Monday, September 10, 2007

Braxton's Lear - Gypsy Rose Spong

Another old woman gets up on the TEC stage and starts stripping. I refer, of course, to John Shelby Spong's latest one-person show.

Most performers pace themselves, but Spong likes to start off by flinging a glove:
Dear Rowan
Aren't we just the cutest things, we Americans? So breezy, so informal, so refreshing! None of that stodgy insistence upon titles and honorifics.
I am delighted that you have agreed to meet with the House of Bishops of the American Episcopal Church in September, even if you appear to be unwilling to come alone. It has seemed strange that you, who have had so much to say about the American Church, have not been willing to do so before now.
After school. Behind the gym. Just you and me...and about 300 of my friends. You're not scared, are ya? Huh? Huh?
Your office is still honored by Episcopalians in this country, so our bishops will welcome you warmly and politely.
Your office, mind; not YOU. But we've got George Bush for a president, so we've had LOTS of experience rolling our eyes and grimacing.

Then follows a little promenade across the stage, to get the audience warmed up. It's subtitled, "A Timely History of Briefs" and consists of laboriously informing someone else about his own experiences, complete with the names of the Queen and Prime Minister who appointed him, just in case he'd forgotten. It's similar to the new Prayer Book, where we helpfully list God's accomplishments for Him in every prayer.
Perhaps you did not realize that your appointment as the archbishop was because you had different values from those of your predecessor and that your values were exactly what the Church wanted and needed in its new archbishop.
I know, because Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Tony Blair told me so in person. Since you're appointed by them and all, not elected like me, which is the only way of guaranteeing that the Holy Spirit is involved.
In that letter, in a way that was to me a breathtaking display of ineptitude and moral weakness, you effectively abdicated your leadership role. The message you communicated was that in the service of unity you would surrender to whoever had the loudest public voice. A leader gets only one chance to make a good first impression and you totally failed that chance.
Way to blow your audition! You should have tossed the bra in one smooth motion; there's no do-overs in stripping - take it from a pro.
Next came the bizarre episode of the appointment of the Rev. Dr.
Jeffrey John, a known gay priest, to be the area bishop for Reading in the Diocese of Oxford. He was proposed by the Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries. The nomination was approved by all of the necessary authorities, including you, the Prime Minister and the Queen.
That's Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Tony Blair, in case you've forgotten.
When Gene Robinson in the United States was elected the Bishop of New Hampshire and, more particularly, when his election was confirmed by a concurrent majority of the bishops, priests and lay deputies at the General Convention (read General Synod), you appeared to panic.
We also say "trunk" instead of "boot" and "gas" instead of "petrol". Think you can remember all that?
Then you appointed the group, under Robin Eames' chairmanship, that produced the Windsor Report. That report confirmed every mistake you had already made. It asked the American Church to apologize to other parts of the Anglican Communion for its "insensitivity." Can one apologize for trying to end prejudice and oppression? If the issue were slavery, would you ask for an apology to the slave holders?
Bet you never saw someone strip to 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' before, didja? Watch and learn.
Next came threats issued by the primates of the excommunication of the American Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion, as if they actually had that power.
Cue the bongos.
Next you declined to invite Gene Robinson to the Lambeth Conference of 2008. All of the closeted homosexual bishops are invited, the honest one is not invited.
Down to just a g-string now.
I can name the gay bishops who have, during my active career, served in both the Episcopal Church and in the Church of England? I bet you can too. Are you suggesting that dishonesty is a virtue?
John Shelby Spong, 8th Bishop of Newark, Retired
And don't you forget it.



Anonymous Christopher Johnson said...

Spong's ego as stripper. That's frickin' genius is what that is.

2:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had intended to post a lengthy and quite pithy, if I do say so myself, analysis of your splendid analysis. However, I suddenly got a mental image and threw up all over my notes.


6:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW, wasn't trying to hide my identity. Just can't seem to get that account set up.

6:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Friggin' genius. Now excuse me while I go have some nightmares.

9:01 pm  
Anonymous Antique said...

Oh, my head. Where are my pills? Jenkins? JENKINS!

Oh, I mustn't shout.

Jenkins, bring me my pills. The blue ones. At once, you understand? I've got a head and want to have a lie down.

And take Tiddles for walkies, will you? I simply can't face trouncing about that horrid lawn this afternoon. And DO try to be quiet for once, Jenkins. Will you?

I'm afraid it's simply too much. A grown man, old as the hills? Up on that stage? Why, whatever will Madame at the Posey Growers Association think?

Really, I simply can't deal with all this just now. Bring the pills to my room, Jenkins. Quietly, man! I told you I've got a head!

Oh, the shame. The shame...

9:47 pm  
Blogger Nicholodeon said...

Oh, Doc, you do have a 'way' with words...I forgot all about Spong until this latest letter cropped up.

So is the Archbishop of Cant still coming to the USA for the tea party, or is that in England...can't keep up with it.

1:41 pm  
Blogger LocoOwl said...

What a tour de force! Kudos for your outstanding re-imaging of Bishop Spong's letter to Dr. Williams as a strip tease routine by a blowsy, over-the-hill, bimbo.

I thought Spongs "brief" history lesson was quite a nice touch, as it implies that ++Rowan is too dense to remember current events. The display of Ugly American Arrogance was priceless.

This is why I wish Dr. Williams luck in his meeting with the HOB of the Episcopal Church. Quite a few of them hold the same views of the Archbishop and the Anglican Communion as Spong does. They are just too cowardly to admit it. Instead they will pose and posture and pretend bonhomie that they neither possess nor really believe in.

Allen Lewis

4:17 pm  
Blogger Craig Goodrich said...

Another tour de force, Doctor! (Or is that force de frappe?)

By the way, the inaugural winner of this award is at it again...

7:51 pm  
Blogger Min O'Pause said...

That was pretty damn funny, even if I don't agree with all of it.



11:06 pm  

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