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Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Season of Discernment, Study and Prayer


It seems to me that the church, being "in the world, but not of this world" is asking worldly questions.

I think the central, crucial questions being overlooked, in this rush to power and punishment for the sin of colonialism from the Nigerian Lion Who Roars, are essentially, deeply spiritual.

Forget my pain. Forget the pain of LGBT people. Thank you for your sympathy and empathy, your mercy and loving kindness, your concern and prayers. It is truly, deeply appreciated.

I am overwhelmed by the loving notes I have gotten in the past few days - even those who have expressed concern about the anger which occasionally finds expression in sarcasm. Thank you for tending so lovingly to my heart and my soul and my mind. It is awesome to feel so loved.

Yes, betrayal always hurts, and often the only sensible response is anger. Betrayal hurts the betrayed, the ones who betray, and the entire church. It is odious in the sight of the Lord, grievous unto the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a sin against the Holy Spirit - and we all know what Jesus had to say about that.

Carolyn Myss talks about this as "The Judas Experience." She writes,
"The lesson of the Judas Experience is that putting faith in human justice is an error and that we must shift our faith from human to Divine authority. It is to trust that our life is governed 'with Divine justice', even though we cannot see it. We must strive not to become bitter or cling to victimhood when we are betrayed or cannot attain what we want . . .We need to trust that we have not been victimized at all and that this painful experience is challenging us to evaluate where we have placed our faith." (Anatomy of the Spirit, pg. 125)

We are not helpless victims. LGBT Christians know we are children of God - and not just because General Convention passed a resolution that says that. This we know for the bible tells us so.

We have been fighting the good fight for many, many years - over 30, in fact. We, and our allies, will continue to do so. I am in no way tired. The Fat Lady has not even warmed up on this latest development, and I do believe the Holy Spirit has something really, really big up Her billowing sleeve.

As Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, "The arc of history is long, but it always bends toward justice." I think that when this kind of outrageous injustice occurs, something in the cosmos shifts. And, when that happens, the bending of the arc of history is accelerated even further toward justice.

There need not be any concern about retaliation from the left side of the church. Retaliation is not necessary. God has a way of taking care of the faithful who are oppressed - as well as those who oppress.

Jesus once cautioned: "Woe to you! for you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering." (Luke 11:52)

We overlook the spiritual questions of this at the peril of our souls - and the very soul of the church..

There are many, important spiritual questions. I heard the first of them articulated by the Rev'd Jennifer Phillips in a book of essays with a title, "Our Selves, Our Souls and Bodies: Sexuality and the Household of God."

I can't lay my hands on the book just now (I've just learned that Charles Hefling is the editor and Cowley is the publisher, although it may be out of print. Among the contributors is Rowan Williams. ISBN 1-56101-122-3), so I'm going to paraphrase her questions (and Jennifer, if you read this, please correct me if I'm wrong, or clarify/amplify a particular point you want to make):

"What, do you suppose, is God doing? (If we assume the authenticity of at least some of these vocations), Why is God calling and sending LGBT people to us, at this time in our common lives of faith, to positions of leadership in the church? What have we to learn from this? What might God be trying to reveal to us?"

Now, I'm keenly aware that there are wildly different answers to these questions, depending on which side of the aisle is responding.

My point (and I do have one) is to repeat what I said a few days ago. I think we ought not do what Rowan has obviously done. I think we ought not feel pressured by some Global South Primates, and their North American minions, who are on a painfully obvious power trip.

I continue to call for a Season of Discernment, Study and Prayer about how to respond to Windsor, Dromantine and Dar es Salaam.

Let's put aside, for a season, what the Global South Primates and their North American minions have demanded, the timelines they've constructed, and the ultimatums they have made. "Fear not!" says Jesus. Let us ask ourselves and struggle among ourselves with what God may be asking of us.

Please! Let's not do this at a Special General Convention. What a colossal waste of energy and resources!

The money to stage that kind of event is better spent helping the lives of desperately poor, starving, oppressed women and children in those very Global South countries who want to do unto LGBT people as they have done unto some of their own.

If membership in the World Wide Anglican Communion is so desperately important, then let us take the time - A Season, as we are so fond of saying, and not seven months - in the fullness of all four orders of the Body of Christ, to carefully discern, study and pray about our response to these ultimatums.

Let's do this with congregations having conversations among themselves and with congregations who think differently from them. Let's do this province by province and deputation by deputation, so that we can come to General Convention 2009 fully informed and ready to make important decisions about our identity and vocation and mission and membership as the Body of Christ.

It would be a most excellent way of "defending the faith" which is one of the sacred tasks of the episcopacy.

That doesn't mean, BTW, putting the faith of the church in deep freeze, relegating the faith of our church to museum status. Defending the faith means helping it to live and grow and deepen. Indeed, defending the faith means not killing it, which this request from Tanzania, if followed, most surely will succeed in doing. Defending the faith not only means defending it from false teachings, but defending it from those who would close the books on any learning, much less allow others or themselves, to enter a newer, deeper understanding of God's revelation (See Luke 11:52).

This would require an act of courage on the part of the House of Bishops. I trust they are sufficiently outraged to summon the moral and spiritual courage to do this.

And, I must say, if you are not outraged by these things from Windsor, Domantine and Dar es Salaam, you are simply not paying attention.

18 comments:

Bill said...

Thank you Elizabeth. Thank you for saying "We have been fighting the good fight for many, many years - over 30, in fact. We, and our allies, will continue to do so. I am in no way tired." I admit that I do get tired from time to time. And now, after hearing you, I admit to being a little ashamed. But I won't let you down. I think I'm ready to go a few more rounds.

Magdalene6127 said...

Elizabeth, I share with you something I heard Ferron say last year when she played at a lovely little cafe in central New York, on a deeply freezing but still somehow warm night.

"We used to be victims. Then we were warriors. Now we are gardeners."

I don't know why, but I am hanging on to that hope.

Mags

Fitz said...

“This church is either truly open to all, or it is closed to the Spirit. We either stand for what we know is just and embrace our GLBT members, or we stand aside as justice is denied.”

How does one equate “truly open to all” & denying “justice” with androgyny? There is a spirit that is animating this belligerent sect and it is not a holy one. Is it mere hapanstance that the work of God and justice coincide with the sexual revolution?

Mike in Texas said...

Elizabeth, IMO TEC should not adhere to the 7-month deadline. And it should not do so passively.

Instead, it should inform the primates that the demand was made without consideration of the manner of the organization, structure, and operating procedures of TEC. Thus the demand presents an unreasonable challenge that would cause the TEC to violate its own long-establised procedures. Thus, it is a demand that violates principles of communion.

Of course, I'm not so sure that what has become of the WWAC is worth pursuing any longer. It is being turned back into that which the originators of the WWAC rejected, a Romish iron fist. I believe the time, energy, and resources of TEC could be put to better use than squandering them on a chase for that which no longer exists.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Androgyny? Fitz, my brother, whatever are you smoking?

Whatever I'm about, it's not about androgyny. It's about the gospel.

Fitz said...

Well Elizabeth, I’m not smoking anything.

I’m trying to understand how it is that anything less then genderless ness is somehow associated with an un-Christian lack of acceptance?

Thomas said...

And, I must say, if you are not outraged by these things from Windsor, Domantine and Dar es Salaam, you are simply not paying attention.

Gee, maybe now you'll start to realize how the rest of catholic Christianity felt about ECUSA's unilateral decisions to “ordain/consecrate” the Philadelphia 11, Barbara Harris, and Gene Robinson.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Fitz, who is talking about genderlessness? Not anyone I know. Again, what are you talking about?

Thomas - Your note provides ample evidence that this is really all about spiritually immature boys who are church yard bullies still pissed off because you had to take down the "Boyz Only" sign on your little club house thirty years ago.

The iron-fisted authoritarianism of the GS Boyz Club ought to be a real joy to your soul.

Fitz said...

elizabeth

O.K.

Are men & women different?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

You're kidding me, right? Or, is this a trick question?

Are men and women different? Yes, of course. Biologically, Physiologically, Psychologically, Emotionally, Genetically . . .

Except, of course, in the eyes of God and MOST of the law of the land. Women do tend to live longer than men, and our emotional IQ is higher. Oh, and we get paid differently - women earning 69 cents to every dollar that a man earns.

What's your point?

Karl Maria said...

Elizabeth,

Thanks for the uplifting thoughts and supportive words. When I feel the drear of night set upon me, I listen to (and sing along with) Delois Barrett Campbell when she sings the James Cleaveland version of a wonderful spiritual:

I don't feel no ways tired.
I've come too far from where I started from.
Nobody told me that the road would be easy.
I don't believe He brought me this far to leave me.

A reader from the Diocese of Maine.

Karl Maria

Bill said...

fitz writes: "I’m trying to understand how it is that anything less then genderless ness is somehow associated with an un-Christian lack of acceptance"

I think I understand what you're trying to say, but look at it this way. I'm going to equate your "genderlessness" (is that really a word) to "color blind". If we're supposed to look at discrimination in terms of being "color blind" why is it too much to ask to take sex out of the equation? Except for the plumbing, which should have nothing to do with anything, how dare anybody discriminate against women. And in regards to sexual preference, people should keep the bedroom out of the discussion. We're talking about the hearts and minds of people here. Those hearts and minds are being torn apart by bigotry and hatred. It really has to stop and stop now. The church has to stop finding obscure passages from scripture that supports this throw-back position to pre-enlightened times.

Fitz said...

Elizabeth Kaeton

Well, I don’t want to be evasive so I’ll get to the point.

It is my summation that this horrible schism is being driven not by a call for greater justice through the Holy Spirit, but rather by a generational ideological fervor.

In short by the spirit of the sexual revolution and the feminist revolution in particular. As an example witness the episode of Harvard University President Larry Summers. The enforcers of this genderless ideology, this quest for androginization, know how to keep dogma established and punish apostates.

I find it more than fortuitous that this work of the Holy Spirit within portions of the Episcopal Church, happens to be in complete sync with a larger push from the cultural left in this country on matters of homosexuality. People who expressly disavow Christian theology or even belief in God.

“Thomas - Your note provides ample evidence that this is really all about spiritually immature boys who are church yard bullies still pissed off because you had to take down the "Boyz Only" sign on your little club house thirty years ago.”

I hope this is not what you think of the Episcopal Ministry circa 1970 and before? I sincerely hope that you can find the humility to accept the understanding of the wider Anglican Communion and avoid schism. I hope that the world wide Anglican church can be a consistent Christian witness with the within the entire Body of Christ.

Eileen said...

Women can now be ordained in TEC.

That isn't going to go away boys.

Get. over. it.

Homosexuals are people, too. Children of God, too.

Get. over. it.

The world is changing before your very eyes. Most people know someone who is glbt, many people have a loved one who is.

Hiding behind scripture to continue to promote prejudice and bigotry is shameful.

Are you without sin to cast the first stone? Or do you think, Thomas and Fitz, that you might try contending with the logs in your own eyes? Are you brave enough to do that?

Fitz said...

Eileen

"Women can now be ordained in TEC.
That isn't going to go away boys.
Get. over. it."


This is more than a bit sophomoric. The use of boys instead of men also seems (possibly) like misandry.

“Homosexuals are people, too. Children of God, too.
Get. over. it.”


I knew this, to imply less seems to be unwarranted moral grandstanding. Who would claim otherwise?

“The world is changing before your very eyes.”

Always it would seem. My question is: For the Better?

“Most people know someone who is glbt, many people have a loved one who is.”

I am included in this list. How is that germane?

“Hiding behind scripture to continue to promote prejudice and bigotry is shameful.”

Lots of assumptions here.

"Are you without sin to cast the first stone? Or do you think, Thomas and Fitz, that you might try contending with the logs in your own eyes? Are you brave enough to do that?"


Interestingly, the Gospel quote you use contrasts beam with speck, (i.e.- it precisely indicates a matter of degree.) Also it requires the removal of said “beam” for the express purpose of having the ability to help your neighbor then remove his “speck”.

King James version of Matthew 7:3

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Fitz,

I have deleted one of your posts but allowed this, your last post.

You have no intention of entering into dialogue. You just want to engage in what I would call "scriptural gymnastics."

I will not post any more of your comments unless you desire to earnestly to enter into dialogue.

But, my experience teaches me that anyone who quotes KJV has no question - only opinions.

You have LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of conservative blogs in which to dump your poision. Do it there. Not here.

Thank you. Have a nice day.

Grace said...

Fitz,

I agree that we need to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and be concerned to not let our thinking as Christians just be driven and shaped by political and social agenda. But, I think this can happen both from the left and from the right.

I can personally share with you that I tend to be fairly conservative/moderate in my thinking, theologically, and even in most issues politically. So for me, to want to advocate for GLBT equality, and the blessing of SSU is an anamoly.

But, my whole heart is to show Christ's love, to have a concern for the gospel, to not want to be a stumbling block to anyone's faith, etc.

I can honestly say that for me this has nothing to do with these social revolutions, or with some kind of desire for androgyny. It's further from my thinking than you can possibly think. I'm totally committed to Christian missions and evangelism.

Eileen said...

oooo...Fitz uses big words...sophmoric and misandry (to go with his misogyny and his own sophistry...)

A big yawn and a resounding whatever, Fitz. Get. over. it.

Blessings, E.+!