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Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Girls of Summer: ++Katie at the bat

I love summer suppers on the deck.

Food prep is quick and easy - lots of marinating and grilling. Everything is casual - including the conversation. And, there's nothing like listening to a baseball game on the radio while you're sitting on the deck after a great supper.

A dear friend came over last night, just to break some bread as we caught up on the stories of our lives. I marinaded some chicken breasts in orange, lemon and lime juice, garlic, ginger and grape seed oil, grilled it, and then served it cold with some cold grilled asparagus, and a thick slice of Jersey beefsteak tomato topped with an even thicker slice of mozzarella, drizzled with EVO, salt, pepper and basil.

We also had the first of the season's yellow corn - well, someone's season, somewhere in the USA. It was a bit tough, but it was a wonderful foretaste of what will be in a few weeks.

There was no baseball game to listen to last night, but, after our supper, my friend's Blackberry started to make a pleasant little sound, which meant that she had a email or text message.

She went to check, started to dismiss it, and then said, "No, wait." A few seconds past and I said, "What is it?" A few more seconds and she looked up and said, "++Katharine Jefferts Schori has just hit one out of the park."

It appears "Our Katie" has stepped up to the bat and decided to play good old fashioned American baseball with the Big Boys across the pond.

I'm sure that, by now, you've read her letter: Pentecost Continues! It's long but well worth the read. If you'd rather, you can listen to an audio tape of ++Herself reading the letter.

It's her response to the Archbishop of Canterbury's Pentecost Letter, and it's a pip.

There were no swings and misses. She never chocked the bat. Neither did she foul out for an easy walk to first, just to load the bases. She said:
The Episcopal Church has spent nearly 50 years listening to and for the Spirit in these matters. While it is clear that not all within this Church have heard the same message, the current developments do represent a widening understanding. Our canons reflected this shift as long ago as 1985, when sexual orientation was first protected from discrimination in access to the ordination process. At the request of other bodies in the Anglican Communion, this Church held an effective moratorium on the election and consecration of a partnered gay or lesbian priest as bishop from 2003 to 2010. When a diocese elected such a person in late 2009, the ensuing consent process indicated that a majority of the laity, clergy, and bishops responsible for validating that election agreed that there was no substantive bar to the consecration.

The Episcopal Church recognizes that these decisions are problematic to a number of other Anglicans. We have not made these decisions lightly. We recognize that the Spirit has not been widely heard in the same way in other parts of the Communion. In all humility, we recognize that we may be wrong, yet we have proceeded in the belief that the Spirit permeates our decisions.
She looked over the madding crowd, some of whom boo'd while others shouted words of encouragement. She took the bat and hit the dirt from her shoes with this:
We do not seek to impose our understanding on others. We do earnestly hope for continued dialogue with those who disagree, for we believe that the Spirit is always calling us to greater understanding.

We live in great concern that colonial attitudes continue, particularly in attempts to impose a single understanding across widely varying contexts and cultures. We note that the cultural contexts in which The Episcopal Church’s decisions have generated the greatest objection and reaction are also often the same contexts where women are barred from full ordained leadership, including the Church of England.
Then, she seemed to center herself with a deep breath and then a spit, straddled home plate, took steady aim and knocked that sucker right out of the park.
As Episcopalians, we note the troubling push toward centralized authority exemplified in many of the statements of the recent Pentecost letter. Anglicanism as a body began in the repudiation of the control of the Bishop of Rome within an otherwise sovereign nation. Similar concerns over self-determination in the face of colonial control led the Church of Scotland to consecrate Samuel Seabury for The Episcopal Church in the nascent United States – and so began the Anglican Communion.

We have been repeatedly assured that the Anglican Covenant is not an instrument of control, yet we note that the fourth section seems to be just that to Anglicans in many parts of the Communion. So much so, that there are voices calling for stronger sanctions in that fourth section, as well as voices repudiating it as un-Anglican in nature. Unitary control does not characterize Anglicanism; rather, diversity in fellowship and communion does.

We are distressed at the apparent imposition of sanctions on some parts of the Communion. We note that these seem to be limited to those which “have formally, through their Synod or House of Bishops, adopted policies that breach any of the moratoria requested by the Instruments of Communion.” We are further distressed that such sanctions do not, apparently, apply to those parts of the Communion that continue to hold one view in public and exhibit other behaviors in private. Why is there no sanction on those who continue with a double standard? In our context bowing to anxiety by ignoring that sort of double-mindedness is usually termed a “failure of nerve.” Through many decades of wrestling with our own discomfort about recognizing the full humanity of persons who seem to differ from us, we continue to work at open and transparent communication as well as congruence between word and behavior. We openly admit our failure to achieve perfection!
As the crowd roared and cheered, Our Katie took a victory lap around the bases, sliding into home base with this final quote:
As a Church of many nations, languages, and peoples, we will continue to seek every opportunity to increase our partnership in God’s mission for a healed creation and holy community. We look forward to the ongoing growth in partnership possible in the Listening Process, Continuing Indaba, Bible in the Life of the Church, Theological Education in the Anglican Communion, and the myriad of less formal and more local partnerships across the Communion – efforts in mission and ministry that inform and transform individuals and communities toward the vision of the Gospel – a healed world, loving God and neighbor, in the love and friendship shown us in God Incarnate.
Get that, Rowan? We will ". . .continue to seek every opportunity to increase our partnership in God's mission . . ."

She doesn't say decisively whether or not we will abide by the sanctions imposed by the +++ABC, but I'm thinking we will. I'm thinking what she's really saying is, "Okay, whatever, but you can't shut us up or shut us down. You can't stop the Spirit."

We're still going to play baseball on our field and by 'the' rules - not the ones made up by certain "Instruments of Communion" who want to change the rules in the middle of a game that's not going +++His way.

The +++ABC can't be franchise owner as well as the ump who calls the shots as they come over the plate.

So, Rowan, as we say over on this side of the Pond - grab a dog and some suds, park your back end in a stadium seat, keep your pie hole shut and watch the game. You might learn a few things about how to play it.

Rowan, mighty Rowan has struck out, but . . . .
. . . .somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere,
and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing,
and somewhere children shout;
But there is great joy in Mudville - Katie,
Mighty Katie -
has Hit. One. Out!
It's gonna be a GREAT summer!

26 comments:

whiteycat said...

Our ++Kate definitely hit a Grand Slam with this one! As always I remain PROUD to be part of TEC!

keith nethery said...

I met your Presiding Bishop at the CanAm House of Bishops in Windsor, Ontario in 1995 (I met Gene Robinson that week too). At that juncture, KJS was a Diocesan Bishop and certainly not seen as one of the "keynote" people at the event, so she had time for a chat with a lowly parish priest on hand to do media work and help with organization. The reporter in me instantly recognized someone who was worth talking to. To make a long story short, I'm not surprised that she has taken the role she has, nor am I surprised at how well she does it. Her most recent letter is yet another example of a measured, well thought out, clear yet concilliatory, message. Personally, I admired the courage with which she suggested the possibility of being wrong, but immediately followed with a strong statement about the need to continue forward together. I wish more leaders would have the conviction to say they don't have all the answers, but they'd like to journey together to see where the Spirit leads.
It is a brilliant response to a less than brilliant Pentecost letter from Rowan. I can't imagine the pressure currently on your Presiding Bishop, but she certainly handles it with grace. I am pleased to see she will guest at our Canadian Synod next week.

keith nethery said...

whoops I think I said the CanAm House of Bishops was in 1995 - it was in fact in 2005.

lou.poulain said...

Well put!
I'm sure I am not the only one who has been totally awestruck by this letter. It's a beautifully crafted statement of position with no equivocating and no apology. And it has a bit of sting in the tail. The section about double standards made me whoop!
Lou, Sunnyvale CA

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hey, Keith. Well, you'll see you did say 1995, so it's cool.

I have not always been pleased with our PB - asking LGBT people to "stand in a crucified place" was a real low point - but I think she's really clear that it's over. We need to move on. That, this is a stand that has cost us much, but it is worth taking.

That kind of integrity is wonderful to see.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Smart women, baseball and food ... I do believe you written the PERFECT blog, my dear!

(And the word verification for this comment is "nickid" ... whatever THAT means! :)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

"Nickid" is, I believe, a Southern term and the preferred style of attire when eating food and listening to baseball on a hot summer's night.

Food and baseball? You betcha. It's what heaven will be all about.

whiteycat said...

Food and baseball? You betcha. It's what heaven will be all about.

And the fact that you are a Red Sox fan is even better. GO, RED SOX!!!

RevMama said...

++KJS wrote another beautifully crafted letter yesterday, this one to President Obama about the situation in Gaza.

And a big YES to food and baseball in heaven!

MackBeemer said...

Dear Elizabeth:

Marvelous blog! PB Shori's letter was indeed a home run. But it did prompt a question for me personally, which I wrote in response. I want to say at the outset that this is not a "gotcha" ploy.

Having left the knee-jerk proof-texting hermeneutic of my Reformed-cum-fundamentalist past behind as no longer functional for me, how do I discern whether what I take to be the Holy Spirit's leading is actually the Holy Spirit?

Thanks again for a wonderful blog entry!

Mack

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Elizabeth--that would be "nekkid." ;-)

As for your other comments...Amen!

Pax,
Doxy

Doorman-Priest said...

Lovely reading. Thank you. It is a fight for the soul of the church. Nothing less.

Malcolm+ said...

It is unfortunate that an otherwise marvelous missive is marred by one bit of bad proof-reading.

I'm not sure who the "Church of Scotland" might be, but the "Kirk of Scotland" is presbyterian by polity and wouldn't have made bishops for nobody no how.

She meant "the Scottish Episcopal Church."

J. Michael Povey said...

++ KJS knows how to kick ass.

She is the most wise P.B. that I have known since 1976 when I has incarnated into the Episcopal Church.

I thank G-d foe her wisdom, clarity, truthfulness, and understanding of the best of the Anglican ethos.

Paul Powers said...

On this day in 1888, "Casey at the Bat" was first published in the San Francisco Examiner.

Aside from her references to "the Spirit," which I found grating (which "Spirit" is she talking about?), she gave an eloquent statement of where many Episcopalians think TEC should be.

Unfortunately, Rowan probably thinks they're playing cricket, not baseball, so her "grand slam home run" is more likely to confuse than impress.

MarkBrunson said...

. . .how do I discern whether what I take to be the Holy Spirit's leading is actually the Holy Spirit?

Mack,

I can't give you an answer that is university-grade. I find little use in those "theological reflections," as they seem mere exercises in debate, to me. Undoubtedly, there would be references to the fruit of following that prompting - and rightly so.

My approach is this, to ask where compassion lay, where the least harm is done (I do accept that harm is like unavoiable in a sinful world) and work out from that. It's complex! I have to constantly reference my own desires and purpose in reference to what's occurring. It's very hard work, with no easy rulebook. It is a process, and every day starts with looking at what has come, sorting out what I'm told, from what logically will stand, searching my heart for the whys and wherefors, if it is merely a position or a conviction, and where that conviction springs from. In this process, looking outward is no greater a need than looking inward. We can arrive at our convictions by prejudice - it's not just the "other side" - but we don't have the luxury of resting on writing that justifies that prejudice.

In the end, though, I think the answer is that, if we have done all that, we may still be erring. Yet, we "sin boldly," in Luther's words, because we've done the best we can and must, absolutely must, rest in the assurance of God's mercy and compassion, and, above all, his working through even error. Even in working as the Body of Christ, we have to accept we're human. There can be no infallible source of objective reference, and I think that's the way God meant it.

Of course, that doesn't absolve us from continuing to discern where the least harm lay! :D

motheramelia said...

Love the baseball metaphor (and ++KJS's letter). Great Blog. Go Sox.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

It is unfortunate that an otherwise marvelous missive is marred by one bit of bad proof-reading.

It is "unfortunate" that anyone spent any time on that minor error at all.

The letter has been corrected. I haven't noticed that Scottish Anglicans are rioting in the streets---so who really cares?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mack - Yours is a very complex question that no doubt deserves a blog of its own.

Here's my Very Short Answer: I don't know how to discern the Spirit outside of community.

Riley said...

What Susan+ said.

Your supper sounds delicious.
I see you're an 'ICBINB' fan, like me. I love it drizzled on corn. Yum!

John Sandeman / Obadiah Slope said...

Most of the Anglican Communion plays Cricket. But if you want to play baseball...

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

WANT to play baseball????

Who wouldn't want to play baseball???

Oh, wait. I think I catch your point.

Hiram said...

I read Abp William's letter and scratched my head, wondering what he was saying. It was apparent that he was saying something about the Episcopal Church's recent action in consecrating Mary Glasspool as a bishop and taking some trifling action in response, but it was hard to follow his reasoning.

I also read Bp Schori's letter, which was to me a more difficult read than that of the Archbishop. I could tell that she was taking exception to the Archbishop's letter, but again, it was hard to follow the reasoning of the letter.

The reasons for my difficulty in understanding the letter were different, however. The Archbishop is an academic and everything he writes sounds as though it were a warm-up for a doctoral dissertation. He is very abstract and theoretical.

I have difficulty with Bp Schori, however, because I share few, if any, of her presuppositions and core convictions. When I read what she writes, I do recognize some references to theological concepts, but she uses them in ways that seem to ignore the original meanings of those concepts, or, at best, to contain only a little of those original meanings. Having attended an Episcopal Seminary, I have seen that done before, but not to such a degree. (Then again, I went to VTS and not EDS or CDSP.)

My impression is that Bp Schori writes in order to justify in some way a particular goal or action she has in mind, while the Archbishop is writing from some huge conceptual framework that he is trying to apply consistently in a broad range of circumstances.

That Bp Schori would make a mistake in a matter of fact, calling the Scottish Episcopal Church the Church of Scotland, leads me to wonder if she has made a mistake in a matter of reasoning. Carelessness that can be seen may indicate carelessness in things that are not so clearly seen. It may have been carelessness during the white heat of composition, but then again, her letter was not a mere blog posting by a parish priest, but a letter by the Presiding Bishop to her whole church. One would think that she would pick that erroneous statement up in editing.

Since I have left the Episcopal Church and now attend a Christian Reformed Church, I should probably stop paying attention to events in ECUSA - but I am afraid it has the same lure as watching a grand pileup in slow motion of some multi-car accident in a NASCAR race.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Hiram, for your honest sharing. It's an interesting perspective you give to the writings of the ABC and KJS which I hadn't considered.

Maybe it's just a fascination with a church that you sense is headed on the path of destruction. Maybe it's equally as fascinating to watch a church take the Reformation of the Body of Christ seriously and risk it all for what it believes is the gospel.

I don't know - can you ever leave a church that has captured a piece of your heart and your soul?

David |Dah • veed| said...

Respectfully Hiram, hogwash.

I think that you are culpable of that which you accuse PB Jefferts Schori, namely that you write to justify in some way a particular mindset or preconceived worldview. You are bent to disagree with whatever she has to say, and you look for it, even if it means you must nit pick.

So nit pick we shall. You also err, for the church whose bishops consecrated +Seabury was not called the Scottish Episcopal Church. That is a more modern moniker. At the time of +Seabury, there are two names used in documents regarding the Episcopalians in Scotland; the Episcopal Church of Scotland and the Episcopal Church in Scotland. The first is more strangely close to the PB's faux pas than most give her credit. Perhaps it was an error in proofreading the removed Episcopal, than her being unaware of the church that generously gave us their Apostolic Succession! We shall never know.

Because I doubt you mean your misuse of her name to reflect the misuse of the Orthodites, who also call her Mrs. Schori and the Presiding Oceanographer, among other less flattering things, I shall point out that she is not Bishop Jefferts, or Bishop Schori, but because she uses a double last name, she is correctly called Bishop Jefferts Schori. You can be sure of this by following Episcopal News Service style. They use someone's full name and title the first time they are mentioned in an article, and then usually their last name from that point forward. You can double check that for the PB they use her preferred double surnames.

Maureen said...

Outta the park, KJS, outta the park!
A wise and decisive answer to those who would like us to "stand and wait".
Brilliant and better than brilliant!

And, sorry, Red Sox fans, KJS lives in New York so I think she is a (gasp!) Yankee - and her homr tun record proves it!