I received the regular e-mail update from the American Anglican Council. In the update, they included a commentary by Cal Thomas covering the Episcopal Church. I have to say, I am almost shocked at the stridency of language Cal Thomas uses in his writing, which appeared in lots of newspapers around the country.
I am struck by the stridency, the incredible anger, and yes I’m going to say – hatred, that is now coming from many people found in certain segments of society and the Church. Read this from Cal:
“Bishop Schori, a former oceanographer for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle, says, ‘The Bible tells us about how to treat other human beings and that’s certainly the great message of Jesus – to include the unincluded.’
“This is so outside orthodox Christianity that only biblical illiterates or those who deny the supreme authority of the only book that gives foundation to the faith will accept it.”
Does Cal Thomas really believe that to “include the unincluded” is “so outside orthodox Christianity”? This may play well with the radicalized Religious Right, but how does it sound to the vast majority of Americans who are no longer involved in Christianity or the unchurched? The central teaching of Jesus may not have revolved around including the unincluded, but his life depicted in Scripture certainly does exhibit including the unincluded. Whatever happened to “love thy neighbor as thyself?” If that is not a call to include those who you would exclude, what is? Man, are we arrogant!
It is becoming more obvious as every day passes that large segments of the (what word is right?) Fundamentalists/neo-Puritans/radicalized Religious Right(?) is/are tipping the scale so far to one side that they face the very real danger of becoming Fascist-like. This is not conservatism and it is not traditionalism, it isn’t even traditional American Evangelicalism. It is fanaticism.
Read his entire column below
As I read through various blogs and news reports about what our Church is experiencing these days, domestically and internationally, I still find myself with the feeling of standing between two polls and each poll is pulling strongly in its direction. I feel tied to elements or aspects of both polls. It’s hard to resist giving into the allure of certainty that comes with fully embracing either side. It is tiring.
My past still exerts a strong influence on me, and I hope that I carry with me the best of that expression of the Christian faith. I can say “amen” to much of what this side says about the faith. Yet, that expression just doesn’t do if for me any longer. I know that ultimately it matters not what “does it for me.” It isn’t about me, but I cannot remain in a place that I no longer find compelling or see going in directions that I think are counter to Jesus’ teachings.
I often have knee-jerk reactions to some people or positions on the other poll. I can find lots of stuff to disagree with, but that is approaching the poll from a place of negativism – and how can I learn anything if I’m not willing to put aside my own proclivities or unwillingness to even consider the arguments of this side? Aside from the knee-jerk reactions to some aspects, I do find much I can agree with.
My former seminary roommate, Jason, seems inclined to be closer to one of the polls than I am. Despite the fact that he may well feel I don’t listen to what he says, I do. It is in the relationships we have that words and actions come together and challenge us more than we may know. I am thankful for these kinds of relationships – for the Jasonâ€™s. If it were not for him and others, all I would be doing is gathering around me teachers who scratch my itching ears. Remember what Paul wrote to Timothy? (2 Timothy 4:3)
Mark Harris on his blog, Preludium, reflects a bit more on General Convention ’06. He comments on the aftermath of the votes by the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops on resolution B033 – the last ditch statement concerning the Windsor Report. It is worth reading: here.
The backdrop for his comments is Matt. 5:37 – let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no,” no. He comments on the two groups of bishops who for the most part repudiated the passed resolution as soon as voting was completed. One group he refered to as the disassociating bishops and the other group as the dissenter bishops.
This paragraph struck me:
“Disassociating is a meanness, the meanness of the embarrassed or the loser. But the greatest of these acts of meanness is the meanness of the ones who hoped for the worse in order to prove that they are the best. Disassociation, as practiced by dissemblers, is merely a way to further a cause that canâ€™t carry its own weight in a democratic fashion.”
Perhaps, it is endemic within Anglicanism to resist dogmatic “yesâ€™s” and/or dogmatic “no’s.” Perhaps, these dissenters and disassociationists are attempting to live into more fully Matthew’s command, even if by using illegitimate or spurious methods. Perhaps.
Now that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s request for reflection has been issued, suddenly all hell has broken loose. Does this surprise anyone, really? The plan has been laid out now for years.
Arbp. Peter Akinola of Nigeria has announced that a former Episcopal priest, Marty Minns, former rector in Truro, Va., will be the new bishop of the “Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America,” which was when announced called the “Convocation of Nigerians in American.”
This is the continuance of their plan to literally take control of the Episcopal Church spelled out in the leaked “Chapman Memo” of a couple years ago.
Now, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, Fort Worth, and South Carolina had appealed to the ABC for alternative Primital oversight.
See the following for additional information:
Fr. Jake Stops the World (good overview)
The Living Church
Announcement of Mim’s consecratio can be found on the Church of Nigeria’s website
Since leaving the seminary last August, I’ve been temporarily staying with Ashton in West Orange, NJ. I thought I might be here a month at the most. I’ve now been here 10 months, but tomorrow I’m moving again. I never expected that I would be living 10 months out of a few boxes with all my stuff, my books, in storage in two different states. Four more months in yet another location, and I will have belongings in three different locations – I’m being spread way too thin!
The family that owns the house in which Ashton has lived for the past four years or so and where I’ve stayed are moving on, and by necessity so are we. I have to decide by this evening were I will be living for the next four months until the apartment above the rectory at St. Paul’s finally becomes available. Ostensibly, I will be living in Brooklyn more permanently and will be able to bring all my stuff to one location.
I don’t know what I will find when I begin unpacking! I’ve said for a long time that I want to live simply, and for the most part I have. Yet, things accumulate and not wanting to be wasteful I keep moving all the stuff I’ve accumulated. These past 10 months have reinforced in me the understanding that I do not need very much. I just don’t. I don’t need to buy into American consumerism or materialism – but it is hard not to.
Tomorrow, everything changes once again. I’m tired of everything changing again and again. I know that change is the watchword for the American social zeit geist, but there does come a point where even the most adept at change realize a diminishing return, particularly concerning relationships.
I’m just tired of yet another something.
The following are some links to various responses to ++Rowan’s Reflection statement offered to the Communion only yesterday:
– good comprehensive list
The Anglican Communion Institute – I must say, I do agree that the need is to move away from political wrangling and back to the mission of the Gospel!
Preludium: Mark Harris+
Anglican Communion Network: Bishop Duncan
MadPriest (of course I could be wrong) – for an English perspective
– I really like this statement from the MadPriest commenting on the Bishop of Rochester,Michael Nazir-Ali: “In other words, we should be very suspicious of anybody calling for division who might benefit from division.”
A consideration: When the Archbishop calls us to reflect upon local parishes or diocese or provinces or even individual members needing to make sacrifices for the unity of the entire Communion, upon whom does that burden most fall? Does the burden of sacrifice fall evenly on all provinces, diocese, parishes, or individuals?
I agree with the Archbishop. However, my impression is that the burden of sacrifice is expected of those who favor the full inclusion of people oriented towards the same gender and not the other side. Will some sort of burden of sacrifice be expected of Archbishop Akinola and the Province of Nigeria, along with many others who oppose homosexuality? What might that sacrifice look like? Then again, Akinola will not compromise and doesn’t need to sacrifice because he and his compatriots of course are right and donâ€™t have to, right?
Archbishop Rowan Williams has issued a Reflection concerning the Episcopal Church’s recent response to the Windsor Report. The entire press release and reflection are available on his website. Here it is:
The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today: A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion: a Church in Crisis?
What is the current tension in the Anglican Communion actually about? Plenty of people are confident that they know the answer. Itâ€™s about gay bishops, or possibly women bishops. The American Church is in favour and others are against â€“ and the Church of England is not sure (as usual).
Itâ€™s true that the election of a practising gay person as a bishop in the US in 2003 was the trigger for much of the present conflict. It is doubtless also true that a lot of extra heat is generated in the conflict by ingrained and ignorant prejudice in some quarters; and that for many others, in and out of the Church, the issue seems to be a clear one about human rights and dignity. But the debate in the Anglican Communion is not essentially a debate about the human rights of homosexual people. It is possible â€“ indeed, it is imperative â€“ to give the strongest support to the defence of homosexual people against violence, bigotry and legal disadvantage, to appreciate the role played in the life of the church by people of homosexual orientation, and still to believe that this doesnâ€™t settle the question of whether the Christian Church has the freedom, on the basis of the Bible, and its historic teachings, to bless homosexual partnerships as a clear expression of Godâ€™s will. That is disputed among Christians, and, as a bare matter of fact, only a small minority would answer yes to the question.
From The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, quoting Martin Luther. I got this from “On the Way.”
Plunge Into Deep Waters
Discipleship is not limited to what you can understand – it must transcend all comprehension. Plunge into the deep waters beyond your own understanding…. Bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. In this way Abraham went forth from his father, not knowing where he was going. You cannot find it in yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire – that is the road you must take.
Brad Drell also included a little sentence in his post-convention reflections that I think is very interesting:
“Nashotah House has the youngest enrollment of any Episcopal seminary. There is hope for the future of Anglicanism in North America.”
This seems in line with what I’ve been hearing from Roman Catholic seminary friends. Younger people are seeking the more traditional and ancient forms of the faith – not all, but a very significant number and perhaps a majority. If this Episcopal Church does not wake up to the fact that a high percentage of people in the younger generations (particularly the unchurched) are not 1960’s-type liberals, we will not be able to be relevant (a favorite liberal term) to the coming generations. The reigns of power in this Church, however, are held be those very same 1960â€™s type Baby Boomer liberals who cannot imagine that they are now â€œthe manâ€ and that their viewpoints are not the radical and counter-culture edge. They are descending into irrelevance, but are not able to step back and see that fact. And, in case anyone wonders, that has nothing to do with having a good Anglican broad spectrum on theological, pietistic, social, or political viewpoints under one tent.
If those who may not know, if considering all the 11 Episcopal seminaries in the U.S., Nashotah House is the extreme Anglo-Catholic seminary. They do not accept women celebrating at the alter.
This is what so frustrates me about General, my seminary. Developed in the tradition of the Oxford Movement, it is now speeding headlong towards the coming irrelevancy of American Baby Boomer liberalism. Take the best of Oxford, our heritage, and go with it.
Enough for one day. I have to get myself to church!
Okay, one more thing on generational stuff, and these are just thoughts. The Baby-Boomer generation brought us the Social-Gospel, Age of Aquarius liberalism, and Seeker Churches. Generation-X reacted against the Baby Boomer generation and moved out of the mainline and into the Evangelical/Charismatic churches. Generation-Y, where our focus should be now if we really do want to reach younger people, reacts against both former generations – the one in power and the one reacting to and reaching positions of power – and they could well have a more balanced and workable approach. Considering religion, they seek out that which is not trendy – the ancient forms of our faith. This thrills the more conservative and traditional elements. They are more willing to accept of a wide range of differences. It is in their genes to do so, and this thrills the liberals. But, they are neither 1960â€™s liberals nor 1980’s conservatives. They are their own thing, and frankly I believe will be more balanced. In my humble opinion, this generation fits perfectly with Anglicanism – if we can just get the word out without stone one another.
I finally started using Feedblitz in earnest. It is a wonderful way of keeping track of favorite blogs in one quick and easy shot. I was reading a few posts from Brad Drell’s blog, one of them being a news story from the Bay Area’s Episcopalian LGBT organization Oasis California President Rev. John Kirkley, commenting on the last minute resolution B033 that passed both houses of convention.
â€œOnce again, gay and lesbian Christians were sacrificed for the â€œsake of the Communion.â€ Once again we see that no matter how great a sacrifice gay and lesbians make, we can never satisfy the ultra-conservatives who want to lead their own church.â€
Well, of course not. For the more extreme there can be no compromise at all. This is where I fear the Primate of Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, falls. If avowed gay people are part of a church and they are accepted, then that church is apostate, period. Only if the “former-gay” people, or ex-gays, are involved in a healing ministry (reparative therapy and all that) and refuse to acknowledge that they may be intrinsically homosexual and refrain from any form of same-gender relationships can they be fully welcomed and fully received into the life of that church. Even then, there are those who have their doubts.
So, stop being shocked that the more extreme position held by even some pseudo-conservative Anglicans is that there can be no compromise, because if homosexuals do not repent of their sinful behavior and turn to God, they are of the devil and cannot be accepted into the Church. And if anyone wonders, I have heard these kinds of statements over and over again.
This legislation, B033, from General Convention is not of that mindset, however. Frankly, neither are a good many Episcopalians or Anglicans who are of the “conservative” side of our churches. The spin from all sides and the knee-jerk reactions from some people and groups suggests to me that it matters not what anyone does to try to forge a common way forward. Some will never accept such a way forward.