What Kind of "Icon" Heads the Episcopal Church (USA)?

Peter Wallace of the Day1 radio program interviewed the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori on his show on February 3, 2009 -- some two years after she had assumed her office as Presiding Bishop of ECUSA. Toward the end of the first segment, this exchange took place (starting at 05:49 in the video):
WALLACE: And now you are the top woman religious leader in the world . . . what does that mean to you?

JEFFERTS SCHORI: Well, I'm certainly aware that it means I'm an icon, in some ways, for people . . . I'm simply doing the job I think I was called to do. I don't -- I don't have another experience with which to compare it, but I do know it says something to others about the dropping of some barriers.
With the news of her having misled the Committee that nominated her now resurfacing on a number of blogs (e.g., Baby Blue, Viderunt Omnes, Cranmer, StandFirm, and more), when it caused only a mild stir immediately after her election, one has to ask: just what kind of icon is the Presiding Bishop, and for whom is she an icon?

She sometimes sounds as though she is a pluralist, and not a Christian; and she certainly is not an Anglican in the sense that Thomas Cranmer was. She likes to provoke and confront more than she likes to pastor, and she has long advised people to "learn to live with" the resulting tensions. In that same vein, she sends her Chancellor to harass fellow Episcopalians and autonomous Dioceses. Her pastoral messages sound as though they were inspired by her taking the word "pastoral" literally. She believes schism (as long as it is not ECUSA's own) to be worse than heresy, but she still accuses Western Christendom of having succumbed to the doctrine of individual salvation (as opposed to salvation through the community), which she called "the great Western heresy." Later she danced around what she had said, but did not retract her words. Her agility in skirting around and defying the Canons knows no bounds, and she sees nothing wrong with letting her Chancellor throw millions and millions of dollars' worth of litigation business to his former law firm.

So: what kind of icon is Katharine Jefferts Schori? She believes she was "called" to do the job she is doing -- even though she had to falsify her resume to get there. (It appears that the ties between her Diocese of Oregon and the Diocese of Nevada in 2000 were too close for her to have tried the same trick there.) And once President Obama had selected her to be on his Faith Advisory Council, just two weeks later she sent her minions (perhaps as a result of the White House's own vetting process?) to eradicate all mention of the incident in her official biography. I am not sure what to regard as worse: that she sent one of her staff to do it for her, or that she thought that history could be so easily erased. (Hint: the Web is a very large place, and the excised language remains on many sites.)

Those who are not Episcopalian have no difficulty in seeing through the "icon" to what lies underneath. Episcopalians themselves, however, have not only failed to check her excesses, but have given her new and sweeping powers which are blatantly unconstitutional -- and which go into effect this July 1.

So what kind of icon is Katharine Jefferts Schori? In a few short weeks, we are about to see whether Lord Acton was right (in more ways than one).

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