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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Elephants and Sacred Cows

There has been a great discussion over on HOB/D (House of Bishops/Deputies Listserv) concerning the current battle in "The Anglican Wars".

The recent skirmish has been made manifest in the exchange of Letters in the Season of Pentecost between the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church USA.

Then, of course, came the letter from the Rev'd Canon Kenneth "The Hammer" Kearon, detailing the cost of our discipleship in electing and consecrating +Mary Glasspool as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of LA.

Someone on HOB/D was talking about what he saw as "the elephant in the room" in our conversations about these developments.

Here's my response:

There are many, many elephants - and they are killing the 'sacred cows' of what it means to walk the Anglican way of following Jesus.

Yes, the first elephant is the "severe and unrelenting pressures mostly within the Global South who are enraged at TEC" - who declare themselves out of communion with TEC (whatever that means) and "refuse to participate in meetings where TEC is represented, threaten to withdraw from the Anglican Communion and accept no leadership from Abp. Williams."

Forgive me if I'm misreading or misinterpreting your remarks, but you sound sympathetic to +++Rowan for having had to "live with this excruciating dilemma for years."

Leaving the assessment of the success or failure of the Lambeth Conference aside, I have to raise my voice about +++ Rowan's living with what you describe as an "excruciating dilemma".

From the perspective of systemic organizational concerns, (aka "Anglican Unity") I understand what you are saying. I, too, would like us to preserve what we can of this rare, divine, mysterious gift of the unity of our diversity that has always been the hallmark of Anglicanism.

That being emphatically said, I can not deny - as a woman who has fashioned her life in accordance with the gospel with another woman - my own perspective, which is quite different from yours.

On a personal, spiritual and religious level, I don't see much of a dilemma, much less an "excruciating" one.

The "elephant" in this particular room of discussion is hate. Hate that is born of fear. Fear that is born of ignorance. We know what St. Paul had to say about "perfect love".

Those of us who follow Jesus know what He had to say about unity ("that you all may be one") that is based on "loving one another" (as He loves us). With all due respect to St. Paul, I don't think we have to be "perfect" in our love, but we do have to, at the very least, be "loving".

These are folks who want to 'eradicate' - or, at least eliminate through life imprisonment - the world of people like me.

And, Louie.

And, Susan.

And, +Gene (Once described as "the most dangerous man in the Anglican Communion").

And, +Mary. (Who, while not ever having been described as 'dangerous', has, apparently, by her election and consecration, caused the unraveling of the Anglican Communion. Gotta really watch those women named 'Mary'. They are the "bearers" of things that change and transform the world.)

That last bit was a little joke. The rest is not.

There is a new documentary that has been produced by PRA (Political Research Associates) which is called "Exporting Hate".

You can watch it here.

The documentary exposes conservative US Evangelical Protestants who use their political and financial influence to export their hate for LGBT people to Africa.

There are a number of other resources on this topic, including "The Family" - a book by Jeff Sharlet, and an important paper written by Anglican priest Kapya Kaoma: "Globalizing the Culture Wars: US Conservatives, African Churches and Homophobia" .

The President of the United States, the Secretary of State, and all the major leaders of other major countries and the leaders of humanitarian, justice and health organizations - including ones on the front lines of the AIDS pandemic - as well as many, many religious leaders have spoken out on this attempted genocide.

They have also worked hard to "kill" the "Kill The Gays Bill" and have, apparently, successfully stalled it in legislative committee.

Except the leader of the World Wide Anglican Communion who has neither named this Elephant of Hate nor worked to make it leave the room.

Where you see an "excruciating dilemma" I see a question:

Why is the spiritual leader of the World Wide Anglican Communion allowing himself to be intimidated by the Elephant of Hate? Indeed, why is he even giving it space in the room - even the "roomiest room in Western Civilization"?

I want to be clear: I am not advocating kicking the sexist, misogynist, homophobic, heterosexist members of our Anglican Communion off the Anglican Island.

I'm asking why The Episcopal Church is being punished for believing that all the sacraments are, indeed, for all the baptized - and, taking the risk of that belief which has been tested and discerned in community over several decades?

I'm asking why the Archbishop of Canterbury believes he can have a say in - much less punish or exclude those whom he needs to be in conversation with - matters over which (and in a country where) he has no authority?

Which brings us to the old, classical Anglican Elephant in the room: Authority.

This is what really needs to be named. It's what ++Katharine named in her response to +++Rowan

It seems to me that another elephant in the room is that what we are really enganged in is the start of the Second Reformation.

It seems to me that we are dealing with the same, old question. We seem to be doomed to have the issue 'authority' as our 'Sisyphusian Elephant' in our roomiest of rooms.

What is it the French say? Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

Our elephants seem to be killing our sacred cows.

Hasn't it ever been thus?

For other people naming other elephants, check out this Open Letter to Bishop Katharine from Canon Giles Goddard at Inclusive Church.

Then, listen as ++Katharine kicks more Anglican Elephant butt with this interview in ENS wherein she reportedly says:
Asked how Anglicans can focus on mission amid its issues over the place of gays and lesbians, Jefferts Schori said, "By focusing on mission, on the broader context. The hot button issues are an aspect of our mission."

The issue of human sexuality has a place in the communion's Five Marks of Mission, she said. "Where is good news in this conversation about human sexuality? I think we heard some in the [General Synod human sexuality] report ... That people felt they could speak to each other, be heard and speak in a gracious way and that was reported to be a significant shift from the last General Synod."

Part of the church's mission is to gay and lesbian people, she added. "Where's the good news in this for them?"

Another deals with addressing human suffering, she said. "Suicide rates among gay and lesbian teenagers are much, much higher than the national average in Canada and the U.S. How do we address that? That's an aspect in these Marks of Mission."

Developed by the Anglican Consultative Council, the Five Marks of Mission are:

To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom;
To teach, baptize and nurture new believers;
To respond to human need by loving service;
To seek to transform unjust structures of society;
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.


Unknown said...

As always Elizabeth+, you speak the truth in a very plain matter of fact way. Bless you for your courage and witness from this gay man who was denied ordination in TEC because I refused to lie about who I am. (I was told by multiple people in authority had I lied about my sexual orientation I'd be an Episcopal priest by now.) So I left TEC. I am now a priest with a church that affirms and celebrates me as a person.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Better to be in a church that affirms and celebrates you as a person than one that does not.

Thanks, Tommy. God bless you.

James said...

Well said.

susankay said...

+++Rowan -- what is excruciating in his life? He can proclaim his love, marry his love, he can't be fired because of whom he loves; he can't be arrested for whom he loves; he can't be executed for whom he loves.

wv is septica which is perilously close to septicemia -- which kills from the inside.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

+++Rowan is proving himself to be an Asshat in a Mitre.

keith nethery said...

Thanks for the link to the PRA video. I found the program most informative and very professionally done. Well worth the time to watch it.