Saturday, March 27, 2010

The whole enchilada

So now I've actually had time get a "first read" of the 95 pages presented to the House of Bishops by the Theology Panel convened by the HoB Theology Committee.

As I noted in the blog I wrote yesterday, I actually think there's been some new ground broken by the portion written by Deirdre Good, Cynthia Kittredge, Eugene Rogers & Willis Jenkins that will serve us well as we move forward.

I can't say the same for the section written by the "other team" -- John Goldingay, Grant LeMarquand, George Sumner & Daniel Westberg. I described it yesterday in a note to a colleague group as "the same casserole they've brought the potluck for the last 20 years."

And lest that be considered dismissive rather than descriptive, here's how Grant LeMarquand described it in his own words:

I have heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. That is, however, exactly what I will be doing for the next minutes – not providing any new insights or fresh thinking but, as straightforwardly as possible, saying the same old thing one more time.
Like I said: same casserole, different day.

And then, after giving an overview of the report they'd written, LeMarquand concluded his remarks with this curious summation:

My task is made difficult not only because it may seem to you to be naïve or tedious but because it is by its nature a negative argument. As an Anglophone Canadian from the predominantly French-speaking part of my country, I well aware that to vote Oui! feels much more exciting and more open to future possibilities than to vote Non! The no vote is a vote for the past, a vote against change. “No we can’t” is never as much fun as “yes we can.” So be it.

And there you have it. Just like the other blog I wrote yesterday.

Only it's not "No we can't" is it? It's "No YOU can't" to same-sex couples -- as the position outlined by the self-described traditionalists continues to draw a line that keeps them outside-looking-in at the outward and visible sign the church withholds from the inward and spiritual grace of their marriages. Meanwhile, the theology team from the other side blows that line in the sand away. ALL the way away.

And that's the breaking news here, boys and girls.

Buried in all the been-there-done-thatness of this report and the bad taste we still have in our mouths over how the committee was convened and then secreted and then released to the bishops the week-before-Holy Week ... buried in all that is this (from the top of page 78)

"Because of our sense of the church’s mission, we argue for blessing same-sex marriages, not for blessing civil unions or same-sex partnerships. While some civic and legal strategies reserve the word "marriage" for relationships between male and female, and use another term such as "union" for relationships between two women or two men, the distinction does not make sense within the life of the church. There, marriage is a discipline, a means of grace, and a type of the relationship of Christ with the Church.

Our argument therefore eliminates the option of "half way houses" and compromises. We agree with the traditionalist paper and Archbishop Williams that public blessing of same-sex unions would function as Christian marrying, and we acknowledge with them that sentiment in the Communion stands against that.

We do not then argue for same-sex marriage lightly or in disregard of the Communion. We do so for the sake of the mission of our church within the Communion, as a way of giving our testimony to the work of the Spirit among us."

One side brought the same old casserole to the potluck. The other side brought the whole enchilada.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it. And then let us dig in!

Because it seems to me that this is too important a significant shift in theological argument to get lost in the shuffle -- and that we need to step up and not just embrace it but expand it ... and not just for our work in the Episcopal Church but here in the marriage equality movement here in California and elsewhere.
Guacamole, anyone?


John said...

Dave and I always choose Mexican food over warmed over hotdish.

It's more the pity that the traditionalists couldn't make their case without dishing up the same old tired discredited or quoted out of context sources.

uffda51 said...

Not only is it the same conservative casserole but it has clearly been left out on the counter at room temperature for far too long.

kevindoylejones said...

it's an inch at a time baby, and this inch counts. good post, susan.

kevindoylejones said...

it's an inch at a time baby. claim the ground and celebrate.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Thank you, dearest Susan, for this brilliant response!

Marcia King said...

This "tired casserole" to which you refer, Susan, is over 2000 years of biblical truth. Nice try.

It's not just a few verses which discredit what you and a small percentage of the population are promoting, it's the whole metanarrative of scripture and centuries of tradition. It is the new arguments which are specious not the truth which is lasting. But we could debate this all day and into the night without resolution or agreement.

BTW, Gene Robinson said something curious at the HOB question and answer session. Not one to avoid the spotlight, he gave a short speech saying it was time to move beyond speaking simply of “GLBT” orientations: “there are so many other letters in the alphabet,” he said; “there are so many other sexualities to be explored.”

Interesting statement. What's next on the agenda? By golly, I'm sure it will be just dandy. Can hardly wait to see future TEC attendance figures.


Thanks for stopping by, Marcia.

Have a blessed Holy Week and Joyous Easter!

Marcia King said...

Thank you, Susan, you too. It's the best time of the year.


24 services here between 7:30 this morning and 1pm Easter Day.

It's a GREAT time of year!

Marcia King said...

24? Wow! I just sent a note of gratitude and encouragement to our altar guild because we have 19 during that time period! But it is exhilarating and wonderful. Love it! Blessings to you.

W. Huber said...

It's not so much how far we climb before we set the next anchor, but how well we set each anchor before moving on - and it sounds like we set this anchor well.