Thursday, December 6, 2012

Lawrence Contracts Dangerous Disease

One of the chronic ailments of so many "Angricans" is a poorly developed sacramental theology.  Many of them near Charleston -- apparently suffering a dual diagnosis -- are also infected with what I call Mons Presunzionus. A disease North Carolinian scholars tell us was first identified by Mary Oates Spratt Van Landingham.  Whether or not I agree with the scholars, having myself lived in both South Carolina and Virginia I agree with Ms. Van Landingham, and also believe the condition has worsened since her turn of the century.  The disease apparently now produces or exacerbates a conceit or blindness to one's own reality or is a delusion that allows those infected to act as if volume or style of utterance or repetition can make something true or factual that previously was not. 
The example in the case of ex-bishop Mark Lawrence is his most recent calling Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori's accepting of his November 17th statement as a resignation and further her announcing his canonical removal from office -- thus ex-bishop -- "superfluous." Mind you, it will do no good to attempt a logical or historic recounting of events in this matter.  Beside the circularity of his logic, Mons presunzionus prevents any constructive dialogue when facts are in question.   
But the sacramental problem matters more to me in this case because of how, bless his heart, the ex-bishop continues to claim and even worse to believe he is a Bishop.  Somehow -- and I have posited Mons Presunzionus as a possible and perhaps best defense -- he believes:  
“Quite simply I have not renounced my orders as a deacon, priest or bishop any more than I have abandoned the Church of Jesus Christ — But as I am sure you are aware, the Diocese of South Carolina has canonically and legally disassociated from The Episcopal Church,” Lawrence said in a letter posted on the diocese’s website after the presiding bishop’s announcement. “We took this action long before today’s attempt at renunciation of orders, therein making it superfluous.”
Did he "take action" equal to renunciation "long before" the BP's acceptance of it or not?  How can he on the one hand say that he is still a bishop and on the other hand admit to his November 17th presiding over the -- his words -- "legally and canonically" accomplished withdrawal of his diocese from TEC.  You can't have it both ways.   You can't be baptized and not baptized at the same time.  Find me the sacramental theology that allows you to spit out the host and still call it communion. 
Not only does a good sacramental theology prevent such duplicity it also protects against the gross idiosyncrasy Lawrence and his minions require to keep meeting as if they are the Diocese of South Carolina and that he needs only their assent to be a Bishop.  Either the action of the church that ordains you carries the force of an authority to which you have publicly consented and submitted and promised to uphold and vowed to obey with God's help or it doesn't.  In other words, you do not get to declare yourself a bishop, especially when the body that ordained you says you are not.  You do not get to declare yourselves as a diocese when that is not your status to grant.
Granted, in this part of the country we let people slide more than a little as long as they mean well.  But the ex-bishop's statement is not sincere, it is delusional.  He can't have it both ways,  He can't leave and stay.  His followers can't claim a membership status from a body they have quit. Those are conceits that have already lost one war of secession and look to be on their way to losing another.

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