Saturday, November 28, 2015

New Los Feliz Ledger Article

The December Los Feliz Ledger is out, decorating our front lawns with the latest update on the saga from their viewpoint. (Ms Cohen promised to opt our neighborhood out of the litter distribution, but so far the promise is feckless.)

Before I make more general observations, two passages strike me. The first:

The Los Feliz Neighborhood Council (LFNC) found itself suddenly denied access [to the now-vacant bank building with its community room] for its regular monthly meeting November 17th when their keys—which they had used to gain entry a few hours earlier that day—no longer worked.

The Los Feliz Improvement Assoc. also found itself locked out of a meeting November 19th.

This can only be characterized as erratic and somewhat bizarre conduct on the squatters' part. What on earth changed to make it necessary to lock them out with no notice? I can only guess that, with their hold on the property slipping away, they feel the need to assert whatever arbitrary authority is left to them.

The second passage:

Bush, meanwhile, has indicated the church’s finances are in such dire straits, she, as the church’s most senior laity leader, can no longer countenance providing the 2nd floor community space for free and will lease it out, saying they have currently amassed about $2 million in legal fees defending their ousting of Kelley.
So does Mrs Bush now want money to let the neighborhood groups back in the building, or what? We don't know. But the $2 million figure is a puzzle. Earlier this month, I estimated that income to the parish from all sources during the time the Bush group had possession of the bank accounts could not have been more than $800,000. Beyond that, they had to meet ordinary expenses, making money available for legal fees from regular income considerably less. We have fairly reliable information that the Bush group obtained $575,000 financing in November 2014.

This leaves somewhere in the order of $1 million, at least based on Mrs Bush's statement, that had to have come from someplace else. One explanation, which I can't rule out, is that Mrs Bush is simply exaggerating the amount to inflate her own importance. But clearly there's going to need to be a forensic audit -- and this will take place no matter what, since even if the Bush group is somehow able to retain control, the corporation will soon enough wind up in bankruptcy court, where a judge will want his own set of answers.

Otherwise, I'm seeing some movement toward greater neutrality by Ms Cohen, although if the writing is any indication, the whole set of circumstances surrounding the parish is more than a little beyond her cognitive powers. She went as far as interviewing John Hepworth, although whatever explanation he gave of the Patrimony of the Primate didn't take -- she refers in her account to the Primate, not the Patrimony!

The overall foggy impression in the story, I have a feeling, comes in large part from her reliance on Mrs Bush for the bulk of the account. I'm increasingly convinced that Mrs Bush has been in well over her head. Yet once more, I urge her family to get involved, as this isn't going to end well for her.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Couple More Reactions To The New Bishop

One visitor e-mails:
Msgr Lopes is evidently very familiar with the elements of the Anglican liturgy which were considered in the preparation of Divine Worship:The Missal. I doubt that he knows much about Anglican hymns, simnel cake, embroidered kneelers, vestry meetings, or all the other trappings of parish life in the Church of England or its former colonies. I think his appointment signals that the Vatican sees the Ordinariate Use of the Latin Rite as the focus of the Ordinariates' identity, a message which must be discouraging to the OOLW for obvious reasons. While the OCSP should be fine with the liturgical agenda as far as it goes, I am not sure that will be enough to offset the sense that the promise of "united, not absorbed" just got a little less realistic. I am sure the OCSP will be better, more professionally run under soon-to-be Bishop Lopes. Whether it will be more attractive to current Episcopalians/Anglicans is another matter.
Bishop-Elect Lopes has already appeared in this blog as Msgr Lopes, quoted in The Portal in 2013 remarks on Anglican patrimony.
. . . these expressions from the Anglican prayer books and how they are interpreted through the years - I’m thinking of the Comfortable Words, the Summary of the Law, the Collect for Purity, the Prayer of Humble Access - these are not museum pieces.
So I think the English Missal version of the mass will continue in the US-Canadian Ordinariate. Another visitor writes,
. . . I see no Anglican "chops." He's a young man of 40. And his mission simply mentions "nurturing beauty in liturgy." Maybe he will cast out the overbearing mass and get things moving.
My own view is that the idea of 250,000 Episcopalians chomping at the bit to cross the Tiber was always a complete misappraisal. The New Evangelization is going to take work -- Bp Barron, for instance, sees himself as an instrument of New Evangelization, and his is clearly a non-trivial effort. Something along that line is going to be needed to attract any significant numbers of new converts to the Ordinariates.

I still think the choice in liturgy between the 1905 English Missal mass and the Ordinary Form is unfortunate. It's either chapel veils, threefold Lord I Am Not Worthies, or the same product you get down the street. Why not a reverent adaptation of 1979 Rite Two that doesn't take two hours?

A service with a sense of beauty and reverence that uses something like the 1940 PECUSA Hymnal and loses the guitar and tambourine, but without all the extra agony, ought to be a selling point.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Few Reflections A Day Later

The comments at Virtue Online are virulently anti-Catholic. The comments at Fr Z's blog tend toward "Ordinariate? Wha?", which is probably the most appropriate Catholic response (speaking for myself as a Catholic former Anglican). Of all the comments on both sites, I agree with the one on VOL that Steenson's retirement sure was early, and I agree with the one on Fr Z that His Holiness is full of surprises.

Actually, I tend to think that having a real Catholic Ordinary in Bishop-Elect Lopes is probably the best possible move the Vatican could make. At minimum, this should begin to dissipate the influence of the Houston-Nashotah House-Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth in-group that seemed to have settled into almost instantaneous complacency. Certainly I've heard the comment that the Ordinariate had attracted retired Episcopal clergy who mostly wished undemanding part-time work compatible with relocation to the Sun Belt.

By all appearances that was Jeffrey Steenson. I don't think, frankly, that his remark that he hadn't had enough time for his hobby was all that much of a joke.

I hope and pray that things will change for the better and that this may involve the St Mary of the Angels parish.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Welcome, Bishop-Elect Lopes!

Amid all the other news this morning, I got to my computer to find a new face on the US-Canadian Ordinariate web site. Interesting that the appointment should come in anticipation of Advent I.

Msgr Steenson has retired with immediate effect. For a Catholic ordinary to retire prior to age 75 is quite remarkable.

Frankly, as I've suggested here from time to time, I haven't been sure if the St Mary of the Angels parish would choose to enter the US-Canadian Ordinariate if its legal situation were resolved to allow it, and I'm not sure if the US-Canadian Ordinariate would have accepted the parish if it had renewed its application. Now, though, there might be some hope for change in that situation, although I speak only for myself and not for the vestry or Fr Kelley (and certainly not for anyone else).

Monday, November 23, 2015

Why is Brian Marsh Suddenly Answering Questions?

After what he acknowledges is months of silence, "Bishop" Marsh of the ACA is suddenly answering questions. On one hand, as I've said before, the ACA doesn't have many options whether he answers questions or flips them the bird -- he has no credible successor. But he seems to be getting nervous nonetheless.

He first notes that he welcomes the chance to answer when "someone will ask me about something they have read on a blog" (clearly the blog he refers to is this one). But in September's Northeast Anglican, he also notes

"Often, your bishop is asked about the possibility of merger with other orthodox Anglican jurisdictions. We currently hold friendly relations with several such jurisdictions and an intercommunion relationship with the Anglican Province of America. If merger appears elusive at this time, it is important to remind ourselves that such occurrences happen in God's good time."
What? Merger with the APA "appears elusive at this time"? Er, didn't "Bishops" Marsh and Langberg (he now conveniently retired even as a rector) take a Mediterranean cruise with APA Bishops Loiselle and Grundorf as far back as 2012 for, as Marsh put it, "discussing and getting to know each other in preparation for our anticipated unity"? More than three years later, why are things now stalled, which Marsh acknowledges here?

The elephant in the room, the source of both questions, is St Mary of the Angels. The St Mary's vestry has estimated multimillion-dollar damages resulting from the ACA's incitement and supervision of a squatter group occupying the property. But now other issues are coming to light -- the squatter group operating under the ACA's direct authority, supervised by Frederick Rivers and Owen Rhys Williams representing themselves as "rector" and "episcopal visitor", appears to have obtained half a million dollars in financing, offering as security a property they do not own or control.

Brian Marsh is one of the first people the lenders will presumably approach, assuming these circumstances are borne out in further investigation. The liability for the ACA is potentially cataclysmic. The damage to its reputation will probably be terminal

If you were Walter Grundorf, how eager would you be to have the APA assume a share in this liability?


I had a chance to chat about recent developments with members of the vestry yesterday afternoon. I asked them in particular what their theory was on the non-occurrence of the choral evensong and requiem with full orchestra that had been scheduled for Sunday of last week, which got as far as having tables set up in the courtyard the night before, but then simply went poof. Their reaction was animated to say the least.

I will summarize the consensus with the caveat that this is pure speculation based on incomplete information. However, it does seem to be a good fit with the information we have.

  • We don't know when the event was initially planned and scheduled by the squatter group. It could well have been at a time when they either assumed the parish income would remain steady, or they assumed they would have some resumption of income to pay the musicians.
  • However, by October and November, very little money was coming in. The vestry members actually feel my own estimate of the income to the squatters, for instance assuming $1000 monthly rental for the parking lot, may be too large. I will defer to their judgment.
  • Nevertheless, in the vestry's speculative view, the squatter group continued planning for the event, taking out the ad in the Los Feliz Ledger and presumably holding rehearsals with the paid professional (and quite possibly unionized) musicians in the orchestra and choir.
  • The vestry speculates that the orchestra and choir were promised payment for both rehearsals and performance after the choral evensong and requiem performance.
  • However, despite promises and sweet-talk from the squatter group, the vestry speculates that the musicians began to feel something was hinky and demanded some concrete evidence that they would be paid. In my view and the view of the vestry, there wasn't money to pay the electric bill, much less the musicians.
  • The musicians, in this speculative scenario, told the squatter group to forget it at the last minute, convinced they were about to be stiffed (and probably already had been stiffed for the rehearsal time).
I can't avoid thinking that in recent weeks, more than the musicians are being stiffed, in some cases for large amounts.

The ACA Now Has An Official Position On This Blog!

If you wanted any better confirmation that this blog has an impact, you should check this out. Thanks to an Ordinariate source for the heads-up. "Bishop" Marsh concludes,
St. Mary of the Angels in Hollywood, California has been captive of the blogosphere for some time. In this particular case, the blogosphere has made the art of distortion into a masterpiece. You cannot believe everything you read and I do pray that the truth will out in the end.
I think I do a pretty good job here, too, and I appreciate the implicit praise! However, I would say that for "Bishop" Marsh to address the issue of St Mary's now at all is a reflection of his concern that developments are not going the ACA's way, and the place where people will get an accurate and up-to-date account of them is here. Knowing that this is already the case (my readership is up 40%-50% in recent months), he seems to feel the need to minimize it.

Good luck with that.