Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Forrester Disappointment

If Frank Lockwood's tallies are to be believed, Thew Forrester is going to fail to get the necessary consents, and will not be the next bishop of Upper Michigan. Anyone who has followed this is probably aware of how he was first presented as a Buddhist, and how his "election" consisted of him being presented as the sole candidate. These oddities bothered some people, but what really brought him down was his liturgical innovations, which were found out by the blogosphere and broadcast widely as a result. Standing committees and bishops alike referred to his alterations to the baptismal liturgy in refusing to consent. Even dioceses generally considered to be pretty liberal and theologically adventurous (e.g., California) went against him.

It's not over until the clock runs out, apparently, but at this point it appears that without some considerable vote-switching, he will be turned down. And thus the complaining has gotten underway in earnest, as represented by a letter Lockwood received from a pro-Forrester standing committee member. Consider the following excerpt:
As you might imagine, the episode concerning Northern Michigan has sent a chill up the spines of a few folks in the Episcopal Church. What if, at the conclusion of our grueling, intensive & expensive process, a majority of bishops and standing committees decide they don’t like our bishop-elect? How do you think that realistic fear will affect search committees around the nation?? As someone recently said… “Only the bland need apply.”
Well, I don't think it's going to work out quite that way. What's going to happen, more likely, is that nominees are going to take care not to leave a paper/webpage trail, so as to avoid being borked. Forrester's big problem wasn't so much that he was vetted for theology, but that he could be so vetted on the basis of what people could find on the net. In the future, I expect that more nominees are going to look, at least electronically, like David Souter than Bork; but they won't have to be "bland". They just can't leave anything lying around that testifies to their heresies.

And that's the other point. We've finally reached a point where we can identify some of what is in Tennis's "core theology". Yes, it may put a chill up a few spines, but for most of those so affected, it's an overreaction. It does not necessarily signal rejection of the largely Lord-free language of the proposed additions to the Kalendar, for example. It certainly doesn't signal a change of direction on homosexuality, for the ACNA schismatics have surely put paid to that. Really, all that is being demanded is that a bishop-elect believes what he or she says in church on Sunday. That may be beyond the high church Unitarians, but really, it shouldn't be that tough to find candidates who can meet that standard. And it's only reasonable to expect that representatives of an organization actually hold to its tenets.