Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Voice in the Wilderness

So while I disagree with LOTS of things Ephraim Radner writes, I found myself in rather stunned agreement with his comment this afternoon over at titusonenine -- where they're in quite a feeding frenzy about the recent events in the Diocese of San Joaquin (Radner's comment is #209!)

Here's what his "voice in the reasserter wilderness" had to say --


There’s nothing imprudent or unwise about leaving the Episcopal Church, in and of itself. If you think a church is “apostate” and you can’t stand it anymore, by all means leave. People have been leaving churches for such reasons for hundreds of years. They can even do it now in a way that keeps them out of jail and away from the stake. It’s a wonderful country.

As a Christian, however, it is imprudent to leave in a way that will get you into a lawsuit with other Christians (with anybody, for that matter) and end up costing lots of people hundreds of thousands of dollars or more, expend energy and focus, and bring scandal to the church’s public image.

There are lots of ways to “leave”. The “lawsuit” way is only one of them, and a not very prudent way, once you realize this is what is going to happen. It is unwise in Christian sense to leave in a way that further troubles, fractures, and weakens the Communion of which you claim to be a part and to which you claim to be committed, in this case by engaging other jurisdictions in arrangements that one knows are not only controversial, but actually discouraged by the Communions’ councils, and unacceptable to many in the Communion.

This is not particularly hard to “understand”, even if you don’t agree with it. As we have repeatedly heard the Communion affirm: actions that affect the larger church should be decided by the larger church. This is a case in point, and I do not accept the notion that I am somehow morally bound quietly to let San Joaquin do what it wants to do without raising objections on the basis of our common life, just because the bishop and the diocese as a whole are “conservative”. (Not that my objections carry particular weight, I realize.)

It matters not whether I am a pointed-headed academic or a “real person in the pew” (whatever that is): if people think Gene Robinson made the Episcopal Church a laughing stock, be assured that the present slide—admittedly already well on its way before yesterday—into legal wrangling is not going right the boat.

What to do? If you are a member of TEC but can’t stand anything that taints you with its tinge, join another church (I would suggest the Roman Catholics). If you want to stay an Anglican, work with the mechanisms of the larger Communion, willingly, energetically, and charitably, and grit your teeth over the rest and all the time it seems to be taking. The Anglican Communion, and whatever gifts it actually has to contribute to the purposes of God, is a long-term project. The choices in between the two recommendations I have just made will only make it longer.

December 9, 2:57 pm


My, my, my!


Jack Sprat said...


I love your blog because it satisfies my hunger for news, ideas, and inspiration about progressive possibilities (and actions) in the Episcopal world. There are many other blogs that I can't follow because the discourse is so negative and the level of vitriol intolerable. I raise my voice in thanks to you (and the many people who post here) for creating a safe place for me to explore the church on the 'net. I love the fact that you post so frequently with so much news and are so relentless about believing in the triumph of goodness.

Bless you for this blog!


Bill Herrmann said...

I think that it is terribly shortsighted of the 'leavers' in San Joaquin to want to take the church property with them. Wouldn't they be doing TEC greater harm if they left them the empty buildings? The 'leavees' would have to pick up the tab for the real estate as well as hire all that clergy from that vast pool of feral Episcopal priests and bishops. The 'leavers' would get to have new buildings more to their liking (at least the altars would face the right way) and with much lower maintenance expenses.

Clark West said...

Since I've been banned at Titus One Nine for bad behavior, I will leave my comment here: this comment from my friend Ephraim does not surprise me at all. It has been his consistent position for years. While I disagree with him 100% on the question of full inclusion of GLBT persons, I continue to admire his integrity as a Christian. He would have us all enter into the purifying fires of humilty, obedience, and love, a place not many on either side of the aisle currently show much interest in going to.
Thank you, Susan, for putting his words up on your blog and for your positive comment over at Titus One Nine. Though of course your support has become even more fodder for immoderates attacking him ("You see, Ephraim, the kinds of support you get..from Susan Russell of all people!) nevertheless, it is a sign that there is more common ground than many are willing to acknowledge.
My prayers are with Ephraim and his family, as they are with you and yours, in the hopes that the Holy Spirit will lead us into a wilderness shorn of self-assertion and political point-making.
Yours in Christ's love,

Jeff Martinhauk said...

I'm with Clark that Ephraim has some integrity. I disagree with many of his theological positions but at least he has the courage to live them out and stand up for them even when they are difficult places to stand. The comments he has gotten at Stand Firm make it clear that many of those folks are not interested in the theological validity of their positions; only in getting what they want.