anthills–Episcopalians & the Anglican Communion

March 14, 2006


Filed under: ECUSA — anthill @ 1:12 am

In her blog on March 11, Susan Russell, Senior Associate at All Saints Church, Pasadena, and President of Integrity, blasted conservative critics while promoting Holy Communion as the solution to the debates in the church. You can understand what torqued her. Some commenters on titusonenine were taking apart the liturgy of her same-sex “wedding” (her word).

Russell’s pointer from Queen Elizabeth I getting opponents to the same Communion rail is a main thrust of those seeking to get through the current crisis with no bad results. After all, in Elizabeth’s day they were arguing over transubstantiation and whether they were Roman Catholic or Protestant—really big questions. People had been burned at the stake for the controversies (Ridley, Latimer, Cranmer).

I’ve put this point in the anthill at the argument.

Russell says that if we can keep worshiping together and serving in the world together, things will be all right. This sounds lovely until you read on in Russell’s article.

First, She asserts that common worship (especially Communion) precludes having to wait for an agreement on disputed matters. Of course this is true in many situations.

The problem here is precisely that Russell’s same-sex “wedding” was an occasion of worship with Holy Communion using a very “incarnational” (my most irenic description, again, using her word) rite, arguably loaded toward its same-sex setting. It was not “common” prayer that could have been shared on an average Sunday morning by traditional Episcopalians with convictions against same-sex blessings.

Second, it seems that people with strong reservations about same-sex blessings are not joyfully welcomed at the Table after all. Russell calls some of these “revisionist neo-Puritan ideologues.” Interesting twist of the label “revisionist” also!

These people of “the conservative fringe” are busy protecting their “precious orthodoxy.” I think I’m being named because I could not have made it through her ceremony. These labels make me feel less than welcome at the reconciling Table at which Russell might preside.

There is something disturbingly inconsistent about her words in that heated name-calling.

Think through Russell’s method of holding together ECUSA. She is suggesting that those who have very strong convictions about the church not being free to bless same-sex unions, should adopt the solution of coming to the Communion rail without great concern for resolution. Meanwhile, “weddings” like Russell’s multiply, possibly with a Communion rite like her’s that includes: “From the beginning we did not trust you when you called us ‘good.’ In our arrogance, we placed ourselves outside your garden of love. Separate from you, vulnerable and unprotected, we feared one another and our diversity.”

This is very convenient for her position.

Leaders in our church who are unable to approve same-sex blessing ceremonies, may be “neo-Puritan ideologues” and “the conservative fringe,” but they aren’t stupid.



  1. In a rush to make this prayer”inclusive”, the author says Jesus gathered his “friends” instead of using the actual text “his disciples”.

    This rush to make a point distorts the gospel by identifying Judas as a friend.

    THis is an example of why these folks are dangerous. There need to use scritpure for their own needs ends up distorting the meaning and by doing so will distort the ears of those who don’t know better.

    Comment by Ray — March 14, 2006 @ 10:56 am

  2. Thanks for commenting, Ray. You make a point I will bring into the anthill, with a little change.

    I will say that all of us, as sinners, have a perverse tendency to “use Scripture for our own needs” and thereby to “distort” it.

    Comment by anthill — March 14, 2006 @ 1:18 pm

  3. “In our arrogance, we placed ourselves outside your garden of love.”

    Yes, and in our arrogance, we will change Your thoughts on the matter so You will have to accept our sin as no sin at all. So there, God!

    Comment by Milton Finch — March 14, 2006 @ 1:26 pm

  4. “In our arrogance, WE placed ourselves outside your garden of love.”

    “We”? Scripture properly notes that “we” made the choice of disobedience and God provided the particular consequences. Once again, Russell shows her propensity to ignore and twist the plain meaning of Scripture while she operates using an anthropecentric theology with “We” at the center of the universe versus Scripture’s Theocentric theology with God at the center of the universe.

    Don’t kid yourself, Russell is a bully. Just after the HOB’s “triumphal” vote at GC2003 Russell barged in on an interview that the NY Times and a few other national heavy hitters had requested of Kendall Harmon. She literally “pushed” an older lady out of the way to get to Harmon and then started shouting him down as he tried to answer the questions the reporters were asking him. He never finished an answer that she did not counter claim or obfuscate with an other question. When the reporters asked Kendall who she was she told them that she was a reporter for the organization Integrity. This went on for about ten minutes until she had completely destroyed the interview and then she stormed off. I was there and I saw it with my own two eyes.

    One would have thought that Russell would have been feeling pretty confident considering the just completed vote confirming Gene Robinson but this was not the case. Even in her triumph she would brook no opposition nor allow them to have their fair say in the court of public opinion and free speech.

    She is a bully and the only peace that can be made with her is capitulation. Hence, the jist of her article; let me do what I want to do and you all just shut up and keep showing up for communion and no one get’s hurt.

    Comment by Russell — March 14, 2006 @ 10:52 pm

  5. Russell on Russell! Thanks for the first hand report. I remember hearing about that incident.

    Comment by anthill — March 15, 2006 @ 12:28 am

  6. […] – SUSAN RUSSELL BELIES HER OWN METHOD OF RECONCILIATION, anthill–ECUSAnts on the sexuality debate … (anthill) […]

    Pingback by CaNN :: We started it. — March 16, 2006 @ 12:08 am

  7. RonF–I removed your comment.

    Maybe Susan Russel’s husband died. Maybe he was an abusive curr. Maybe he deserted her with two children.

    Even if we knew, it wouldn’t be productive for our debate.

    Comment by anthill — March 16, 2006 @ 11:12 pm

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