Another Side of the African Church

Sometimes, the impression is given that all of the African Anglican churches are opposed to the North American Church, hate homosexuals, desire to force their particular theological opinions on the rest of the Communion. This is not true, however. The Most Rev. Njongonkulu Winston Hugh Ndungane, Archbishop of Capetown, and the Primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, presents a very different picture of Africa. Here is an excerpt from his statement commenting on the Primates Meeting and their Communiqué.

I am glad that the communiqué from our Primates’ Meeting condemned the victimisation and ostracising of those with homosexual orientation. Too often that has been their experience within the church, and I am very concerned at the sub-text of hatred that exists within Anglicanism, for example in some of the responses to the Windsor Report.
I admit that I am dismayed whenever I hear language that seeks to make distinctions among human beings or discriminates on the basis of things over which we have no control – such as race, colour, gender, or sexual orientation. These are, so to speak, accidents of birth. They are gifts of our created nature, and all of us are worthy of the dignity that comes with being created in the image of God.
Because of just such an ‘accident’, I personally experienced prejudice, exclusion and injustice for over two thirds of my life. The principle of non-discrimination runs strongly in my veins – and indeed, I was imprisoned on Robben Island because of my fundamental belief in the intrinsic worth of every human individual, every child of God.
No, discrimination on grounds like these is wrong. Reconciliation and healing of relationships is the only way forward. That is the experience of the Church of the Province of Southern Africa, which lived through the fullness of the apartheid atrocities, and yet found a way forward into freedom, reconciliation and new life together.
Let me be clear about what we have agreed to do. We have not expelled the churches of America and Canada. Nor have they been placed in some sort of limbo, as some press reports suggested. There are no legal provisions for any such actions.
The door to the Americans and Canadians is not shut. We have recognised that this is a deep and complex issue for them, which they must pursue and consider through their own proper constitutional processes. Because of the depth of democratic consultation within these Provinces, we recognise that this may take even a year or two.
And this is right. Because one of the hallmarks of Anglicanism is that we are a synodical church. This means that our deliberations are not just for Bishops. Rather, we consult fully, engaging with clergy and people at every level, right down to the parishes. Bishops, clergy and laity together take council and make decisions. We must give the Americans and Canadians the space to do this, and support them with our prayers.

Read the whole statement.

Fervent Moderation

From an ENS update on Madeleine Albright’s speech to the Consortium of Endowed Parishes yesterday in New York.

She also agreed with a questioner who asked her if “fervent moderation” ought to be the religious person’s stance in the world. People of faith cannot base their belief on what they don’t like in someone else, she said, lest “your pride in yourself curdles into hate of someone else.”

I like this comment about “fervent moderation.”
There has been a lot of talk around the seminary over the past few months of how the reactionaries have usurped the terms “Evangelical” and “Anglo-Catholic” within Anglicanism (and really they are striving to usurp the very term “Anglicanism” to mean only their very narrow and fundamentalist definition of what makes one an Anglican Christian). Each of these Anglican pietistic and theological traditions are rich and deep, but they are being distorted. People are now afraid to use the terms for fear of being labeled an angry, bitter reactionary.
We have talked about how we can refuse to give over these terms to the reactionaries, but what are we to do? We are to walk in “fervent moderation.” We are to be evangelists for the long and storied traditions within Anglicanism, and refuse to relinquish “Anglican” to reactionaries who are acting in a manner that is very unAnglican.
We will refuse to relinquish the term “Christian” to groups of politicized Religious Right extremists. This group of people shout very loudly and bully people into doing what they want, all the while defaming the cause of Christ by placing in the minds of the general populace the idea that Christianity is truly a bizarre mixture of radical rightist politics, extreme patriotism/nationalism, and very uncharitable and unChrist-like attitudes and behavior.
So, a “fervent moderate” is what I shall be. The Via Media of Anglicanism, where people of all different pietistic and theological stripes can remain together under Scripture, the Creeds, the first four Ecumenical Councils, and the Historic Episcopate is being challenged and perverted. I came into Anglicanism because of this long tradition. I do not want to see it now die away. How do I fight for the Via Media without becoming like those I oppose?

Message from the Presiding Bishop

The full letter from the Presiding Bishop:

Friday, February 25, 2005
A word from the Presiding Bishop
[ENS] The primates of the Anglican Communion and Moderators of the United Churches have met together in Northern Ireland to address common concerns and to share something of our lives and ministries in our own widely different contexts. We have carefully studied the Windsor Report and how we might best be a communion in the midst of the deep differences which have been brought into sharp relief around the subject of homosexuality. I leave Ireland grateful that we as primates have done our very best to find a way forward and to avoid creating an unproductive situation of winners and losers.
These days have not been easy for any of us and the communiqué we issued gives some sense of our meeting and how we have struggled together. The communiqué is the fruit of a great deal of prayer and reflects our mutual desire to move forward together.
As the communiqué was written with a view to making room for a wide variety of perspectives it is inevitable that no one will be pleased with all aspects of it. Some will not be pleased with the request from the primates (paragraph 14) that the Episcopal Church, along with the Anglican Church of Canada, “voluntarily withdraw” our members from the Anglican Consultative Council “for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference.” This request, together with the opportunity for a hearing with the Anglican Consultative Council (paragraph 16), gives space for speaking and listening. During this time the Episcopal
Church will be responding to the questions addressed to us in the Windsor Report, as the primates have requested. We will have the opportunity to speak out of the truth of our experience. I welcome this opportunity knowing that the Episcopal Church has sought to
act with integrity in response to the Spirit, and that we have worked, and continue to work, to honor the different perspectives very much present within our church. Also during this time, the Anglican Consultative Council will be listening with care to what we have to say.
The primates discussed the importance of pastoral care for all members of our Anglican Communion and have spoken clearly to the matter (paragraph 15). I very much welcome the recommendation to the Archbishop of Canterbury that he appoint a “panel of reference to
supervise the adequacy of pastoral provisions” for “groups in serious theological dispute with their diocesan bishop, or dioceses in dispute with their Provinces…” The bishops of the Episcopal Church are committed to the provision of such pastoral care to those of various perspectives and have established a means of being certain it is provided which is described in Caring for all the Churches: Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight. I am also pleased by the commitment made by the primates “neither to encourage nor to initiate cross-boundary violations.”
The communiqué notes that our meeting was “characterised by generosity of spirit, and a readiness to respect one another’s integrity, with Christian charity and abundant goodwill.” I have faith and confidence in the many ways in which the mystery of communion is lived among us. I am grateful that bonds of understanding and affection bind us together and call us to an ever deeper and more costly living out of the reconciliation brought about by Jesus through the Cross. Again this week it was revealed that so much more unites us than divides us.
The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church, USA

And it continues…

The Anglican Primates conference is now over, and a communiqué has been sent. Here is the initial response from the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, USA:
Thursday, February 24, 2005
A word from the Presiding Bishop
“The primates of the Anglican Communion and Moderators of the United Churches have just completed their work on the attached communiqué which gives some sense of our meeting this week in Northern Ireland. These days have not been easy for any of us and the communiqué reflects a great deal of prayer and the strong desire to find a way forward as a Communion in the midst of deep differences which have been brought into sharp relief around the subject of homosexuality.
“Clearly, all parts of the communiqué will not please everyone. It is important to keep in mind that it was written with a view to making room for a wide variety of
perspectives. I continue to have faith and confidence in the many ways in which the mystery of communion is lived among us, and am grateful that bonds of understanding and affection to bind us together and call us to an ever deeper and more costly living out of the reconciliation brought about by Jesus through the Cross. Again this week it was revealed that so much more unites us than divides us.”
“The Presiding Bishop will make a further comment tomorrow.”


I’m stealing from other blogs, again. Here is a short essay from Ryan Sager, a member of the editorial board of The New York Post. I found the excerpt below and the full essay at Tech Central Station through Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish.
Whew, the Web can certainly take you to the far reaches of… somewhere. Anyway, this is an excellent comment on the current state of the Republican Party, CPAC, the politicized Religious Right, and the failure to maintain true philosophical Conservatism. The war within the Republican Party between libertarians (which I tend towards – apart from the Libertarian Party, mind you) and social conservatives is on.
“Make absolutely no mistake about it: This party, among its most hard-core supporters, is not about freedom anymore. It is about foisting its members’ version of morality and economic intervention on the country. It is, in other words, the mirror image of its hated enemy.”
Read the whole thing: Posted in politics/culture | Leave a reply

An additional comment

I want to add to yesterday’s post that this is not a phenomenon specific to the urban gay subculture. Our entire culture is susceptible to it and many quarters actually feed the mania for profit and who knows what other reasons. All one has to do is spend some time on a college campus to recognize that we have some significant and profound problems in our culture with personal responsibility, destructive behavior, and accepting the consequences for our decisions, choices, and behavior. We are reaping the whirlwind.

I’m at a loss

I’m at a complete loss as I try to fathom why people do this. From this week’s issue of Newsweek:
“It’s Saturday evening in Manhattan, and three dozen men are crammed into a one-bedroom suite in an upscale hotel across from Ground Zero. After shelling out $20.00 apiece to the man who organized tonight’s event over the Internet, the guests place their clothes in Hefty bags for safekeeping and get down to business and pleasure. A muscular man in his mid-30’s sits naked on the sofa and inhales a ‘bump’ of crystal methamphetamine. Within minutes, he’s lying on the floor having unprotected sex with the host of tonight’s sex party, whose sunken cheeks, swollen neck glands, and distended belly betray the HIV infection he’s been battling for years. In the bedroom, a dozen men, several of them sweaty, dehydrated and wired on meth, are having sex on the king-size bed. There’s not a condom in sight. ‘It’s completely suicidal, the crystal and the barebacking,’ says one of the two attendees who describe the scene. ‘But there’s something liberating and hot about it, too.’” (emphasis mine)
It is suicidal. They know it. They know it before they engage in this kind of behavior. They know it before they take a “bump” of crystal, Tina, snow, whatever you want to call it. “It’s completely suicidal…”
I see these men in Chelsea all the time. Not the exact men mentioned in the article (although, maybe). I see men like them in Big Cup. I see them walking in and out of Rawhide on 8th Ave., a block from the seminary. I see them in the grocery store. There are all kinds of psycho-social explanations of why people, and in this case particularly gay men, do self-destructive things, but most of those explanations just don’t fit here in New York or in places like San Francisco. “It’s completely suicidal… But there’s something liberating and hot about it, too.”
Liberating? I don’t understand. Otherwise sane men playing Russian-roulette, and we all have to pay the price this time. I heard a story out of Trinity Wall St. of a very successful straight, married man who worked in the Financial District. He had all the money he could ever need, status, even a church-goer. He started taking meth, and within a year had lost everything and was living on the streets. He lost everything. The crystal-meth, self-inflicted epidemic is not just a gay phenomena, but coupling the use of the drug with willful unprotected sex because it seems “liberating” and “hot” is just unbelievable to me.
Look in the list sections of HX and NEXT magazines in Manhattan and anyone will see that the whole urban gay subculture, or at least that which is being portrayed and marketed, is nothing but a juvenile, irresponsible, hedonist rampage of sex and drugs. THAT is what being GAY is all about as portrayed in much of the gay mass-media, and we wonder why America is so anti-homosexual.
There is a point where the gay community must take responsibility for its own dysfunction, its extreme dysfunction, and those who aid and abed this dysfunction need to be held accountable. No more caving into the yells and screams of sexual-Nazism, no more letting people off the hook because of some form of rationalization for the suicidal behavior all in the name of liberation and some sort of bizarre notion of pleasure uber-alas. The behavior of those who fuel the sex-crazed and irresponsible sub-culture need to be held accountable, to hell with their cries of censorship, of internalized-homophobia, of puritanicalism, and all that crap. People are encouraging death! no matter how they want to pretty-it-up.
Our culture of no-accountability-despite-reckless-behavior needs to end. Our culture that feeds the idea that we can do whatever we want without being held responsible for our own decisions and actions needs to end. I’m not advocating that we let people die because they chose to act “suicidal,” but no one should be allowed to not take responsibility for their own decisions – no one else is to blame but me!, but the individual!, but the sub-culture!, but society! No excuses, else we really will eventually have a completely drug-resistant form of the retro-virus knows as HIV.
You tell me what is more loving and kind – demanding an end to the cultural that encourages and allows this “suicidal” behavior because it is perceived as “liberating” or “hot,” or telling people to STOP! Demanding that they/we take responsibility for their/our own lives and STOP! The final result of sin (yes, sin) is death. That which is contrary to our own health and survival as people period, contrary to God’s will for our lives, is sin – whether individual, cultural, or institutional.