Another lengthy blog discussion… a third way #2

So, the following is a response to Ted, who asked: “What then should TEC do when others refuse to walk with us or alter the “level of communion” i.e. tiers?” It just keeps getting longer.
Ted… Bear with me. This is too long, I know. I am doing a bit of “processing out loud,” which will drive some people crazy.
We should listen and act like a global group of Christians that aren’t myopically centered on our own parochial interests. All of our councils do err and our understanding is limited; this should cause great humility within us. This is what I’m thinking…
Surveying our socio-religious TEC landscape, it seems to me that we have allowed ourselves to be so “tainted” by the cultural zeitgeist and accept its precepts uncritically that we have lost sight of the Way of Christ. Much within our culture works against the kind of life we are called to by Christ. Whether it is the schismatics with regard to TEC nationally or the schismatics with regard to the Communion globally, we need to step back and consider the greater goal and that our Christian reality is long-term and for all, not just for the next several years and not just for our own little group.
I am more than willing to forgo some of my “rights” as a Caucasian, as a male, as a gay person, as a priest, for the sake of those less fortunate than I am or in places where our influence is vitally needed for the safety of those in trouble. No matter what some say, the voice of the American Church in the Communion does have a life-saving impact on places like Nigeria, Uganda,, where LGBT Christians at present have options of only silence or violence. Without our presence in the Communion, those primates are far freer to do and advocate for whatever they want – the extremists win. We have a long way to go in this country, but our plight is nothing in comparison to theirs. If those provinces want to absence themselves from the Communion, so be it. We, however, do not need to. As a matter of fact, it is vital that we don’t, particularly if it happens because of our stereotypical American hubris and self-interest.
The way we are thinking, IMHO, is wrong. For example, over the last 30 odd years, we have taken on a more psycho-therapeutic or a political-activist way of thinking in ministry (both are important, but neither are the way of the Church’s ministry). As a Christian who happens to be gay, firstly, and as a priest that happens to be gay, secondarily, I do need the “validation” of others to understand my worth. It is nice, but I don’t “need” it. When we believe that being able to be considered for a bishop position is somehow the way we are to validate personal worth or importance, we leave the realm of the way of Christ and enter into the realm of our socio-political cultural zeitgeist. My validation as a Christian or priest, gay or straight, male or female, black or white, has nothing to do with whether I am eligible for consideration to any office or order of the Church. My or my ministry’s worth is a result of the veracity of the ministry I do in the name of God – and my security resting in the love and care of God, not other people’s opinion of me.
To believe that being a bishop is a “right” that validates one’s existence or importance is incredibly “cleric-centric” to the point of almost denying the vital nature of the laity and the distinct ministries of each Holy Order. (The danger of the above way of thinking, of course, can go too far and result in people justifying the use of orientation, sex, or race as criteria for exclusion from leadership or orders. The solution, however, is not to go so far as to say that validation of personhood or ministry can only come from the ability to have a position within an institution.) I believe this is where we are, however, at this time. The Episcopal Church seems to be saying that as a gay person/priest that my ministry or personhood is only validated if I can be considered for a bishopric. I disagree. Likewise, I don’t need my relationship validated by the blessing of an organization (church or otherwise). It is nice to have, but certainly not necessary to my understanding of God and God’s transformative and healing work within us.
We are not an island unto ourselves. For our Church to be so consumed over whether a gay person can be a bishop or have a same-sex relationship blessed or not to the point of not caring whether we are part of the greater Church or Communion (whether intentionally or as a result of our unwillingness to compromise) when other LBGT people in other countries can conceiving of not much more than staying alive is just too myopic and nationally self-centered for me.
We must think differently, because the way we’ve been thinking and doing has resulted not in a good end but rather in anger, bitterness, hatred, and division in the Body of Christ. None of us are innocent. The current way of thinking and doing, both by the liberals and conservatives, has not presenting to the world a way of Christ that brings peace and unity. We need a third way.
Saying all that, I think we should for a few more years abide by the moratoria. I know that certain segments of the Communion have already determined that they don’t like us and reject us. So what? Does that mean we act just like them, but from a different perspective? Will we take the high moral road or just take our marbles and go home to our little patch of the globe? We must understand that we cannot simply act like those we accuse of acting wrongly, whether within the local, national setting or within the global setting.
Thanks what I’m thinking, for what it is worth.
Bob | Homepage | 09.04.09 – 12:24 pm | #

Another lengthy blog discussion… a third way

Okay, I’m doing it again. This time not on Titusonenie and debating the “conservatives,” but I’m debating the “liberals” at Frather Jake Stops the World. The conversation deals with Fr. Jake’s recent post: The Train Won’t Stop Going. The discussion comes from the seven Episcopal bishops visiting Canterbury, presumably about remain in communion with the Sea of Canterbury if the Episcopal Church rejects the Communions method of communion.
Here is the first post I made. It is too lengthy, I know, but my “processing out loud” just never ends.
Sorry for the length… this is a bit of a soapbox.
One point of being “Catholic,” Anglo or otherwise, is to have a very deep-seated understanding that those “scoundrels” are just as much a part of the Body of Christ and just a vital to the Body of Christ as am I or are you. If any of us want to be a Christian, with integrity to the call of Jesus Christ, we cannot say “good riddance,” or that you or I or any of us can get along just fine without the other. It is a fallacy believed by both the “conservatives” with regard to the TEC and the “liberals” with regard to the Communion.
You speak of Postmodern sensibilities, but for this postmodern I see very little difference in the way the “conservatives” (really anti-liberals) are acting and the way the “liberals” (really anti-conservatives) are acting. Duncan and Bruno, for example, are acting the same way. Both are acting wrongly.
The only difference is that the conservatives are saying, “To hell with the Episcopal Church,” while the liberals are saying, “To hell with the Communion.” The end result of the actions is the same – hubris and the division in the Body of Christ. It is just that one group is acing more “locally” while the other group is more “globally.”
This is what frustrates me about the generation in leadership of this Church and the breakaway groups. In many ways they are both fundamentalistic in their actions. This is a particular scandal to those who claim to be “liberal” (which is why I say anti-conservative rather than truly liberal), because as things work out on the ground they are not really interested in having an open table where everyone can have a place. They are interested in only those who will at least not challenge their forgone conclusions of what is right and proper, if not already agreeing with them. At least the conservatives make no pretense about being “open” to virtually anything.
A young, black, gay seminarian friend of mine kept saying, “I can’t wait until this generation of leadership is gone. Then we can get back to being the Church.” Does anyone see the irony in that statement?
“Anglicans” in the U.S. cannot get along just fine without the TEC. TEC cannot get along just fine without the Communion. To go down this road is to stop being what we have always been and become something that is just like everyone else – just little sects or denominations glowing about ourselves. James Smith in his book, “Whose Afraid of Postmodernism?,” stresses the Modernist fallacy that claims that “particularities” are a source of violence and evil. This notion has lead to a lowest common denominator kind of ecumenicism that has resulted in many churches a depleting membership and a growing irrelevancy of influence for the good within our society. He claims in a Postmodern world, the Church needs to reclaim our particularities, our distinctive, else we will continue to descend into irrelevance within the greater culture. Anglicans are Anglicans because we are in communion with the Sea of Canterbury, part of something far larger than ourselves and of many cultural perspectives, take upon ourselves the Western Tradition through the experience of the English Church (locally employed), and live with the incredible tension of being with people we don’t like or agree with as we all come to the altar of God – regardless of whether the other people hate us or love us.
As a gay priest, a Christian, I can do nothing but always regard those who disagree with me regarding same-sex relationships with respect and be with them, even if they hate me, spit upon me, and try to exclude me from God. That doesn’t mean I agree with them or don’t advocate for different positions. I have no choice but to do such things if I want to follow the commands of Jesus rather than the edicts of an ideology, liberal or conservative.
Bob | Homepage | 09.04.09 – 9:19 am | #