Let’s say you are an Episcopal priest, having gone through a deep and prolonged period of prayerful discernment about your ministry and its future direction. And further, let’s say that, pulling weeds in your garden or washing the soap off in your shower, you hear the voice of God say: “Hey, dude!” (because God’s a dude and never, you know, talks to girl priests anyway, because they’re not dudes, like Jesus and his Dad and the apostles and all, and so not really priests anyway. I mean you can’t call them Father, right?) So you fill out those long and numbingly repetitive Church Deployment Office forms for Bishop and get some of your friends to nominate you for every vacant episcopate between Fairbanks and Miami, or at least those in safe, white Southern dioceses that want orthodox-by-God Bishops who won’t ordain homosexuals and liberals (who are just homosexuals in the closet). What then? How would people know if you’re the right man for the job?
We Americans so chafe at being identified with the infidel. We don’t want to be associated with the reprobate TEC, and so we will reject the primates’ plan and preempt their timetable because we are so ashamed of TEC. It may be that God wants to shame us just as he shamed Hosea by calling him to marry a prostitute. It may be that God wants us to endure the embarrassment of TEC and trust the authority that God has placed over us—the primates—to bring a God-ordained order out of the chaos that the leadership of TEC has brought about.
Of course, you shouldn’t be upset when people begin to wonder if you really want to be a Bishop in a Church that you’re ashamed of, because she’s a prostitute. (All right, I’m going to admit it: The Reverend Canon Dr. Neal O. Michell has angered me by calling my mom a whore. Thus, keyboard dripping with sarcasm, I have written this post. Now I can never be Bishop.*) The people of Upper South Carolina need to know if Canon Michell currently disavows his previous shame at being a part of “TEC.” That’s a really important question, since he also wrote this:
I learned a long time ago that when interviewing candidates for a staff position, vicar or rector or church planter, “past performance is the best indicator of future performance.”
It would be rather difficult, I would think, to be Bishop in a denomination that one is ashamed of. Perhaps Canon Michell could explain why we need to ignore his past performances.
*Of course I can’t be Bishop anyway, because Deacons haven’t been allowed to be Bishops since 1545 when Deacon Reginald Pole was made Archbishop of Canterbury by the Pope. Poor Deacon Reggie managed to be the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, forever reminding the Church which of the three Holy Orders is the “inferior order.”