Story Telling or Truth Telling? Seminary President Slams Internet Propagandists
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Tue May 1 23:16:42 EDT 2001
STORY TELLING OR TRUTH TELLING?
Seminary President Slams 'Propagandists' to Episcopal Communicators
By David W. Virtue
It is now fashionable in episcopal circles to regard the telling of
stories as the latest "in-thing" to do. Everyone has a story, and so,
as the world turns, all stories are of equal epistemological and
theological value, with no one being permitted to contradict the
obvious self-evident truth that proceeds from one's mouth.
If it is uttered it must be true. Objective truth be damned, the only
truth is relative - "your truth and my truth", a blessed Griswoldian.
The story then becomes the yardstick of all truth without the need,
apparently, for outside corroboration or validation by a higher source
from which all truth might conceivably, though not self-evidently,
Of course Episcopal homosexuals love telling their stories, because
they can whine, feel pain, and make you feel theirs for whatever value
that might have. John Peterson, General Secretary of the Anglican
Consultative Council loves the idea of story-telling because it can
dilute the authority of the bishops, who are mostly evangelical, and
Scripture, which can be deconstructed and made to mean whatever one
wants it to mean.
So it should come as no surprise that the president of the
Massachusetts-based Episcopal Divinity School, and former Bishop of
Alaska, Steven Charleston should deliver himself of his "story" to the
recent meeting of communicators in Dallas, an event to which I was not
invited and where my stories are considered disruptive to the entire
The setting was largely made up of diocesan flacks (public relations
men and women with occasional editorial ability) who do the bidding of
their bishops and the diocese, and for which they are handsomely paid.
(I know, I was one briefly, back in the 70s. At that time I wrote an
editorial "Gay is not Okay", and I was out the door.)
Bishop Charleston said this: "I'm talking about a story form, more
factual-oriented stories; that is, we're telling factual stories, we're
trying to report the news, we're trying to tell people what happened,
we're trying to engage them into a way of thinking about the realities
that are impinging in their lives by telling them the story, for
example, of what happened at the Primates' Meeting, when all the
primates in the Anglican Communion came to Kanuga and we're trying to
relate that story. It's a factual kind of story. That's the type of
storytelling I'm talking about."
Now Bishop Charleston wasn't at Kanuga, I was, and whatever "stories"
came out of Kanuga were carefully calibrated to spin the liberal line
for Frank Griswold. When the stories (and there weren't that many) did
emerge the one and only "story" that everyone heard was about a Ugandan
priest who was HIV positive, had given the disease to his wife who
promptly died of AIDS and he, apparently, wasn't the least bit
But his story was told and everybody wisely nodded their heads and said
how bad AIDS was and how the pharmaceutical companies are guilty of not
doing enough and the governments were behind the eight ball, and so on.
The only other "story" to emerge from Kanuga was that the whole
sexuality debate and the book "To Mend the Net" was sidelined to a
commission, and then all the bishops gave each other big primatial hugs
and went home. The check went to 815, which was more than delighted to
pay it because Frank Griswold got off the hook one more time.
The moral of this story, as Griswold knows, is always have a primatial
gathering of eagles on your home turf, no one will dare say serious
squat, and it would be rude. This is called the suppression of stories.
Now Charleston went on in his address to the assembled 200
communicators to say this: "Brothers and sisters, what passes for a lot
of news today in the Episcopal Church is nothing more than propaganda.
Hear me. I just named it. It's propaganda. Because propaganda invents
the experience in order to manipulate the mission. I'll say it again:
propaganda invents the experience in order to manipulate the mission.
And you see an awful lot of manipulation going on these days, as people
invent experiences for the church. 'Oh, that was a wonderful
experience!' 'That was a terrible experience! It was horrible, the
worst experience we've ever had!' We're always upping the ante, always
escalating the level of the experience in order to manipulate people's
emotional reactions to it and therefore to change the mission. The end,
therefore, begins to justify the means."
Allow me to unspin this.
Charleston, who delivered the homily at the Queer Eucharist at Denver's
General Convention last year, doesn't like evangelicals, and doesn't
want them at his seminary, unless he can convert them to his post-
modern version of Christianity. He thinks that what I write is
propaganda, pure and simple. Propaganda no doubt for the right. Now I'd
like to know what 'propaganda' he has in mind. Let me list some
'propaganda' stories for you.
That the formation of the AMIA and their stories of how the gospel has
been jettisoned in parish after parish, diocese after diocese is
'propaganda'. That the dozens of fleeing parishes from ECUSA is
'propaganda'. That the lawsuits now being wracked up in liberal and
revisionist dioceses by liberal bishops against evangelical parishes is
'propaganda'. That what Jane Dixon is doing to Fr. Sam Edwards in the
Diocese of Washington is 'propaganda'. That active homosexual
deployment officers make sure that evangelical and Anglo-Catholic
priests are not welcome into their dioceses is 'propaganda'. That there
is a systematic effort, but never articulated, to torment Anglo-
Catholic priests on Long Island by Bishop Orris Walker so they will
want to leave the Episcopal Church, is 'propaganda'. That an Episcopal
Society of alleged celibate monks in New York is screwing around in a
massage parlor called the 'Shiatsu room' is not news but 'propaganda'.
That Mass. Suffragan Bishop Barbara Harris has told orthodox priests
and bishops to just leave The Episcopal Church. In short, get lost, we
don't want you. This is 'propaganda'? That Griswold has come out in
favor of Dixon when six bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury said
Dixon should back off persecuting a simple orthodox priest. That's
'propaganda'? That Griswold told Pittsburgh Bishop Bob Duncan that his
idea of "Jubilee" was unacceptable and he should get lost. My idea of
"Jubilee" is better than yours, and I'm the Presiding Bishop. So there.
That's 'propaganda'? That Griswold is a lot more thin-skinned about
personal criticism than has ever been reported. (A bishop told me
this.) That's 'propaganda'?
Well, according to Charleston it is and he doesn't want to see it in
Of course what threatens Charleston and Griswold (and Griswold has
slammed me for this) is that the invention of the Internet is
undermining the liberals and the 815 spin doctors who have controlled
the mass media for the Episcopal Church for more than 100 years. They
are now being undone and the dark underbelly of the church is being
exposed for all to see. That's what revisionist seminary presidents'
like Charleston hate and liberal bishops revile, and that is why they
want to blow off my writings as propaganda.
Let em try.
Charleston talks about "manipulating people's emotions". Really. Let me
unspin this. No single group in The Episcopal Church has done more to
manipulate peoples' emotions than Episcopal homosexualists and their
Integrity organization. They have done a brilliant job at this. Some
2500 of them have manipulated 2.5 million Episcopalians into believing
that their behavior is good and right in the eyes of God and they have
whined, yelled, screamed, cajoled and threatened anybody who opposes
them. They have stomped on my website, misappropriated my lists and
will do anything to put me out of business. Nothing would please them
more than to know that Virtuosity died yesterday. Nothing.
Now Charleston goes on to accuse people who manipulate people's
emotions of "changing the Church's mission." What mission?
The Decade of Evangelism was a total failure, and it was so because
pluriform theology, "diversity" and "inclusivity" the new buzzwords of
Episcopalianism killed off mission. The Episcopal Church has been
bagging missions and missionaries for over 30 years and in its place
has promoted a pan-religious outlook because the Episcopal Church no
longer believes in evangelism, that is evangelism that believes in
announcing Good News that brings people out of darkness into light. The
last Episcopal missionary supported by 815 was Marc Nikkel who died in
the Sudan recently. So mission today is about forming an entente
cordiale with the Lutherans lest we drown singly rather than together.
Charleston again: "Therefore I believe that the true mission that
should be described for those of you who are communicators in Episcopal
Churches is, you are in the mission of liberation. You are in the
mission of reconciliation. And you are in the mission of peacemaking."
Let's look at this. Liberation from what? Sin and death and the grave?
Preaching Good News of the timeless gospel of Christ, death to the
self and being made alive in Christ? Not a prayer. It is liberation to
be all that you can be, the Budweiser commercial of Episcopalianism.
Gays should just 'be themselves' and the rest of us should be liberated
from homophobia and orthophobia. And "reconciliation" is always
understood horizontally rarely, if ever, vertically. Way too spiritual.
And "peacemaking" is little more than warmed over UN resolutions that
have little to do with being reconciled to the Father under which every
family in heaven and on earth is named.
Then Charleston talks about his own seminary - Episcopal Divinity
School. He says the image of the school around the country is that "it
is frozen in 1983". "Why is it we are not being able to find that what
we're doing at Episcopal Divinity School, which is spiritual renewal,
it's one of the brightest, best stories in the whole Episcopal Church--
I mean it's just absolutely phenomenal what's happening at Episcopal
Divinity School, in its energy, its life, its commitment to Christ--I
mean it is incredible news, is what's happening."
Really. I'd like to know what Charleston means by spiritual renewal.
This is the same seminary that gave Louie Crew, the church's leading
homosexual an honorary doctorate for promoting 30 years of sodomy as a
lay person in the Episcopal Church. That's renewal? Or what about a
recent evangelical woman graduate and ordinand who told me that the
handful of evangelicals in the seminary have to sneak around saying
"Jesus is Lord" under their breath because the school will not tolerate
"patriarchal language". And the only reason she got ordained is because
Bishop Mary Adelia McLeod (Vermont) said she would not ordain her
unless she went to EDS and got 'educated'. A wonderfully inclusivist
act. It's nothing more than the tyranny of the majority. Or how about
the Trinity being renamed "creator, sustainer and redeemer". They may
well have gone all the way and renamed the Trinity, "psychologist,
sociologist and anthropologist" it would have been more consistent. Of
course the seminary does have a quasi evangelical in Ian Douglas the
missions professor, but push his buttons and you will get the
"liberation school of thought" not old fashioned biblical evangelism.
Better still ask those liberal and revisionist bishops like Charles E.
Bennison (Pennsylvania) who won't ordain students who go to TESM but
must get a "broader education" from EDS because it promotes homosexual
misbehavior and other inclusivist notions. You want renewal go to TESM,
but if you do and want a job in a liberal diocese when you graduate you
won't get one. Don't bother applying. You will be asked (read told) to
take a psychological test and one of the questions will be, "Do you
believe that you have been called to convert the world" and if you
answer "yes", some theologically deconstructed, liberal therapist hack
will tell you that you have a Messianic complex and "we don't think you
are qualified to be a priest."
Charleston again: "We no longer live in just a factual reporting age,
we live in an age in which we expect that there will be spin, and the
distinction between who's spinning and who's simply reporting is
getting blurred. Am I telling you the truth? Do you think this
is true? It's gotten blurred. In the popular imagination, in the
average pew in the
average Episcopal church, if somebody clicks on the Internet, they see
something or they are on an email site where they're getting some kind
of information--is this coming to them because this is what really
happened? Or is this someone's special interest group? Is this a spin
that's being put on it, in order to kind of persuade me that I should
be more conservative? More liberal? Middle of the road? Where are we?"
Now we get to the nub of the issue. Blame it on the Internet. Blame it
on those nasty conservative writers who just wanna lay it all out.
Blame the messenger. He's (read Virtue) is distorting everything. He's
upsetting the man/woman in the pew who just don't know what the hell
has been going on for the past 30 years and please, dear Lord, keep
them in the dark while EDS changes the church's teaching to suit some
sub group like Integrity.
As a matter of truth telling I make it ABUNDANTLY CLEAR when I am
reporting something and when I am commenting on something. "News
Analysis" means exactly that. So does COMMENTARY. A "special report"
means hard news. Charleston is putting his own spin on things when he
says we blur the facts. You want "blur" and "spin" read Episcopal Life
and you will see a blurring of the lines going on all over the place.
Charleston says, "there is a small but very vocal group that, by virtue
of these divisions, would cause schism within the Episcopal Church." As
a result...many church leaders--especially Presiding Bishop Frank T.
Griswold--are attempting to "hold the line and articulate a vision and
a direction for the church and our dioceses."
This is arrant nonsense. Worse, it is a lie. We (evangelicals) are not
creating the schism, the liberals and revisionists are by proclaiming
"another gospel". It is they who, by trying to change the church's
historic and biblical teachings are driving it into the sewer. Just
look at what Jane Dixon is doing in Washington, DC to one poor,
traditionalist priest. It's now an international scandal what she is
doing and she's the sort of bishop that Charleston thinks will take the
Church into the brave new world of the future. In his dreams.
No, the truth is the Episcopal Church is in a crisis precisely because
it has no clearly defined gospel and Frank Griswold's pluriform "truth"
is no truth at all. It is no more truth than Jack Spong's version of
New Age, ego-driven Christianity or California Bishop William Swing's
United Religions Initiative.
It's all a fiction and a lie. And Hell is just a failed heart beat
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