Saturday, January 13, 2007

From My Mailbox

There just isn't world enough and time -- nor, quite frankly, inclination! -- to answer every question, respond to every comment or defend every opinion on this blog. There are sites where one can go to do that and I commend them to you. However, my "policy" in that regard is aligned with my sister Elizabeth Kaeton over on Telling Secrets and so I recommend her "Friendly Little Reminder" post for your edification.

That said, from time to time issues arise from comments that I think do bear responding to -- and here are few from my post-retreat mailbox:

From Phil:
Dear Susan: Can you give me an argument based in Holy Scripture and/or the unbroken tradition of the Church for blessing same sex unions or ordaining men or women involved in them?

Dear Phil: Why yes, yes I can. I can give you the link … here … to “To Set Our Hope on Christ” – the Episcopal Church’s “case statement” we took with us to Nottingham in 2005 and presented to the Anglican Consultative Council. There’s even a study guide you can download … here … to use for parish study. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Thanks for asking. Have a great day.

From Craig:
Dear Susan: [You] quote Kendall: “The Episcopal Church is not moving ahead but instead moving away from Scripture and the Church and a significant majority of their fellow Anglicans worldwide.” I'm not sure, Susan, whether or not you're claiming that some part of this statement is false (and if so, which part), or whether you just don't like it.

Dear Craig: Thanks for the chance to clarify. It’s actually kind of a “both/and” – I don’t like it and it’s false. Number one, rather than “moving away” from Scripture we believe we are embracing Scripture by living out the Gospel agenda of God’s inclusive love. (See my note to Phil above and do check out "To Set Our Hope on Christ.")

Number two, having no desire to “walk apart” (a favorite sound bite from the other side of the aisle) from the wider communion we reject the “spin” that puts the responsibility for its mounting divisions at our feet. To “walk apart” one has to leave … and the American Church has threatened only to stay. If the increasingly likely “split” happens it will because the fabric that is "rent" is the historic comprehensiveness of classical Anglicanism: willfully torn by those committed to exploiting differences into divisions in order to achieve their schismatic ends.

If that schism happens it will not be because the American Church has lived out the Gospel differently in its context than, oh, let’s just pull one out of the hat: Nigeria has. Rather it will be because of the orchestrated efforts of those who grew so weary of holding a minority position in their church that they determined to split it if they couldn’t control it. And to give credit where credit it due, it’s looking like they might just pull it off. Pity.

So that’s why I reject Kendall’s assertion as “spin.” Hope that helps clarify.

From Ellie:
Dear Susan: Just to clear up one point: Steve Gushee (Another Reporter Gets It) is not, as your heading says, a "reporter." Gushee is a long-term member of TEC who is taking sides in his own church's schism. That is his right and he is entitled to any views he may have. But he is NOT an unbiased, professional journalist.

Dear Ellie: Thanks for taking time to write. The piece in question is an op-ed. The "op" stands for "Opinion" and, as you note, Mr. Gushee (a Palm Beach Post Staff Writer) is entitled to express his. Which he does. Clearly and, to my mind, helpfully.

Just add him to the list of those stepping up to say "the emperor has no clothes" AKA "the Episcopal Insurgency has no integrity." Rather it is a long planned, well financed power grab that, sadly, seems to be working. At the moment, anyway.

But voices like Gushee’s are precisely the ones that I believe the Holy Spirit is calling to step up and name this travesty for what it is and call the church back to the mission it should be about rather than the mania that currently consumes it. Which is why I posted the piece. Thanks again for taking time to write and giving me a chance to clarify!


Nick said...

To clarify even further, the Web link cited says Gushée "was the religion writer for the Palm Beach Post for five years until July 1999. He continues to write a weekly opinion column called 'On Religion' for the Post."

Therefore, he is a "former" reporter and now a "columnist." As a journalist/editor, I would argue that in that capacity he is still a "professional journalist."

But for a moment, let's grant that he's not. Then that can only mean that Cal Thomas, Bill O'Reilly and a number of other wingnut bloviators are not "unbiased, professional journalists."

I can live with that!


uffda51 said...

Dear Susan,

(I’m sure you must constantly receive unpleasant mail of all types. I can’t imagine what it is like to fight the battles you and Louise fight day after day and you both have my undying admiration. Feel free to use or not use the following in any way you choose.
P.S. Our two cats, Einar & Gracie, send their best regards to Harvey and Luna).

It seems incredibly ironic (and sad) to me that Gene Robinson, who was publicly honest about his sexual orientation, had to wear a bullet-proof vest to his ordination, while Ted Haggard, who was publicly dishonest about his sexual orientation, became a trusted advisor to the President of the United States (who has a few honesty issues of his own, but that’s a story for another blog).

Ted Haggard would certainly be welcomed with open arms at our church while Ted’s church feels that he needs to be “cured.” I am proud to be a member of a church that welcomes both Ted Haggard and Gene Robinson, not to mention anyone and everyone else, without reservation.

Jesus stood with and for the marginalized. Peter Akinola and the Virginia congregations stand for the further marginalization of the marginalized through legislation. How very un-Christ-like of them.

To Peter and his friends I would say, if you are playing a church league game of basketball at the YMCA, you may throw a hissy fit and take your ball and go home if you like. But you can’t claim title to the gym.

I am not sure why full inclusion is still so threatening to some. Clearly ignorance and prejudice, even in the 21st century, thousands of years after Leviticus, are still powerful forces. But I do know that selective exclusion is abhorrent in any context, and no more so than when exercised in the name of Christianity.

Bruce Babcock

Tobias said...

Dear Susan,
I'd also suggest this to Phil: "The question may be worded: Is same-sex marriage (about which Scripture is silent) more like the questions of eternal law and morality, or more like the ritual, ceremonial, or civil regulations of family life interwoven throughout the Torah, and for the greatest part all coming -- or purporting to come -- from God? When Peter entered the centurion's home, it was not, as he clearly said, a matter of the dietary restrictions having been eased, but rather that God had showed him that he was not to call anyone profane or unclean."

Dr. Joan said...

Dear Tobias-
I know this may sound like a "rehash" but I must point out that Jesus didn't say anything about plural marriages or pedophylia either. Does that imply that He condones them?

Tobias said...

Dr. Joan,
I feel a bit odd having a conversation in someone else's house, and hope Susan doesn't mind.

That being said, I'm not sure what you are asking. I didn't mention Jesus, and am reluctant to speculate along the lines you suggest. I would rather take his advice directly for dealing with moral issues, which is to say, not to pass judgement on others, and to guide ones own actions according to the principles of love of God and neighbor. As he said, "I judge no one." If he -- who was certainly in a position to do so -- didn't, why should you or I?

uffda51 said...

Dr, Joan, I think you mean pedophilia rather than “pedophylia.”

The mention of whether Jesus spoke of plural marriage or pedophilia is the same specious argument so often used by folks who disapprove of LGBT people. Plural marriage refers to the sexual exploitation and domination of multiple women, often adolescent, by one man. Many of these “marriages” are arranged without consent and sanctioned by “religious” beliefs. Pedophilia refers to the criminal sexual assault of children by adults, most often heterosexual, and way more often than we ever suspected, by priests. In short, plural marriage and pedophilia involve power, perpetrators, and victims.

Gay marriage refers to the commitment of two consenting adults to love and honor each other, and to do so publicly. As with heterosexual marriage, there are both civil and religious components to gay marriage. More than a thousand legal rights and privileges are afforded to married couples that are not afforded to unmarried couples. If Britney Spears, Elizabeth Taylor and Mickey Rooney haven’t managed to destroy “traditional marriage,” I doubt that the two gay guys living together down the block for the last twenty years will either. BTW, I don’t think Jesus spoke of nuclear weapons, AK-47s or the K.K.K. but I think we can conclude that he would have not approved.

I was about to use the phrase “Hear what the spirit is saying to the church.” When I googled it, I found that this phrase has been demonized with language that I won’t use here by some of the folks who are opposed to full inclusion. Wow.

If conscience, the Holy Spirit and the literally true and inerrant Bible require some TEC members to oppose full inclusion for LGBTs, good luck with that, but please don’t muddy the waters with false arguments. For myself, I think I’ll stand with Tobias, who I believe stands with Jesus, and for the marginalized.