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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sex, lies and secrets

"Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."
Sir Walter Scott

It is absolutely outrageous!

The news is this:
The House of Bishops Theology Committee is refusing to release the names of members of a sub-committee it has appointed to study same-sex relationships. The existence of the panel was first reported in the Blue Book, which contains information relevant to General Convention, 2009. However, the Rt. Rev. Henry Parsley of Alabama, chair of the Theology Committee has refused several requests to disclose the names of its members.

Refused. SEVERAL requests.

You can read a statement from Susan Russell, President of IntegrityUSA and The Chicago Consultation over at Episcopal Cafe.

Susan says, “If this isn’t the height of absurdity and insult I don’t know what is,” adding,
“If this important work is to have any credibility whatsoever, it is critical that the work be done in a context of honesty and transparency. A "closeted" sub-committee studying same sex unions seems too bizarre a thing to even make it into a Monty Python episode, much less be a course intentionally taken by a church that committed to full and equal claim for its gay and lesbian baptized 33 years ago."

Louie Crew, founder of IntegrityUSA, deputy to General Convention and former member of the Executive Council says: "[I] find that decision [to be] an abomination. LGBT in life commitments face huge hostility in this church, and yet those who "study" us need to be secret?!"

The Report of the House of Bishop's Theology Committee is listed in the "Blue Book" (the report to General Convention) says this:
We have been asked by the House of Bishops to undertake a theological study of same-sex relationships in the life of the church. This is designed to reflect a full spectrum of views and to be a contribution to the listening process of the Anglican Communion, as well as to the discussion of this subject in our province. A diverse and balanced panel of theologians has been appointed by the Committee and is presently beginning this work. This is a long-term, multi-step project that is designed to be completed in 2011.
The Membership of the House of Bishops Theology Committee is reported as including:
The Rt. Rev. Henry Nutt Parsley, Chair,
The Rt. Rev. David A. Alvarez,
The Rt. Rev. John C. Bauerschmidt,
The Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett,
Dr. Ellen T. Charry,
The Rev. Dr. Sathianathan Clarke,
Dr. Stephen E. Fowl,
The Rev. Dr. A. Katherine Grieb,
The Rt. Rev Robert W. Ihloff,
Dr. Charles T. Mathewes, ctm9d@Virginia.EDU
Dr. Joy A. McDougall,
The Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller,
Dr. Kathryn Tanner,

It's anyone's guess as to who is on the sub committee.

What can you do? Well, if you're an Episcopalian, please write to or call your bishop(s) to express your distress and insist that s/he advocate for transparency and full disclosure.

And, of course, write to members of the committee. I know many of them and they are good, reasonable people.

It's said that we're only as sick as our most strongly held secrets.

Well, children, if you ask me, this is pretty sick.


Jane Priest said...


You know, one of my parishes had a secret little meeting without me. Now, they are very-not-Episcopalians in so many ways and I think really didn't understand how wrong it was. Still, after I lovingly listened to their suggestions, I told them this was never, ever to happen again. I explained if they couldn't be transparent with me then this is a train to nowhere. Same is true here. Sometimes the UCC looks so good.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Yup. Although, I grow more and more convinced that all institutions - especially the religious ones - are sick to the core.

it's margaret said...

Oh --sick to the core.... had that very same conversation earlier today....

first --I hope this secret gets told finally... like the quote at the top of your blog.

second, --yes, there is great cost in working for the church. She is the whore of Babylon. But she is also my mother... who taught me to love whores. I stay because there is no place else where I can meet people who are also struggling to live the Gospel....

Bill said...

Reminiscent of the good ole’ days in politics when the party bosses met in smoke filled back rooms and decided the fate of the nation. It’s amazing the “chutzpah” people seem to derive from anonymity. What are they afraid of?

Jim said...

I think Rowan Williams is to be congratulated. His vision of the bishops' role as dictator to the laity has clearly taken root in the HoB. First B033 and now this. Time for the HoD to announce that nothing this committee authors will pass onto the floor.


IT said...

I'm reallly affected by this. I've been supporting and encouraging my wife to move to TEC, and it's been a great I suspect that it may prove to be no different than her RC church, a sort of don't ask don't tell only at a higher level.

I mean, there are faithfully partnered gay clergy, a gay bishop, and a lot of gay folks in the church. There has been a lot of discussion on theology, already. What the heck is this about and why oh why the need for secrecy?

I'm with Elizabeth: religious insitutions are no different than any other human structure and are fundamentally political and thus corrupt.

KJ said...

My note to our bishops here in the Diocese of Olympia:

Dear Bishop Greg and Bishop Nedi,

I was very disappointed today to learn of the anonymity of the sub-committee appointed by the Theology Committee of TEC with the intent of studying same-sex relationships. Frankly, given the life of glbt believers within TEC I am disappointed and embarrassed that such a committee is necessary at all. But apparently the message here is that the lives of glbt believers in relationships are to be treated differently than the lives of others, and delaying proclaiming a clear life-giving message less important than ecclesiastical foot-dragging (It is not lost upon the casual observer that "findings" are not to be delivered until 2011.). I have to believe that within the leadership of TEC there is an understanding of the dehumanizing impact upon others when the message, whether intended or not, is, "Hold on while we who are more able to understand such matters secretly contemplate the value of you and your relationships."

I am angry, but at mid-life, I find that I am seldom angry about such nonsense that I encounter at a personal level. Of such is life. I am very aware of the amount of change and progress that has occurred in many parts of the world, including the US, that allows me to live and worship as I am. I give thanks for St. Mark's, my faith home.

However, having spent most of my life closeted in a conservative faith setting, I do get angry when I think of the effect of such ecclesiastical nonsense upon the young, closeted boy or girl who currently lives in a faith or social setting in which who they are is to be shamed. I become angry when I encounter the reaction from glbt individuals, both exiles from Christianity and those who have never known faith community, when they point out the hypocrisy of a church that seems unable to live the life taught and lived by the one whom the faith is purported to be about. How should I react to such discernment from outside of the church when I am in complete agreement?

Disappointment -- embarrassment -- anger. I think I've communicated them as best I can. I trust that both of you will share such a message with the leadership of TEC. I trust that the Diocese of Olympia is known without ambiguity to be a diocese that not only teaches but lives Gospel that is not clouded by the harm of religion.

Peace of Christ (Which admittedly, I am having difficulty being in the midst of right now.)

St. Mark's Cathedral

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

They are Hospitals for Sinners.


Paul Powers said...

At the very least, they need to explain why these names are being kept secret. I'm open to the possibility that they have a very good reason, but without any explanation, how are we to know?

IT said...

Hasn't anyone learned anything from politics: it's not the crime, it's the coverup that is always the worst.

IT said...

BTW, does anyone else feel that we are on "double secret probation"????

David G. said...

We Know Not What We Weave ...

a quilt of destruction based on misconceptions of the Word Of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

I hope I live long enough to see the TEC have a Backbone!!!

David G. said...

Died for all of us!!

Think about that, instead of soap opera BS that seems to CONSUME your lives!!

Came back here to visit you!!

Release your HATE, ..I said that word, ..You know, ..feel His love, and Release Yourself!!

KJ said...

The response from our bishops here the the Diocese of Olympia is encouraging. I sure hope that the PB had no part in this nonsense, but I can't imagine it getting so far without her knowledge.

Matthew said...

I have an idea. I assume only those on the committee are subject to the gag order. Anyone NOT on the committee could so state publicly, including prominent lgbt folks. It could be a process of elimination. Susan Russell seems to be saying in her posts that she is not part of it because she does not advocate waiting. What about Gene Robinson. Why has he been silent this week? He could say he's not on the committee or that we should interpret his silenct to mean something he cannot talk about. A committee without Gene or lgbt persons is compromised in my view.