Monday, June 19, 2006


she won
Over the past year, I've heard several conversations that there might be a woman nominated for Presiding Bishop (essentially the archbishop of the Episcopal Church, and yet not, in a difference that reflects 18th Century American thinking), but that whoever "she" was would only be a token nomination. The general consensus was that a woman could not be elected to the position. Father Jake confesses to such thinking.

As often proves to be the case, conventional wisdom didn't hold up. The feeling in Columbus where General Convention is taking place has been mostly positive. In fact, one of the blogs from Central Florida actually talk of a woman deputy who voted against accepting the new PB -- over doctrinal differences -- while her face was streaming with tears of joy over the possibility of such an election.

fort worth
There is now a lot of talk about the North American "Anglican" franchise, about our being denied communion with other churches in the Communion. I have no wisdom on what we should or can do at this point related to the Windsor Report. The GC will spend the rest of its time dealing with several pieces of legislation related to these issues. Already, the Diocese of Fort Worth has asked to be relieved of oversight in the Episcopal Church. This diocese that has been adamant in refusing the ministry of ordained women cannot accept a woman Presiding Bishop. After the last General Convention in 2003, a priest in the diocese pulled out the national Episcopal Church flag and stomped on it during a Sunday service, terribly upset over the affirmation of the election of Bishop Robinson by the GC. Karen at Kinesis has written that we should let them have the buildings and assets and keep the name and start a new diocese in school gyms and other places, building up new churches. I am inclined to agree with her. I don't see how we benefit from keeping property -- something the Diocese of Fort Worth did to a parish that left the Diocese several years ago -- with the exception of parishes that choose to stay within the EC. As noted in the Diocese of Indianapolis blog from GC, this is not a happy thing:

My reading on the subject of communion has made it clear to me that a key part of our relationship is that we love each other, even if we don’t agree. We must always work to stay in relationship. Our insistence on justice for all of God’s people must include welcoming everyone at the table—even if the very persons we welcome would not themselves welcome all.

At the same time, we cannot insist that they stay. If they no longer desire to be in communion with us, we must allow them to go with our love, letting them know that we will always welcome them back with open arms.

I am not suggesting that this position of absolute welcome is an easy one to take—but I feel it reflects the face of Christ. May we all find a way to be, in this and all things, more like Christ.

interesting times
We are in one of those periods nationally when our politics is less over policy or vision about the future than over one side's anger with the other. That has moved from the political realm to our Church. There is an essay in the last issue of the New York Review of Books ("Cosmopolitans," Alan Ryan, June 22, 2006) that examines three books of philosophers looking at cosmopolitanism, or how different groups can or should exist together or don't. A couple of them looked at labels and how we give labels power over rational thought or even our best interests. One of the writers noted that in terms of the us and them, we all uniformly assign the worst possible traits to the other, while giving ourselves or our group the best possible traits, or at least the benefit of the doubt.

On reading many of the blog comments about the new PB's election, or about whether our church will face a broken relationship with the non-American Anglican churches, I thought about that essay. And it is true. We all do it. Perhaps this is why Jesus told us not to judge lest we be judged by the same judgment, one of those hard gospel commands that we all ignore.

My neighbor who is a Democrat tells me that Republicans think they are better than the rest of us, and at the heart of all their thinking, this one fact is true. My sense is that we all think we are better than other groups. We're more tolerant, more reasonable, more willing to trust, more willing to be humble. But not our enemies. Not those who disagree with us. They're scum. At some point, I once read that as Bonhoeffer struggled during the tepid response among German protestants in those early year's of Hitler's regime, that he said there was a time for the church to speak and a time for it to shut up. In these current culture wars where the tactics and alliances of politics are now being brought into the Church, we are nuts if we think that hating each other is what God has called us to for mission and ministry. That leaves not hating -- while disagreeing, even strongly disagreeing.

When Jesus taught his followers to pray, he told them to not pray like the religious fellow who started his prayer by thanking God that he was not as bad as a publican who was also at the temple praying. Then Jesus told his followers that when they prayed, they should pray as:

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our trespasses as we
forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
forever and ever. Amen.


Rob M said...

Ever since GC, I've been reading and rereading this post, Don. I think you hit the nail right on the head.

Don said...

Father Rob -- I don't know if you have read the NYRB article, but I read it right before General Convention and the whole discussion on labeling was -- while fairly apparent -- also quite informative. I am terribly guilty of thinking the worst of those I disagree with and assuming better traits for kindred parties.

My sense is that as much as God has called us to a shared faith (May they be one as you and I are one...), that the energy over governance is not worth it. We ought to be known by whom we love rather than gloating over those we hate.

And I remind myself that communications today is so rapid, the responses so quick, that we are focusing on arguments that are set up for failure. Much like the anxiety that tv weatherpeople cause when there is a hint of a bad storm, we're all in an uproar, distracted from the day to day of our lives, place and mission.

So I am trying to control my concerns -- great as they may be -- by the realities of this little life I live in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the parish I attend, Trinity, and the people I encounter here.

It is all a muddle, isn't it?