elliptical news service Easter Tuesday 22 April AD 2003
(ENS) Perdue, Arkansas -- In a cackle at their annual spring potluck, the bishops of the Episcopal Church received an eighteen-month study by a committee of six bishops and seven theologians "who represent diverse theological viewpoints" on the question of "Why did the chicken cross the road?" It invites the church into deeper reflection about how disagreement over issues of chickens crossing roads and the placement of traffic lights may model collegiality.
"We believe chickens are one of God's wonderful, complex, confusing, and sometimes dangerous gifts," the committee wrote. "At the same time, we have been made freshly aware of how they can be cheapened and exploited by human society rather than the good-eating God intends them to be.
Recognizing that some chickens stand on the right side of the road and that some chickens stand on the left side of the road, the committee said "as Christians we affirm that all chickens are created by God, firmly denounce discrimination, urge mutual respect and do not believe crossing a road with white stripes or yellow stripes or no stripes should be a church-dividing issue"
While acknowledging that whether a chicken was on the right side of the road or the left side depended on which direction one faced, the report nevertheless said, "because at this time we are nowhere near consensus in the church we cannot recommend any chicken crossing any road anywhere at anytime."
The report cautions against attempts to resolve this controversial issue by legislation. "For a season at least, we must acknowledge and live with the great pain and discomfort of our disagreements," exercising "sensitive restraint and mutual forbearance in keeping the road clear" rather than pressing for a vote.
The chair of the committee, on which no chickens were members, acknowledged they found enormous grace in process. "In working through differences we found arriving at the status quo led to a deeper place of insight and communion true to the Anglican way of looking at all points of view and doing nothing. We feel we have put our finger on the pulse of the church," he concluded.
In the pew the feathers flew.
Free Range Society founder Dr. Louie Crew immediately asked the gentle Presiding Bishop whether or not this was a preemptive episcopal strike to suppress debate at the upcoming General Convention in Milwaukee.
HOD President George Werner reassuringly responded that regardless of what the HOB did "every deputy will have a vote and every chicken the right to cross itself, high, low or no road."
Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold responded that neither he nor any of the bishops intended to endorse or denounce the report but simply to commend it to the church for study. He unambiguously suggested considering establishing a joint standing commission on road crossing for chickens.
David Virtue said he was sick and tired of all those Easter-egg-smashing, left-side-of-the-road chickens henpecking the church to impose their sick, immoral, sodomite agenda on righteous-side-of-the-road, orthodox chickens to whom the road has always belonged.
Bishop John Howe of Central Florida said keeping chickens on the right side of the road was grounded in a rich and full study of scriptures, "We're Nicene Christians, we're creedal Christians, we're orthodox Christians," he said. "Lambeth spoke for the whole Anglican Communion when it said clearly that a rooster is a rooster and a hen is a hen and no General Convention can change that."
CDSP New Testament scholar Dr. William Countryman countered, saying, "Jesus' only mention of chickens in the New Testament was his analogy of gathering the children of Jerusalem 'as a mother hen gathers her chicks' but didn't say anything about them crossing any roads. Reports that Jesus used chicken soup for healing the sick, the blind and the lame," he said, "are a gloss on the text incorporated in the late fifth century from the pseudo Gospel according to Mary." He added, "Paul's admonition that chickens should stay in the house God gave them reflects first century conditions now generally repudiated and not applicable in the twenty-first century.
Florida Professor Harry Coverston referred all concerned to his essay on the Caroline Divines' doctrine of the Via Media wherein they set forth that all Anglican chickens should be in the middle of the road. Pat Crawrford remonstrated that there are laws against blocking a public road, chicken or no chicken.
Born-again President Dubya Bush, choking on some deep-fried chicken lips while glued to CNN war coverage, mumbled, "I don't care what them chicken s__t 'piscopalians think. I'll scramble any eggs of mass destruction on any side of the road that threaten my daddy or interfere with my oil profits. I don't care what no chicken Dems do."
Note: Any reference to persons living or sleeping is lovingly, tongue-in-cheek intentional.
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