The Bishop Candidates: The Reverend Canon Dr. Neal O Michell: Part 2–Yo’ Momma?

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?

Neal Michell says you should: “perform a Google search on your bishop candidate. What has he written?” When you Google “Neal O. Michell,” you find out that he’s written this:

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.”

4 thoughts on “The Bishop Candidates: The Reverend Canon Dr. Neal O Michell: Part 2–Yo’ Momma?

  1. Rev. Deacon Vedette,

    I do not know Canon Mitchell, nor am I a member of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina: I'm a priest of the Igreja Lusitana (Comunhão Anglicana) in Portugal. Thus, as they say in the American South, I don't have a dog in this fight.

    However, I am a Christian, and an Anglican. However, if I wasn't, and was just wondering if there was any reason to have anything to do with this 'Christianity'– let me assure you that the things which you, as an ordained representative of the Body of Christ, have publically posted on this candidate (and at least one other) would absolutely convince me to have nothing to do with the so-called “Christian” church which you have been called by God to represent.

    There's an American youth group song that goes “and they'll know we are Christians by our love…”. I don't know it from your posts.

    Please, Deacon, remember that what you write on the internet can be read by any and everyone, in your Diocese and around the world, and that every word you post becomes a form of evangelism, either for, or against, the Body of Christ.


  2. Fr. Z+:

    Thanks for writing. I am fully aware that what I write here is read by both the Church and the World. It is, however, my duty to “interpret the concerns, needs and hopes of the world to the Church.” When the Church is acting unjustly, or when those who wish to be its leaders are so co-opted by our culture that they can no longer speak with integrity, it is the duty of Deacons to call them out. I am aware that I have used hyperbole, sarcasm and irony in this post. I did not use them lightly. It is my hope that Canon Michell would renounce his comparison of The Episcopal Church to the wife of Hosea. It is his characterization of this Church (in public, on the internet) that you should be shocked by, not my diaconal condemnation of it. Of course, this is why we Deacons keep getting in trouble with you Priests.

    In any case, thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts. And may the Lord bless your ministry in Portugal.


  3. My former bishop, fully committed to the church, used to describe the church as a whore. She is the “bride of Christ,” but she is frequently unfaithful. Indeed, that is the whole point behind the wife of Hosea. Israel is unfaithful much of the time.

    The church, the New Israel, continues to be unfaithful much of the time. That's the beauty of God's grace. Christ loves the church, despite her unfaithfulness.

    Father Mitchell's comments seem to be within the mainstream of Christian theology about the Church.


  4. Melanchthon, I agree that much of prophetic theology about Israel describes the nation as the consort of Yahweh but that was always “whoring after other gods.”

    Michell was not talking about Israel, nor even about The Church, but about a denomination within The Church. Canon Michell is “embarassed” by The Episcopal Church and believes that she (it?) is an unfaithful whore. Of course he was playing to an audience at “Stand Firm in Faith” that loves any uncharitable comment anyone says about the The Episcopal Church.

    I never heard an answer out of him about why he would want to be in the governing councils of a church that he is embarrassed by.

    I believe that Neal Michell has the ambition to be a Bishop somewhere. It won't be in Upper South Carolina, thank God.


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