Just watched a fascinating documentary on political blogging in America. I’m not sure whether precisely that kind of blogging will work over here. I tend to the presumption that people are generally turned off by negative campaigning here, but who knows? The internet changes everything.

Within the controversies of the church, there are blogs with posts and commenting at least as bitter and twisted as any of the US political ones. The more crazy ones seem to be over the water, and so far at least, there seems to be a certain degree of courtesy amongst us in Scotland, which must be some kind of blessing.

It is interesting to note that the big story about the Usual Anglican Topic this week is all to do with an angry piece written by a liberal bishop to other bishops in the states criticising Rowan Williams in no uncertain terms. It is probably the most serious criticism of his leadership from any of the liberal voices so far. I’m not particularly surprised, though it breaks the convention that you don’t diss Rowan. (I’ve recently started to wonder whether we are all supposed to believe that the ABC has the monopoly on pain and suffering in this argument. One crucified saviour is enough for any religion, IMHO).

Those who do have strong liberal convictions have far more to fear from false friends in high places than from those who are open in their theological disagreement.

If there was anything to be learned from the BBC Four documentary it is that those who don’t understand the blogging/internet phenomena will suffer for their ignorance. I’ve no doubt that it will affect all kinds of elections in this country – conventional politics and ecclesiastical politics alike. Liberals who try to appease the right are likely to be the losers. Blogging has opened up deep fissures in the centre-ground.

That reminds me. Is it time for the SEC’s bloggers to have a meet up? Must be overdue, I think.


  1. First, let me argue that Bishop Paul Marshall — who wrote that letter you cite — is not one of the great liberals of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. He is widely respected and regarded as a moderate. What he wrote in that letter is a frustration that many of us share: Why can the Archbishop meet privately with the most extreme conservatives of the Episcopal Church in the U.S., but consistently refuses to meet with our bishops assembled? I think that is a fair and valid question. I would urge folks to read Bishop Marshall’s whole letter and not just Ruth Gledhill’s biased “gloss” on it.

    I agree the overall tenor of dialogue on U.S. Episcopalians’ blogs is worrisome. But I do not believe it’s the “liberals” that have gone out of bounds. If you want to read true venom, go to Virtue Online or StandFirm.

  2. It would be great to have a meet up and blether!

  3. kelvin says

    Thanks for the comments

    Lisa – it was precisely standfirm and virtueonline that I had in mind.

    You’re presuming that I don’t have sympathy for Paul Marshall. I have a great deal of sympathy for his position. I think he is angry. And I think he is right to be angry. I deliberately linked directly to his piece rather than Ruth Gledhill’s stuff about it, which people can find for themselves.

    Perhaps if I had written “Those of us with strong liberal convictions…” my own position would have been clearer.

  4. Sociability good. (And arguably good for online interactions too – there are several notable folks whose adventures I read, whom I could happily put in a room together with a football and lock the door 😉

  5. Frank says

    There comes a time to toss convention and start communicating. I have a tea party in mind.


  6. Kelvin, I think the whole blogging machine on the right in the U.S. has been set up for a good long while now. They’ve become proficient at it – the ‘blog storm’ if you like which sees itself quite self consciously as ‘generating’ public opinion for particular ends. The amount of support which ‘social conservatives’ will lend to religious conservatives as ‘deserving cousins’ allows those involved in the present TEC dispute access to an immense network.

    I agree with the first comment about Bishop Marshall being middle of the road and not particularly liberal.

  7. Oh and with respect to SEC bloggers. A meeting might be a good idea

  8. Dennis says

    Kevin: Just discovered your blog through MadPriest’s blog. I’ll add you to my regular visits.

    It is exciting for me, an American far away from the Episcopal Church of Scotland, since I was confirmed at St Mary’s Glasgow back on Pentecost Sunday in 1988 – your church is where I became an Episcopalian – Fr John Turner was the chaplain at GU. Fr Malcolm was provost.

    How exciting. Glad to find your blog.


    The world of political blogs in the US isn’t really that bad. The most important blog in the US for political progressives is DailyKos ( – I’m over there quite a lot – worth watching – it has a lot of voice and influence in the US Democratic party for supporting and raising money for underdog candidates last year who happened to win.

  9. Dennis says

    make that Kelvin, not Kevin. sorry about that!

  10. I’ve corresponded privately with Kelvin about this, but let me make a few comments here in public.

    I usually have to do my reading and writing on “things Anglican” after a full day at work. I regret to say that means I am sometimes too tired, and I miss the nuances. Which clearly happened in my public reply here. I apologize for that, and I apologize for making unwarranted assumptions about Kelvin’s stance.

    One of the things I am realizing is that we in the Anglican Communion really do not understand enough about each other’s cultures and ethos. Over here in the U.S., we are very much hoping that the churches in the U.K. (and a few other provinces) will allow us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling,” as St. Paul urged. I fear that our colonial past [of which most U.S. Episcopalians repent most sincerely] is working against us. We do not want to “export” our positions to others in the Communion; we don’t want to tell others they must do as we have done. We simply want the space in which to walk the path that seems right to us — and that path already has a 30-year history of prayerful discernment, both about the place of women in ordained ministry and about the place of gay men and lesbians in the Church and ordination.

    Unfortunately, in the larger U.S. culture now, both “liberal” and “moderate” are anathema. A very scary conservativism (verging on — dare I use the term? — fascism) is taking hold.

    When folks say the Episcopal Church is “bowing to popular culture,” they could not possibly be more wrong. “Popular culture” now in the U.S. is strongly capitalist, imperialist, nationalist, sexist, and anti-gay. Our church is “bucking” that tide, and we are paying a great price for what we truly believe to be a Spirit-led, prophetic witness.

    It remains to be seen whether others in the Anglican Communion will trust us to continue in this time of discernment.

    These are very, very hard times for all of us. And I hate how the positions are being polarized.

    At our church’s General Convention [Do you call it a synod?], several people spoke about how the “diverse center” had spoken. I hope and pray that the “diverse center” will find their voices in Tanzania.

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