Episcopal Life ran this story today, entitled: Bishops' Theology Committee chair declines to release names of same-gender study group
"It has always been the committee's intention to publish the names of the panel when the work has reached the appropriate stage," Diocese of Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley, chair of the House of Bishops Theology Committee, said in a statement June 3. "We believe that for a season the work can best be accomplished by allowing the panel to work in confidence. This supports the full collegiality and academic freedom of the theologians and provides the space they need for the deep dialogue and reflection that is taking place among them."
"For a season." Where have we heard THAT before? Oh yeah ... B033. And, for the record, no one is opposed to confidence, dialogue and reflection. We're opposed to what one colleague -- an academic herself -- called as the BS it is:
I have been a member of the Modern Language Association and the American Association of University Professors. Both groups would contest the idea that a panel of study needed to be unnamed to have academic freedom. An unnamed panel, chosen to study an issue, absolutely contradicts the idea of academic freedom. I am surprised that scholars of any integrity would take part in this charade.
Katie Sherrod had this to say on her blog:
First we asked LGBT priests to "for a season" stand aside and become official second class people in the church in an effort to appease those unhappy with the moves the Episcopal Church was making toward full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments.
Now we are supposed to ask LGBT Episcopalians to "for a season" accept the secrecy of this panel in order to let the members "reflect deeply" on same sex relationships for three years. Why? Are they afraid that if we know who the members are they might be -- God forbid -- talked to by people whose relationships are the focus of the study?
And Mark Harris weighed in with this:
I believe the concern being raised concerns both the matter of inclusion on the sub- committee of GLBT people and about the matter of transparency. The first is a matter of justice, the second a matter of record.
And then there's the question of when is it time say enough is enough with "the study" thing -- time to say "been there/done that" to those who say "you haven't 'done the theology.'" For the record, here's just the tip of iceberg of the theology we "haven't done" ...
1994: 'Continuing the Dialogue: a Pastoral Study Document of the House of Bishops to the Church as the Church Considers Issues of Human Sexuality';'
1997: The Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships' report of the Standing Liturgical Commission with the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops to the 72nd General Convention;
2000: the liturgical commission's report to the 2000 General Convention titled 'Theological Aspects of Committed Relationships of Same-Sex Couples';
2003: House of Bishops Theology Committee's report 'The Gift of Sexuality: A Theological Perspective'".
... and (please note!) this is JUST the theology we haven't done that's been done by the House of Bishops.
There's also a whole bibliography of work done by theologians in the Episcopal Church and in the wider church ... "To Set Our Hope on Christ" -- the study we took to the Anglican Consultative Council in 2005 AND the Claiming the Blessing Theology Statement from 2003.
And speaking of 2003, I'm remembering that a week from today -- June 10th -- is the sixth anniversary of a trip Michael Hopkins and I took to Chicago together in 2003 ... to Seabury Western seminary where we had been "summoned" by the House of Bishops' Theology Committee (chaired by Henry Parsley.)
They were -- stop me if you've heard this before -- working on a "study" that included same-sex relationships and they hadn't -- up until that point -- actually included anybody in that process who was actually in one.
So we -- Michael and I -- were bussed in as two actual, live-in-captivity homosexual people: Exhibit A & B. In 2003. Six years ago. And now there's another study. Being done in secret. Due in 2011.
Cue music: It's time for the Final Jeopardy Theme.
Time to say enough is enough. Game Over. We're done.
It's time to stop "studying" our relationships and start celebrating them.
It's time for the Episcopal Church to "Just Say No" to more closets -- for committees or for bishops or for the baptized -- and finish the Coming Out process it started in 1976.
In a nutshell: It's time to claim the blessing of the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments and get on with the work of gospel.