Sunday, March 30, 2008

Holmes: What Is Anglicanism? (Ch. 2)

Holmes believed the reticence of what he called the Anglican sensibility to be compatible with there being--and our pursuit of--truth about how God is, truth not merely relative to or located within the space of a particular way of seeing God, but absolute truth. We should not be surprised to find ourselves faced with the question Holmes raises at the beginning of his second chapter: Is this experience true? That is, from within our way of experiencing God, it may seem clear that some theological proposition Q holds, for instance that an actively gay priest may be elected bishop; we should ask whether Q is true, or merely what seems true given the limited perspective of the relevant way of seeing God.

To figure out whether Q is true Holmes requires us to appeal to an authority. One might take a
single member of the church, like the Pope speaking ex cathedra on matters of the faith or morals, to be an infallible authority guided by the power of the Holy Spirit, or one might take any individual to be authoritative who reads Scripture and is inspired by the Holy Spirit, but Holmes would have us reject such sources of authority. He takes "the Puritans" to be his
principal target--people stressing the sufficiency of the individual, inspired reader of Scripture. On that view, Holmes thinks, Scripture can be read without regard for the tradition of its interpretation, and it yields a certainty beyond science-bound human reason.

Instead, Holmes holds out an ideal strategy of reasonable interpretation. Human reason, illuminated by grace, is capable of discerning truth inasmuch as the Creator is himself rational, and our reason is "seeded" by divine reason--our rationalilty "participates" in divine rationality. We should see nature and the supernatural not as really distinct, disjoint realms, but rather as complementary and "continuous" so that the "sincere pursuit of truth opens God's mind" to our understanding, whether in theology, math, biology, or any other field of inquiry. Holmes notes "heresy trials are alien to us" in that we may trust natural theology has a sufficient foundation for our confidence that the truth can come out with sincere inquiry.

I suppose his idea is basically Thomist in spirit: divine reason operates like a Platonic Form, serving as an exemplar modelling genuine rationality for us to imitate and reflect in partial, fragile ways which may be, via grace, enough like the model that truth may be accessible to us, though Holmes is careful to say saving knowledge requires revelation if we are to possess it. Anyhow, the likeness is one not of univocity but analogy. Being a scotist I'd contend for univocity instead, but nothing depends on the univocity/analogy distinction at this level of generality.

Reasonable interpretation cannot be carried out by the individual alone; it requires, Holmes claims, "collaboration." As we consult the text and see what others--and "others" here must be rather broadly conceived so as to include not just theologians & scholars in academia, but unschooled lay believers, secular scientists, et al--have said, we immerse ourselves in an interpreting community. For Holmes, human reason is social by nature, to the point where private interpretation would fall short of normative rationality, as he puts it: reflecting one's opinion as if with divine authority. Holmes locates the "origin of schism" here.

God's self-revelation is self-disclosure between "lovers"--apparently Holmes would grant the Song of Solomon high status as disclosing the type of relationship with us, suffused with eros, at which God aims. This revelation in Scriptural canon "confronts" the church with an essential norm--not only in terms of what is in it, but also in terms of what is not contrary to it. In short, his idea seems to be that while we may be obliged with regard to what may be shown from Scripture, we are not obliged with regard to what is not contrary to what may be shown from Scripture. If playing cards is not contrary to Scripture, one is not obliged qua Christian to forsake it.

Interestingly, Holmes holds that confrontation continues between God and the church after the formation of the canon in our own day as the concrete, historical church reflects on God disclosing himself in the context of its canon and tradition. How should the church reflect? In councils--but not because in them we shall find a happy infallibility. Holmes claims conciliar authority comes with the consent of its members to the council's findings: the findings must be received by those the council represents. But even received findings of a church council cannot properly claim infallibility though, and it is likely, Holmes notes, councils will be frustratingly vague. This vagueness is necessary, however. The alternative is "tyranny" as, given the fallibility of councils, only conciliar vagueness is consistent with our liberty as Anglicans.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Holmes: What is Anglicanism?

Written in marginally calmer times, Holmes' monograph (in print from Morehouse, used copies starting at $.01) was one volume in an international effort among Anglicans to articulate an Anglican theology, touching on Scripture, spirituality, morality and other topics. While Holmes' interpretation of Anglicanism did not represent the views of the contributors in general, and so of course he does not speak as a one-man magisterium, neither is it simply foreign to their understanding of Anglicanism. In other words, his view can claim, it seems to me, status consistent with the broader self-understanding of Anglicanism evident in the series as a whole.

Preface & Chapter One
Holmes comes right out and says to be Anglican is to

(i) use an official BCP,
and (ii) be in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

A minimal account prima facie, but he seems to think--rightly in my view--(i) and (ii) are not compatible with just any Christian practice. That is, a certain content goes with (i) and (ii) obtaining, such that without that content one either would not be worshipping according to an official BCP or one would not be in communion with the Archbishop.

It follows from (i) that belonging to a provincial church is essential to being Anglican, insofar as a diocese cannot decide on its own what will count as an official BCP. That is, Holmes would end up disagreeing with Rowan Williams, who said recently that the diocese alone was sufficient unto itself as the basic unit of the church. Insofar as dioceses have contracted into relationships wherein they cannot unilaterally determine theor own BCPs, and worshipping according to an official BCP is essential to being Anglican, it seems on this account their being Anglican tethers them to the larger province. From (ii) it follows that an Episocopal Church out of communion with the Archbishop would not be Anglican--and so it seems, given the importance Holmes puts on being Anglican, that he would put great store in maintaining the province's ties with Canterbury. Whether that effort to remain in communion with Canterbury makes sense seems to depend on (a) whether there is a close connection between (ii) and the content which purportedly goes with (ii)'s obtaining, and (b) whether that content is indeed significant. In my view, for what it's worth: to (b), I think the content Holmes describes is significant enough to defend, and to (a), I'm not sure the content can only--or even best--be defended in communion with Canterbury.

Well, being Anglican to Holmes is characterized by catholicity--as we should well hope--and "freedom of a sort unsurpassed," a freedom we have to "disagree openly" rooted in "the many-formedness of human knowing." That latter bit about freedom seems to give Anglicanism its distinctive essential content in Holmes' view. Sure, you could come up with other distinctive features of Anglicanism, but that one is essential, and should stand with catholicity to mark us out as having a distinctive if "provincial" "way of looking at Christian experience."

That freedom has an outer bound: what Holmes calls reasonableness; one's position should not contradict a reflective, balanced examination of experience carried out by one believing oneself in love with God. Presumably, though I may be wrong, those believing themselves in love with God by that standard would include not just other Anglicans but also Christians of other denominations, Jews, Islamic believers, Hindus, and other monotheists far and wide.

Holmes seems to be thinking that of course they will disagree with each other, ending up holding positions at variance, but they will nevertheless be able to recognize certain positions of those with whom they disagree are reasonable, or rational, insofar as they do not contradict one's own position. Why? Reconstructing Holmes' view, it seems he means that one recognizes one's own position is formed by one's religion, what he calls in Chapter One a way of making sense of the experience of God. More: even if not formed from within some religious way of seeing, one's view of God is nevertheless formed from within some other nonreligious way of seeing; unformed ways of seeing get ruled out tout court. In effect, then, whereas an Episcopalian would say

(1) God is a Trinity,

and a Hindu would say

(2) God is not a Trinity,

these two should, Holmes implies, recognize each other's assertions as reasonable, inasmuch as each is shaped by a way of making sense of the experience of God. That is, though prima facie (1) and (2) contradict, in reality they do not. If their deep structure, say, was apparent, we could read them as saying

(1)' According to the Anglican way of making sense of the experience of God, God is a Trinity,


(2)' According to the Hindu way of experiencing God, God is not a Trinity.

(1)' and (2)' no longer contradict; inasmuch as neither takes the other as in contradiction with the faith, each can view the other's take on what faith requires as reasonable.

One problem with this emphasis on being reasonable, as Holmes recognizes, is that such a kind of translation scheme as he has in the background seems to invite relativism--even religious pluralism a la John Hick. But Holmes thinks he can have his translation scheme without relativism or pluralism.

At the end of Chapter One he notes comprehension does not imply tolerating "palatable" relativism. That is, there is a Truth (big "t", absolute) to how God is, and so we should say there are better and worse ways of experiencing God, and some ways of experiencing God may get the Truth right in part. There is no way for us of stepping outside ways experience is shaped--religious or otherwise--to get direct access to God--Holmes notes quite rightly one never experiences anything raw; experience is always already shaped. Our commitment to the rightness of the way of experiencing God disclosed to us in Jesus cannot be guaranteed by any such direct access to Truth; it can only be rooted in faith.

In particular, the revelation of Jesus in Scripture is not a means for us of getting direct access to God. Inasmuch as God is transcendent and other by nature, we cannot express what he is literally in any discourse, even religious, even scriptural; we shall have to have recourse to metaphor, approaching God in truth through the ordinary. Yet Holmes holds God can be known through metaphor; revelation is God disclosing divinity through metaphor, making certain metaphors normative for a religious community--and in an Anglican Christian saying this, one already makes a movement of faith identifying Scripture as the source of the metaphors God has chosen for self-disclosure.

Alas, the content of metaphor cannot be captured and reduced to the content of propositions. We shall be unable to give final, propositional expression to the content of faith disclosed in Scripture; it follows our understanding of God can only ever be "penultimate" and not ultimate. We can only accurately apprehend God with a certain degree of ineliminable ambiguity. For example, Holmes claims following Julian that God discloses himself as mother in Scripture, but that metaphor does not imply the proposition God is female or even God gives birth.

There is another problem, one which Holmes recognizes but does not dwell on: while religious ways of seeing are not the types of things that might contradict each other, religious ways of seeing still might be mutually exclusive. That exclusivity could create conflict; e.g. from within one's way of seeing, other ways of seeing should be declared unreasonable and not be tolerated. It is no surprise, then, that Anglican reasonableness is a fragile thing--after all, the Elizabethan Settlement did not succeed in peaceably holding Christians at variance with one another togteher. But that fragility does not make reasonableness unworthy of defense.

Cognitively speaking, God's ineffability is like "darkness"--a darkness that Holmes notes can protect us. Anglicanism's freedom to disagree is rooted in a self-conscious awareness of the darkness in which God is shrouded, of the limits of our religious discourse and cognitive capacities. That self-conscious awareness takes the shape of a distinctive sensibility with us, according to which we have, or perhaps should have, the courage to live with the fact of our ignorance rather than hiding it via spurious speculation and made-up authority. Holmes may be thinking that once we can admit to the darkness of God and our ignorance, we can be kept from suppressing or persecuting those at variance with us by the recognition that we may be wrong about the points of contention. The moderation that goes with this Anglican sensibility, Holmes may contend, is worth defending, and especially worth catholic Christians defending.

This Anglican sensibility, for Holmes, implies the freedom that gives Anglicanism its distinctive content, a content Holmes recommends as of great value. In effect, to recommend Anglicanism is to recommend taking catholicity with this distinctive sensibility.

Friday, March 21, 2008

reading & the anglican right

The latest dust-up, this time over the canonical status of the HoB votes to depose Bishops Cox and Schofield, is ripe for reflection.

Critics and defenders of the vote seem to approach the canons with a curious strategy, namely that the meaning of the text can be apprehended in abstraction from how the text was read--and acted upon--in the past. That is, in the case of the canons, critics seem to interpret the text in abstraction from tradition, according to how it seems to make sense in their own eyes at the moment.

Here's an illustrative comment:

Now let me list three phrases. Those who think the depositions were canonically valid, would you please be kind enough to point out the one phrase that is not like the others:

1) “all Bishops entitled to vote”
2) “by a majority of those present”
3) “whole number of Bishops entitled to vote”

I am not sure why, Mark, you don't seem to think that phrases 1 and 3 have a common meaning, with 2 being the odd man out. Instead, you seems to believe that phrase 1 is the odd man out, with 2 and 3 having the common meaning.I think the canons are very clear as to what the required number of consents are, the this number was simply not obtained. [boldface added]

What is all this thinking based on? Who knows--maybe what strikes competent users distributively as obvious? Would this be a sound approach to Holy Scripture? Rubrics?

The temptation to try to encapsulate the normative content of a historical practice--like voting or praying--in a declarative sentence or two seems absurd. That approach would not do well when it comes to learning to tango, or learning how to ride a bike, or learning to love; in all these cases there is something more to the practice in question than can be learned reading books. Nobody, I hope, would dream of writing a book exhausting the significance of Macbeth or Heart of Darkness, but when it comes to the peculiar darkness and ambiguity of the canons, are matters significantly different?

Another way of putting the point woule be to refer to Kripke's reading of Wittgenstein on the rule-following paradox, but perhaps that is using a cannon to kill a gnat. There are a number of other ways to drive the point home: rules gather meaning only from being embedded in wider practices.

Thus, the relevant question for anyone questioning the HoB vote is whether those votes to depose are logically consistent with other instances. Do they fit with precedent? If they do, there is insufficient ground to object on the basis of the canons themselves--though one could well object on other grounds, say, that the canon or its practice ought to change. Thus, I think one should read this comment from T19,

Using the you cite figures from 2006, it really boils down to this: do you need a vote by 32 Bishops in order to depose a Bishop who is alleged to have abandonned the Communion of this church, or do you need 142?

as an inadvertently disguised claim for formally revising the canon. As settling the meaning of the canons in question, it's not the right kind of consideration to carry that kind of weight.

I am unsure how history breaks on this question, although from the fragments I have gathered it seems the HoB has not always followed the critics' reading, and in fact bishops have been deposed with a procedural variety seeming on its face to defy the gravity requisite for such proceedings in critics' eyes.

Radner & ACI & the furture of Anglicanism

There is no Anglican Church.

If you keep that in mind, much of the diaphanous sophistry of the ACI dissipates like a chill mist gradually burned away in the rosy-fingered dawn.

Uses of "Anglican Church" make sense, to be sure, in that they are parasitic on applications of "church" to genuine churches. We know what it means to say "the Church of England" or "the Roman Catholic Church", and the Anglican Communion at times may resemble these, like a glass eye may resemble a live eye--so one might even innocently utter "the Anglican Church" referring to the Anglican Communion.

But Radner and Seitz' uses are rather darker, part of a larger attempt--an effort that I strongly suspect meets with the avid approval of our Archbishop--to impose a reality, an Anglican Church, on the heels of imposing a new usage, where "Church" in "the Anglican Church" is univocal with "Church" in "Roman Catholic Church." So you see, Schofield did not really abandon the communion of this church by joining the Southern Cone--they would seem to say there is no real distinction between the communion of the Episcopal Church and the communion of the Southern Cone because what may seem to some to be their distinct communions are really the same as the one communion of the Anglican Communion.

But that gets the notion of communion backwards--the communion of the Anglican Communion could only supervene on the communions of its member churches, at least for now. That's why, for instance, we say our common life is damaged when some member withdraws from it, as Nigeria's Primate boycotts the Eucharist with the other primates, and threatens to withold its bishops from Lambeth. It can't be that the various communions of the member churches derive their being from the communion of the Anglican Communion, particularly if they exist in such a way that they may withdraw from it and form other, really distinct networks. At most one could argue the being of a member church's communion is filled out or amplified by its being a member of the larger network--a matter not of esse, but of plena or bene esse, a contingency. To get what the ACI wants, the AC would have to change what it is, and its members would have to change what they are as well.

The long term goal seems to at least include the imposition of a centralized, bureaucratic structure, with power of its own to discipline and observe at the level of the Anglican Communion as a whole, an imposition whose practice is carefully circumscribed by a constitution or social contract so as to be incapable of responding to correction from the Holy Spirit that would require communion-wide repentance and amendment of life, as with adoption of the ordaining of women or the breaking down of race barriers. To conservatives, this is merely insurance against what some would call "social justice" and what they might call "liberalism": Amaziah of Bethel banning Amos.

Ironically, the scheme is directly analogous to Gordon Tullock, James Buchanan, and Hayek's thoughts on constitutions and Keynesianism. The idea with Hayek et al. was that economic management by the federal government--as in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, WIC, etc--could be eliminated and in the future precluded by constitutional reform, esp. reform locking out deficit spending, and the leading edge of what they saw as socialism. And a general potentially growing threat to the institution of private property could be cut off, or as Norquist would later say, strangled in the bathtub. Buchanan, additionally, saw himself as preserving something precious from the heritage of the Old South. Of course, these guys are all liberals--classical liberals in the mode of Say, Sisimondi, "Smith": what we would now call "right-wing liberals." Structurally, ACI seems to be inthe same boat, so to speak. It is odd--to say the least--to see Williams and Radner plumping for a structural solution to our crises in the style of classical liberalism, of all things.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Loose Canons?

So far as I can tell, discussion of the HoB's recent vote to remove Schofield and Cox fails to establish what the precedent is for such votes. Surely there is a body of precedent, and if it is consistent, it could lend some guidance to what the canons should be taken to require, no?

Arguing a priori from what seems like the obvious and clear sense seems tendentious when there should be a body of practice already in place. Does anyone have information about what such a history would indicate?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

GAFCON: living Postmodernism

What does theological postliberalism look like in practice? Go review Archbishop Williams' statements criticizing various aspects of political liberalism in the UK and TEC. What does postmodernism look like in practice? I'd concur with Michael Poon: GAFCON. He says,

GAFCON holds before the Communion a new and unfamiliar utopia that is post-modern to its core. Webmasters and web bloggers render synodical processes irrelevant. They preside over web blogs in the virtual worlds of their own fabrication. Its power in shaping public opinion on ecclesiastical authorities simply cannot be ignored. A communion that is no longer dependent on patient face-to-face encounters and governed by geographical proximity: it is a Gnostic gospel that renders the Cross in vain.

I. Argument...
That last clause sounds like hyperbole, but let's take it seriously for a moment. What's the argument? Maybe this:

(1) Communion requires face-to-face encounters.
(2) Face-to-face encounters require geographical proximity.
(3) GAFCON's utopia is incompatible with geographical proximity.
Thus, (4) GAFCON's utopia is incompatible with communion.
But, (5) The Gospel and Cross require communion.
Thus, (6) GAFCON's utopia is incompatible with the Gospel and Cross.

Well, Poon does have an argument here worth taking very seriously if you're a Separatist, and it has prima facie credibility. In particular, one could work up considerable support from Christian tradition for the crucial, contended premise (1). It seems to me (2) and (5) are beyond reasonable doubt, and I trust Poon as a reliable source for (3), as it seems to fit with much of what comes through larger media groups about GAFCON. In sum: I take (3) as true at least for the near future and (2) with (5) as true simpliciter. As (6) follows from (4) and (5), and (4) from (1)-(3), the whole argument rests on the truth or falsity of premise (1).

So what of it? Does communion require face-to-face encounters? That is the issue on which Poon's confrontation with postmodernism hinges. I take it we're not talking merely about Holy Communion or the Mass, as (1) would surely then be trivially true, but irrelevant to Poon's argument. GAFCON isn't envisioning a fully virtual Mass, complete with sacramental simulacra rendering Real Presence really problematic. I take it Poon's talking about communion in a wider sense, about something like communion-in-concrete-community where the relevant ecclesial units are marked by a community sharing a form of life in bodily proximity. Dioceses consisting of geographically discontinuous congregations in mostly virtual contact--cultivation of which GAFCON seems to be holding out as a constitutive, necessary step in its proper development--lacks a form of life in bodily proximity or what I've called concrete community.

The staunch postmodernist might well be unimpressed: virtual contact between congregations suffices for the kind of community called for by the Gospel and Cross: e-mails, webcam-speeches, blog posts, webcasts, etc, etc can really be strung together in some configuration constituting Gospel community between congregations. But is the postmodernist right? I don't think so; here, rather, Poon is right, so far as I can tell.

What a virtual cluster of congregations crucially lacks is (a) the relevant kind of connection between members of its disjoined congregations and (b) between members of its congrgations and the world in bodily proximity outside of thecongregations. For both (a) and (b), one should see that human life necessarily consists of bodily interactions in which the Gospel and one's response to the Cross is lived out. Not even the Resurrection seems to cancel that truth out about us. That is, we are just not the type of beings who could live apart from bodily connections--and it is just those connections which, minimally, are held out by the Gospel as the arena within which we make our response to the Gospel and the Cross. GAFCON's postmodernism seems to imply that exactly those connections can be surrendered in a faithful, orthodox Christian life in return for mostly virtual connections.

That is precisely the bite of Poon's point about GAFCON's gnosticism: the implicit picture of human beings as satsified in their response to the Gospel and the Cross by merely virtual community as the ground for real communion. That picture is analogous to Gnostic Platonism's picture of humans as spirit beings called to leave crude matter behind. The historical Gnostics cultivated an interior, immaterial spiritual self; the GAFCON-gnostics cultivate an interior, dematerialized virtual self. True, the virtual is not the spiritual, but Poon has hit upon a good analogy. Whether the self to be redeemed in communion is pictured as spriritual or virtual, what is denied in consequence is the gravity of the material human being and material human relationships. There is, then, something to be said for Poon's premise (1).

II. ...and consequences
You will have noticed that the apparent soundness of Poon's argument leaves us with the rather sharp claim of (6):

GAFCON's utopia is incompatible with the Gospel and the Cross.

Apparently, ecclesiology matters after all, and the order of the church, and in particular the polity of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, matters as well. For that polity is the order within which a common life in all of its gritty materiality, materiality identified by Poon as necessary to responding to the Gospel and the Cross, is carried on.

It is perhaps odd to think of treating that fragile common life, that embarassingly fragile common life, as something so grave that ostentatiously prima facie orthodox parallel groupings as GAFCON supports (think AMiA, CANA, etc) would in reality be so radically unorthodox.

At least one would suppose serious Anglo-catholics in Fort Worth and elsewhere--for whom ecclesiology is already important--would hesitate before following Schofield into a virtual community. It seems that is just what Poon is talking about: real community dissolving in the acids of virtual community, an unhappy real world traded for the shiny silver of the postmodern utopia.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Martins on Schori's Actions in the DSJ

Although Dan Martins has repeatedly made alot of noise about the PB's efforts in the DSJ, the issue of whether the PB is permitted canonically to do what she is doing in the DSJ should be settled, in my view, by Canon I.2.4:

The Presiding Bishop shall be the Chief Pastor and Primate
of the Church, and shall:
(1) Be charged with responsibility for leadership in initiating
and developing the policy and strategy in the Church
speaking for the Church as to the policies, strategies and
programs authorized by the General Convention;....
(3) In the event of an Episcopal vacancy within a Diocese,
consult with the Ecclesiastical Authority to ensure that
adequate interim Episcopal Services are provided

Part of being a Chief Primate for the DSJ is having a power to initiate and develop policy. In cases of pressing need beyond precedent, as exists in the DSJ, doesn't it seem that such a power would be operative, if anywhere? It seems like common sense to me; this is exactly what she is doing in the DSJ: initiating and developing policy.

Moreover, (3) above charges here with a duty--properly exercised only in council--to ensure adequate interim episcopal services. Such actions are not merely supererogatory. And that is exactly what she is doing, carring out her canonical duties to ensure adequate interim episcopal care.

But what seems obvious to me is not obvious to Martins. Perhaps he has some reading of the canons where black is white and white black, and the PB is not permitted by the canon I cite to do what she has done. Would General Convention then have the requisite authority for Martins? It seems to me--though I may be mistaken, of course--that

(1) the General Convention is the highest administrative authority in the Episcopal Church.

The GC makes the rules, etc within which the rest of TEC is bound to proceed. But as the GC only meets at long intervals, it is necessary that authority in the interim be delegated. It should come as no surprise that, reading I.IV.4, sections 1a & 2e,

(2) the Executive Council may act on behalf of the General Convention,

and presumably the GC can both bind and overturn decisions of the EC, or they may choose not to, and by their silence validate the EC's actions--see section 1b. The EC of the GC may have need for someone like the PB to do the same kind of thing the EC does for the GC. After all, the PB is a member of the EC by section 1c. Sometimes action must be taken which the EC is not in a position to implement for practical reasons: meeting at intervals or the need for a member of the EC to take the lead in delineating a policy. Thus, it should come as no surprise that

(3) the Presiding Bishop may act on behalf of the Executive Council,

and presumably the GC and EC could both bind and overturn the decisions of the PB, or they may choose not to do so, and by silence validate the PB's actions. That the EC may so delegate its power seems implied by the canonical provision in 2e that it

may initiate and develop such new work as it may deem necessary.

and more importantly by I.IV.4.3a & f, which hold the PB is President, Chair, and CEO of the EC, permitted to implement its work. That is not to deny other parts of TEC, like the HoB, may similarly delegate authority to the PB. Thus, I take it that

(4) the Presiding Bishop may act on occasion with the highest administrative authority in the Episcopal Church,

inasmuch as that authority is delegated transitively to the PB. That is, on occasion the PB may act to do what you would expect the GC to be able to do, because that authority is delegated to the PB. And in addition, I mean to say not only that (1)-(4) are just what sound common sense would expect, but that they are also consistent with the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church.

It is important to see that (4) does not imply the PB may act as a sovereign authority, above the canons and constitution, unaccountable to anyone in TEC. To the contrary, I hope that the way I have argued for (4) shows the power referred to in (4) is conditional and circumscribed. Inasmuch as it is strictly a delegated potency, lines of accountability are clear: the PB answers to the EC and to the GC. Moreover, the authority referred to in (4) is operative only in the absence of a potentiality--in practical terms--for the exercise of authority by the EC and GC. In that sense, the power of the PB is conditional.

All of this would seem to come as a surprise to Dan Martins, who writes

Anyone who is complicit in the election of a new Standing Committee at the special convention is acting in defiance of the Constitution and Canons, and is appropriately subject to ecclesiastical discipline.

Well, he's entitled to his opinion. Evidently, he seems to believe or at least be committed to

(5) the Presiding Bishop is forbidden from acting on any occasion with the highest authority in the Episcopal Church,

perhaps because he also holds or is committed to

(6) the power of the EC of GC cannot on any occasion be delgated to the PB without some express designation,

like a GC or EC resolution explicitly to that effect. I do not think he, or anyone else in the DSJ, has managed to argue soundly for (5) or (6).

Indeed, ironically enough, the power Martins arrogates to the SC of the DSJ only exists in the absence of the DSJ's bishop on condition the GC permits; see the Constitution, Article IV:

When there is a Bishop in charge of the
Diocese, the Standing Committee shall be the Bishop's Council of
Advice. If there be no Bishop or Bishop Coadjutor or Suffragan
Bishop canonically authorized to act, the Standing Committee shall be
the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese for all purposes declared
by the General Convention.

The power of the SC of the DSJ in the absence of a bishop is not absolute; it is rather conditional. If the authority of the GC may be delegated to the PB, then of course the PB may do exactly what she has in fact done--notify the SC that its authority is suspended. There is a case to be made that--contrary to Martins--the PB has precisely this power according to the Constitution itself.

I hope to have shown the rather ill-tempered comment by Martins that the PB's effort in the DSJ

represents the raw exercise of naked illicit power by the Presiding Bishop

is not adequately grounded in reality. Is it really raw and naked when a case can be made for it directly from the Constitution and Canons? Why the nasty hyperbole? We have yet to see a decent argument that it is in fact illicit, and it seems given his penchant for strife, we are owed at least that.

My apologies: I actually like theorizing over law; maybe there's a calling. Who knows? Anyhow, here are a couple more speculative arguments: enjoy.

According to the Constitution in Article V, section 1 the GC is the agent behind the formation of a new diocese. The DSJ is not a new diocese being formed, but an old diocese whose normal administrative apparatus is being reconstituted. The authority to form a new diocese is greater; it follows that GC would have the lesser power to reconsititute if need be. of course, this is already implicit in my Proposition (1) above; these comments serve so far only to confirm (1) supra. As that authority, normally residing in the GC, may be delegated to the PB in virtue of the power inherent in her office, it follows the PB may do what she is doing by the authority of TEC's Constitution, contrary to Martins.

Note at any rate, Article V, section 3 of the Constitution gives a new diocese the power to designate its own bishop, should bishops from dioceses from which it was formed prescind from occupying that office. Normally that power would most likely be overseen in its exercise by the Standing Committee. At any rate, a power to designate a bishop is not alien to the diocese; this section may provide a relevant precedent for action in unusual circumstances, even though the DSJ is not new; it is, of course, an old diocese in an unusual--even unprecedented--situation. That is, given it seems that the Standing Committee of the DSJ is unable to perform, the current PB may simply be acting on behalf of the GC to recognize, and thereby validate, an exercise of power--permitted in the Constitution--by the DSJ on its own behalf. While the SC might be the normal conduit for the flow of this power, it is by no means necessary for the flow of that power, as the power is inherent in the diocese itself. That exercise would be permitted, based on a power inherent in the diocese, referred to in this section--again, contrary to Martins.