Saturday, September 15, 2012

Trickle Down at the Episcopal Manor

Recently one of our local bishops declared in his protocol for the visitation schedule certain restrictions. This statement included quite definite times within the visit. The one that most intrigued me was the amount of time available before our right reverend  gentleman needed to get home to let the dog out who otherwise would peddle on the manor floor. Oh, I privately declared to myself, what  has happened to “the help” in our day and age? Long ago in the halcyon days of the Church, a Philadelphia Mainline woman visited her family graves, personally delivering to their sites poinsettias during late Advent at St. Thomas Church in Whitemarsh,PA. She had broken off the ignition key in her Bentley’s bonnet and had had the same potential peddle problem as the bishop, and “her man” was off that day with the dogs locked in the kitchen!  Well, I was certainly sympathetic and got her qualified assistance posthaste! Certainly I do notice a contrast in the two situations. The poor bishop does not have “help,” and my dowager duchess did! What is wrong with this circumstance? It is obvious: the Bishop does not have proper domestic talent, a wife, yes, but he needs manor servants!  What has occurred in our day and age, really, leaving our lord bishop helpless?!

I began to realize that we just do not have proper support for the bishops. Oh, yes, they have lots of paid professional staff in diocesan offices but real HELP?  Program and administrative staffing, yes, but the necessary domestic HELP, NO, how inopportune!  It was then that I realized that the bishop’s dog was a prophet, revealing by a great pale yellow beacon to me. . . So the revelation was spiritually drizzled down upon me; oh my, I thought: What if we helped our bishops by allocating monies and reducing budgets all at once! What if we hired two barely legal domestic servants for the episcopal household, a maid and valet, and got rid of most of the expensive  diocesan staff who are not Help?  Really two modestly paid domestic staff  members with housing privileges “upstairs” would be oh-so-better-on-the-diocesan purse!

Thence, I realized that my prophet dog was proclaiming a “trickle down” revelation. I gave thanks. Instead of being po'd about diocesan staff budgets, we could give the bishop what he really wants, someone to bend over to hold his trousers as he has them slipped up around him so his valet could have the  pant legs pulled up at the same time (avoiding the common adage of putting on one’s pants one leg at a time the way the rest of us do). Yes,the Bishop needs someone for honor and help and to take care of that peeweeing pet and/or whatever else so as to extend his precious time with his clergy and people.  Thank Dog!


  1. This goes back to earlier blogs, suggesting that we have too many Dioceses and too many Bishops. The real action and salvation for TEC is in the Congregations.

    The latest commission to fix this should start by moving 815 out of New York City, and then concentrate on reducing the hierarchy.

  2. My African friends say, “the lion does not turn around when a small dog barks.” Obviously this is not a story about a lion.

  3. The visual imagry in this blog is fantastic. A very very funny article that cuts through Episcopal ostentation. I like the idea of getting rid of diocesan employees by exchanging them for butlers and maids. But pulling up both trousers at the same time is essential if Bishops are to distinguish themselves from the rest of us. Yeah!!!

  4. Dear Rev. Sir and other contributors to this blogspot and comments,

    I am the bishop who mentions his two dogs in his customary and who also mentions the need to return home within a certain number of hours to care for them. One of our pets is the equivalent of 96 in "people years", and my wife and I are trying to be humane and loving in his remaining months. I find your recent post and attempt at humor (if such it was) to be misaimed and hurtful, certainly not helpful. I question whether a word you've written actually lives up to the name of your blogspot:
    "Episcopal Journey of Hope". I'm sorry; I just don't see any shred of hope in what you've offered. It all just comes off as misdirected anger. At whom are you angry? If, as a bishop, I've hurt you in any way -- if any bishop has ever hurt you in any way -- there are better ways to address that hurt, and I welcome a chance to assit in that.

    I know this series of blogs to be part of a continuing conversation involving several contributors. A good bit of what you collectively present I agree with (especially the need to re-vision, re-structure, and streamline TEC's life in order to focus it more and more on mission rather than governance). What I cannot understand is how you and your compatriots can possiby think disparaging those in the episcopal office -- men & women who offer themselves and try to do their very best to lead the Episcopal Church in one of the most difficult, historical times the Church has ever known -- offers hope. And how you can possibly think that bishops across our church only see their positions as ways to personal aggrandizement is beyond me. Personally, being the target of "humor pieces" such as this one does not feel very aggrandizing!

    The bishops of this church that I know (and I hope to count myself among them) did not accept their office to get rich, to gain & grasp prerogatives, or to be served by personal servants. That world -- if ever it existed -- is long gone. Could you possibly offer the courtesy of the benefit of the doubt to those who truly seek to serve God and God's Church in the best way they are able? And maybe the simple respect due to all human beings, as our Baptismal Covenant urges.

    Now please do not misunderstand me; I ask you to continue this contribution to the larger discussions that need to continue in our church. I truly do ask you to continue, but I ask you to edit yourselves. Please continue with a measured, reasonable, thoughtful contribution that truly does contribute to the bringing of hope, a journey on which we would all like to wander.

  5. Dear Bishop Marty Field, I am the administrator of Episcopal Journey of Hope and one of its authors. We agreed at the outset that there would be absolutely no censorship and nothing was off limits. In the spirit of the First Ammendment of the Constitution, complete freedom of speech is agreed up. A certain amount of self editing always takes place, as I generally rewrite my articles at least a couple of times. At any rate, I support my fellow authors and encourage them to use their creativity to the fullest extent. Part of our hopeful journey is to engage in humorous and critical observations of the church because unless someone does it, there may not be much hope left. You may be interested to know that this blog is very popular and that we have over 13,700 hits and stil counting.

  6. Robert, thanks for your response comment. I appreciate and support your stance on free speech, yet I stand by my observation that it is a good thing to offer hope, but this is rarely effectively achieved by singling out one or a group, as so many of your blogs seem to do, especially aimed at bishops. TEC is not where it is today because of any one group or constituency. It is where it is because of all of us, collectively. I recommend further "self editing", and I do so because you have some important things to say and offer. "Bashing humor" akin to the ramblings of Don Rickles, is not really very funny. There are real people on the other end of your comments.

  7. self editing?

    I welcome a chance to "assit" ?????

    This is very deep.

  8. The operative word in the title of this Blog is “hope.” Regrettably, for some of our leaders hope is only an illusion, lacking a basis in reality. Benjamin Franklin said in Poor Richard’s Almanac, “He that lives upon hope will die fasting.” Francis Bacon penned, “Hope is a good breakfast, but a bad supper.”

    We who write this Blog are more akin to Samuel Coleridge, “Hope without an object cannot live.” We have therefore anchored our understanding of hope to a concrete goal – the reform of the Episcopal Church so that our 50 years of decline might be reversed.

    Remember, if you will, the sign that according to Dante hangs over the entrance to hell, “Leave every hope you who enter.” It is our hope that those who have ears to hear and eyes to see will do so before it is too late.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Thanks Gary, of such also is my source for the power of hope. The hope expressed in my satire is that bishops and other leaders would organize their lives so as to enhance any relationships for whom they are called to care: to embody the power of love and to correct the love of power and its banal assumptions.

  11. One wonders Ron, if you bothered with talking to the Bishop you publicly shamed prior to posting this for explanation? How is this different than a parish member launching a vitriolic attack on a Rector? It seems that while your attempt to be humorless is really an attempt to call public shame on a fellow member of the clergy. It is tantamount to being an antagonist in the system of a parish. I suppose it is easier now that you no longer have any real skin in the game to be so passive aggressive. Nice example of the Gospel in action.

  12. I personally think the post is very funny, and am against any attempt to prevent free speech. Part of the reason the church is faltering is that NO ONE is paying attention to those in the pews.

    I personally visited 5 Episcopal churches last year and only 1 of those had ANY sort of follow-up. As a previous Evangelism consultant for the diocese, I found this both interesting and sad. Perhaps all clergy should take note. Just a thought.

    Paulette Paulson

  13. The Rev. Dr. Linda L. Lowry, FOCD, Chaplain, Major, USAF RetiredOctober 7, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Dear Bishop Marty Field,

    Unhappily sir you have hit the nail on the head when you spoke of hurt. In the church we continue to hurt each other and it is a damaging consequence of the nature of the Church today. The only cure I have found is forgiveness which doesn't mean what we did was right, but it frees us to cleanse our souls of the pain and to move on with our lives. Bishops wield tremendous power in the Church. Some have utilized it for the good of their people. Others have inflicted great pain. Our recent fracture of ther Anglican Church bears witness to the extent of the pain. I wonder if we can begin to reach out and say we are sorry for the pain we have all inflicted. This would go a long way toward healing the pain. As one who tried to be a peacemaker and got shot at from all sides, I hurt until I could not bear the pain anymore. I had to move on and only God's grace could heal me. I have never had a bishop apologize for any pain he inflicted. In my case they were all men, but it would not matter who it was, the pain was real and longlasting. What finally healed the deep wounds were the bishops who responded with good hearts and souls. I thank God for them!