"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

17 October 2008

Avignon Standing Committees (moved)

The current nonsense in which the Diocese of Pittsburgh removes one member from the Standing Committee (after all, he's expressed his intent to withdraw from the diocese and rejoin the American Province of the Episcopal Church) who then declares himself the only true member of the standing committee and appoints two more to join him, really reminds me of the competing papacies in the middle ages. Remember that from your history classes? There were, at one point, as many as three Popes who had all excommunicated one another and everyone that followed the other popes. But nobody cared because each considered their own pope to be the only legitimate one. This seems to be how things are going now in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The rump diocese thinks its the only one... and you can tell which diocese of Pittsburgh I see as the only legitimate one. There is not even a way of talking about one another without declaring where one stands, without declaring one or the other illegitimate. There can only be one Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

In the end the excommunications, or at least the depositions, will come. Of course the words are empty, they won't effect anyone's ministry. For me, to be deposed by 815 is about the same to me as being deposed by the Mormons... so what. Perhaps if we can remember that it is mostly institutions that throw those empty words, and they're thrown to cover institutional rear ends... but aside from a few individuals who have chosen to make institutional rear ends of themselves, most of the people who are caught up in all this on both sides are just people, living out their convictions (or at worst their strategies), and in no way are these folks now different from when they were just the priests in the next town over with whom we enjoyed passing a pleasant hour of socal conversation.

In the end, the Avignon popes faded out... and everyone who excommunicated one another had to learn to live in the same body again. In the end, the Roman Catholic Church got things back in right order. Perhaps that is hopeful news for us.

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