Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage: "unintentional damage or incidental damage affecting facilities, equipment or personnel, occurring as a result of military actions directed against targeted enemy forces or facilities."

Here are but a few of the examples of the collateral damage from the Response of the House of Bishops issued yesterday received from blog commenters and email correspondents:

I admire your ability to "stay the course," but as the ole hymn has it "you've got to know when to hold 'em; you've got to know when to fold 'em." I've arrived at "fold em" time with ECUSA.

I can no longer preach the gospel of Christ inside the church. Telling gay folks they are eligible for five and a half of the seven sacraments certainly isn't proclaiming the Good News. In order to walk with integrity, I've asked my bishop to remove me from ordained ministry.

Some see the glass half full, some half empty. As a lesbian Christian, I have to ask: How come all we get is half a glass? And did our bishops do ANYTHING to add even one drop to our glass? Nope. They seem have been more concered with keeping their own Lambeth tea-cups full ...

very sad and disappointing indeed. i have left the flock to join my life partner on a path toward Reform Judaism. it still saddens me to see the institution i gave so much to over the years continue to turn its back on me and others like me.

I need God. I do not need the church. I do not want the church because the
church does not want me.
My husband has a young nephew and he and his wife are lawyers in Madison, Wisconsin. At the wedding this summer, they told us that they were leaving the Episcopal church and going to the UCC over the issue of inclusion and betrayal of people they love.

While I am profoundly disappointed, I cannot say that I am at all surprised at the bishops' actions. Once again we homosexuals are asked to wait. We're told that we are entitled to full life in the body of Christ, but the reality is that we are NOT entitled to participation in all of the sacraments.The bishops' response was a cowardly admission that they do not have the courage to "stand firm" in the face of bigotry, ignorance, and hatred.

Again, the tragedy is that the Church caters to those who threaten to leave rather than minister to those who are committed to stay.

How long until the bishops of this church recognize that these are the lives and vocations they are sacrificing at the feet of the Idol they have made of Institutional Unity?

PS -- Please feel free to forward this to your bishop! In fact, PLEASE forward this to your bishop!!


Padre Wayne said...

Susan, thank you for sharing these painful, tragic comments. I had only seen a couple in my perusals of blogland today.

I'm feeling conflicted. On the one hand I support my bishop; I feel he acts with integrity, he is supportive of me and my partner, and he is honest. I also love my parish and my parish work. On the other, though, I feel slapped. Put down. Made "less than." It is so spiritually unhealthy, and it comes from a dysfunctional institution.

And so I will soldier on, loving my partner, loving my parish, doing Christ's work in a broken world as best I can. But I am not happy about yesterday's statement.

And more to the point, how must Tracey+ feel? Has she been given any pastoral support? My prayers are with her: She who now faces a potential denial of a ministry for which she is so very gifted -- all because of the way she loves.

Anonymous said...

It's odd how people like this don't have a longer view of things. The Catholic Church has 70 million Americans, Southern Baptists have 20 million, Mormons have 5 million or so. Why don't these commenters expend some energy criticizing their positions on gays and women? I'm sure they have some Catholic friends they can give a hard time about continuing to support the sexist homophobic Roman church. We have two million and we're shedding them like crazy. If our and other liberal mainline denominations continue to decline, people centuries will point back to us and say: "*That's* what the Holy Spirit does to a church that ordains women. *That's* what happens to a church that accepts gays. It must mean that God doesn't want women and gays to be priests." This is probably how the anti-female and anti-gay stuff got into the Bible in the first place. Churches that were liberal on these things just died.

The Episcopal Church has done far more than most churches is these areas, and it has done *nothing* but hurt us. Where are the legions of people coming to us from Rome? It serves no purpose to go too far too fast and have the church destroyed - it will merely send Christianity into fundamentalism for the next thousand years.

The saddest aspect of this generation of Christianity is that the battle over women's ordination has been lost in the wider community. If we continue to dwindle, one can only wonder whether there will be any opportunites for women in the priesthood 100 years from now. And the current crop of liberals doesn't seem able to see that.


Anonymous said...

As a lawyer, I admire the Presiding Bishop's skill in crafting clever language and avoiding immediate conflict. As with the outcome of last General Convention, she and her allies in the HOB have outflanked both the extremists on the right and the impatient among us on the left. Part of me wants the "breathing room," and wants to believe them when they admit they're trying to make the bigots drive themselves out, and to make room for justice down the road when they're gone.

But as a gay father, I don't think I have that much patience. We bring our daughter (and future son) to our inviting parish to share community and learn values. But how can I expose them to an institution that values phony unity more than their family and the Gospel?

John said...

PS -- Please feel free to forward this to your bishop! In fact, PLEASE forward this to your bishop!!

To Jack Iker? Yeah right.

Lorian said...

Sadly, though conservatives will point to membership increases in conservative churches and declines in progressive ones as "proof" that God is punishing the progressive churches for their "sins" of promoting women and gays, I think the truth of the matter is a bit different than that.

I suspect that conservative fundamentalist churches succeed for a variety of reasons, but among them are two major ones:

1. People like the security of being bossed around. We carry much of childhood with us as we grow up, and there is a certain comfort in knowing what to expect at all times, having the rules laid out in black and white, with any possible ambiguity swept so far under the carpet that we may never have to encounter it again. Being able to "live in the tension" is a growth experience, and requires a great deal of maturity and security.

2. Such religious groups which deny equality to GLBTI and women remain among the last bastions in Western society where it is still okay to discriminate and to reaffirm the innate "superiority," dominance and transcendence of the straight (usually white) male. Even some women find a certain amount of comfort in this fact, both because there is that same security that comes with thoroughly knowing, understanding and accepting your "role" and never being expected to take leadership, and also because the anti-gay bias still gives them a group to which they can feel superior.

A little harsh, I know, and I don't presume that these reasons apply to every member of every fundamentalist organization. I do think that they represent some rather pervasive attitudes, however.

God is not punishing those churches which would end injustice and oppression, anymore than God was punishing Jesus by "making" him be crucified. It is the people mired in insecurity, a need for traditional gender roles, and a desire to affirm superiority by disparagement of others different from the self, who are punishing progressive churches for confronting such insecurity and bias.

It is never comfortable to encounter a prophetic voice. Educational and beneficial, yes, if one is willing to listen and think, but never comfortable.

Bateau Master said...

From Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Light .... to Reformed Judaism ..... sorry I can't make that leap!

Sidney .... its because the commenters' participation hasn't been about Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for our sins .... its been about them.

Perry Lee said...

Bateau Master said...
"From Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Light .... to Reformed Judaism ..... sorry I can't make that leap!"

Be careful! KJS says that Jesus is NOT "The Way, the Truth etc." that that is putting God in "too small a box," and that Jesus is more of a "vehicle for reaching the Divine than divinity itself."

You might need to widen your thinking to encompass the new Universalist Thing that the holy spirit is doing . . .

David said...

I'm not forwarding this to my bishop (+Dallas), it'd just make him happy... :P

Lorian said...

Pilgrim, Jesus IS the way, the truth and the life. The way, the truth and the life are the means by which we approach our Creator. Seeking the Truth is, of necessity, seeking Jesus, who IS the Truth, whether the seeker understands that Truth to be named Jesus, or whether that seeker of the Truth is simply a person of open heart and mind, listening for the voice of the Creator.

Jesus said "I have sheep in other pastures." He did not say that these sheep call him by the human name, "Jesus." But surely those sheep are every bit as much seekers of the Truth as we, and that Truth which they seek is the path to communion with the Creator.

Try not to get too hung up on the human names. Focus on the divity behind those names and what the names represent.