I need to say this:
There is a difference between dealing with theological and ecclesiastical issues and dealing with the abuse of people. (And, I know that different people and cultures define “abuse” differently.)
While I may say that the way we’ve been dealing with the issues of homosexuality and inclusion of gay people in the Church has not and is not working and that we need to find a different way forward (perhaps Rowan’s way), that does not for a moment mean that I suggest that the Church should not call out loudly the intentional abuse of people, period. I also know that there is enough hypocrisy and self-serving to go around. Double-standards abound.
Two different, although connected, issues, IMHO.
I’ve said similar things (see below) over the last few years, and I think I’m getting close to figuring out something to do.
I discovered this sermon via Titusonenine and given by the Rev. Dr. Brian K. Jensen on 3-15-09, partially quoted below:
Rick Richardson is a professor at Wheaton College and the author of a book called Evangelism Outside the Box. He tells the story of a pastor named Dan who realized that his preaching was getting stale. So, with the support of his pastoral team, he took a part-time job at a nearby Starbucks coffee shop…
…Much to his surprise, all 21 people he worked with believed in God… They were all very positive toward God and toward spirituality.
Yet Pastor Dan was surprised to discover that while they believed in God and were interested in things â€œspiritual,â€ he also discovered that they were NOT interested in Christians, Christianity, or the church. No one wanted to hear Danâ€™s proofs for God, his invitations to church, or his ideas about salvation. Most of them thought they knew what Christianity was all about and had decided they didnâ€™t want it. They were what some people call â€œpost-Christian.â€
The people with whom Pastor Dan worked were not interested in the church. The biggest thing Dan learned was that if Christians are to have meaningful spiritual conversations with these people, the first thing that must be addressed is the issue of integrity. [emphasis mine]
Dylan Rossi is an ex-Catholic and a native of Massachusetts. He believes heâ€™s typical among his friends. He says, â€œIf religion comes up, everyone at the table will start mocking it. I donâ€™t know anyone religious and hardly anyone spiritual.â€
Yet this one tops them all. Kendall Harmon is an Episcopal priest in South Carolina. He says, â€œA couple came into my office with a yellow pad of their teenage sonâ€™s questions. One of them was, â€œWhat is that guy doing hanging up there on the plus sign?â€ What is that guy doing hanging up there on the plus sign?… Like I said, weâ€™ve got a problem.
…It reminded me of a story in Thomas Cahillâ€™s book, How the Irish Saved Civilization. In it he speaks of the Roman Empire and the influence of Ausonius, a poet who rose to wield some political power. Ausonius once wrote, â€œDoing the expected is the highest value â€“ and the second highest is like it: receiving the appropriate admiration of oneâ€™s peers for doing it.â€
Ausonius was a Christian. Yet as Cahill described him, â€œHis Christianity (was) a cloak to be donned and removed as needed.â€ Did you catch that? â€œHis Christianity (was) a cloak to be donned and removed as needed.â€ Do Christians today have a similar problem? Many who are disgruntled with the Christian faith today think so. Many believe there is little difference in the behavior of those who claim to be Christian and the behavior of those who do not. In the book unChristian, 84% of the young people surveyed claim to know a Christian personally. Yet get this. Only 15% see the lifestyles of Christians as being different than anyone else. Have we forgotten that Jesus upsets the status quo? Have we forgotten that we are called to be different?
A huge reason that an increasing number of people no longer consider the Church as relevant to their longings or desires is because of us! There are other reasons, I know, but Christianity in this country and perhaps the West has lost integrity, and really we can’t fool people for very long. We’ve done this – we are our worst enemies. Christians liberal and conservative present a profoundly warped and deficient picture of the Christian Life. Why? Because we don’t experience it ourselves. That’s the problem; we’ve lost our birth-right’; we’ve lost the Promise; we look just like the rest of the world.
I want to be different – not just to be different, but because my life is so wrapped up in The One who is utterly different and who promises a life far different than what this current culture provides. But, how to go about recapturing the essence of a faith that changed the 12 so thoroughly that they changed the world.
Four questions we need to ask and answer seriously even to begin the plunge into the formation process, a process done sincerely and with the utmost of intent. Such and endeavor cannot help but transform us. We need desperately transformation. Four questions:
1. What do you seek?
2. Where are you going?
3. Who do you serve? – Serious question!
4. When will you begin? – There must be a sober, identifiable starting point – no more playing around
Over at The Country Parson, I was reading through the posts and found one about the Atlantic magazine article on Rowan Williams entitled The Velvet Revolution. It reminded me of comments from many people dissatisfied with Rowan’s conduct as the Archbishop of Canterbury surrounding our troubles over the past 6 or so years. I wrote a response, and here it is:
…Anyway, because Williams is pilloried by both sides, me thinks he is doing what needs to be done. He acts and reacts in “different” ways that satisfied no one in these strange days. We, who sit as armchair Archbishops of Canterbury, often sit with rules dictated by the “Systems-of-this-World” rather than by the principles laid down by the Gospel.
He is acting like an Anglican! We want him to act like a Fundamentalist for the victory of our own “absolutely correct” side of the argument – decisive, cast the stone, make the declaration that “they” are the ignorant bigots or the godless heretics. Thank God we are not like “them!” Thank God Rowan does not act out the worst of our natures.
Within our current American (or perhaps Anglo, Anglo-American, Anglo-Nigerian, etc.) cultural proclivities, we demand action NOW. It doesn’t work that way – not in the Kingdom of God. God will not bend to our will, but will slowly, slowly, every so slowly transform us out of our hubris and sickness-of-soul into our better natures that reflect His will. He lovingly does this for Peter Akinola as much as for Gene Robinson – as much for that bigoted, racist, homophobe sitting in that pew over there as for the gray-matter-spilling-out open-minded henotheist in that pew. Be an Anglican for our cause, not a Fundamentalist for our cause.
If God is this patient with us (with me), if God casts out no one who imperfectly seeks after Him, then how can Rowan do so? How can we do so, unless our goal is nothing more than the imposition of our position and not the hope of seeing the fulfillment of God’s will within even our most hated enemy? Take up the crossâ€¦
We have to approach all of this in a different way, because the way we are doing it right now is not working!