Tobias Haller, priest, member of TEC’s Executive Committee, offers some thoughts on Ash Wednesday and the call of the Primates for adequate response by The Episcopal Church on his blog, In a Godward Direction. Read the post and the comments!
One thing I find encouraging about ++Katherine is that she comes from the “hardâ€ physical-sciences and not the “soft” social-sciences. What I mean is that when she looks for justifications for positions or to prove a hypothesis she will look for actual data, thorough research, complete scholarship, etc. Too many of us from a social-science background or from within the Humanities over the last 30 years have resorted to arguments based on “feelings.” We must do this or that because it “feels right” or so that we do not damage the “feelings” of others, etc. The tendency is to do some studies, but only enough to give us enough confidence to press our point, not enough to persuade critics. Simplistic, I know, but that is a beginning. I have been through too many classes concerning social and personal “develop theories” and listened to too many people give justifications for doing this or that thing based no little more than “feelings.”
This issue of whether TEC has given good and rigorous and complete theological and Scriptural justifications for our attempts to change thousands of years of Tradition and Scriptural interpretation concerning the morality of homosexual relationships has come back to us with the answer of, â€œNO!â€ I agree, and I don’t think we have. I think there are too many people in the leadership of TEC (staff-priests-bishops) who wish to make justifications for our actions based too much on “feelings” (reflected in such subjective â€œproofsâ€ as issues of justice, inclusion, and the like – as important as they are), rather than on hard, rigorous, and complete research and scholarship. The result is that we have been woefully lacking in our response to the challenge of the wider Christian community to our attempts to change Christian Tradition and understanding. We have not done our homework well â€“ perhaps just enough to make ourselves feel good about our effort.
We have acted with hubris, not because our actions are intrinsically wrong, but because our attitudes are paternalistic towards all those “homophones” that refuse to accept our “enlightened” new understanding. It is time for hard theological work, hard research, and hard scholarship! Frankly, because of our arrogance it may be too late to persuade anyone. This is the legacy being realized my too much attention to â€œfeelingsâ€ and not hard data and thorough scholarship over the last 40 years.
The hard work is what ++Katherine will hopefully demand of us, as she would demand of someone proposing a new theory concerning octopuses.
Then, from the comments, is the following:
When I was in college, there were several racist incidents on campus. House meetings were held, and campus-wide meetings were held. One of the African-American students in my house said something that struck me to this day. We were talking about how to understand each other better, how to bridge cultures and learn from each other. Several women suggested that we needed to hear from our African-American sisters, hear their stories and learn from them.
This particular lady stood up, crying, and said “WHY do I have to teach you? Why is it incumbent upon ME to educate you about this? I live it, I’m tired of it. Go out for yourselves and find out what we, as black women, are talking about. Take classes, read history, study it yourselves. It is not my job as a black woman to educate you all about racial injustice.”
As a lesbian, I’m feeling much the same way. There are myriad resources for these bishops, priests and congregations to use to educate themselves about our theological position. Why should we have to continually answer the call of “PROVE it to us!” They don’t want it proven to them. They don’t open their ears to hear, or their eyes to see the oppression of GLBT people in the church. I have had to educate MYSELF about this subject, they can, too. The bishops have the same resources (even more, I’ll bet) than I do. They are intelligent and learned. But their hearts and minds are closed.
It is a two-way-street, and what do we do when the other party has no interest in learning or any further study?