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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It just gets curiouser and curioser . . .

You simply can not make this stuff up.

Here's a story from Episcopal News Service about two Southern Illinois Bishops -- that would be Keith "Cry Me A River" Ackerman, recently retired of Quincy, and Peter "What Me Crazy?" Beckwith, still active in Springfield - - who are among the members of newly-announced committees of a proposed Anglican Church in North America, which is holding what it is calling its "inaugural provincial assembly" later this month.

Those 'committees' of which those bishops are members would be part of the ACNA = Anglican Church North America, which was 'blessed' into being by the GAFCON (Global Anglican Futures Conference) Statement in April, saying that they recognize the entity "as genuinely Anglican and recommends that Anglican Provinces affirm full communion with the ACNA."

Ya just gotta love it. What Archbishop of Canterbury? Who needs him?

If the boys in purple over at GAFCON says something is 'genuinely Anglican', well then, by golly, it has to be genuine. They ARE wearing purple shirts, after all, and they do speak with British accents, don't they?

When I was a Roman Catholic we called this "truth by blatant assertion."

Reminds me of that commercial for Smucker's Jam -

"With a name like Smucker's, it's got to be good."

So, who could really blame them for taking the name 'Anglican'?

"With a name like Anglican, it's got to be fudge."

But, oh, pay attention - the liberals and progressives are the 'revisionists' who continue to heap innovations like the ordination of women on the church.

You just can't make this stuff up.

Of course, this is a bit of a run-up to next week's Very Big ACNA Conference in Bedford, Texas - which, of course, is still Episcopal Church property being occupied and claimed ownership by this dissident group, apparently on the legal principle of "possession is 9/10's of the law."

Boy, are they in for a big surprise when they get their day in court.

At the ACNA Conference next week, the group's constitution and canons is expected to be ratified and the deposed Diocese of Pittsburgh's bishop, Robert Duncan, is expected to be elected Archbishop.

I hear the title of a new chapter in this tawdry saga of the History of The Episcopal Church: The Assent of the Dissident Archbishop.

One of the more articulate, polite, intelligent conservatives who regularly visits this blog and occasionally leaves messages left this wee note:

"Oddly enough, however, while it is open season on historic Christology and soteriology, there are some things that are beyond doubt, such as the propriety of ordaining women and the goodness of same-sex sexual relationships. Since we cannot know things for sure, I do not know where this certitude came from, but it is certainly there."

Well, I'm quite certain that 'open season' on the propriety of ordaining women is now closed. Has been for quite some time, my friend. Thirty-five years, in fact.

And, no one ever said anything about the 'goodness of same sex sexual relationships'. At least I've been pretty consistent about saying that there is no greater goodness or evil in same sex sexual relationship than, to quote the former Ms. California, 'opposite sex sexual relationship'.

The only thing the church is being asked to do is to bless the COVENANTS made between two people of the same sex, just as she blesses the COVENANTS made between two people of the opposite sex.

I don't think there is much certainty in this life, but there certainly isn't anything about the future of ACNA or GAFCON that is certain - except for things to get curiouser and curiouser.


jmcleod76 said...

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and became an Anglican during a year I spent in England, studying at the University of Manchester. Actually, I had been leaning that way before I left the U.S., but I made it official that year.

Upon returning home, I found it next to impossible to be an Episcopalian in the diocese of Pittsburgh. This was shortly after Mr. Duncan - and I'm so glad I no longer have to do him the honor of calling him "BIshop" - was elected. While there were and are many wonderful welcoming churches in Pittsburgh, I found out about them too late. All I ever encountered in my home diocese was rejection and condemnation. While I realize that atmosphere had to have existed prior to Mr. Duncan's arrival -after all, it's not for nothing they picked the guy - I'm equally certain that his subversion of the message of the Gospels further poisoned the waters there. How was I expected to see the grace of God when my own bishop was spewing hatred at people like me just because of who we love? I left the church, tried to be a Unitarian for a while, then a Buddhist.

Then God "hunted my ass down," as Sarcastic Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber likes to put it. And what, you ask, was the cause of my being hunted down? Reading Gene Robinson's book. His passion for God's kingdom and the radical unconditional love he clearly feels for even those who threaten his very life pierced my heart. It made me remember why I used to follow Christ.

While I would never presume to speak for God, I think the contrast between the fruits of what each these two men have planted in the church speaks volumes.

Jim said...

My favorite Springfield moment is when he refused to confirm an entire class of candidates because one is a lesbian. I swear I think the dope thinks "homosexuality" is communicable!

Hey bishop, I hang with lesbian and gay people all the time and I have not caught a thing. Which is a shame I keep hoping to become fabulous. ;-)


KJ said...

Another thing regarding which we must be certain -- To be a voice and welcome to the lgbt individuals that will be locked within this futile attempt to lock such undesirables out. For them, we have to be a people of peace, something we can accomplish only with God's help.

Hiram said...

"Well, I'm quite certain that 'open season' on the propriety of ordaining women is now closed. Has been for quite some time, my friend. Thirty-five years, in fact."

Which is precisely my point: I am not arguing for or against the ordination of women to any ordained ministry; I am simply pointing out that it is impossible to question the idea (unless one wants to be treated as the skunk at a garden party). At the same time, each article of the Creed can be questioned, ignored, redefined, or repudiated, but a conservative who asks why this is allowed will be told, "This is a broad and inclusive church, and we welcome all points of view."

What makes a topic debatable? What makes it a bedrock article, incapable of being changed, or even questioned? I have yet to see an explanation -with an understandable set of principles behind it - of what is core conviction and what is negotiable.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hiram - yours is a most excellent question. give me some time to answer it. i'm up to my chin in baptismal water and can't give this the attention it deserves right now. thanks for asking.

the rest of all y'all: you are the best. thanks for your comments.

off i go then, back into the baptismal pool.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

To Hiram I would say simply, that the ones are Questions, points to be agreed/disagreed on, and so can be organised in sets of principles behind...

The other is Social. And Social is always difficult to express/explain in neat sets of principles.

But what makes you think Social would be more managable than Questions?

It's not.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hiram, You ask a good question. My brief answer is this - EVERY issue is debatable. Whether or not it is 'win-able' from your perspective, depends on the issue and the context.

For example, Civil Rights for People of Color was, in my lifetime, a hotly debated issue - and the church was part of that debate on both sides of the issue.

In some circles, it continues to be debated - even among people who consider themselves Christians - despite the weight of both local law and a constitutional amendment which requires it as the Law of the Land.

One can question the idea of racial equality and integration and expect to be the "skunk at the garden party," as you say - in some circles. But, to be quite honest, not in others.

The Southern Poverty Law Project and its watchdog organization "Media Matters" regularly documents quite public conversations in print and other media where the "skunks" have their own "garden party" of opinion which is contrary to the Law of the Land.

In my opinion, articles of faith also need to be questioned and open to debate as each new generation comes to grapple with 'the faith first delivered to the saints'. The Book of Acts provides us with a record of how the early church struggled with how to deal with issues such as circumcision, dietary rules, and the incorporation of gentiles and women in the life and leadership of community.

Information from archeology, advances in medical and scientific technology have also changed the church's understanding of a wide variety of things written in scripture, including but not limited to: seizure disorder, left handedness, mental illness, the shape of the world, and the actual birth date of Jesus.

Mature spirituality is not threatened but, rather, enriched by this debate and, in my experience, faith is deepened and strengthened.

Hope that is helpful to you.

WilliamK said...

At the same time, each article of the Creed can be questioned, ignored, redefined, or repudiated, but a conservative who asks why this is allowed will be told, "This is a broad and inclusive church, and we welcome all points of view."

As I read this hypothetical scenario, it was the word "allowed" that struck me, and I found myself wondering, "How would questioning, ignoring, redefining, or repudiating articles of the creed not be allowed? How would you enforce conformity to traditional creedal orthodoxy? And ... which doctrinal statements would be used as the basis of such conformity? The Apostles' Creed? The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed? The Definition of Chalcedon? The Thirty-Nine Articles?"

The answer to the conservative question that you attribute (I assume) to "liberals" isn't actually one that I have heard. It sounds TOO broad and mushy to be authentic. But let's assume this is the view of some "liberals". This position allows someone to believe that Jesus Christ was literally born of a Virgin; it allows someone else to take this creedal statement as a metaphor. It welcomes them to worship together and share at the Table of the Lord, agreeing to disagree.

I sense that the problem is that "conservatives" object to not being able to enforce traditional doctrinal orthodoxy. "Liberals" (who hold a whole range of views) are tolerant of "conservatives" believing whatever they want so long as they don't try to force their beliefs on others. But it doesn't seem that "conservatives" are willing (able?) to extend the same tolerance.

I'm writing from lived experience. I am a member of a "progressive" parish with a partnered gay rector and a female associate rector. This parish really does welcome everyone, including conservatives (I've met and spoken with several). And people are free to hold a diversity of views on doctrinal issues. I would identify myself one of the more doctrinally "conservative" members of the parish, since I have no trouble reciting the creeds, etc. ...

But... most of the folks who are members of my parish (including myself) wouldn't be welcomed in "conservative" parishes. In fact, that's why many are members here, because they were rejected by other congregations (usually of other denominations) ... for being happily gay or lesbian, for being divorced and remarried, for not believing in a literal six-day creation 6000 years ago, for not believing in "believers' baptism", etc., etc., etc. Various tests of "orthodoxy" were applied to exlude them.

I do genuinely try to extend to others the tolerance and respect I want to receive. I've known folks who were opposed to the ordination of women, and I have engaged with them with respect ... not as 'skunks at a garden party' (even when they seemed determined to start an argument ... like the FiF priest who in a pilgrimage group used our round-the-circle self-introductions to inform us all of his membership in FiF!)... and I have had lots of experience being treated as a 'skunk at a garden party' for not conforming to someone's definition of "orthodoxy"... I still carry the spiritual scar of being asked to leave an IVCF Bible Study group when I was in graduate school because I was gay: "People in the group have a lot of respect for you because you clearly love the Lord, and you know Scripture so well, and have such deep understanding ... and we're afraid that will make them think being homosexual is okay; so you can't come anymore." It took me ten years to realize that Jesus wasn't responsible for this.... and now, having come back to the Church, I can welcome and embrace as brothers and sisters people who would do that to me again if given a chance.... and that's why I "allow" people to question the creeds.

David G. said...

Another theatrical production by The Artificial Episcopal Church.
Ho Hum .