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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Anglican Jihad: Christianity and Violence

This is a continuation of a conversation begun by those who were commenting on the post "Bullies and Thugs for Jesus."

It's about the growing awareness and concern about the increasing level of violence in the language employed by the Religious Right in the Episcopal Church and World Wide Anglican Communion.

It's about the alarming and increasingly visible involvement of women in the violent language and imagery of religious conversation.

It began, for me at least, with the observation by our Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, that the language we use in our conversations about God are framed by an understanding of our identity.

Simply stated, if we believe that we are wretched sinful creatures because of The Fall in the Garden, we are bound to have a very different conversation than if we believe that we are beloved of God because we read the Creations Story and know that God blessed everything with the words, "it is very good."

That last position does not negate that fact that there is sin in the world and that we are capable of making bad choices and wrong decisions and need to confess and repent; neither does that negate the fact that we are inherently good and beloved of God and need to celebrate God's redemption of the world through Christ Jesus, "once, and for all."

It has become very clear to me that the hour of schism has come and now is. It began with the vote in The Diocese of San Joaquin to remove from its constitution and canons language that connects it with The Episcopal Church. The Diocese of Pittsburgh did the same thing last week end. The Diocese of Ft. Worth will, no doubt, follow in a few short weeks.

Like a tennis match where there is no love, the ball will be back the court of the Diocese of San Joaquin, for the second and definitive vote to change their constitution and canons.

There is no doubt. We are on the Road to Schism. There's no turning back.

One would think that there would be great rejoicing. Celebration. Come thou long expected schism.

Instead, there is this rhetorical bravado and ecclesiastical machismo.

The word "submission" is often used by those on the Right. The Episcopal Church was asked to "submit" to requests of The Windsor Report or demands of The Primates. I experienced this as the first hint of violence.

When we did not "submit" we were considered "rebellious" and "apostate" and needed to be "disciplined." It's been a slippery slope, in my estimation, ever since.

Moderator Duncan has been preaching about 'Good Friday' and 'worthy deaths'.

A conservative priest characterized a fellow conservative bishop's response to the Presiding Bishop as having "riped" into her. This reminded me of the remark made by President George Bush, Sr.'s remark after debating Geraldine Ferraro. He said, as I recall, "I think we kicked a little ass."

A conservative blog manager couldn't resist using an image he thought (I'm quite sure I don't know how) to be Bishop Barbara Harris to blast away at the movement for peace in general and the Israeli-Palestinian war in particular, which generated more violent comments about women in general and the progressives and liberals in The Episcopal Church in particular.

Meanwhile, after said blog manager repented of his egregious sin and apologized (well, sorta kinda, violating his own rules of apology), two women sat as vigilant sentinels at the gates of the comment area of his statement of apology, giving warnings for comments they thought off topic or out of bounds with more passion than a referee at a European soccer match.

Any day now, I fully expect one of the women will treat us to another looooonnnnnnggggg passage from Lord of the Rings, and everyone will have a turn explaining why this particular primate or priest is like that particular character at that particular juncture of the story. It's just what she does. Every time.

I'm confused. I don't understand the violence in general, but I thought there would be rejoicing and celebration. Instead, it sounds to me like the beginning of an Anglican Jihad.

So, we've been having this chat about these events down at the other post below about 'Bullies and Thugs for Jesus' and, unfortunately, it began to get personal for some of the commenters. So, I've decided to start this new thread.

I want to keep this out of particular personalities, but I know that's going to be very difficult since some of our best examples are given by our. . . (What is the term they like to use? Ah, yes) . . . worthy opponents.

I'm asking these questions and soliciting your thoughts, but here's the deal: No ad hominum attacks. You may ask questions. You may post your wonderings. You may frame your comments with statements such as: "It seems to me . . ." and "I can't say for certain, but I get the impression that . . ."

But, no personal attacks. I simply won't print them.

So, here are my questions. I have lots of them, but I've limited myself to the confines of this space, and quite frankly, to those that interest me. You may have some of your own. Don't hesitate to ask.

There are five. The first two are about violence in the church in general and the last three are about women in the church in particular.

1. What is the connection (or connections) between Christianity and Violence? Is it sort of in our religious DNA, as the cartoon above hints?

2. Why now? Why are we seeing an increase in the level of violence of the language of those on the Right?

3. What is it with women - obviously intelligent, well educated women - and their participation in oppression? Why do they do it?

4. Why do you think a woman who is a priest would surrender her ordination if the more orthodox Anglican Church to which they moved did not recognize the status of her ordination?

5. Whatever would possess a woman who is a priest to surrender her ordination in deference to her husband's ordination? (Okay, so my bias is showing. This is my blog. These are my questions. Deal with it.)

You may choose to respond to one or all five. I thank you in advance for your willingness to share your thoughts and feelings here in this space.

I promise to return the respect you give these questions with an equal measure of respectful consideration - especially if I disagree with you. However, if you get ugly or violent or make a personal attack, you're outta here.


Sister Mary Hasta said...

1) I think the connection is not between Christianity and Violence, per se, but Humanity and Violence. Christianity, after all, in its most sublime and pure form, calls for a denial of violence right up to the point of death. Gotta look to the Christ for this one, because God knows Jesus could have jumped off that cross, healed his own wounds, waved a hand and all the perpetrators of the Crucifixion would have fallen down d-e-a-d. But he didn't. Something to meditate on.

2) Why now? Two reasons: a) in a world with as many information sources as there are people sitting in front of computers typing blogs *mea culpa mea maxima culpa*, we've desensitized ourselves. To be heard you must outshout, outshock, and outfreak the neighbors. b) Because they are losing power. People are being turned off by the rhetoric and wandering away (and those wandering away from the Left aren't wandering to the Right, neither are those wandering from the Right heading to the Left, they're just heading Away). What's the worst thing in the universe to do to a bully? Ignore them.

3) *Shrug* If'n I knew that, I'd be able to tell you how I got myself in not one nor two but three abusive relationships within a decade. And I'd make more money than Dr. Phil.

4) See above re: I dunno.

5) I dunno. See above.

Are there any men who have surrendered/thought about surrendering their ordination because their wives are also ordained? Just wondering.

Ever notice that unconditional hate is a helluva lot easier than unconditional love?

emmy said...

Alright. I’ll answer.

1. So if this question appeared on a Church History final…you’d need a lot of blue books! Xianity and violence go way back. There was that crucifixion thing, martyrs, ascetics, persecution, Crusades, witch hunts, holocaust, slavery, colonization and various and sundry forms of abuse by the church, both actual/physical, and theological, toward women, children, GLBT persons, the environment, other faiths, etc, etc.

Some of this violence was/is done to Christians by others—some to Christians by Christians—some to others by Christians.

I’ve got two theories. First, we follow a pretty radical guy who said and did pretty radical things. These things were just, but they made those in power pretty scared and pretty mad. And when people are scared and mad, they do violent things. Second, if you read the Creation story in the first way (as E+ has laid it out) and view humanity as sinful, broken and fallen and believe that there is absolutely no way you have any worth PLUS you have a soteriology that says the goal here is to get to heaven and the only way to do that, given your fallen state, is for Jesus to pay the price for your sins, or magically spirit away your sins or whatever to get you in, THEN you have to be right about Jesus. What you believe about Jesus has to be right, and if someone else comes along and starts messing with your Jesus, then you may use violence to protect your Jesus. Because what is at stake is the fate of your immortal soul. And if you are wrong about what you believe—if it isn’t as black and white as you thought—if people can interpret the creed or scripture differently from one another—that is all just too dangerous. If you are wrong, you may not go to heaven, or there may not even be a heaven to go to. If the “Kingdom of God” means a just and peaceful world in the here and now, you will behave quite differently than if the “Kingdom of God” is bright, fluffy white afterlife.

2. Let me first admit that I don’t know all that much about TEC or the Anglican Communion or what’s been going on lately. My answers to “why now?” are more general and from somewhat of an outsider’s perspective. But I do remember this from my class in American Religious History (called, quite cleverly, “America: One Nation, One God?”): when one side starts to get stronger, the other side freaks out and does something drastic. So, if the left is getting stronger, the right is going to go for drastic. What else are they to do? It looks like they are starting to lose, and therefore they must fight back…in a big way.

Grace said...

Hi, Mother Kaeton,

I'm supposed to be on "bloggers vacation," but really wanted to comment on your questions. I've tried to post here before, but I don't think anything went through because of password problems. But, if this is just a repeat post, go ahead and delete one of them.:)

For me, our faith is a paradox. I think we are created good in the very image of God, and yet broken and marred now by sin, in need of a Savior.

Most Christian people I know who speak of human depravity would agree, I think. What they are trying to share is just that our falleness and brokenness impact and pervade every aspect of human life, that we cannot by our own reason and strength even come to Jesus Christ or trust in Him. They want to emphasize that every aspect of "salvation" is a gift from God, not given based on human works or merit.

I don't know if some of this more aggressive rhetoric comes from a particular view of God, or not. It may, but to me, it just shows more a plain lack of love and empathy. Maybe even temperment and personality play a part in the whole thing.

I fully believe that these brothers and sisters mean no physical harm to anyone, but God still holds all of us accountable for our spirit, and even our choice of words.

We can never be certain how someone who is spiritually immature, or even may have mental health issues might be influenced by militant sounding rhetoric.

I think all of our words and actions should express the love of Christ all the time. Of course, Mother Kaeton, everyone of us fall short of this standard everyday! :) That's why Jesus died, and rose again.

I've known many highly educated, and intelligent women who do not agree with the ordination of women. They would generally base this conviction in their understanding of the Scripture, relating to different spiritual roles amd calling from the Lord. No one feels under oppression or discriminated against at all. They have a very different paradigm relating to the whole issue.

I don't know why, though, a woman who felt initially called by God to the ordained ministry would later change her mind based on someone else's view. I suppose every situation must be somewhat different.

Hope this is helpful. I'll be interested to read everyone else's comments. Hope that some of the women from sites like "Stand Firm," will come over here to talk with you, Elizabeth+.

God bless!

BabyBlue said...

Hmm ...Isn't the Cross a bit of a problem, then? Perhaps Episcopalians should just follow the Unitarians and the Christian Scientists (I used to be of them by the way and I could give you boatloads of info on why you won't find one of those cross thingys in a CS Reading Room) and just get rid of the Cross. It's a bit of a pill, really, isn't it? Wouldn't life be so much sweeter if we didn't have to look at the instrument of torture all the time?


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

The cross has always been a problem, BB. It is a scandal, isn't that what St. Paul said?

One does not have to be a Unitarian or a Christian Scientist to find violence abhorent.

When I look upon the cross, I do not see an instrument of torture. I see the vehicle of resurrection.

Don't you?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Sr. Mary Hasta,

I think you're on to something re: #2. Power does not give up power without a struggle. Who said that? Somebody involved in the Civil Rights Movement, I'm thinking.

Everybody head over to Sr. Mary Hasta's site for a really, really good description about the cycle of power. Sr. has done a good deed in terms of making the information public.

Muchas gratias, Sr.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

A note about hate and violence - most especially about the need to feel hated as a reason to do violence:

No one I know hates the folks on the Right. I may hate what they do. I might hate what they stand for. But I hate no person.

Nope. Not even Mr. Griffiths. Or even Mr. Akinola.

I hate what Mr. Bush has done to this country. I hate the war in Iraq. I do not hate Mr. Bush.

And, no, I don't hate Mr. Kennedy I do pray for him and especially his wife and their children, but I am not obsessed with them.

As any student of Psych 101 can tell you, obsession is just another form of hatred.

I would imagine many people on the Right would say the same thing about me and others on the Left.

I don't think many people on the Right hate me or others on the Left. They hate what we think. What we do. What we stand for. But they don't hate us.

Well, not too many, anyway.

All that being said, I think that there is a disturbing connection between hatred and violence.

More to the point, I think there is a deep and clear connection between needing to be hated and the justification of violence.

I think many people on the Right feel the need to be hated. It justifies their anger and self-righteousness and violence.

The belief that someone hates you can make some people feel important. I mean, if you weren't important, there wouldn't be any reason to be hated, right?

And that sense of being hated - especially when you think you are right about something nobel and good - justifies violence.

There's a way that Christianity sets that up, doesn't it? I mean, it's all there in the Lukan Beatitudes, isn't it?

That was Emmy's point, wasn't it? That Christianity and Violence go way back.

But, isn't that what we are seeing in the extreme in the terrorists - be they Christian, Islamic, Palistinian, Israeli, Serbian, IRA, or KKK?

Doesn't the impulse for their violence come from a deep sense of being hated - of being hated because your postion, your belief, your faith, is in the minority?

Is violence part of the DNA of religion?

Oh, dear. This may be more hopeless than I first thought.

Anonymous said...

This is not an attempt to deal with your questions, Elizabeth. But in a comment at Mark Harris blog in answer to a question asking "Just what does GG do in real life," comes this link. It is an eye-opener and very moving. I know it changes my perspective considerably. I hope you all look at it.

Perhaps it gives a glimmer to our "Why?"

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

David, that link simply brought me to SFiF home page, for some reason (upon which I dare not speculate). Do you have another link?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...


You mean THIS post?

"I was reminded this past weekend at Mere Anglicanism that few people know what I do in "real" life, that to thousands of people I appear to be completely absorbed by the crisis in the church. I admit to spending far too much time on it, but what I "really" do is design and develop assistive technology for children with severe physical disabilities, and I specialize in augmentative communication systems, . . .

I've worked mainly with children who have cerebral palsy, or who have been accident victims, but now I'm beginning development of some software for children with autism spectrum disorder. "

Ah, a wonderful new perspective of our . . . worthy opponent.

No wonder he works so hard with all the machismo stuff. He's protecting a very tender heart.

emmy said...

“Doesn't the impulse for their violence come from a deep sense of being hated - of being hated because your postion, your belief, your faith, is in the minority?

Is violence part of the DNA of religion?”

I’m just thinking “out loud” here. And I really think I am responding to the question “Is violence part of the DNA of Christianity?” rather than “religion.” And by “Christianity” I think I mean organized religion, not faith. That being said, it makes me want to ask the question, What does it mean (or what does it do) that we have a teacher/leader/savior who was hated because of his position, his belief and his faith and was killed because of that? JC was not terribly violent, as far as we know, but violence was done to him. Is the birth of Christianity violent? Then, maybe it is in our DNA.

What would have happened if Jesus wasn’t crucified? What if he lived to a ripe old age and taught many more disciples? What if he simply died of old age? Would things be different now?

And then where would the resurrection fit in? Where DOES the resurrection fit in? It doesn’t undo the violence of the crucifixion, does it? The violence still happened and still hurt. And, if Jesus was resurrected from a death caused by old age? Would that be less important? Mean less?

Len Sweet says, “If you want a quiet life, a life of peace and contentment, then don’t follow Jesus.”

Another thought about hatred and identity. In elementary school I used to like to hang out with one particular girl because she and I disagreed so fundamentally on almost everything. I certainly didn’t hate her, and I don’t think I really hated the things she did, but I really, really didn’t like them. But I spent time with her because it was easier to define myself when I was with her. I formed and understood my identity by completely disagreeing with her—and that was easier than forming my identity by spending time with those I agreed with. What I’m saying is, there is also a connection between hatred and identity. It is easier to identify yourself when you stand next to something you hate, or something that hates you (or rather, hates what you do or your ideas). “I thank you God that I am not like other people…”

Grace said...

(((Greg Griffith)))

Anonymous said...

hmmm... that link works for me, and it takes me to the post and video about being an "Un-person." It's the video that I find most moving... ostensibly the words of a perhaps autistic person (I'm self-diagnosing so don't know if that's accurate). It gave me a lot more respect for GG (although the views he has expressed on SF I still find utterly repugnant). Deep down inside there seems to be a truly good person. Why, oh why, is it locked in all that hate? I think what you said (No wonder he works so hard with all the machismo stuff. He's protecting a very tender heart.) is right on.

I wanted to scream out, "But Greg, you're regarding US as "Un-Persons" yourself!!"

Jim said...

When the discussion below got out of hand, I moved my thoughts to my blog where it is not drawing much interest {sigh.} So, I have been thinking about some or your questions a bit.

1. Christianity is intensely human. So is violence, or to use words beloved on the right, 'our sinful nature.' Why would we expect our human willingness to dominate, to kill would go away at baptism?

Pakistan, almost universally Muslim is violently repressing its citizens as we speak. There is nothing about violence that is Christian, but it is human.

2. Because they are loosing. Schism was never a goal, it was a threat. Now they are being called on the threat, the case law is against them (and in their private conversations with the lawyers they probably know it.) and the fractured irrelevency of the 'continuum' awaits.

3. I think the military has done studies on the effect of repeated abuse and cooperation. There is even a name for it -- Stockholm syndrome?? Recall that Patty Hearst case a few years back.

I do not know the ladies or their husbands, but I do know the intellectual waters they swim in. I consider the 'orthodox' views, often and with verbal violence expressed abusive.

If you are told that your worth is based on your husband's attainment often enough, that your very nature disqualifies you from priesthood often enough, and you define yourself primarily as 'wife' I suppose the answer lies in psychological literature.

LDS is particularly good at this. *I* can get to be a god, because I am male -- your only hope is as my spouse. Raise a girl with that sort of {deleted} in her ears, and you produce either a very angry violent rejection or a person who will subordinate herself. Which may also explain the tendency for the leaders of the 'orthodox' to be divorced.

4. and 5 are really the same question with some particular women in mind. I do not know them, but my answer is to suggest coffee with Patty Hearst or in a woman's shelter. Priests get no immunity, cultural and intellectual abuse count. The best part is that in the cultural / intellectual cases, the victims articulately deny the problem!

At the end of the day? As I wrote, 'envy' call it 'covetousness' for the KJV fans lives at the core. White maleness and 'correct belief' should entitle them (they think) to power over lesser (female, black, Hispanic, Jewish, liberal, gay, lesbian, revisionist etc.) types. That is why they need so many mitres!

When the rest of us do not accord them the positions they think they should get, instead of heading Jesus' advice and sitting in the cheap seats, they fall into the language of war. Envy, all is envy.


Frair John said...

Pulling myself away from my as yet embryonic novel and my nascent essay on Calvinus contra Castrum Viagra to make a few notes.

1) I think that Rene Gierard and Bonhoeffer both have something to say about this. Both note a connection between the first murder and the Crucifixion. The line of deaths as trigger events in the narrative from Cain to the Mob in Jerusalem is a fairly clear one if you take the narrative as a whole. Where we tend to miss the point for both of them is that God in the narrative is always on the side of the victim and never the winner. Even when the victor is in the “right” there are always consequences they must face. The resurrection points us to god as the other who calls us out to a new pattern of living. James Alison in his Joy of Being wrong discusses this in the context of Original Sin and challenges us to see it in light of the Resurrection.

2) As any system dies and we are looking at the death of the concept of nominal cultural Christianity as well as the death of a large portion of the utter hegemony of the West, the level of violence increases. This is because we are clinging to the old in various ways. One of the challenges is to see weather we are, in a way, perpetuating the old paradigm in our own actions and wither or not we are missing the new ourselves.

3) When one is convinced that oppression is the natural way of things, then one accepts it. I also think that we need to not equate anything we disagree with as oppression. Not everyone wants to be a professional and would rather fill the role of “house spouse.” Choosing that is not to chose “oppression.” Restriction and repression are complicated issues and need to be pieced together with a finer set of tools than Second and even third Wave Feminism poses.

4 & 5)I’m baffled by just that set up. I would argue that you hand the term “orthodox” or even “more orthodox” to a group who don’t always deserve it. I suppose that if it were for the grater good a person might, just as the first woman priest did, set aside her ordination. I would say that is the wrong choice, but I would place greater onus of guilt upon a man, or men, who believe as she dose (ie her ministry and ordination are valid) who would pressure her to do as such in order to keep their little game neater. I just can’t help but wonder if the women involved feel the nose around their neck.

KJ said...

Oh, Elizabeth, I cannot possibly answer your questions to my satisfaction, but here's what I know:

An inclination towards violence, here verbal, typically comes from a place of fear, not peace. Also, if one can reduce one's opponents to stereotypes, and not real flesh and blood human beings, one's conscience does not hurt when belittling them. Further, if you believe you believe you can determine the faith of another to be not authentic, you are not even obligated to treat that person as brother or sister in the faith.

And a huge "Oh my!" to Babyblue: Using the cross as a justification for violence, verbal or otherwise, when's its message is quite the opposite is one of those "through the looking glass" moments. Peace met violence -- violence brought death -- peace brought life.

Last Sunday, at mid-life, this Baby Episcopalian had the privilege of being an acolyte for the first time in his life. One of the joys was to see the faces of those as the cross passed by; it was not violence that was on their minds.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I think I'm hearing some recurring themes here that are as disturbing as the topic.

So, yes, violence may be in our religous DNA but we still can make choices about our behavior - even though we have become "desensitized" to the rampant violence in our culture.

So, yes, violence happens as a reaction to a fight we've been in that would appear that we're losing.

I'm fascinated to think that the whole 'schism' thing was all a bluff. WOW! I'm not a card player but even I know not to bluff unless you're pretty darn sure you can win. What ever WERE they thinking?

The subject of oppression and women is far more complicated, n'est pas?

I know you THINK you know who I have in mind, but actually, it's Mary Hays, Canon to Moderator Bill and wife of Wis Hayes, ExDir of ROCK THE WORLD.

Let me say this straight away: I love Mary Hays. She is one of the most deeply spiritual person I've ever known. Her soul is deep and rich and wise and wonderful.

She is also smart and skilled, articulate and creative.

I worked with Mary for 5.5 years on the New Commandment Task Force. I heard her say, with my own ears, that she would give up her orders for membership in a 'pure' orthodox church.

I believe she meant every word. She did not say those words lightly or inadvisedly, but with great awareness of the cost, the pain of which was clearly written all over her face.

And, I am absolutely baffled by it.

I told her then and I'll say it again: I think it's a well intended but misguided sacrifical act which will not bring the peaceful outcome of which her heart dreams and her soul desires.

But, then again, who am I to judge? It's her decision. Her sacrifice to make. I could be absolutely wrong and she's got it all right.

And, her ordination is not hers alone. It is part of the fabric of the church. The loss of the status of her ordination is a loss to the whole church and to me, personally.

I just don't get it.

And, I'll continue to love her no matter what she decides to do.

Whew! I think I'll go have a wee bit of a lie down now. This is all very, very heavy.

muerk said...

I think the problem with aggressive rhetoric is part of the way blogs as a communication work. Thay can hide or mask the fullness of what people are actually like. It can make dehumanization easier.

I think it's important to only write down on the net what you would say to someone's real life face. It can be more prudent than just writing something quickly.

David said...

Dear Elizabeth+
I believe the connection is not so much between 'Christianity and violence' as between organized religion and violence.
The moment a collective group imposes itself as a defining/controlling medium between the individual and God in the present moment, vested interests come into play.
Bart D Ehrman speaks of Christianity becoming a power-based religion of authority on Jesus rather than the living embodiment of what He taught and lived.
Implicit & essential to this 'organizational model' is dualistic thinking ie: us/them, good (us)/ bad(them).
By continuiously resorting to both of these in their rote-like authoritarian pronouncements, many of the fortresses of organized religion- most obviously in Christianity and Islam, the leadership is showing itself increasingly irrlevant and desperately grasping.
Dualistic thinking with its inherent violence, now inculcated in most societies, is only escalated with the contemporary interconnectivity of contemporary communications.
Which only highlights what an extraordinary place our Communion finds itself in at this time- called to get over ourselves, to throw off the sputtering vested interests & to become a shining example of inclusivity, of support rather than control of hamanitys' lives of faith, the embodiment of Christ's call to wholeness.
If any of this sounds too theoretical, just listen to to hurt, haunted lives around you, and you'll know what I mean.
The patriarchy has done us no favors-and the world aches for living bread instead of the proverbial stone.
As to the two examples you cite- I sense concern rather than bias, and can only suggest they are two unfortunate examples of individuals caught in timewarps deep within the musty folds of the patriarchy.
Elizabeth+ thank-you for this forum, you living blessing.

Paul said...

I agree with the comment about violence and fear. One of the best ways to experience violence first hand is to find yourself between a grizzly bear and her cubs. Violence can spring from the purest of motives, and that's one of our problems now.

Last Sunday morning, the subject of the NPR show "Speaking of Faith" was Reinhold Niebuhr. It seemed incredibly relevant to so many of the issues we face today. When Niebuhr decided to argue for American participation in the war against Hitler, he did not do so with the self righteous enthusiasm we so often see on the Right. He did so out of a sense of duty, in full recognition that the process of moral decision making had barely begun. Niebuhr recognized that the greatest evil can lie in our zeal to do the greatest good, in the hubris that follows.

Jim said...

"I'm fascinated to think that the whole 'schism' thing was all a bluff. WOW! I'm not a card player but even I know not to bluff unless you're pretty darn sure you can win. What ever WERE they thinking?"

I am a Texas hold'm player. I win a lot more often than I loose. I have been known to raise with absolutely nothing. I raised with a 9 - 2, arguably the worst hand you can draw, and won. ;-)

You see, one bluffs based not only on the cards in one's hand but on the other information other reads at the table. Let's think about that.

Yes, ++Nigeria knows he has at best 8 other primates who will boycott Lambeth with him. Given 38 provinces, that is simply not enough. And yes, +/- Duncan knows he has at best, parts of half a dozen other diocese that will leave with him, which is not enough.

But(!) they get a lot of information besides the numbers. They get the myth promoted by those whose true agenda is entirely secular political (IRD) of the available 'pew sitter.' That is the somewhat unaware person who will immediately come their way when they realize that +New Hampshire is gay, or that some priest is lesbian, or that we don't do the 1662 book that God gave us at Sinai or whatever.

Of course, if they thought it through and considered how highly educated, political and involve TEC laity tend to be, the myth would crumble, but it sounds so good. And it fits their world view: surely no one except defective, evil, {hiss} liberals like me could actually be straight and honor the priesthood of bad lesbian activists! I really think that was the sort of thinking that led to that horrid "choose this day" disk.

Beyond that, frankly I blame PBp's Griswald, Jeffert Shori and most especially Dr. Williams. These are three good, decent, kind, intellectual bishops whose efforts to find the intellectual center, to meet in discussion, and to temporize in the face of hate are interpreted by some of the card holders as weakness. The bluffers I think, see PBp Katherine try to defuse the anger and see an easy to push female, not a bishop trying to unify the church. After all, she is not even a man, how tough can she be in their world view?

In the case of Dr. Williams, I fear they are correct. He can be bullied, he can be bluffed. He has taken the path of trying to force TEC to do to its lgbt folk what he did to Fr. John.

In the event, they bluffed, we and our Canadian cousins unwisely gave up our voice and vote at the last ACC meeting.

They bluffed, and PBp Katherine did not refuse to be associated with the Dar Es Salaam communique.

They bluffed and Dr. William went to New Orleans attempting to push TEC over the cliff.

Why should they stop?

What has happened, to stick with the cards metaphor is that they have finally forced TEC to call the hand. Guess what -- they do not have the cards; they know it; and thus the anger. If you ever watch a poker tourny on cable, look for the player who bluffs and gets called. If she thought she had the right time to bluff, the frustration is palpable.

That is really what the letter to Bp. Duncan said: call. And he does not have a hand. That is why ABp Akinola's ghost writer bishop is so upset about ongoing litigation in the US, they do not have the cards.

At least that is how this card player reads the table.


johnieb said...

Power does not give up power without a struggle. Who said that? Somebody involved in the Civil Rights Movement, I'm thinking.

Point of info before I finish the comments; you're right: the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, who brought MLK, Jr. to Birmingham in 1963, said it in an interview as part of "Eyes on The Prize". You get an "A" today, O Priestess!

Tobias Haller said...

Our Friends do not like it when women, gays, TEC, lesbians, persons of color, etc. become "uppity" -- hence their language of submission. "Know your place" is the dominant theme of the dominators. This is how they keep control, especially in situations where they have no real power, but only the language of contempt and dismissal.

Curious George said...

Seems to me that the language of "submission" is often first-and-foremost self-directed, and becomes other-directed as a kind of projection. The religious conservatives I've known seem to have a keen sense that there is something in themselves that needs to be kept on a tight rein.

Gay people and women are often, I think, not quite real to them, but symbols of their own inner impulses.

I think Freud made it clear that, the more patriarchal and authoritarian one's upbringing, the more strict the division in acceptable gender roles, the more repression is required of those who want to be "good boys" and "good girls" according to the prevailing norms. That leads to a lot of psychic tension, which can find release in scapegoating behavior (language or actual violence). Venting spleen on the scapegoat allows one to confirm one's own position as "on the side of good," while simultaneously allowing one to indulge in the drive to rebel against the repression one exacts on oneself.

Paul (A.) said...

Loth as I am to post a "wot he said" response, I can only marvel at JimB's saying what I would have said were I more articulate. And his followup on bluffing is right on the mark. But I would emphasize a couple of points.

Violence is part of humanity--a large part, historically. Religion has to deal with it; it is thus a part of the background for Christianity. Jesus calls for nonviolent response to violence. He never said it would be easy. Yet thinking about dealing with violence is or should be a significant part of Christian thought.

Desperate people turn to violence when other options fail them.

One factor in anyone's willingness to surrender one's ordained status is the concept that you don't need to be ordained to do God's work. I happened to be speaking today to Fr. Jake, who said that of all the people he had discussed possible ordination with, only one went on to the priesthood. "Why," he asked, "would you want to give up all that freedom in order to become a priest?" Being in holy orders, then, is not necessarily an absolute good. So if other influences lead you to decide that you're better off renouncing ordination (and I'm not saying that the determining influences ones you raise are good ones, but they are for the person whose decision it is), than that would be a valid choice.