Skip to comments.Those wedding bells are breaking up that old Anglican Communion of mine
Posted on 03/06/2005 5:49:44 PM PST by sionnsar
[Although linked from the Traditional Anglican Directory I rarely visit this quite left-wing site; click through and the banner should tell you why. (This showed up on titusonenine) Some of you have been asking me my opinion on where things are going; it's voices such as this that tell me ECUSA will wind up voluntarily walking apart if the Global South holds firm. --sionnsar]
Do not count me among those who are disappointed or even particularly surprised by the word out of the Primates meeting this past week. Indeed, this Episcopalians belief is that the ECUSA should treat it as an opportunity an opportunity to quit pretending that the Anglican Communion can be saved or is worth saving; an opportunity to begin to form a communion of shared views amongst Christians who cannot find a happy spiritual home between Roman authoritarianism and fundamentalist glorification of ignorance.
Lets see them on their request that we refrain from attending Anglican Consultative Council meetings; see them and raise them one. Lets admit, we and Canterbury have come to another parting of the ways as we did when we won our revolution and sent Canterbury packing along with the king.
U.S. participation in what is, after all, little more than an image of 19th Century British imperialism never made much sense to me. It was their Raj; it never was ours. And if they need to continue to make their monarch out to be someone slightly more important (ostensibly at least) than, say, the Prince of Monaco; if they have to play at being a world power when their real status has more in common with, say, Belize, and if the primates and clergy from their former colonies need an excuse to be treated to tea in the Palace gardens from time-to-time head-bobbing and curtseying to the monarch - well, bully for them! But it isnt American and it isnt anything we need to be a part of. Lets leave that sort of stuff where it belongs Hollywood movies and the Disney theme parks.
Although the breach is ostensibly over how Christian churches should treat homosexual people, at a deeper level it is about something else again it is about turning our backs on human learning since the Renaissance; it is about ignoring the revolution science has brought to human knowledge and it is about saying no to the Enlightenment. If thats where the Anglican Communion (and, God forbid, the ECUSA) wish to go, then please, count me out. The sheer desperation of these people, which sometimes approaches hysteria, reflects a desire to cling to the last acceptable prejudice and an unwillingness to accept what is patent throughout the Bible that our understanding changes from time-to-time. Some of us even call that continuing revelation.
I dont concede for a minute that the Bible contains any commentary on homosexuality as we understand that term today. Every single one of the handful of references to same-gender sexual contact can be explained (and has been for years) as describing something quite different from two people of the same gender forming a loving, monogamous relationship. But assuming for the sake of argument that the clobber passages speak about what we would characterize as sexual conduct between homosexuals, so what? Whatever happened to the old, Anglican, three-legged stool? Does it occur to no one that perhaps Old Testament authors or St. Paul or others might not have understood human sexuality as we in the industrialized West do today? After all, we in the industrialized West began to develop that understanding only fifty-odd years ago. One of the people who responded to Susan Russell+s report from Windsor drew a parallel to creationism saying it was different and Anglicans dont believe in that sort of thing. Well, its not different. It is exactly the same thing. We do not believe that either of the creation stories in Genesis describes actual facts. We dont believe that because the actual facts we have at our disposal make it very clear the Genesis stories are just that stories; lovely stories from which one can draw inspiration and which one can read as allegory, but stories, not fact.
The same is true with regard to homosexuality. No serious scientific or medical expert believes that all human beings are universally sexually attracted to people of the opposite gender. There may be disputes about why nature vs. nur-ture; genetic vs. biological vs. hormonal but it is a given. Not all boys like girls and vice-versa. OK, so why are we asked either to excise OT and Pauline and other writings from their own context and place them into ours without reference to human learning and experience? Why are we asked to do it only with regard to homosexuality?
At the end of the day, those Primates who asked us to back off from our considered view of how the Christian community should treat its homosexual members are taking a profoundly unAnglican and anti-intellectual position. If they wish to join a headlong rush back into the darkness, then I dont wish to stand in their way, but neither do I wish to go along for the ride.
On a personal level, I have the gravest difficulty in having any respect at all for the titular head of the Communion, the singularly overmatched +Rowan Williams. An old friend of mine from Texas says, theres nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos. I fear the Archbishop is living proof of the wisdom of that remark. By his sheer pu-sillanimity over the past several months, he has succeeded in demonstrating to me only that he has no leadership qualities whatsoever and is certainly not one to whom I am likely to look for spiritual guidance.
The development from Belfast last week presents an op-portunity to build anew; to seek common ground with Christians who share our inclusive view of a community of faith. We can build a new Episcopal communion with like-minded clergy and laity in Canada and with more enlightened Anglicans in the UK and elsewhere in the world. We can engage in real mission, seeking to spread the good news of a faith that is spiritually vibrant, intellectually honest, and very much a part of the Twenty-First Century in which we live. We can even reach out to more enlightened minds and hearts among others who had their own breaks with Canterbury Congregationalists and Methodists, to name only two. We may disagree with them on questions of church polity, but surely, that neednt dissuade us from agreeing with them about what we agree about. Far more promising that, it seems to me, that continuing an empty dialog with those whose ears are stopped and whose minds are closed. If Belfast is the best thirty years of talking and listening can produce, is it really worth the effort to continue?
I wrote some months back that I do not fear schism nor do I believe it is necessarily a bad thing. Rather, history teaches us, it is one of the ways the faith has grown. Let us go our separate ways; let us pursue our faith as we understand it, and let us hope that one day the Anglican Communion catches up and seeks to join us.
John is an attorney in southern California and a member of St. James (Wilshire) parish
seeking to spread the good news of a faith that is spiritually vibrant, intellectually honest, and very much a part of the Twenty-First Century in which we live.
8And having come near, Jesus spake to them, saying, `Given to me was all authority in heaven and on earth; 19having gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptizing them -- to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days -- till the full end of the age.'
Good points on both posts!
"Indeed, this Episcopalians belief is that the ECUSA should treat it as an opportunity an opportunity to quit pretending that the Anglican Communion can be saved or is worth saving;"
Hey dude, I bailed out of it over 20 years ago. They were pushing abortion on demand, which realy pushed me over the edge. If cutting heads off babies is okay well...
Or the Scottish, for that matter. But in the next to last paragraph he does talk about creating a new communion.
But they've come out against capital punishment!
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