Sunday, November 04, 2007

“A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” Mark Twain

Well, StandFirm has gone limp again. But only after sending yet another lie on its journey around the world.

In case you lead a sheltered life, Stand Firm is one of the most testosterone poisoned web sites of those claiming to represent "Traditional Anglicanism in America." They are easily upset by many things, but women in authority appear to make the manager of the site and those who comment on it lose all reason.

The latest woman to upset them appeared to be Bishop Barbara Harris. Greg Griffith, the site manager, posted a photo he identified as Bp. Harris. The person in the photo was wearing a scarf patterned after a keffiyeh, the traditional headdress of Arab men. The pattern on the scarf in the photo was made famous by Yasser Arafat, who Stand Firm called a Hamas terrorist. Well, they got that wrong too. Arafat's party was Fatah, not Hamas.

Griffith called on Bishop Harris to apologize for "supporting terrorists." Here is just one of the comments made in response to the photo and Griffith's comments:

"God, I have for years tried to control my temper and you have blessed me with a modicum of patience and allowed me to lean on You and to refrain from my violent tendencies. But God, when I see these idiots mocking you and turning their backs on your people and the young men and women who lay down their lives for the freedom that allows them to exhibit their blatant and boneheaded betrayal of You and of this their country I really, really want to do them extreme bodily harm. Forgive me, dear God.
Your trying to be Christian servant, John, the AP+"

Fr. Jake has identified John, the AP, which stands for "Anglican Papist" as "none other than the Rev. John Cornelius of the Church of the Holy Cross, Warrensburg, NY."

This is a priest making this threat.

Well, guess what? As several people suspected, the person in the photo they were frothing at the mouth about was NOT Bp. Barbara Harris. We were immediately suspicious of the photo because the person was much bigger than Bp. Harris, and Bp. Harris has never been dressed that untidily in her entire life. I suspect she gets out of bed looking more fashionable than a Vogue model.

Here is how Bp. Harris responded to a note from Elizabeth Kaeton telling her of the Stand Firm postings.
Dear Elizabeth,

Thanks for sending me the "report" of my participation in a rally I knew nothing about in a city I have not visited for several years and from a web site and its freak bloggers of which I have never heard. Of course as a Black person I know that we all look alike to many, if not most, white folk, so I am not surprised that a short afro, small glasses. a purple shirt and collar, etc. would peg the person as me. I also have been identified and addressed as The Rev. Dr. Katie Cannon, the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, the Rev. Sandye Williams, the Rev. Mary Adebonojo and several other Black women, twice my size and in no way similar in appearance. But that's the way it goes in this wonderful racist country of ours and this lovely hate-filled church we know and love.

While I do have a concern for Palestinian people, I also have a deep concern for so called "orthodox Anglicans" who think they have cornered the market on revealed truth and righteousness. (They remind me of Fred Phelps and his squad). It must be a heavy burden to be so freakin' right all of the time.

Again, thanks for letting me know what is being said about me these days. Back in 1988 when I was elected bishop the then Episcopal Synod of America said: "The final crisis has come upon the Episcopal Church." Well, here we are almost two decades later and the Church, by the grace of God, continues to press on and will, by Christ's promise, endure.

If you are so inclined, you may pass this on to that wonderfully "Christian" website. I have no clue how to do that myself since I don't get involved in that kind of exchange (translate "crap"). I DO have a life.

Peace, best regards, love and prayers,


Stand Firm has taken the exchange down, but you can read the whole sorry thing for yourself at the Episcopal Cafe, where they cached it.

Greg Griffith apologized in his usual style, taking more swipes at Bp. Harris along the way. And the commentors managed to insult her several more times while commenting on the apology. Geesh, these people are amazing.

See the apology and comments at:

So why write about all this? It just calls attention to them.

I do so because violence is a disturbing theme on Stand Firm, and a subtext to much of the swaggering rhetoric of the 'traditionalist" camp.

Thanks to Fr. Jake for pointing out this Stand Firm exchange:

"For instance, consider this conversation that occurred recently at Stand Firm, an ultra-conservative site that is managed by Greg Griffith. The responses were to some "notes" from Bob Maxwell of a clergy conference. Here is part of those "notes." "Jeffrey" is a reference to Bp. Steenson of Rio Grande, who recently announced his intention to resign:"

...Third, two bishops threatened +Jeffrey, over this agreement with St. Clement. CO and I believe XX were the bishops. He was really upset by this –in tears and shaking- and it included deposition, law suits, not allowing him to resign. . . We were quite angry on hearing this and wondered if they realized they were talking to a NM – TX bishop. Their cities may have a lot of urban gang problems; but, they don’t realize most of us have guns, know how to use them and nobody’s gonna mess with our bishops!

And then Jake reprints this exchange:

Greg Griffith: I’m already reaching for my pistol…

Anthony: Threatening in a blog to shoot people is serious. Just sayin’.

Greg Griffith: Anthony, Agreed. However, “reachin’ for my pistol” is an old expression I use around here. No threat is being made.

Charles Nightingale: Alisdair+: Perhaps it’s time for the “Small band of former paratroopers” to mobilize and deploy!

Virg: "they don’t realize most of us have guns, know how to use them and nobody’s gonna mess with our bishops!...”At last… a perfect solution to all this bickering going on in the church. We’ll just kill the sobs. God help any dissenters on Fr. Maxwell’s vestry.

the snarkster: "I’m already reaching for my pistol…"Hey, what gives with this? The Commenatrix (Blessed be her name) got on my case for saying a lot less than that.It should be quite evident to all by now that our Presiding Marine Biologist and all the 815 gang are not liken to a school of angelfish. They are sharks, pure and simple.

Frances Scott: Frankly, Fr. Maxwell, I wouldn’t waste a bullet on her.

Greg Griffith: Of course, no one is threatening anyone with anything here. I’ll caution anyone pondering a real threat to read our comment policy, but I’ll also remind those who think we’re under orders to keep everything here cupcakes and bunny rabbits not to fall for the caricature of Jesus that our Worthy Opponents have tried to sell us… how was it put the other day? - A sort of zoned-out hippie pacifist, wandering from town to town, spouting Zen koans and harmless parables?Let’s not forget that the people in these churches have in many cases put their life’s work into them; that their parents and grandparents are buried in the graveyard; it’s where their children were baptized, confirmed and married; and that the people we’re up against are nasty - there’s no other way to say it - and they’re playing for keeps. I won’t criticize those who think the best course is to play the pacifist, but they shouldn’t find fault with those who want to pick up their sword along with their trowel.


Fr. Jake commented on this, "The manager of one of the most popular ultra-conservative web sites read by many Anglicans is advocating for a place for those who want to "pick up their sword." Unbelievable."

To which Greg Griffith responded, "...I refuse to conform my posts to the delicate sensibilities of Jake and his gals. This will always be a place where men can feel free to be men… the kind of place our church used to be, once upon a time..." [Emphasis added]

And there you have it -- the underlying reason for the deep rage -- and violence -- simmering just below the surface in so many of the men AND women in the "traditional Anglican" camp. White men aren't in charge anymore, at least not they way they think they are entitled to be. They are being challenged by women, minorities, and --worst of all -- gay men!!!!!

But why use all this gun talk? Because even those with the most passing knowledge of psychology know what a pistol is a symbol for. It's not subtle at all.

Both the presiding bishop AND the president of the House of Deputies are women. That alone is enough reason for these men to be enraged.

Priests who are women have sullied the priesthood for these men. We have "girl" bishops and even a gay man as a bishop, and that's just spoiled the whole episcopate thing for all those manly priests out there who are convinced it is their destiny to be bishops.

There's a word for this, folks. It's misogyny. At the heart of it is the ancient belief that women are alien -- after all, we bleed and do not die -- and unclean, that we are somehow not as human as are males.

Priests in my diocese have shored up their claim that women cannot be priests by saying things such as "a menstruating woman would pollute the altar," and "The Eucharist is a joining of the priest and the Mother Church. If a woman did it, it would be a lesbian act."

Note how Griffith derides Fr. Jake's readers as "gals" -- the ultimate insult in his crowd. There is nothing worse than being a woman, unless it is being a man who acts like a woman -- their idea of any gay man.

Why would women join in all this? After all, some of the worst commentors on Stand Firm appear to be women. It's because women are as susceptible to sexism as are men. Just as minorities can internalize racism, women can internalize sexism. They begin to believe they ARE less worthy than men. This manifests itself in women in many ways -- by blatantly preferring the company of men to that of women; by angling to be the "good girl" as defined against the "bad girls" who defy male authority; by always trying to please male authority figures. These women work hard to be what I call "honorary men," and one of their favorite ploys is to attack other women.

Misogynist men love having women attack other women. That's why at our last diocesan convention, our leadership lined up several of the women deacons to attack Katharine Jefferts Schori.

But at the end of the day, these "good girls" are still "just" women, being used by the men to further the men's goals. Eventually some of them "get" this -- which is why a few of the ordained women in the Network are getting increasingly uneasy about the alliance they have made -- but most don't. They are convinced they are better off being "protected" by the manly men than relying on their own resourcefulness and talents.

It's a sad, sick remnant of the bad old patriarchal days. As The Episcopal Church works to rid itself of the worst manifestations of patriarchy and live into the fullness of the Gospel teachings and our Baptismal Covenant, these kinds of attacks will ramp up.

I just pray that they will continue to use words.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Brilliant job, Katie. Brava!

Fr. John said...

Thanks Katie, for naming the underlying issue - sexist piggery. What a sad commentary on the state of the Church.

Unknown said...

How long have you known Greg? Have you met his wife? His daughter? What can you tell us about your experiences getting to know all of them, have you sat down around the table as I have and shared stories and dreams and hopes and sorrows and tears?

Perhaps we should all remember that moment when Jesus wrote in the sand - and let us put down our rocks. All of our houses are made of glass.


Rory said...

Very well said, Katie!

Funny how i was just having a conversation with my partner the other day about misogyny, straight white male privilige, racism and homophobia, then the folks over at Stagger Limply provide such an example.

JimB said...


While Bp. Harris was being slandered on SF, I was having dinner with a long time friend. We go back to our highschool days in the 60's. He broke into a raving scream of anger at PB Katherine, TEC, me, my wife, and the "left" that took my breath away. He was driving, screaming at me and pounding on the dash.

Why, because this six figure a year lawyer is envious, of the West Coast rich who drive cars he cannot afford. I could not make that up! That is why he was shouting. Somehow the Lambegini, and it is a pistol on wheels, because other people drive them, and he does not, makes the fact that mere women, Jews, liberals, gays, lesbians, all the people he needs to feel superior to, aren't all that inferior.


I guess I never had to be superior to anyone. I wonder what is wrong with my DNA?

Maybe it is a simple function of actually listening to the parable of the laberors.


Cyndee said...

I take offense at your assertion that any woman who supports the orthdox view is either stupid, sexist, or trying to be a "good girl". I assure you that I'm not "being used by men to further their goals". In fact, my husband would prefer that I give up on TEC, and just let it go.
I also would like to state that I'm not angry, hateful or homophobic, but still disagree where the church is being led as I believe the Bible is the Word of God which cannot change.
Prayers are with you all - God Bless.

Anonymous said...

About 20 years ago, I told my FW priest that I felt called to be a priest. He told me to leave ECUSA, and become a RC. "You are leaving yourself open to agony, staying in the Episcopal Church" he told me. Further, he stated that the women's ordination was not the REAL issue - it was gay ordination. "If we start ordaining women, we will have to ordain gays" he told me.

I looked at him like he was Mars... But you know what, he was right - one naturally leads to the other.

Based on my experience, I don't agree with you in totality. As I am a huge proponent of women's ordination, I don't think the fear is women - I think these men are fearful of their own sexuality. After all, where there is smoke, there is fire.

Anonymous said...

Dear Katie

I've thought about your blog entry for more than a month, because I didn't want to react immediately. I appreciate much of your writing and insight, but I have to say that I find some of your discourse around men somewhat alarming. I'm in no way a supporter of the positions articulated by Stand Firm. I'm a gay man who believes quite firmly in the virtue of inclusion in the church. I find your characterisation of the Stand Firm movement as somehow representative of a masculine position ('testosterone poisoning') offensive and somewhat sad. The world is full of negative messages about masculinity, and I think it is sad when this is perpetuated by intelligent and insightful Christian people. In my opinion, the issues that Stand Firm display are not related to masculinity - even an unhealthy sort of masculinity. They're related to fear, power and a sort of radical conservatism. Real masculinity has nothing to do with those things.

I think it is better, rather than applying epithets and slogans, to call a spade a spade.

I will continue to appreciate your writing.