Wednesday, May 19, 2010


From the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana:

Join us at the Cathedral for the enthronement of Bishop Morris K. Thompson, Thursday, May 13th, at Christ Church Cathedral at 6 pm.

The new bishop will preach and celebrate.

I'd like to have attended the service, but it would have meant spending another night in New Orleans, and I was not ready for that, since I had done so just a few nights before for the bishop's ordination. I especially would have liked to hear Bishop Thompson preach. Another time.

I confess that I was disappointed that the term "enthronement" was used on the diocesan website for the ceremony of the bishop taking his seat.

There are two aspects to the episcopate:

Bishops are for the whole Church. That’s why every election must be approved by a majority of other dioceses, and why the Presiding Bishop and other bishops come to consecrate a bishop.

Our new bishop is also for Louisiana. That’s why, after the consecration is over, we need to welcome him to our cathedral and seat him in his official chair. Mostly, we’ll be celebrating the Ascension Day. But, at the beginning of the service, the bishop will knock on the door, seeking entry, and be admitted and welcomed by the Dean and Wardens to his Cathedral Church. Then he will be conducted to his chair, to be at home in his new place

William Morris+

That's better. As I see it, "enthronement" should be banished from the Episcopal Church lexicon. A bishop is elected to serve the people of the diocese, to be the servant of all. Why then use a term that suggests that the diocesan bishop rules like a king on a throne?

I've been told that enthronement is a proper usage, and if that is true, then we should reconsider our terminology. To speak of "Seating the Bishop" seems appropriate to me. In truth, the use of enthronement is one of my pet peeves. Off with it!

None of what I've said about terminology here is meant to reflect on our new bishop. +Morris Thompson was amongst my favorites after I read the biographies of the six candidates. After I attended the walkabouts, +Morris Thompson was my top candidate, the man whom I hoped would be elected 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. I rejoiced upon his election, especially so, since my support for candidates is usually the kiss of death for their chances to be elected. Not this time, thanks be to God!

Almighty and everlasting God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift: Send down upon Bishop Morris Thompson and upon the congregations committed to his charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace: and, that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honor of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

(Book of Common Prayer, p.817, edit.)

Note: As you see, I'm inching my way back into blogging. I hope to restrict my postings to one a day, or less, as my friend Elizabeth suggested, and to write in my own voice more often, rather than linking and quoting, and to refrain from writing about what many other bloggers are already saying, but rather contribute when I have something unique to say, as my friend Lisa suggested. We'll see how this goes. Sadly, I make many resolutions that I don't keep.


  1. Oh joy! to see a sign of your blog on my "feed" today-- but any small bit is enough for each day - don't feel like baking loaves and loaves.

  2. I'm glad to see you posting, Mimi - sounds like you've gotten some good blogging advice from the experts.

    I have to admit that "enthronement" does sound a bit dramatic in a silly kind of way, but we do have some extravagant language and customs in our church and I'm not convinced that's all bad. What is important is that the Bishop does not think of himself as a king who rules over subjects. Having the Bishop sit in his special chair for the first time at the Cathedral (BTW, cathedral comes from "cathedra," the word for the BIshop's chair - the cathedral is the place where the cathedra is) is an event worthy of lots of fuss and fanfare and even a special word. Again, provided that such is not the hallmark of his day-to-day work.

    Besides, "seating" reminds me of what one experiences at a restaurant.

  3. Penelope, chair, seat, any language but the language of royalty as applied to the hierarchy in the church. Perhaps the language remains acceptable to many, but it's no longer acceptable to me. It grates. The bishops, along with the rest of us, are in place to serve.

    He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’

    Enthronement doesn't fit with the message of Jesus. But that's just my opinion.

    We'll see how the blogging goes. It's good to be back, I pray that I'll exercise restraint.

  4. Ann, thank you! I'll aim for quality rather than quantity.

    Some things I just have to say. I've complained about the use of the term "enthronement" elsewhere, so when I saw it on the website of my own diocese, I had to speak out.

  5. I notice in the picture that there appear to be no door knobs on the door. The door plates are there but not the knobs. No way to pull the door open from the outside. I like that! It reminds me of that painting (19th century, I'm sure) of Jesus knocking at the door and patiently waiting for us to open our hearts to him. Call me sentimental.

    I think that enthronement is a little over the top, too. Our latest bishop who was already a bishop when he came to Dio of California was 'instituted and seated' all at the same ceremony. I have never seen a bishop consecrated. I doubt that I will, unless I move away from here.

    I like that you got the bishop you want, Mimi.

  6. Susan, it's interesting that you noted the lack of door handles. The entrance is closed off as an entryway from the outside. I presume that fire codes require that the doors be workable from the inside. Yes, someone must open the door to let the bishop in.

    I call you sentimental in noting the analogy to the famous painting, but sentiment is fine with me.

    I very much like that the voters chose my preference. I lobbied hard for him.

  7. I'd be happy to oust "enthronement" and suggest instead replacing it with "cathedration".

    wv = quing
    (the sound made when a bishop drops his crook)

  8. Oh no, Paul!!! That sounds too much like a medical procedure!

  9. There's a story that Michael Ramsey, 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, while visiting a TEC cathedral, applied his crosier to the door as he would to the stout oak equivalent of an English church. But was one of those modern hollow plywood jobs and his staff went right through.

  10. 'Cathedra' doesn't just mean 'chair' but 'throne'. So we'd have to get rid of the word 'cathedral', too.

    Mind you, I'd be OK with that. So much of this terminology comes from the Christendom era when the bishops were literally 'princes of the Church'. Time for us to learn a better way, I think.

  11. Susan, you stole my comment! I have the idea than Paul (A.) had already considered the similarity of his suggestion to a medical procedure. In fact, perhaps that was his very reason for leaving his comment. Of course, I could be wrong.

    MM, LOL! I can picture Abp. Ramsey giving the door a good hard knock. Christ Church was constructed in the late 1880s when builders still used solid doors.

    Tim, I did not know that "cathedra" meant throne, and I expect that a good many of us don't. So far as I'm concerned, cathedral can stay, but we all take the meaning of enthronement. Certainly, we've had enough of prince bishops.

  12. Thanks, James. It's good to be back, in moderation, not feeling driven. My blogging work is done for the day, but for responding to comments.

  13. One post a day is good; that's what I try to do. I also go several days with out posting, which I have discovered is okay, too.

    Welcome back!

  14. I miss you when you are away so life feels better now.

    WV: bamidest

    GM is the bamidest swamp granny around!

    [Only I know from your yard shots that you don't really live in a swamp. Which doesn't preclude you from conjuring in one when needed. Hmm, is that how you got your bishop elected?]

    I am just glad to see you back, I hope you forgive my silliness.

  15. Padre, in addition to the limit of one post a day, I intend to give myself permission to skip a day or two, also.

    Cher Paul, you know I love your silliness.

    Thanks all for the welcomes back.

  16. Hurrah!!! I'm so pleased too. Don't feel you have to do more than whatever suits you but it is so nice to have your blog about.

  17. Good to see you Mimi!
    Persons with small minds will actual take it as a sign to terrorize the clergy and the laity. This is the problem with Kunonga in the diocese of Harare in Zimbabwe. He has caused much pain and I think it is high time for the revision of all our terminology.

  18. Cathy and Rudo, I received emails which included your comments, but they're not here on the blog. I've noticed delays lately on comments coming through to the blog.

  19. Glad to see you are still blogging though on a diet.

    So what terms could be for putting a bishop in his/her chair?

    churching :-)

  20. Cathy, your comment has not arrived here yet.

    Erp, on a blogging diet is a fine way to describe what I'm attempting here.

    I like benching.

  21. She's back, she's back, o happy dance! Take care of your heart. I remember you in my daily prayers.

  22. My comments sometimes won't post either. What's going on?

  23. Terms? ...hmmmmm.


    (with greedy delight--I read your post twice!)

    wv: fablyph
    it's fablyph to read your posts Grandmere, frequent or not!

  24. Mimi,

    I think you have a point. "Enthronement" should be reserved for royalty.

    I have been taking the view that I write when I have something to say. Sometimes that is once a week, sometimes more sometimes less. I have relatively few readers so I do not real I letting anyone down. You of course have a vast public, but it is an understanding public.


  25. Margaret, I like bunned.

    Jim, sometimes I have ten things to say in a day. Not necessarily anything worthwhile though.

    Lapin, I'm thinking of making farewells a regular feature of Wounded Bird.

    "The Hot Seat"? I'd guess to bishops, it sometimes feels that way.

  26. Cathy, Rudo, and Caminante, your comments finally came in! Thank you. Thank you.

  27. Jim, I agree with you. Lately I find I have little to say that the universe would miss if I didn't say it, so I'm not saying much.

    As for what we should call the ceremony of putting a bishop in his/her chair, I suppose 'inauguration' might have unwelcome overtones...:)

    How about using the term we use here in Canada when a rector starts out in a new parish - 'Celebration of a New Ministry'?

  28. Can't you say installation? (from the idea that the cathedra implies a stall of some sort)

    IIRC, ++KJS was "installed" as Presiding Bishop (being already a bishop, but given that Big Chair in the National Cathedral---but does she "share the chair" w/ +Chane, as Bishop of DC?)


    I share in the general rejoicing, that your sabbatical has, more or less, concluded (when I saw on the blogroll at FofJ "No Comments are Coming Through", I was a-feared it meant your absence was talking a more concrete turn! :-0)

  29. Rebienvenue au monde de blog!

    Anyway, the rite in Book of Occasional Services nowhere uses "enthronement" or "throne." Instead, the service is called "Seating of a Bishop," and he is seated in his "seat." The episcopal seat in Christ Church Cathedral was made by slaves belonging to Bishop-General Leonidas Polk, but that's another issue. Let's just not call it a throne!

  30. JCF, next time I say good-bye no one will believe me. Like "The Boy Who Cried 'Wolf!'", I'll be "The Blogger Who Cried 'I quit!'" Did you think I had died? I only killed the comments.

    Ormonde, I didn't check the rite for seating a bishop, but I'm glad to know "throne" and "enthronement" are not included.

    As for the chair made by slaves, perhaps it's presence is a good reminder that our history is not without blemishes.

  31. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. I decided to come over and check to see how you were doing, and here you are, back again. Woo hoo!

    You know, I don't know how others do it. I can barely post one thing every day - actually missed a day this week (no guilt) - AND read AND comment on other people's blogs.

    I've slowly let myself off the guilt hook and do what I can, when I'm able.

    I hope you are able to pace yourself this time. And, if you don't/can't, take another break and try again.

    God doesn't want us to be perfect - just human.

  32. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it.

    Am I that transparent, Elizabeth? I'm back, and I hope without pressure or guilt. We shall see.


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