Monday, March 12, 2007

The Let's All Make A Rainbow Crowd

You can hardly call the debate in the Episcopal Church over these last years a debate, it has been more like two sides talking (and sometimes yelling) past one another with others in the middle wringing their hands. This alone has been pretty pitiful given in a church that has always prided itself on its intellectual prowess - very little to be proud of here.

What is worse is that the whole sorry business seems to have brought out the worst in everyone. If you stand on the sidelines and look at the debate, contest, or whatever you want to call it, it is almost as if sometimes we deliberately play into the image which others have of us: the Archie Bunkers (for those old enough to remember him) clashing with aging free love hippies. Frankly, there has been very little gospel grace and humility, but I guess that is the way it has always been when division roils the church.

Most of the comments that I have seen since the Primates' Communique was made public have done little more than demonstrate the truth of a comment made to me last year by a leading Anglican in the worldwide church: the American church has something of a "theological deficit." Few, it seems, are either capable of or want to respond to the Communique theologically, but rather have done so politically, emotionally, and showing a very limited ability at intellectual analysis.

I was misguided enough to think that the worst was past and then the "let's all wear rainbow colors on Easter Day" campaign started shouting the odds. I confess that after one or two experiences in my twenties I have a low toleration threshold for demonstrations of any kind, but really this latest little game has me shaking my head with a wry smile. All I want to say is for goodness sake grow up.

It seems that there is a real childishness about all this, and I wonder if some of those on the right are taking it more seriously than such immaturity deserves. It is sort of "Let's all dress up and dance around the maypole to show those horrid ol' primates just how mean we think they are."

Those foisting all these innovation on the church have never successfully responded to the objections coming from the mainstream of Christianity. What responses there are reflect an inadequate grasp of Scripture and Christian tradition. But this doesn't seem to matter, for where the church has always been is more likely to be blown off with a wave of the hand that the Holy Spirit is doing a new thing, while they skip off down a path reflecting the tired values of a relativistic, confused, and secular-pagan culture.

What is interesting is these are the folks who are now lining up to say just how awful the Anglican Communion is, are the very same people who are few years ago were disdainfully writing off orthodox folks like me for not being Anglican enough.

How things have changed! Those who were not long ago saying such things are now making it very clear that they want to walk apart, which means that they really don't consider themselves to be Anglicans any longer. This saddens, but the Lord God has made us free to make our own choices. What these antics point up is just how important it is that faithful Anglicans within the Episcopal Church receive a Primatial Vicar who is able and willing to provide the kind of oversight that we require.

We can only hope that it will not be too long before we get beyond the banal and the bizarre.


Fiona said...

The Primate's Communique wasn't a theological statement. It was a political statement asking for political action and therefore must be responded to as such.

100 years of Biblical criticism and over 30 years of theological papers and books undergird breaking down the walls of bigotry and prejudice (that you call orthodoxy and tradition)

Old sexual purity codes, especially those concerning variations in sexual orientation, that have been used to justify everything from burning people at the stake to denying the sacraments and bishops invading one another's turf have been examined theologically, Biblically, medically, psychologically, politically and sociologically and found wanting. Time for the church to catch up.

kb9gzg said...

Richard, fiona (or flona--name partially covered by other text) perfectly illustrates your perspective. Thank you for your solid work.

Rowan said...

Look, it's not a demonstration... Where did you get that idea? It certainly is not on the web site, nor is it the intention of the organizers. I don't know why those who won't be participating keep calling it a demonstration. It's not that.

What is childish is that allegedly grown-up people get themselves so swivited about what jewelery item someone else might wear.

Maybe you just get off on stirring the pot, I don't know. But, don't you think that just for the remainder of Lent we could take the PB's advice and believe the best about one another?

Linda McMillan

Richard Kew said...

I have waiting for several days to see what other responses there might be, and am tempted to say that I rest my case!

However, to Fiona I say that having had a long ministry I have a long memory. Over the past 40 years I have watched the church being told to stop being so old-fashioned. What is fascinating is that what was cutting edge like Hamilton, Altizer, Harvey Cox, and company, in the sixties, or liberation theology in the seventies and eary eighties, and other movements, is now yawningly dated, often irrelevant, and almost forgotten.

I would also say that I have tried to keep up with my reading and study over the last forty years, and when it comes to the sexuality issues I have not heard the objections of orthodox and catholic Christians being adequately answered. In fact, I would say that the left is not even listening to the objections we have.

To Linda in Austin, I respond that I am making an observation, hardly stirring the pot just making an observation about something that seems a frivilous response to an important situation.

I have been involved in this discussion for a long time, and I have attempted to look at every side of what is being presented, and I have to honestly say that I do not think the left has yet even begun to adequately and intellectually join the debate.

Anonymous said...

The main trouble with Fiona's view is that the primary ingredient in all of the modern study of Christianity that she harkens to is the notion that there is no such thing as a tendency for all human beings to err because of our relationship to the First Sin, given as the grasping sin of Adam and Eve. Indeed - to Fiona and to her scholars - people who have the modern liberal concept of "justice" are definitely not sinners with a particular viewpoint but saints who are opposed by "reactionaries" who - to Fiona - ARE probably the only "sinners" in this modern story.

In essence, Fiona's group insists they have the right and the means to re-interpret the whole revelation of God out of existance, rather than letting that revelation INTERPRET US now as well as every person who has lived or ever will live.

Paul W.
former Episcopalian,
now Free Methodist

C. Wingate said...

I'm rather sick of rainbows myself, if only for the reason that the original divine promise they reveal, not to mention their actual beauty, has been drowned in a sea of puerile glurge. Between Precious Moments, Cursillo, and homosexuality, a symbol doesn't have a chance. I'm inclined to greet the paschal morn in a banker's grey suit.

And the truth that anyone can see in counting GC votes is that the Episcopal Church has been in the hands of right-thinking privileged liberals for a very long time now, and especially the House of Bishops. The image of LBGT activists pounding at the door of the establishment is just not true; indeed, the reaction to the various primate communiques on the part of the various homosexual lobbies is presumtive of their authority to dictate morality to the church. The Africans in particular are held to be a lot of backwards types who shouldn't dare to presume to express an opinion. They aren't against the establishment; they are the establishment.