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What the One hath declared as ‘Common,’ let no man call ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’

5 July 2010

[H/T: Anon. & PBS]

This letter arrived in last week, from Bp. Breidenthal:

As a quick aside, an anonymous friend comments,

“Here’s another sign of the erosion of sacramentality of Holy Orders under +TB. Read the BCP Ordination of Priests rite. Then read this. They are not even remotely the same theology of ministry.”  -Anon. 

I think my friend makes a good point. However, I am going to follow the example of my college professors who never wanted to let on that they were sometimes out of their depth, and leave the exercise up to the reader. 🙂

Previously, I had poked fun at the “unveiling” of Common Ministry, which I supposed was a way to spread around the blame for the declining membership of our diocese and the national church.

Now, I’m not so sure.

While it is true that earlier on, Common Ministry was one of those wax noses that we all needed to have but hadn’t even seen in the catalog yet. Our bishop more or less confirms the amorphous quality to the idea of Common Ministry – the idea that hadn’t quite been, er, ideated: 

“Common ministry has captured the imagination of the diocese, as deaneries, congregations and individuals are bringing new energy to the notion that we are all ministers of the Good News, sharing in common the opportunity and obligation to bear witness to the abundant love of God for all, revealed in Jesus Christ. We are living into a paradigm shift in our understanding of what it means to be a church in which all are empowered for ministry.

Yet the idea of common ministry remains elusive. Everyone gets it, I think, and we are all moving toward it in various ways. But since it is a new paradigm (or an old paradigm we are rediscovering), a road map may help us all to be sure that we are heading in the same direction. When my senior staff met for our annual working retreat last week, we agreed that our task was to distill common ministry into a few, short words – in other words, to provide a road map.” 

– Bp. Breidenthal 

Heh. That still merits a chuckle.

(sigh)  But then, reality was bound to come rushing back in, wasn’t it.

What concerns me is that Common Ministry appears to be crystallizing from an amorphous assault on Clericalism, to a redefining of what passes for ‘common,’ within our diocese. Put another way, the true emphasis in Common Ministry is not upon ministry, but rather upon ‘common.’

This is apparent in looking at the mission statement (enumeration mine):

As Episcopalians in the Diocese of Southern Ohio, (1)
we commit ourselves to (2)

· Know the common story (3)
· Proclaim our common faith (4)
· Pray our common prayer (5)
· Drink the common cup (6)
· Serve the common good (7)
in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (8)
This is our common ministry. (9) 

Here is my interpretation:

Points (1) & (2): Since we are ‘x’, we are obliged to do ‘y’

Points (3) & (4): Are not points which everyone agrees upon. As long as those pesky traditionalists remain within DSO, there is nothing ‘common’ about our stories, or our faith. We are in fact, sharply divided on our interpretations of Law and Gospel, in addition to how to minister to people who have been afflicted with same-sex attraction.

Point (5): Since our diocese is developing liturgies for same-sex blessings, what constitutes common prayer, is also not common, as long as traditionalists remain within DSO.

Point (6): Remember the ongoing controversy over the abominable practice of Open Communion that goes on within our diocese? Guess what – The controversy also tears at the precious notion of ‘common.’

Point (7): The phrase, ‘Common Good’ also occurs in Bp. Breidenthal’s Easter (2010) sermon, and he cites support of public education as an example of ‘the common good.’

As I pointed out in one of my fisks of his Easter ‘sermon,’ when someone is encouraging you to support an institution, they probably mean total and unconditional support.

Common Good … also something that is not agreed upon within DSO.

Point (8): Well, we’d have to baptize the agenda somehow, so naturally he pulled the Lord’s name into it.

Point (9): Packages everything together, in toto.

Oh well .. we knew that these guys were gaga for their so-called gospel; but there is still room for traditionalist oddballs that still infest DSO, right?

Right?

“I commend this to you in the hope that it will provide a helpful framework as we continue to explore and live into the implication of common ministry for every aspect of our life as the Episcopal Church in southern Ohio. I invite you to pray it, memorize it, reflect on it, talk about it, calligraph it, chant it, recite it, draw it, set it to music, and generally make it your own.”  – Bp. Breidenthal

Ah .. doesn’t seem to leave a lot of room for dissent. And ah, I’ll just say it, it doesn’t seem to leave room for the kind of dissent that says and does nothing, period.

Folks, I think our lives got a lot more complicated.

– Elder

PS: It seems the bishop wants a logo for his new magic bullet program. I’ll see what I can scrape up. 😉

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  1. 5 July 2010 at 3:00 PM

    I had to break out the Episcobabble Translator.

    “Live into it” – 1. An expression used when a change in practice, theology, or liturgy is inevitable.
    2. Also used to divide people into groups such as “those who refuse to live into it.”
    3. See also: “Drink the Kool-Aid,” “Live with it,” “Get over it,” “Tough tookies,” and “Bend over and take it.”

  2. 5 July 2010 at 3:01 PM

    Come to think of it, maybe the Kool-Aid man can be the logo. Oh, Yeah!

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