Anglican Airlines?
an editorial by William E Swing

(converted to HTML and placed in the News Centre by Anglicans Online)

6 February 2000

Some real smart prelates have come up with a novel idea. Let's start an Anglican Airlines and fly in peculiar bishops for special occasions, they suggest. If in your diocese, you want a bishop who is more charismatic than the one you presently have, just dial 1-800-Rent-A-SCAB, and one will be flown in to you. If you don't like your bishop's seminary training, your bishop's view on international debt reduction, just about anything that you have a quarrel with, don't hesitate. The Anglican Airlines has a flight for you. A bishop who matches your bias will arrive from the sky. For more bargain information about Anglican Airways, see our advertisement under Apostolic Succession: Cheap.

Why didn't we think about this before? We've been so hung up on the traditional views about bishops being raised up by the Church. We have held on too long to the silly notion of collegiality in a House of Bishops. Of course, now we see it. Singapore has so clearly pointed it out to us. Get a miscellaneous small group of bishops together from Dioceses A B & C, and consecrate a couple of bishops for Diocese D, and fly them back home. All in the name of unity. That has got to be fun. And you can rack up frequent-schism-miles.

What kind of qualifications do the Anglican Airways bishops have that fit them for consecration? Well, let's see. One is retired. That's got to be great news for other retired priests. An answer to the question: "What will I do in retirement? I'll become an Anglican Airlines bishop and fly around on a senior discount." The other stellar new first-class passenger has "one of the fastest growing congregations in the Episcopal Church." There you go. Speed is the issue for those priests who are experiencing evangelism success. Look around you; test your acceleration. If you are growing Episcopalians faster than your neighbor, why stay at home and keep your priestly vows among the unwashed? Instead, get your purple wings and only talk with your kind of people.

In an ever more pluralistic world, imagine how many different varieties of purity can arise. Pretty soon we can get rid, entirely, of our unity-on-the-ground in old-fashioned places called dioceses. In the future we can have hubs. Singapore would be the homosexual hub, for example. Just name your game, pick your city, bring in some Rwanda bishops (or at least the ones with extra travel allowances for some Singapore Slings), and get up there and fly. Already Dallas is excited about this "new reality."

In the past, our history in the United States would have changed considerably if we would only have been as enlightened as we are now. We could have had bishops for the English and bishops for Americans. Bishops for slaves, bishops for slave-owners. Bishops for immigrants, bishops for citizens. Bishops for high church, bishops for low-church. All held together by nothing but hysterical pleas from bishops who want to create the unity of the church around their own biases, at any time and any place they so choose. Sort of a Vigilante Ecclesiology.

I blush when I think of the ancient bishops who endured persecutions, civil wars, lifelong isolation just to keep everyone together. They didn't know about Microwave Catholicity where in an instant you could warm up your cup of tea on a fantasy flight to like-minded people. Friendly skies. No tension. But what did they know?

When I look at the modernists in Singapore and their new age Episcopal supporters in the USA, I am keenly aware of being an old traditionalist. A fossil. Someone who has respect for historic episcopacy and won't play in the sky with a traffic controller named Moses. So, I'll content myself in baptizing, confirming, and ordaining all sorts and conditions of people and hope that the Source of Unity might take deeper root in the hearts of all Anglican bishops.

The Rt. Rev. William E. Swing
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California