Saturday, March 26, 2011

HIGHLY Recommended Reading

The Reverend Dr. Caro Hall is a friend, colleague and one of my favorite people on the planet -- and I was absolutely delighted to find that her doctoral dissertation is "on the web." Entitled " Homosexuality as a Site of Anglican Identity and Dissent" it isnot only an important study, it's an "excellent read" ... and a great resource for anybody wanting to understand more about the history of LGBT inclusion in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Here's the "executive summary" ...
Since the early 1970s conservatives in the Episcopal Church have attempted to halt the increasing liberalization of the church, specifically opposing changes in liturgy, the ordination of women and the full inclusion of gays and lesbians. Having failed to make progress domestically, they activated an existing network of predominately evangelical conservatives in other parts of the Anglican Communion to oppose ‘homosexuality’.

This coalition was able to pass a strongly anti-gay resolution at the 1998 Lambeth Conference of bishops but then found it almost impossible to enforce the resolution in the North American provinces. The 2003 election of an openly gay man to be Bishop of New Hampshire led to open international conflict, and demands for changes to the loosely knit Communion in order to prevent further such incidents and to ‘discipline’ those responsible.

This thesis chronicles the progress of the conservative alliance and the rhetorical and symbolic constructs it developed in order to maintain a strong group identity despite its inherent diversity. It examines the way that the Anglican Communion is created through the discourse of its members and suggests that conservatives began to re-imagine the Communion. Its ability to reform the Communion according to its new imagining depends upon the ability to generate and use power through rhetoric and through symbolic acts of boundary crossing and civil disobedience against the North American churches. Throughout the development and maintenance of the conservative alliance, ‘homosexuality’ has been the rallying cry which has brought conservatives together and cemented their alliance.

This paper examines why the unstable construct ‘homosexuality’ has such salience both within the United States and in the global south that it can act as an identifier and as a motivator for intense dissent across significant difference. It looks for the answer at the convergence of patriarchal values and (post)colonial power differentials.
You can read the rest here ... and I hope you will.


danielj said...

Hi susan+ I am hoping to read this thesis, but i have been unable to download it to convert it to a pdf that i can put on my ipad. I'm legally blind, so i need it in a form which i can easily enlarge for reading. Perhaps you can encourage your friend to provide the document in another form from which it is provided at google docs thank you danielj

Paul said...

Thank you for posting this. This is an excellent piece of work. It will take me a while to get through it, but it is time well spent. It is helpful to see this issue in a broader historical context.

uffda51 said...

Excellent work from the Rev. Dr. Hall. Not exactly a quick read, though. I’ve finally finished skimming it. Where was Evelyn Wood when I needed her?

I have never found any of the conservative arguments remotely convincing. I expect the fundamentalists to find them convincing, but I don’t understand how highly educated scholars do.

I was struck by the passage from Greg Brewer (p. 79). Paraphrasing, “Experience” is bad. It could lead to empathy, which is really, really bad. Much better to stick with Scripture and Tradition (which gave us the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, demonizing the Jews as Christ-killers, homophobia, Manifest Destiny, etc. ).

It seems to me that Jesus was a pretty empathetic guy who often confounded the disciples with his untraditional ideas.

“Experience” might suggest that Scripture be examined in context. “Experience” might suggest that science trumps tradition from time to time. Science can be helpful when you need to fly across the country in under six hours, or you need angioplasty, but any suggestion that we now know more about human sexuality than what can be gleaned from the Adam and Eve myth is heresy.

In the recent stories we’ve seen about conservatives who changed their minds about LGBT issues, they invariably cite getting to know some LGBT persons, perhaps for the first time, and listening to them talk about their lives. Of course if we can’t trust our own experiences, these conservatives converts must be under the influence of the Devil.

What also always strikes me is that the religious, yet well-financed, conservative arguments against LGBT persons are posed in such a remote and academic way, as though the topic were the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin. There seems to be no understanding of the very real and ongoing damage done by these arguments to the very real persons being discussed. And no shame in devoting so much time, money and judgment to the personal lives of LGBT persons in the first place.