13 February 2007

News summary: updates for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday

As usual, Simon Sarmiento over at Thinking Anglicans has an excellent round-up of the news from Tanzania. Here are write-ups for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Read and mark. Inwardly digest too. Then keep an inward Tums handy.


Greg Lisby said...

Keep up the great work, Scott! We are praying for you back here in Rhode Island.

MaggieExon said...

I signed up to the Inclusive Church petition some time ago never thinking I would wish to post. But I now feel an overwhelming urge to express my feelings of anger and, I am afraid, frequent despair. In a world full of poverty, injustice, environmental damage, disease and war, the church is tearing itself apart over a trivial issue. Yes, I know there is active discrmination against gays and, if you are gay, you don't find this issue trivial. But I find it totally unacceptable that a great deal of money is being spent to send a large group of Christians(?) to Africa to hole themselves up in hotels and talk about homosexuality and church politics rather than, for instance, AIDS, drought or child soldiers.
Let us all say, loud and clear, that no truly loving relationship between human beings ever damaged our world and its people. But many other human actions are doing that right now. We cannot afford this atavistic paranoia.
I don't have answers but perhaps a little serious gospel reading might help.

Maggie Exon

Marcus said...

Wonderful blog! I found you through the inclusive church net. I'm a member of the oldest parish in Washington DC, St Paul's, and we're watching things closely.

Many here think the real issue that divides bishops is not a difference in theology or polity, but rather the result of a mistake in logic. It is very peculiar that so few of the conservatives ask whether their sacred beliefs must be oriented toward reality rather than away from it. Can the Church actually teach that the belief that all human beings are created with a heterosexual nature is sacred, even if it is false? Shouldn't we say instead that that unless something is real, it can't be sacred?

This is seems to be the issue overlooked in all the appeals to process or scripture or ecclesial authority. Can anyone still consider a belief sacred, even if all the ancients held it to be sacred, once we discover it is clearly not based on reality?

Rome's big mistake with Galileo was that it did not ask this question. It argued that all the sacred writers and saints clearly taught that the sun moved, and the earth stood still. Case closed. Conservative anglicans and romans are now arguing that all sacred authorities clearly taught that God created all humans with a heterosexual nature. Who can claim that anyone thought otherwise until very, very recently?

I am amazed this point does not come up now in the debates. This is why I think the only point that has to be made, and made seriously, is that this belief in a universally heterosexual nature is simply false, and that is why the Church needs to throw it out.

No healthy religion can claim that it does not matter whether beliefs are oriented toward reality or away from it. To do so eliminates the possibility of distinguishing genuine from false beliefs, true faith from superstitions, authentic images from fantasies and fairy tales. The only humans who do not care about the distinction or cannot make it are insane, immature, or imbeciles.

I personally think this reality check is the only argument that needs to be made with reactionary bishops, and it should be made simply and directly: "Your Grace, is it possible to consider something sacred if is not real? Can something that can never be real ever be held sacred? Can a belief be considered sacred when in fact it leads people away from reality?"

Isn't this the only real question in the religious and political debates about homosexuality, whether one's beliefs are based on reality or fantasy? Is it really possible to say that whether assumptions about human sexual nature are real or not makes no difference for the Church?

I think every single one of us should keep asking this question until it becomes the central question. Can authentic belief be oriented away from reality, rather than towards it? Does it make any difference whether our images of God or of humanity are oriented toward fantasies, rather than toward something real?"

It may very well be true that religion is full of images, ideas, practices, and symbols, but whether they are oriented toward or away from reality to me seems still a fairly important question. If the opportunity arises for you or anyone else reading this to ask it, I would love to hear what happens!

Mark Higgins