Monday, March 26, 2007

joe p response

Got a good response from Joe P to my recent post on the Episcopal Church (USA).

Here's the response:

Hi Chris:

I agree with you 100% that it would be quite odd if the homosexuality issue breaks the Church whereas the slavery issue didn't.

Not to disagree, but honestly it's a pet peeve of mine when people discuss the homosexuality and Christianity issue by downplaying its significance. Spirit has chosen to make this issue absolutely vital to the unity issue in the Church right now, I believe. Failure to recognize its importance is really more of a failure to appreciate the mysterious workings of Spirit than anything else. What you or I feel are more important concerns that SHOULD be dividing the Church is irrelevant in the face of the workings of Spirit which has dictated that THIS issue right HERE and right NOW is going to divide or unite the Church.
Joe has a follow up thread here. He concludes:

My own intuition says that homosexuality is the BIG issue today not out of coincidence or meaningless chance, but because homosexuality is Christianity's biggest shadow. Christianity is a religion dominated by homophilic symbolism and a homophilic story about the Love of a Father and a Son and how one day it became creative and produced the Holy Spirit. Homophilia is the heart of the Christian message, more so than any other major religion on the planet. Christianity's failure to look at that issue square in the eye is the real reason why this issue has reached a boiling point in our time.
One slight correction. Joe mentions I am studying to be a priest in the Episcopal Church. Actually I am studying for the Anglican Church of Canada. While the two are in full communion with each other they are not just different branches of the same central bank/church as it were. The Anglican Church of Canada grows more out of the English experience while the Episcopal Church USA has closer historic ties to Scotland. Anyway not a big difference.

I'll respond to the piece that Joe wrote directly to me in his comment.

As a background comment, I realize thanks to Joe's comments given my life here and the circles I run in I assumed information I never shared on the blog. That being, that I am studying for the priesthood in the very diocese (New Westminster) that initiated same sex blessing rite that has along with the ordination of an openly gay (non-celibate) man Gene Robinson to the episcopacy of New Hampshire caused the current furor in the Anglican Communion.

So whatever had been my reservations and thoughts about how things might have turned out--which Joe correctly asked to shift to what is happening--the decisions about where I will be and which side I'll be on once the chips fall is clear.

The Canadian Church has its General Synod (its highest legislative body) meeting this summer. The first one since it put the same-sex rite on hold in response to the World Primates Request from Dromantine. It is very clear where the American church is headed. Not at all clear to me where the Canadian one is heading. Canadians being generally more compromise-seeking, pacific than the Americans (for good and bad).

As I've said before the break has already happened, it is just a matter of what the fallout is. My desire is that some decision just be reached, even if it is divorce, and let's just get on with it. The version of Anglicanism that has been in effect for the last 150 years since the Lambeth Quadrilateral is now dead. What the next iteration of Anglicanism will look like God only knows. I just want to know what it will be so we can start promoting the Gospel instead of these endless (in my mind) destructive debates where everybody loses.

The downplaying as it were, is my exhaustion with having to deal with something that for me is a non-issue. Full inclusion only occurs when it is no longer discussed--that is when it is no big deal to anybody anymore. When it is not discussed as if it is something "special"--i.e. not integral to the gospel proclamation and church ministry.

I'll have to sit longer with Joe's argument as to why this is the BIG issue as he calls it now (Trinitarian homophilia and equally large shadow). As I said before I think the issue of gay lesbian inclusion has actually broken the camel's back and that the camel had been weighed down in increasing distance over a long period of time. Certainly the last 20-30 years. The effects of women's ordination, divorce/remarriage, and so on have left wounds. Many of the US dioceses splitting or threatening to split from the leadership are still nursing wounds from the slavery debate.

And to be fair, as many bishops articulated at recent meetings, this issue is not on their radar screens (pro or con). For many issues like women's empowerment, clean water, massive poverty and environmental destruction---these are the realm of Sin & Death that impede the Gospel message. A group of 80 Anglican women from around the world drafted this statement at the UN in New York to say in effect this whole issue was a male problem and has nothing to do with the empowerment of women. Statement here. Don't know how or if that relates to the Father-Son beget Spirit homophilia argument or not.

As I also said there were ways around this issue I think. With any break down of a relationship, both sides have a part to play. But with the hardening of the lines that moment for the creative byways are lost. Partly I'm mourning that. And more practically as a seminarian I have no real influence in what is going to be decided for the Communion. I have my own moral, theological, and pastoral views, but the unclarity around the Church does cause me hurt and confusion. Only in so far as I said--the dead should be left to bury the dead. I'm interested in life and a movement, actually doing something. I don't care if given the post-Christian world there is only 12 people as it were.

Nevertheless Joe is right all that aside, once it is all out, I can't sit by. Inclusion of gays, lesbians, and transgendered (don't know what I think about bisexuals) is part of Spirit's evolution and the modernist (good) trend to human socio-political liberation.

But again I want to get that "over with", not to sound too disrespectful because once the socio-political liberation happens to a sufficient degree including the church (it is never 100% nor need be) gays, lesbians, straights still have massive sin and ignorance to deal with, all of us. All of the inclusion for me would only be a step to square one, the beginning of the race not the end. I feel in the meantime this thing is stuck at square zero.


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