Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Your Education is Not My Problem

I am tired -- sick unto death, if you must know -- of having "conservatives" just now waking up in 2006 and asking me to explain to them our church's stance on the ordination of gay people or the blessing of gay/lesbian relationships. I'm just not going to do their homework for them.

Today conservative Episcopalian Brad Drell brought a whole bunch of folks to my and Elizabeth Kaeton's blogs, because of some things we had written. [No, I am not going to give you a hyperlink to his hate-pandering site. Google it, if you want to go there.] Predictably, several commenters who came from his blog to ours (but mostly to Elizabeth's) posed the same old tired questions – most centered on the hackneyed “Where in Scripture do you find a defense for homosexual behavior?” Elizabeth+ did a marvelous, restrained job of replying to those questions at Telling Secrets: After Columbus, and I salute her ability to exercise restraint.

Generally, people who pose such questions on blogs are not really coming with questions in search of new information. No, they just lob attacks posing as questions. But Elizabeth was calm in her replies, and directed the commenters to several, widely available resources, which these people could have read over the past three years.

I’m going to post several of those resources here, because I am not ever going to reply to those questions. If I keep writing here, I'm sure some of the radical WingNuts will come here to do that so-called "speaking the truth in love" thing that they seem to enjoy. But I am not a theologian. So when those people come here, I will simply refer them to these resources:

1. The Claiming the Blessing Theology Statement is also accompanied by the Voices of Witness video

2. To Set our Hope on Christ was prepared as The Episcopal Church's first formal response to The Windsor Report. That written report, To Set our Hope on Christ, was presented to the Anglican Consultative Council in June 2005. You can download audio and video files of the in-person presentations to the ACC here.

3. Integrity prepared study materials for parishes and other groups studying To Set our Hope on Christ. A portal to those materials is available here.

4. I just found this page at Religious Intolerance, which analyzes the 6 “clobber verses” in the Bible that are most often cited by those who argue that, without exception, homosexual behavior is sinful. It has many other links enbedded in it. [Edit: This link added 08.02.06]

This pretty much says it all for me: At "Love Them Anyway," in a comment, Elizabeth+ tells this story of an encounter with an African-American woman.

This is probably going to sound harsh. I do not mean it that way.

Once I asked a good friend who is African American about a particular aspect of racism. She signed deeply and said, "Look it up." When I looked confused, she said, "Listen, your education about ending racism is your responsibility, not mine. Go look it up. You'll learn it better." "Besides," she said, "I have enough to deal with in my own oppression. Don't ask me to take on the additional burden of your education."

So . . . if you really want to know more, start reading. Then, engage yourself in a face-to-face conversation with a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person. Look for the Christ in him/her. Be in relationship with him/her. Then, do some more reading.

Besides, I have enough to deal with in my own oppression. Don't ask me to take on the additional burden of your education.

Folks, the Episcopal Church has spent 30 years engaging in dialogue on this topic. We have created our theological statements. Many haven’t bothered to engage them yet. But most importantly: It’s your responsibility – not mine – to educate yourself about your homophobia . Go read, mark, and inwardly digest the materials that have been provided.

Once you've read these materials, then go someplace else if you want to have a theological debate. I'm not a theologian; I'm just a lowly faithful Episcopalian. If you want to debate theology, find a blog where they enjoy doing that. This is not that place.

Note: I revised this post lightly on Aug. 2, to add some other background materials that are available online. I'll continue to do that, as I identify others that may be helpful.


Blogger Toewalker said...

Brava! Well said, Lisa.

Well said indeed.

8/02/2006 5:55 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Kaeton said...

"Bottom feeders."

I call them "bottom feeders."

They are like that one fish in the tank that thrives on eating the scum, algae and "garbage" (ahem) of the other fish.

It seems to me that these boys just troll the Big Tank of Cyberspace, looking to have a "Bottom Feeders Banquet."

But, a word about Brad Drell - you know, it's hard not to judge someone by the company they keep, and I must admit that Brad seems to keep company with a lot of Bottom Feeders, but I can attest that Brad, himself, is a good man.

We actually found some time at General Convention - because we were intentional about it - to have a face-to-face conversation - a couple of them, actually.

Now, he and I are never going to agree on matters of doctrine, disciple or worship, but we both agree that, each in our own way, loves the Lord.

We seek Christ in others and try to serve God through the people of God - me in my congregation and he through his work as a lawyer and in his prison ministry.

If it's at all possible, we want to meet Jesus at the altar rail in the Episcopal Church.

You know what? Here's the thing about "Bottom Feeders."

Let us be glad, indeed, let us be grateful, for the ministry of the Bottom Feeders. Just think of how dirty the Episcopal Tank would get without them.

So then, a little prayer:

Blessed are you, Lord God, for you have created all that lives and moves and has its being.

We thank you, this day, most especially, for the creation of Bottom Feeders.

Through them, you help us dispose of theological refuge.

In them, we have a living example of what can happen when the human potential to do good is overcome with fear.

We humbly ask that you so shine the light of your Christ on them and us that our paths may be illuminated and whatever we do, being guided by the Holy Spirit, all will give praise and glory to your Name, from age to age.


8/02/2006 7:14 AM  
Blogger plsdeacon said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/02/2006 2:31 PM  
Blogger plsdeacon said...

Let me try that again. In reading it, I find that I was unclear. Here is the modified post:


Unfortunately, others' education is your (and my) problem. We are not talking about civil rights here, but about God's desire for us. As Jesus said:
"All authority in heaven and earth is given unto me. Go therefore and make disciplies of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you." (emphasis mine)

We are all commanded by Jesus to make disciples and to teach.

I am a lowly "bottom feeder" who is unafraid of serious discussion or of being called names.

BTW, I was referenced here from Stand Firm (AKA "bottom feeder central")

Phil Snyder

8/02/2006 2:33 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Phil, I hoped this was clear in my posting: I'm not denying my responsibility for any education. Of course we all have a responsibility to teach and make disciples in the name of Christ! I do my part in that, in areas within my competence, as the Spirit leads me to do it. I do it face-to-face here in my local community, not in the blogosphere. You are already a disciple, Phil; you don’t need my teaching.

I'm merely saying I'm not going to waste my time here trying to do education about my reading of Scripture as regards homosexuality. Was that not clear from my post?

I've read many of your contributions around the blogosphere. You do a better job of engaging in civil discourse than many "reasserters" do. So long as you continue in that mode here, you are welcome, in what I think of as my "living room" [to borrow a phrase from Father Jake]. I'll try to engage you in the same spirit of civility and Christian discourse.

8/02/2006 6:54 PM  
Blogger plsdeacon said...


Thank you for recognizing that I am not a "bottom feeder" or "mean, low down and nasty."

I really do want to understand how Scripture informs or determines your moral reasoning in this and other matters.

I don't know if you do or do not have a responsibility to teach me. I do know that we are all called to be able to defend the faith that is in us and this is obviously part of your faith.

Today, I re-read Claiming the Blessing's paper on what it means to bless SSUs just to make sure I didn't mis-understand it to begin with.

I found a few things wrong it the reasoning. First, it fails to differientiate between us blessing God (as in "let us Bless the Lord") and God blessing us. For us to bless God is to give thanks to Him for what He has done and for Who He Is. For God to bless us is to provide assistance towards living the Life to which He calls us.

When a priest invokes a blessing on a marriage, the priest is acting as God's agent in bestowing spiritual aid in the married couple's life together.

The second error in reasoning is that it simply assumes that homosexual couples are moral couples. There is no attempt to reason that homosexual sex (which was and always has been considered immoral) is now moral in the context of a life-long mutually monogamous relationship. That is simply assumed and the assumption is not stated.

What I am looking for is evidence that homosexual sex (in a LLMMR) is blessed. In the Anglican Tradition, evidence for something like that comes primarily from Scripture and Reason (the Holy Spirit speaking to the whole Church, not just a small province of it) and Tradition. I don't see evidence of that, I see the assumption of it. Can you show me evidence that homosexual sex (in a LLMMR) is blessed?

Phil Snyder

8/02/2006 7:23 PM  
Blogger plsdeacon said...


As a follow-up to my last post, I believe that whenever a brother or sister in Christ asks for help understanding (as I have done on several occassions) those that can provide that help are obligated to help him or her understand.

It does not matter where I come from. My take on the issues does not matter. My web address does not matter. What does matter is that I am sincere in my request for help and am civil and fair when we discuss what is being taught or communicated.

As you said, I am a reasonably fair and reasonable person. I admit that too many of my brothers and sisters on the "conservative" side have denigrated into snarky comments - and I have called them on it from time to time.

Phil Snyder

8/02/2006 7:33 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Phil, I’m not ready to call you a “bottom feeder.” However, I am troubled by the fact that – when you and Elizabeth+ ran into a confrontation on her blog – you did not do as she invited you to do and as the Bible counsels us to do: talking one on one. Instead, you posted snippets of that conversation on your blog in what I can only term a “triumphal” and confrontational tone. That worries me, and keeps my hand ready to “turn comment moderation ‘on’” for my blog too. Let’s try to keep it Christian here, and we can continue to talk. OK?

That said, Phil, you really do have me laughing here! And, no, not in a mean laugh – just a shaking-my-head-at-your-ingenuity laugh.

For, as a comic might say: What part of “Not gonna go there” and “Wouldn’t be prudent” are you not hearing in what I wrote in my initial post here? LOL! The whole point of my post was: It is well above my paygrade to engage in the debate you want to engage in. I ain’t goin’ there! In a battle of wits, I’m virtually unarmed.

By the way, did you look at Nick Knisely’s truly thoughtful, middle of the road, post, which I linked here? I found his post insightful, and have been very pleasantly impressed at the tone and high level of discussion there. You might find that a more comfortable place to have this dialogue.

Also, I say this again: The people who wrote the pieces to which I have linked are well known. Most have very public personages and are readily accessible. They are theologians and exegetes. I am not. I believe many of them are willing to engage in the “discussion” you say you yearn for. Talk to them, Phil. Talk one on one, if you can.

You said: I really do want to understand how Scripture informs or determines your moral reasoning in this and other matters. That’s o.k., Phil. It’s between my and my Savior; I don't think we need you in the mix.

You said: Today, I re-read Claiming the Blessing's paper on what it means to bless SSUs just to make sure I didn't mis-understand it to begin with and then you raised several concerns. I didn’t write the paper, Phil. Elizabeth+ is one of those who did, and she has invited you to one-on-one discussion of it. Please follow the Scriptural admonition to do so. The Ethiopan eunuch, who desired that the Scriptures be opened to him, did not set up a blog, as we do; he talked with the apostle. If you have a problem with the CTB paper, please take it up with one of the authors.

You said: What I am looking for is evidence that homosexual sex (in a LLMMR) is blessed. You also raised that "request" over on Elizabeth’s blog, and I replied there to the best of my scant ability. But she’s trying to have a vacation, so – unlike you and me [LOL!] – she’s probably not sitting by her laptop awaiting the next chapter of As The Anglican Communion Turns! Also, due to the onslaught from some genuine hate-mongers from the blogs you frequent, she has had to resort to moderating each and every comment. [I know you’ve heard of T19 having similar problems.] When she finishes doing restorative things like walking on the beach, and cooking, and praying, and talking with brothers and sisters who are in real, life-and-death pain, I bet she’ll clear out those “comments awaiting moderation.” Then you and I can see the comments we’ve posted there. And we can continue this particular line of discourse there. I’m not going to double-post here.

Thanks for the civil discourse, Phil. Let’s try to keep it up.

8/02/2006 8:16 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Phil, I was working on a reply to your other comment when I got your "As a follow-up to my last post..." comment. But I think I've said all I needed to in my earlier one. Phil, there are many people who have done the theology and written those papers who are ready and willing and able to engage in those discussions with you if your request is sincere. At least one has specifically invited you to do that in one-on-one conversation. But I'm not the one to do that.

If you'd prefer the relatively shallow world of the blogosphere to one-on-one, private conversation with your brothers and sisters in Christ ... well, then, that does make me wonder about your agenda. It does make it appear that you're more interested in an "audience" than in understanding.

Please tell me you've contacted one of the real theologians from the "reappraiser" side and are having serious conversation. Otherwise, your appeals for "education" from this blog really do seem disingenuous.

8/02/2006 8:24 PM  
Blogger plsdeacon said...


I did write Elizabeth today after having found her email address in her comment. I looked for her email on her blog, but didn't find it. I overlooked it the first time I replied. I have not heard back from her. I did not take too kindly at being called a "bottom feeder" or "mean, low-down and nasty." As Bugs Bunny used to say: "Them's fightin' words." I try to stay civil and, if you've check Stand Firm today, you will see that I do call me fellow "conservatives" to task when they get off the reservation.

On the topic of scriptural warrant, you may not be the person to ask, but please don't equate the conservative position on homosexual sex with racism. They are not the same and have never been the same. I believe and have always (well since my adult years) believed that homosexuals should not be disriminated against in jobs, homes, or in society and that discrimination against homosexuals is a worse sin that homosexual sex. The first is a sin of pride and a spiritual impediment to communion with God. The second is a sin of the flesh and not so serious as a sin of the spirit.

In short, I love reasoned discourse. I love to debate - in the best sense of that word. I love to exchange ideas and concepts. (I also do enjoy "winning", but I don't "play" to win. I "play" to become more familiar with the people of God) With me, the Christian life is not a game, but debate can be :).

Phil Snyder

Phil Snyder

8/02/2006 8:37 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Phil, while I'm not ready to call you a "bottom feeder," I have left Elizabeth's comment here because there are some bottom feeders trying to suck the life out of The Episcopal Church, about whom her words are entirely appropriate. I see their venom daily when I visit the same blogs you frequent.

And, yes, I did see what you tried to do today on StandFirm. As I said in my earlier comment, though, I also saw what you did, trumpeting your battle with her among your "reasserter" compatriots. That's just wrong.

You're right: I am not the person to ask about the topic of "scriptural warrant." How many times tonight do I need to urge you to contact those who are?

I'm glad to hear that you oppose civic prohibitions against gay people.

If you were telling the truth -- that you're "'playing' to become more familiar with the people of God," you would be talking to them -- not posting on blogs. Brother Phil, it appears to me that your actions belie your words. Do you want to talk? or do you want to posture? If it's the former, you'll take it offline; if the latter, you'll continue the "fight" in the blogosphere. Your next move will answer the question.

And it sounds like you like a good fight, just as the famous "reasserter" David Anderson said [on CNN's Larry King] he stays in TEC merely because he likes to fight. But that's not what I'm about, Phil, and it's not what this blog is about.

Now, after all these many back-and-forth comments, where I have articulated my position again and again, you are still trying to bait me into a theology discussion. Despite the times I've said I'm not the one to engage that discussion and despite the times I've directed you to those who are.

Will you actually talk personally, like Christian brothers and sisters, with people on the "reappraiser" side? or will you continue this "faux dialogue" in the blogosphere? I'm watching to see your choice.

8/02/2006 9:15 PM  
Blogger Donald said...


I am a regular reader of Brad's site. I do not find him nor you hateful or a bottom feeder. He has his thoughts and you have yours. He regularly argues against the "left's" agenda but I have never noticed him directing a personal attack on anyone. And just like you he is not responsible for those making comments on his site. There are jerks on both sides. He is not one of them.

Don Allen
Charleston, SC

8/03/2006 9:33 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Donald, look back at what I said. I didn't say Brad himself was hateful. I said he maintains a "hate-pandering" site. Very often, he posts pieces that are fairly moderate, but open to discussion. Then he allows people to post all sorts of venom, and does not attempt to keep tabs on them. In other words, he "panders" to them. Even reasserters like Canon Harmon occasionally chide theit audience to remember their baptismal vows. If Brad has attempted to monitor his blog in a similar way, I can't recall the occasion.

Several of my "reappraiser" friends have assured me that Brad's a great guy. I'm not disputing that. But I wonder why he does not exercise the kind of discipline that some others on his "side" do. He seems happy to let his blog be "used" by the haters.

Also, look upstream here in these comments. Even Elizabeth+ came to admonish me to be more kind to Brad; I took her seriously, and edited my earlier, less-temperate comments accordingly. And I take you seriously!. I'm not judging what Brad thinks. I just wonder why he gives such an "open door" to the people who comment on his site. That's what led me to call his site hate-pandering, rather than hate-mongering. It was a conscious choice of terms, on my part.

8/05/2006 12:29 AM  

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