Sunday, June 25, 2006

Feeding on the Bread of Anxiety

By Katie Sherrod (for ISSUES, a publication of The Consultation)

At the end, it came down to this.

We tried to create a "diverse center" by throwing aside the dignity and ministries of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered sisters and brothers.

We tried to build a bridge to Lambeth on the bodies of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Episcopalians.

We tried to "create space for healing" by throwing some of our brothers and sisters out of the boat.

We tried to become "Windsor compliant" instead of focusing on being Gospel compliant.
And all of this because we were force fed the bread of anxiety and became agents of fear instead of agents of hope. There was way too much talk of "sacrifice" and "crucifixion" and none at all about resurrection.

From Day One, a small number of noisy conservatives were pumping fear into the Convention as hard as they could. English archbishops were flown in from England to add to the pressure. When the British bishops weren't there in person, they were issuing letters of warning, which were quickly passed around by the conservative minority.

It almost didn't work. This Convention was very clear that it did not want to go back on human sexuality justice issues. Finally on the last day the presiding bishop used the ugliest kind of coercion and distortion of process to get what he wanted.

In his address to the joint session of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies, Frank Griswold tried to anger "the center" by telling them that "the fringes" had manipulated them. He made it clear that the "fringes" included LGBT people who are participating fully in the life and ministry of the church and want to continue to do so.

We-have-to-do-this-or-we-won't-be-invited-to-Lambeth became his ultimatum. Then he brought out his biggest gun of all, Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori. Give Katharine what she needs to be at the table. The bishops caved.

And when Jefferts Schori was invited to speak to the House of Deputies, the deputies caved.
Fear triumphed over hope, appeasement trumped truth, bullying replaced leadership.
It was spiritual violence - to my GLBT brothers and sisters, to the bishops, to the deputies.
And all for what?

Within minutes, conservative Episcopalians were saying it wasn't enough. To their credit, they had also said this on the floor of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. All along, they've said it wasn't enough. In fact, nothing the General Convention could have done short of stripping Gene Robinson of his office, throwing him and all LGBT people back into the closet and locking the door, and then handing the leadership of the church over to Peter Akinola assisted by Bob Duncan would have satisfied them.

Why are we surprised? Appeasing bullies never works.

We had a chance to say, "We in the Episcopal Church value being part of the Anglican Communion. We love it and wish to remain to vital part of it. However, we are not of one mind on the issues presented in the Windsor Report. We are working out our own consensus on this. Please give us grace and time in which to work this out in the context of our polity. And then let us bring our lived experience in dealing with these painful issues to the Communion as our gift."
That would have been the truth.

It would have shown respect for the Anglican Communion and for the decisions the bulk of people in this church support. It would have shown respect to the shrinking number of conservatives who are in pain over the direction of The Episcopal Church and it would have shown respect for LGBT people and their allies.

If Katharine Jefferts Schori walks across that bridge to Lambeth that we constructed of the bodies of our LGBT brothers and sisters, I pray that she will say this to the rest of the Communion.

The Episcopal Church's struggle to extend the life of the church to all the baptized is a gift. If we don't value it, why should we expect the rest the Communion to do so?

27 comments:

Bruno said...

Amen

January736 said...

So right. And, yes, never worth it. It will be mighty hard to trust ++Katharine again. How sad!She has dragged her mitre through the dust of expediency and means versus ends. I'm done.

Anonymous said...

The new bishop will probably not be invited to attend Lambeth. Africans don't like her. They call the shots these days.

John Gibson said...

"The new bishop will probably not be invited to attend Lambeth. Africans don't like her."

I agree. And it makes her sacrificing her principles all the more tragic.

Renee in Ohio said...

I've started an illustrated transcript of the Voices of Witness video here. It is *far* from done, but I thought I'd post the link to let you see what I've got so far. I hope it can be a little bit of a "pick me up" after a crummy week.

Anonymous said...

My congregation is so excited to hear about the new female PB-elect. And I am in such deep mourning over what they coerced her into doing (or what she gave in to) that I can hardly feel any joy anymore. It is hard not to rain on their parade.
The grin I had on my face at convention is now washed in tears. She cashed us in. Does she know she did it? Was she victimized? Did she realize what she was doing? I'm grieving again the power of the patriarchy.
The church is most certainly like sausage, you don't want to know how it's made.

Dennis Roberts said...

Saw a great article on the website of the English newspaper the Guardian... "The American church is to be commended for quietly carrying on with its life. The entire Anglican communion has risen up against it, Lambeth Palace included. But it has chosen to maintain its dignity." A must read.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1805972,00.html

Kay said...

january736said "It will be mighty hard to trust ++Katharine again".

I think we need to remember that Bishop Jefferts Schori has publicaly gone on record, especially in her CNN interview, in support of gay and lesbians. I don't think that we can lay all of this at her feet. The HOD could have said no.

Robert Ross said...

It is important to remember that +Katherine has not yet been installed. We do not and can not know her anguish over this.It is unfortunate that some in the Church have placed the idea of Anglican Communion above the teachings of Christ. Even though I personally felt like a speed bump last week, I would prefer to defer any comment on her capabilities at leading until she has had the opportunity to do so. It appears that the current PB has chosen to wear "Saul's armour" out of fear. And that in itself is a sad way for him to depart his post. My hope is that +Katherine will choose to follow David's path and remain in integrity with herself by continuing to work toward the full and complete integration and inclusion of all the baptised.

John Gibson said...

"The HOD could have said no."

Two women from my parish were delegates; a priest and a layperson. The lay delegate said she switched her vote (to favor B033) because of +Jefferts Schori's statement to the delegates. I think that's nonsense and it wouldn't have influenced my vote, but her statement had a monumental impact on the HOD.

Anonymous said...

It is truly unfortunate that our church has made a choice not to be inclusive as we say we are! God's Love is blind, so why do we continue to let ours dictate on how the America Church is going to practice the true faith in Christ

Catherine + said...

Enough negativity about the new PB. ++Katharine has shown--proven--that she is a leader and a peacemaker while in her ministry in Oregon and in Nevada. How many of you really know her except for what the media tells you? Here we ask others not to judge us yet what do some do? They make up an entire decision based on a loose set of facts and innuendo...it that is not judging.
Few people know that while ++Frank and his "people" were in a corridor with +Katharine, he was taking a call from someone on his cell phone which he handed to +Katharine to listen or be told something. It was only then that she gave the "conjoined twins" speech. I don't think we really know what went down, and as for me, I will give her every opportunity to do her job and do it well. I firmly believe she will be invited to Lambeth because if she doesn't then schism is inevitable. If she doesn't get invited, I pray to God that every woman and every man that believes we are coheirs in Christ will rise up and raise their voices and rebel against such bigortry. We want to move forward and not back. I see the need to take one step back so that she can take two or more steps forward for every baptized person's right to love and share in that love, gay or straight.

The negativity and judgemental attitudes on this topic and on +Katharine are disgusting and below our usual standard of fairness.

Catherine+

Laine said...

Susan,

Can you comment on the ABC's new response to GC? Our actions didn't seems to "hit the mark."

Anonymous said...

++Katherine made her own mind up to sell us out. I don't know why. Right now I am not sure I even care. Actions speak louder than words people.

Anonymous said...

I choose, for the moment, not to blame ++Katharine solely for what happened in the chaos barely a day or two after her election. If anything, I could blame ++Griswold for helping railroad her into it, knowing she might not foresee all the consequences -- but knowing good and damn well she'd be the one blamed for them and stuck with coping with them, at the head of us all.

Renee in Ohio said...

*Waving hi*

I posted earlier that I'd transcribed some of the Voices of Witness video from Claiming the Blessing. I thought that would be a way to make it more accessible so that a wider audience could hear people tell their stories.

Well, good news/bad news sort of thing. My Religious Left Blog has gotten more hits today than it has *ever* before. Bad news--check out where they're all coming from.

I haven't even looked at the site to see what was said, but I'm sure it ain't good. Was going to transcribe more of it tonight, but it's hard to feel very motivated when all of the attention my efforts so far have attracted have come from what I know to be an unfriendly audience. More clickies from friendly territory would be a Very Good Thing.

inked said...

The ECUSA's message was clear in all the actions it took. BO33 was far too little and far too late. The reflection of the Archbishop of Canterbury clearly delineates that decision making in this regard is for the entire Anglican Communion.

http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/releases/060627%20Archbishop%20-%20challenge%20and%20hope.htm

The face of Anglicanism is changed because of haste and failure to consult and persistence in error on behalf of ECUSA. That is a permanent marker of the GLBT agenda within ECUSA.

Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.

Mike in Texas said...

Kay said, "I think we need to remember that Bishop Jefferts Schori has publicly gone on record, especially in her CNN interview, in support of gay and lesbians. "

We had a similar political incident some time ago, a US president who went on lots of television programs saying "No new taxes."

For the most part, he was never trusted again. He never did anything to earn the trust back.

For me, the situation with the new PB has a striking parallel. I was very excited about her election and spent hours reading from her diocesan website, watching video of her available on the internet, etc. All of that information gave me tremendous respect and admiration for her.

And then, just a few days later, her action contradicted her words in what can only be called spectacular fashion. All the respect and admiration I had for her instantly vanished.

She will have chances to make amends for the injustice she committed. But will she?

Will an invitation to the Lambeth Old Boys Club provide her with a platform from which to make amends?

I am not holding by breath.

I have decided that I will not refer to myself as Episcopalian any longer. I am now officially one of John Spong's Christians in Exile.

tony said...

And with all our hard work and brinksmanship, the irony is that ecusa was neither Windsor compliant nor gospel compliant, unless your gospel moves according to the gnostic ones.

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Hi Renee-

My guess is that the reason the number of "unfriendly" hits is so high on the transcription is because they are looking through it for "holes" or quotes that they can find to dissect and use against us.

I think the power of the video is in the emotion that can be seen and felt from experiencing the testimony as the people speak. The conservatives won't get that from reading the transcript, and that's too bad for them.

j

John Gibson said...

This was her comment in response to the latest excrescence out of ++Canterbury:

"But the convention also offended the conservatives by electing a new presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori of Nevada, who has been an outspoken advocate of full inclusion for gay people and who allows gay union ceremonies in churches in her diocese.

Bishop Jefferts Schori, who takes office after Bishop Griswold retires in November, will represent the American church in meetings with the world's primates, some of whom do not approve of women as priests or bishops.

She said in an interview yesterday that she was heartened by Archbishop Williams's comments in the letter that he would not be able to mend rifts over sexuality single-handedly.

"There were expectations out there that he would intervene or direct various people and provinces to do certain things, and he made it quite clear that it's not his role or responsibility to do that," Bishop Jefferts Schori said."



So we're supposed to be happy that instead of hanging us himself, he's going to let a lynch mob do his dirty work for him?


I think we ought to call her Presiding Bishop-elect Pollyana.

Beyond Reconciliation said...

Catherine+ - Blind support of +Schori at this point shows a remarkable lack of understanding of what went down at general Convention. +Katherine got our support once she was elected and then lost it when she allowed herself to be manipulated and used to leverage a discrimatory resolution. I am sick of hearing supposedly smart people justify their YES votes on B033 as an "I did it for +Katherine" response. They allowed her to urge them to write discrimination into the annals of this church.....for what? The greater good?? Baloney!! It got us nothing. She squandered whatever good will she had initially. She has set the course of her term. I'm not impressed. She should go back and jump into the ocean and study more squid as far as I am concerned!

John Gibson said...

There are two lessons it seems to me that each of us forgets at his or her peril. First, if you're elected to anything, you don't broaden your base at the cost of alienating your friends. Second, kowtowing to bullies ONLY makes things worse. ++Williams forgot both of these lessons, if ever he knew them. Look what has happened to him.

Raccoon said...

I am still hoping for the best from our new PB Elect; I believe that she had to make a hard decision in a short amount of time under immense pressure. Of course that's a Bishop's job, and I disagree with her decision -- but only in light of the fact that the Archbishop seems to have sold us out on a much higher level. My concern is not with our PBE right now, nor with our House of Deputies, but with the fact that our painful, sacrificial, and tearful efforts to reach out to the larger communion have been thrown back in our face. If ECUSA's Convention decision had even remotely led to reconciliation and time to listen further to GLBT people, I would have applauded it; as it is, we've been completely abandoned and have lost even our own faith in our church.

Catherine + said...

Thankfully, beyond reconciliation, my support is anything but blind. I see with extreme clarity what you obviously are blind to. So,if you it makes you feel any better, I will stand by calmly while you have your tantrum and then we can all move on.

Such judgmental people who hate being judged...tsk, tsk.

John Gibson said...

" I see with extreme clarity what you obviously are blind to."

People who don't see things that you do are blind? Being a little judgmental ourself there aren't we?

Hiram said...

I don't get it. The GLBTQ... lobby got 99% of what they sought (using the "well-oiled machine" that has brought so much to them in diocesan and general conventions) -- and you all are going bonkers over one mistake by the PB-elect. Lighten up, its just a bump in the road for your hopes.

Of course, it does look like the church that approves fully of same-sex sexual activity will be smaller than the current Episcopal Church, and it will be Anglican only by historical connection and not by recognition by the current Anglican Communion. But I suspect that this would be true whether or not Bp Jefferts Schori had made her appeal for B033 or not.

Things are very unsettled and uncertain right now. I know that you think that everyone who believes that same-sex sexual activity is wrong is ignorant, bigoted, or worse, and I don't know how to persuade you otherwise. I would love for the Episcopal Church to be unified and at peace with itself, and maybe in the providence of God that will come about. But if it does, it will be by means that we cannot yet see.

In the meanwhile, I have no doubt that Bp Jefferts Schori will be doing all she can to help you.