Thursday, October 18, 2007

When Lisa Questioned the PB

A few of you have noted that two of my questions to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori "made it" to the webcast Tuesday. Let me assure you, I don't have any "pull" or inside track to our church hierarchy. But ENS had issued an appeal for folks to call-in or send questions via e-mail that might be used in the webcast. Knowing I would be at work during the webcast, I simply submitted my questions via e-mail before the event.

In response to some questions that have been asked: Yes, I was delighted that two of my questions got asked back-to-back during the webcast. [For those of you with high-speed connections, they got asked about 37 minutes into it.]

I submitted three questions. The first one was admittedly angry and argumentative. It was essentially a distillation of the one I posed here. It was not used, but I think the Presiding Bishop (sort of) addressed the gist of it in her opening statement.

Here's my amateur transcription of the two questions that were used and of the PB's responses to them.

Jan Nunley [moderator]: This is from Lisa, a parishioner in Grace Church, Jefferson City, Missouri. After the primates' meeting in Tanzania, you called for the church to observe "a season of fasting," and after the House of Bishops meeting you said further that we are all standing in "a crucified place." The questioner says: Would you please explain what sacrifice, fasting, or "crucifixion" non-homosexuals are enduring in the Episcopal Church today and what personal sacrifice have you suffered as a result of the primates' meeting or the action of the House of Bishops?
Katharine Jefferts Schori: That's a very fair question. Personally, what I suffer – the crucifixion I suffer – is not being able to include the fullness of the gifts of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters – that they are not yet able to live those out in all orders of ministry in this church … that their unions are unable to be blessed in most places. And we as a body lose the witness of that commitment.

I will leave it to others to decide whether the Presiding Bishop answered my question. She enjoys her marriage, while faithful gay men and lesbian are denied a blessing on their covenants and while gay men and lesbians receive no counseling or pastoral care that is analogous to what heterosexual couples receive. She carries the bishop's crozier, while our bishops have declared they will allow no other honest gay man or lesbian to be consecrated. She thinks her sadness qualifies as "standing in a crucified place." Well … that is what she believes, that is how she feels. I remain perplexed as to what she has lost or sacrificed. But maybe that's just me. To me, it sounds like a white man in the '60s being really really sad that his black brothers and sisters didn't get to vote, while he still exercises his full privilege. Maybe that's just me. And maybe that's just my anger at her claiming to stand in "a crucified place," when I fail to see her (or any of the supposedly sympathetic, supposedly heterosexual bishops) suffering anything at all.

Mind you, I was impressed at the interview overall. But her talk of "fasting" and "standing in a crucified place" just really, really rankles. Yes, I respect her. But I wish she would drop that "crucifixion" jargon, because it rings very hollow to me.

Jan Nunley [moderator]: This is another question from Lisa. It seems that the loudest voices are more akin to our fundamentalist brothers and sisters in the U.S. than with the heart of Anglicanism, and then she asks: What if any hope do you see on the ground in the "Global South" that might give us all hope for reconciliation or at least détente within the Anglican Communion?
Katharine Jefferts Schori: The very recent CAPA meeting of Anglican leaders in Africa was pretty clear about the need to focus on people who are dying of hunger and disease and to lower the anxiety levels about issues of sexuality because those are not primary issues in most of Africa.

I submitted this question as a "softball." The fact is, many Episcopalians individually and many Episcopal parishes are providing on-the-ground ministry in the "Global South" – even in provinces that claim we Episcopalians are apostate. We are continuing to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, minister to sick. Let us not lose sight of that fact.

Lest I sound too critical, let me add that I am very grateful that our church is beginning to use the Web for broadcasts like this. I was pleased to see our Presiding Bishop engage questions from across the spectrum. I am glad to see our church using this medium. I am delighted to see our Presiding Bishop speak directly to the church, and I think she and Jan Nunley did a very fine job of using this medium.

BTW, surely I am not the only one to observe that none of the Usual Conservative Suspects have so much as mentioned this webcast. Sites like SFiF, T19, and Drell haven't even mentioned that it occurred. I have a hunch it's because they want to pretend that KJS is the Devil(ess) Incarnate, and they don't want their denizens to see her as the thoughtful, real person she is.

In balance, I am grateful for our Presiding Bishop. And I am very, very grateful that she is willing to answer questions from the likes of me. I think this is a positive movement for our church.


Blogger Ann said...

From the "likes of me"?? You are exactly who should be getting answers - faithful, active Episcopalian - if not you - who? I agree - there is no crucified place for the bishops (except Gene) - they are not even standing at the foot of the cross with the faithful women - they are somewhere off in outer space.

10/18/2007 11:06 PM  
Blogger Cranmer49 said...

I agree with Ann. The 'likes of me' is every member of this Episcopal Church that does not wear the Pitiful Purple. And I, too, wish +KJS would stop with the crucifixion talk ... apologize for claiming that metaphor and start using something that likens the bishops to Peter and his denial of Christ. That would be closer to reality. And then they need to read MLK's Letter from the Birmingham Jail.

10/19/2007 3:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What do you feel is the best thing that folks in the church who are not gay can do to show their support of their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters? How can we truly be a support, and bear each other's burdens?

Also, Lisa, you are surely in my prayers. I know that the death of your mom has hit pretty hard.

When my mother died a few years ago, I felt that I had not done enough for her. I regretted every wrong, harsh word said in anger. I wish I had realized that she was that sick, and was there when she died.

But, Lisa, we're all so fallible, and imperfect. Do any of us truly understand, or do enough? We fall short in everyway, all the time.

God remembers our frame, and knows that we're dust. His love and forgiveness are there for us no matter what.

In time, I realized that I had to pick myself up, and move on, do whatever I could for the living , and well, just leave it all in the hands of a merciful, and understanding God.

All of our Lord's peace and blessing, Lisa.


10/20/2007 9:00 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...


I think one of the best ways to do so is to continue to proclaim the pure gospel. We don't hear that much in the echo-chamber of the church, and it is this saving Word whom we need to hear and hear and hear amidst the din of voices. (See my latest post.)

10/20/2007 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, ((Christopher.))) Your post was a blessing.


10/20/2007 8:31 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Ann & Cranmer49, I do feel surprised that the PB would answer questions from "the likes of me." In our church, access was limited to the inner circle. I am pleased that she and TEC are offering to answer questions from the regular folks in the pew.

And like both of you, I think she has made a mistake in claiming that "crucifixion" language. She started in February with that language of "a season of fasting," then followed up after the NOLA meeting by claiming "we are all" "standing in a crucified place." When she can show me what she has lost, I'll hear that crucifixion language more seriously. 'Til then, I really wish she would withdraw it and move along. It rings mighty hollow.

10/20/2007 8:51 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Grace asked: What do you feel is the best thing that folks in the church who are not gay can do to show their support of their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters? How can we truly be a support, and bear each other's burdens?

Grace, that's a good question.

First, I would urge you to speak up when folks in your parish, social circle, or workplace speak in ways that are hateful. In blogs like mine, Jake's, and MadPriest's, you have come to know that gay men and lesbians are not heretics and apostates -- that many of us are struggling to live faithful lives exactly as you are.

Beyond that, I don't know what to wish or ask. It is up to the privileged in our church to decide what if any real sacrifice they can make.

And I am truly grateful for your words of comfort about my mother.

10/20/2007 8:56 PM  
Anonymous Linda McMillan said...

To me, it sounds like a white man in the '60s being really really sad that his black brothers and sisters didn't get to vote, while he still exercises his full privilege. Maybe that's just me.

You are not alone in that.

It was a good question. Way to go Lisa, and thanks.


10/20/2007 10:50 PM  

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