Sunday, July 27, 2008

Are You Ready? (Part 2)

Gut-Check Time

I've given the "news" or rumor below. Time will tell how accurate Jonathan Wynne-Jones was in the Sunday evening Telegraph.

But let's play "what-if."

If the price of TEC's remaining in the Anglican Communion is to agree to no more gay/lesbian bishops and no more same-sex blessings/marriages, are you willing to pay it?

I am not.

I liked David Walker's comment (on Thinking Anglicans) that "as Anglicans our mission is to enculture the gospel along with evangelising the culture." I trust the Sudanese (and most others) to do so faithfully, as they discern the Spirit's guidance. If they do not trust us equally, then no covenant, no canon law will fix that.

It will be time to say goodbye.

Mind you, I do not believe our bishops have the authority to sign any such "covenant" or make any such promise. Thank God, in the Episcopal Church, laypeople and the other clergy have a voice. Only our General Convention has the power to make such binding promises. (Yes, the bishops can block the House of Deputies if they wish, but woe be unto them . . . )

If our bishops were to sign onto such a covenant, then shame on them for being sucked into Rowan's "all bishops all the time" Lambeth conference design. It surely is no accident that their first sessions after the retreat focused on the role of the episcopate.

But what if, in exchange for our acquiescence, Lambeth [which, of course, has no legislative power] placed analogous constraints on the episcopi vagantes? Nope, not even then. Marauding primates and bishops have poached parishes even within dioceses of so-called "orthodox" bishops, bishops who voted against +Robinson's consecration.

I've said it before, and I may have to say it again: Of all the provinces that have been in the klieg lights since Windsor, TEC and the Anglican Church in Canada are about the only provinces that are truly "Windsor-compliant." We have not consecrated any other gay/lesbian bishops. We have not authorized a rite for same-sex blessings. Our forbearance, our "exercise of restraint" (to recall the odious resolution B033 passed in 2006) has not done one red-hot thing to cool the onslaught of the so-called orthodox. Nothing will ever be enough for them. Any step of forbearance we take will be seen as a sign of weakness.

So, enough!

TEC bishops in Canterbury: Please, I beg you! remember the church that called you out and raised you up. Stand firm to what you know you have seen in the lives of your clergy and laypeople, including your gay and lesbian people. We are faithful people, seeking to heed the Gospel and seeking to reach out to a broken world.

We have had enough of the calls for restraint, of Katharine's asking us to stand in a "crucified place." We have spent too much time, far too much money, and a truly obscene amount of energy on this issue. If this next week is the moment of decision, then let it come. If they do not want us in the "inner circle," then let us be cast out. Let us not lose the soul of our beloved church for a bowl of pottage.

So then, what does this mean about TEC's relationships with other Anglican provinces and dioceses? I hope it will mean nothing. I would hope that my Diocese of Missouri could continue in some form of relationship with the Diocese of Lui in Sudan. We would still share a common heritage and the same Gospel. If it is helpful, then let the Sudanese "cast a bright white line" between "their Gospel" and "ours." I know it's the same Gospel. But when I stood with "Pastor January" [Yes, that is his real name] in 2006 in a Sudanese Moru village that had been decimated by warring Sudanese Dinka tribesmen (also from southern Sudan), he did not ask me whether I was orthodox or gay or the "right kind" of Christian. We shared fellowship and shared stories of what Christ means to us. (No doubt, his more moving to me than mine was to him.) I will still want to help him and all the others I met in Lui, regardless of whether we are "in" or "out" of the "inner circle" of the Anglican Communion.

I haven't yet read what others in the blogosphere are saying about this potential development. I wanted to write my own unvarnished reaction first; I may have more to say after I do. But now, as I mentioned earlier today, I am having a mini-vacation with friends "at the Lake." And I want to bathe myself in their friendship again … leaving the Anglican blogosphere/rumor-mill to whirl on. After all, isn't that what really matters? Real friends. Face-to-face connections. Personal bonds of affection.

Bishop Smith and others reading here, there is a cachet we have enjoyed by being "in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury." If he wants to breach that bond or send us into exile because of who and what we are, let him do so. It will be his shame, not ours.

I want to go on being the church in this place. I am tired of the battle. Let's get on with it.

Now I'm going to have drinks and dinner with my friends, who know me, who call me by name, and who call me in love to be my very best self. That's friendship. And we don't need a covenant or canon law to enforce it.

My friends and I, we meet. And we eat and drink together. And it is good.


Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

If the price of TEC's remaining in the Anglican Communion is to agree to no more gay/lesbian bishops and no more same-sex blessings/marriages, are you willing to pay it?

Hell, no.

My friends and I, we meet. And we eat and drink together. And it is good.

Amen, my friend. That's what it's all about, isn't it?


7/27/2008 7:55 PM  
Blogger WilliamK said...

Dear Lisa,
It has been such a blessing to read your blog, and I was especially pleased to read you expressing just what I have been feeling and thinking as I have read the latest "news" (such as it is) about ways TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada might be "ex-communicated" if they refuse to sacrifice their GLBT members on the altar of the Communion. I have asked myself what real difference such an "ex-communication" would make in my TEC diocese and parish. I guess it would mean that my bishop's wife wouldn't get to wear another fancy hat to a tea party with Elizabeth Windsor. Instead, she might have to settle for taking tea with people with HIV/AIDS, as the Bishop of New Hampshire did. It probably would mean that we'd take down the picture of ++Rowan that hangs in the parish office. But, what else would change? Would our orders become invalid? Would Jesus stop showing up on our altars? Would we stop being able to bring people to saving relationships with Jesus Christ? Ex-communication by Rome in the sixteenth century didn't make those things happen (papal pronouncements not withstanding). I doubt ex-communication by Canterbury could have any more effect! And would all-the-other-Anglicans really act like a bunch of Jehovah's Witnesses and shun us? I doubt it. We'd continue our relationships with many different kinds of Anglicans in many different ways. So, if the day comes when we must "walk apart"... let us be on our way!

7/27/2008 8:46 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I'm truly grateful to both of you for these words.

At least we three are in agreement. We'll keep worshipping, praying together. And maybe in 30-50 years, the rest of the Communion will realize what a stupid, stupid breach this was.

'Til then, we'll go limping forward, as did Jacob after he wrestled all night with the angel.

So let it be said. So let it be written.

Thanks for taking the time to read here, dear friends.

7/27/2008 10:33 PM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

"I will not let go until you bless me"

That has been the story of my relationship with God. Even when I didn't want to keep holding on, I couldn't seem to stop wrestling...

While I was away on my trip to Europe, I did not have Internet access. It is amazing how much lighter and freer I felt when I wasn't reading As the Anglican Stomach Turns. I keep telling myself that it's not good for me to keep reading about it, thinking about it, or arguing about it---but, to date, I haven't managed to stop. Sigh.

Peace to you, my friend. I'll meet you at the altar rail...


7/28/2008 5:22 AM  
Blogger Cranmer49 said...

Although I haven't been traveling like Doxy, I've been preoccupied over the past week with moving and haven't had access to the internet much. It's definitely been a good respite for my soul. But now as I start catching up, I become even more aware of how foolish this Anglican Communion is (can we even call ourselves a communion any more?). Spending time and energy determining who the weeds are and who gets to be the wheat. If we look at our human history, we know already that those with certain appendages are _always_ the wheat and that the rest of us can only become wheat with the special permission of those who are _born_ as wheat. (Can we say unearned privilege?) If you get my drift...

If they want to keep gay bishops out, then I think they need to have a witch hunt and root out all of the gay bishops in the Communion, not just brother Honest Gene. Go after ALL of them! Hunt them down and out them!!

And then let's go after the African bishops who aren't married to their "wives" according the so-called "Biblical" standard. Identify them and drum them out of the bishops corps!Culture be damned!

Of course, we must all realize that any "rules" that are made at this Lambeth conference probably won't be kept by the boycotting bishops. They hardly recognize Rowan as credible and they're not participating in making the new rules.

What an utter waste of time this is. And we now get to watch the wheat continue to blow in the wind for yet another week.

How can we _not_ be embarrassed by these men who are having such a warm and fuzzy time with one another as they study the bible and have their little indaba groups?

Good Lord, deliver us.

7/28/2008 3:41 PM  

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