Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Monday, November 12, 2007

One in Ten

Shortly after arriving home, having seen "Pebble in My Shoe" (see article below), I had the pleasure of being interviewed on the FNX Radio Program called "One in Ten."

I was interviewed by Keith Orr and Susan O'Connell who were curious about an article they had read concerning the Diocese of Pittsburgh voting to change their constitution and canons in order to disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church.

Susan asked, "Many lesbians and gay men are former Roman Catholics. This action is very confusing because that religion is so tightly controlled from Rome. The Episcopal Church is more democratic, isn't it? Can you help us understand how a diocese can leave the church?"

The interview was from 8:50 - 9 PM. I had ten minutes total. I could have spent 20 minutes just answering that question alone. But, I gave a one minute short hand version of the "democracy" of our theology, highlighting the point that no diocese can come into existence without General Convention and no diocese can declare itself separate from The Episcopal Church without General Convention.

Bishops Duncan, Iker and Schofield are either delusional or playing a risky game of "Texas Hold 'Em," gambling on the rest of the Anglican Communion in general and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to be so alarmed as to put pressure on The Presiding Bishop and General Convention to reverse their course.

Not gonna happen, I said, because yes, our theology is democratic. In fact, said I, that's the nature of all good Christian theology. (Good soundbite, eh? Stand back, Ms. Russell, reigning Queen of the Soundbite, your observant student has learned a lesson or two and she has the mic!)

"This is because of Gene Robinson, right?" Keith asked. "I mean, all of this is because the Episcopal Church ordained a gay man as a bishop, right?"

Well, I said, that was the presenting issue, but many very conservative people have been very unhappy for a very long time with what they describe as "the direction" The Episcopal Church has been heading. I found myself very able to recount some of that history, having just had my memory vividly refreshed by "Pebble."

I was keenly aware that my audience was overwhelmingly young LGBT people, many of whom bear the deep, painful scars of rejection and betrayal from the institutional church. I didn't want to lie. Neither did I want to be 'relentlessly upbeat' as has been a fair-enough critique of some of the news from TEC bureaucracy. I wanted to offer a word of hope. Of truth. From my heart.

What I heard myself say at the end of my thumb-nail survey of recent history went something like this: "You know, for all the trouble and pain, this is still the best time to be a lesbian woman, gay male or Queer person. In fact, this is the best time to be a Queer Christian."

"We are seeing progress. Real progress. Progress that those fabulous Drag Queens at Stonewall could have never asked for or imagined in June of 1969. Yes. It's going more slowly than any of us want. But, impatience is always the constant companion of those who seek justice."

"As a giant in the Civil Rights movement once said, power never gives up power without a struggle. Those who want power without a struggle want crops without the hard work of plowing the field or the inconvenience of rain."

"Tracey Lind made a very, very strong showing in the Chicago election - against formidable, some would say, impossible odds, given the reality of Resolution B033. It's just a matter of time before a lesbian is elected to the House of Bishops. And, after her, another Queer priest. And then another. And another. Until there is the kind of perfect parity we will know when we all get to heaven."

"Even so, this is a great time to be a Queer. It is a great time to be Christian. It's a most wonderful time to be part of The Episcopal Church, which God seems to have chosen to lead the next phase of the Reformation and create a church which brings the Realm of God closer to reality in our time."

"I've never been more hopeful."

At least, that's most of what I remember saying. Ms. Conroy tells me I'm pretty close (We were both as nervous as long tail cats in a room full of rocking chairs).

Of course, I couldn't remember it at the time, but it was Frederick Douglas, who, in 1857 in Canandaigua, NY, said the following words, with I think we (well, more often than not, I) would do well to remember today:

"Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle."

"The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing."

"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground, they want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters."

"This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle"

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."

"Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both."

"The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

"In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North, and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages, and make no resistance, either moral or physical."

"Men may not get all they pay for in this world; but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others."

Frederick Douglass, 1857


KJ said...

I would agree that this is a great time to be a Queer for Jesus. Our detractors have made it very easy for observers to see the difference between the Gospel and religion.

Witness your interview. Those on the "outside" are keenly interested in understanding why GLBT boys and girls would follow the cross. What's up with that?

Curious George said...

Great stuff! It's easy to get so caught up bemoaning the pain and apparent set-backs in our labors that we forget to step back and appreciate what it is to which we're giving birth. (Forgive if this an awkward analogy; I'm reaching to try to avoid the military analogy we all tend to fall into.) Thanks for allowing us to see the encouraging new reality emerging out of this struggle.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Elizabeth you did quite well in the interview. Brava!

Those words of Frederick Douglas are very wise, applicable to all sorts of struggles against oppression.