A severe outbreak of amnesia has struck the southeastern portion of South Carolina. Epidemiologists have observed that the disorder seems to have affected only former Episcopalians who followed deposed bishop Mark Lawrence out of The Episcopal Church. Continuing Episcopalians are apparently unaffected, and it is unclear whether all erstwhile Episcopalians are vulnerable to the spreading epidemic. The rate of affliction among diocesan and parish leaders, however, is virtually 100 percent.
Evidence of the epidemic is found exclusively in the town of St. George, South Carolina. In particular, the outbreak is observable in the Dorchester County Courthouse, specifically, in the courtroom in which Judge Diane S. Goodstein is presiding over the trial brought against South Carolina Episcopalians by the aforementioned deposed bishop and the congregations that departed The Episcopal Church with him.
Observers have noted that witnesses called by the plaintiffs—clergy and lay leaders of congregations claiming to have left The Episcopal Church and taken real and personal parish property with them—have apparently forgotten that their parishes were once part of the general church and not simply a part of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. Various witnesses, for example, have claimed that “Episcopal” in parish names and on identifying signs did not refer to The Episcopal Church, but only to the fact that their parishes were under the supervision of a bishop. Moreover, these witnesses have forgotten that, in the very recent past and for some time previous, they had exhibited extreme and righteous hostility toward The Episcopal Church because they believed that the church had departed from biblical truth, of which they were in exclusive possession.
The South Carolina amnesia presents with concomitant paranoia. Victims of the affliction have testified that they engaged in various legal maneuvers to “protect” their parishes from the depredations of The Episcopal Church, yet they offer no justification for their fear other than what they view as the undeserved persecution of the former Bishop of South Carolina.
Although there is some disagreement regarding the etiology of the South Carolina epidemic, the consensus epidemiological opinion is that the observed aberrant behavior is the result of the realization that acknowledging that the dispute between Episcopalians and former Episcopalians is theological in nature will result in the civil courts recusing themselves from jurisdiction and deferring to the leadership of The Episcopal Church to resolve the property issues. Thus, the afflicted victims have been driven to the delusional notion that what is at issue is purely a matter of secular property law.
There is some question as to whether Judge Goodstein is also a victim of the epidemic, as she has seemingly forgotten that there might be a more obvious reason for the behavior of the witnesses and that that reason might involve considerations of theology. Perhaps she has only forgotten that judges are supposed to be impartial.
Epidemiologists are hopeful that the South Carolina epidemic will be contained when the defense is allowed to present its case in Judge Goodstein’s courtroom. Not all the observers of the epidemic are so sanguine as to the ultimate outcome, however.