Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Victors Reaching Out To Losers

Hands Across the Divide -- A Sculpture in Londonderry, Northern Ireland

I love having satellite radio in my car, and the other day I was listening to a piece as I was driving about peacekeeping and reconciliation. It was from the BBC World Service and was by Paddy Ashdown, a former military officer, British MP and party leader, and then international representative in Bosnia.

He started in Berlin at the museum established to commemorate the occupation of Germany during the immediate post-war period. Ashdown and his interviewees talked about the peacekeeping success of Germany in that era from which many lessons were learned and applied as difficulties have arisen elsewhere.

One example that was pulled from the hat was that the victors sought to reach out to and make friends with the losers. The museum apparently highlights this in many of its exhibits, and Ashdown and the curator to whom he was talking discussed this.

That one statement got me off thinking about the crisis in the Episcopal Church, where no such thing is going on. Indeed, there seems to be a determination by the present "victors" to drive forward their agenda regardless of the distress it causes to the apparent "losers," or the damage it might be doing the denomination. I'm not sure how a reaching out and making friends would take place, but certainly that moritorium on litigation would be a great starting point, for then it would be possible to sit down to try and talk our way through this issue to some satisfactory resolution without an axe hanging over the heads of any of the parties involved.

People will inevitably complain that this would take far too long, but there is no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to these kinds of circumstances. Besides, it seems that prolonged stretching out of what might be right and worthwhile is never a good reason for not doing it. John Bauerschmidt, our bishop, points out that church conflicts seldom sort themselves out quickly -- and this one should be no exception. Yet our fallen-ness tends to encourage us to put speed ahead of what might be a faithful way of proceeding.

The other day, as I was thinking this through, I tried out my thoughts about victors reaching out to losers on a friend whose insights I value. He thought about it for a few moments then said something to the effect that do we know who the winners and the losers are?

Good point. It do not doubt that it will take several generations before we are able to see this time in perspective and only then will we have some clarity. However, I have in my mind this hunch that ultimately these difficult events through which we are now living will appear very differently then than they do now to those of us who are living through them.

As I read over and over again the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, the reaching out of victors to losers, and vice-versa, seem to have to do with the very uncomfortable teaching of our Lord. There is some turning the other cheek stuff going on here, which itself in the Sermon is a lead up to the loving of our enemies. Oh, and while we seek to love our enemies we are called to "pray for those who persecute" us (Matthew 5:44). Now here are some challenging words in these circumstances.

If we are looking for a way forward, a way out of the present impasse, then we would cannot do much better than to really soak ourselves in the words and actions of the One we consider our Lord and Savior. These values of the Kingdom are demanding, and I am not sure a godly way forward is possible until some of us on ever side of this sorry affair start taking them seriously.


Anonymous said...

This idea is impossible - and in the current circumstances, unchristian.

The categories are not winners and losers: but Christian and heretic.

First the problem is not about the US - or even about provision for losers - Christians - within TEC. It's about the Anglican communion, and what that communion does about something that claims to be a Christian Church but is simply nothing of the kind.

There is a very simple and quick fix to this problem, one that could have been applied in 1963 and most certainly should have been applied in 2003, that the Christians in the communion attempted to apply in Nottingham in 2005 and hopefully will happen soon throw the Heretics out. No amount of talking, of listening, of waiting can resolve this problem any other way.

And the theology here is terribly, fataly flawed, indicating a basic misunderstanding of the Gospel.
The churches in the West, in the North, and TEC first amoung them are rich. And here's what Jesus has to say about the rich:

Cursed are you who are rich, for you have already received your reward!
Cursed are you who are well fed, for you will go hungry!
Cursed are you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep!
Cursed are you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

The mighty ECUSA is not a winner. It will be pulled down in the imagination of its heart: and Christ will lift up the lowly - the faithful in the US, and the Christians in the Global South!

This is the Gospel of Christ.

Praise to Christ the Word!

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