Anglican Samizdat

January 18, 2010

Another unrealistic proposal from Ephraim Radner

Filed under: Anglican — David Jenkins @ 5:36 pm

It’s a specialty of his:

An Unrealistic Proposal for the Sake of the Gospel.

In the face of the tragedy in Haiti, I want to make a proposal. It’s not a realistic proposal, I grant; but it is a serious one. My proposal is this: that all those Anglicans involved in litigation amongst one another in North America – both in the Episcopal Church and those outside of TEC; in the Anglican Church of Canada, and those outside – herewith cease all court battles over property. And, having done this, they do two further things:

a. devote the forecast amount they were planning to spend on such litigation to the rebuilding of the Episcopal Church and its people in Haiti; and

b. sit down with one another, prayerfully and for however long it takes, and with whatever mediating and facilitating presence they accept, and agree to a mutually agreed process for dealing with contested property.

Before addressing the “unrealistic” character of this proposal, let’s be clear about the money that may be involved. As I read TEC’s national budget, for instance, over $4 million has been spent already on “Title IV” and litigation matters in the dioceses, and over $4 million more is budgeted for the next triennium. Let’s assume that some comparable amount is being spent by the opposing parties – maybe not as much, but still a lot. I don’t know … $3 million over the past three years and $3 million more over the next? Maybe less. Then there are the dioceses alone that are spending their own money. I know that Colorado has spent upwards of $3 million in these matters, and its opponents again, perhaps less again but certainly a sizable amount. I really don’t know what we’re talking about here – maybe $20 million already spent, maybe more? And certainly another $10 million in the pipeline.

Isn’t this rather crazy? Isn’t this in fact unfaithful? Isn’t this, indeed, perverse and even blasphemous?

And it is certainly so in the face of the needs we have just been witnessing in Port-au-Prince, needs which, it must be said, have been around us all the time these past years, but here have come into a blinding and heart-rending focus.

Rev. Radner has a point; giving large sums of money to lawyers to squabble over who owns a building does seem criminal in the face of what the church in Haiti has suffered.

Of course, it is so much easier to offer advice on how others should donate to good causes than it is to receive similar advice oneself. Radner is Professor of Historical Theology at Wycliffe College, Toronto. I can’t help noticing that Wycliffe College occupies some large buildings in an expensive part of Toronto; they would probably fetch at least $10M if sold to a condo developer – the probable fate of most of the buildings that are now in property disputes. So, Rev. Radner, take your own advice, sell the buildings and, along with Messrs. Bowen, Hayes, Seitz and the rest, find somewhere cheaper – a tent, say – and give the money to Haiti.



  1. It is all so ‘heartless’

    Comment by Eva — January 18, 2010 @ 9:13 pm

  2. The idea of sitting down together and talking has been offered by ANiC but so far the ACC isn’t interested.

    Comment by Muriel — January 18, 2010 @ 9:28 pm

  3. Radner has a long track record of brilliant analysis and unworkable solutions. Ho Hum.

    Comment by Jim Muirhead — January 20, 2010 @ 9:51 am

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