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Turn, Turn, Turn [TEC]
Stand Firm ^ | 11/03/2006 | Greg Griffith

Posted on 11/03/2006 2:28:43 PM PST by sionnsar

Katharine Jefferts Schori says that abiding by the Windsor Report may be something The Episcopal Church must do for the good of the Anglican Communion. I'm not so sure it's good for anyone but The Episcopal Church. Here's why.

In an Associated Press story yesterday about Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori it was written that

…the bishop also is aware that compromise is necessary to heal the rift with overseas Anglicans - a goal she says is important to her. She believes Episcopalians should fulfill the request of Anglican leaders that the American church stop consecrating any more gay bishops for now, and should refrain from developing an official prayer service to bless same-gender couples.

"There's a piece of me that is very sad that we need to do that," she said, "but there's a piece of me that understands that for the health of the larger body, we might have to do that for a season."
For a season.

So let's assume that this is the new PB's plan: First she and Frank Griswold meet with Rowan Williams, and agree that TEC will put the brakes on "for a season." Then, if some significant number of primates accepts Schori's invitation to discuss TEC's future in the communion, she carries that same message to them: No more consecration of gay bishops, and no more authorization of same-sex blessings. For a season.

What will the primates' response be? An argument that passes cursory p.r. muster can be made that a moratorium – however temporary – is all the Windsor Report asks for on those matters. Indeed, "moratorium" means a temporary suspension.

If the primates accept this "for a season" language, what does that mean for the primates, for inter-provincial relations, for the American national church, and finally, for you and me, the folks in the pews? I don't think that's any big mystery. It means another block of years – at least three, probably six and maybe even nine, but possibly as many as twelve, until Lambeth 2018 – during which we have to keep listening. Listening to those weepy stories of how sweet so-and-so's lesbian aunt is, or how so-and-so's cousin got taunted in high school because he's gay, and because the aunt is sweet and the cousin is picked on, we now have to embrace homosexuality as being every bit as holy and sacred an expression of Christian love as that between husband and wife. It could easily be another decade or so of this tired old cycle:

"You need to listen to us! You need to hear how loving and committed and caring and compassionate gay couples are! You need to hear our stories, and share our experiences! You need to give us our own diocesan ministry! You need to host Integrity meetings in every parish! You need to hear all about how wonderful it is to be gay! Listen! Listen ! Listen! You need to know and understand that the love we make is as beautiful as any love that's made!"

Well, um… okay… but there are these passages in the Bible that call it a sin--

"All you people ever want to talk about is sex! Why can't you just mind your own business! Why can't you just leave us alone?!?"

We conservatives have, on an important level, actually agreed with that. We've been saying for years now that it's not about sex, but the authority of Holy Scripture, and ultimately the person and purpose of Jesus Christ Himself. We've been saying this for a very good reason: To deflect the charges - leveled at us by advocates of homosexuality in the church - that our opposition to their agenda is based on simple, unthinking, gut-level homophobia, and to focus the debate where it should rightly be focused. For the most part it has been a deft deflection, and as a result in many important arenas – the global theological debate, certain sectors of the news media, for example – it has had the intended effect of focusing the debate not on whether some people engage in gay sex and others are repulsed by it, and which side is right; but on the question of what it means to be a church under the authority of Holy Scripture, and indeed what it means to be a Christian.

We have also hitched most of our wagons to what is, let's face it, a very dim star in the form of the Windsor Report. While the first two sections contain some wonderful writing about the nature of communion, and should be commended to all denominational Christians, the last two sections – on which, it can be fairly said, the future of the communion hinges – are valuable not so much as a statement of what it means to be a church under the authority of Holy Scripture, or even what it means to be a Christian, but as a way of illustrating how far from its moorings the Episcopal Church has drifted and, by the low bar it has set for TEC to remain in communion with it, how far the Anglican church has also drifted.

We conservatives have noted how the left stomps its feet and refuses to step over even so low a bar, and chuckled as we assumed that their refusal to do so means their inevitable ejection from the communion. Bishop Schori's investiture will feature a nod to the Native American culture of the west from which she hails. Some of us conservatives, in our reliance on Windsor eventually to spell the end of 815's status as America's official Anglican province, have been living out a bit of Native American culture of our own: An old Indian saying that goes, "If you wait by the river long enough, you can watch the bodies of your enemies float past." All we have to do is wait, see, until the global church finally runs out of patience and ejects TEC from its midst.

But what if 815 has already pledged to the archbishop that it will abide by the terms of Windsor? What if it pledges the same to the primates? What then?

Let's be candid about where that will leave the American church. There is simply no way that 815 is going to go to the 10 dioceses that have authorized same-sex blessings (Arkansas, North Carolina, California, Washington, Connecticut, Nevada, Long Island, Delaware, Vermont and New Hampshire) and insist they roll back those authorizations. There is likewise simply no way 815 is going to ask for Gene Robinson's pointy hat back. Remember – when it comes to canons and constitutions that "cut against" lock-step accession, The Episcopal Church is a rigid hierarchical organization with the power to enforce rules. But when it comes same-sex blessings and gay bishops, we have to live into the tension of autonomy, different contexts, and pluriform truth. So if indeed 815 pledges to abide by the Windsor Report, it's going to be with an asterisk – with those 10 dioceses and Gene Robinson grandfathered in (the hasty-seeming moves lately of Arkansas and Connecticut to authorize SSB's all of a sudden make more sense) And, of course, the Integrity/Claiming the Blessing/Oasis crowd will continue to try and push the envelope, and priests here and there will continue to bless same-sex unions with only the rare peep heard from 815, and even then to a chorus of "witch-hunt!" and "oppression!"

So let's put ourselves in a world where 815 pledges to abide by the Windsor Report, but we still have 10 dioceses blessing same-sex unions, and at least one non-celibate gay bishop.

What then, conservatives? What then, David Anderson? What then, Bishops Duncan, Iker, Schofield and Ackerman? I think it's safe to say that ++Rowan will go for it, no questions asked. It'll be easy to spin non-compliance-within-compliance as a victory for the classical Anglican spirit of compromise.

But do the Global South primates go for it?

Because if they don't, they're going to have a hard time explaining how it is that they've been beating the "Windsor compliant" drum for two years now, but reject a pledge by 815 to be compliant.

But if they do, then we Americans – to say nothing of those primates – are still stuck with a "church" the problem with which, as we've been making such an effort to point out, is not same-sex blessings and gay bishops at all, but the authority of Holy Scripture and what it means to be a Christian. The Windsor report contains no conditions about those.

And we could ask for few better men than +Gomez to be in charge of the Anglican covenant process, but I don't think even the most optimistic among us expect that to be even half-finished by the end of the decade, and I suspect even fewer of us have confidence that what we will end up with will be anything we're proud to pass down to our children and grandchildren.

At that point, our only hope will be that the factions on the left that have been pushing this agenda are so demoralized by their leadership's "betrayal" of them that they all finally, mercifully, realize that they just need to say goodbye to TEC and become Unitarians; and that there is still, after 30+ years of faithful Christians leaving the Episcopal Church, enough of an orthodox remnant to provide an effective witness and maintain and nurture the reborn church.

I've written before on the new temporal nature of the gay lobby in the Episcopal Church – that what used to be a movement happy to measure its progress by incremental victories at triennial General Conventions, is now a movement that must have it all and have it now, or else it's war – and I'm going to be extremely interested to see how it responds if the lady it thought was its strongest champion yet, hits the pause button for a decade or more. I'm not so sure they don't have a little more patience in them. And if they do, and my exasperation over the communion's inability to deal with heresy in its midst doesn't drive me from the church, the incessant howling and squealing from the gay lobby over the next several years will almost certainly do the trick.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 11/03/2006 2:28:44 PM PST by sionnsar
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2 posted on 11/03/2006 2:29:05 PM PST by sionnsar (††|Iran Azadi| 5yst3m 0wn3d - it's N0t Y0ur5 (SONY) | UN: Useless Nations)
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