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Do justice

A series of essays in the Episcopal Church

Whose Is the Episcopal Church?

Whose Is the Episcopal Church?

By David Cook

When I first lived in this little house, I had neighbors a couple of doors down the street who had two really obnoxious children, especially the seven-year-old boy.

One day I was out in my back yard doing some landscaping work. I was down on my knees digging, when the little boy came striding up to me, planted his feet, stuck his hands in his belt, and asked in an officious tone of voice, "Just what do you think you're doing planting bushes in my yard?"

I acted with some restraint. I kept my voice calm and explained to him that that was his yard over there--"See the clothesline? Your yard is on the other side of that."--and that this was MY yard. "See the post over there? My yard is inside that post, and this is the Carpenters' yard in between. Understand?"

The little boy turned around and trotted off with no comment. Thinking the matter closed, I got back down on my knees and resumed digging.

So the little boy trotted around the Carpenters' house and quietly stole up behind me, whereupon he dropped his pants and urinated on my back.

I acted with amazing restraint. Quietly I took the boy in charge and escorted him into the presence of his mother. I explained to her what had transpired, and showed her the back of my shirt.

"Did you zookie on Mr. Cook?" she asked her son. He shook his head to indicate the negative, in that way of little boys in which the whole body rotates from side to side.

His mother turned back to me and asked, "Do you have a dog?"

I could see this situation was likely to deteriorate, and that there certainly was little chance that it would result in clarification, so I gave the boy's mother my opinion about the danger her son was in (from people less self-controlled than I happened to be that morning) if she did not make an effort to correct his behavior, and I came home and took a shower and washed out the shirt.

He never accosted me again in the six months or so that his family remained on the block. I infer that his mother instructed him to stay away from me.

Whenever I hear someone speak of the Episcopal Church as "having betrayed them" or describe the situation as "OUR church has left us," or refer to the other 95-1/2 percent of Episcopalians as "Apostate," or having "abandoned the traditional faith and order..." I think of that annoying little boy taking me to task for planting bushes in HIS yard.

I have written elsewhere of the possibility that some of those who are upset are at a lower level of cognitive growth. This is that situation and more.

I believe that the AAC and the Network and the people that speak for those bodies are mistaken in their understanding of what has happened and what will happen in a way that reflects the confusion of that seven-year-old. When one of the "orthodox" in this diocese accuses Bishop Curry of being "Ignorant of the Bible" I feel the same way I felt when that child disturbed my peace and my intentions.

When they speak of this being a "war" and of the "great crisis" facing ECUSA, I am reminded of the little boy who believed that he had caught me in the act of transgressing what was truly "his."

Talk of "war" and "schism" also reminds me of the boy's act of micturition against my person. If he could "zookie" on me, he could--at least for a moment--have power over me. He who zookies upon his enemy wins, right?

Of course the Episcopal Church is not MINE, either, in the sense that my back yard is MINE, but there is a parallel in terms of the actions of the General Convention. Those who rebel against the General Convention and accuse it of planting bushes in inappropriate places have, in a sense both legal and ecclesiological, removed themselves to a back yard of their own.

In that time, their presumption to oversee and command the activities that are done within the wishes of the General Convention and the standing majority and leadership of the Episcopal Church are disjoint from reality in a way similar to the seven-year-old boy's misunderstanding of the boundaries of our properties and areas of responsibility.

Some might say that this parallel trivializes the orthodox folk and their legitimate concerns, but I say that they have already trivialized themselves and their faith to a far greater degree. This they do when they call our common effort to follow our Savior together and do his work in the world together into question because of issues so trivial (in the sense of "war" and "Schism" and our Savior's call) as those that were acted upon last summer by the General Convention.

I am convinced that the triviality in the current situation of the church proceeds from the small view and the confusion about boundaries that characterizes those who separate themselves from the church as embodied by its elected houses.

In the long run it may be that the effect of that triviality may be no greater than that the leaders and the majority may get a little zookie on our backs.

David A. Cook
Publications Specialist
And Web Developer

You are welcome to submit your essays for consideration for this series. Send them to Identify yourself by name, snail address, parish, and other connections to the Episcopal Church. Please encourage others to do the same.


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