Loving as They Love


By Brian Pickard

For several years we have been treated to the “stylings” of “the way of love” from The Affiliation that Shall Not Be Named. Declared to billions at a Royal Wedding and proposed as a revolutionary “Jesus movement,” my beggar’s bowl had already been snatched away at least four times by that “love” and, even now, there would still be no room for me in the Tent of Mercy they extravagantly proclaim as their shelter to “all people.”

Recently, a person in clericals took to the internet and proclaimed to their jurisdiction that, “You are beautiful in the expanse of your love.” They then proceeded to spin a familiar yarn, of 1970s macramé avocado green. The spinning included talk of losses of properties to “people who do not love as you love.” That had to be one of the richest servings of Anglican Fudge and most toweringly arrogant statements I have heard in a while.

When I moved from the Churches of Christ of my upbringing, I fell into the arms of the Anglican Catholic Tradition. Despite the strife her largest American affiliation was experiencing in the early 2000s, I decided to run into the storm. Very aware of my experience with same-sex attraction, consciously refusing the social-political term “gay”, and committed to an existence of continent celibacy entrusted to Jesus, it was soon made abundantly clear that my sort had no place in the plans of the luxuriously privileged, who jealously held all the levers of power in that church apparatus.

You see, with Critical Theory, Power is its Religion, Marxism is its Magisterium, and Competitive Victimhood is its currency. As I have often said, I learned that progressivism is often a form of Marxism, and the organization to which I had brought my hopes, was about to educate me with, amongst other actions, four very clear demonstrations of its “love.”…

Parish One, Diocese One:  I joined this growing parish and made many friends. In time, as a new Anglican, I discovered that it was not ultimately the right churchmanship for me and departed in peace. A few years later, this parish had to pay seven figures to keep its building upon overwhelmingly voting to disaffiliate from The Affiliation that Shall Not Be Named. The building had a lot of debt, so you’d assume an albatross might have been less-than-attractive for the former ecclesial entity, but that didn’t stop its adherents from trashing the parishioners in the media. Having moved on to a new jurisdiction, that parish operates to this day.

Parish Two, Diocese One: I joined this growing parish and made many friends. But it became clear that our mission was hindered by remaining in the organization we were in. The interminably nebulous “Listening Processes” to keep us in and wear us down had failed. We voted almost 90% to disaffiliate from the organization. We had to depart all properties and leave 99% of the contents rather quickly. What little we were permitted to take had to be approved by the bishop. A new name was taken, a storefront was rented for years, and now the parish continues to this day inside a new entity and in a building they purchased.

Parish Three, Diocese Two: Years later, for family reasons, I moved across the state, finally landing in a growing parish almost an hour from me. Just before I moved, they had gone through almost the exact same thing noted above. They had voted 90% to disaffiliate from the same organization my last parish had, but were in a  different diocese. As before, they had to leave their properties and contents. A new name was taken, a neighboring church of another denomination lent them space for a while, then a school rented them space for a long period. I arrived when they were in the school. I made many friends. They had joined a new entity and later built a new building they occupy to this day.

Parish Four, Diocese Three: The family reasons for my move resolved a few years down the road, allowing me to return to the area I truly called home. This time, I sought the solace of the diocese that had first taught me the Apostolic Faith. A solidly catholic jurisdiction, I had many choices of parishes. A few years before, this diocese had also voted overwhelmingly to disaffiliate from the organization my other parishes quit. Eventually I landed in a wonderful blue-collar Anglo-Catholic parish. A parishioner there for almost a decade, it has given me time to serve in a wide range of capacities. It has been challenging and satisfying to see improvements made and the growth we have experienced. Countless friendships have formed. But, over this garden of delight was a cloud. For a dozen years this little band of people and the whole continuing diocese did not know at what point they might also have to give up their properties, because for those years, the former-affiliation minority in the split was suing for all diocesan properties, including the paper clips and staples. It was never assumed what would happen, but our people remained faithful and prayerful, though some projects and plans had to be put on hold for the duration. In the end, the diocese, as an entity, prevailed over its former affiliation.   

Now, why are these four scenarios important? Because my former affiliation has not practiced the “love” it preaches to this day. When this split happened in Fort Worth, our Diocesan Bishop at the time offered Letters Dimissory in Good Standing to clergy desiring to disaffiliate from the Diocese of Fort Worth and be in affiliation with the General Convention. That’s loving.

He also lovingly offered the Canon 32 Process, which allowed parishes desiring to disaffiliate from the Diocese of Fort Worth and be in affiliation with General Convention, to take an above-board vote and come to the negotiating table. Other methods of reaching out were, apparently, tried as well. Only three parishes took him up on this offer and hold their properties to this day. Other forces refused, seemingly coveting the whole kit-and-caboodle of diocesan property through bringing the now notoriously infamous lawsuits.

And my experiences? In none of the four parishes I was part of received anything like a Canon 32 Process opportunity from the other side. One had huge debt and was permitted to negotiate (many are convinced that if the building had low/no debt, they would have had to vacate), two lost virtually all property, and one could have lost almost all property during that endlessly meandering 12-year period of litigation. Is that “loving”?

The clergy in the Diocese of Fort Worth were summarily deposed after disaffiliating from General Convention.  How many clergy lost benefits, insurance, or opportunity to be fully vested in pensions? Is that “loving,” either?

Recent reports in the Legacy Media, and some church outlets, have indicated (sometimes without intending to) that certain highly questionable property actions may have been taken by persons formerly affiliated with the Diocese of Fort Worth - actions that I strongly believe would never have been tolerated by the General Convention affiliated entities in any of the parishes I was a member of at the time of our splits. If proven true, there seems to be some hypocrisy and inconsistency going on from people of The Affiliation That Shall Not Be Named.  How many scores of parishes across the country have had to walk away from property in order to disaffiliate from General Convention?  How many exiting dioceses suffered great losses for doing the same thing? Was that “love”?    

When they were ascendant against those being sued, they were full of high-sounding rhetoric, of “fiduciary responsibility on behalf of former and future generations.” Many believe losing wasn’t on their radars, and then they did. I pity the sudden ensuing screeds, catastrophe-language, and crybullying couched in their “love/hate” extremes playbook. Constant fingers-in-the-ears might have, indeed, contributed to them deep-sixing their own interests.   

When kindness and fairness came their way, pride intervened and spurned amicable negotiation and parting. I’ve seen the seeds of arrogance grow in the rocky soil of victimhood addiction, where people believe losing is only possibly due to “injustice.” Well, what if the justice invoked by the prideful didn’t return void, but just in unpredicted form? They preferred to gamble on their terms, playing their game, by their rules, and are now mad at the results, like Veruca Salt. They need some prayers.

As Christians, we all need to take stock and remember that as fallible folk, we’re vulnerable to mistaken ideologies. So, when I hear a collared person essentially telling me I “don’t love like they do,” I take a bit of comfort there, because the entity and smug sanctimony they represent didn’t seem genuinely loving at all to me. I don’t like to be lied to. And what concerns me further, is the vainglorious change-agent clerics in my present Province, pulling a version of some of this same stuff: emotionally manipulative language. It’s rotten—it smells like artisanal cheese, organic fertilizer, profile-pic-frame virtue, and gentrified attitude. Gross. As the wonderfully cantankerous Ouiser Boudreaux once emphatically said: “I do not see plays--cuz I can nap at home for free.”  

The drama and tyranny-of-the-recent in the Church is getting tiresome by now. So, when a person with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria walks into a church where I’m at, I’d hope to see them join us in the unchanging prayers and liturgies of The Church—as have been prayed and believed by centuries of believers. I’d hope to invite them to try them over a period of time, to absorb the timelessness of the Faith Once Delivered; something much older, that has seen the world, where nothing is new under the sun. Living in the 21st Century doesn’t constitute specialness. Are we to declare that our Ancients didn’t know how to “love as we love,” too?  That’s rubbish. It is a given that history is full of mistakes—people will make more.    

But the truth of Jesus Christ transforms, and also safeguards us when we carry the thorns that we may be asked to carry. And it’s in that life, that we will find the treasures we didn’t even know we wanted.    

Brian Pickard is a layman in the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas.

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