Thursday, June 04, 2009

Blessings Worth Study

Blessed Louie Crew wrote on the HoBD listserv (June 2) [and I quote here with his permission]:

Miguel in the Office of the Presiding Bishop explained to me that it is the decision of the House of Bishops Theology Committee not to reveal the names of those on the sub-committee at this time.

I find that decision an abomination. LGBT in life commitments face huge hostility in this church, and yet those who "study" us need to be secret?!

Perhaps we should also appoint a special committee to study heterosexual marriage but keep the names of the committee a secret.

I grew up in Alabama with such shenanigans about every aspect of my life as a gay person, and whenever our judges met in secret, no lgbt person was safe. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
LOL! Wouldn’t you love to demand a study of the parameters and behaviors of heterosexual marriages in a secret panel? God only knows what that study would reveal about our supposedly heterosexual bishops, clergy, and laity.

Louie’s note prompted me to write this, which a Deputy posted on my behalf to the HoBD list:

So the Bishops have appointed a secret committee to consider the theology related to the blessings of gay/lesbian relationships.

I suggest they take the next logical steps: secret committees to study the theology behind the blessings of dogs, cats, bunny-rabbits, cars, homes, gardens, jewelry. And -- for God's sakes! -- let us be sure they keep all those committee memberships secret!

Lisa Fox
kibitzing from the Diocese of Missouri since 2003

Bishops and clergy bless all manner of things. Animals, cars, homes, gardens, jewelry. Have they deeply contemplated the theological implications behind those blessings? If not, why not? How do they determine which bunny-rabbits are worthy of the Church's blessing? How do they determine which garden warrants blessing? Surely these are Deep Theological Questions.

Why does it require a super-secret Theological Committee – whose members' names are kept secret – to consider the blessing of faithful gay/lesbian Christians’ relationships if all those other blessings don't warrant similar super-secret studies?

I will confess: This one has me livid. Bless my car? No problem. Bless my cats? No problem. Bless the marriage of and consecrate a thrice-divorced bishop? No problem! Bless a faithful relationship between two women or two men, and the bishops have to lock a bunch of theologians into a closet to deliberate about it secretly for two years -- two years! Really! Is this not completely ludicrous? Is the question that theologically complex? Did Rowan terrify all our bishops this badly at Lambeth? Or are they this profoundly homophobic? I am curious. I would like to hear some of our bishops explain what appears to me a very deep, worrisome disconnect.

So far, I have not heard one -- not one! -- bishop step up to the plate to explain why (a) they need to keep the panelists' names secret and (b) why they need two years to study this question. I am waiting. But all I hear is the chirping of crickets.

12 Comments:

Blogger Colin said...

I think, Lisa, that we really have to start wondering whether the institutional church really wants us, notwithstanding the nice trite sayings. The behaviour says something else entirely, and is, I believe sub-Christian.

6/04/2009 2:35 AM  
Blogger James said...

It seems to me that the Presiding Bishop, in her capacity as the presiding officer of the House of Bishops, could (should) simply release the names.

However, I doubt the PB will do that. Bishop Griswold's last action and her first action as presiding-bishop elect at General Convention in 2006 was to twist the collective arms of the House of Deputies into adopting B033 which effectively rescinded the House's action from the previous evening.

As my partner has opined many times as we head toward GC 2009: 'They will sell us out again--they always do.'

6/04/2009 10:21 AM  
Blogger Caminante said...

As I said in the public narrative training at Province I's gathering in April: at some point or another, General Convention wakes up and says, 'Wait, we haven't kicked the LBGT community in the gut yet.' It happened in 1997, 2000, 2003, 2006 (the GCs to which I have been deputy).

For myself, I still hope that by agitating from within, it might help those who are without. At least in 2000, 2003 and 2006, my partner and I were the one OUT couple on the floor of the HOD and we got to speak to that reality in 2003.

6/04/2009 11:23 AM  
Blogger Christopher said...

This represents a real failure of pastoral care on the part of our bishops, nice words not withstanding. I would suggest, given this sort of pattern, that our Church culture is in need of some repentance and conversion of "habits, behaviors, ideas, and emotions".

I for one will refuse to cooperate with this pattern of behavior, a pattern that has done a lot of harm to lgbt persons. For the sake of those who still find themselves trapped by such patterns, we who do not must bear witness to integrity, honest, and transparency.

6/04/2009 3:48 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

My letter to the bishops.

6/04/2009 5:13 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

God help me, Colin! I wonder that myself ... more often than I want to admit. :(
Fortunately, I have a good rector and bishop ... but I share your question about the "institutional" church.

6/05/2009 1:14 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

Where the rubber hits the road, Lisa, is when you don't have a good rector or bishop. You can find yourself unwelcome really quickly - I did, in one of the largest dioceses in Australia. My parish was very welcoming, but we went from having an archbishop who was very friendly to one who was not. Everything changed, because we were subject to his personal whims.

I'm not arguing for change in the institution, so much, anymore, but for death of the institution, I think. But I realise that is an argument for another time and place, and I don't want to hijack your posts!

6/05/2009 1:21 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

James, I haven't looked at the constitution and canons, but I suspect that our Presiding Bishop doesn't have that power. Remember that our C&Cs limit the powers of our Presiding Bishop.

But your larger point is more to the point. She and Bishop Griswold (apparently with Rowan Williams at the other end of the cell phone) conspired to manipulate the House of Deputies at the end of GC06. My trust and confidence are weakened. And they are much weaker today than they were a week ago.

I wish I knew whether this latest travesty was just +Parsley's ... or his in league with his little secret panel ... or whether he had strong support from the entire House of Bishops. If the latter ... then I think it's going to be a very, very ugly GC09.

6/05/2009 1:23 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Oh, Caminante, that is so poignant ... and rings true from what I'm hearing about the GC's attitude toward "teh gay." :(

I am astonished by your comment about being the only "out" couple. We need more. Many, many more with your courage, integrity, and heart.

Thank God you will be in the House!!!

6/05/2009 1:26 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I agree, Christopher, with your comments about pastoral care.

In case it matters: I saved your liturgy for binding with your partner. I pray someday I will be able to use it with a beloved partner.

Parsley is an idiot if he didn't put you on the super-duper-secret panel. .... Oh wait. I could have shortened that sentence by 9 words.

6/05/2009 1:29 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Oh, Christopher! Your letter!! I'm going to bump it.

Well said, my brother. And thank you.

6/05/2009 1:40 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I know that, Colin. I absolutely know it. For most of my life, I was in progressive urban cities. Now I am in a rural, conservative area. It is just dumb luck that I moved to a little town that has an enlighted rector and supportive bishop. If I were elsewhere, I would probably not be in the Episcopal Church. :(

6/05/2009 1:44 AM  

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