07 March 2007

Sad commentary: when the fact that people are heard is revolutionary

Jesus said to love our neighbors, and I usually think of listening as one big step in the process of loving someone. So it should give us pause when it is worthy of newspaper commentary that people were able to stand in a church gathering and be heard. Yet, here is Jonathan Petre, writing about the recently concluded General Synod.

What really angered conservative evangelicals was the way that openly gay clergy, whose behaviour appears to be in blatant breach of official Church policy, felt able to stand up in the Synod and talk publicly and unapologetically about their physical relationships with no fear of retribution. To the conservatives, no clearer indication of the bishops inability or unwillingness to act could be imagined.

One evangelical member of the Synod, Alison Ruoff, has reflected this strand of thinking in a letter to the Daily Telegraph. "For me, Wednesday in General Synod was a grim day for the Church of England," she writes. "Although on the face of it, things might have been worse, when looking at the texts that have come from the debates. However, some of the speeches that were made, particularly from members of the clergy, were in many ways truly shocking. No longer is there any shame about anything. Descriptions of 'loving partnerships', including the mention of sex, was par for the course. The bishops sat there unmoved. Yet some 10 years ago clergy would have not only have been disciplined but 'unfrocked'".

This cuts to the heart of what could drive Anglicans apart. If we take one another seriously, and if we can acknowledge that people on all sides are acting in good faith, it should not be remarkable or newsworthy when one simply describes one's position on an issue or discusses those whom we love.

This listening must become normal. It is, as +Rowan is fond of saying, part of the teaching of the Anglican Communion as found in Lambeth 1.10. And, for the record, it must work both ways. GLBT must be able to speak freely, and those of us who are progressive need to be able to allow others to speak, even when it's disagreeable or even hurtful. Listening is an essential step on the path to reconciliation and love.

1 comment:

Jim Strader said...

Scott+ - thanks for this post. You're correct w/ regards to our willingness to listen to one another in complicated settings.

I'm rather intrigued however by the women's comments regarding the necessity for there to be an dirth of discussion regarding matters of sexual intimacy and loving relationships during the General Synod. This kind of complaint reminds me of some Anglicans' need to maintain some sort of 19th century paradigm regarding matters of sex or money in church. Issues of finances and sexual intimacy are exactly the types of uncomfortable but human issues we need to be discussing & resolving in church councils.