October 30, 2009

Popular Religion: Risk and Opportunity

"Popular religion" is very much a part of our culture, and that includes our churches. I can guarantee that if you were to scratch the surface of many members of your congregations, and not a few clergy and bishops, you might find some rather astonishing theological opinions, especially concerning such things as the "life of the world to come."

I know this tension between popular religion and dogmatic orthodoxy also exists in the Roman Catholic Church -- alongside the dogma a very rich personal and popular devotional life thrives, and it is not always "orthodox" in its underpinnings. (I can remember the nun who told our Catechism Class about the salvific value of a mother's tears, carried by an angel to the Virgin Mary who put it in the scale to weigh it against the wicked heart of the distraught mother's son! Talk about unconscious syncretism — that even resonates with the Egyptian Book of the Dead!)

Perhaps this is in part a result of being heirs of an established church (whether legally or culturally — so that includes "big" churches like the Roman Catholic, and Lord knows that there is plenty of "popular religion" in countries where the Roman Catholic Church is dominant). I suspect as well this may happen in liturgical (rather than confessional) churches a bit more frequently. People become used to being part of the church's worship, its general atmosphere as opposed to official doctrines, and it may or may not touch their lives otherwise beyond The Three Sacred Elements of the Transitional Rites (you know, Water, Rice, and Earth in the Hatch, Match and Dispatch role the church has so long taken.)

In the long run I approach this in much the way C.S. Lewis did: which is to ask, How much worse off might such people be — even with their less than perfect grasp of the doctrinal rudiments of the faith — if they were not exposed to the church at all? And so we clergy keep on hatching, matching and dispatching — but I hope in as honest and rich and faith-filled a way as possible, not giving into the temptation to substitute popular pious platitudes for the sometimes hard doctrine. We are not, after all, a society of perfect people, but pilgrims. As long as the guides keep their heads on straight, not giving in to the sentiment that passes for faith, we will be moving in the right direction, under the shadow of our banner, the Cross of Christ.

But that takes perseverance — the "popular" course is popular for a reason —it's easier. A few weeks ago, Archbishop Barry Morgan delivered the Hobart Lecture here in the Diocese of New York. One of his themes was clerical honesty: especially in times of loss and tragedy resisting those pious platitudes that are so easy and attractive and tempting; and which reaffirm those troubling aspects of sentimental and popular religion. What does "He's gone to a better place..." have to do with the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the dead? As Morgan challenged, is it really at all true that "God never gives us trouble without giving us the strength to bear it..." when we are surrounded by evidence to the contrary?

I commend the lecture to you -- it is good, bracing, reading and touches on this whole question of sentimental religion vs. a faith that can face the facts.

Peace and joy, and a Glorious All Saints Day upcoming! (I've got three rounds of Water to deal with three of the newly Hatched!)

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

October 28, 2009

An Aspect of the Nature of the Church

In Light of Approaching All Saints Day

There is continued discussion in some circles about the relationship between a church as a body and the various members who make it up — a discussion no doubt started by Saint Paul!

Richard Hooker once observed,

The Church is always a visible society of men; not an assembly, but a Society... Assemblies are properly rather things that belong to a Church. Men are assembled for performance of public actions; which actions being ended, the assembly dissolveth itself and is no longer in being, whereas the Church which was assembled doth no less continue afterwards than before. (Laws III.I.14)

That is, the structures of the society endure even as different individuals take part in the assembly of that society from time to time. Congress is still congress, regardless of the change in party majorities, and of the actual senators and representatives seated. And a parish is still a parish regardless of the fact that, for instance, none of the founding members of Saint James Church Fordham in 1853 are still active members!

Like the cells of ones own body, which die and are replaced, while each of us still is who we think we are as a continuing entity, a person with an identity that survives the change in our actual substance — the church goes on, living a life not entirely its own: With saints below and saints above, some having crossed the stream, some crossing now, and some with their feet unmoistened yet!

This is also why the notion of transforming our wonderful communion-in-diversity into a kind of patchwork of special-interest-chapters-in-affinity is such a terrible step backwards. The big tent is so much more, while still imperfect, a vision of what we are called to be, than the proliferation of franchise outlets (or ‘tiers’ or ‘tracks’) into which we might further devolve.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

October 26, 2009

Thoughts for 10.26.09

On the Global South Steersmen's View of Rome and Hopes for a Disciplinary Covenant

Continued bluffing after the cards have been played is an ineffective strategy. Les jeux sont faits.

i.e., had all y'all bided your time instead of launching your own forays contrary to the Covenant's intent, your urging the Covenant might persuade. You cannot pretend still to be playing chess after knocking the board over, or in this case, imagine White can win by purloining a few of Red's pieces before the game begins.

Sorry for all the game analogies, but it really does seem to be a game, doesn't it? Played with human lives...

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

October 23, 2009

Yorkshire Suite

This composition for small orchestra is based on a series of tunes I composed in the early 70s to serve as the incidental music for a production of D. H. Lawrence’s "The Daughter in Law" directed by John Pasquin at the McCarter Theater in Princeton. Then it was for solo bass recorder, here it is reimagined as perhaps an overture in two short movements. The tunes are original (as far as I know) and were written after some time immersing myself in North of England folk music. The play, a tragicomedy, was itself a composite of ups and downs, a world of morris dances and dirges. Enjoy.
Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

MP3 File

October 21, 2009

Teachers to Ones Liking

Perhaps the strangest response to the recent Roman Catholic offer of transition and incorporation for disaffected Anglicans is this from the group Reform. They alert us at the head of their site that they very rarely issue press releases, so this is a rarity. Perhaps a second draft might have been advised, to avoid the apparent disconnect between the two final paragraphs (emphasis mine):

“If priests really are out of sympathy with the C of E’s doctrine (as opposed to the battles we are having over women’s ministry and sexuality), then perhaps it is better they make a clean break and go to Rome. However, when they do, they will have to accommodate themselves to Rome’s top-down approach to church life, whereas the C of E has always stressed the importance of decision making at the level of the local church.
“It is illusory to pretend that this development is an outcome of ecumenical dialogue. It illustrates the difficulties the C of E faces and the need for stronger leadership, rather than the ‘softly softly’ approach so far taken to those holding liberal views who are splitting the church.

So, let me get this straight, or at least decently and in order: Top-down is that unpleasant Romish thing, and local discernment the English, but the problem with the C of E is that very lack of a top-down imposition of control from the leadership. Which leads me to suspect that if Rome actually enforced all that the Reform folk agreed with, they too would fly to her bosom.

Which is just another example of "I like strong leaders and tough enforcement when I agree with it" — the tautology of tyranny and the unassailable rule of private conscience writ large.

No thanks. I'll stick with subsidiarity, even when it's upside-down.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

October 20, 2009

There’s No Place Like Rome...

The news appears adequately to have been aired abroad, but in case you haven't heard, the Vatican has issued an Apostolic Constitution providing an expedited course for Anglicans who want to become Roman Catholic en masse and retain some of their distinctively Anglican liturgy — and clergy. There are scads of links to various reactions at Thinking Anglicans and Episcopal Café. I've not yet found a link to, and hence have not read, the actual document in question, so my comments at this point are provisional. But in the best spirit of modern journalism, I do have a few general observations, and the facts can always be dealt with retroactively.

In spite of the press coverage and the cries of alarm or celebration in some circles, this "hydrofoil across the Tiber" is not an entirely new thing. In the United States at least, congregations along with their priests have occasionally made a transition to being Anglican Use Roman Catholics. The present offer seems closer to a Uniate arrangement, rather more ordinary than exceptional, with a tad more polish than the usual slightly used congregation.

Although married male priests appear to be part of this proposal, it doesn't appear that married male bishops are going to be allowed. That, it seems to me, will thin the flow of the exodus somewhat, at least the purple end of the pond. It also seems very likely that reordination or at least conditional ordination will be required for the priests (and deacons).

Some have wondered at Rowan Williams’ apparent calm acceptance of this new phenomenon. It appears he was not aware it was in the offing. This is strange since the proposal from the "Traditional Anglican Communion" has been talked about for some years, and it appears that the Vatican’s response, although it may seem sudden to the unprepared, is really not all that startling if you've paid close attention to what they've been saying about Anglicans over the last decade or so. Which is to say, as always, “The light is still on and you are always welcome to come home.”

I think three things may factor into the Archbishop's relatively calm response: First, what's he supposed to do? Second, this may well thin the ranks of some of the more forceful and tiresome opponents of the ordination of women to the episcopate, and obviate the need for the dehumanizing (and rather “federated”) scheme currently on the table in the Church of England. Third, he may finally have experienced the sobering reality that dialogue with Rome always has been in truth a one-sided exercise.

More can, and no doubt will, be said before long. I look forward to seeing the actual text of the official document. In the meantime, I imagine many of the most Romeward-looking Anglican clergy are now considering if they are willing to put their stipend where their mouth is, and do what they've so often said they would do if only they could. As Dorothy learned, of course, they always had the power to do so, as indeed many had, individually, before them. Just click the heels of the ruby slippers three times and say, "There's no place like Rome; there's no place like Rome; there's no place like..." And Anglicanism they will say, was just a colorful dream populated with familiar figures.

May they find peace in their new abode. I prefer this side of the Tiber Rainbow.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

October 15, 2009


I have two speaking engagements coming up in the near future, for anyone interested. Next Monday, October 19, 2009, at 7:00 pm I'll be at Saint Luke in the Fields in Manhattan kicking off a series of three sessions about General Convention. I'll be talking about the legislative process and the impact of D025 and C056. As well as General Convention in general.

Then in early December there's this:

“Getting the Word (of God) Out”
Speaking the Unspeakable

Meditations by Br. Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

Join us for a quiet day of reflection and prayer
before the frenzy of the season has a chance to draw you
away from the true work of Advent!

Saturday, December 5, 2009
9:00am to 3:00pm
Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church
1625 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-6388
(215) 735-1416

Sponsored by The Brotherhood of Saint Gregory-Province II
and St Mark’s Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, PA

Thoughts for 10.15.09

The Blogosphere as Schul
It seems to me that much of our discussion, on a number of topics, has taken on an almost Talmudic quality, in which any given thesis or concept is surrounded by a halo of commentary and commentary on commentary — much of it in the interlinked realm of the Internet rather than the printed page. In the midst of this sometimes polemical but always expanding web of conversation, what are we to make of those who want a simple black-and-white up-or-down answer to the underlying question? Perhaps the best answer to the unanswerable is to hedge it about with every possibility, in the hope that a pattern might emerge?

Actus Purus
Think of God not only as Being Itself or the Ground of Being, but also as Potentiality Itself; not as a Thing or even the Best Thing or even just the Source of all Things, but also the origin of even the Possibility of Thinginess. This gets us away from Nobodaddy and the God Rejected by Dawkins, but also and to an important extent even somewhat away from the God of Scholasticism. As with the former thought, this is also about hedging about the Unknown with the Merely Known.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

October 14, 2009

Post 600: Some thoughts on Health Care

I'm going out on a limb to run a few thoughts up the proverbial flagpole on the whole Health Care issue. These are in no particular order -- just consider them theses for thought, rather than a list of credenda:

It isn't really about health care (the provision of medical services), it is about health insurance (handling the costs of health care), and who should manage it.

The best health care in the world is no good to you if you can't afford it.

There is no "joint ownership of the means of production" because health care isn't a product, but a service. Insurance is also a service, though it has been more efficiently monetized.

Health insurance, by its nature, is also "socialized" in that it is a cost-sharing mechanism in which people pool resources through "premiums" so that there is a spread of cost. Whether the money is going to the government or to an insurer is not really relevant, except to the extent that administrative costs or profit come into the picture. The difference between insurance premiums and taxes lies largely in their relative lack of proportionality to the capacity to pay.

Since almost everyone either gets sick or injured at some point in life, a system to share the cost of health care is logical.

In insurance, a portion of the "premium" is eaten up by the system -- in administration or profit (on top of any administrative costs or profit to those actually providing the service of health care). Money that could go to patient-care is actually going to insurer-care. This actually adds to the total cost of health-care, and the burden on all who are insured, rather than lessening it.

As I note, these are just some thoughts that have been rumbling about my mind for the last few days. Frankly I don't see what all the horror about socialized medical care is about, except as a kind of "religious" issue for those opposed to anything "pink."

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

October 12, 2009

Thought for 10.12.09

Leaders are not always in the position to govern, and governors don't always lead.

— Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG, reflecting both on the phenomenon of bishops becoming prophetic in retirement, and the fact that the laity, the Holy People of God, sometimes (perhaps often) lead the church more effectively than the hierarchy

October 10, 2009

Night on the Town

Fellow-blogger Grandmère Mimi was in town for a brief visit and James and I went out for drinks and dinner to the famous Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station. This is my first visit there in about forty years. It was a true treat, to visit with Mimi and enjoy a meal together. That's her at the left, me at the right, and James in the midst. And yes, the camera makes us all look fatter than we are, even after a hearty meal!

Peter Feeds His Sheep

Bishop Peter Selby has presented a superb reality check — bracing as a brisk Beaufort five — in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's post-General Convention reflection. (I have to admit that the publication of such essays as Selby’s delay my own response, as I find words and ideas preempted and stated better than I could hope.)

In any case, it seems to me that Bishop Peter expertly demythologizes three of the primary myths of the Rowanian Mythos (the Rowanogion?):

  • that merely deploring homophobia functions as a talisman or prophylactic against performing homophobia
  • that mutual recognition and consensus lie at the heart of communion, as opposed to communion being the safe context in which disagreement can exist because of mutual love and respect, and as a consequence of this supposedly necessary consensus
  • that it is necessary for the Anglican Communion to be able to speak with a single voice in its relations with other traditions, churches, and communions

Bishop Peter ably deconstructs these highly questionable propositions, and gently (in that British self-effacing way) reveals them for the half-truths they are. I will only at this point add to the undermining of the third by noting that The Episcopal Church has been quite capable of undertaking significant ecumenical dialogues apart from any supposed universal Anglican Teaching — with the Lutherans and the Moravians. (And does Rowan really believe that dialogue with Rome is anything other than what it has always been — and that whether Anglicans speak with one voice or not is immaterial, as the rock against which all such ventures run aground is the heir of that other Peter? Any or all Anglicans makes no difference, if they cannot submit to Petrine doctrinal and ecclesiastical supremacy. That is a defining teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, and she is not about to bend on such a fundamental doctrine crucial to her identity. The current incumbent of Peter's Chair has been very clear that doctrinal uniformity is central to the Roman notion of what it means to be a church. Anglicans adopting the same principle — contrary to our history and ecclesiology — will be of no avail to-Rome-wards if the doctrines themselves differ in detail.)

Meanwhile, some, perhaps correctly, see Bishop Peter's comments as aimed at the proposed Anglican Covenant. I see them more as addressing concern over "the Covenant via Rowan" — that is, not the Covenant as a text delivered as it were de novo but rather one that has emerged from a process so full of spin and intention, in particular from some of the authors of the earlier drafts, that it will never be free of spin and second guessing, under hermeneutics of deeply suspicious pedigree. However much persons such as I might want to see the Covenant as a way to hang together, and work through our differences, this may not be possible. The "our" is in my mind the set of those who can tolerate differences of opinion and continue to work together. Others (such as the ACI+Wright) want the consensus first, so that only those who already agree about everything important will be in this new and peaceable communion. This is where Selby's concerns about "two tracks" come in: for if consensus is to be the Shibboleth for admission to the Covenanted Communion, what really is the point? Likemindedness, mutual recognition, uniformity, univocality -- these are all very nice things, but as Iris Murdoch reminded us, there is a huge gap between the Nice and the Good.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

October 5, 2009

Truest Life

A sermon from Saint James Church Fordham

Proper 22b 2009 • Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG
For the man there was not found a helper as his partner.+

The second chapter of the Book of Genesis presents us with a marvelous example of God’s generosity and care, and the extent to which God’s children have the responsibility to make decisions, and how God abides by those decisions once they are made.

You no doubt remember the events that lead up to the events described in our reading from Genesis today. God created Adam from the clay of the riverbank, breathing into him the divine life and spirit. And God planted the beautiful garden of Eden, and placed Adam in it, to tend it and care for it as God’s gardener. And God looked down upon this peaceful creation and instead of smiling at its goodness, frowned slightly and shook his head a little. And for the first time in the whole narrative up to that point God said that something was not good.

And what was that? Was it something God had made? No; it was something yet unfinished, something yet to be made. “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” And taking more clay, the same stuff he’d made Adam from, God set to work.

Now, this next part of the story is something many people forget, so I’m glad it was included in this morning’s reading. For what was it that God made out of that additional clay? Not another human being, but rather all of the animals of the field and the birds of the air. And God brought all of these creatures to Adam, for Adam to name, approve and accept. But Adam did not find among them a helper meet or suitable to be his partner.

Only then did God put Adam to sleep and take, not more clay this time, but some of Adam’s very own body, to make for him a helper suitable to be his partner, one like himself. And Adam recognized this kinship immediately, and rejoiced that at last here was one like him, another human being, one who could truly be called his mirror image, bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh.

The wonderful thing about this narrative is that God gave Adam such respect, and abided by Adam’s judgment as to who in all creation was to be his helper and partner, one truly like himself. God did not force Adam to be content to live alone as a solitary hermit in a garden. God did not force Adam to be happy with just the animals to keep him company. God did not take offense when Adam shook his head at all of these other creatures, and found none to be a suitable partner for him. God did not force Adam to accept them, and didn’t get offended and say, “Who do you think you are to turn down what God has provided.”

Rather God allowed Adam the freedom to choose the one who was like himself, his own flesh and blood, as a partner and a helper. God used no force in this: but allowed freedom, revealing, as our Gospel hymn said, that “force is not of God.”

+ + +

Well, you know the rest of the story. Adam and Eve lived in the garden only for a short time. One of those animals Adam had rejected as an unsuitable helper and partner perhaps didn’t take too kindly to the rejection. It was the creature God made with some of the leftover clay, the kind of animal any child knows is the easiest thing to make with a lump of clay — just as the Gary Larson cartoon shows God at his work table rolling out the snake and saying, “Gee, these things are a cinch!” Cinch it might be, but it opened up a whole can of worms! The serpent wriggled in and did his dirty work, sowing the seeds of discontent and pride, taunting with the fear of death, tempting with the promise of divinity, leading Adam and Eve to disobedience. The serpent dangled temptation before them, and they bit.

And so the caretakers got evicted from the garden. And for thousands of years human beings continued to stumble about in their ignorance and pride. Humanity lived under the fear of death, yet unable to escape it, no matter what they did, alternately sinned against and sinning, unable to find righteousness even though God tried time and time again to show them how, by giving them the Law and inspiring the preaching of the Prophets.

God would not, you see, simply force people to be good, any more than God forced Adam to accept Eve. God wanted people to be good from the inside, good from the heart, not just coated over with a whitewash of proper behavior, but deeply loving, deeply just, deeply free — and deeply responsible for the choices they made in that love, justice and freedom.

Just as God had a few false starts in creation, so too there were false starts in this re-creation. God first gave the people a law written in stone, and the people disobeyed it and rejected it. God sent the people prophets, but they ignored them or mistreated them. God gave the people kings and most of the kings turned out to be worse than the people!

But finally, in the fullness of time, God decided to do something similar to what he had done way back in Eden. God would not this time send the Law. God would not send a prophet. God would not send a king, at least not the kind of king people were used to. God would not even send an angel.

God would instead give to humankind one who was human, a human being like Adam himself, but one who was also divine, one who was God incarnate. God would choose incarnation — being made flesh — our flesh.

So as of old when God took the raw material from a human being, from Adam, this time God took from the flesh of a young woman named Mary all that was needed to make the one who was for a little while to be made a lower than the angels, one not ashamed to call men and women his sisters and brothers, for he shared the same human flesh as they — as we. “He sent him down as sending God; in flesh to us he came; as one with us he dwelt with us, and bore a human name.”

+ + +

The human name he bore is Jesus, which means Savior. The divine name he bore is Emmanuel, which means God is with us. He was and is our Saving God who is with us, who shared with us in mortality and pain, shared the weakness of human flesh, so that he might redeem and save that human flesh. He suffered death so that he might destroy death for ever, and destroy the one who, as the Letter to Hebrews says, had the power of death, the same devil who ages before had snaked his way in, to ensnare and enslave humanity by their fear of death.

Jesus, our Savior and our God, is also our brother, for he taught us to call his Father our Father. We who share in the flesh of Adam also share — through Jesus — in the Spirit of God. The old serpent can do nothing to us any longer if we do not let him. He’s done his best to do his worst, and he failed utterly when Jesus broke the power of death and was raised to life again. And we who are united with Jesus in his death, are also given the power to rise with him in his life.

We can still refuse God’s offer. God respects our freedom too much to force us to follow the path he so desires for us. And there are those who would rather listen to a serpent’s lies than to God’s own truth. There are still some so possessed by their fear of death that they have forgotten how to live. We look at a world in which we see that all things are not under human control — disease, crime, famine, and injustice still seem to rule. Some seek long life or wealth, or pleasure or fame, but rarely find lasting happiness. But we also see Jesus, the human one who suffered, the human one who died, who gave up everything and yet who through the power of God triumphed over everything, and now is exalted over all things.

We too can confront all the shallow promises of the world, promises offered in the devil’s accent, to find that none of these things will answer our deepest need. In none of these things can we find our true and final happiness whatever the snake may say to the contrary. It is only in Jesus — God from God, light from light, true God from true God, that we recognize our own truest human self — the perfect image of humanity made after God’s own image and likeness. God offers us the option, and will not force us to choose life rather than death. God invites us to find our truest life in him, and has shown us the way, but he will not force us on that path.

In this is our hope, our freedom, and our challenge. As we make our choices, let us always remember the promise of our Gospel hymn, and choose rightly:“Not to oppress, but summon all their truest life to find, in love God sent his Son to save, not to condemn mankind.”+

October 3, 2009

The Coinherent Bishop

An online conversation with a bishop, friend, and colleague sparked a few thoughts about ministry, particularly the ministry of bishops. What I will say here applies to all of the "ordered" ministries of bishop, priest, and deacon, but also to the wider ministry of the whole people of God. Indeed, my fundamental thesis is that no ordered ministry properly functions apart from the people of God.

Drawing on the language of Trinitarian theology, one can say that any ordained ministry is coinherent with the other ordained ministries and with the ministry of the faithful. For the purposes of this brief reflection, I will focus on the episcopate, and its coinherence with the church. Certainly we've had enough of incoherent bishops of late, from the abreactions of Durham to the megalomania of Pittsburgh, as well as somewhat less than pellucid prose from the chair of Augustine.

The bishop is, first and foremost, also a priest and deacon — one of the best arguments against per saltum ordination lies in this coinherent reality. That is, the bishop exercises both the gathering and teaching ministries of the priesthood, as well as the missional and prophetic ministries of the diaconate — and note as well that all of these ministries subsist in relation to the whole people of God: calling together the assembly which is the church (the ekklesia), teaching and convicting them and leading them in prayer with boldness and spirit, and sending them forth to do the work of God in the power of that self-same Spirit. It all hangs together.

Or it hangs separately, as Franklin observed. For when any of the ordered ministers of the church takes it into his or her mind to be a loner, unless their witness is ratified by the Spirit acting in the life of the church, repenting as they did at the sign of Jonah (his preaching), the very singularity of the act, and the lack of reception, reveals the misguidedness of the solitary or schismatical motion.

This is one of the reasons that episcopal acts, even those undertaken by a validly consecrated bishop, are of no effect if exercised apart from the church. The "power" or authority of a bishop is not a personal power exercised for the church, but the corporate power of the whole church exercised through that person. This relates to the doctrines of the Incarnation and Atonement. As William Law pointed out, Christ did not suffer and die in our place (that is, we still all suffer and die) but for our sakes. He did this having assumed unto himself all of human nature; that is, our flesh and blood, from the womb of his Blessed Mother. He was not simply a representative human, but all of humanity itself, human Being itself, together with God's Being in one person.

So too with the ministers of the church, perhaps especially bishops who are called upon in many circumstances to be the voice of the church to the larger world (though I note that this is a ministry they share with deacons, and still as deacons, priests), it is vital they recall that they speak in the church's true accent, rather than merely their own. The bishop is coinherent with the whole body of the church, and acts not in its place, but as its instrument. One of the positive notes in the proposed Ridley-Cambridge draft of an Anglican Covenant, is the recognition of the role of bishop's personal ministry not only in Synod, but "collegially and within and for the eucharistic community." (3.1.2-3) The bishop is not a monarch, but a minister. His or her "power" is not magical and individual, but derives entirely from the larger church of which she or he is an integral part and organ. Otherwise it would be Harry Potter instead of Henry Potter!

The bishop acting outside or apart from the church as an episcopus vagans is like an electric fan unplugged from its source of power. Its blades may show some signs of movement in a strong wind, but are of no effect in actually generating a breeze. And the same is true of any minister, ordered or lay, who amputated from the body of fellow-believers attempts still to function as an organ of the body.

We are, in the long run, all in this together. Lone wolves go hungry. And shepherds are nothing without their sheep.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG