Sunday, December 09, 2007


Bill Maher is one of my favs and one of my favorite parts of his "Real Time" show is:


So, stealing a page from his book, we're going to have a few "new rules' on this blog.

NEW RULE #1: No more Anonymous Comments

It is not a rule I change unadvisedly or lightly as I frankly enjoy the frank exchange of differing ideas and don't want to "squash" that on this blog. However, with a new church year just begun and a new calendar year just ABOUT to begin it seems a good time to follow in Jim Naughton's "Episcopal Cafe" footsteps and ask folks to put their names where their opinions are.

NEW RULE #2: Speak as you would like to be spoken to

OK -- actually that's an OLD rule ... my mother's old rule! ... but it seems to me it bears repeating in these polarizing and polemic times. Ad hominem arguments are not only not persuasive they just flat don't live up to my mother's standards of civilized behavior OR to our baptismal covenant commitment to respect the dignity of every human being.

NEW RULE #3: No more toleration of intolerance

Marilyn McCord Adams, Regis Professor of Divinity at Christ Church, Oxford “led off” last week's Chicago Consultation with her paper: “Shaking the Foundations: LGBT Bishops and Blessings in the Fullness of Time.” In her opening remarks, she challenged us to resist being hoisted on our own petard of inclusiveness, asserting that “conservatives have played on liberal propensities for tolerance and inclusiveness to insist that liberals tolerate not only individual beliefs but institutional policies contrary to liberal conscientious beliefs, and to do so no matter who holds the majority."

She offered this “concrete analogy” that TOTALLY spoke to me:

In the USA today, we tolerate people who believe the earth is flat. The constitution allows them freedom of assembly. Being a member of the Flat Earth Society doe not jeopardize a citizen’s voting or property-holding rights. But most Americans find the flat-earthers’ views false and irrational. We would not think of tolerating them to the extent of canceling the space program.

Likewise, sex-and-gender liberals have no interest in excommunicating sex-and-gender conservatives or in denying them the institutional access that all members of TEC enjoy. But in the name of faithfulness to the Gospel, sex-and-gender liberals cannot extend toleration to allowing sex-and-gender conservatives to set institutional policy no matter what. Liberals should not be so desperately committed to inclusiveness as to let themselves be held hostage by conservative threats to leave unless they get their way.
Liberals should work within the established polity of TEC and use their majority to uproot homophobia. The reason is straight-forward: homophobia is a sin and its end is now!

So if your criterion for being included is that someone else is excluded then feel free to start your own "Flat Gospel Society" ... but don't expect us to cancel the Gospel Agenda Program.

Here endeth the "New Rules." For now.



Fred said...

Sounds good to me!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

You totally rock, Susan. I will soon be posting similar rules to my own blog - the very first time one of the Trolls posts something.

Enough, already

Allen said...

This hero Bill Maher on religion:
"We went to every place where there is religion. We went to Vatican City. We went to Jerusalem. We went to Salt Lake City. And I think I’ve insulted everybody!” Maher said win a big grin.
(From Larry King)

Another egocentric whose lifeblood seems to be to shock, disgust, and belittle. Just so long as he does such to millions of traditionalists, it's OK I guess. Just like you don't like being connected with the sex acts at Pride Day parades, I think that it is equally simplistic to think that all traditionalists are adherents to theological lobotomy.

Another reason that I'll never believe the lie of the "big tent", Anglican comprehensiveness, or the radical welcome. People see the truth straight on if Maher is a hero.


allen -- yep, Maher hits hard on religion but he also hits hard on politics and hypocrisy and he cracks me up. When my son was in Iraq he said the only "news" they paid any attention to came from Bill Maher and John Stewart. And do note, I said he was a "fav" - not a "hero." Desmond Tutu is a hero ... Bill Maher is just a fav.

Sarah Dylan Breuer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah Dylan Breuer said...

Good rules!

Is the quote from Marilyn Adams' presentation from your own notes, or do you have an electronic copy of her paper? If so, please share! I'm sure the 'Chicago Consultation' has much to offer, and I'm eagerly awaiting their contributions. In particular, I'm a fan of Jenny Te Paa's work, and find it hard to believe that she'd jet to Chicago to deliver just extemporaneous remarks. And I'm also a longtime fan of Marilyn Adams, and will eagerly await what she has to say to the church in this context.


dylan ... I have only hard copies at this point. I know there are plans to get everything available online so it all should be "coming soon."

In addition to Marilyn's great paper, we got both a paper and a sermon from Jenny, great presentations from Stacy Sauls and and Fred Quinn and a wonderful walk down memory lane from Fred Borsch.

More to come!

Suzer said...

Those rules sound pretty fair to me! Glad to see that some boundaries have been placed for the good of all involved. Thank you. :)

Brother David said...

Marilyn has shared this wisdom before and it bears repeating in a new context;

Liberal Anglicans should not sacrifice their beliefs in order to hold on to church unity at all costs, says Marilyn McCord Adams

Saturday March 25, 2006
The Guardian

Liberal tolerance is easy even for liberals to misunderstand. Liberal societies do and should respect the right of citizens to hold whatever beliefs they like and to organise groups around them, so long as they do nothing to jeopardise the life, liberty, health or property of outsiders. Typically, however, liberal tolerance does not extend any entitlement to set public or institutional policy. In the US for example, the Ku Klux Klan is still a legal organisation, whose members meet to reinforce one another's racist beliefs. But the government's respect for their conscience does not grant them any right that schools be segregated.

In recent Church of England controversies over women priests and bishops, the notion of conscientious objection looms large. Conservatives insist that they could not, in conscience, stay in the C of E, if it makes them accept the offices of women priests and bishops, or even of male bishops who ordain women. Knowing that liberals have a soft spot for tolerance, conservatives demand respect for their conscientious convictions in the form of institutional accommodation. Knowing that liberals have a penchant for inclusivity, conservatives confront advocates of women bishops with a forced choice: either stop pressing your convictions, or split the church.
Even liberal bishops are congratulating themselves after February's general synod, on their steering "a via media between clarity and charity". They boast that the endorsed scheme for transferred episcopal arrangements will forward the process of ordaining women bishops, while changing ecclesial polity to guarantee parishes in dioceses with female bishops or male bishops who have participated in the ordination of women the option of working instead with male bishops whose hands are clean. Inclusivity has been secured, albeit by a move that will compromise the symbolic authority of liberal and women (but not of conservative male) bishops.

Certainly, conservatives have been "wise as serpents" in setting up the dilemma. But in trying for the "innocence of doves", liberal leaders have betrayed their own cause. Liberal beliefs - that conservative positions on gender and sexuality evidence the grip of oppressive taboos - are also conscientious. Sacrificing such beliefs in order to hang on to already impaired communion with those who will remain only if you do what they tell you sends the message that dividing the church is more sinful than misogyny and homophobia, and more important than first-class ecclesial citizenship for women and for homosexual Christians. Conservatives thereby win a double victory: not only do they co-opt the church's institutional structures; they confirm the widespread suspicion that liberals do not have enough backbone to be conscientious at all.

There is no health in this, because "going along to get along" is not the gospel. The synoptics virtually guarantee: because the reign of God stands in judgment over any and every human social system, its coming by successive approximations is sure to violate our socially constructed identities repeatedly. Our part is to discern for all we're worth and to live up to the light that is in us. Because we are fallible, we are not entitled to make undermining other people's lifestyles our ends or chosen means, but we have to accept that it may be a known but unintended side-effect of putting our conscientious convictions into effect. Refusing to do so shows no charity to the oppressed whose cause we feel called to sponsor. Nor can we consistently believe that it shows charity to those who are dug in against us, because our considered opinion is that they are imprisoned by illogic and taboos.

Finally, liberals must not make an idol of unity. In institutions, as in biology, differentiation and division may be in service of richer and more mature integration. John's Jesus prays for unity, but the Jesus-movement precipitated a schism within Judaism. It was not his first choice, but it is how the gospel spread.

· The Rev Marilyn McCord Adams is Regius professor of divinity and canon of Christ Church, Oxford

Joan Mistretta said...

Bill Maher is not everyone's cup of tea -- often not mine, especially when he does things like making fun of women who are not physically attractive. (I have found myself thinking "So, you're Brad Pitt??") But for so many years we have had right wing extremists dragging the "center" to the right that we can't help rejoice when someone drags it in the other direction for a change.

Rule #3 addresses something that has bothered me for a long time. It seems that many of my progressive friends are SO tolerant and polite that they would speak respectfully of Satan and offer him a podium rather than be seen as exclusive. I have said for years that it appears that being "open" has come to mean that if someone stands up and tells the truth for ten minutes we are obligated to encourage someone to stand up and lie for ten minutes.

It may be that some of this tendency is what has led to a perception of the Democratic Party as a collection of invertebrates. Joan Mistretta

JimB said...

I have moderation turned on at my little blog. Anonymous comments do not make it to the blog. If you cannot stand for an idea, do not express it is my rule. That one rule seems to work wonders as trolls prefer to hide in the dark. ;-)


RonF said...

Bill Maher is not everyone's cup of tea -- often not mine, especially when he does things like making fun of women who are not physically attractive.

Printing unflattering pictures of men who are not particularly attractive is certainly not unheard of here (if their politics or beliefs are contrary to what's commonly held here, anyway), so I doubt you'll see many people join you on this.

Rule #3 addresses something that has bothered me for a long time. It seems that many of my progressive friends are SO tolerant and polite that they would speak respectfully of Satan and offer him a podium rather than be seen as exclusive. I have said for years that it appears that being "open" has come to mean that if someone stands up and tells the truth for ten minutes we are obligated to encourage someone to stand up and lie for ten minutes.

So it was O.K. to demand that those who disagree with you engage in a listening process and hear your truths when they were in positions of power, but now that your adherents are in a position of power it's time to change your position from "your" truths to "the" truth and stop listening?

Hiram said...

To use your "Flat Earth Society" analogy for a moment --

The situation in ECUSA (and other "mainline churches) is that it is like a "Flat Earth Society" that over time admitted members who were not so sure the earth was totally flat -- and then little by little, a lot of the leadership of the society was taken over by people who were really round-earthers, and who eventually denounced the flat earth believers as recalcitrant.

We conservatives believe what the Church has always believed, without resorting to a variety of reinterpreting tactics and forced exegesis to proclaim and practice theological novelties. The historic Church is not perfect and has held some less than wonderful theological positions and done some dreadful things -- but that does not mean the core, creedal doctrines need to be "updated."

RonF said...

David, if anything it was the wish to demonstrate compassion and inclusiveness on the part of what are now being labelled "conservatives" that permitted the proponents of the changes that have occurred to be heard and gain influence.

Joan Mistretta said...

Dear Ronf: Wow! - that was an amazing job of "reading into" and distorting nearly everything I said. Why would you do that? Regarding Bill Maher I was just thinking of his comedic style which can be sharp and even cruel - not just toward people with whom he disagrees. His humor can be junveile. I just meant that I can see why people might not like his style.

With regard to Rule 3, I was not thinking any such thing. I was referring to people who tell the plain truth -- such as saying that Harvey was at work on Friday when he was -- as opposed to people who lie -- such as saying that Harvey took the day off when he did not. People on all sides do this. I think it should be confronted whenever it happens and that people who do it habitually should lose credibility and therefore, perhaps, platforms. That's what I meant. I THOUGHT that was what I said. Joan Mistretta

uffda51 said...

“We conservatives believe what the Church has always believed . . .”

The thing is, what the Church believes has always been a moving target. It has changed radically in the past, is changing right now, and will continue to change in the future. This makes some people very uncomfortable.

The virgin birth story, one of the basic tenants of fundamentalist belief, does not appear in the gospels until about five decades after the crucifixion. Paul, credited with writing perhaps 25-50% of the New Testament, never mentions the virgin birth narrative. The folks who point out these dissonances are labeled heretics.

I don’t consider the inclusion of all of the LGBT baptized at the Eucharist to be a “theological novelty.” I don’t believe this to be an “updating” of the core, creedal doctrines. I believe this to be the long, long overdue adherence to Jesus’ intentions. As for doctrine, we have “updated” our understanding of the Tenth Commandment to the point where (I hope) we no longer consider a wife to be the property of her husband.

To cite unchanging belief, tradition, doctrine and creeds as reasons to continue to scapegoat and demonize the LGBT community simply makes no sense on any level.


allen -- see "New Rule #2"