Skip to comments.Hide the Women and Children [Kate Schori's giving interviews again]
Posted on 01/11/2007 8:56:38 AM PST by sionnsar
Kate Schori's giving interviews again. TEC Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori kicked things around with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette recently. Some selections follow. First off, if you come to your local Episcopal church looking for answers, Kate doesn't have any for you:
Well, we dont come with a prescribed set of answers. We really do encourage people to wrestle with the question. To bring traditional sources to bear on it. Scripture, tradition and reason is how we talk about those sources. We insist that people use their minds in wrestling with questions. Faith is not meant to be unreasoned, or unreasonable. And I think thats one of our gifts, that were willing to deal with a breadth of perspective, and encourage that breadth of perspective. Its a mark of health.
About that famous New York Times interview, which earned yours truly a little over $100, Kate claims she was misquoted. Then she basically confirms everyone's previous impression.
Well, Episcopalians reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations for several reasons. There are clear connections between [reproductive] rates and educational level. Its an inverse connection, as average education level goes up that group of people tends to reproduce at lower rates, and thats certainly true in the Episcopal Church. Its true of other mainline denominations as well. You dont have a theological reason to reproduce at higher rates, unlike some other denominations and faith traditions. Thats the piece of complexity that got left out.
Oh. Glad you cleared that up. Kate wants to reach out to the Hispanic LibCat community.
If you go to Latin America today, you discover that Roman Catholicism is alive and well, but there are many other traditions that are also booming. The Pentecostal religion; more open, in some sense, traditions. I think the Episcopal church provides a liturgically familiar kind of setting, but with an openness of perspective that insists that people have to come to their own conclusions. The answers of faith arent going to be provided for you.
But let's get to the weightier questions. Is Jesus Christ the way, the truth and the life? Sure, says Kate. Sort of.
I certainly dont disagree with that statement that Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. But the way its used is as a truth serum, or a touchstone: If you cannot repeat this statement, then youre not a faithful Christian or person of faith. I think Jesus as way thats certainly what it means to be on a spiritual journey. It means to be in search of relationship with God. We understand Jesus as truth in the sense of being the wholeness of human expression. What does it mean to be wholly and fully and completely a human being? Jesus as life, again, an example of abundant life. We understand him as bringer of abundant life but also as exemplar. What does it mean to be both fully human and fully divine? Here we have the evidence in human form. So Im impatient with the narrow understanding, but certainly welcoming of the broader understanding.
Me, I understand Jesus as the Son of God who came in to the world to save sinners. But to-may-to, to-mah-to. What about the part about no man coming to the Father except through Christ? Kate's not so keen on that bit.
Again in its narrow construction, it tends to eliminate other possibilities. In its broader construction, yes, human beings come to relationship with God largely through their experience of holiness in other human beings. Through seeing God at work in other peoples lives. In that sense, yes, I will affirm that statement. But not in the narrow sense, that people can only come to relationship with God through consciously believing in Jesus.
You know why everybody's so mad at everybody else in the Anglican world these days? Testosterone.
Well, whos most heated up about it? Gatherings around the Anglican Communion that are primarily male seem to get captured by this issue. Gatherings that are primarily female get captured by passion for a human world. For human people and educating children and providing health care. The UN Commission on the Status of Women and the accompanying gathering of Anglican women at the UN over the year is probably the best evidence. And they have different opinions about issues of human sexuality, but thats not the focus of their work together. The focus is on humans.
Men. Nothing but beer, football and leaving the toilet seat up. And you know why so many Anglican Communion Network dioceses are in the South, don't you?
I dont know. I notice its a concern culturally in parts of the country where race relations have been so present. I come from a part of the country where issues of racism arent black/white. Theyre about immigration, either from Asia or from Spanish-speaking countries, so theres not the same kind of clear issue in history about whos in and whos out. Its a much more diffuse issue. And its a complex issue in that its not just one group. And its not just African-Americans; its Chinese and Japanese and Mexicans and people from Hong Kong and Taiwan and the South Pacific. I think the human condition, and original sin, if you will, has something to do with defining some other group as not fully human, not fully acceptable. And in this country its had to do mostly with slavery and African-Americans. The church has certainly wrestled with the place of women in the life of society. Were beginning to wrestle with the place of people whose sexual orientation is different from the average. In some sense the church has wrestled with the place of children. Theyre not normative human beings in many peoples view. I think its a result of that. It has some connection with that history.
What about heaven?
I dont think Jesus was focused on that. I think Jesus was focused on heaven in this life, primarily. The Judeo-Christian tradition has always said yes, there is resurrection. There is life after death. But I think Jesus was not so worried about that. I think hes worried about what were doing to treat our fellow human beings as children of God. He says the kingdom of heaven is among you, and within you, and around you.
I guess that's why He told the thief on the cross, "Today, thou shalt see the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals[peace and blessings be upon them] and then cease to exist." I suppose that was the reason He told his disciples, "In My Father's house are many approaches to eradicating poverty and injustice here in this world. I go to study which of them will work best in this time and place. And if I go to study these approaches, I will return and we will implement them together." About the reign of God, Kate thinks that we all ought to get started bringing it about.
The Anglican tradition of Christianity is world-affirming, it is focused on incarnation, and it insists that were not meant to shut ourselves off from the world in a pietistic sense or in a sectarian sense. That were meant to be in the world, and transforming the world into something that looks more like the reign of God.
Does Christ have anything to do with that? Sure He does, says Schori.
Jesus was clearly in the prophetic tradition. The prophets are concerned about human beings in this life, how governmental structures have oppressed them; theyre concerned with liberation from that oppression. Theyre not patient with the idea that one suffers in this life so you can live in glory after you die. Not patient with that idea at all.
So you can 86 that dying-on-the-cross-for-the-sins-of-the-world fundie nonsense. Jesus Himself would not have been "patient with that idea," what with Him being in "the prophetic tradition" and all. But let's move on to the legal questions.
But the reality also is that congregations and dioceses are structures of the institutional church known as the Episcopal Church. They cant leave. Individuals can leave. Weve also been very clear that property in this church, all kinds of property, real property, legacy, memorials in a congregation, are held in trust, because they come from generations before us and they are for generations that come after us. That cant be alienated. The issue you raised about law the federal Constitution is clear about the separation of church and state, that the church has the right to make decisions, if its a hierarchical church, and that the courts will only interfere in very specific circumstances. The property issues have been decided in favor of the denomination in almost every case.
Not in California which is a state last time I checked. TEC's been getting its ass handed to it on a regular basis there. What about the issue of withholding money from the national church? Kate's against the idea. Natural, I guess, considering all the jack's TEC's been losing since Robbie's pointy hat.
There are congregations and even dioceses in this church that, because theyre peeved with particular decisions and theyre decisions across the map; all sides are going to withhold funding from the national church. Its a sad commentary on an understanding on both denominational polity and a sense of stewardship. Money thats given is meant to be given as an expression of gratitude, not as a tax, although people sometimes see it that way. And the other sad part is that often when those monies are withheld, it prevents good creative mission from going on. It hamstrings feeding programs. It prevents new congregations from being started. It slows down aid work overseas. We are often in this country still highly individualistic. Whats mine is mine, and dont touch it. Thats not a Christian virtue.
And it's dangerous too.
Theres a rather surprising story in the book of Acts, in a Christian community that was clearly holding goods in common, and a couple in the congregation, in the gathering, said they were going to sell their property and give the money to their community, and it didnt happen that way, and the way the story is told is actually quite humorous.
That would Ananias and Sapphira for those of you scoring at home. And I guess two people dropping dead is sort of funny. But it says here that they died because they lied to the Holy Spirit. You know, like claiming the Holy Spirit wanted a unrepentant sinner to get a pointy hat when the Spirit wanted nothing of the kind. Just a heads-up, there, Kate. Moving on, what are you going to be doing in Tanzania?
To go and meet the human beings who will gather. Im sure there are a couple, at least, who dont welcome the presence of a woman in their midst, and others whom I claim as friends. Its a mixed group. And in some sense its curious to me that opinions that were held by each of my predecessors are somehow more offensive when theyre held by a woman.
Kate? We were just as offended by the apostasies of Ed Browning and Frank Griswold as we are by your apostasies. So either wear your "Men Suck" T-shirt to Dar es Salaam or get over yourself.
In some respects, next month's stakes just got a lot higher. Because, to put it bluntly, Katharine Jefferts Schori is not a Christian, at least no kind of Christian that I recognize. So what does that say about the "church" who elected her to lead it? Orthodox Anglicans, wherever in the world they find themselves, cannot maintain any kind of a relationship at all with TEC, even a theoretical one, or the ground is completely cut out from under what we claim to believe.
At the very least, I think that the sanctions against TEC imposed at the Dromantine Primates Meeting need to be greatly increased. I'm inclined to think that TEC should be immediately suspended from all Anglican affairs until such time as they decided to abide by the provisions of the Windsor Report and that the Network should receive some kind of official recognition. Will this happen?
Let's just say that for a lot of us, substantial progress had better be made next month. The Network had better receive some kind of reward for its witness, such as that has been, and there had better be movement toward TEC's isolation or suspension. And with any kind of luck, TEC will not accept suspension from Anglican affairs and leave on its own in its usual self-righteous huff with whatever provinces or dioceses that want to follow it out.
But mark this down. The status quo ante, with perhaps a few additional minor penalties tacked on, is unacceptable. If we are told to "wait until Lambeth," if we face another year of yammering and if, after Dar es Salaam, TEC is still a full member of the Anglican Communion with no immediate prospect of seeing its status reduced, many of us will finally and forever wash our hands of Anglican Christianity and find other Christian traditions.
Nice article. Enjoyed it thoroughly. BTTP.
How about "I am the way and the truth and the life and NOBODY gets to the Father except by me."
Much more narrow now. Tends to eliminate ALL other possibilities, huh?
Darn those words in red, they tend to be pretty pointed, huh? /sarc
I am a woman and I am appalled at her statements.
But I say... let her keep giving interviews! We NEED to see the American Episcopal church's ownership as it exists today, fully exposed.
This statement stood out for me. It sounds like the old Marxist liberation theology -- stop focussing on pie in the sky when you die and focus all efforts on left wing social justice efforts at construction of the perfect socialist society here on earth...
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