28 February 2007

Kneejerk reaction to PB online conversation

The live webcast with Bishop Katharine has just ended. Here are a few quick thoughts. I'll want to read a transcript before I mull too much.

As always, I was impressed by her clarity, her purpose, and her non-anxious presence. She has done well, I think, to urge calm as we listen to one another. That said, I think Jim Naughton makes a good point: those who are suffering may not find it so easy to "calm down." Still, I think there are some people in this conversation (especially those desiring immediate schism) who would do well to ask themselves why they're in such a hurry.

Katharine reminded all of us that this will take time. It's possible we'll have some answers for the primates by September 30, but it will take longer (at least until 2009) for a full response from ECUSA. She seems willing to implement the Primatial Vicar scheme, but she did also point out that this will need to provide cover for moderates in dissident dioceses. (I found her use of the term "dissident dioceses" to be instructive, by the way.) I wonder if +Bob Duncan and company have built that into their equation. Will alternative oversight be provided for progressive parishes who are in the jurisdiction of conservative bishops?

As expected, Katharine also pushed the point that the church's authority vests in all orders of ministry. I think this cuts to the heart of many of our differences. Apart from the reality that conservative American money is paying for much of this conflict, it is also true that the conflict has much to do with the nature of authority itself. In many African cultures, for example, the notion that lay people would participate fully in the governance of the church is anathema. And that's one of the things the other primates don't always get about our church. Our church is governed by General Convention, and the authority of our bishops is constitutionally and canonically limited. This is among the many cultural differences that exacerbate the debate.

Finally, I note that Katharine began with the numbers game again, referring numerous times to the majority view in ECUSA versus the minority view in the Anglican Communion. I for one do not find this helpful, especially when there is no democratic means of determining real majorities and minorities elsewhere. Moreover, the truth is not always to be found in the majority. I think it would be helpful to avoid the numbers game. We should stick to the Gospel game.

I continue to be grateful for Katharine's leaderhip. I can't imagine a better person to be our Presiding Bishop through these difficult times. Sure, I don't agree with everything she says or does, but I give her my loyalty and gratitude for service. Let's hope there are more conversations like this one. Wouldn't it be great of +Peter Akinola would talk with us too? Or +Rowan Williams?


Simon said...

Just wanted to say thanks for the blogging. As a vaguely conservative, definitely evangelical, really quite catholic, and increasingly confused Anglican minister in N. Ireland, I find that I need to be challenged by views that are unlike my own, but are true to the gospel of Jesus. I am challenged by you, and others, to listen to voices other than my mine, and of those who are like me, and who knows - perhaps we'll get closer to the truth of love, grace, mercy and holiness together. Probably won't look like what any one person wants - except for the Lord himself.

Scott Gunn said...


Thanks for your comment. If there were more of this (people listening to one another), we wouldn't be in this mess. We wouldn't agree, and we'd be wrong much of the time, but at least it would feel more like the church and less like a shouting match. Please comment here more (or send me things to post). Let's keep talking. I too want to hear from those who hold views other than my own.


The Lakeland Two said...

I don't usually post in non-orthodox "territory" because I seen others ripped to shreds for voicing even a nice comment (not on your site). However, you did ask why are we being so impatient...here's two people's "reason":

Please understand that for some of us orthodox, 40+ years is not a short time - it is half of our lifetime, and 4/5ths of mine personally. So to call us impatient is an insult. +Schori made it very clear that it will never be over. Some of us listened these 40+ years and don't agree with where TEC wants to go. We've said it over and over again, but TEC isn't listening to our half of the conversation. We asked and said STOP.

In your consideration/mulling, think of how the pain of the orthodox is not considered or is done so grudgingly. In fact, is often paired with negative words, "impatient", "fear". This is from "my" church.

There are 4 other members of my family who are no longer Episcopalians. And many friends in several congregations across this country who have left over the years - along with many others. Not being able to have again what was once wholly theirs as well. Their pain and ours is great - but not to TEC.

Leave - can only do that without the physical church the labor us and others of like beliefs built, labored over, maintained.

I've watched and objected to this "process" since the 1970's. I was willing to share space under the name of "diversity" until now -- I'm being forced out. "Impatient"? I'll add it to the list of all the other names I've been called through the years by TEC "Christians".

We L2 wish you well and ask God to bless you. Would that TEC could do the same. Because time will prove that TEC will not allow the orthodox "space" to exist in TEC. That is what the listening process has taught us.

Scott Gunn said...

The L2,

Interesting. My experience (as a left-leaning person, of course) is that the church has been willing to leave more conservative people and parishes alone. There are, naturally, a few horrid examples where that's not the case. But then it doesn't seem that the conservative folks will allow us progressives to get on with things. Suppose you and I were in the same diocese? Your parish might not welcome GLBT clergy or a woman bishop. My parish welcomes GLBT clergy and women bishops. On the face of it, I'd be OK with that. Would you? Might we not focus on the many things we agree on, and discuss those things on which we differ? That just seems so...Anglican to me.


The Lakeland Two said...

The problem is that we don't see this as just a LGBT issue, but a scriptural issue and therein lies a gulf that appears to be unbridgeable.

Surprise! We L2 did have a female priest. Unfortunately, she spoke against the divinity of Christ - sutble but there. And thereby ended our association. Didn't have a problem with her gender, just her theology. Had we not moved back to Florida we would have joined the new Rwanda group, which we only heard of because of the "informational" letters against it by the bishop. This was in 1997, before +VGR.

We have seen several good female priests just in our "network" diocese of Central Florida. These females wrote into the Lakeland Leger in full support of +Howe and that he supports them. Don't have a problem with +Schori being a female, but have a problem with her theology. Had a sweet priest who turned out to have molested at least two of my male friends as a kid. I would hope we all see a problem with that.

There are many differences in men and women including how they think. Earlier in my life I found St. Paul a bit hard to take (I, a female, did think about becoming a priest until I felt God tell me "no"). Was that not something Paul wrote because of the times and culture...maybe. And maybe not... And even in this day women are not received as equals. God banned pork - trichinosis unheard of at that point except by God. This is just one example of we don't know everything no matter how smart we think we are.

Our problem with the sex issue as well as the scriptural issue is that is a spiritual concept that is being ignored by this process. Does being LGBT make anyone less of a human being or less loved by God? No. But I wouldn't want to hear a priest preach that being fat is good either. I am by no means perfect, far from it and face my challenges with God's help.

Would I want a LGBT priest to come in my church...Yes and no. Yes, as a guest, because I think we can all learn from each other and their walk should not be soley defined by LGBT. No, not as my priest because, in my belief, the unrepentant sin allows for spiritual darkness to follow that person. There are consequences of sin, no matter what the sin. Sometimes those consequences are seen, sometimes not. I've seen the consequences of mine when left unchecked. My other half is living with the results of the consequences of others.

Does this mean I would shy away from LTGT when I meet them? No. I want a way forward for both of us. I've been willing to let God sort it all out. I don't agree that LGBT is scriptural, but I don't have the answer. My experience (and I did live in the San Francisco Bay area for 4 years) has been if I comment I believe in Christ, I was attacked by gay people. Hate is/was assumed. I see this assumption of hate on Fr. Jake's site and by some of the commenters from there who post on Stand Firm.

I have an uncle who is gay. And I have friends who are. Do I love them any less? No. Do I have an answer for them? The only one so far is this: Satan came into the world by his own choices and disobedience. His impact on the world is great. A trip through Job is enlightening.

Actually, the first chapter alone shows what Satan is all about. And the fact that Job is one flesh with his wife. Because she is still living after Satan was instructed not to touch Job's person. That is one of the spiritual aspects that I understand about marriage. Because the LGBT is very small for me except in how it affects my church.

While you say the LGBT are willing to leave us conservatives alone, that's what TEC said about women's ordination. How much longer before that is forced? Not long by Bonnie Anderson's actions.

Perhaps you will allow me to ask you this. It is an honest question and not a red herring. I read Matthew 19:1-12 two weeks ago. It struck me that Jesus speaks in terms of husband and wife, father and mother - male/female terms.

Then in 19:10-12

The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."

Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.

For some are eunuchs because they were born that way;

others were made that way by men;

and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven.

The one who can accept this should accept it."

Would LGBT fall in the category of eunuchs by birth? Have they been "gifted" not to marry? Is there anything written that you could point me to that discusses this?

BTW, your countenance and even-ness in writing is why I felt you might be interested in what I had to say. It is a gift and blessing to you.

Anonymous said...

Because of the comment by the L2s, it has really struck me for the first time how much I have in common with the “orthodox”.

The L2s feel marginalized and so do I.

The L2s feel that 40+ years is a long time to be patient and so do I.

The L2s feel the pain of family that have left TEC and will “Not [be] able to have again what was once wholly theirs”. I have left the denomination of my family and youth. Because of their anti-gay policies, it would never be wholly mine. It was a sad decision. I had to leave what had become sacred space to me after years of labor and love.

The L2s feel that their pain is dismissed as fear and impatience. Lgbt folks noticed that the Communiqué concerned itself with the feelings of “orthodox” TEC members but never mentioned the pain of the lgbt.

The L2s say “I'll add it [Impatient] to the list of all the other names I've been called through the years by TEC "Christians".” I too have been called names – much worse names – by Christians. Some say that the “orthodox” are sinning by keeping folks like me from fully being a member of the body of Christ. But the “orthodox” see it that they are upholding Biblical and traditional standards. Some say that non-celibate lgbt folks are sinning even when in committed relationships. I’m sure that I have spent more time over the last 40 years examining (and reexamining) my heart and my relationship with God over this aspect of my life than any “orthodox” person has spent looking for the log in their own eye.

I would also note that the L2s are spouses – one disable and one a caretaker. That’s the same situation that I am in. Sixteen (or is it seventeen?) years made more difficult because of laws and rules that prevent marriage and the medical insurance that would go with it.

I pray the following prayer often. I bet the L2s do too:

Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen.

The Lakeland Two said...

In response to:

"I’m sure that I have spent more time over the last 40 years examining (and reexamining) my heart and my relationship with God over this aspect of my life than any “orthodox” person has spent looking for the log in their own eye."

I have long accepted that the GLBT have had experiences/pain that I'll never have, but for you to assume that your experience and pain in the LGBT arena is far greater than anyone's in everything dismisses and dimishes the suffering of everyone else has. It appears to me that this attitude just dismissed me and all orthodox because you judge that our pain can't be near yours. It is not a contest.

My biggest problem with this remains scriptural, and it's a question I've asked multiple times without anyone even attempting to answer: Who draws the line or defines the moving of the line. Divorce/remarriage and Jesus Himself was pretty clear on it. Women speaking in church. GLBT. Three things that scripture cites as no-no's. Where does rewriting stop? And by who? Because for me, popular votes are political processes, not necessarily God's thinking. This has not been explained enough for me to abandon the Bible as written.

I know I don't have the answers. I am open to searching and listening. I agree with your prayer. And that God would enlighten each of us (especially me!) to do His will and not our own. May God bless each of us always in spite of ourselves and be with us always.