Thursday, February 28, 2008
The Voice of Authority Speaks
Well, over at House of Bishops/Deputies List, we got this quote from Kirk Hadaway, staff to the Committee on the State of the Church, who oversees the parochial report information via Deputy Ann Fontaine, c3, Wyoming:
"To my knowledge, this is the first time in the past five years that someone has raised this issue regarding the Parochial Report. Technically, civil unions (allowed in CT, NH, and NJ) are not marriages, so they should not be counted as marriages on the form."
Okay. I get it.
Of course. I understand. It’s logical and reasonable and pragmatic and, God knows, Episcopalians are nothing if we’re not logical and reasonable and pragmatic.
Civil Unions are not Marriage. The Parochial Report computer form asks for Marriages. It’s just a computer form, for pity’s sake, designed to gather data about the work of the church. Marriage is just one of five of the Sacramental Rites of the church. And, we don’t ask about Unction or Reconciliation of a Penitent or Ordinations on that form. It’s not a judgment. It’s just how the church measures the sacramental life and vitality of the church. Just the facts, is all.
C’mon, Elizabeth. Lighten up. Toughen up.
I get it.
I’m not whining. Honest. And, I’m not complaining. Neither am I bitter or angry. I’m too weary, even, to be sad. I should know better about institutional things and forms and the ‘impartiality’ of data collecting.
I get it.
I got it when the state of New Jersey first started talking about Civil Union vs. Marriage which morphed into Civil Union equals Marriage. Which I never believed. Which is why my beloved and I have not entered into a Civil Union and have chosen to stay with our ‘domestic partnership’ until we finally (How long, O Lord, how long?) are allowed the civil right, guaranteed under the Constitution of these United States of America, of marriage,
Why? Our attorney assures us that our domestic partnership, combined with our wills, combined with the ‘present climate of acceptance in this State’ (let the reader hear the word ‘present’), we have everything we need without suffering the emotional humiliation of jumping through yet another legal hoop on our way to the enjoyment of a civil right which is now, was then and will always be available to people who are 'normal', including emotionally and/or intellectually disabled and prisoners who are convicted felons, rapists and murders on death row.
I get it.
I just have a question. It’s not one that you need to answer me – directly or indirectly. I know many of you – a surprising number, as a matter of fact - on this list. You know I love you and I know that you love me, even when you disagree with me or think I’m being – What’s the word? Ah yes, ‘caustic’. That’s what nice, polite white people say when they really mean ‘bitch’ because they really don’t want to hear what I have to say. Imagine! I'm the only one to raise the question - the first time in five whole years.
It’s okay. I get it.
Here’s my question, one that I humbly ask you to take with you into those quiet moments when you reflect on Really Big Questions. Here it is:
How would you – knowing that you are only a teeny-tiny minority in the church, one of only three diocese in The Episcopal Church, representing an estimated 10% of the population, which comprises probably less than 1% of that demographic who are Episcopalian, even so – how would you feel upon hearing that the church doesn’t count your Civil Union and not feel that you don’t count?
Let me ask that once more, without flourish: How might you feel upon hearing that the church doesn't count your Civil Union and not feel that you, yourself, your commitment, your vows before God to each other to keep the values that this very church has said it affirms and values, don't count?
As I said, you don’t have to respond to me. I just hope that, in those quiet moments of reflection that you might offer up a prayer of discernment. I hope that Jesus whispers something in your ear – something that leads you to consider what the gospel might call you to do, and that you are given the wisdom and the courage to do it.
I know there are Really Big Issues which this list considers, Very Important Issues which affect far more people in much more devastating ways. I know there are people who are starving, dying of malaria and plagued by AIDS in the Global South and children who will go to bed hungry this very night in this country. There is trouble in the church and war in Iraq and Afghanistan and genocide in Darfur which rages despite universal prayers for war and famine to cease and prayers and hymns raised to a church 'by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed.'
Goodness, there are even people who are not baptized or not known to be baptized who are not adequately alerted to the fact that they must be before they are fed at the Table of the Lord! It is even 'common knowledge' - a very scandal! - that some unbaptized people are openly invited to a foretaste of the Heavenly Banquet by men and women who are ordained priests and bishops in the church - a clear breach of the canons of the church!
I get it. How very selfish of me! How dare I speak so caustically of these things?
Even so, of your mercy and kindness, thank you for considering my question.