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.