Saturday, May 27, 2006

On Growing Up

Elizabeth Kaeton -- General Convention Deputy from Newark, Integrity Board member and Rector of St. Paul's, Chatham (among other things!) -- has generously consented to let me share these pointed and ON-point reflections on faith, baptism and the Windsor Report originally posted to the Bishops and Deputies listserve.

===============

To all the very nice, well-intentioned, devout Christian, straight, white men who pay their tithe/pledge to their church and are otherwise good citizens of the universe who:

(1) have Anglo Catholic or evangelic friends (mostly other men but some female and some even gay men) who support the resolutions in the Windsor Report

(2) believe that church's teaching should meet a "higher standard of biblical warrent, patristic corroboration, theological coherence, formal pronouncement, and sustained consensus of the faithful over a period of generations"(not the doctrine or even the written or maintained standard of TEC or AnglicanCommunion, BTW),

(3) think that the Church's teaching ought to be upheld and not 'deconstructed' or changed in order to preserve the unity of the communion and/or

(4) Believe that the church is in "impaired" communion over the ordination of women, but somehow don't think that's such a big problem or has anything to do with the current "troubles" in the communion.

(My, my, but it must be true what they say: institutional memory is very short. Never mind that we lost entire churches over the ordination of women and many around the communion at that time predicted schism and all other kinds of ecclesiastic calamity - which turned out to be true and remains so).

I want to say these things as clearly as I know.

1. RE: MORATORIUM: To build unity in the communion at the expense of one group - even for a season - is neither charitable nor Christian. Jesus calls us ALL to sacrifice - not to sacrifice some for the good of the rest. Such unity, to borrow a phrase from Moderator Duncan, is counterfeit, and said moratorium inherently evil.

2. RE: AUTONOMY: Anyone who had a good liberal arts education learned in Psych 101 about Eric Erickson's Eight Stages of Development in a healthy human being.

The first is BASIC TRUST vs. BASIC MISTRUST (Hope). This is attained in the period of infancy through the first one or two years. The second is AUTONOMY vs. SHAME (Will) which is attained in the period of about 18 months to 4 years. Without the development of these two milestones, a healthy human being can not go on to mature and attain the other milestones, which include

Initiative vs. Guilt PURPOSE
Industry vs. Inferiority COMPETENCE
Identity vs. Identity Diffusion FIDELITY
Intimacy vs. Isolation LOVE
Generativity vs. Self Absorption CARE
Integrity vs. Despair WISDOM

(I think that's right. Somebody check me. It's been a while since I learned it or taught it. See also Fowler's stages of faith development.)

The point is that without Autonomy in the individual there is no health in the community - much less maturity.

I'm going to say that one more time, and in capitol letters and bold type so we all hear it clearly: WITHOUT AUTONOMY IN THE INDIVIDUAL THERE IS NO HEALTH IN THE COMMUNITY - MUCH LESS MATURITY.

Personally, I believe we, as a church and a communion, are perennially caught in the developmental stage identity vs. identity diffusion FIDELITY (adolescence) and struggling to attain intimacy vs. isolation LOVE.(young adult)

Whenever we have a season of growth or maturity in our faith, it produces a crisis which drives us right back to the first building block of TRUST. Whatever work was not fully completed before we moved on comes back to haunt us until we complete the tasks of maturity and healthy growth.

The present "trouble" in the church is just one more manifestation of this struggle to gain maturity - individually and in the body.

Am I saying we need to "grow up"? You bet I am. Indeed,

I would even join my voice with St. Paul (not my favorite character) and say we need to "grow into the full stature of Christ." That's partof a prayer said at Baptism. Check it out.

3. RE: UGLY AMERICANS: Yes, we Americans must learn to appreciate the situations of our sisters and brothers in other parts of the communion. But, they must learn to appreciate the situations in which we live here in America.

I'm committed to walk a mile in Akinola's purple sacristy slippers. Let Akinola walk a mile my proper Episcopal pumps.

One last thing: We cannot deal with the Windsor Report - which is NOT LEGAL - until we deal with the fact that we have lack of compliance with the canons in our own church regarding the ordination of women. What, then, shall we do about that?

Or, about those who have not contributed to the spiritual or financial well being of the church in the past 3-6 years and who are sworn to destroy or "replace" TEC?? I know that's probably not significant to those who are already ordained and never had even an eyebrow (much less a question) raised about their capacity for ordained ministry because of either their gender or sexuality. I assure you that it is very significant to women and those who are our allies who work toward achieving 'the full stature of Christ' in their lives and in the lives of the church, the sacred body of Jesus.

And, we who believe in freedom, in the liberation of the human spirit promised in the Gospel of Christ Jesus, will not rest until it comes.

53 comments:

Chip said...

Rev. Susan,

"To build unity in the communion at the expense of one group - even for a season - is neither charitable nor Christian."

I'm trying to reconcile this statement in light of Christian history, and particularly the ecumenical councils, with the decisions made there that essentially declared some of the beliefs of different groups to be incompatible with Christian faith.

I'm trying to reconcile this statement in the light of our Anglican history. It seems to me that if we took Rev. Keaton's statement to its logical conclusion, then we could never agree on anything, not even the Lambeth Quad. (I'm sure there were some back in the late 1800s who had disagreements with the wording in the final form of the Quad.)

I'm trying to reconcile this statement in the light of our Episcopal history and the difficult decisions that needed to be made after the American Revolution. Surely, some groups were not happy with the church that developed.

Let's take another hypothetical (if unlikely) example. Let's say that a province approves of an amended version of the Nicene Creed that takes away some of the text. Many of that province's parishioners disapprove of the amendment, although some agree. Much of the rest of the Anglican Communion is outraged and works to reverse the situation in that province. Is the attempt to build unity in the Anglican Commuion around the full text of the Nicene Creed at the expense of those who approve amending the text "neither charitable nor Christian"?

Just some thoughts.

Peace of Christ,
Chip

Jeff Martinhauk said...

I really like the idea of talking about these issues in term of developmental milestones. I find that looking for a judgemental Jesus instead of a loving one seems to imply to me a lack of a fully formed psyche in all stages of psychological development- e.g. looking for the critical parent instead of the loving supportive one.

Now that's bound to elicit some kind of polarized response, but it is intended not with ill feelings but genuine love towards those who don't share my opinions. I really think we have some development to do with regards to dealing with compassion and trust. Trusting in the literal Bible is not the same as trusting in God- at least I don't see how it is.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Chip -

I think that your premise is that theological differences are the same as differences that exclude a particular minority group.

I don't buy that assumption. If for example, the Nicene Creed said "For 'straight people' and for 'straight people's salvation, he came down from heaven" or "For 'white people' and for 'white people's salvation, he came down from heaven" I think that is the kind of exclusion this would be comparable to in the Nicene Creed.

Chip said...

Jeff,

Weren't the Arians in the end "excluded," even though for a time they were far more numerous than the group that became known as the "orthodox"? It seems to me that any decision made by the church (or any other decision-making body) ends up being "at the expense of [at least] one group." Rev. Kaeton places no qualifier before the word "group" other than "one" in the statement that I cite.

And regarding the love and justice of God: Frankly, Jeff, there is no love without judgment. A parent is unloving if he or she never stops a child who is doing something bad. A society is in chaos if we do not have judges.

God is going to judge us -- we are told that in numerous places in Scripture. A progressive "anonymous" on another thread who responded to me was absolutely right when he or she said that God will hold us accountable for how we treat others.

The difficulty with what you're saying, Jeff, is that you presuppose that love and mercy are antithetical to judgment. They are not. Love and mercy cannot properly exist without judgment -- or vice versa.

God is more loving than you or I or anyone else reading this post can imagine, Jeff. But he will judge us, and he would actually be unloving if he did not judge us, given all of the horrible things that happen in this world. We dare not ignore the Scripture's words on that. Even our lord and savior said, "By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."

Peace of Christ,
Chip

BabyBlue said...

Elizabeth offers us a fine example of why we appear to be headed to a conclusion of irreconcilable differences between ECUSA and the Anglican Communion (as expressed in the Windsor Report).

The Windsor Report is not based on the same presumptions that Elizabeth offers - so we do not even agree on the terms. We know that NT Wright wrote much of the theological basis in the first section of the Windsor Report and Elizabeth's reflections are in stark contrast to the understanding of the fallen nature of humankind as being only redeemed in the Cross of Christ and not through our own efforts or progressive evolution. In fact, Jesus calls us to be as little children in the simplicity of our faith and it is the meat of suffering that we are later called to endure, not blessed self-fulfillment.

The Episcopal Church has re-embraced its very early heritage as Liturgical Unitarians. One could say that ECUSA has returned to her roots in the New England branch of Anglicanism (as opposed to the Virginia branch) and reidentified itself with Unitarianism. Elizabeth rejects traditional Anglican teaching (as she clearly admits that Paul is not one of her favorite characters - how could he be if she holds these Gnostic views?) in favor of Liturgical Unitarianism. Her ideas are not new - they are old. Very old.

I too was once unitarian in my Christian Science days. I continue to be amazed that Episcopal leaders like Elizabeth appear to believe this is such a new revelation from the Spirit and that the Global South are primitive in their theological understanding, not enlightened as we Americans surely are. The Spirit told a lot of this stuff to another American woman, Mrs. Eddy over a hundred years ago - and isn't it nice to see ECUSA catching up.

Want to read Mrs. Eddy herself? "The universe of Spirit is peopled with spiritual beings, and its government is divine science. Man is the off-spring, not of the lowest, but of the highest qualities of Mind. Man understands spiritual existence in proportion as his treasures of Truth and Love are enlarged. Mortals must gravitate Godward, their affections and aims grow spiritual, - they must near the broader interpretations of being, and gain some proper sense of the infinite, - in order that sin and mortality may be put off." Chapter XI, Science and Health.

bb

Anonymous said...

What a rant by Keaton. She says "To build unity in the communion at the expense of one group - even for a season - is neither charitable nor Christian. Jesus calls us ALL to sacrifice - not to sacrifice some for the good of the rest. Such unity, to borrow a phrase from Moderator Duncan, is counterfeit, and said moratorium inherently evil." First, no group is being left out--certain behaviors are--but no group. But the left wing can't ever seem to get this. Second, "inherently evil?" Give me a break.

As far as Martinauk goes, when he says he is"looking for" a Jesus who meets his criteria, he gives the game away. Better, I think to take Jesus as he is, with all his teaching. See Mt on marriage

Anonymous said...

Though I'm a progressive GLBT Christian, I find some of the Rev. Kaeton's comments disturbing.
1) Re: God's judgment --This quote from a recent sermon by the Rev. Anne Bartlett:
“For the judgment of God is as constant as the unconditional love of God, and that’s a paradox and a Mystery. We’re going to be loved, regardless, all of us, which makes some Christians crazy, especially the more fundamentalist, conservative ones. We’re always being judged, all of us, and that makes some Christians crazy, especially the more liberal, progressive ones. And the judgment is about the quality of our loving.”
2) Re: building unity in communion at the expense of one group being neither charitable nor Christian -- what are we to make of I Cor. 8 (where Paul discusses the controversy over eating meat sacrificed to idols)? Paul could easily say, 'Christ set us free; get over it.' Instead, he says, if it hurts one of my brothers, I'll refrain from eating that meat.

revsusan said...

My favorite line was actually the sacristy slippers vs Episcopal pumps

Laura said...

I just got done reading Saul's story of how he went against God's clearly written rules about mediums and consulted one to talk to Samuel. God judged harshly the man that was once dear to him, because Saul turned from God and turned from His laws. God's judgement was swift and to the point. No second chances. Because Christ is One with the Father, that character trait is in him as well. He will judge us on the last day, and we will be accountable for our actions and inactions. Jesus did judge. When the rich man could not go and sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor and follow christ, Jesus did not go running after him and say "oh, never mind. You're such a nice guy. I didn't really mean that anyway. You just show up when you can, and that's fine." What we have that Saul didn't is that Christ offers us second chances through his Grace. (Although God gave Saul many chances and he never took them...too much need to be in control. Glad that nasty human trait has gone out the window over the years! :o)

Anonymous said...

Rev Susan said "My favorite line was actually the sacristy slippers vs Episcopal pumps."

Of course it was. We knew that.

qe2 said...

Dear Anonymous 2:07pm: Great quote from The Rev. Anne Bartlett. Since I see her in the list of Deputies for the upcoming Convention, maybe Rev. Susan could talk to her about her views on this issue, among others. Should make a good read considering the quote you gave us from one of her sermons is SO right on. I don't think it could be simpler than as Rev. Anne puts it; I would be interested in hearing more of what she has to say. Thanks for sharing that little morsel of goodness.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Chip -

I don't agree that there can be no love without judgement. See the post on my blog today here: http://leaningtowardsjustice.wordpress.com/2006/05/27/religion-fundamentalism-and-choice. Note this post was before I read anything on Susan's site- the convergence of these two issues was completely in the hands of the Spirit.

The bottom line is that love involves compassion, not judgement. God understands that. A human understanding of anything different is leftover of broken-ness in the way we live and adjust to our environment from our childhood in an unhealthy way. The way we are incapable of tolerating differences is a freezing of the developmental stages that Elizabeth talks about.

Now, Chip I certainly hope in your post that you are not trying to compare Nazis to gays and lesbians. It almost sounds like you are saying that we should have excluded Nazis and therefore we should exclude gays and lesbians.

In fact God loves all. The much better description of the human incapacity to understand the bigness of God with your given example is the original text of the creed with its original verbiage of "for man and for man's salvation" which we now understand to be too exclusionary. We have replaced it so that it doesn't exclude over half the human race by being gender intolerant.

That is a much better example than using the Nazis.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

As for the shoes...

Forget the sacristy slippers and the Episcopal pumps. He may not know anything about doctrine or running a church, but the Pope's Pradas are stylin'!

j

Chip said...

"Now, Chip I certainly hope in your post that you are not trying to compare Nazis to gays and lesbians. It almost sounds like you are saying that we should have excluded Nazis and therefore we should exclude gays and lesbians."

Jeff, you really didn't understand me at all (unless you were making a joke, which I wish you were in this case). I'm not talking about Nazis, but the Arian controversy of early church history! And no thought of any connection with GLBTs was ever in my mind.

I have to admit that I am dumbfounded that anyone could think that I was talking about Nazis! I've mentioned the Arian controversy frequently in postings, and I just assumed that readers' heads would jump to church history.

"The bottom line is that love involves compassion, not judgement. God understands that."

Again, you've set up a false dichotomy, Jeff. There is no dichotomy between compassion and judgment; in fact, compassion WITHOUT judgment is inherently unjust and unloving.

Let's use a hypothetical example in which I'm a parent to two children. One steals the other's toy. I say to the one who had her toy stolen, "I'm sorry that your big brother stole your toy. You need to go play with him anyway." I say to the big brother, "I see that you're not playing with your little sister. Now go be good and play with her."

I've just been compassionate to both children in different ways. Has justice been done? No, not as long as I do nothing about the stolen toy. I've stressed unity to both of them, but I haven't dealt with the real issue.

The fact is, we need to make judgments about situations that we face on a daily basis. Heck, we need to judge things correctly in order to know how to love someone compassionately. To go back to the hypothetical scenario, while I will love both of these children equally, and while I will show compassion to both of them, I will not show them both compassion in exactly the same manner. I can't when one has stolen something from the other child. And if the big brother persists in keeping the toy from his little sister and does not show any sign of repentance, out of love I will cut off my compassion (temporarily) and discipline him.

Indiscriminate compassion, Jeff, is neither loving nor just. Our compassion MUST be grounded in our judgment in order that true compassion can be expressed.

And that's what God understands far better than we can, Jeff. He knows all about us, inside and out, and we don't. Scripture cautions us that "Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). Those are wise words for any one of us! We are only human, and are prone to looking at the surface. God, though, knows everything about us intimately -- our good and our bad.

And, with that knowledge, God knows what we need to make us into "little Christs," to use C.S. Lewis' analogy once again. In this life, he will discipline us at times, always out of love, in order to enable us to grow to become more like Jesus. (See Hebrews 12.) God also never accepts our sin. He actively works in our lives against our sin, to make us more like Christ.

At the end of this life, all of us will be judged by God. Revelation 20, Matthew 25, James 5, and other Scriptural passages tell us of this final judgment. See C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle, book seven in his Narnia series, for a vivid fictional depiction of this judgment. I don't doubt that God will be compassionate with all of us -- but compassion is not antithetical to judgment.

"God loves all." Absolutely, Jeff. The fact that he will judge us is actually proof of that.

Peace of Christ to you!
Chip

Chip said...

Jeff,

One other thought:

"[T]he creed with its original verbiage of 'for man and for man's salvation' ... we now understand to be too exclusionary. We have replaced it so that it doesn't exclude over half the human race by being gender intolerant."

I hope it goes without saying to everyone that the creed constantly was understood in Christian history to refer to both men and women. Only in the second half of the last century did inclusive language become an issue to us as human beings.

Peace of Christ,
Chip

revsusan said...

"compassion WITHOUT judgment is inherently unjust and unloving."

Absolutely. The question is what is the criteria for the judgment -- or accountability -- and if we do the WWJD thing we end up with "inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these" as our Lord's standard for judging how we have lived up to our call to follow him.

As for the "man has always included woman" argument that's more that I can take on in a dashed off comment before I leave for church but there was indeed a period in Christian history when the salvation of a woman independent of her husband was still on the table for negotiation and a VERY long period in church history when "man" included "woman" except in the canons for ordination.

obadaiahslope said...

Where did thode nazis come from? Did Jeff mix up Arian and Aryan?

obadiahslope said...

This time in english...Where did those nazis come from? Did Jeff mix up Arian and Aryan?

tony said...

What psycobabble! Could we please have some theological reasoning and not something that wouldn't even pass muster among shrinks. Autonomy in communion defined by Erikson's 8 stages? Give me a break, please. Is this what passes for enlightened reasoning in the Diocese of Newark or the GLBTQRSWXYZ community?

Eric Swensson said...

"man has always included woman"

Actually, man as a collective noun continues to mean humankind though come feminists write (sic)after it.

It seems to have fallen out of style...

qe2 said...

Eric said "man has always included woman". NOW, that IS psychobabble.
If that was the case then there would be no problem with a woman Pope, and there would have been women priests centuries ago. That man always included women is c**p.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Forgive me, Chip, I'm not familiar with Arianism, or wasn't until I just did a quick web search. I had confused it with Aryans, as someone else indicated.

As for the "no compassion without judgement"-- that may be true. And I think Susan may have something that it has to do with the definition of the judgement.

I know this much-- that it would be a very unjust God if any outcome could ever be that any human being would ever end up being punished in eternal hellfire. There are just too many outside factors that govern our behavior and choices. Take two twins, genetically the same, put them in different environments growing up, and they will make different choices. God has compassion and understands that the choices that they make are at least partially governed by outside influences. Are they responsible for their actions? Absolutely. But does God have compassion, knowing that they have "stuff" that lead them to make the decisions they made? You bet.

God is too big, too infinite, to limit love and compassion in the traditional "let's send 'em to hell forever" judgement. I don't believe that. For anyone. No matter who. Christ died for ALL. Not for some.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Tony -

Actually, this theory is one that I've discussed with mental health professionals. So it flies with at least some "shrinks".

And, while your lack of respect for the GLBT community is obvious by satirizing the name of our community, I'll continue to try and keep as much respect as possible when dialoging with you because I think it is what Jesus expects me to do even with those with whom I disagree.

And finally, good theology does not ignore psychology. It also does not ignore science. Good theology helps to explain why God created science and psychology and medicine and everything else the way it was created. So psychobabble to you is good theology to me.

I heard a great theologian speak in my parish who maintained the same. I'm planning on writing about that soon, so stay tuned on my blog if you are still engaged at all.

j

Psychobabble Princess said...

I was tempted to weigh in when we got to the sacristy slippers vs. the pumps but restrained myself.

Then, when accused of being a Unitarian, I laughed so hard I could hardly speak, much less type.

(Anyone who knows me knows that my frequent lament is, "Ah, the things we do for Jesus." And, my congregation delights in my nicknames for the Holy Spirit - Shekinah, Chiquita, and Coincindence. I talk about her and pray to her all the time.)

All kidding aside, I have solid Trinitarian credentials. Trust me.

Nah, don't trust me. Ask anyone in my congregation.

What finally got me to write was the predictable comment about psychobabble.

I knew it would happen, eventually.

It's the one thing church folk resort to when they know in their heart of hearts that the truth has been spoken, but don't dare admit it, so they try to dismiss it with the term "psychobabble."

It's akin to the "Murphey's Law" of cyberspace discussion: The one who begins to make a reference to Nazi Germany or Hitler has already lost the debate.

In church circles, the one who refers to Psychobabble has already left the conversation.

Is there psychobabble - especially in the church?

You bet there is.

I am probably as offended as the writer ("Baby Blue" - a very cute variation on the cowardly moniker "Anonymous") by psychobabble.

Honey, let me give you a clue: Eric Erickson is hardly psychobabble.

Check him out sometime, if you don't remember him from Psych 101 in your liberal arts undergrad work.

http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/development/erickson.shtml

And, check our Fowler's Stages of Faith Develompent.

http://jmm.aaa.net.au/articles/2219.htm

Fowler's credentials are rock solid and decidedly Christian.

Thank you, Susan, my dear friend and sister in Christ, for convincing me to have this posted on your Blog site.

I've gotten so many wonderful emails because of it - even the ones that are "bad" have been highly entertaining.

Who knew you could have this much fun in cyberspace?

You are a blessing of and to the church, my sister.

Rock on!

(the Rev'd) Elizabeth Kaeton
rector and pastor, St. Paul's, Chatham

Laura said...

Jeff said
"God is too big, too infinite, to limit love and compassion in the traditional "let's send 'em to hell forever" judgement. I don't believe that. For anyone. No matter who. Christ died for ALL. Not for some."

Christ did die for all, Jeff, but not all will choose him, and they will be condemned "to hell forever". that is what He said. that is why he came. That is what we believe. That is what the church has taught since he rose. If he will not condemn those who do not believe, what do we believe in? And why? If everyone can get there, regardless of the means, then why did he die? That would mean the Jews were already heading to heaven...he didn't need to DO anything. This is where the areguement begins to make no sense...Christ either is the Son of God who died on the cross for our salvation and rose again on the third day, or we have no hope at all except in our own goodness and works, and it doesn't matter what we believe or who we believe in. One is Christian thought, and one is not. Just believing that Christ existed and was good does not make a person a Christian...Jews, historians, Muslims, even Satan himself believes Christ existed. That doesn't make any of them christians...they would never even attempt to claim that they were.
It's the rest that matters. Do you beleive in the whole package of the Divine Christ? That is what makes someone a Christian.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Laura -

I believe that Christ died for ALL.

Here's a "quick list" of things that I mostly am in agreement with, from "The Center for Progressive Christianity". http://www.tcpc.org/about/8points.cfm. I don't fully agree with them all, but I do believe that Christ came for all people, including those that don't believe in them. I do not believe that God is so limited as to only save those whose cultures predispose them to believe a Christian message. That is very limited thinking, in my view.

If I was born in, say, Indonesia, where the religion is 88% Muslim, (Population is 245 Million), can you possibly expect that a new child's salvation, one who just happens to be born into this culture where the chances are highly unlikely that there will be any reinforcement of Christian teaching, that God will not have mercy on her soul? That God is not big enough, that Jesus did not come for these people too? That is infinitely unjust to me. That is not the Jesus that I read of in the Gospel who reaches out to all. ALL. Those who are least expected. Those whom the religious authorities do not think will be touched, he touches. All.

I think that the belief of anything else is the reinforcement of the posting here. That folks are "stuck" in a development phase which precludes them from moving from the "egocentricy" of childhood (its all about what I believe) to the "sensible conformity coupled with creativity" of adulthood(diversity of thought and opinion is not a threat to my existence in the world, nor to my beliefs).

j

tony said...

Jeff, have you asked shrinks about applying individual psychology to social psychology? That's what I was referring to. The idea that you can take individual psychology and apply it to an entity (ecusa) within the Anglican Communion seems a bit shaky to me. Hence, psychobabble.

The satirization comes from the always extending nature of the community. It comes from my view of liberalism. Liberalism is an ever-lengthening train. Once one railcar is firmly attached, the social engineers are on the lookout for other cars to attach. So the gay commmunity become glbt and then u and sometimes q...

Elizabeth: I am well familiar with EE and his theories have merit as do those of Fowler, Piaget and others, but so what? I led a youth conference on Fowler several years ago, and when I did individual interviews with kids along the lines of the Fowler interview at the back of Stages of Faith I found that the youth by and large had no clue about the Christian faith or any faith, for that matter. What they needed most was not Fowler, but Jesus. btw - I was given the Fowler camp theme by the camp board, I did not choose it.

My point - applying his individual theory to the Anglican Communion is psychobabble as I have said above. This is why individual psychology and social psychology are two different fields within the same discipline.

I hope that someday you can move from being a psychobabble princess to a biblical scholar.

qe2 said...

Way to go, Elizabeth K+! Why is it that some people--some males, not all -- have such trouble with women--especially women priests, rabbis, and ministers-- who possess such intellect and grace?

Thank you for your invaluable insigt!

tony said...

qe2: It doesn't have to do with gender; it has to do with ideas. Why is everything subjective to you folks and tied to some sort of victim status?

btw, I believe that area within social psychology that would be pertinent in terms of ecusa and the Anglican Communion would be collective behavior.

tony said...

... or just plain sociology. Or an area of sociology.

Laura said...

Jeff-
It is not the people that have never heard the gospel of Christ that I was talking about. I do believe that God has some plan for them, and I do not pretend to be large enough to understand it.(somewhere in my mind I guess I think that he will allow all to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, whether before death or after...but that they will be given the option to choose. He's big enough to handle the details on his own.:o) ) Those that I was talking about are the ones that have heard, but refuse to accept. If we turn down the gift of salvation, he isn't going to force us. To use your child example...if a child is raised in a home that does not believe that Christ is the Son of God, I do not think that child will be held accountable for his lack of knowledge until he reaches an age where he can seek and find and choose for himself. And that is probably different for each person, so we couldn't put an age on it. But some day, (when he's had the opportunity to receive the Message)the responsiblity for the Faith becomes his own, and he becomes accountable for what he will choose.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Tony said: "I led a youth conference on Fowler several years ago, and when I did individual interviews with kids along the lines of the Fowler interview at the back of Stages of Faith I found that the youth by and large had no clue about the Christian faith or any faith, for that matter."

The problem, then, was not with Fowler or Erickson, but with the pedagological methodology.

Obviously, we need to know Jesus and have had an experience of His saving grace, by the power of the Holy Spirit, before any of Erickson or especially Fowler's stuff makes any sense.

As my kids would say "DUH!"

Here's the thing, Tony, the one thing in that whole essay that is the essence of what I want to say and have everyone hear:

Without autonomy in the individual there is no health in the community - or the communion.

That is part of the genius of the Anglican Communion, which is why we are a federation of autonomous provinces and diocese - and not entities which are subservient to a magisterium (like the RCs).

It's not just Erickson and Fowler -who, btw, studied Jesus.

It's the principle of the incarnation of Jesus - who was, himself, a self-actualized person and a model of autonomy in community.

He taught His disciples to be a paradigm of autonomy in community -one that is reflected in the Anglican Communon.

So, your point about "applying his individual theory to the Anglican Communion is psychobabble" is not only un-Anglican, your argument is weak and tedious.

Do you know the definition of a "tedious person"?

It's one who delights in separating fly poop from pepper.

This discussion has disintigrated into tedium about pedegological metodologies and arguments about psychobabble.

And, someone actually missing the joke about "psychobabble princess"

Jeesh, people!

Lighten up!

As I said before, one of the unwritten rules about the end of a conversation is when someone brings up psychobabble.

And so, for me, it has.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Elizabeth -

I love your shoes!

Laura -

I guess all those rules about "who's in" and "who's out" are just too complicated for me.

I believe that Christ died for all. That God is infinite, not finite. That God is love. That God's grace is boundless.

Say it however you like, but I believe that while we are faced with choices here, there are so many other factors that play into those choices that are equivalent to the cultural factors we laid out in the Indonesia example God is just too big to start drawing lines around people based on some set of arbitrary "decision criteria". God: "Well these people were in a different culture so they are in. These people were in a Christian culture so they are out. These people were in a Muslim culture but were exposed to Christianity and didn't choose it so they are out. These people were in a Christian culture but were psychologically challenged and were also taunted by their peers for believing, so maybe I'll give them a break." Where do the "rules" start and stop? That doesn't make any sense to me. God is too merciful and just for that.

j

more martha than mary said...

Jeff,
It seems to me that you must study your bible. How do you reconcile the passages like:
John 15:16, "You did not choose me, but I chose you..."
or Mt 11:27, "...and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him"
or Ephesians 1:4,"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world..."
or 2 Th 2:13,"...because from the beginning God chose you to be saved throught the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth."

I am not trying to be a smarty-pants; I truly am trying to understand where you folks are coming from. It just seems to me that you have to skip over a lot of what the Bible says in order to get it to say what you want.

revsusan said...

"...trying to understand where you folks are coming from. It just seems to me that you have to skip over a lot of what the Bible says in order to get it to say what you want."

At last ... common ground! From "our side of the aisle" we wonder how ya'll "skip over" so much of the Bible that talks about peacemaking, economic justice, and advocating for the marginalized and oppressed -- not to mention the words of Our Lord talking about "other sheep not of this fold" and "things I cannot tell you yet ..."

We could proof-text scripture at each other till the cows come home but I'm hard pressed to see how that advances either the Gospel or either of our cases at this point

Anonymous said...

Kaeton writes about the "incarnation of Jesus - who was, himself, a self-actualized person and a model of autonomy in community." Hmmm. Well, first, I hope we could all agree that autonomy is a very problematic term (if important) with deep and large roots in the Enlightenment (for good and ill) which, in many ways, some important thinkers of the 20th century tried to dethrone (Buber, Rosensweig, Ricouer, and on and on). Very, very few people who work in theological anthropology would risk using it in a way that people, say, Carl Rogers would. Maybe something like 'adulthood', a less philosophically freighted term, would be better, or even maturity. Second, however, where do we get Jesus as 'autonomous'? Jesus, really, receives himself, the gospels seem to depict, as he receives his mission from God the Father. He is a model of receptivity, utterly open to God's own leading, and not in possession of himself in an absolute way, if, that is autonomy means self-possession. So I begin to see a certain 'assuming that which is to be proved' in Kaeton's comments: she wants to have an autonomous province of Anglicanism in community with world-wide Anglicanism so--viola!--she sees Jesus as autonomous, yet in community. It just isn't convincing to me.

And, again, she undercuts most of what she has to say early on by mischaracterizing her opponents (who don't exclude groups but do protest certain behaviours) and by calling those who oppose same-sex sexual relations as 'inherently evil.'

more martha than mary said...

Dear Susan,

I was just trying to engage Jeff with those scriptures that I quoted just as I might with my own small group as we study the Gospel of John. I was merely trying to see how he can reconcile those scriptures with what he wrote to Laura,
"I guess all those rules about "who's in" and "who's out" are just too complicated for me.

I believe that Christ died for all. That God is infinite, not finite. That God is love. That God's grace is boundless."

You say that asking this question doesn't "advance either the Gospel or either of our cases." Well, you are right, as I was not trying to advance the Gospel or further my case. I was merely trying to understand.

Apparently this is a subject you do not care to address with someone who holds more traditional views.

Sorry I asked.

tony said...

Elizabeth: Jesus as autonomous? Are you familiar with the Gospel of John?

revsusan said...

martha -- if I wasn't interested in having the conversation with someone who considers themself to have a "more traditional view" then I wouldn't have asked the question. And the question stands: help me understand how those who believe they have "the clear truth of Scripture" on their side on isses of sexuality seem perfectly happy to ignore all the clear truths of Scripture that call us to economic justice?

My point was we ALL "skip over a lot of what the Bible says" and the sooner we admit that we're ALL "selective literalists" the sooner we'll find some of that increasingly scarce common ground.

And I'm sorry you're sorry you asked the question. It's an important one.

Chip said...

Rev. Susan,

I agree with you that we're all "selective literalists" because not all of the Bible is meant to be taken literally. You do have to look at factors like literary genre, the author's use of imagery and hyperbole, etc.

Nonetheless, I think the situation is slightly different from the way that you describe it. I don't see many of the orthodox ignoring the Scriptures on economic justice. I see lots of orthodox people working hard to "do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God" -- but often in very different ways than progressives would. For example, many of the orthodox don't agree with typical progressive approaches to economic policy. We also disagree over how much a particualar Scripture applies to something like national policy vs. the individual Christian. That's why so many of the orthodox are very concerned about the poor but think in terms of individual or small group initiatives to help the poor rather than national policy.

Those of us who are orthodox also work hard not to set one Scripture against another, as Article XX says. That principle very much informs our Christian life and motivates us to look at one Scripture in the light of the entire Bible.

Still, I do agree that we on the orthodox end have our blind spots. I often think that those of us who are orthodox could do a lot more than what we do, and that our balance sometimes gets skewed. And, quite frankly, we, like any other human being, are subject to "skip over parts of the Bible" out of our sinfulness. Every single one of us needs the illumination of the Holy Spirit in our reading of Scripture, because in and of ourselves, our sinfulness and weaknesses will work against us.

Peace of Christ!
Chip

Jim Workman said...

And so the grenades and shrapnel fly from both sides. Elizabeth K. is very sharp to the point of cutting. Anonymous people take cheap shots.

I guess it has come to this.

May we divide peacefully so that grace (in a generic sense, not to mention divine) may return for both sides.

You know in your heart that it isn't going to continue in one church body (national or international). Too bad really, but that's the way it is.

Anonymous said...

Jeff M--

Regarding your comment:

"Forget the sacristy slippers and the Episcopal pumps. He may not know anything about doctrine or running a church, but the Pope's Pradas are stylin'!"


The Anglican Communion in 400 years hasn't created a single theologian with Pope Benedict's breadth of theological knowledge. The closest you came was John Newman and he had to leave once he realized what a monumental fraud Anglicanism was. And as for running a church: give me a ring when ECUSA usurps the RCC as the largest Church in the US or when the Anglican Communion outnumbers Catholicism worldwide.

You twit. When you face the Almighty upon your death and find, to your surprise, that you will be judged, you will rue the day you insulted the Successor of Peter.

Hopefully you come to repentence before that awful Day. I will pray my Rosary tomorrow for the salvation of your soul. Somebody needs to worry about it.

FrMichael

Jeff Martinhauk said...

My my, Fr Michael -

I guess at least somebody else likes those ruby red slippers of Benedict. (I know that's tacky, but calling me a twit put me over the edge.)

Call me a twit if you must, but I really don't think there is a lot of room to throw stones here. The sins of the Roman Catholic Church are many. I myself have ministered to many who have left her with only spiritual scars and baggage to show. Does the ECUSA have some of the same issues? Sure. Are we dumb enough to put all of our trust into a single, fallible, man, successor of Peter or no? Absolutely not.

And that is EXACTLY the problem with some of the proposals in the ECUSA put forward by some of our orthodox brethren. It seeks to codify doctrine by recreating the Roman Catholic model, one that has proven itself to be not very helpful to millions of folks for at least a couple of years now.

I'm sure it is a wonderful place for you, Fr. Michael. The RCC is a big place, and I'm sure it has some wonderful qualities. Exclusion is not one of them. You may love the new Pope, but your opinion doesn't make him a wonderful pope for me; nor my low opinion of him make him a bad pope for you. Learning to live in a diverse world and understand that differing opinions don't degrade your own opinions is one sign of "growing up," Fr. Michael-- maybe you should try it on and see how it works for you.

j

Jeff Martinhauk said...

MMTM -

I agree with what Susan has said. I also agree with Chip that we all need the help and illumination of the Holy Spirit in order to guide us through Scripture.

The honest answer is this: I don't know what to do with the Scriptures that say some are excluded. Maybe after I'm through seminary I'll have a better answer. But for now I just sort of keep those on a shelf in a shoebox.

What I do know is this-- I have known from the moment I was born that I could not believe in a God who ever let anyone suffer eternally. It has been intuitive for me that a God who created us had to create us out of love. That love had to be infinite, like the love I know from my parents. Infinite love cannot allow exclusion.

Somebody is bound to bring up judgement and so on. Justice for me occurs over a long period of time through the spirit. The title of my blog is "leaning towards justice"- a quote from my rector, who said that over time, the arc of history always leans towards justice. That is the judgment I believe in. That in the biggest picture God always wins (slavery is over, Apartheid came to an end, the Holocaust ended and Hitler's regime fell, women are gaining rights, and now so are gays and lesbians, etc.).

Just like I don't get involved in every childish sibling squabble between my kids, I don't think God necessarily "keeps a list" of every right and wrong here. But I do try to get my kids to learn from their mistakes. I encourage them to grow. To become better people. I don't force them to do that. I do it lovingly, as only a parent, teacher, coach, mentor, priest, can. And so does God, I believe.

Where is the Scripture? Look at the life of Jesus. Look at the way he interacted with people. Look at the call of Moses. And so on. Do I put a lot on the shelf? Yes. But the God of judgement to me is all about a historical sin-- an errancy that has exactly to do with what Elizabeth is talking about here. It is a God for children who want desparately for the parent to step in and make sure everything is going to be ok when they are fighting over their toys. But the parent knows that in the grand scheme of things, its more important for them to learn how to work it out themselves. The God of adults I think understands this aspect-- the adult looks to God for life lessons instead of judgements.

This post is way too long, and I know it isn't the scriptural foundation you were looking for-- I can't just quote a verse and be done with it. I'm leery of any theology which quotes scripture that way. I use the reason, the compassion, the love, the understanding, the experience, the tradition, that God gave me to understand it.

But Jesus helps, too. A lot.

more martha than mary said...

Dear Jeff,
I appreciate your response. As I mentioned, my small group has been studying John and there is a lot in there that is hard to understand. I was just curious as to your "take" on the "chosen-ness" that is often mentioned in Scripture. You have answered my question, quite truthfully, and I appreciate it, as it really does help seeing where those on the "other side of the fence" are coming from.

I appreciate your comments about how some just off-handedly quote scripture to make their point. If that was how I was sounding, I must apologize. You see, I depend on the fullness of scripture in its entirety for direction. There are parts that I really like, and parts that I don't like so much. But because I believe that the Bible is God's word to His children, I try not to put much in a box, as you say.

tony said...

FWIW: I think that Fr. Michael's attacks of Jeff are out of bounds. Jeff has been nothing but respectful in his posts here, and even his response to Fr. Michael was measured.

rmf said...

Fr. Michael's logic means that India is 3.5 times way better than U.S., China is 4.2 times way better, Russia is 1.2 times way better, Canada is only 9% as good, the UK is only 25% as good, and the right person to pray to after dissing Prada is Mary.

Anonymous said...

The Anglican Communion is in a period of reception on the issue women's ordination. Since there is little or no support for this innovation in the Roman or Eastern Orthodox Churches , it appears that the Holy Spirit is Not speaking something new. Elizabeth Keaton seems to ignore the witness of Forward in Faith in her own Diocese.Or are we to be purged?

Steve Hulme said...

Rev. Kaeton addresses her post "To all the very nice, well-intentioned, devout Christian, straight, white men who pay their tithe/pledge to their church and are otherwise good citizens of the universe who...have Anglo Catholic or evangelic friends". Isn't this a bit condescending -- and just a cheap shot?

Actually, I thought I was a tolerant kind of liberal guy with a concern for the commands in Scripture for social justice. I guess I was wrong, since I have the misfortune to be straight, white, male and Anglo Catholic -- and disagree with Rev. Kaeton. I'll try to do better next time. Maybe when I grow up.

Jeff M. -- I'm really sorry to read the ad hominem attack against you. While I don't agree with you (well, hardly ever), you don't deserve this kind of treatment. I enjoy reading your commentary.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

MMTM -

I didn't mean to imply that you were "scripture dropping", only that I couldn't come up with a line of scripture that would reconcile everything nicely and wrap it up with a bow on top to put my theology in perspective for a literal theologian.

I think, though, to Susan's point, that it is difficult at least for me to understand that anyone is REALLY literal completely- or accepts the scripture entirely, as you put it.

For example, I believe Revelation names the exact numbers of folks who can be saved, and its a number well below what we've got in the church. I'm no expert on Revelation, but these kind of things, to Susan's point, seem to be conveniently either rationlized or ignored by those who otherwise proclaim theologies of "accepting scripture in its entirety."

Just curious if you have an answer for how you might reconcile such passages?

PS - thanks to all for the support of the bitter Catholic exclusionist. I figure life's too short to get angry about such things- obviously I said something that set off some deep issue within him that has absolutely nothing to do with me- so why bother getting upset? Its just part of the larger theology I try to live each day and proves my point about psychology playing a large part in each of our own theological decisions.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I see that I am a "bitter Catholic exclusionist." Fair enough. Better to be bitter than stupid. Anybody ignorant enough to say Pope Benedict doesn't know doctrine reveals his utter cluelessness. Joseph Ratzinger has been considered a world class theologian for the past 30 years: whether you agree with him or not, saying he doesn't know theology is laughable.

The point of the numbers wasn't that bigger is better. It's that somebody selected to lead a billion member organization should get the benefit of the doubt about "running a church" until proven otherwise. The fact that you don't agree with RCC theology bears no relation to his ability to lead the RCC.

rmf: Hate to break the news to you, but the Soviet Union is no more. The Russian Federation has half the population of the United States.

FrMichael

tony said...

Fr. Mike, you are totally out of line. Why don't you learn some manners before you post again. While I have the highest respect for the Pope's theological abilities, I would prefer that his views are represented by someone who doesn't call others twit and stupid. It doesn't reflect well on you or the church you represent.

tony said...

Steve writes:
Rev. Kaeton addresses her post "To all the very nice, well-intentioned, devout Christian, straight, white men who pay their tithe/pledge to their church and are otherwise good citizens of the universe who...have Anglo Catholic or evangelic friends". Isn't this a bit condescending -- and just a cheap shot?

Steve, yes, it is condescending and a cheap shot, but if you are going to read liberals you have to get to used to this kind of stuff. Too many of them use this kind of sorry rhetoric to indicate how smart they are, I suppose. If you look at their theological writings and rationale (like To Set Our Hope on Christ), you see how thin their theology really is. If you haven't done so, read some of TSOHOC and the critiques by the Anglican Institute and you'll see what I mean.