Saturday, August 02, 2008

The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round

The Indaba reflection process continues to grind along here in Canterbury. They've just released the "Fourth Draft" ... which includes reflections on:

  • Human Sexuality (Section H: 90-104)
  • The Scriptures (Section I; 106-120)
  • The Anglican Covenant (Section J: 121-130)
  • The Windsor Process (Section K: 131-137)
On a quick read through, here's where the rubber of "the wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round:

The moratoria

131. The moratoria cover three separate but related issues: Episcopal ordinations of partnered homosexual people, the blessing of same-sex unions; cross-border incursions by bishops. There is widespread support for the moratoria. This could be the “generous act of love” the communion is looking for.

Or, it could be the continued scapegoating of a percentage of the baptized in order to preserve the institutional unity of the Anglican Communion.

The moratoria could be taken as part of a sign of the bishops’ affection, trust and goodwill towards the Archbishop of Canterbury and one another.

How nice for him and for them. How sad for the LGBT "strangers at the gate" who will hear in this edict from Canterbury one more time that there are not enough crumbs of affection, trust or goodwill left for them to gather up from under the table of the bishops who are more interested in preserving their power and their privilege than they are in proclaiming liberation to the captive or freedom to the oppressed.

The moratoria will be difficult to enforce, so there are some fears as to whether it will hold.
It will be impossible to enforce and what it "holds" is the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church hostage to the bigotry, bias and ignorance of those who are willing to perpetuate the evil of sacramental apartheid in the church by excluding a percentage of the baptized from a percentage of the sacraments.

But there is a desire to make it do so.

Of course there is. Just as there is a desire to continue to ignore the 30 year commitment of the "communion-at-large" to listen to the witness of gay and lesbian Christians. There is always a desire by those with power to continue to oppress and marginalize the "other."

There are questions to be explored in relation to how long the moratoria are intended to serve. Perhaps the moratoria could be seen as a “season of gracious restraint.”
The answer to those questions is that the season is over, the offering has been made the church needs to move on. Anyone who believes continued moratoria or sacrifice on the part of the LGBT faithful will preserve the unity of the Communion in the face of the demands of the Gafconistas for a Communion "purified" of all but their fellow sola scriptura travelers is living in Fanstasyland. There is no season long enough and no compromise good enough. It's time to realize that, refuse to be blackmailed into any further actions of bigotry and get on with the mission and ministry of the Gospel.

In relation to moratorium 2 there is a desire to clarify precisely what is proscribed. Most believe it relates to public authorised rites, rather than pastoral support.
And whatever you call it, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck .. it's a duck. This call for moratoria on the church's blessing on the already blessed relationships of gay and lesbian couples continues to perpetuate a separate-but-inherently-unequal treatment of the LGBT baptized and it is time for it to go.

It is critical that all three moratoria are seen as inseparable and must be applied equally.

What is critical is that the bishops of this church step up and start acting like pastors to all their people, not just the straight ones.

What is critical is that the mission and ministry of a people of God called to proclaim Good News to all people quit allowing that Great Commission to be distracted, derailed, dismissed and detoured by those who are determined to use human sexuality as a wedge issue to polarize and divide.

What is critical is that the historic spirit of Anglican comprehensiveness be allowed to escape the stranglehold of homophobic bigotry and lead us to a GENUINE place of mutual generosity that includes all the baptized at the banquet table of the One who loved us enough to become one of us and then called us to walk in love with each other.

Our bishops have one more opportunity to make their voices heard in their Indaba groups tomorrow before this "draft" comes final and I know for a fact certain that many of them have been doing precisely that against extraordinary odds and at significant cost.

Pray for the bishops. Pray for the church. And pray that we refuse to settle for "well, it could have been worse" ... and that we continue to challenge this church and communion of ours to live up to its high calling to BE the Body of Christ in the World.


Rick+ said...

It sounds like perhaps we simply need to take this out of their hands at General Convention.

PseudoPiskie said...

I see nothing that indicates the bishops have actually listened to the experiences of LGBTs. They certainly couldn't listen to +Gene as he was not invited. Only one other bishop was willing to be somewhat out. All the talk was about, not with.

The fear these people display indicates there is little faith, little understanding of Jesus's message to love all and almost no willingness to be with him among society's "rejected". It must take major self discipline to keep from outing those who issue pronouncements from deep within their closets.

Lapinbizarre said...

"The moratoria could be taken as part of a sign of the bishops’ affection, trust and goodwill towards the Archbishop of Canterbury and one another." I read this on Jim Naughton's site earlier this afternoon and I'm still having difficulty believing what I read. What blindingly smug, self-congratulatory cant! Yet we are the ones who stand accused of being hedonistic, irresponsible, feel-gooders?

David Moore said...

Thank you for stating so clearly things that need to be said.

Although this paper was entitled an "Reflection Document," actions convey even more profound significance than words; over the past two weeks or so we have witnessed a graphic, unequivocal, and unremitting demonstration of the contempt with which the leadership of the WACC regards glbt folk who fancy themselves associated with one of the constituent churches (we are clearly not accorded actual membership) through the exclusion of the sole voice possessing both standing and life experience to authentically speak to glbt issues. During this same time period in the USA we have seen two Unitarians martyred for their acceptance and welcome of glbt persons to their community of fellowship. Someone of importance once posed the question, "Which of these was neighbor?" It is a query with which TEC now needs to urgently wrestle as it responds to Lambeth 2008.

Suzer said...

A "generous act of love"? Really? Continued stigmatization of GLBT faithful is an act of love? I call bullshit when I see it, and that's what this is -- bullshit.

What I see here basically gives the Gaffeconites everything they want -- GLBT people remain a stigmatized minority, without full inclusion in the church, and then there will be no "need" for border crossings. It could be said that TEC gets what it wants with no border crossings happening, but what we would be giving up to make that happen would mean the end (*supposedly) of border crossings anyway.

*I say supposedly because I'm not sure these border crossings are truly about GLBT people in the church at all. It may be that this is all about power, money and control, and GLBT persons are simply the wedge issue used for them to get what they want -- power and property. It worked for Dubya and Herr Cheney, what not for the Gaffeconites?

Finally, Susan+, I understand you may not want to allow this comment due to the somewhat mild but still vulgar language above. It's really o.k. if you don't. It's just my first, unconstrained reaction, which perhaps I shouldn't send anyway, but I'm gonna. TEC has taken too many steps toward the true Love and Justice Jesus taught us to turn back now, and I would hate to see the denomination of my birth accept such a proposal.

Yankee_Fan_At_Fenway said...

Amen Sister, Amen!

SCG said...

Thank you, Susan+, for this point-by-point "talk back" to the document now on the table. From my place as a "sheep", I am not happy with a continuation of the second-class status afforded to LGBT Episcopalians. And I'm growing weary of the idea that anyone needs to apologize for anything. And I'm confused and concerned about what "structure" this Communion is supposed to have. Does TEC need to get clearance from the ABC before it does anything lest it be deemed "offensive" to the rest of the communion? Truly, I don't understand this.
Yes, a prayer is in order: O God, Help!!

susankay said...

I pray that our Bishops will preserve a chuch to which I can belong. And in the process, discover that backbone rather than a specific "take" on sexuality is pleasing to God.

David |Däˈvēd| said...

Dear Susan, I hear and feel your anger and pain for all of us. I found myself gritting my teeth with my own anger and pain as I read.

Ad Orientem said...

I enthusiastically endorse your hope that TEC tells the rest of the AC where to get off. Though I suspect for different reasons.


Lindy said...

AMEN! To every single word... AMEN.

Thank you for being there.

James said...

I see here basically gives the Gaffeconites everything they want

Let me be clear about one thing: this certainly does not give the "GAFCONITES" everything they want. Even to say such a thing - less that 48 hours after an ECUSA bishop called the "GAFCONITES" wifebeating bigots to their faces - smacks of colonialism and racism.

GAFCON's Jerusalem Declaration demands every gay, every liberal, and anyone who supports a gay or liberal agenda be removed from ECUSA. This clearly includes both Susan Russell and Gene Robinson, arguably anyone who supports or does not actively oppose abortion and evolution, not to mention gays and lesbians!

These moratoria do not demand even the Gene Robinson resign or be removed (although clearly the majority of bishops attending Lambeth, as well as the 300-odd Global South bishops boycotting the conference - consider his resignation or removal an absolute prerequisite for them remaining in the communion). Although they forbid all blessing services, they do not require existing gay and lesbian - or gay and lesbian supporting priests and bishops to be removed, and again the Global South demands that, at the very least, every bishop who consecrated or voted for Gene Robinson should be removed forthwith.

Nor does the "moratoria" require ECUSA to allow parishes and diocese to leave, with not only their property but a share of ECUSA's (including Trinity Wall Street's) endowments - another key demand of the US "GAFCON"ites - that has just be reiterated by to very senior UK bishops.

The moratoria are not a purge of ECUSA. They - in absolutely no way - require ECUSA to conform to what GAFCON considers the minimum to be counted a Christian church. They are the minimum the entire communion demands for ECUSA to continue in any sort of fellowship. Make of that what you will!

Jane said...

Susan, how right you are. Sadly! Those of us in Europe can only pray that this sell-out doesn't force TEC out of the Communion. TEC is our hope, really our only hope, without TEC what's our choice? A ghetto "LGBT-friendly" Church? We did expect greater integrity from the US bishops. What a sad spectacle. God bless you for your courage and integrity. Jane, Anglican church council member, Cannes, France.

Suzer said...

James -- I'd love an explanation of how my statement "smacks of colonialism and racism." If you knew even an iota about my life, you'd see how laughable that statement is, given the work that I do.

All that aside, the "colonialism and racism" seems to be a common charge against anyone disagreeing with the Gaffeconites. With no further explanation, it seems to me it's just an ad hominem attack designed to create defensiveness, instead of any real discussion.

I will admit my comment was intemperate, and that the situation is much more complex than my comment, or any blog comment, can encompass. However, "colonialism and racism" is a ludicrous reaction and I have to admit give me a bit of an ironic chuckle this morning.

Jesse said...

We cannot step backward without loosing face. The forward gains in equality and justice for gay and lesbian, bisexual and trans persons cannot be sacrificed on the altar for christian unity. Perhaps the time has come to issue moratoria on churches that encourage the death and discrimination of gay persons, to speak out loudly and strongly and in the pocket book as well against churches like say...oh I don't know...Nigeria? +Katherine needs to rebuke Akinola who's mitre proves him a liar before God because he doesn't shephard his entire flock. Shame on him, shame on all the Gafconistas because they .."strain the gnat and swallow the camel"..."blind guides..white sepluchres" I feel almost prohetic...Thank you Susan for all you do for the community and for your witness to the body of Christ, God give you many years!! Jesse, Florida

DavidJustinLynch said...

Last night, my wife and I were part of an historic event as we served as acolytes at a truly extraordinary event at St. Pauls Pomona. Our rector, Fr. Mark Halahan, married Jimmy, his long-time partner, in a Nuptial Mass that included two other same-sex couples who also received the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The presider was Mo. Karen Macqueen. Sharon (aka: Beeper) and I profusely thank our Lord for the privilege of assisting in this uniquely holy celebration. I am on the vestry, and it is my intention to introduce a resolution at the next meeting that our parish will NOT be part of any moratorium!

Andrew Sorbo said...

Dear Susan+ and brothers and sisters in Christ,

Well, we in the LGBT community have been slapped in the face yet again. Is anyone surprised? So, we are to be sacrificed once again on the altar of unity, are we? Not so fast, my friends; the bishops of TEC have not met to discuss their reaction, so let us not be despondent.
This time I truly believe that, because the Holy Spirit has spoken to them and given them courage, our bishops will stand their ground. I do not believe they will abandon us to the homophobic bigots from the 3rd world and from the Anglican Church itslef. ++Rowan represents the tired world of Europe that has lost the will to lead after self-destructing in the two world-wide holocausts they unleashed on themselves in the last century. They simply lack the moral courage to do what they know is right.
If the TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada must stand alone (and I do not believe they will as we have allies in other national churches), then they will. The "Covenant" cannot be forced down the throats of the world-wide Communion. There are many other national churches that see the dangers inherent in this proposal.
Our bishops know their history, and they will not go down in it alongside their predecessors who sacrificed blacks to slavery and women to second-class status for so long in the name of keeping the peace in the community. They will not lie down before the face of reactionaries and their blackmailing and bullying tactics like ++Rowan apparently is willing to do.
Let us hold back our righteous anger long enough for our own leaders to return home, meet and decide on a proper response. In the meantime, let our bishops hear OUR reaction loud and clear. Let's pray that we can be as eloquent in our own defense as +Gene and Susan+ have been these past several weeks.

Counterlight said...

Just adding my AMEN to your reflections on the Moratoria.

Cany said...

The Lambeth experience from afar, and the results, were excruciating for me, personally, as a supporter of lgbt folks in TEC (and communion-wide).

I wish that someone could tell me how to be more effective, or how to help as I am not a Diocean type.

I just don't know what to think. +Mark Andrus and the Bishops of Los Angeles, I doubt, will change their paths, thank goodness. But I really need to hear, in depth, what they believe and how we can reinforce their positions.

I also need to hear some (pardon the pun) straight talk from our PB.

This is incredibly hurtful, and a shameful decision (well, recommendation). As Venables made perfectly clear, he has no intention to stop border crossings, so, given that, this would be a one-sided compromise, anyway. Not that we expected anything different.

I am deeply saddened.

IT said...

Just from an outside perspective, given that gay unions of some sort or another are legal in several states in the US, in Canada, in the UK, in several countries in Europe etc etc, isn't the moratorium on same-sex couples basically slapping all those legal, faithfully partnered gay and lesbian couples in the face and saying "YOU DO NOT BELONG"?

I mean, why would ANY GLBT want to join an AC church that says that to them?

No inclusion, no evangelism, just get -the-hell-out.

So that's what Rowan Williams believes

Why would anyone stay--which is kinda his point. "Get out", writ large.


Kathy said...

How about a moritorium on violence against LGBTs? How about a mortitorium on hate filled seroms from Peter Akinola? How about a commitment to honour Christ in all? How about a commitment to recognize that God created us all in his image? How about an acknowlegment that a huge percentage of LGBT provide services to all, i.e. LGBTs are doctors, nurses, attorneys, teachers, priests.

Kathy said...

Similar to the story of Saul, I hope God asks Peter Akinola,"Why are you persecuting my people?" I have lost faith in the Archbishop's ability or courage to ask Peter this question.

JCF said...

an ECUSA bishop called the "GAFCONITES" wifebeating bigots to their faces

I call bullshit on that one: +Cathy Roskam did NO such thing!

Thank you, Susan, for your Lambeth witness.

I know it may seem to have been in vain, at the moment.

I exhort ALL of us, however, to keep the faithful. "If Rowan Cantuar be faithless", God is faithful (and I'm hoping and praying GC will be also!).

James said...

I'd love an explanation of how my statement "smacks of colonialism and racism."

I'm sure you'd agree it's not up to straight people (however well meaning) to say what is and what is not homophobia

well in the same way it's not up to Americans or English people to say what is and is not racist or colonialist. I merely report what Global South bishops have been saying for years and have repeated last week.

John said...

I had hoped for a bit more backbone from our bishops in TEC than was witnessed over the past fortnight.

It appears that once again we GLBT folk are to be tossed under the bus for the sake of a wee bit of peace for the time being. This won't stop the bully minority in TEC or GAFCON, it will only embolden them.

Bless you Susan+, and +Gene, and all others who were present to witness on behalf of LGBT Anglicans at Lambeth.

*sigh* It's so difficult trying to accessorize tire tread marks.

Suzer said...

"I'm sure you'd agree it's not up to straight people (however well meaning) to say what is and what is not homophobia"

No, James -- actually, with all due respect, I would disagree with that statement. I would disagree quite strongly, in fact. I know and have known many heterosexuals who are able to see and understand homophobia when it happens. And there are even GLBT folks who don't understand homophobia, and in fact sometimes react in homophobic ways. It's not a black and white issue (no pun intended).

I think my friends in West Africa would probably disagree with your blanket assessments about what the Global South bishops think, but I'll be sure to ask them. They are frankly more worried about feeding orphans, assisting those disabled by civil war, and fighting violence and disease than they are about my love for my partner. In fact, they'd probably have quite a chuckle over the bishops' obsession with loving and committed same-sex couples.

JCF said...

I merely report what Global South bishops have been saying for years and have repeated last week.

Often, saying in the words of Jensen and Venables and Minns!

it's not up to Americans or English people to say what is and is not racist or colonialist.

That presumes that ALL Americans or English are whites and/or colonizers! Davis Mac-Iyalla is English (for all intents and purposes) now: is he not allowed to "tell it like it is" about Akinola? What about Desmond Tutu: has he lost his non-white/colonized props (for the crime of affirming LGBTs)?

This "you can't speak if..." canard is SO OLD. It's usually uttered NOT to empower one particular POV, but to silence another.

The moratoria proposed at Lambeth only has to do w/ Akinola's doing, but with my very being. Silence = Death, and I won't shut up: not to Akinola, not to Orombi, not to Rowan Cantuar!