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Monday, June 25, 2007

Resign Oh Dean of Grace Cathedral

A Problem: The Very Rev. Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA

Saul Alinsky, late great community organizer used to say, “make it personal….” To raise consciousness and awareness of social and political issues, make it personal, put a name and face on the issue. In the Episcopal Church one doesn’t criticize people by name, one doesn’t make it personal. We respect the person no matter what their actions or stands. Instead we’d rather gossip behind the backs of people, criticize their action and behavior and not confront them in person or in print.

I have long been a critic of Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral in word and print. On the whole he has run a good show at the Cathedral sine 1985. Attendance is good, the budget gets financed and the building has been completed – sans ceiling – during is tenure. That huge building is incredibly expensive to run and repair but money flows in to take care of it. There are good pastoral programs for the congregation and forums on interesting topics open to the public. Jones has suffered a divorce and prostate cancer and handled both with aplomb. He has remarried.

I like to call Jones the father of “woo-woo Episcopalianism.” He founded the Center for Christian Spirituality at the General Theological Seminary in New York City, while he was a professor there in the 1980’s. He has written a number of books on spirituality. He calls for a religion marked by “felicity.” He is described as bridging the gap between the intellect and spirituality. This three-decade emphasis on “spirituality” has sapped the church of it social justice consciousness.

Now my beef with Jones is the lack of a social justice aspect to his preaching, teaching and ministry. He has never made a public statement supporting LGBT rights. He said in a meeting where I was present that isn’t it too bad we have to categorize people by sex? Now he has hired a number of gay and lesbian clergy and lay staff at the Cathedral, and that is good. He remains silent on the human and legal rights of LGBT in church and society. While he has allowed same gender people to hold religious services of commitment in the Cathedral, he has never spoken publicly supporting the rights of same gender people to marry.

A number of years ago he wrote an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle on abortion. He carefully stated both sides of the issue showing knowledge and sympathy for those advocating freedom of choice and those opposing abortion. He failed to tell us readers what his position was. I do not know to this day.

Recently he refused to follow his Bishop, Marc Andrus, in marching to San Francisco’s Federal Building protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I have not heard of his making a statement condemning those wars.

He has never marched in the Gay Pride parade in San Francisco along with many members of the Cathedral who do march. This year Bishop Marc Andrus will be the first diocesan Bishop to march in the parade. Jones did not participate this year either.

By putting Jones’ name on these issues, I bring to the foreground that these issues are seldom spoken or written about by Episcopal clergy and lay people in public. I suspect that fear of losing money from conservative Christians and lack of passion for painful issues are at root of this silence. Jones is no different from most Episcopalians who care more about the so-called spiritual life than justice for the poor, the disenfranchised and an end to the wars.

Dean Jones has failed to support his Bishop in two major public events, publicly protesting the wars and supporting the LGBT community in the annual parade.

I again state that Jones needs to resign as dean of the Cathedral since he does not take leadership in the major social justice issues of our time and he refuses to follow the leadership of the Bishop. We need a Dean who will be a leader facing the social, religious and justice issues facing this city and the country.

46 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo Robert,
But what ujse is an 83 year old
has been. Social justice is barely
alive at Trinity.
Bob Shreve

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the clergy at Grace Cathedral are not what they seem to be. God has given them gifts which they have and are abusing more than people realize and to a dangerous extent. People need to open their hearts to discerning true teachers of love. I pray for their souls and that God will help Alan make wise use of his abilities and influence.

ex-gracer

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Lord,

Leave the Dean alone, isn't he entitled to some peace. So what if defies his bishop. Your litmus tests reflects the intolerance that is fascism. Dean Jones in his day was the model of Episcopal success, stradling liberal and evangelical horses. Now that the true believers have gone to Rome, all he has left are the weedling old jerks who who want him adopt the credo of homosexuality, abortion and militant pacifism. Cut the man some slack.

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Anonymous carol hansen said...

Dear Members of Grace Cathedral,

In reading all of the comments posted so far, I wish to say that some proofreading is needed, as well as a rethinking of one's position. To me, Alan Jones has been a great dean, theological, and scholar. How ungracious not to thank them for the extraordinary work he has done since 1985. Love and Blessings, Carol Hansen.

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