Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Turning up the volume

The volume is starting to crank up as General Convention approaches. And it seems to have happened the minute I turned the calendar to June and GC2009 officially became "next month."
It's not only agendas and budgets and schedules and legislation ... it's suddenly people are actually READING that Blue Book ... and starting to ask questions about what it says and what it means.

And here's a question that REALLY "turned up the volume" today: So who ARE the members of the subcommittee of bishops and theologians working on the theological study of same sex relationships?

Simple question. Sadly, the simple answer is: We're not telling. It's a secret.

No kidding. The subcommittee convened by the House of Bishops Theology Committee to "study" same-sex relationships is ... and I choose my words carefully here ... closeted.

Talk about "makes the heart sad."

Odds are I'll have more to say about all this here later, but right now I have to go get ready for a vestry meeting, so here's the Integrity response -- followed by links to the Episcopal Cafe article and to the Chicago Consultation statements. (Like I said ... the volume is up ... and probably not going down again til Anaheim is in the books!)


The Theology Committee of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has been asked by the House of Bishops to undertake a theological study of same-sex relationships in the life of the church. According to a report in the General Convention Blue Book, the Theology Committee has appointed "a diverse and balanced panel of theologians" but the names of these committee members are being withheld.

“If this isn’t the height of absurdity and insult I don’t know what is,” said the Reverend Susan Russell, President of Integrity USA, the LGBT advocacy group within the Episcopal Church. “It sends a horrific message to gay and lesbian people – both inside and outside the church. The very concept of “secret studies” elicits painful memories of secret studies done on other minority groups in the past and is utterly contrary to our baptismal promise to respect the dignity of every human being. There is absolutely nothing dignified about a secret study of a group already being discriminated against. It is suspect, disingenuous and dishonest. ”

Russell added, “If this important work is to have any credibility whatsoever, it is critical that the work be done in a context of honesty and transparency. A "closeted" sub-committee studying same sex unions seems too bizarre a thing to even make it into a Monty Python episode, much less be a course intentionally taken by a church that committed to full and equal claim for its gay and lesbian baptized 33 years ago.

“Integrity calls on the entire House of Bishops to not only ask for the publication of the names of those participating in this study, but to clarify the process itself. We want to know why it will take until 2011 for this committee to come up with a theological response to a reality we have been living out in the Episcopal Church for a generation now.

And we want to know how a church that can pass a resolution in 2006 reiterating its apology “on behalf of the Episcopal Church to its members who are gay or lesbian, and to lesbians and gay men outside the Church, for years of rejection and maltreatment by the Church,” can then conscience secret committees “studying” our lives and relationships as if we were laboratory animals. What part of maltreatment by the Church doesn’t the House of Bishops get?


See also:

The Episcopal Cafe
The Chicago Consultation


Matthew said...

If there are ANY glbt or glbt friendly people part of this, they should publicly declare it now, IMHO. I would never uphold a gag order, at least one I did not agree to in advance. One has to wonder if the members were told of a gag order when they first signed up and agreed to go along with that. Why would you do that?

PseudoPiskie said...

I can understand keeping the proceedings secret so people feel free to discuss openly. I don't understand the need to keep the participants secret. That only breeds mistrust.



Confidentiality about content I totally get.

Secrecy about participants sucks.

Brian F said...

Maybe their identities are being kept secret so that they can't be harrassed by LGBT lobbyists. Besides, don't you trust the PB to make sure that the right kind of people are on this group? I'm actually surprised she didn't personally consult with you Susan - maybe you are right to be suspicious. (tongue in cheek off)

Is their work really to "study our lives" or to study the theological basis of same sex relationships? As long as it is a competant group of faithful theologians doing the study, they don't have to be LGBT apologists. Theology is done by studying the Bible, not by studying the world - that would be a scientific investigation into same sex relationships, and there is plenty of that going on anyway.

MarkBrunson said...

Theology is never done independent of the Scripture and the World, or it becomes dead.

Like the faith of Biblical literalists.

And, again Brian Fyffe, not your concern. You're not part of our church.

Brian F said...

Mark Brunson - "And, again Brian Fyffe, not your concern. You're not part of our church." By your own admission therefore ECUSA is not in communion with the Anglican Church of Australia?

I bet that if this study group in ECUSA comes up with the predictable conclusion that same sex unions may be blessed by ministers in God's church regardless of what Scripture plainly says, then there will be some elements in the Anglican Communion elsewhere in the world who will be in great haste to use their report to push for adoption of similar practices outside of ECUSA - that is why I am also concerned, unless of course you agree that ECUSA is no longer in communion with ACA.

My other point is: is this a theological study or a sociological study. If the former, then the subcommittee had better have the best possible theologians on it, otherwise it will just demonstrate the ECUSA is not serious about preparing the theological ground for pushing ahead with blessing same sex unions. If the latter then the best possible sociologists must be on the subcommittee, otherwise the whole thing is just a charade. Exactly what is the goal of this committee - or have the conclusions already been predetermined and the report only needs a few reputable signatures on it?

Milton said...

So, the Bishops have convened a committee to pass judgment on my life and my relationship to God and the sacraments of God's church, and I am not even allowed to know who is on that committee.

This is something I would expect from the Taliban or from the North Korean Government, but not from the Episcopal Church.

Sinful, sad, shameful and intolerable.

I intend to make my displeasure as a LGBT Episcopalian known to the PB and Bishop Parsley in no uncertain terms, and I hope others will as well.

I am reminded of one of my favorite phrases from decades of LGBT Pride "Speak Truth to power"

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Brian F,

Invisible ink is not reputable.

KJ said...

I have sent my thoughts to our bishops here in the Diocese of Olympia. I'm disappointed, embarrassed, and angry.

MarkBrunson said...

"Communion" is not the same thing as being the same church, Brian. Not even a very good try on your part, and beneath even a biblical literalist's sense of fair play. Not to mention your own refusal to accept that what we are is Christian.

I don't imagine you want me mewling about the way you conduct your church's business, now do you? You'd hardly be happy with my coming over to your websites and complaining - with great reason - for your inconsistency of application in your theology, your lack of respect for other Christians, your willingness to arrogate God's Judgment to yourself.

Now, it's none of your business. We'll run our household in the larger family, and you go away and run yours. That simple. You have no say, here.