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To the Readers of the Episcopal Cafe:

To the Readers of the Episcopal Cafe:

 

We are listening, and we thank you for speaking up strongly when we weren’t listening hard enough. We know there is more conversation needed. 

 

After 141 posts, we will no longer publish The Daily Sip, a weekly column written by Charles LaFond. We are grateful to him for his years of writing for the Episcopal Cafe.

 

Our editorial team will redouble our work in vetting all future content to make sure all posts are grounded in the Gospel and that all content is free from discriminatory, racist or toxic theology. We regret we published a post last Sunday that included content that was racially stereotyping; this content became even more hurtful following the shootings in Atlanta in the days following. We stand in solidarity with all who grieve and with all who are working for racial equity and for the cessation of gun violence. 

 

We apologize for the hurt and mistrust our previous posts have caused. With God’s help, we will strive to do better and we hope to retain your trust. 

 

Keep speaking up. You may send emails to Feedback@EpiscopalCafe.com. You will hear back from us. We value the forum for conversation that our content and platforms create, especially the constructive conversations that are respectful even when there are differing viewpoints. We value you as readers, for your passion for the Episcopal Church and for the work of the Episcopal Cafe. 

 

The Episcopal Cafe Editors:

Amy Haynie

Tracie Middleton

Jon White

John Chilton

Rob Gieselmann

Cara Modisett

Amy Spagna

Charles Wilson

 

 

 

 

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Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

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John Simson

Hello Episcopal Café people. I admire you all because you have provided such lively and insightful content over the years. You don’t know of me as a reader or contributor because any submissions I have made were quietly rejected. I had something critical to say of the Episcopal Church! Too critical I guess. But I kept reading even so, very much less so in recent years. Seems like it’s become an arm of the “Episcopal News Service” or something.

In its heyday, the Café provided me daily news of the defeat of bad bishops, the spiritual ponderings of gifted lay folk, the musings of conservatives, the lovely clanging of bells by radicals. It reported on the sad tale of the purging of the GTS8, some of whom were my fine professors, but I notice that nothing was said of the present GTS Southern male leadership, exclusively married CIS tenured professors, students who seem ignorant of their dean’s skill at provoking the ire of colorful professors only to replace them with plain white bread. Hey, did you know that disgraced Stacy Sauls is still on the GTS board,? I had to dig that up myself!

The Café is listing badly, but I’ll make a plea for its getting back on track. Just think of the characters who have contributed their points of view here such as Barry Signorelli , (Hey Barry, I was a seminarian at GTS when you were at Holy Apostles! Suzanne, my wife and artist, says hello too.), June Butler, Paul Woodrum, John Chilton, Ann Fontaine, Lyonell Demming, Prof. Christopher Seitz, June Butler, the Curmudgeon guy, and John White.

Just think of the pain shared by Leng Lim and Eric Bonetti. You can’t pay for that stuff. They are working for something greater than some vague rag in the sky, and their recent relative silence has been painful. People speak of how it’s okay that the Episcopal Church is dying and so similarly say it’s okay for the Café to acknowledge it’s been a good run and die. As my kid says, “I’m not okay with that.” I love going to church, basking in my parish’s liturgy. Boy would I miss that! And I miss the banter of the Episcopal Café. Episcopalians tend to be so rational that they say, “it’s okay” to just about anything!

What I would suggest is to get all the powerful voices together and figure out the path ahead. I provided a list to start with, though, it’s not complete. The Café can be resurrected, but it will take some soul-searching and some opening up. As my kid’s friends say to each other, “you can do this!”

To the present Café staff I say, “you can do this.”

Eric Bonetti

I surely do miss June and Anne. Absolutely lovely people. Not to mention David—I haven’t seen him in c couple of years.

And by the way, for anyone whose contributions are being ignored by e-cafe, please know you are always welcome on my blog, Anglican Watch. Just keep it fair and true, but critical is fine. I embrace free speech.

Susanne Nash

I’ve been away from this site for a few months.. Today, I feel like I’ve walked into a destroyed bee hive with no shoes. Did none of you learn anything from Anne Fontaine? Have none of the Board of Control done EfM? Mr. LaFond’s piece presents the perfect opportunity for a rich TR. You, the Board, missed a perfect teaching moment and the opportunity for each of your readers to examine old, unacknowledged opinions.

Thomas Riedmiller

Y’all are awful.

I went to LaFond’s personal website and read the offending article. I found the topic informative but his analogies lacking. He clearly has little knowledge or experience of Japanese or Chinese culture. This seems more like a rookie mistake in an Intro to Religion class rather than putting him in a KKK hood as the editors and some commenters seem to want to do.

I don’t get it. Please explain how this article was racist and damaging? Will tur editors post substantive claims from the 141 messages they received? Is he a white supremacist? Does he advocate racial and cultural discrimination? No.

I think this is all ado about nothing and let’s not “cancel” someone who does not need or deserve canceling. Don’t be awful.

Eric Bonetti

I’d add, that my comment that was removed about the Sewanee piece, which pointed out the shocking use of language from Brown v. Board of Education II, was included in several articles I wrote about the matter for other publications, including the “Wartburg Watch.” None had an issue with the comment but instead found it helpful in understanding race and becoming more aware of emotionally charged language. The Wartburg Watch article is at http://thewartburgwatch.com/2021/03/19/racism-and-the-university-of-the-south-episcopal-bishops-err-in-the-statement-against-racism-we-have-a-long-way-to-go/. It is sad and appalling that our evangelical brethren are more open to painful discussions of race than we are.

When we can’t even have a discussion about racial reconciliation and the mistakes the church is making in that sphere, I’m sorry, but I have to agree with Helen. There is nothing courageous or independent about Episcopal Cafe, and much like the denomination as a whole, it is dying because it doesn’t want to be challenged to live into an evolving understanding of the church and its role in the world.

In the words of the song, “Time to Say Goodbye.”

Helen Kromm

Maybe it’s time for you to simply consider closing this site. Just say you had a good run, and let the actual website slip away. Maintain, post content, and run with the Facebook page, but discontinue the actual website and close it down. It appears that’s where most people who encounter Episcopal Cafe interact with it anyway.

There is such a thing as hanging on and hanging in there too long. There is also such a thing as causing more harm than good, even though the intention at the start was to create something good. Those are discussions all of the site administrators should have.

I believe an argument can be made that this site has outlived its usefulness. I’d like to explain why, and a good starting point can be found with this post.

No one who actually read the Lafond piece could defend it, and it’s deletion was appropriate. Removing his work going forward as a result is also appropriate. I have no idea what he was thinking when he wrote that. It’s bizarre and frankly inexplicable.

My problem with the way the Cafe is handling this is the public shaming you’ve apparently decided to administer to Lafond in the form of this post. It’s distasteful and maybe even egotistical. You come to this forum to take a victory lap and assure everyone that you are taking editorial responsibilities to heart and listening, and make that point on the bones of a regular contributor of yours whos’ content was displayed for years. It would have been better and more dignified to simply remove the content and leave it at that. This public shaming and administering of a scarlet letter to Lafond is uncalled for. So maybe a good start to that trend of “listening” would be to ghost this whole post.

The reality here is that moderation within this site has been abysmal for a long time. It was so bad at one point that I left a negative review of this site on Facebook when a response proclaiming white power stood within a post for days. That was months ago.

Regarding moderation going forward, let’s assume for the sake of argument that you can right that sorely floundering ship and actually, well, moderate in something other than a glacial fashion. That going forward, this site will deal with the occasional white power advocate quickly, or actually read content that labels an entire nationality as “fear based”. Even if that is achieved, that is only half the battle, and arguably that half of the battle that is least significant.

In some peculiar attempt to be “inclusive”, moderation and content of this site has lost sight of the value of truth. Truth and fact used to matter here- now, not so much. There are any number of examples of this, but in my mind the most egregious were some of the posts at the start of the COVID pandemic. To your discredit and shame, you allowed content to stand proclaiming the worth of medical opinions coming from reality TV physicians. You embraced opinions proclaiming alternate facts that had no basis in truth or reality. A trend started where you are being trolled and punked, and collectively and for reasons unknown you allow it to this day.

Circling back to this post, there’s an element to it that is grating (other than the public shaming of Lafond). It’s right out of the Bishop Budde playbook. It involves coming forth with a heartfelt apology like we see here, and promises to do better. It addresses in the sincerest terms possible things like hurt and the need for conversation. But it’s absent solutions.

Budde is the master at this. She did this after the inauguration, and most recently after the Max Lucado debacle. Oh woe is me I screwed up and am penitent! At least until she craps on us the next time, thinks we are idiots, and throws down another meaningless apology as a result of another attempt at being “inculsive”.

There are smaller issues at play as well within the site. The idiotic parroting of the Mark Zuckerberg formula to “like” and “dislike” responses. Because yeah, a serious, progressive episcopal site should mimic Facebook! Way to go! I must have missed Jesus’s memo where it became acceptable to dislike your brothers and sisters.

So in conclusion, let me make one final point. A conversation is not needed. That’s meaningless appeasement and waffle words. That’s what you say when you don’t know what else to say, and are impotent and absent meaningful solutions. The choices are clear- fix the problems or shut it down before you cause even more harm and hurt.

David Mu

I am as done with TEC as I am with the spin-off Anglicans. Both are loons. Organized religion can’t die soon enough, but this people will ride the pony until there is no money to pay to power the machine.

You are correct – conversation is not needed. These players are known liars, and only will continue the lies adding further tools of attack to keep the control. To them all existence is an either/or, and there only the diversity of the present herd march. Life is too good, and too short to waste putting pearls before the swine.

Eric Bonetti

Hi David. I am not sure I agree with some of your specific characterizations, but on a larger scale you raise a good point. As a cradle Episcopalian, I spent more than 50 years in the church and at one point loved it and its message passionately.

But having now had multiple bad experiences in which the church and its leadership display zero accountability I, like a number of former regulars, am now just culturally Episcopal. I retain a deep reservoir of affection for the church, but as the late Maya Angelou used to say, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time, because they know themselves much better than you do.”

So, I didn’t believe it the first time I experienced egregious misconduct in the church, or the second, or even the fifth. But I finally had to admit there is a larger issue, and in fact I am now in litigation against a former parish and my former diocese.

Never could I have imagined 20 years ago that I would reach this point.

I guess all of that is a long way of saying that, maybe deep down, I still hope the church will get its act together. But at this point, that appears an unlikely prospect.

Count me older, wiser, and sadder.

David Mu

Me too on the older, (hopefully) wiser, and sadder as I see the increasingly bad condition of organized religion – that certainly includes the Episcopal Church. I would rather be in it, but not at the cost of membership today. And the costs only increases with each new mission (for want of a better term). Each and every mission is pure and simple an political issue dressed as faith. This despite nothing in the Creeds or the Prayer Book that clearly supports what is now required practice.

Frankly – too many laws make an bad people, and too many required political acts makes one as bad as what was an problem in the past. An past that allowed some measure of freedom of thought. That was a major issue I came to the Episcopal Church, and is clearly an impossible condition for going on with this tradition.

Yes – there Is no zero accountability. And I would suggest – end this website (and also on all social media sites). But if this web site was to continue – make it completely clear – NO social media inputs will have any place for influence. Social media has become a mob tool

I know what you mean. I would never thought that the life of faith within an organized religion needs to end for me. However, I am making permanent my being done with organized religion. This here merely display another reason for being ‘done with religion’.

Eric Bonetti

One further thought, addressed to Amy and the other editors: Have you ever considered asking people how you are doing and what they want to experience with the site?

One of the great flaws of TEC is invariably that those in leadership positions think they know best, even when they have no empirical data to back their perspectives. As a result, we wind up with things like the Max Debacle — Randy Hollerith lecturing us on how we need to be open to other ideas, even as he is anything but open to same,

If you decide to stay open — and I think there is a real need to ask if you are doing more harm than good — then I encourage you to solicit input.

And BTW, on the feedback issue, don’t tell people they will get a response when that is not true. When I wrote to Amy directly some months ago to share my concern about the deteriorating state of affairs at e-Cafe, I didn’t even get the courtesy of a response. Please at least have the integrity to tell the truth, which is that if the editorial staff has already slapped a label on you, you will be met with passive-aggressive silence. And while you’re at it, why not use this time of introspection to ask how that comports with the teachings of the Jesus of the Lent?

Eric Bonetti

Spot on, Helen, and a well-crafted, cogent discussion of exactly what I have been thinking for some time. Ever since Anne Fontaine passed into glory, the site has been a train wreck, particularly when it comes to moderation. And I wrote to Amy Haynie some time again about this, but in true TEC passive-aggressive fashion, didn’t even get the courtesy of a response.

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