Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Mind Boggles

The bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican) apparently are now asking Archbishop Williams to cancel the Lambeth Conference next year because they fear for their safety. Their "open letter" has been all over the Web, including at Thinking Anglicans, Father Jake's, Preludium, and The Lead; there is fine commentary at all those sites.

First, let me say I am getting sick and tired of these "open letters." I was not amused when Bishop Spong sent his "open letter" to the Archbishop of Canterbury. Much as Bishop Spong's comments echoed my own beliefs, I thought it was tawdry for one person to publish a letter to his "friend" on the Web. That's worse than heresy and apostasy; that's just bad manners. [Let those who have tongues in cheek hear.]

Second, let me say this open letter from the Nigerian bishops has me confused. I thought the Nigerians were boycotting Lambeth because the wrong people were being invited and the right ones weren't. [Didn't Jesus have a parable about that? I'm sure I read it somewhere.]

But that was yesterday.

Today they are in fear for their very lives because of the quietly protesting or placard-waving gays who might show up, continuing to believe we're full members of the body of Christ.

Here's how it looks to me.

If Akinola has his way with the legislation in Nigeria, and I went to Nigeria to speak in favor of human rights for gay men and lesbians, I could be arrested and put in jail for 5 years. Gene Robinson received so many death threats he had to wear Kevlar to his consecration. In Nigeria, Davis Mac-Iyalla receives death threats from Nigeria's Anglican "Christians."

The Nigerian bishops are now quavering in the face of placards. Do they have some deep-seated fear of paper-cuts?

(By the way, perhaps the protest in Wheaton next week will give Akinola a little practice in facing dissent.)

If I'm understanding it, the Nigerian bishops want the right to imprison homosexuals and their straight supporters. Their Archbishop calls us "lower than dogs." But they want the right not to have those views challenged peacefully at Lambeth.

Can somebody help me understand this?

3 Comments:

Blogger PseudoPiskie said...

Fear is what keeps these people in power. They use it and don't want any of their subjects to see anything which might counteract their preaching. Press coverage might include something which causes people to think about what Jesus actually said. That is very threatening. blech

9/15/2007 9:58 PM  
Blogger Suzer said...

I don't always agree with arguing cultural context, because it's not always appropriate. But I wonder if, perhaps, when folks from Nigeria hear "protest", within the context of what happens in their country, they are not imagining something peaceful? I know, I know -- these bishops should know better -- they are likely far more worldly and educated than the average Nigerian. But I also don't want to underestimate the power of their worldview. Is there a way it could be made clear to them (if they, indeed want to hear it anyway) that the protests contemplated are peaceful, and in the manner of nonviolence?

Having heard recently from our mission leader in Sierra Leone (there was great fear of violence with their recent elections), I know that the fear of violence is palpable, for good reason, in many African countries.

Maybe I'm giving their fear too much credit, but it's just a thought I had and am wondering if it's just stuff and nonsense? This may just be a tactic to continue to demonize GLBT people and their supporters, but it may also stem from something very real -- I dunno.

9/16/2007 10:39 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Pseudopiskie, I think you're right about the well-cultivated role of power.

Suzer, your response is truly charitable, and I admire you for that.

But remember: These bishops have been at Lambeth conferences before – or at least have heard reports from their colleagues who were there in '98. They know what Anglican "protest" means. And they know it has never turned violent. Even when we are faced with screaming meanies from the "God Hates Fags" contingent or from the Akinola "queers are lower than dogs" contingent, we remain peaceful.

I can't believe they're doing anything except pulling a trick out of the ol' Drama Queen handbook.

Hmmm … and I'm suddenly remembering Akinola's response to Nigerian violence last year, when he said essentially, "Aw shucks. Don't blame me if these Christians turn violent" … which was followed shortly by anti-Muslim, "Christian" violence in which (if memory serves) a mosque was burned and some Muslims were slaughtered. So … maybe that's the cultural context that Akinola's bishops have in mind. Maybe they remember that an Anglican leader with a wink-wink-nod-nod can absolve his flock from violence.

Yes, I too know about Sierra Leone and other countries in which the threat of violence is real and on the front burner … which concern is entirely justified.

But do these guys – who have screamed against the lower-than-dogs homosexuals – actually think the "sissy boys" of the Anglican Communion are going to take up arms and do violence at Lambeth? C'mon! [Apologies to my gay brothers: I know you're not "sissy-boys"; I'm just making a stereotypical, rhetorical point.]

But … like I said, Suzer: I respect you for coming down on the side of generosity. It's in short supply these days.

9/17/2007 7:26 PM  

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