Banned

banned

Yes, it has been months since I posted here. There are several reasons why. One of them just came up on another blog.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of ecclesial blogs: those that concern themselves with the eternal, and those that concern themselves with the immediate.

And then . . . well, Al Gore famously jokes that “you win some, you lose some—and then there’s that little known third category . . . ” There are blogs that do a blend of both, a combination of contemplating the transcendent while seeing how that works out in the imminent. At least that’s what I tried to do.

This provided, at least for me and (I hope) some of my readers, the best of both worlds, the opportunity to view this synod or that conference or this statement or that manifesto through a larger prism than just its immediate political context. Sometimes I leaned more towards the big picture, other times more towards the particular occasion. Most of the time I enjoyed this, at least after a fashion. William F. Buckley (no hero of mine) was once asked if he enjoyed writing, and his reply was both simple and yet deeply profound: “No, I enjoy having written.” Well, I enjoyed seeing my comments on the web and enjoyed even more that some other people enjoyed them too. But the strain of both maintaining a constant state of preparedness for comment as events in the Anglican world spun out of control, and yet pausing long enough to say anything really worthwhile about them, grew greater and greater. After all, I do have a day job, and I certainly wasn’t getting paid for this. I did not realize just how great the strain was until I was forced to pause and regroup following the collapse of my original sponsors at CaNN.

Furthermore, as time went by, I grew less and less satisfied with commenting on the immediate occasions of the church’s perils. I come from a family of writers and journalists, but I had neither the time nor the desire to be a third-rate Ruth Gledhill. More and more I was drawn to examing Anglican first principles, to see, first, if there were any (answer: there are), and second, if anyone out there understood or cared about them anymore (answer: fewer and fewer). I started series, such as ‘Anglican Formularies and Anglican Authority,’ and then realized I had bitten off, not more than I could chew, but more than could be quickly swallowed or easily digested. And more and more I felt that, if I couldn’t do that, what was the point?

As well, I grew increasingly depressed that I was simply screaming into the void. By that, I don’t mean that my readership here was too small—it was never, in fact, that large, and that really didn’t matter to me much. No, what I mean is that even on the “big” blogs such as Stand Firm or TitusOneNine, I kept seeing the same dreary arguments over the same set of issues, over and over and over and over . . . It seemed obvious over time that few, if any, were being persuaded that their support for, e.g., the “ordination” of women was based on arguments built on the sand of emotion or illogic or pseudo-scholarship or just plain heresy. The occasional success—someone who actually came to see the light of, not to put it too finely, catholic truth—was always followed by some comment that indicated a near-complete lack of understanding of the issues at stake or a commitment to arguments long overthrown or an ecclesiology bereft of any truly catholic underpinning. How many times can people keep on arguing for the “apostle” Junia or finding “evidence” of women “priests” in catacombs or mosaics or coming up with “Biblical” arguments that ignore the Bible? Apparently ad infinitum and ad nauseam.

Thus I paused. For months. I worked—taught, wrote, traveled abroad with students, sat on committees, etc.—and went to church and prayed. I followed events from afar, so to speak, and found that, as the Anglican situation grew ever more confusing, I had both more and less to say. But the “more” was too long for a blog, and the “less” too short to justify more than an occasional comment elsewhere.

However, I became annoyed enough to comment today when someone alerted me to a couple of threads on A Certain Anglican Blog Which Shall Not Be Named. To be fair, the author of one post (or those who administer the site) had warned that those who used the term “priestess” would be banned. However, he or they apparently did not feel that someone who used “priestess” only to declare it insulting crossed that line. Apparently, one only gets banned if one approves of the term “priestess,” not if one objects. Thus one commenter wrote

I think I will stay away from this thread except to say that I do appreciate that people be mandated not to use “priestess”. Yes, it is insulting and I have never known any ordained Episcopal or Lutheran clergywoman who uses it.

This was a bit much for me, so I fired off the following (actually posting it on two threads):

I am sorry that there are some who still find the term “priestess” insulting. It is, however, still perfectly unexceptionable and proper English. See

http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8368.html

The author and the press cited above are hardly bastions of conservatism in the gender wars. If the objection by some in Christian quarters to “priestess” is that it carries pagan or gnostic connotations, well, yes. That’s the point.

Apparently, some do not care to be reminded that there is, in fact, an ideological or theological set of assumptions—true or untrue, valid or invalid, pleasant or unpleasant—on BOTH sides of this argument, and that those who declare the use of “priestess” insulting are in fact making a theological or ideological statement every bit as much as those who use it. Declaring it to be insulting is merely using emotion to blackmail objectors into using language in a way that caters to the very arguments to which they are objecting. So get over it. I will not allow my use of language to be policed by anyone who says she is “insulted” when in fact she is merely objecting to the position I have taken.

(I urge the reader to click on the link to Princeton University Press above to see my point.)

This was immediately deleted from both threads (as was the ‘thank you’ I received from another commenter) and I was declared banned. I have yet to see similar punishment meted out to the woman who styles herself FenelonSpoke and who declared the term “priestess” insulting (and parenthetically, I’m sure Fenelon is turning over in his grave). Arguments on this Certain Blog only go one way, it seems.

I’m not actually all that bothered by this. I admit it—I asked for it. But the double standard is troubling.

So should I return to blogging more frequently? Perhaps. I’ll think about it. But I am not encouraged.

UPDATE: My more considered thoughts on this matter may be found here.

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10 Responses to “Banned”

  1. Katherine Says:

    Not only did complainant “FenelonSpoke” get away with it, but so also did regular commenter “AndrewA” who did it by referring to “pr**st***” or something like it, and I think some others did too. So the blog is on record as being intimidated by an ordained Protestant pastor, probably a Methodist, into banning a serious Anglican commenter who was NOT being gratuitously offensive, because “priestess” hurt her feelings.

    I was the one who said “thank you.” They need some more real men, and real women, over there.

    I’d like to know your take on whatever an Anglican is to do, if you have the time and the interest to post.

  2. Truth Unites... and Divides Says:

    “I have yet to see similar punishment meted out to the woman who styles herself FenelonSpoke and who declared the term “priestess” insulting (and parenthetically, I’m sure Fenelon is turning over in his grave).”

    But don’t the GLBT revisionists apply the same rhetorical technique as FenelonSpoke by also getting upset at terms which they consider “insulting”?

    This is how WO leads to GO. Pro-GO’ers see the same overturning of Scripture used by the pro-WO’ers to advance their cause, and thus they do the same. Pro-GO’ers see the same squashing of language and terms used by the pro-WO’ers to advance their cause, and thus they do the same.

    Sad, really when you think about how the pro-WO’ers have decimated the mainline Prot denominations with their agenda.

  3. Truth Unites... and Divides Says:

    “I have yet to see similar punishment meted out to the woman who styles herself FenelonSpoke and who declared the term “priestess” insulting (and parenthetically, I’m sure Fenelon is turning over in his grave). Arguments on this Certain Blog only go one way, it seems.”

    You’re right. I went and took another look at what Matt Kennedy+ wrote. He wrote:

    However, in addition to the standard SF policies:

    1. There will be no use of the word “priestess”. Correct or incorrect, many find it insulting.
    2. #1 is not debatable.”

    No use of the word “priestess” means no use of the word “priestess”, right? So then what do we see in the very first comment by FenelonSpoke?

    “I think I will stay away from this thread except to say that I do appreciate that people be mandated not to use “priestess”. Yes, it is insulting and I have never known any ordained Episcopal or Lutheran clergywoman who uses it. Just FTR, using “pastorette” is insulting too. There are a number of people now banned, I believe, from SFIF who use both those terms, and they have found a website elsewhere.”

    Well, there you have it. How is it that FenelonSpoke gets to use the word “priestess” in the very first comment, but then doesn’t have her comment summarily deleted along with a stern warning?

    And so our brave anti-hero, IRNS, seeing the established precedent set forth already by FenelonSpoke with her use of the word “priestess”, and doing so without being punished, then proceeds to make a reasoned case that “priestess” is an unexceptional and ordinary term in the English language.

    Blam! He’s banned.

    And so, I’m not arguing that there weren’t any rules that Matt Kennedy and SFIF posted for the conduct on the said thread, but I am arguing that the enforcement upon those violating the rules were applied unjustly. If carte blanche was extended to FenelonSpoke, a precedent, then why didn’t IRNS get the same carte blanche treatment too?

    It’s absurd. If IRNS is banned, then why shouldn’t FenelonSpoke be banned too?

    This is just wrong.

  4. Truth Unites... and Divides Says:

    Anyways, maybe the candidate for ordination at Christ Church Plano, Susan Freeman, can do the same thing for ACNA as V. Gene Robinson did for TEc.

  5. Susan Peterson Says:

    And now both you and Mr. Tighe have been banned from Stand Firm for the same offense, which makes Stand Firm much the poorer in my view.
    I wish you had compromised, not challenged Matt, and used “priest”, and “purported to ordain” and so on. Then you could have continued to bring your arguments to the discussion there. As for stupid arguments, life is like that. I haven’t seen any “Junia” at Stand Firm lately, though.

    I agree that Fenelon spoke should at least have had the comment deleted and should have been warned, like the person who imported the word in a quotation.

    I also agree that ‘some find it offensive’ is a poor reason for a censorship policy. “Some” find an awful lot of things offensive.
    Why is it that this particular “some” gets kowtowed to?

    It isn’t Anne, I don’t think. She isn’t the kind to get up on her high horse and “take offense.” But perhaps it is Matt being protective towards Anne, even when Anne is plenty tough enough not to need it?

    Susan Peterson

  6. Truth Unites... and Divides Says:

    Susan Peterson: “It isn’t Anne, I don’t think. She isn’t the kind to get up on her high horse and “take offense.” But perhaps it is Matt being protective towards Anne, even when Anne is plenty tough enough not to need it?”

    It’s hard to know. Matt Kennedy+ who posted the thread at SFIF from which IRNS was banned is in an interesting situation for two reasons:

    (1) He is married to a priestess.

    (2) He is now against WO. See this comment by him on this thread.

    Excerpt: “Personally, I have come to the point where I believe WO should be ended on biblical grounds. I think those who are currently ordained ought to be the last. I used to hold to a limited WO position…ie women could be ordained but not fill headship roles (rector or bishop etc).

    Now, I think that position is flawed. I do not know what authority or role women ought to hold in the Church, but I no longer have confidence that ordained presbyter is one of them.

    What am I going to do about that? I continue to believe it is not an essential matter but now that I think I see the matter in a different light Anne and I have some things to think through together and we are presently doing that.”

    Has Matt Kennedy+ let the Stand Firm readership know of his change of mind, and that he’s now against WO?

    If so, when? If not, why not?

  7. Katherine Says:

    I have seen comments by Matt Kennedy+ about his new outlook on WO on his blog. He’s been clear.

  8. A Further Note on “Priestess” « Rather Not Blog Says:

    […] Rather Not Blog All Things Anglican « Banned […]

  9. Susan Peterson Says:

    I’ll be honest; I myself shudder to hear the word “priestess” applied to Anne Kennedy, because there is nothing pagan about her as far as her beliefs or her character are concerned. Whatever she thinks she is doing on the rare occasions when she celebrates, it is not what Catholics believe a priest does. By “whatever” I don’t mean to be dismissive, I mean that I don’t really understand other than Catholic understandings of the Eucharist. I think I have some idea of other than Catholic understandings of the Eucharistic presence, but I don’t really understand other than Catholic understandings of the Eucharistic action. But I know Anne doesn’t think she acts “in the person of Christ” as a Catholic priest does. I know that Anne is a serious and devout Christian woman. And Matt isn’t married to her qua “priestess” he is married to the woman and person Anne. It is too easy to forget that when her ecclesiastical status is an issue of public controversy.
    I see Matt’s views on the Eucharist as having changed a bit over the past few years, for instance from seeing John VI as not about the Eucharist at all to seeing that at least the second half of it must be.
    It is amazing that he has any time for theological thought at all given the stress of leaving the Episcopal church and losing the building, and now having the diocese accuse him of financial malfeasance because people gave money to the St. Matthias society and the church spent down the assets that were to be confiscated. But I do see some movement. It is much better for such movement to take place without a whole lot of public scrutiny and people jumping all over every sentence. If a change in one little piece of one’s ideas is going to require a change in another place, this might require a year’s reflection and study. There is no point in telling someone that because he has taken one step along a road that he doesn’t know the ending of, or what route he is going to take, that there is only one road with no exit ramps and the destination is inescapable. Nothing like that for making someone dig in his feet.
    Susan Peterson

  10. Jack in Jax Says:

    StandFirm served its purpose in its time. It left a large void when it jumped the shark.

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