Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thoughts on The Letter

I think by now just about every sentient Episcopalian blogger [except me; I was busy last night working for The Episcopal Majority] has posted Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's letter to San Joaquin Bishop Schofield. In fact, over the past 24 hours, I've been involved in several conversations (real and virtual) where one or the other of us asked, "Have you read The Letter?" or "Don't you just love The Letter?" I think we can now dispense with all that long-windedness, like referring to "Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori's letter to San Joaquin Bishop Schofield," and simply term it "The Letter."

Like so many others, I was gushing in my gratitude for the fact that she wrote it – that someone in our church's national leadership finally said "This far and no further" to those fomenting strife and dissent. And I was immensely impressed with the way she said it – i.e., with kindness, firmness, reason, plain-spoken clarity, and a reaching-out for reconciliation even at this stage.

The ever-perceptive Jim Naughton had a somewhat poignant insight about reactions to The Letter. He writes:
In this letter, Bishop Jefferts Schori makes a single, unremarkable point: The Episcopal Church intends to adhere to its constitution and canons. That this statement produced such relief on the left and anger on the right (see the appropriate blogs for a sampling) indicates that the Church had previously done a poor job of communicating its resolve.
Indeed, Jim. Many of us have been hungering and thirsting for this kind of leadership and clarity on behalf of our beloved church.

Of course, MadPriest posted The Letter too, but – to no surprise for those of us who have become his doting readers – with a perfect fillip. No trenchant analysis, no long-winded commentary. No, he simply posted the letter, then ended his post with this photograph

and the caption: "She's not a tame lion, you know."

I'm grateful to have this graceful and strong lion on our side. [Note to nit-pickers: No, neither MadPriest nor I is saying ++Katharine is Christ – any more than Aslan was Christ. So don't get your knickers in a twist.]

Reactions from "the [so-called] right" of TEC have been predictable. I'm not linking to those blogs; you know where they are. Some are merely engaging in name-calling – at least one referring to her as a "witch" [Sheesh!] and many referring to her as "Mrs. Jefferts Schori." [Get it? A woman is ontologically incapable of being ordained. Sheesh again!] And a great many foaming at the virtual mouth that she would be so autocratic. Ya know what strikes me as funny? It seems to me that many of those who are in open revolt or disdain are the ones who continue to ponder the lure of "swimming the Tiber" or who want to ally themselves with provinces such as Uganda or Nigeria. Frankly, I would love to see those guys [and, yes, they are mostly men] operate under the authority of a Pope Benedict or Pope Akinola. Be careful what you wish for, my friends on the "right" of the Episcopal Church. You think ++Katharine's exercising authority?

I, for one, am profoundly grateful that ++Katharine seems to have signaled that our long, passive nightmare is drawing to a close. Thank you, my Presiding Bishop and Primate!


Blogger muerk said...

"Frankly, I would love to see those guys [and, yes, they are mostly men] operate under the authority of a Pope Benedict or Pope Akinola."

As a Roman Catholic (woman ironically) who is a moral conservative I agree with you here. We would _love_ to have the people that the Episcopalian authorities and progressives don't want. It would be so wonderful for them to come "home" to Rome.

Whilst I think that the split happening in your church is very bitter and sad (and btw I think both sides are as nasty as each other at least in the net, I don't know about in real life), I think it's a major theological breach in Christianity as a whole. The sooner the two sides disentangle away from the other the better.

11/21/2006 10:06 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Muerk, perhaps I spoke too briefly, for I fear you have misunderstood me. It is most assuredly not the case that I "don't want" these folks in the Episcopal Church! Let me say this very, very clearly: I do not want the evangelicals or Anglo-Catholics to leave the Episcopal Church! I am working very hard in my local parish to establish bridges with the people who are very angry at the Episcopal Church. I want them to stay. They have enriched my spiritual life in the past, and I believe they can do so in the future. I think they have much to teach me, and I am very much open to listening to them.

But I want them – and all the "Network types" – to quit hurling epithets at me. I want them to quit calling me names like "heretic" and "apostate" and "innately disordered" and "not even Christian." I generally don't throw such names at them, even when the temptation is very strong. I want them to listen. I've been hearing their stories for the 5 decades of my life. It's time they really heard mine.

That said, yes, I do think it would be really, really funny if the loud people in the Episcopal Church had to come up against the realities of a truly authoritarian church like Rome or Nigeria. If they think they are "suffering" in our very tolerant Episcopal Church, I can only imagine what groans and whines they would utter if they actually had to operate in a centralized, authoritarian branch of the Church. In my truly wicked moments, I think it would serve them right to get what they seem to be asking for.

And, wickedly, it also makes me chuckle to think how much you would enjoy these scofflaws if they (as you put it) "came home to Rome." Are you really sure you want to adopt our congregationalist Puritan renegades?? Be careful what you wish for….

I agree: the split that seems to be occurring is indeed very bitter and sad. Some forces have chosen the Episcopal Church as a locus for this battle. They're working on the Presbyterians and Methodists, too, and will focus on them, once they have finished with us. And then they will move on to other branches of the Church. They have decided this is a holy Christian jihad. Eventually, it will even reach the Roman church. I pray some of us will be left standing to support you when they bring this jihad to your church.

11/21/2006 11:39 PM  
Blogger muerk said...

Thank you for explanining your position further.

Supposing I was Anglican though, how would you and I reconcile our beliefs in order to worship in the same church? I sincerely believe that sex outside the marriage of a man and a woman is sinful, and you sincerely do not.

I could listen to your story but I don't see it as anything other than promoting something that God deemed sinful via both Scripture and tradition. I _know_ that this wounds you deeply, and it grieves me that you are in pain. But I sincerely believe you to be wrong.

How would two such diametric positions come together? I just don't know.

Certainly the nastiness I see on the blogs is nothing but the work of the Devil. No matter how we may disagree we are still sisters and brothers in the Body of Christ and we are called to see Jesus in each other in love.

"Are you really sure you want to adopt our congregationalist Puritan renegades?"

This is one advantage of the authority structure, they pretty much are expected to play by the rules. The other thing is that in order to be received into the Catholic Church they would have to go through RCIA which takes nine months. I suspect that during this time if they could not be docile to our ways they would leave of their own accord.

11/22/2006 2:32 PM  
Blogger muerk said...

Since I wrote I just found out that a friend of mine is going to die. Her cancer of the oesophegus has become terminal. She had fought through operations and chemo and was gaining weight again. We hoped her cancer had been beaten.

I _do_ regard you as my sister in Christ, so please could you pray for her. I know this will deeply affect her children and grandchildren. It's just such sad news.

We live in Christchurch, New Zealand, and her name is Irene Doharty.

If you could say a prayer for her I would be most grateful. Thank you.

11/22/2006 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Muerk --

I have said a prayer for Irene. I pray that God will help guide you and her family gently through your grief. And I pray that Irene's last moments with her friends and family will be blessed with love. Peace be with you...


11/23/2006 10:43 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

In the Narnia Chronicles, Aslan is Christ, the Son of the 'Emperor over the Seas'. He appears at the creation of Narnia (The Magician's Nephew), is 'crucified' and is resurrected (The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe) and He stands at the gates of death to judge those who worship Him and those who don't (The Last Battle).

11/24/2006 9:18 PM  
Blogger muerk said...

Thank you Susan, much appreciated.

11/24/2006 9:32 PM  

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