Sunday, June 18, 2006

Clarity Again

In the interest of ... umm ... "clarity" ... let me make it perfectly clear that I'm in favor of it.

Clarity, that is.

I appreciated more than I can say the clarity of David Anderson's response to Larry King to the question, "Why do you stay [in the Episcopal Church]?" Many of us have long asked the same thing and while I might have hoped for a more theological response, his answer, "I like a good fight" was certainly clear.

And it confirmed long held suspicions by many that this really isn't about God or Jesus or historic Anglicanism or even about sex. And it certainly isn't about what the answer Integrity and our allies at this convention have given to the question: a deep love of this church, commitment to this communion and the desire to do nothing more than live out our baptismal covenants in the context of Christian community with all the rights AND responsibilities that holds.

Pointing out the divide between those two reasons for staying in the Episcopal Church is the kind of clarity I'm in favor of. And grateful for.

What I'm NOT in favor of is what I have called "making an idol" of clarity -- or the efforts to promote that idolotry at this General Convention by insisting that clarity in-and-of-itself is our highest goal in this legislative process. Discerning the will of God for this church is our highest goal -- and it will not be reached by manufacturing the false dicotomy of comply with the letter of the Windsor Report or walk apart from the Anglican Communion.

Once again I turn to Terry Holmes in "What Is Anglicanism?":

"Clarity should not be expected-- in fact, it should be suspect -- when we are attempting to make clear the infinite mind of God for the finite minds of humankind. When Anglicanism is true to its concept of authority, this apparent hesitance to say, "Thus saith the Lord!" -- only to have to spend the next hundred years subtlely qualifying "what the Lord said" -- is not a sign of weakness but evidence of strength and wisdom." - Urban T. Holmes, “What Is Anglicanism” pg. 16

And ...

Ultimately the authenticity of faith and belief is measured at the bar of justice. All religious questions merge into the one query: What shall we do? There is an inevitable course to our religious profession which can be aborted only by denying its Lord. That course leads to living in the world as God sees the world. We can debate the trivial points, but the vision is largely clear. To love God is to relieve the burden of all who suffer. The rest is a question of tactics." - Urban T. Holmes, “What Is Anglicanism” pg. 95

I think that's pretty clear.


Jeff Martinhauk said...

Susan -

What I think is pretty clear from the timestamp on this post is that you aren't getting any sleep!

God bless you, you are in everyone's prayers, and take a long vacation when you return!


Anonymous said...

Clarity is to comply with Windsor in acknowledging the unilateral and hurtful actions of GC2003, the abandonment of the teaching of the communion in Lambeth 98 I.10, and the pride and hubris engendering the whole debacle.

The inability to acknowledge these realities is wilful.

Clarity admits the reality GC2003 brought about. Clarity admits the need for repentance and the actions called for in the Windsor Report - regret and moratoria on the divisive and fractious advancement of the gay agenda in the face of Scripture, Tradition, and now reason.

Clarity will be achieved by compliance or non-compliance. The ECUSA GC2003 unilaterally acted. It has been called to account. GC2006 will decide the fate of the relations between the ECUSA and the AC. That's the model of clarity. Not evn close to idolatry.

For true idolatry, one must look at the persistence of harm being committed in the pursuit of this agenda to the detriment of the entire communion, the church universal, and the complete refusal of the perpetrators to consider their actions in the larger sphere.

And, for the purposes of clarity, hiding the willingness to fight this battle as you are fighting it behind the cloak of concern for the troubled is much less honest than the simple statement that we are in a fight for the ECUSA. Score the traditionalists for honesty, you may. But don't expect perspicacious people to accept the duplicitous statement that you are not engaged in a fight on your part.

Honesty trumps clarity. Bludgeon whom you will over honesty, but do not think it thereby hides the reality of your fighting. I beleive you would characterize your tactics as fighting for the right. Why excoriate your opponents for the same faithful action?

John Gibson said...

"I appreciated more than I can say the clarity of David Anderson's response to Larry King to the question, "Why do you stay [in the Episcopal Church]?" Many of us have long asked the same thing and while I might have hoped for a more theological response, his answer, "I like a good fight" was certainly clear."

This is not about theology or faith; it isn't even solely about the Episcopal Church. These people are part of a comprehensive, well-financed, and very dangerous effort by the right wing to undo several centuries' worth of human learning. Anderson, whether he realizes it or not, is just one of the organ grinder's many monkies.

Anonymous said...

Labelling things idolatrous, and clarity, in this instance, does really not help IMHO. A love of ambiguity can be just as idolatrous: recall the Episcopal ghost in CS Lewis Great Divorce who loves the endless searching, the endless questions, the endless ambiguity but never gets around to thinking about life in light of the gospel.

What might be recalled about the WR is that it was a unanimous report crafted by people from all theological positions, and not largely conservative ones at all. The committee was largely center and left of center.

Additionally, +Rowan himself, whose writings, if anything, are marked by an eagerness to uncover facile solutions and a preoccupation with pointing to those things in experience not easily submerged into a greater vision (ie, a man whose writings do not give an easy pass to unsupported assertions of clarity), he himself said that there are minimum standards for living in the communion! So I find Russell's writing here very mistaken. We are walking apart, and not just from the broader Anglican Communion.

Anonymous said...

Canon Anderson's answer was unfortunate, and I wonder if it was given in jest. I stay in because I'm not going to get run out the church I was raised in. Frankly, I'm getting the idea that you all don't like us traditionalist cradle Episcopalians hanging around. Are we outside the limits of your inclusivity?

Catherine said...

Here's some clarity. We have just elected our first woman Presiding Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts-Schori. Now, I can deal with that kind of clarity!

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Tony -

I think what you sense is exasperation. We keep hearing that this debate is going to be over for better or for worse and we will be able to get back to the good news of Jesus. Then we keep hearing that those that agree with your doctrine are not going to let us do that. You are in the minority. Either go gracefully onto what you believe God is calling you to do, or accept that the church welcomes you AND the diversity of other opinions.

But the constant fighting and bickering is not healthy for the church. It is time to let go. One way or the other. That isn't a lack of inclusion. That is just healthy for all of us.

John Gibson said...

"I'm getting the idea that you all don't like us traditionalist cradle Episcopalians hanging around."

What I don't like "hanging around" is a bunch of closed-minded homophobes who see no place for people like me in the Episcopal Church. If you're comfortable worshiping with people who are not homophobic and some of whom are homosexual (and haven't had to "practice" for years; we've got everything down pat), then I welcome you. If you don't welcome me, just as I am, don't expect me to react to you any differently.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, are you a cradle Episcopalian? (I think John already said that he is). Are you saying that your loyalty only is for the ecusa the way you want it, if it were to become more in line with the Anglican Communion, you would leave?

RMF said...

The Presiding Bishop-elect was named with a commanding majority of support from all 108 of the Church's dioceses. The Church has spoken. This is a sobering moment.

Come, Holy Spirit.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Catherine that electing a woman as Presiding Bishop is true clarity.

And doesn't the Holy Spirit have a wonderful sense of humor!

I just hope that Provinces in the Anglican Communion opposed to women serving as Bishops don't re-direct their anger towards GLBT members.

Laine said...

Clarity is electing PB Schori!

Dave said...

Hear hear, Mr. Gibson!

Tony, I don't mind worshipping with traditionalist cradle Episcopalians at all. What I do mind, and feel incredibly hurt by, is being told two months after being welcomed into Christ's body, and one month after being confirmed as a Christian, that I'm second class, good for contributing money and time but nothing else, and dirty and filthy and irredeemably sinful beyond even the ability of the waters of baptism to wash away.

t.l.h.heller said...

I so appreciate your commentary, Susan, and the late hour you kept to be able to write your thoughts for the rest of us to gain some sense of how it goes up there.

I have not read your earlier blogs on clarity. Nor do I have the vocabulary or the insight that so many of these others have expressed here. But I believe that clarity leads to power, and thus enables one to act. Without clarity, we might be powerless.

Except for the love of God.

I believe that there are infinite paths to serving the will of God, and to expressing the love of God.

So, whether or not we have clarity, if we have love....

Anonymous said...

Clarity is to comply

Um, that's The Borg talking, inked: not any Christian worthy of the name...

God bless +Katherine Jefferts Schori! (And as the "Veil of the Temple was rent in twain", so also may be the Primates' Old Boys Club!

Jeff Martinhauk said...

Tony -

Excuse the exasparation again, but who cares if I'm cradle or not? I don't think my or your "cradle-ness" allows any more claim on the church than somebody who walked in the door five minutes ago. The church belongs to God, not you or me.

The spirit is moving us. Again- if you don't like it, make the difficult but humbling decision to move on. Either keep with the tradition you love of being a part of the institution and a part of the family - while not necessarily enjoying all the family reunions - or leave.

I don't love everything that we do either. I don't love the language of all the resolutions as they stand. But to leave for me is to say that I value my own selfish desires for the church more than the community itself. I think you have to make that decision for yourself as well. And my exasperation is that the Network keeps threatening to make it, but never actually does - I hear Kendall Harmon said the other day that the Network is going to defer a decision for six more months now. Enough already. Poop or get off the pot. Let's get on with the business of the church already. Either commit to reconciliation by withdrawing the threat of leaving or leave. You can commit to reconciliation without giving up your values - it isn't an either/or.


Catherine said...

What Jeff said!

Lisa Fox said...

Susan+, you missed the most important of the "money quote." Asked why he stays in the Episcopal Church, Bishop Robinson talked about the love of God and the desire to bring others into the love of God -- a.k.a. evangelism. Then Canon Anderson said he stays in TEC because "I like to fight." For me, that was the end of the discussion. +Robinson stays here to evangelize. Anderson+ stays here to fight. What more need be said??

John Gibson said...

"(I think John already said that he is)."

No, I was a Methodist first.

RMF said...

It's interesting that while some complain of a lack of evangelizing in our Church (myself included), there are many obviously, who are entering the Church from other traditions. Seems some kind of evangelizing is going on. :)

These questions about who is an "older" Episcopalian remind me that John and Peter and all the rest were new to their tradition, too. They enjoyed giving Paul a hard time about his later conversion, didn't they. ;)

We want to evangelize and that means new people will be coming in. And yes, they may renew and light our Spirit in ways we can't predict or imagine. This is of God. It is good.

Anonymous said...


I am seeing the Borg at work for its own gratification.

Alas that in this critical juncture a Borgian liberal attendant solely on the agenda of "progressivism" with so little experience should be put in the PB office - whether male of female is not of consequence. But in the reality of the AC issues, it was a singularly ill-timed stroke.

Although, as I recall, the Borg was an automated one-tracked entity valuing itself above all else - which in fact reglects ECUSA's course in WO, VGR, and desiring the highest level of communion while sticking it to the rest of the Christian world.