As The Shooting Starts: A View from The Pew by Gerry Hunter
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Fri Mar 28 20:58:40 EST 2003
As The Shooting Starts: A View From The Pew
by Gerry Hunter
When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
And march to your front like a soldier.
Rudyard Kipling, The Young British Soldier
The lesson for the people in the pews from Kipling's life is that no
one will much appreciate a mirror that faithfully reflects what is
incident upon it. No knighthood for this accurate reflector; no chance
at being poet laureate. His honours, most notably his Nobel Prize in
literature, came from outside the society he starkly mirrored in his
writings. But his candor led to some worthwhile insights, and now that
the shooting has started here in New Westminster, people in the pews
can benefit from reflecting on them.
The Bishop of New Westminster has fired the first shot, and George W.
Bush would be proud of him. In Iraq, Bush's generals caused the first
shots to be directed at Saddam Hussein, in what was termed a
"decapitation strike." In New Westminster, the Bishop has had his
Chancellor direct the first shots at Bishop Terry Buckle. Ironic,
indeed, that the Bishop would be so quick to emulate the tactics
adopted by the leader of a war in which Diocesan Council minutes
indicate he has concluded, "the four criteria for a 'just war' have not
The shots were wild shots, though, not precision strikes, by any
stretch of the imagination. Mr. Cadman suggests that Bishop Buckle's
action was "a direct violation of Bishop Ingham's desire that people
engage in a process of reconciliation as requested by the national
House of Bishops." Quite apart from the difficulty posed by dealing
with the concept of the "violation" of a "desire," one wonders about
the strength of a "desire" for something that Bishop Ingham repeatedly
identified as going nowhere, on more than one occasion, before it even
Clearly Bishop Ingham has opted to deploy ballistic, rather than
precision, weaponry. The Chancellor states that, "He [Bishop Buckle]
has made his offer before any blessings have taken place - even before
Bishop Ingham has issued a rite." Now quite apart from the angst this
fact must be causing the parishes that want to get on with blessing the
unblessable (Is Bishop Ingham out to satisfy anyone but himself, one
might wonder?), there is no reference at all to Bishop Ingham's
constant and repeated assertions that he is indeed going to do so. So
much, it seems, for precision.
Mind you, the manifested lack of targeting skill in the Chancellor's
statement is so bad that the use of precision weaponry would have been
very wasteful indeed. We read about, "The Bishop of Yukon's offer, and
its acceptance by the leadership of seven of our parishes," in the
statement. It was, in fact, the congregation members, assembled at
special general vestry meetings, who received and (overwhelmingly)
accepted Bishop Buckle's offer. Or perhaps the decision to go
ballistic was a necessary one, since no known precision targeting
system could lock onto Bishop Buckle, given the signals it was getting
from the Canadian House of Bishops (don't do it), and the legal
situation of Bishop Ingham (he has no authority to do it)?
Now that the shooting has started, Kipling's advice to march forward is
especially well taken here in the pews. After all, there may well be
hits taken, but not from precision weaponry in the hands of skilled
If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
In the run-up to the shooting, we in the pews have certainly been
subjected to a lot of softening up attacks by the forces of revision.
We have had officers as casualties: one priest who left the ministry
altogether during the run-up prior to the June 2002 synod, and another
who moved to Europe after it, come quickly to mind. And looking around
in the pews, it sure hasn't been difficult to spot a few folks who
looked rather pale. But the supports have indeed come.
It has not been easy in the pews to emulate Elisha, who knew all the
time that the hosts of the Lord God were at hand to assist in the
battle (2 Kings 6: 16-17). As they were then, so they are now. Over
time, though, visible "supports" have come. A faithful Bishop has come
forward at great risk; six Primates supported him; the Bishop of
Saskatchewan, on Ash Wednesday, circulated a letter that absolutely
tore Bishop Ingham's assertions and arguments to shreds (Now THAT was a
manifestation of precision, not to mention faithfulness and
intellect!); a seventh Primate has joined the first six in support of
Bishop Buckle. Indeed, we are, as proclaimed in Hebrews 12,
"surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses," and the cloud is not
dissipating. So then, here in the pews, there is every reason to
continue to "run with perseverance the race that is set before us."
And we will do so, even if at times in the future, we have to take the
same advice as Kipling gave to the British Tommys to lie down, sit
tight, and wait for supports, before we can resume running forward.
But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead:
You must wear your 'elmet for all that is said:
If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,
An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier.
The old sweat in Kipling's poem commended the recruit's attention to
the dangers he faced, and the equipment with which he had been
provided. It's interesting here that he pointed out the dangers of the
environment as "the worst o' your foes." In the spiritual war waging
in New Westminster, we must not lose sight of the dangers the
environment poses to us here in the pews. Those who are shooting at us
certainly know the advantages they would gain if we failed to take
cognizance of the environment. The Chancellor asserts in his
The vote to proceed with blessing of same sex unions by a clear
majority of delegates at the Diocesan Synod last June came after many
years of prayerful study. The issue was considered, debated, approved,
and consented to, all in accordance with the Canons and Constitution of
the Diocese, and of the General Synod.
In addition, he noted:
Bishop Ingham's desire that people engage in a process of
reconciliation as requested by the national House of Bishops.
And he suggests:
It is incongruous that what has been done in such a careful and
considerate manner after much thoughtful dialogue and debate is now
being attacked by Bishop Buckle making this irregular offer.
Now if Holy Scripture and Christian Tradition don't support your case,
you can always try to process the faithful to death. And heaven knows,
that's been tried. Even as the shooting starts, there is tacit
recognition by the revisionists that this weapon could still inflict
severe damage to the faithful who stand against Bishop Ingham's plans.
Pop psychology driven process has been one of the dastardliest weapons
that has been brought to bear against the faithful, and the time is
clearly not yet past when we can ignore the threat from it. It is a
part of the environment in which all of these events are taking place,
and this secular environment is very fond of it indeed. It's
everywhere. "Thoughtful dialogue and debate" permeates our society,
filling the vacuum created by the postmodern assumption that there is
no such thing as truth, or right and wrong. Buying into that lie will
indeed "knock you down dead" in this spiritual war that is raging. No
wonder it is still touted, and presented as being "careful and
considerate" when it was anything but. As for asserting that Bishop
Buckle was the one attacking it, why, I wonder, does the Chancellor
pick on him, when he could have picked on St. Paul?
For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He
catches the wise in their craftiness," and again, "the Lord knows that
the thoughts of the wise are futile." 1 Cor. 3: 19-20
(Mind you, attacking St. Paul would require the use of precision
weaponry, and the choice of the ballistic approach probably precluded
We in the pews also have a helmet, and more. We have the helmet of
salvation, a part of the full armour of God that the same St. Paul
describes in the 6th Chapter of Ephesians. And we must trust in the
equipment our Lord and Saviour had His Apostle inventory in Holy
Scripture for our benefit. Kipling's old sweat knew the importance of
using the equipment the Tommy recruit had been given, too:
When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
She's human as you are -- you treat her as sich,
An' she'll fight for the young British soldier.
We don't have a Martini rifle, but we do have a sword - "the sword of
the spirit, which is the word of God." Recourse to it in the run-up to
the shooting has had little effect on the revisionists. But we dare
not set it aside as ineffective for that reason. We can expect efforts
to have us do so intensify, not decrease, now that the shooting has
started. Notice how the warhead in the Chancellors missile contained
no part of it. No, it contained a (somewhat arcane) mixture of worldly
ingredients, and the revisionists would dearly love us to fight with
the weapons of their choice, rather than those that are a part of the
full armour of God. In this spiritual war, though, doing that would be
as foolish as the taking off of a soldier's helmet the old sweat
describes. And make no mistake: this is a salvation issue, and we in
the pews face eternal death if we succumb to the revisionist
temptation, and we know it. But the full armour God has provided will
be even more effective against the spiritual poison of secularism that
our foes may deploy than the best chemical suit could be against the
toxins feared by troops in Iraq.
This could all go on for a while. There will be no quick end to this
spiritual battle, we suspect in the pews. I wonder does Bishop Ingham,
who has emulated George W. Bush in choosing to attempt decapitation as
his first shooting strike, also harbour the thought that he will be
able to do us in quickly? Perhaps he should further emulate George W.
by losing that thought, since we in the pews never had it to begin
And there will be risk. Even as I was writing this, a note from a
strident revisionist hit my e-mail in box. It ended:
If you persist in this, you will lose your parish buildings, your
priests, and likely your congregations will sharply decline.
All of these things are indeed at risk. We have taken casualties among
the ordained; covetous revisionists, in need of capital, will no doubt
cast their eyes towards our assets; some people have left our parish,
but others have come, and our current growth not withstanding, the
dynamics are such that precise numerical predictions would be folly.
But here, we part company a bit with Kipling's Tommy recruit.
The poet, in full candor, painted a very bleak possible ending to a
Tommy's life of service:
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
No wonder Kipling was never knighted. He knew that the Tommy
recruited, trained, and equipped to serve, in the end, the false god of
empire, domination, and conquest. We know from twentieth century
experience that suicide often accompanies service to these false gods,
for, however they are crafted, they always turn out to be bloodthirsty.
Kipling knew that the image of the true God had been distorted by his
own society, and mirrored that distortion back to the Tommy in the
poem, much to the consternation of those who responded by withholding
honours from him. Victorian England's distortion of God was aimed at
the glory of the Empire. The revisionist foes we face today in the
pews distort God to the erstwhile glory of human beings. But the God
who sent His Son to die for us and redeem us has not left us, and never
will, though he may indeed call on us to part with some worldly things.
Kipling's penchant for mirroring accurately the earthly characteristics
of the constructs of the society in which he lived was not the only
instance of accurate mirroring that brought him into disfavour. He
also accurately mirrored that society's approach to God. To the
Victorian Englishman, God was also a Victorian Englishman, and, that
Englishman would have argued, for all the right reasons. He has co-
opted God into his ventures. Kipling probably never, not even in "The
Widow in Windsor," generated as much venom as he did when he wrote his
"Recessional." Rather than co-opt God for the glory of the Empire, he
turned to Him in repentance and humility. The warning he gave to his
society is one we would do well to ponder her in the pews today, and
the shooting starts in this spiritual war. The opening shot by our foe
urges us to fight a worldly, secular battle. But that is not where it
will be won. Indeed, there is no victory to be won in the pews. There
is only the already won victory of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to
be embraced. I end with the end of Kipling's warning, in case we ever
lose sight of what we have been given, and why we have been given it,
and become trapped in the secular snare being so carefully set for us:
For heathen heart that puts her trust In reeking tube and iron shard--
All valiant dust that builds on dust, And guarding calls not Thee to
guard-- For frantic boast and foolish word, Thy Mercy on Thy People,
© by Gerry Hunter, 2003 All rights reserved.
Gerry Hunter is a lay Anglican who attends an orthodox parish in the
Diocese of New Westminster.
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