Friday, October 05, 2007

What +Missouri Said

Last night, I could merely post my bishop's statement. I was too weary to offer much commentary. Tonight, I will try to be a little more evaluative about what the Bishop of Missouri – my bishop – said to the people of this diocese.

The bishop of Missouri says:
Some few of these visitors took the trouble, as friends will do, to show, point-by-point, what clarification might look like.
As I understand it, the chief attack came from the Archbishop of the Middle East, who excoriated our church, pronouncing us barely – if at all – Christian. If this is Bishop Smith's view of "friends" who offered clarification, then God save us from our enemies. And now, after the bishops' meeting, he has gone even further – claiming that our church has done nothing to seek a closer walk with the Anglican Communion.

My bishop notes that the House of Bishops resolution passed with only one dissenting vote. I keep wanting to know: Were the dissidents like Duncan, Iker, et al in that meeting? I have heard conflicting reports. Matt Kennedy's live-blogging in the final session attributed some comments to Duncan. Others declare that the Duncan crowd left New Orleans when Archbishop Rowan Williams. So … were they there or not? Did they, too, vote for the "compromise" that passed the House of Bishops with only Bishop Bennison voting no?

My bishop wrote: "More important for me is the fact that the House of Bishops, a place of rather sharp division, even fractiousness, in the recent past, has worked to find ways to move toward one another. This is no small miracle."
I would like to hear a bit more explanation. The "liberal" bishops agreed that they would not consent to any gay/lesbian candidates to the episcopate. The "liberals" agreed not to authorize any liturgies for the blessing of same-sex covenants. The liberals claimed that gay men and lesbians are "full and equal members" of the Body of Christ, deserving of civil – but not ecclesial – rights, while moving us no further toward that equality.

So, it looks to me like the liberals gave, and gave, and gave, and caved. Was there any principle – aside from a call for civil [not ecclesial] rights for gay men and lesbians – that the "liberals" upheld? And would somebody please tell me anything – any point – on which the conservatives ceded any ground at all? Maybe there was some, but I can't see it in the bishops' statement from New Orleans.

My bishop wrote: "I cannot envision the work ahead as a choice, either gays and lesbians or Communion." But isn't that precisely what he and the other bishops did? They caved in to the U.S. neocons and the Global South rather than saying that we gay/lesbian Episcopalians are truly beloved members of the church. Oh, sure, they called that we get the same kind of human rights that the U.N. urges all people should have. But what right to pastoral care within the church did our bishops defend with any vigor? I cannot find a single one.

My bishop wrote: "I write you as one filled with hope, in the aftermath of this recent meeting. My desire, in writing to you, is that I convey some small measure of that hope to you." For the life of me, I still do not understand what hope he found in the New Orleans statement. What hope does he think I can glean from that statement? What hope is he offering to the gay men and lesbians in this diocese? Yes, I hear this loud and clear: He now has the hope of getting to Lambeth. But what hope is he offering to the gay men and lesbians in this diocese?

Finally, I cannot help observing this: By the time my bishop got around to writing to our diocese, the dissidents had already met in Pittsburgh, seeking to forge their Church of the Common Cause Partners [CCCP]. Thus, my bishop surely knew by October 2 that everything the bishops did in New Orleans had been rejected by the dissidents. How can he miss the fact that everything he and his colleagues accomplished in New Orleans has been dismissed by the neocons? How can he not grieve over how he betrayed us in his ill-conceived effort to placate the schismatics? In his shoes, I do not know how I would be able to hold my head up.

Many Episcopalians in our church (in the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, San Joaquin, Quincy) are going to be sacrificed … or so it seems to me. My bishop claims that he is "filled with hope." Exactly what hope is he – or our national leadership – offering to the loyal Episcopalians in those schismatic dioceses?

Ya know what? I have a hunch that we bloggers have a much better picture of what's really happening in our church than do the bishops who sit in their cathedrals and diocesan offices. And that makes me profoundly sad.

12 Comments:

Blogger Sue "Sioux" Seibert said...

I believe that my bishop (Iker) stayed only until the ABC had left. You see, there is no point in staying longer when the H of B had decided to stray from tradition and Christian belief. Being an Episcopalian and being a Christian are now two separate things. The Diocese of Fort Worth and those other dioceses you named have pledged to stand by the Bible and what it says. That's really the pure and simple of it, and I stand proudly with my bishop.

10/06/2007 10:16 AM  
Blogger StLouisJohn said...

Being an Episcopalian and being a Christian are now two separate things.

What tripe. Frankly, if being a Christian, and being in the Anglican Communion, means consorting to what we have heard from the conservative side -- count me out, I want no part of a people or God who deems such proper.

Lisa, I'm still pondering and digesting what +George Wayne is saying here. Myself, and my opinion only, I saw the letter as a "holding pattern" more than any action.

And being put on hold stinks. But this thing isn't over yet. Lambeth and General Convention are looming, and that is where I think it's going to play out even further. Personally, I don't think the HoB is going to do anything alone -- there's safety in numbers, and if they do anything, it has to be with the laity -- and that means General Convention.

The conservatives, eventually, are going to have to sh*t or get off the post and make good on their threats of walking out. With Lambeth looming, the time is nigh to do so. If they don't make the big break by then, they will have shown themselves to be another set of church relics blowing hot air.

Peace and prayer,

John

10/06/2007 12:33 PM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

To all who think of leaving: you must do as you think best. But remember, the church, since its very beginning, has been corrupt, because it consists of and is lead by sinful human beings. It was ever thus. There was no such entity as a pure church - ever. There was no such time that the church manifested the perfect Kingdom of God on earth.

Through the ages Christians have followed the radical call of the Gospel to follow Jesus within the church, and sometimes despite the church. The choice is up to you.

You can go, but you will no more have a pure church than the Episcopal Church is a pure church.

I think of St. Francis of Assisi, who encountered many difficulties within his own church, but followed the call of Jesus Christ anyway and lived the life of a saint.

Again, whether you follow the radical call of Jesus Christ is not up to the church; it is up to you.

10/06/2007 7:22 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Grandmère, you are a delightful gift to our church. I am thankful for your perspective. And you're absolutely right.

Are you responding to StLouisJohn's initial comment? I heard it negatively at first, then I realized he was responding to Sue Sioux above. (She is one of the more vociferous voices from the Principality of Fort Worth.)

I found Sue's comments too silly to warrant a response, but am grateful to John for having the energy and patience to do so.

Rest assured, neither StLouisJohn nor I am contemplating a departure from this church. When I saw his comment today, I was delighted to follow the link to his blog and discover he has fairly recently and happily rejoined TEC. And he's the first layperson blogger I've discovered from my diocese.

Welcome, John!

And thanks for watching over us, Grandmère.

10/06/2007 7:47 PM  
Blogger Cranmer49 said...

"The Diocese of Fort Worth and those other dioceses you named have pledged to stand by the Bible and what it says."

Someone needs to tell our sister in Ft. Worth that neither her diocese nor any of the others you named actually stand by the Bible and what it says. She can stand proudly with her little bishop all she wants, but the least she can do is be honest about her selective appropriation of Biblical text. Until she can say that she believes and encourages following all of Leviticus 20:13, not just part of it, then her claim of standing by the Bible is empty. I won't even begin to talk about the rest of Leviticus.

Like so many other so-called literalists or "Bible believers", her words about standing by the Bible and what it says are worthless and untrue. Not even Jesus read the Hebrew scriptures literally. But then he was Jewish so what he did and said probably doesn't count. Right, Ms. Seibert?

And that's really the pure and simple of it.

10/06/2007 8:15 PM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

Lisa, it was a rant, and a response to Sue, and, in a way, a response to those on "our" side who think of leaving.

I see no hindrance within our imperfect church that prevents me from following the Gospel. The powers-that-be may not do what I would like them to, but I am free to follow Our Lord.

I need to be part of a worshiping community. Perhaps others do not. There is no perfect church. There is no pure church.

Thanks for letting me vent. Sometimes I get so sick of the whole mess that we humans have made of everything, that I have to let loose. Sue's comment set me off, and you bear the brunt of my rant. Sorry.

10/06/2007 9:06 PM  
Blogger StLouisJohn said...

Hey there, Lisa! It's great to connect with you! Thanks for the good comments on my blog. And a major big thanks for all your work in Oasis!

I've wondered how many of us in the Diocese of Missouri have blogs...could be interesting.

Rest assured, neither StLouisJohn nor I am contemplating a departure from this church.

AMEN!

Peace and prayer!

John

10/06/2007 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Linda McMillan said...

You are right SSS does not merit a comment. It is sad to see how far afield Jack Iker has led his flock.

I think this is a good piece of commentary Lisa. Thank you.

Lindy

10/06/2007 10:28 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I'm going to put several comments into this one.

God bless you, Cranmer 49, for giving the lie to those who pretend they follow "the faith once delivered." You said more than I could have.

Grandmère, I am beginning to think that the time is at hand for the Christians to disassociate themselves from the rabid Christianists. Like you, I have a fervent need to be part of a worshipping community at least each Sunday. Every time, it humbles me and feeds me. I cannot imagine myself apart from this community.

Thanks for the further comment, StLouisJohn. I would like to identify those in our diocese who are blogging. Go for it!

And thanks, Linda (and Rowan too!). We are lucky in the Diocese of Missouri. We have very few of the rabid conservatives here. We have disagreements, but we are the Episcopal Church in this place.

Thank you all for dropping in. I am truly grateful.

10/06/2007 10:38 PM  
Blogger Hilary said...

Tomorrow is our turn for the Bishop's visit (Emmanuel in Webster Grooves, er, Groves). He's also speaking at the adult forum - should be interesting.

We had our Cottage Meeting (code for Tithe Drive) last week and I was honestly encouraged to hear my fellow church members talk about their happiness at the more specific nature of the prayers offered at the Prayers of the People, and their desire reflect on Jesus' teachings more deeply and act on them accordingly.

I think I've only posted here one time previously, but that post too had a pollyanna-ish nature to it IIRC. But my church *is* growing and when I look at the backs of the heads in the pews in front of me on Sunday mornings and see people of all ages and stages all there together, well it makes me happy. Because, I think that perhaps (like me), they go to church - this church - to stand up as a strong voice against those duplicit and divisive voices. And I hope and pray that that's at least part of the reason those people are there too.

10/07/2007 1:41 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hilary, thanks for your comment.

I am beginning to settle down. However much the House of Bishops statment -- and our bishop's letter -- ticked me off, I was reminded at church today of how much I love my parish and my fellow parishioners. We go on being the Church, no matter what any bishop might say. In my parish: that's where I grow and find nurture.

Thanks for the reminder, Hilary.

10/07/2007 7:54 PM  
Blogger Barbi Click said...

Another voice from Fort Worth...to offset the voice of SSS...she is not an Episcopalian, has not been for a long time, and I have not ever read anything from her that sounds "Christ"like (aka Christian). Therefore, how would Sue know what either Episcopalian or Christian means? I still have a difficult time understanding just which Bible her bishop and she use...
thanks to the rest of you (and Sue too for proving the point) for keeping Fort Worth in your prayers and out in front. No longer can Jack Leo Iker be considered "the Diocese of Fort Worth" because he is not by his own declaration of intention. Sue, too, best wishes and God's peace. we will welcome you back whenever you decide that the church of nigeria or uganda or wherever you choose is not exactly what you had in mind.

10/07/2007 8:08 PM  

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