Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Matt Kennedy on Tennessee Bishop Balloting and the Internet

Matt Kennedy has made a very perceptive post on the ECUSA Diocese of Tennessee’s attempts to elect a new bishop.

He notes that the Tennessee balloting might be the beginning of a nationalization of episcopal elections provoked by the developments of recent years.

I agree with him that this would be healthy. Too many bishops (and too many convention delegates) are chosen on the basis of minor issues and personality preferences instead of more important big picture issues. Moreover, big picture issues, such as the orthodoxy of the candidates, may be considered impolite to bring up. I suspect that’s how a number of liberals and weak moderates have become bishops. (And I suspect similar things could be said about other mainline denominations.)

Kennedy’s analogy with the 1994 congressional elections is apt. For years, House incumbents got reelected because of name identification, bringing home the bacon, and other advantages of incumbency that have little to do with good government. And those advantages usually trumped the fact that those congressmen were not well representing the conservative views of voters. But in 1994, enough voters were fed up with Clintonite liberalism to vote on national issues and boot many liberals out.

The analogy breaks down some because we’re not talking about “incumbent” bishops. But the nationalization of episcopal elections could result in more bishops that represent the relatively conservative views of the laity.

(Please do note that I said “relatively.” Also note that ECUSA has already lost much of its conservative laity. Therefore, any nationalization in episcopal elections, even if positive, is probably coming too late.)

Kennedy then notes that the internet has come to be a positive force helping orthodox Anglicans to work together and break down the isolation that they would otherwise experience. He notes the outpouring of support for the Tennessee laity who are standing up to the clergy and insisting on a strongly reasserting bishop.

I may post more on the impact of the internet on Anglicans for good or for ill. I know it’s had quite an effect on my spiritual path.

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