Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bishop Ely on HoB/New Orleans

Maybe it's old news to some of you, but I just saw this today and it's my blog, so here's the response from the Bishop of Vermont on the recent House of Bishops' Meeting to his diocese.

Do read the whole letter here ... but I want to point out what struck me as what I've been waiting to hear and didn't know it until I heard it from +Tom Ely:

The response of the House of Bishops to the Primates reaffirms our commitment to the civil rights of gay and lesbian persons. This is a strongly held conviction by the bishops of our church. However, the discontinuity between this expressed commitment and the current circumstance within The Episcopal Church is both glaring and unacceptable to me. I believe we should have stated more clearly our current failure to stand on the side of complete justice and full equality for all persons in our church.

I regret that once again we made our gay and lesbian members the object of our discussion, something that by its very nature is a form of oppression. I ask for more than patience and forbearance from those so oppressed by our words and actions: I ask for forgiveness. I also ask for their continuing faithful and steadfast commitment to the mission and ministry of The Episcopal Church. Finally, I offer my apology to those who disagree and are deeply troubled by recent actions of the Episcopal Church for whom any of my words and actions have contributed to a sense of alienation or oppression. It is never my intention to treat others as objects or to act in anyway that fails to respect the human dignity of another.

I pledge to continue working for both the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons in the life of the Episcopal Church and for the full and dynamic participation of all members of the Episcopal Church in the mission and ministry of the Anglican Communion. Either one without the other would represent to me a failure on our part to live into the fullness of God’s saving grace, glory and hope for the world. I pray that you will join me in this work.

You've got it, bishop.
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And just for the record, if a few more bishops were willing to step up and honestly say, "we're sorry where we've failed ... work with us" we'd be in a lot healthier shape moving forward in faith.


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26 comments:

doug desper said...

And the bishops of our Church go on with their consistency: believing themselves to be more enlightened than the bishops who represent 75 million Anglicans in the growing part of the Church. The Americans actually believe that the can hold middle ground while lying to both sides.

Pardon me while I avert my eyes in disgust.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

doug -- I'm going to let this comment stand but, for future reference, one of the standards I hold for moderating comments is respectful dialogue. If you find you can't manage that then you're welcome to comment elsewhere ... or get your own blog.

Diverse opinons are welcome. Ad hominem attacks are not.

Caminante said...

Thanks for showcasing my bishop. His words of asking for forgiveness meant all the world to me and I told him as much.

Lorian said...

Bishop Ely's comments are a balm. Thanks, Susan.

Dialogue is an exhausting venture.

seamus said...

Can 75 million Anglicans be wrong? "Crucify him,crucify him" is resounding from the multitudes.

doug desper said...

How does my comment compare to the very descriptive personal jibes or denigrating sarcasm that is sometimes found on your blog?
Uncomfortable truths or questions do not equate with ad hominem attacks. The truth is that even the bishops themselves can't agree on the truth and have found each others' comments to be disingenuous. That didn't come from the very conservative bishops who had already left. Even the press noticed that there are half-truths being foisted as fact.

Is this journey just for those who agree with you?

Anonymous said...

because it's all a numbers game, Doug?

You know, like the traditional view of women as lesser citizens, which the majority has held for some time?

Or like the justification of slavery for all those many years?

Or the wide swath of people who believe the death penalty is justifiable?

Perhaps your slogan should be, "because 75million homophobes can't be wrong"?

IT

doug desper said...

One should not assume that the truth is only found in minority opinion or minority advocacy groups.
Being a minority of any type does not merit automatic virtue that should be passed without critique.
The Church is communal. The larger Church is blessed by God and God is showing the fruits of growth as proof. We should heed the truths being told to us by that Church and avoid the personality stumbling blocks.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

doug ... you write, "One should not assume that the truth is only found in minority opinion or minority advocacy groups."

Who, pray tell, is making that assumption? Point me to them and I'll set them straight ... so to speak.

I, for one, never assume that "the truth" is only ANYWHERE ... and, in particular, when on assumes that those with the POWER (AKA "the majority") hold the TRUTH then we are on very, VERY dangerous ground.

I hear the pain of those who yearn for those halcyon days of yesteryear when straight and white and male was not only presumed normative but came with the presumption that their "truth" was THE truth.

As the Dixie Chicks might put it, those days a "A Long Time Gone" ... and good riddance to 'em.

doug desper said...

The term "homophobes" is a tired slur to denigrate anyone who does not adhere wholeheartedly to the desires of the GLBT lobby. The argument that crowds or large groups crucified Jesus, endorsed slavery, and kept women down hardly gives credence to the arguments of a minority who wants to redefine that which they desire. The implication of the "anonymous" commentator was that truth was not found in the majorities in the illustrations, hence modern Anglican majorities must also be wrong.

It would be an erroneous assumption that because I do not believe in SSBs or ordination of gay bishops that I want to return to a white majority, woman-hating, slave-owning, gay-bashing past. On the contrary there are many more like myself who believe that we are being bashed ("homophobes") because we will not redefine certain aspects of the faith to suit an American activist group.

Anonymous said...

doug ... just to be clear about language ... because it does matter:

You are being disagreed with.

You are not being "bashed."

And dismissing those who read, mark, inwardly digest and differently understand the same Holy Scriptures as you do as "American activists" is a predictable red herring not helpful to moving the conversation forward.

IMHO.

Fred

uffda51 said...

Great words from Bishop Ely.

Enlightenment is a tricky thing.

During the Civil War the Church of England was ahead of the enlightenment curve relative to the Episcopal Church in the United States, as excerpts from this Sermon Delivered Before the Annual Council of the Diocese of North Carolina, Upon the Festival of the Ascension, May 14, 1863: Rev. Alfred Augustin Watson, 1818-1905, indicate.

“Nor do I forget the Abolitionism of our brethren of the Church in England. It has been one of the riddles of the day; but I think it may be read by the light of several considerations, as: 1st., An ignorance of the system of slavery as it exists among us-- an ignorance sustained by the enormously false representations of some writers of our own: 2nd., a strong leaven of puritanism still extant there; 3rd., erroneous ideas of Christian unity, which forget that the very force of the Apostle's illustration is due to the fact, that the slave, while still remaining a slave, is one in Christ with his master.”

“And I believe that one great lesson which God is teaching us at this dark hour, is the value of a traditional religious system. It is the only safe system. It is the only system which gives us any security for the religious belief of our neighbors or of our descendants--the only system which can secure us against agrarianism, abolitionism, or any other heresy, which, like them, may uproot the social compact, or our religious faith.”

Hmm. “Heresy” versus “the value of a traditional religious system.”

The Episcopal Church finally did, in effect, “redefine certain aspects of the faith to suit an American activist group,” the Quakers, who, both in America and England, were far ahead of the enlightenment curve with regard to abolition. The “arguments of a minority” did eventually become the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Is it just possible that TEC, in the 21st century, is ahead of the enlightenment curve on LBGT issues?

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

uffda ... I'm thinkin' so.

RonF said...

How does my comment compare to the very descriptive personal jibes or denigrating sarcasm that is sometimes found on your blog?

Take a look back on this site, Susan. He's right about this. I let it pass for my own reasons, but that doesn't mean he's wrong.

The term "homophobes" is a tired slur to denigrate anyone who does not adhere wholeheartedly to the desires of the GLBT lobby.

A phobia is an irrational fear, generally either of something that is in fact harmless or of a circumstance that is extremely unlikely to happen. It's also used as a suffix to tie that connotation to a specific fear, such as "arachnophobia" for an irrational fear of spiders.

What it seems to me, then, is that the term "homophobia" (originally invented to mean just that with regards to homosexuals) was pushed and twisted to promote the idea that any viewpoint that does not regard homosexuality as being normal and completely acceptable and, in fact, worthy of celebration as being a) irrational and b) based on fear. It eliminates the idea that such viewpoints can be rational and based on principle or evidence. It's rather clever, mind you - I have to give the Devil his due.

RonF said...

It's quite common to degrinate religious traditions regarding homosexuality by comparing them to the use of Scripture to justify slavery. But that neglects a couple of important points.

First, despite the use of the word "heresy" by Rev. Watson, I don't recall that the institution of slavery was ever regarded as a religious doctrine by any Christian denomination - certainly not Anglicanism.

Second, there is a big difference between what someone is and what they do. Slavery dealt with the former; the present controversy deals with the latter.

RonF said...

I, for one, never assume that "the truth" is only ANYWHERE ... and, in particular, when on assumes that those with the POWER (AKA "the majority") hold the TRUTH then we are on very, VERY dangerous ground.

Including the majority in TEC?

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

ron f ... see "But what if you’re wrong?"

doug desper said...

Disagreement occurs as one gives an argument. To "bash" is when one resorts to a slur: "homophobe".

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Which is why I prefer the term "heterosexist."

doug desper said...

Same product, Susan.

So much for "the radical welcome", the "conversation", etc. etc.

Enjoy your blog. Last entry. I leave you to yourselves.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Go in peace, doug.

If your criterion for being in conversation is being agreed with this is clearly not the place to hang out.

Just for the record:

"Heterosexism is a term used to describe the presumption that everyone is heterosexual, and/or the belief that heterosexuals are naturally superior to homosexuals and bisexuals. Gail Dines describes heterosexism as heterosexual predisposition "encoded into and characteristic of the major social, cultural, and economic institutions of our society."[1] Heterosexism may also be described as discrimination and prejudice in favor of heterosexual people over gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. Heterosexism is thus also the underlying beliefs and attitudes of such preference. Stemming from the essentialist cultural notion that maleness-masculinity and femaleness-femininity are complementary, heterosexism is not limited to heterosexuals; people of any sexual orientation, including gay men, lesbians or bisexuals, can hold heterosexist beliefs."

Let the conversation continue.

uffda51 said...

ABUJA, Nigeria, Dec. 20 — The way he tells the story, the first and only time Archbishop Peter J. Akinola knowingly shook a gay person’s hand, he sprang backward the moment he realized what he had done.

Archbishop Akinola, the conservative leader of Nigeria’s Anglican Church who has emerged at the center of a schism over homosexuality in the global Anglican Communion, re-enacted the scene from behind his desk Tuesday, shaking his head in wonder and horror.

“This man came up to me after a service, in New York I think, and said, ‘Oh, good to see you bishop, this is my partner of many years,’ ” he recalled. “I said, ‘Oh!’ I jumped back.”
NY Times, 12-25-2006

What does Akinola’s response indicate if not homophobia, “an irrational fear . . . of something that is in fact harmless?” Might his thinking change if he enlarged his sample to include a few more LBGT persons?

As for slavery, I doubt that slaves could differentiate between “doctrine” and official church policy. In the 1700s, the Anglican Church's missionary arm, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Foreign Parts, owned the Codrington plantation in Barbados and slaves had the word "Society" branded on their chests with red-hot irons. The society's governing body included archbishops of Canterbury. Bishops of London and archbishops of York were involved in its management.

Conservatives like to use the word “lifestyle” instead of orientation, as though being LGBT were like being a golfer, and therefore a choice. In this way, they can condemn only the actions of the gay person, while appearing not to condemn the actual person, i.e., fellow child of God. In this way Ted Haggard can be compared with the church going gay couple down the street who have been living in a loving and committed relationship for 20 years. Ted is just a swell guy who succumbed to temptation while the gay couple is part of a secret cabal to destroy marriage, America and religion.

Since scripture plainly tells us everything we need to know, I wonder why some sources list 38,000 Christian denominations, not to mention the non denominational churches. How can they all possess the absolute truth? And why do so many refuse to recognize the kinship of all human beings?

The bigger point is that conservatives would have us believe that tradition and the interpretation of scripture have never and will never change. The fact is that traditions do changes and so does our interpretation of scripture and both will continue to do so.

RonF said...

What does Akinola’s response indicate if not homophobia, “an irrational fear . . . of something that is in fact harmless?”

Good question. Perhaps someone should ask him instead of making presumptions that conveniently fit their narrative. It's not like he's all that hard to get ahold of.

BTW, I offered the phrase above as a definition of "phobia", not "homophobia". Homophobia would be an irrational fear of homosexuals or homosexual behavior. By switching one in for the other, you are pushing an assumption that homosexual behavior = "harmless to society", which is quite debatable.

RonF said...

Conservatives like to use the word “lifestyle” instead of orientation, as though being LGBT were like being a golfer, and therefore a choice.

Experiencing the temptation or orientation or however you want to classify the feeling of being sexually attracted towards people of the same sex is one thing. The degree of which this is genetic or environmental is by no means settled, and whether or not it can be changed in a willing person is also up for debate. We all have temptations to do one thing or another.

However, acting on those feelings - acting on any feelings - is definitely a choice.

RonF said...

The way I figure it, I'm going to end up saying things that bother people, so I'm not going to get too upset if they say things that (they at least mean to) bother me.

RonF said...

As for slavery, I doubt that slaves could differentiate between “doctrine” and official church policy.

Of course not. But that's not the point.

As for slavery, I doubt that slaves could differentiate between “doctrine” and official church policy. In the 1700s, the Anglican Church's missionary arm, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Foreign Parts, owned the Codrington plantation in Barbados and slaves had the word "Society" branded on their chests with red-hot irons. The society's governing body included archbishops of Canterbury. Bishops of London and archbishops of York were involved in its management.

In this way, they can condemn only the actions of the gay person, while appearing not to condemn the actual person, i.e., fellow child of God.

Isn't that precisely what Jesus callled us to do?

Since scripture plainly tells us everything we need to know, I wonder why some sources list 38,000 Christian denominations, not to mention the non denominational churches. How can they all possess the absolute truth?

Do they all claim to possess the absolute truth and that no one else does? Sometimes it's just a matter of style or how they like to be governed.

And why do so many refuse to recognize the kinship of all human beings?

Depends on what you mean by kinship. I've been told that stating that homosexuals are wrong about what they do and that they should seek transformation in Christ (of their behavior if not their feelings) is denying them kinship. I beg to differ.