Friday, July 10, 2009

To Whom Shall We Go?

I know it’s way too early in the General Convention schedule to begin looking toward the closing gavel and the days beyond. But I cannot help it, for I am distressed by what I am not hearing from our bishops.

Every blog I read – even the extremely conservative ones – believes that the House of Deputies is ready to move beyond B033. At least ready to reject it. Maybe just by restating our canons (that there be no discrimination) and rejecting extra-canonical restraints. Perhaps even to call for development of rites for same-sex blessings or even marriages.

But that’s the clergy and laypeople in the House of Deputies.

I am sensing different and worrisome rumblings from the House of Bishops. Bloggers are observing that very few bishops are attending hearings and speaking on behalf of the various measures that would reject B033 or move our church beyond it.

Gene Robinson has bravely written more on his blog on Thursday:

We also had a disturbing private (no one in the gallery) conversation in the House of Bishops that led me to feel discouraged about what lies ahead. That conversation is private, so I can't detail it, but there seems to be a kind of belligerent attitude toward the House of Deputies by some of our bishops. Their vision of the episcopate is way too "high and mighty" for my taste, or my theology, and I am not happy about it. The last thing we bishops need is a larger measure of arrogance. Didn't Jesus save his most serious criticism for the religious powers-that-be of his day who lorded their power and position over others?
and today:


One alarming thing about last night's hearing was the fact that there were almost NO bishops present. Other than those on the committee (who HAD to be there), there were only five bishops present: Andrus (California), Beckwith (Newark) and myself, arguing for moving forward; Love (Albany) and Lawrence (South Carolina) arguing for continuing B033. Other than these, NO bishop was present to hear the two hours of voices from the Church appealing for progress.

I fear (and I hope I'm not being overly dramatic here) that we are moving toward a train wreck between the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. I sense an unwillingness among the bishops to listen to these voices of the laity and clergy. I hope I'm terribly wrong, but it seems that bishops feel they have some special access to God's will and nothing will persuade them otherwise. I shutter to think of a church where the Bishops are so disconnected from the will of the people they serve. Please God, let me be terribly wrong about this perception, and may the scales fall from my pessimistic eyes and reveal an episcopate who has listened to the Spirit's movement in the people of this Church. Nothing would make me happier than to be wrong about this. Only time will tell.
Coming into this General Convention, the conservative bloggers were saying that “all is lost” – that TEC would move ahead on what they see as a dreadful course.

Now, I am confronting the fact that about 110 diocesan bishops may stonewall the issue and stand against the strong will (perhaps even a super-majority) of the 880 deputies. Remember, I suggested that back here on June 3. The bishops let Parsley establish a super-duper secret committee to study the theology of same-sex relationships … with a due date of 2011 for that report. I now grow more concerned that “the fix was in” long before the bishops and deputies arrived in Anaheim.

Now … I invite you to think with me. What will you do if the Deputies and Bishops come down on opposite sides?

It seems likely the Deputies may come down overwhelmingly in support of faithful LGBT Christians, and the bishops will come firmly down against us. I recognize that’s a short-hand way of putting the issue. It seems to me that the Deputies may … recognize that Scripture does not forbid the faithful relationships we experience … see and perceive the blessedness within same-sex relationships … see the need for the church to participate in our covenants … see that faithful Christians may serve (and, in fact, already are serving) in all orders (as bishops, deacons, and priests) in our church.

And the bishops – some of whom personally see the same thing –notwithstanding all that – may decide to block any action for the sake of the Anglican Unity Tea they drank at Lambeth.

Make no mistake: If the House of Bishops block the action of the House of Deputies, they will be telling me personally that they care more for the Archbishops of Nigeria, Uganda, etc. than they are about me. Yes, I will take it personally.

The effect would be the blockade of any action of the Deputies by the House of Bishops. In our bicameral structure, the Bishops have that power. They can block any action of the House of Deputies.

What will you do if that happens?

I will find myself profoundly conflicted.

Because I love my parish, find great communion in my diocese, and love my bishop, I will be tempted to “suck it in” and continue to remain in place within my place in my Episcopal parish. Chastened, distanced, and profoundly sad. Hoping for the next General Convention, when perhaps things might change. I don’t know that I will have the heart to do that.

And I will be tempted to quit the Episcopal Church once and for all … as I did during my “sabbatical from TEC” in July 2006, after B033. If the bishops of TEC choose schismatic bullies like Akinola over me, then I will have to look elsewhere. I do not want to be “tolerated” or “accepted on sufferance.” I recognize what I experienced back in 2006: that no other church has the theology and liturgy that drew me to TEC. I tried them all: Romans, UCC, Disciples, ELCA. In this part of the world, they are all spooky-conservative and/or liturgically impoverished. Having made those explorations in 2006, I know I won’t find another church home in this place. I’ll just join the increasing number of Americans who worship at St. Arbucks on Sundays.

I love this church. The Episcopal Church has challenged me again and again to wrestle with my baptismal covenant and forces me – Sunday after Sunday – to consider whether I am living the holiness of life personally and in community. If I have to leave this church, it will be as painful as the most painful divorce.

But I don’t see how I can remain in a church that officially declares me and my faith dispensable. And I fear the bishops are about to do exactly that.

What about you? What are you all thinking you will do if the bishops choose to maintain the status quo?



31 Comments:

Blogger Paul said...

Lisa, I feel the same way you do - a mixture of dread in the context of my profound sense of being Episcopalian. I have already come to the point where I actively wish for the decent burial of the Anglican Communion. I do not wish to renounce my orders but the only vows I regularly renew are my baptismal ones. All the rest is subsidiary to that. I am Christ's own for ever. Everything else is negotiable.

7/10/2009 11:06 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Paul, I am grateful for your comment .. and profoundly humbled by it.

Yes, I am "pre-dreading" the outcome.

And more and more, I coming to think it would be a good thing if we could bury the idol that is the Anglican Communion.

But the notion of your renouncing your orders is totally unacceptable, Paul. You are a priest and pastor to many of us. I'd love you no matter what. But I want you to have that collar.

7/10/2009 11:20 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

There are two points that would tend to support your observation, Lisa:

1. The bishops went to Lambeth. The clergy and laity were excluded. Only the bishops were subjected to all of the heavy handing lobbying of the Anglican Communion, something the AC may regret later on.

2. There are some fascinating polls coming out on attitudes toward homosexuality. Age and sex turn out to be strong predictors of attitude, and the strongest opponents of gay rights are males over 50. Does this sound like the House of Bishops to you? (I cite this one with some trepidation, since I have to believe that our bishops have spent more thoughtful and prayerful time wrestling with these issues than the typical poll respondent. Still, none of us are without our prejudices.)

I hope that three days and several voluntary hearings make this judgement premature. We shall see.

Paul M
(a different Paul)

7/11/2009 12:17 AM  
Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

Well, Lisa, I will start by sounding a bit Buddhist here. I am (slowly) learning that I have to divorce myself from "expectations". I am (slowly) teaching my self that I have to respond to God's will and what others do (right or wrong) in God's name has nothing to do with it. So in that sense, there are a lot of "expectations" floating around on both sides about BO33.

Now with that said, I have learned one thing: Staying put in the face of oppression always makes a stronger statement than leaving. Eventually, with leaving...well..."out of sight, out of mind." But simply staying means this will NOT go away.

I often think about the "class composite photos" of the various classes at my alma mater, the University of Missouri School of Medicine. In the 1960's there were like no more than 5 women in a class of approximately 100-115. It was not until the late 1990's that an entering class had >50% women.

Where would those 60 women be, if those one to five women in the classes of the 1960's had not stayed put? How many MORE decades would it have taken? What do the women of the class of 2010 not only enjoy, but take for granted, on the backs of those women who endured blatant abuse and discrimination?

How many more decades would the decision of this week have been postponed if not for Stonewall, or Matthew Shepard?

Believe me, what you are going through is NOT right and it's NOT fair. But 40 years from now, I believe there will be young GLBT folks who will blissfully take parts of their life for granted because of what you agonize and weep over now. Some of what you do now, to stand in the gap in the face of oppression, is for people who aren't even born yet.

Then I think of the ultimate "what if?" What if the fully human part of Jesus had won out and he had left a note for the disciples that said, "Took the money. Took the stuff. Took Mary Magdalene. Sorry"? Where would you and I and everyone else who reads this blog be? Maybe we would have had to wait on Schlomo of Nazareth to be born 750 years later, when God decided to give it another try with that "Son of God" business. Maybe we wouldn't even have had the Reformation yet.

I painfully realize you are being asked to go through a process that has the potential to mortally wound you, and barely scratch me. But who knows how many people who aren't even conceived yet will be affected by what you already do at Grace in Jeff City. Hell, you might even be "Lisa, the minor prophet of Cole County" and don't even know it yet!

As Paul said, you are Christ's own forever. There is no outcome at GC that can change that...and you can take that one to the bank.

You are in my prayers as this whole soap opera plays out to whatever conclusion it reaches.

7/11/2009 12:26 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

What you describe in your perceptive post is the reality for Anglican LGBT people here in Australia. Our polity is slightly different - we have a 'weak' General Synod (equivalent to your General Convention) with three houses - bishops, clergy and laity, and strong diocesan synods. A resolution, however well-meaning, that was passed at our General Synod, would have no life until passed by the diocesan synods.

Anyway - the deal here about how to treat (marginalise) LGBT people in Australia happened in a closed meeting of the bishops. Not even at General Synod. Those like me who are in 'friendly' dioceses, are 'lucky' as we're 'allowed' to minister in some lay capacities. However, we realise that, as the bishop gives the licence, the bishop can take away the licence. A change in politics, a change in bishop could lead me to being unwelcome very quickly.

I think, though, it bears pointing out that your Episcopal Church and my Anglican Church are episopally led institutions, and as such the power will always reside there. I suspect projecting democrating ideals onto the system will only lead to frustrations. I would like it to be otherwise, but it isn't.

If we want change I think we need to start to live it, and not wait for the institution to allow us to have it, because it won't do that if it will cause damage to the fabric of the institution - the ways we set things up (constitutions, political frameworks) are intended to prevent such damage from happening - they're intended to maintain institutional integrity and the hegemony of the leaders. The institution and the Body of Christ are not necessarily the same thing...

7/11/2009 1:08 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Lisa,

I believe that the Holy Spirit is calling The Episcopal Church to create a liturgy that will bless same gender marriages and ordain Gays and Lesbians in committed, faithful same gender relationships as bishops, priests and deacons if the church calls those individuals to serve.

As a Gay man, it seems that the situation we are in now is similar to the situation that women who felt called to Holy Orders were in during the 1970s. They knew that the Holy Spirit was calling them and many others in the church knew that they were being called, but from what I understand the House of Bishops blocked attempts by the House of Deputies to ordain women. My history may be wrong on this.
My point is, even if, and at this point it still is if, the House of Bishops does block the House of Deputies from moving ahead with these things, they will happen eventually because the Holy Spirit wants them to happen. I truly believe that time, or better still, The Holy Spirit is on our side. Some of our Brothers or Sisters in Christ in the House of Bishops may temporarily block a marriage liturgy and/or ordination for some Gays and Lesbians but like the ordination of women it will happen. I am sure that there were those at one time who thought that something like the ordination that you recently served at(in Christ Church Cathedral) would never happen because the candidate was a women but it did happen because the Holy Spirit wanted it to happen. Thank God for the women who stayed in the church even when they felt VERY discouraged and insulted by the attitudes of some of their Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
Lisa, you are a Christian and you belong in church on Sunday worshipping God with your Sisters and Brothers and receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus with them.
Go to St.Arbucks before the Eucharist or after it!

In Christ,

Greg Lynch

7/11/2009 2:31 AM  
Blogger Kirkepiscatoid said...

Greg brings up a good point. I have no clue about what will happen at GC, but I sense a "momentum". It is more momentum than I sense three years ago. I also think that momentum is the Holy Spirit. But I do not know when it will punch through the turbulence. My crystal ball sucks.

Sure, it's easy for us in "the majority" to ask the minority to "hang on a little longer and tough it out." But I am also a person who has a tendency to protect my friends, even when they don't need protection, and for me to ask my friends to "be out in the unprotected open" is not my usual pattern...so I recognize this is something "bigger than me."

I'm also a person who never asks someone to do what I wouldn't do myself. I don't know what I'd do in your shoes. But I do know I have a tendency that if my staying put and not leaving has the potential to piss people off I don't care for...well...um, I admit to working hard at annoying my cousin's ex when I see her, b/c she can't stand me...(wink)

But seriously, I believe in my heart I would eventually do what God asks me to do. Perhaps do it with trepidation, twisting and turning, but my pattern in the last few years is "I'd do what God asks of me, no matter how much it might seem to suck." My experience has been it has sucked less than my worse fears at the very least, and been a blessing at the most.

I am simply praying you and God can sit and work out what is to be worked out for you.

7/11/2009 7:49 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

I grumble, I rant, I fantasize, I pray, and I am a person of incredible inertia. I stuck it out the 16 years it took me to get ordained and I have never left the church. So I don't think anyone should worry about me. I also grew up in the years of Dr. King and have believed for almost half a century in civil disobedience. In other words, I expect to remain a thorn in the side of the church and one of its exotic roses. My commitment is to God and God's world and Gospel. I find the Church several sizes too small, like pants from a decade ago. In many ways I have outgrown it. But the analogy is imperfect and I have not left it. Nor do I plan to. I am keeping my canonical residency in California. Nice to see Bp. Marc working on our behalf.

7/11/2009 8:27 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for the wise words, the loving support, and for sharing the pain that many of you, too, feel.

I need to do some errands and things around the house. I'll try to get online later with more substantive responses.

You all are wonderful. I am blessed.

7/11/2009 2:32 PM  
Blogger WilliamK said...

Lisa,
First, thanks for the honesty of your thoughts. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who thinks about "jumping ship" in situations like this.

I wasn't baptized in an Anglican Church, and my formative christian identity was 'non-episcopal,' essentially 'congregationalist.' But, when I joined the Episcopal Church, I was 'received' by a bishop who I believe stands in the Apostolic Succession. So, for me at least, if I find myself frustrated with our bishops, I'll have to decide whether I'm really ready to give up my committment to episcopacy... am I so fed up with bishops that I would decide to return to my non-episcopal roots, and go to, say, the UCC, which is strongly rooted in the historic congregationalist rejection of episcopacy? Right now, I don't know. My sense is that all I'm experiencing right now is a "gut" dislike of what our bishops seem to be doing and not of the actual institution of episcopacy. And then I think about +Gene Robinson, and how he serves (KEY WORD!) as a bishop... and I'm reminded why I became an Episcopalian in the first place.

Thanks for reading my ramble....

7/11/2009 4:23 PM  
Blogger Malcolm+ said...

Last month on Simple Massing Priest I posted about the leadership candidate I was working for. At the end of the day, he finished second.

I don't know what you should do, Lisa. Nor Paul, nor Colin, nor Greg, nor William.

I want to share with you Ryan's concession speech from the convention.

And I want to say, we need you now more than ever.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myYT_jHmSXc&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fryanmeili%2Eca%2F&feature=player_embedded

7/11/2009 4:37 PM  
Blogger renzmqt said...

::hugs:: Lisa, perhaps you will need to take another sabbatical during which you can read some books, mediate, do the St. Arbucks thing...and then return to your church home.

What saddens me the most (I think) is that from both sides I hear if it doesn't go the way that I want it to go, I'm out of here.

There have always been gay bishops and there will always (God willing) continue to be gay bishops. As in the military, the distinction we are actually arguing about is "openness."

As for blessing "marriages" - I long ago decided that the true blessing of the union comes from the love that radiates from the couple to their friends and family and beyond. My coupled friends don't need some official church authority to make their union "more."

Openly gay bishops and priests and liturgically blessed relationships would be wonderful. However, women were first allowed to be ordained what 30+ years ago? And there are still parts of the country where that has been argued over.

This is still a very new issue in many regards. Our exponential culture expects bigger and faster change. Too rapid change at this point can explode this church and there are serious cracks in the foundation.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't feel bitterly disappointed. Just saying you should think about not throwing the baby out with the bath water. ::hugs again::

7/11/2009 5:24 PM  
Blogger Jim Cowan said...

Lisa,
Blessings from a gay brother in the Diocese of Texas. I just got back from Anaheim, exhausted. My answer to your question is that I am going to keep working at the parish where I serve on the vestry, continue being in loving and honest relationship with my friend my bishop (who blogged today that he would vote against blessing unions and moving past BO33), and continue my work with our Integrity chapter to bring full inclusion to our diocese. Bishops are not the church; they serve the church. In this church, the body has made it abundantly clear in the last few days that we believe that God blesses all his children with holy relationships and holy callings. I wish you could have been in the room when Barbara preached and Gene celebrated. I wish you could have attended the hearings where a young woman begged our church to move past BO33 and told of her gay friend who killed himself because he could no longer tolerate living a world that would not accept him. I wish you could have been there when another young woman explained that her Irish Catholic family never understood her sexuality, but immediately knew to respond with joy and support when she announced that she and her girlfriend were engaged to be married. I wish you could have seen people of all sorts and conditions willing to repent our church's delay in fully including all in the Church's embrace--the grace, the passion, the humor, the creativity, the beauty. It was a quite a sight to behold and a song to hear. The bishops are not the Church. The Church is the people I watched for the last few days passionately responding "yes" to the clear invitation of Jesus for all. We are beloved, and we are truly Christ's own. And our church knows it and proclaims it and grieves its tardiness. The bishops are not the church. The grave couldn't stop Jesus. A bunch of folks in purple don't stand a chance when the Body of Christ follows its Head and its Heart.
Love,
Jim
P.S. You are a hero to many. Thank you for your witness.

7/12/2009 6:33 PM  
Blogger Jim Cowan said...

Yikes everybody, I made a typo. I meant "we believe that God blesses all GOD'S children with holy relationships and holy callings." Apologies. I'm a work in progress.

7/12/2009 6:38 PM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

The Rt. Reverend Barbara Harris held my head in her hands and blessed my commitment to this church. In the person of that tiny, feisty woman, I saw up-close-and-personal what a commitment to opening the door to the Holy Spirit can do.

I am straight, but I will not rest until my LGBT sisters and brothers have access to ALL the sacraments. Because I believe that *is* the Gospel, and the only way to preach that Good News is to stay and keep shouting it from the roof top.

I'm happy to retire to St. Arbuck's after the service to pray, laugh, critique the sermon, and strategize though.... ;-)

Pax,
Doxy

7/12/2009 8:02 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Malcolm, thanks for the link to that speech. Quite inspiring. He's right, I suspect. One much keep working for what one believes is right and true.

7/12/2009 10:12 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Jim, I've read about the events and the statements you describe. I had hoped to be in Anaheim, and I'm delighted you were there. The Integrity service sounded wonderful, and Bishop Barbara's sermon was a barnburner.

Keep marching in the light of God, eh? I expect to marching there with you.

7/12/2009 10:16 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Doxy, I'm with you about Bishop Harris. When/how did that happen? I haven't received a blessing like that. But I've received the Eucharist from her. I do declare the Holy Spirit has got a-hold of that woman!

Thank you for your own commitment and feistiness on this matter.

I do hope we get to share coffee and FTF time one of these days.

7/12/2009 10:21 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I was inspired by my friend Karen's comment on Facebook regarding this post. She wrote: "I once asked one of the Philadelphia ordinands how she could stay in the church. Her response: 'I have to.'" That touched me, and is in synch with what I hear most of you saying here.

I did pull out my "My manner of life ..." t-shirt from 2006 and wore it to church today (under the cassock and surplice).

God willing, I'll keep marchin' along with all y'all.

7/12/2009 10:41 PM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

I reaffirmed my commitment to the Episcopal Church in the spring of 2004, and Bishop Harris was serving as the Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of Washington. She came to my parish to do confirmation, reception, and reaffirmation.

It was a great, and holy, day for me. :-)

It will be another great day when I get to hang out with you!

Cheers,
Doxy

7/12/2009 11:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Sounds like there much be quite a story there, Doxy. Have you written about it on your blog? I'm intrigued.

Y'know ... my confirmation was holy. I swear something did happen when the bishop laid hands on me. If it had been +Barbara, I fear my head might have exploded. ;-)

Ditto on the prospects of hanging out!

7/12/2009 11:04 PM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

I haven't written that story--but maybe I will, if I ever finish The Project that Would Not Die. ;-)

7/12/2009 11:37 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Sounds like both you and Jane are in Project Hell. :(

I would love to hear the story.

7/12/2009 11:46 PM  
Blogger Catherine S. said...

Just out of curiosity, have you considered that there are people on the other end of this issue who could say almost the exact same thing you did? To wit:
Make no mistake: If the House of Bishops does not block the action of the House of Deputies, they will be telling me personally – just as the House of Deputies has *already* told me personally – that they care more for Integrity, the LGBT lobby, etc., than they do about me. Yes, I will take it personally. They will also be saying that they care more for a portion of TEC than they do for the rest of the Anglican Communion – and yes, the rest of the Communion will take it personally, too.

… I will be tempted to “suck it in” and remain in my Episcopal parish. Chastened, distanced, and profoundly sad. …

And I will be tempted to quit the Episcopal Church once and for all… If the bishops of TEC, like the Deputies, choose schismatic bullies over me, then I will have to look elsewhere. I do not want to be “tolerated” or “accepted on sufferance.”

I love this church. … If I have to leave this church, it will be as painful as the most painful divorce.

But I don’t see how I can remain in a church that officially declares me and my faith dispensable. And I fear the bishops are about to do exactly that – and the Deputies already have.

7/15/2009 5:22 PM  
Blogger Catherine S. said...

Mind you, I’m not saying I’d leave TEC – as I said before, in a different thread, I can’t even begin to imagine discussing my faith without being able to say, “I’m an Episcopalian.” (It would be almost like not being able to say, “I’m an American,” or “I’m a woman.” These are all such basic, essential parts of me – such an integral part of my foundation – that I can’t really conceive of myself without them.)

Because, you see, I absolutely understand what you are saying and why you are saying it. I think I can imagine how I would feel, were I in your place (that is, to the extent that anyone can really put themselves in someone else’s shoes – though I do have a pretty good imagination, if I do say so myself).

But my point is that I haven’t really seen much recognition on the “left” – I’m getting tired at the end of a long day, so I’m going for easy short-cuts now – that those on the “right” might feel similarly, or even that they might have any reason to feel that way.

7/15/2009 5:31 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Catherine S., I do get the point of your comment at 5:22 PM. But hear this, too: I've never been one who wants to kick conservatives out of our church. I fear you are projecting onto me views that I have never had.

In my parish, I live and worship with people who would like to see people like me kicked out of our church. I'm not one of those.

Catherine, I don't know how long you've been following my blog. But if you look back, you will find that I am as uneasy with the extremists on the left as I am with those on the right. For example, I gave Integrity my membership for one year (in 2008), then left them. I appreciate much of what they do, but they do not speak my mind. Like too many others, they don't seem to appreciate nuances. In the same way, I am uncomfortable with the AAC, ACI, and IRD.

You seem to be reacting to me more as a totem than who I actually am.

7/15/2009 8:54 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Catherine @5:31 PM: Yes, I do have some understanding about how you may feel. I felt the same way over the past 12 years since I've been in The Episcopal Church.

But I never tried to get some other Anglican Province to come in and rescue me. I just talked with other people in my parish and diocese. I tried to be a faithful Christian, walking alongside them.

Catherine, if you're looking for an extremist in our church, you are barking up the wrong tree here.

I'm not interested in a StandFirm-style fight.

I am an Episcopalian. I am glad our GC has taken the stands it has. I'm not going to seek some other Primate to support my position.

7/15/2009 9:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Catherine @5:31 PM: Yes, I do have some understanding about how you may feel. I felt the same way over the past 12 years since I've been in The Episcopal Church.

But I never tried to get some other Anglican Province to come in and rescue me. I just talked with other people in my parish and diocese. I tried to be a faithful Christian, walking alongside them.

Catherine, if you're looking for an extremist in our church, you are barking up the wrong tree here.

I'm not interested in a StandFirm-style fight.

I am an Episcopalian. I am glad our GC has taken the stands it has. I'm not going to seek some other Primate to support my position.

7/15/2009 9:01 PM  
Blogger Catherine S. said...

Lisa: I know there are people – on both sides – who seem to want to kick/push/force others out of TEC; I don’t get those people. Frankly, I don’t get people who don’t want to mix with others who are different in some way. I’ve just never understood that sort of approach. I mean, as far as I’m concerned, if you’ve had different experiences, are from a different place, etc., then that means you know stuff I don’t know – and that means I could learn something from you. (And hey, what can I say, I love learning new stuff. Always have.)

That said, I didn’t mean to imply that you want to kick anyone out of TEC. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough – in which case, I apologize. Oh, and I haven’t been following your blog very long (though I don’t really “follow” any blogs – it’s more like occasionally dropping in). I most certainly appreciate that you, well, appreciate nuance; I think life is in the nuances, the details, the barely perceptible shifts of greyness. (That’s one of the reasons modern political discourse bothers me so much – it’s all soundbites, no nuance. Drives me nuts.)

So, perhaps I projected more onto you than was, strictly speaking, fair. In my defense, I was responding to the post I read – I haven’t read them all – and the one I read didn’t (to my mind) seem to express an understanding that your sentiments are shared rather broadly, and by those who approach this particular issue from another direction. I know there are some self-righteous a***s on the right – God help me, I really can’t find anything nice to say about Bp. Duncan or Bp. Parsley – just as there are on the left. And while I have moments when I can get really angry and nasty, it’s not something I can sustain over the long haul, and I certainly try to rise above those moments and improve myself.

As far as GC goes, I’m actually trying not to follow the news; it’s too upsetting. And infuriating. (Sadly, it’s not in my nature *not* to follow the news, so my efforts are meeting with only limited success.)

Sigh…

There’s more that I could say, I suppose – actually, on this thread and on the other – but nothing that I can post publicly. (Some things – like answers to questions you asked in the other thread – would give away too much about people who haven’t given me the all-clear to talk about them, and people could possibly guess their identities. I’m sure you can understand my reservations.)

7/15/2009 9:46 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for this, Catherine.

From what you have written here, I do not understand that you and I have any "fight."

Both of us are frustrated by the extreme left and the extreme right. So what are we fighting about, Catherie??? WHY make any fight??

7/15/2009 10:15 PM  
Blogger Catherine S. said...

Well, I guess I didn’t realize that we were fighting. I suppose I saw it as more of a conversation.

It’s been a very long day, and a pretty long week already, and my mind wanders when it’s let out alone and a little on the exhausted side, so I hope you will pardon me if this is too disjointed to make much sense:

Perhaps I should say that, if it comes right down to it, I would have a MUCH bigger problem with changing the liturgy than with blessing gay marriages.

Because here’s the thing: I’m not absolutely, completely, and totally positive that I’m right and anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. I believe that all human beings are inherently flawed – and I put myself at the top of the list. I do not have a special line to God, and I’m sure I misunderstand what He wants more often than I should. So I will freely concede that I could be wrong.

And I’ll tell you honestly that one of my concerns – not the only one, but one of them – about liberalizing changes is that every step in that general direction ends up killing off another piece of the liturgical and musical heritage that I love so very much. Almost no one does Rite I anymore – except maybe at the early service – and I sincerely doubt that the new BCP will include it at all. I expect that the next BCP will get rid of the “I believe” Creeds, the Prayer of Humble Access (one of the most beautiful and perfect prayers ever written, in my opinion), the “old” Confession of Sins, the Prayers for the Whole State of Christ’s Church (as opposed to the Prayers of the People, which don’t begin to compare, in terms of beauty of language), and all the rest.

When TEC gets to the point where I can’t find a Rite I service and every parish is doing renewal music, that may very well be when I reach my breaking point. Because at that point, TEC won’t bear any resemblance to the Church I love, and going to church will be more akin to torture for me.

I don’t claim it’s the right approach. I just don’t know that I can get past that particular obstacle.

I put up with the NRSV, which doesn’t compare to the RSV (“I will have you catching people,” is in no way the equal of “I will make you fishers of men;” “In my father’s house are many rooms,” is not the equivalent of “In my father’s house are many mansions”). I put up with Rite I, Eucharistic Prayer B – it’s no great shakes, but at least it’s not Rite II. It requires an act of will, but I do it. But what I really don’t get are the people who not only want to liberalize the services, but also want to ensure that other people can’t have anything but those new liturgies. (I’m not saying you’re one of those people. I’m just expressing general confusion and distress.)

7/15/2009 10:29 PM  

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