week, a rising rate of 4%. The total of cases in SC is now 163,790. There were 98 deaths in the state from covid last week, a rising rate of 3%, up slightly from the 2% of the earlier week. In all, 3,650 South Carolinians have died in this plague, all within the last seven months.

In Charleston County, covid continues to spread at about the same pace. Last week, the county reported 355 new cases, a rate of 2%, the same as the earlier week. The county also reported 2 new deaths last week, for a total of 271. 

Alabama showed similar results last week. The state reported 7,284 new cases, a rising rate of 4%, the same as the earlier week. AL also reported 124 deaths from covid, last week, a rising rate of 5%, up slightly from the 4% of the earlier week. The total of deaths in AL from covid now stands at 2,788.

LITIGATION. We are still waiting on several issues to be resolved.

1-Last July, Church lawyers asked Judge Dickson for a stay of his order pending the appeal to the South Carolina Supreme Court. He has not responded.

2-We are waiting on the SCSC to set a hearing, or to render a written decision, on the Church's appeal of Judge Dickson's order nullifying the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017.

3-Church lawyers asked Judge Gergel for a new order of enforcement of his injunction against the Anglican diocese (Sept. 19, 2019). Gergel has not responded.

4-The United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, in Richmond VA, has set a time period for a hearing of the church case in early December. The exact date will be set later. The hearing will be conducted remotely, by electronic means. The Anglican diocese is appealing Judge Gergl's decision of Sept. 19, 2019. 

5-The Anglican diocese has asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for a stay of their appeal pending the outcome of the Episcopal diocese's appeal of Judge Dickson order to the SCSC. We are awaiting a response from the Court of Appeals.

POLITICAL CRISIS. The national election is two weeks from tomorrow. Of course, nearly 30m voters have already voted. It is amazing to see the tremendous response to early voting. There are long lines everywhere. In some places, there are twenty times as many early voters as four years ago. At the very least, this means that people are much more enthusiastic about voting than last time. So far, Dems are voting early about 2 to 1 over Reps.

In my view, signs are clear that Biden will be elected. The question is the size of the margin and the effects of this on the down ballot. Whereas, SC, AL, and MS will all vote for Trump, the size of the margin will be much less than in 2016. This is seen in the unexpectedly close races for Senate. In SC, AL, and MS, the Republican candidates all tied themselves closely to Trump, yet all are now polling nearly even with, and in some cases below, their Dem opponents. As everyone knows, Lindsey Graham is in the fight of his life for reelection in SC. His fate is entirely uncertain. In AL, the Dem senator, Jones, is holding up well against the Trump clone Tuberville. Even in Mississippi, the Trumpist Rep. senator Hyde-Smith is facing stiff competition from the Dem challenger Espy. All of this tells us that Trump is not as popular in these states as he was four years ago.

Back to the bookies in Vegas. They are betting big time that Biden will win and the Dems will win a majority in the Senate.

What still worries me is we cannot know what Trump and the Trumpistas will do to throw the election into unsolvable chaos. There are numerous heavily armed right-wing gangs "standing by" for word from Trump for action in the streets. The antidote to this is that the American people must stand up and keep these thugs from disrupting our peaceful political process. So far, the institutions of government are working, and that is hopeful.

The next few months are going to be stressful. There is no use in pretending otherwise. All of the crises bearing down on us will get worse. We are in for an ever darkening night. Remember, you are not in this alone. We are all together. Let us find the strength and courage to press on to the dawning light. Peace.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

NOTES,   17 OCTOBER 2020

Welcome, blog reader, on this Saturday, October 17, 2020. Today, there are several news items of interest to report concerning the schism in South Carolina.


The Episcopal Church just released its latest annual membership statistics, for the year 2019. While the church as a whole continues its relentless decline in numbers, the Diocese of South Carolina continues its steady increase. Here are the official figures of baptized membership in the Episcopal Diocese of SC since the schism:

2014 --- 6,387

2015 --- 6,706

2016 --- 7,053

2017 --- 7,309

2018 --- 7,587

2019 --- 7,763

Thus, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has grown by 1,376 baptized members since the schism. This is a 22% increase. Note that the diocese has gained new members steadily.

The new Anglican Diocese of South Carolina has shown the opposite trajectory. Between the schism and 2019, its reported baptized membership went from 23,181 to 20,195. This is a loss of 2,986 members, or a drop of 13%. The decline in communicants was more drastic after the schism. This went from 17,798 to 11,457, a loss of 6,341 communicants, or a fall of a whopping 36% in six years. 

The bottom line is that after the schism of 2012 the Episcopal diocese grew steadily while the Anglican diocese declined continually. 

Another hidden figure in all these numbers is the effect of the schism on membership overall. If we add the baptized membership of both dioceses in 2019 we get a total of 27,958. When Bishop Lawrence began his episcopate in SC, in 2008, the diocese listed 32,000 baptized members. This means that since then, some 4,000 members have disappeared from the rolls of the combined dioceses. Where these people went is an open question but it is clear thousands of church people fled from the churches caught up in the schism. This on top of the constant outflow from the schismatic parishes has left the new diocese just a fraction of the pre-schism diocese. When Lawrence arrived in 2008, the old diocese counted 27,000 communicants. Today, the diocese he heads counts 11,457 communicants, or just 42% of the 2008 number. In other words, the Lawrence diocese today has less than half the number of communicants as the diocese he led in 2008.


On Oct. 13, the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, published a tentative calendar order for oral arguments in the church case. The docket lists the hearing between Friday, December 4, and Monday, December 14, 2020. The hearing, before the panel of three judges will be held remotely, that is, by electronic means. The exact time of the hearing will be announced later.


On yesterday, October 16, 2020, the Anglican Diocese filed "Motion to Stay Case" with the United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit. This asks the appeals court to "stay," or temporarily suspend, the case before this court pending a decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

There are two tracks of the litigation between the two dioceses, one in state court and the other in federal court. 

In state court, the Episcopal diocese has appealed Judge Dickson's decision to the SCSC. Dickson ordered a reversal of the SCSC Aug. 2, 2017 decision that recognized 29 parishes and Camp St. Christopher as property of the Episcopal Church and its diocese. Dickson ruled that the Episcopal Church had no interest in these properties. EDSC appealed Dickson's order to the SCSC; and the SCSC agreed to take the case last August. We are awaiting a hearing and/or decision of the SCSC.

What ADSC is asking now is that the federal court wait on a decision by the state court before it rules.

In federal court, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel issued a decision on September 19, 2019 recognizing the Episcopal Church as hierarchical and the Church diocese as the only legal heir of the pre-schism diocese. He also issued an injunction enforcing this decision. The Anglican diocese appealed this to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, on Oct. 7, 2019. The ADSC then asked both Judge Gergel and the Court of Appeals for a stay of Gergel's orders pending the appeal. Both denied the request. On January 14, 2020, the three appeals judges hearing the case voted 2 to 1 to deny ADSC's request for a stay.

Since the Court of Appeals has already denied a stay, why is the ADSC filing a new request for a stay? The difference, they said in their motion yesterday, was that last August, the SCSC agreed to rule on EDSC'a appeal of Dickson's order. Since that case involved state marks, they said the federal court should wait until the SCSC decides the state case before the federal court makes its ruling about marks.

It seems to this non-lawyer that what ADSC is doing here is to put pressure on the U.S. Court of Appeals to oppose Judge Gergel's recognition of the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. Gergel interpreted the decision on its face value, that is, a  majority opinion in favor of the Episcopal Church. However, the ADSC subsequently convinced Judge Dickson to reverse the SCSC decision, thus throwing into question the meaning of the SCSC decision. What the SCSC has to decide now is whether to defend the decision of Aug. 2, 2017 or to replace it with Dickson's decision.

It seems to me there is little chance the Appeals Court judges will go along with this request for a stay any more than they did the last time.


Monday, October 12, 2020

NOTES,   12 OCTOBER 2020

Greetings, blog reader, on this Monday, 12 October 2020. It is time to check in on the crises we have been following for months. Two issues are still front and center today as they were last week, the pandemic and the political crisis. Another problem, the economic turmoil, is also important now. The country is in bad need of another infusion of money into the hands of the people, businesses, and local governments but this issue unfortunately  has become a political football. It remains to be seen if the two parties can come to an agreement before the election. However, the stock market seems strong and that is a good sign that investors have confidence in the future. Meanwhile, millions of ordinary people who do not own stocks remain unemployed and facing food and housing insecurities. Their future is not so sure.

THE PANDEMIC. In the week of October 5-12, COVID-19 continued to spread apace in the world and in the United States although there was some sign of easing up in South Carolina. In the world, there were 2,344,427 new cases reported, a rise of 7%, a bit more than the 6% of the earlier week. As for deaths in the world, 39,213 were reported in the week, a rate of 4%, the same as the last few weeks. Over one million people have died in this plague (1,081,945).

In America, 354,336 new cases were reported for a total of 7,992,932. This was a rising rate of 5%, up slightly from the 4% of the earlier week. As for deaths last week, 5,077 Americans died of the disease, a rising rate of 2%, the same as the previous week. As of now, 219,706 Americans have died COVID-19. 

In South Carolina, there were 5,824 new cases last week, up 4%, the same rate as the week earlier. SC is now reporting a total of 157,406 cases. As for deaths in SC, there were 60 last week for a total of 3,552. This is a rising rate of 2%, well below the 4% of the earlier week. Charleston County reported 247 new cases last week for a total of 16,273. This was a rising rate of 2%, up slightly from the 1% of the previous week. The county reported just 2 deaths from the coronavirus last week, a considerable improvement. The county is now listing 267 deaths overall.

Alabama continued the same. It reported 6,173 new cases for a total of 165,342, up 4%, the same as the earlier week. It is also reporting 106 new deaths, for a total of 2,664, up 4%, a jump from the 2% of the earlier week.

Experts are predicting a sharp rise in the spread and mortality of COVID-19 as winter sets in. Apparently, a vaccine is still months away.

THE POLITICAL CRISIS. Today, all signs indicate that Biden will be elected president. Two big questions are still looming, however. The first is whether it will be close, or a Biden landslide. Some indications point to a landslide. The other is whether the Democrats will win a majority in the U.S. Senate. Again, signs indicate this may well happen. If there is a Democratic sweep, this could trickle down to state and local races.

Speaking of the Senate, the sort of quintessential race this time is in, of all places, conservative, red, South Carolina. Senator Lindsey Graham is a well-entrenched political power. At the start, everyone thought he would glide through another lopsided election over a weak opponent. Turned out to be different. Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison, is giving Graham the race of his lifetime (Harrison crushed Graham in the debate). Harrison just reported receiving the largest amount of contributions per quarter of any Senate candidate in U.S. history, a staggering $57m (in three months!). Polls are showing the race dead even. It could go either way. Much of this depends on the relative strength of Trump in the state. If Trump wins big, straight ticket voting should put Graham over the top. However, all signs are that Trump is much weaker in SC than in 2016, and practically everywhere else (latest poll in SC=T 48%, B 47%). Trump will almost certainly win SC, but if the margin is small, and enough voters split their tickets, Harrison could win the Senate seat. The last I checked, the bookies in Vegas were given Graham a slight edge in the betting odds.

While SC is unclear, the national vote is not. The last two weeks have all but resolved the race. Trump's disastrous "debate" appearance and his handling of his own covid infection caused his numbers to crater with little hope of climbing out. The bookies are now wagering two to one for Biden, the largest spread ever. Again, the big question is the size of the vote margin which is looking more and more as a landslide. Early voting is overwhelmingly on the Democratic side.

Of course, Trump is Trump and he has three weeks to go before election day. Everyone knows anything can happen. We have learned to expect the unexpected. However, the signs of a coup d'état that were quite strong a few weeks ago, are fading, thank goodness. Leading Republican senators and the military brass have all signaled they will not support a coup to overthrow the election. Even so, worrying signs are still there that the Trumpistas will attempt such. Neither Trump nor Pence has committed to a peaceful transition of power. Then, there is the truly terrifying discovery that a group of heavily armed far right thugs was arrested for planning to kidnap a (Democratic) governor! Thankfully, the FBI is still functioning, and well. There is also the fact that thousands of Republican lawyers and "poll watchers" are being sent out, obviously to try to manipulate the election results. If the election is anywhere near close, we can expect Republican law suits galore to try to throw the election results into chaos in order to give the choice to the state legislatures and/or the House of Representatives where the Republicans could hand the victory to Trump. Unless Biden wins a landslide, we can expect a political crisis between Nov. 3 and Dec. 14, the likes of which this country has not seen since the Civil War. If Biden wins in a landslide, the chances of a coup succeeding are mercifully slim.

Something that is beginning to worry me as a student of history is that one of our two major political parties may well be severely wounded when the dust settles. Of course, this would be self-inflicted as the Republicans have no one to blame but themselves. They attached themselves to a man woefully unfit for the presidency. They made a faustian bargain, to give Trump autocratic power and in return he would support their counter-revolutionary roll backs of democratic reforms. 

How the Republican Party will survive Trump is an open question. We need a strong two party system. This is the way a democratic republic works best. It is not healthy to have a one party government. Of course, the Republicans will live on in the federal courts since they have packed them with young reactionary judges/justices. Still, if the Republicans lose in a landslide, the party itself could well shrink into long-term if not permanent impotence. But, we are getting ahead of ourselves.

We can all be sure, then, that the next two months will be tumultuous and wild. I suggest we all hold on tight. Americans are facing a big challenge; and how we respond will test our mettle. As a student of history, I believe we will get through this and come out the other side stronger as a nation and a society. We will see things clearer; we will know ourselves better than ever. 

I must confess that I am feeling a bit more confident about the state of our country of late. What I would like to see is a continuation of the Great Democratic Revolution that started in earnest in the 1960's. The freedom, equality, justice, and inclusion that came from the GDR has transformed America, for the better. I will assure you there is a vast difference between the America of today and that of my childhood in the 1940's and 50's. When Trump won the White House in 2016, I grew worried that the compact he made with the counter-revolutionaries would cause serious damage to the reforms of the GDR. In fact, there have been many roll backs in the reforms; and this will continue at least with the increasingly conservative make ups of the federal courts. 

Trump's impending failure at reelection means that the counter-revolution was not strong enough to overcome the soaring tide of the great revolution. My theory is that Trump came to power on the internal divisions of American society but that the coronavirus has forced a certain unity upon the nation and this unity has bolstered the democratic sense of one community. America was faced with a challenge; the political leadership failed to meet the challenge; the people will reject this leadership. This proves that the democratic nature of our society has held. Trump's kind of disunity fell flat in the face of the unity caused by the pandemic. Thus, the stronger (majority) democratic revolution continues to prevail over the weaker (minority) counter-revolution. In historical cycles of revolution, the last phase is a sort of compromise between the competing revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces. It  may well be that this is where we are soon heading. The revolutionaries will likely have the executive and legislative branches while the counter-revolutionaries will have the courts. Perhaps this will be the historical settlement of the GDR.    


Finally, no one asked for all of this. No one caused it. Nevertheless, here we are, pilgrims traveling together on a journey, called life. We were sent by our creator for the living of this hour. It is our assignment, our mission. Let us find the strength and courage to move ahead faithfully. Peace.


P.S. This Thursday, October 15, will mark the eighth anniversary of the Episcopal Church schism in South Carolina. The schism occurred at 12:00 noon on October 15, 2012, when the presiding bishop telephoned the bishop of South Carolina and placed a restriction on his ministry. Unknown to her, the leadership of the diocese had set a secret trap for her. Under an earlier resolution of the standing committee, on advice of the bishop, if the national church took "any action" against the bishop, the diocese would secede from the union (everything old in SC is new again). As soon as the call ended, Bishop Lawrence alerted the leadership and all agreed that the resolution of secession was in effect as of the phone call. The leadership soon announced to the world the independence of the diocese from the Episcopal Church. We know now, from the ruling of the federal court, that this was not the case. In fact, the secessionist leadership did not take the Diocese of South Carolina out of the Episcopal Church. They took themselves out of the Church and formed a new association now called the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina. The Diocese of South Carolina goes on valiantly, battered, bruised, and diminished but refusing mightily to be vanquished. 

At any rate, we should take a moment at noon on this Thursday, Oct. 15, to remember the schism. 

Saturday, October 10, 2020






Justice John Cannon Few is one of the five justices of the South Carolina Supreme Court. Presumably, four of the five will consider the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina's appeal of Judge Edgar Dickson's order of June 19, 2020. Dickson's order declared that the 29 parishes in question and Camp St. Christopher were not owned by the Episcopal Church and its diocese, thus purporting to reverse the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017 that had ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church. 

One of the five justices of the SCSC, Justice Kaye Hearn, a communicant of a parish on one side of the litigation, has recused herself from the case. As I understand it, if there are four justices to decide the appeal, a majority denying the appeal or a (2-2) tie would uphold Judge Dickson's order. The Episcopal side would have to get three or four justices to agree to reverse Dickson and uphold the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. This puts greater importance on each of the four votes.

As everyone knows, I am not a lawyer or a legal expert, but, as a layman observing this case closely for a long time I do have a couple of questions arising from Justice Few's publicly-known interactions with the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina. What I offer here is opinion. 

On October 12, 2019, Few married Stephanie Leonard Yarbrough in St. Philip's Church, Charleston, in a service conducted by a clergyman of St. Philip's, the Rev. Brian McGreevy. Find the New York Times announcement of this here . The clergy and laity of St. Philip's are currently part of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina. Mark Lawrence is the bishop of this diocese. Few was a justice of the SCSC at this time (joined SCSC in 2016). He was not one of the five justices who participated in the Aug. 2, 2017 decision.

Few and Yarbrough were both divorced from first marriages. In order for divorced persons to marry in the ADSC, they must get prior consent of the diocesan bishop (Lawrence). The diocese has a form online for this. Find it here . The form is long and detailed and must be completed by the officiating clergyperson. The couple may remarry in a ADSC church only on permission of the bishop of the ADSC. This raises a question of the relationship between Few and Lawrence before the remarriage. It also raises the question of Few's relationship with a parish on one side of the case. Although we do not know, apparently the bride was a member of St. Philip's. Was Few a member too? Does he, or did he, attend services at St. Philip's? I wonder also about the relationship between Few and the Rev. McGreevy, who would have been the clergyperson submitting the application for the remarriage. The questions on the application would have required a good deal of communication between the applicant party(ies) and the clergyman. If Justice Hearn has recused herself from the case because of her membership in a parish of one of the parties of the case, should not the same standard of connection to one side of the case be applied to the other four justices, if evidence warrants?

Another question is the relationship between Stephanie Few and legal representation of Bishop Lawrence and the ADSC. On its website, she is listed as a "partner" in the law firm of Womble Bond Dickinson, of Charleston. Find the WBD lawyers here . Two attorneys connected to that firm have been involved, significantly, in the litigation on the Anglican side. Attorney William Foster Gaillard was a lawyer for Bishop Lawrence and also for St. Philip's as per the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. Another attorney of WBD, Henry E. Grimball, represented St. Michael's Church, or at least his name is listed as such on the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. Of course, this does not mean Mrs. Few has had anything to do with the litigation that has gone on between the two dioceses. Even if she had represented the Anglican side, which apparently she did not, we would have to have an expert on the ethical standards of the legal system in SC to tell us how this might impact on Justice Few's role, if at all, in a new SCSC decision on the church case.

The point is, Justice Few, presumably one of the four SCSC justices now reviewing the church case, has had some interaction with one of the sides in the case before him. We do not know the extent of the relationship. Whether this has any bearing on the case, I do not know. However, since recusal resulting from relationships with one side of the case is already an established principle in this case, the other justices of the SCSC as well as the lawyers and legal experts might explore the nature and the extent of the interactions between Justice Few and one side of the case now before the SCSC. To be clear, I am not making any accusation or charge of misconduct in this matter, but I am suggesting there are questions that should be answered in the interest of equal treatment of both sides in this long and unfortunate litigation.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020


Bishop Lawrence gave an address, by video, to the annual meeting of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, on 3 October. It is available on the diocesan website. Find it here . I have a few comments about his statements.

The tone was somber, melancholic. He spoke a lot about the past, then the need for expansion as well as stewardship (the diocese has not posted the new budget online). To be sure, a great deal has happened in the twelve years since he was installed as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. Throughout all of his remarks, he seemed tired and wistful as he announced "no new initiatives" for the remainder of his time, perhaps another year and a half. It was a rather sad talk, quite a contrast to the brash exuberance of the pre-schism addresses.

Apparently, Lawrence is still having trouble coming to terms with the federal court decision on the ownership of the historic diocese. The federal court in Charleston ruled that the Episcopal Church is hierarchical, that the Episcopal Church diocese is the only legal heir of the old diocese, and that the disassociated organization is a new creation as a result of the schism of 2012. This decision is on appeal, but there is little hope of overturn. In fact, both the district judge and the appeals court have denied petitions for a stay pending the appeal. In short, there is little to no chance the appeals court will disagree with the district court order.

Lawrence was bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina from January 26, 2008 until December 5, 2012. In October of 2012, the leadership of the old diocese declared a separation from the Episcopal Church. They created a new entity, which later adopted the name Anglican Diocese of South Carolina. Most of the clergy and laity of the old diocese went along with this new creation which recognized Lawrence as the bishop. He remains the first and only bishop of the new diocese.

Lawrence spent the first few minutes talking about his "predecessors," bishops Temple, Allison, and Salmon. Actually, these were his predecessors as Episcopal bishop. He has no predecessor in his present position. Of the three he mentioned, two would be appalled at what Lawrence has done. Temple worked very hard to bring the diocese into the modern Episcopal Church. He succeeded brilliantly, and against great odds. He railed against any hint of schism against the Episcopal Church. Likewise, Salmon tried his best to keep the diocese together. He put up with a lot of grief from secessionists in Pawleys Island. He fought in court for years to apply the Dennis Canon in the diocese. The last thing Temple and Salmon would have wanted was the schism of 2012. On the other hand, Lawrence is the heir of Bishop Allison, the ardent evangelical whose words and actions embedded in the diocese the idea that ideology (right theology) was more important than adherence to the decisions of the national church.

When the address went off the rails was on social equality and inclusion. He said that the Episcopal diocese of South Carolina was guilty of racism in the past (true). Then, he implied, by contrast, that the new "Anglican" diocese stands for equality and acceptance because it works to incorporate blacks. I do not know what the ADSC has done to champion equal inclusion of African Americans, perhaps a lot. The point is that Lawrence implied that his diocese stood for social justice, an assertion that flies in the face of the well-known facts of history. The direct cause of the schism of 2012 was rejection of equality for and inclusion of homosexual and transgendered persons as made by the national Episcopal Church. The Anglican diocese was founded in 2012 pointedly to exclude certain social elements. When the new diocese joined the Anglican Church in North America, it extended this prejudice and discrimination to women. The ACNA does not allow women to hold offices of authority. Only men can be bishops. So, the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina has incorporated rejection of human rights for homosexuals, transgendered, and women. Any claim that ADSC stands for social justice is ludicrous.

No doubt Mark Lawrence is considering his legacy as he prepares to retire. A hundred years from now, people will remember him as the bishop who presided over the disintegration of one of the founding dioceses of the Episcopal Church. The old diocese now lies broken into three parts 1-All Saints of Pawleys Island and St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant and their friends in the "Anglican Diocese of the Carolinas," 2-the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, and 3-the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina (the only heir of the historic diocese). 

The decline of the ADSC is clear. Since the schism, baptized membership has dropped from 23,181 to 20,195; communicants from 17,798 to 11,457; and Average Sunday Attendance from 9,292 to 8,980. When Lawrence arrived in SC, the diocese had 27,000 communicants. Today his diocese has a fraction of that, at 11,457. It is not too soon to assess Lawrence's legacy. Whoever follows him as bishop will face huge challenges. 

The question of the ownership of the old diocese has probably been settled. It is highly doubtful Judge Gergel's order and injunction will be overturned on appeal. The other question involves the ownership of the 29 parishes. Judge Dickson ordered a nullification of the state supreme court decision recognizing the Episcopal Church ownership of the 29. This is now on appeal at the state supreme court. Since the court has already ruled on this, denied a rehearing, and ordered a Remittitur, it is highly doubtful the SCSC will reverse itself and side with Dickson. This would make no sense in the institutional structure of the state judicial system. Odds are that the loss of the 29 will add to Lawrence's legacy.

So, Lawrence's address was much about the past. It left me thinking what might have been and what a contrast that would be with what we have. With a little more attention to the commandments to love God and our neighbors as ourselves, the grand old, unified, diocese could be exploding with healthy growth. What might have been... 


To end on a lighter note, let us visit my garden for a moment.

The grass is Zebra Grass (Miscanthus senesis 'Zebrinus'). Ornamental grasses are at their best in early fall. Here the silvery plumes catch the afternoon sun.

The sasanqua camellias are in full bloom. This is one of the circle of alternating white and pink camellias surrounding a large tree.

Mexican Anise (Illicium floridanum 'Aztec Fire'). A fine shade loving, semi-tropical evergreen shrub that puts out a profusion of small red fringed flowers in late summer/fall. Aromatic.

A visit to a garden always helps put things right. Remember, life began in a garden and our Lord retreated to gardens when he needed them. We need them too. Peace. 


Monday, October 5, 2020



Episcopal News Service is reporting that the Disciplinary panel ruled that Bishop William Love violated church law regarding same-sex marriage. Find the article here .


Welcome, blog reader. You are well and safe, I pray and hope. It is Monday, October 5, 2020, and time to revisit the issues we have been tracking for months now. This has been a chaotic and tumultuous year; and we are just trying to make some sense of it all. This blog is where I put in my two cents' worth to try to do just that. So, here are my reflections of the day, for whatever they are worth.

PANDEMIC. Covid continues to spread at about the same rate. According to Worldometers, 214,629 Americans have died of it. South Carolina, Alabama and Charleston County all show about the same rate of infection and death this week as last week. As of now, 3,453 people in SC have died of Covid, 267 in Charleston County.

LITIGATION. To my knowledge (remember I am not an officer of any diocese), there was no court ruling on any legal matter last week. We are keeping an eye on three avenues:

1-On July 13, the Episcopal Church side asked circuit judge Edgar Dickson for a stay of his order nullifying the SC Supreme Court decision of Aug. 2, 2017. Since it has been nearly three months with no word from Dickson, I would take this to mean a de facto denial of the Church's motion for a stay. One should recall that Dickson took two and a half years to issue his order concerning the SCSC decision. One should not expect expediency here.

2-The Anglican side appealed U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel's order of Sept. 19, 2019, to the U.S. Court of Appeals, 4th Circuit, in Richmond. The Episcopal Church lawyers are supposed to submit their brief to the appeals court by October 11. I will report on the brief as soon as I can.

3-On Sept. 10, the Church lawyers petitioned Judge Gergel for an enforcement of his Injunction of Sept. 19, 2019 which barred the disassociated organization from claiming to be the historic, that is, pre-schism Diocese of South Carolina. They listed 27 specific incidents of non-compliance. The ADSC responded on Sept. 24 asserting compliance but also removing most of the enumerated infractions. On Oct 1, the Church lawyers again asked Judge Gergel to enforce the Injunction. We are now awaiting a decision from Gergel on whether he will issue a (second) order to enforce the Injunction. Given his track record, we can expect a response soon.

POLITICAL CRISIS. Last week was the most dramatic week of the entire year in regards to politics. The Trump reelection campaign suddenly imploded. It suffered two catastrophes last week, both self-induced. With only four weeks and a day to go before Election Day, it is highly doubtful Trump and the Republicans can salvage much from this debacle. To be sure, anything can happen in the next month. Nevertheless, my intuition tells me if matters continue on as now, we can make a good guess of where all this is heading, a decisive outcome of the election. In my view, this is a big sigh of relief because it greatly diminishes the likelihood of a successful coup d'état. This means the threat of street violence from heavily armed partisan thugs is also diminished.

The first catastrophe of last week was the "debate" on Tuesday, 29 September. Most viewers were appalled by Trump's unstatesman-like conduct. In the president's camp, of course Fox News celebrated Trump's "victory," but many others saw this disaster for what it was. The surest measure of the effects of the debate was the reaction of the bookies in Vegas and other places. Since they deal in many millions of dollars, their views really tell us more than the public opinion polls. Before the debate, the odds-makers were betting 55% for Biden and 45% for Trump. Immediately after the debate, there was a sudden and vast shift to 61% for Biden and 37.5% for Trump. Find this here . Other than recognizing Trump's offensive behavior, the main outcome of the debate was the validation of his opponents' charge that Trump was emotionally unfit to hold the office of president of the United States.

The second catastrophe of last week was the revelation that President Trump had contracted COVID-19. When I learned the news, all I could see in my mind was the Hindenburg crashing and burning in a giant fire ball. The news of Trump's infection had two big effects. In one, it showed Trump to be a malevolent leader. Not only had he not developed and led a national plan to combat the virus, he had actively promoted its spread by encouraging people not to protect themselves. He had ridiculed wearing masks and every other safety precaution the scientists had recommended. He had staged super-spreader events and had people believe the virus was not a danger when he himself knew exactly how dangerous it was, as in his conversations with Bob Woodward. People could now see that Trump had hoisted on them a deadly fantasy. He could no longer deny reality. The people could no longer deny reality. The sickness and death all around us crashed in on everyone as Trump headed for the hospital.

The second big effect of the news of Trump's illness was that it returned the pandemic to the forefront of the election campaign after Trump and the Republicans had worked so hard to push it into the background. If the election is to be a referendum on Trump's handling of the COVID crisis, he will surely lose.

Regular blog readers will know I always have to go back to my theory of contemporary America. We are witnessing a clash between the forces that want to continue revolutionary democracy (extend reforms for human rights) and those that want to roll back revolutionary democracy (restore the pre-revolutionary white male power structures). The Democrats have taken up the former, the Republicans the latter. In the past, the predominance of a group depended on the relative unity of the country. The side of democracy flourished as America was unified in the Cold War. When the Cold War ended, the forced unity dissolved and Americans moved to the competitive  tribalism of our diverse society. Using racism as the biggest wedge, Trump gained power by masterfully playing off competing tribes. He got himself elected in 2016 by divide and conquer. He became the folk hero of the counter-revolutionaries who saw him as the messiah to restore the white male power structures. 

However, in 2020 a new force appeared to threaten the country. The coronavirus forced a new unity on America. Thus, the old tactic of divide and conquer no longer had the same appeal and power as four years earlier. Trump and the Republicans are now replaying 2016 but it is falling flat. I suspect this is a reason why Senator Lindsey Graham is doing so poorly in his race. In his debate with Jaime Harrison two days ago, all Graham could do was reiterate the old talking points of fear the "liberal," "socialist," others who were out to ruin "our" lives. It was pure counter-revolutionary culture war. This discordance with life in the pandemic means failure to connect with the needs of the public today. Our unity is greater than our disunity in the year 2020 and so the revolutionary democratic candidate is running even with the counter-revolutionary candidate in the traditionally conservative state of South Carolina.

In sum, it appears increasingly likely the revolutionary democratic side will prevail over the counter-revolutionary side in the election next month. In my theory, this is because the virus has forced a certain unity among most Americans. The people want a government that accepts reality and at least attempts to solve the deadly problems before us all.

Finally, I think we have to accept and embrace the awful crises enveloping us: pandemic, economic disruption, high unemployment, food and housing insecurity, global warming, social unrest in the streets, and the counter-revolutionary coup d'état. Next, our job is to interface with these as the patriotic Americans and faithful Christians we claim to be. We are called for the living of this hour, as hard as it may be. This was not our choice, but here we are by God's will. We must find all the strength and courage we can to move forward the best way we can, together. Peace.