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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Are You Prepared?

Maybe it's a slow night. Perhaps Advent - and the approach of 'Rose Sunday' and that magnificent collect for Advent III - is, well, 'stirring up' something in me. But, I found the following post by one of the premiere 'Bullies' to be instructive, if not sad and poignant.

It must be said that this essay is, all at once, quite ironic. That is most especially true in his point #2 about the ordination of women. Apparently, the author, as bright as he obviously is, and married, as he is, to an ordained woman, is unable to connect the dots between sexism and homophobia. ("There are none so blind as those who will not see.")

following is a post from Matt Kennedy, a member of the Executive Board of the nefarious blog, "Stand Firm in Faith".

You'll want to go there and read the comments - especially his painfully obvious if not coy demure from telling all the details of the negotiations of his leave-taking with his bishop - well, 'his bishop' as long as he's still collecting a pension from TEC, leading worship in the church building, and living with his wife and four children in the rectory that is owned by the diocese.

But, be forewarned: Always, ALWAYS wear your best asbestos pumps and kevlar vest when traveling in 'Viagra Land'.

Clearly, the man has thought this through. His question at the end is to himself as much as to others. I appreciate his honesty - even if obtusely rendered. The seeds of the destruction of these schismatics are sown in the fundamentals of their theology, which, it must be admitted, has a logic and integrity of its own.

Read, and weep. And, pray without ceasing, for the church.

After reading this, I, myself, have never been more hopeful for my beloved Episcopal Church, a member now and forever, of The World Wide Anglican Communion, and a manifestation - as they, too, are and shall rightly be - of The Sacred Body of Christ .


Below are five inevitabilities and/or possibilities for which to be prepared when leaving the Episcopal Church for another Anglican jurisdiction within the Common Cause Partnership. Some of what is written below may not come to pass. But it could. Before setting out on any journey it is necessary to count the cost. Here is my contribution to that effort.

Five things for which to be prepared:

1. The possibility/probability of a North/South Communion-wide division that will leave you outside the Canterbury centered Anglican Communion. If you are a parish leader, please do not tell your people that the reason you are leaving the Episcopal Church is to remain in communion with Canterbury. Subsequent events may very well undermine your promises. If you leave, do so because you and those who follow you believe that there is no other faithful option

2. An uncomfortable compromise on women’s ordination. If you are opposed to Women’s ordination be prepared to coexist in the same body, though not in full communion, with ordained women and those who support their ordination. If you cannot do that because you believe the ordination of women to be a first order matter, then you will not likely last long in the Common Cause Partnership. If you are an ordained woman or support the ordination of women, be prepared to accept the end of the female ordinations to the priesthood. Prepare also for the unlikely but possible cessation of your own ministry. If you cannot do this under any circumstances because you think that Women’s Ordination is a first order issue, then you will not likely last long in the Common Cause Partnership.

3. Clergy must be prepared for poverty (in the American sense of the word which comparatively speaking is not quite so impoverished) and parishes for the loss of property. The Episcopal Church pension plan is a good one. If you are vested, they cannot take it away. But your contributions to it will cease and you cannot transfer it elsewhere. You must prepare for the loss of a comfortable parish rectory and/or parish endowment cushion, the loss of salary, and the possibility of part-time or full-time secular employment at least until your parish recovers from her (possible) loss of assets. Parishioners must be prepared and committed to worship anywhere. Some parishes will win in court. Others will be able to retain their property through negotiation. Many, if not most will lose their property and possibly their assets.

4. Both clergy and people must be prepared for evangelism. There were few if any dedicated church buildings in the first century. They seemed to manage just fine—and wasn’t because pagans were impressed with their liturgy. The apostles planted churches and the churches obeyed the Great Commission, individually and corporately, by sharing the gospel in their region not just by deed (that famous St. Francis quotation about preaching the gospel through deeds is true, but it can also serve as a rationale for not sharing your faith) but also by word. If the people in your parish are not prepared or equipped to share and proclaim Jesus Christ as King and Savior in the world, then you will probably not make it.

5. Both clergy and people must be prepared to obey their orthodox bishops even when they do not agree. There will not, in all likelihood, be the same sort of coercive power within Common Cause that exists in the Episcopal Church. The Common Cause Partnership will not sue for your property if you choose to depart. That means that while there may be ecclesial consequences for disobedience, there will likely be no legal/financial consequences. This is both good and dangerous. It is good because it prevents the sort of unjust authoritarianism currently exercised by the Presiding Bishop and her legal consigliere. It is dangerous because it opens the way for sin. Those, especially those of us in revisionist dioceses, have learned to live and act as if there were no king in the land. Those days are over. There are now bishops to whom we owe loyalty, obedience, support and respect. It will mean godly submission in all things.

Are you prepared?


Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth. Thanks for your blog, which I read with interest. I'm a gay Anglican man from Australia. I'm also a sociologist by training. I am supportive of efforts for inclusion in the Church, including the ordination of women, gay people and so on. I'm also supportive of liturgical forms of recognition and blessing for same sex relationships.

I wanted to express my concern about a comment you made in your blog entry about a 'travelling in Viagra land', with reference to Stand Firm. It seems to me that it perpetuates a sort of sexist attitude about men and masculinity. Stand Firm isn't about maleness, masculinity or men. It is about fear, powerlessness and a particular sort of conservatism. These debates are simply not as simple as sexism - they're much more complicated, nuanced and therefore difficult to reconcile. To characterise Stand Firm in the way you seem to be doing allows for a sad and mischievous slight against the vast majority of men. Don't lose sight of the fact that many involved in the movement of which Stand Firm is a part are women - they're not helpless victims in thrall to men, but willing participants, for whatever reason. Not all that is wrong in the world has to do with sexism and patriarchy.

Thanks once again for your blog, which I'm sure I'll continue to find interesting and inspiring.

Anonymous said...

What is so frightening and disillusioning about his mindset... is it's consistency with the militant right-wing political (lack of) thinking that turned our democracy upside down a couple of elections ago... thereby bringing us to the political mess our country is in at the moment. I kept asking myself then, "How can a majority of Americans vote in such an ill-informed way?"

And this priest is representative of the same principles applied to the church. If he and his kind were to have their way (and don't sweat it too much because it ain't gonna happen!), what was once the Anglican Communion would devolve into a curial-led fundamentalist bureaucracy modeled on an unholy melding of Rome and Geneva.

Spare us, Good Lord.


Better you should be elfing yourself like Fr. Jake is doing, girlfriend! Step away from the Schismatics ...

Weiwen Ng said...

it'll be interesting, though, if they can actually come to a workable compromise on women's ordination. frankly, if they do it I would see it as a sign of hope.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Badwolf - thanks for your thoughtful comment. It deserves a response by way of an explanation.

I use the term "Viagra Land" because of a visual 'joke' played on themselves by one of their own. It's, of course, a play on the words 'Stand Firm.'

I couldn't agree more with your assessment of that particular blog - "it is about fear, powerlessness and a particular sort of conservatism." Well, perceived 'powerlessness'. They have done monstrous damage to our beloved church.

But, you are right. It is much more complex than sexism and homophobia. I do not wish to stain all men with those sins.

I will be much more mindful of that in the future. Thanks again.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Susan - You'll see my elf-self along with that of my staff - a few posts down. I don't take myself too seriously, but theses schismatics are as serious as a heart attack - and, just as deadly.

DBW said...

You make it sound like the schismatics are the only bad guys in this mess, which is turning into a grand scale replica of a 1980's baby boomer divorce drama--neither side willing to compromise, each insisting on their own way, duking out issues in courts which they can't get past themselves enough to resolve in private.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

DBW - Well, we've been at this for more than 30 years. Whose side is not willing to compromise? And, what was B033 all about?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Susan, One more thought: Your comment echos my grandmother's warning that "if you lay down with dogs, you're apt to get up with fleas."

Even so, I think Matt, the uber-Calvinist, has delivered a bracing slap of reality into the costs of 'leaving' which is very instructive - to those who are planning to stay, those who are planning to leave, and everybody else.

As one who left Rome years ago, I understand his logic and his tone. This is serious business. We all would do well to listen.

Tobias Haller said...

I agree with you Elizabeth that this is a set of sound words from Matt. He is no fool, and I think he is correct in all of his assessments. Many on his side of the divide (particularly the ones who keep making analogies to Narnia and LOTR) seem to live in a fantasy land in which their being "right" will bring vindication and victory. People who read the Gospel seriously (and Matt does) know that holding to the truth will bring persecution and struggle. (Let me add that there are some starry-eyed folk on our side of the divide too...) So I am glad to see him preaching to his own; they need to know what is coming, and take stock.

DBW said...

Yes, its been going for upwards of 30 years. If B033 was a compromise, why are many already trying to get it thrown out? It seems to be a compromise, if you can call it that, written in disappearing ink.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

DBW - It was a bad compromise, forced down us whilst our arms were being twisted and Griswold was on the phone with the other, taking direction from Rowan.

The point is, even "compromise" is just another word for, yet again, stalling the inevitable.

Enough! Even Matt Kennedy is saying enough and bracing for reality.

I have to respect that.

Frair John said...

What I find to be the most interesting is the way the Anglo-Catholics and the Arminians(MUCh better descriptor for them than Calvinist IMNSHO) are trying to play nice.

One commenter even says that candles and incense are going to have to be battles to be fought. I bet these boys (and it will be an all boys club - ordained women won't be in any conversation even if they are graciously allowed to continue their ministries) will fall apart, or they will simply wipe the Anglo-Catholics up in their hideous parody of the Church.

DBW said...

See, you see certain things as inevitable... I see them as things we can stave off by just outliving these self-absorbed activist baby boomers who got power and have become absolute nazis with it...many who went to seminary to avoid the draft and are now hold most of the power. If there is going to be a church left for my generation, and the millenials (who are shockingly conservative, from my perspective, very much a 1950s throwback generation)your group is going to have to stop all this squawking about things... our parents' generation put their personal happiness over the health of the family and duked it out in the divorce courts... now the drama of our childhoods is being played out in the church... nobody listens when people say "this fighting isn't good for the children..."

Frair John said...

While I agree with you about the general DBW-
While I agree with you about the general outline of the issue, that this looks like the 80’s divorce boom, I think you may be being a bit unfair at some level. I take it that you think that LGBT people are the ones being selfish in that they want a place in the Church that is open, honest and theologically coherent. I would only point out that they are not the ones threatening to walk out because they are not getting their way.
As for Millenials and their “conservatism” I am sort of tired of that as a line. It is true that later Xers and Millenials are more conservative politically and theologically than Boomers, it is far more complex than it is drawn. Millenials are generally far more open in questions of human sexuality and interaction than most are willing to believe. I know this because I work with High School kids and they are far more open to the world than Xers and tend not to be quite so self oriented as Boomers. They also tend towards a materialism that can be sickening, but I suppose that is what we have made them. As for the Church, when they are engaged at all, they tend to look for authenticity and connectivenes. This means that they have been drawn, like many Xers, to older liturgical forms as well as to theologies that amount to more than “Jesus loves you and wants you to have your way” that has so dominated the church for 30 years or more. Doctrine, theology and having a point of view are far more important than vague platitudes.
The reason that the Church is seen as heterosexist and homophobic is because the Media tends to only present the Pat Robertsons of the world and that is the only position that is seen as theologically consistent. The general lack of serious theological development and consistently orthodox world views on the other side has left us without a consistent message about what it is that is believed, other than what comes off as a set of vague platitudes designed not to offend.
I could go on about the anti-intellectual trends in Boomer and early Xer church leaders and how that has added to the issue, but that would be for my own blog.

Mark said...

Well, dbw, it sounds like you're putting your personal experiences and the damage caused before the well-being of entire groups of people, as well.

Life was unfair to you, was it?

I think you know the rest of that expression, and, though harsh, it is still true. I'm not one of the baby-boomers, but grew up in the generation that saw the divorces, etc. What I learned is that many of my fellows have become stuck in a pity-party about how flawed the world is! What a shock! How could it be that the world is imperfect! Do you expect a church that is perfect? Well, let's see how that works out for you when the people who "squawk" about things, rather than sitting like baby birds expecting to have God handed to them die, as you clearly so fervently wish.

Sorry about your bad experiences in wartime military service, as well.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Mark, for your response to dbw. Whatever 'sins' the Baby Boomers have inflicted on the church because of our divorce rate, it can be no worse than those of the next generation who whine about how unfair it all is.

But it takes a non-Boomer to effectively argue against that. Thanks for doing that, Mark.

Mark said...

Well, I'm only just behind it, but I do still display (often to my shame)the traits of "post-boomers".

However, for what it was worth, you are certainly welcome. I get very tired of hearing the "boomers" dumped on by people who have done nothing and are primarily concerned about their own personal angst.