Friday, February 15, 2008

So it IS about cooties!

Anybody else out there to remember the game "Cootie?" Maybe they still have it out there somewhere in game land ... but a variation is certainly alive and well in Anglican Land.

I'm referring, of course, to the not-exactly-breaking-news "news" that a gaggle of Primates are declaring in a letter that they are absolutely really totally we-really-mean-it NOT coming to the 2008 Lambeth Conference.

OK. I think we knew that.

The only thing "new" about this news is the clarity of their reasons for turning down Tea at Lambeth. Are you ready? It's because of:
"... the presence in some form or other of Gene Robinson and his male partner, and of 30 gay activists ... In these circumstances we could not feel at home."

How could they "feel at home," bless their hearts, with all those gay cooties running around! THIRTY GAY ACTIVISTS! Imagine that! (Imagine that and then check the math ... I'm thinkin' there'll be a few more than that!)

Imagine not feeling at home in your OWN CHURCH!

Well, actually, we CAN imagine that -- but more importantly, we can imagine CHANGING that. We can imagine becoming a church and a communion where all the baptized are truly welcome into the Body of Christ and nobody worries about catching cooties from anybody.

Can't imagine that could happen? You're probably right ... I mean really -- that's about as likely as -- oh, a woman Presiding Bishop in the Episcopal Church or an African-American front-runner for President of the United States!

Oh well, we can dream, right? And in the meantime, we can keep the cooties where they belong ... in the box on the back of shelf in the game room!


Update: After I wrote this I checked some other blogs and note that Fr. Jake was on the cootie bandwagon and that Tobias Haller is waxing eloquent (as usual) on the "news" on the would-be no-shows.


Padre Mickey said...

Well, I wouldn't feel at home at any gathering where there were no gay people, so I guess I understand them. Kinda. Not really.

Leslie Littlefield said...

I am dreaming, and my dreams are coming true. Never has there been a more exciting time to be an Episcopalian! You bet I am dreaming and praying for a totally inclusive church.
Peace and Blessings,
Leslie, St. Francis in exile

Ethan said...

I wish I would be able to be a part of the Cootie Posse!

Gary (NJ) said...

I wonder if these primates remember (know?) how black people felt when white people wouldnt sit near them, nor eat or drink from the same utensils. It's amazing how people can still get Christ's most fundamental message so wrong!

Hiram said...

You are talking about the "not feel at home" as though it were the central reason these five primates and their bishops are not coming to Lambeth. Let me suggest that there are some far more substantive reasons. Here are two other paragraphs from the letter (with added emphasis):

"We are also concerned that the invitation list reflects a great imbalance. It fails to address fundamental departures from historic faith that have triggered this crisis and yet excludes bishops of our own provinces, of Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda who teach and practice Biblical faith. As constituted, the invitations suggest that institutional structures are superior to the content of the faith itself."


"All of us have attended Lambeth before. As far as we are aware, only a few of you have been to a Lambeth Conference. In 1998, we had great difficulty in making our case heard in the face of the process of the conference. At that conference we were blessed with the leadership of Archbishop George Carey who has always been a champion of orthodox biblical teaching on sexuality. We have come to the conclusion, from the failure of the instruments of the Communion to take action either to discipline the Episcopal Church or to protect those who have asked the Communion for protection, that there is no serious space for those of an orthodox persuasion in the councils of the Communion to be themselves or to be taken seriously."

That a person’s sexual activity outside marriage should be regarded as incidental is serious to these primates and to many others. It is serious in itself, and it reveals that other theological problems exist, such as the authority and reliability of Scripture, what it means to be a human being according to God, and the nature and power of God’s redemption from sin.

These primates see grave theological problems thwarting the mission given to the Church by her Lord -- and they have good reason to believe that these problems will not be addressed. Why spend three weeks merely hanging around without addressing a roadblock when they could spend that time actually furthering the cause of Christ in their own countries and regions?

I know that many would think, "Well, if they are there, holding conversations, getting to know people, and so on, then perhaps we could see relationships enhanced and reconciliation begun." It is not about the quality of the relationships. It is about the ideas. Much of Western Anglicanism has left behind things which these primates and many others see as essential to Christian faith and living. They want to get on with mission, not sip tea with people who mock them for their convictions.

uffda51 said...

As a straight couple in an inclusive congregation, one might think that my wife and I would have been "cootie-fied" to death by now. And of course the constant "threat" to our marriage would have caused our divorce. Yet we have never felt more at home for the simple reason that everyone is welcome, wherever they may be on their journey of faith.


Sorry Hiram ... not buying it. They "don't want to sip tea with people who mock them for their conviction???" Well, guess what -- Jesus ate with sinners and mockers and all sorts and conditions. And the GLBT faithful continue to come to the table ... to show up at the syonds ... to come to the conventions ... where more than their convictions are mocked: their Christianity is denied, their relationships are maligned and there is no recognition of the faith that is within them.

Yes, the Petulant Primates offered a laundry list of why they're not coming to Lambeth. And it sounded a lot like when my 6 year old didn't want to go a neighborhood birthday party one day. "I'm tired and my stomach hurts and I haven't cleaned my room yet and ... oh yeah, Bobby's going to be there and he has cooties."

Different Day.
Same Stuff.

uffda51 said...

If Bishop Tutu and the Truth and Reconciliations Committee could bring the perpetrators and victims of such terrible violence together, one would think some priests could share some tea with Bishop Robinson.

At what point in time were “tradition,” “doctrine,” and “Scripture” forever set in stone. After Moses? After Nicea? After Martin Luther? After the Resurrection? After Augustine? After the publication of the Schofield Bible? After the church stopped owning slaves?

Like the day we straight people chose heterosexuality, these dates are very tough to pin down.

Parenthetically, while watching a special feature on one of our “Vicar of Dibley” DVDs, we saw some BBC news footage of the hysteria when the Anglican Church first ordained women priests. Really unbelievable invective, and not that long ago. The Church got over it. It will survive the current situation as well.

Jim Costich said...

Today we celebrated St. Absolom Jones (the first Black Episcopal Priest)in our Mass. Our Bishop - the Rt. Rev. Jack McKelvey gave a sermon linking Abraham, Absolom and Us (A congregation that's 1/2 white, 1/2 black and with many GLBT people of every color).
Absolom Jones bought his freedom in 1774. At St. George's in Philadelphia in 1786 blacks were only allowed to worship from the balcony and as a Priest he was bodily removed from the proximity of the alter and shoved back "where he belonged." He started a church for black people where all could be at home in their church. He is a beloved Saint for Blacks, Whites and Queers at my church. We had special music, a soloist and a djembe drum corp from a local Middle School.

We were remarking that for most GLBT people our "Absolom Jones" has not yet come. We are still thrown right out of the church which visciously follows us to the streets where our civil rights are fought against most vigorously by Christians. There are "progressive" churches within certain few denominations where we may "stay in the balcony". There are only a very few places where we can feel at home in our Father's house. We are always there by the tollerance of those who think their sexual orientation somehow makes them superior in God's sight. Guests perhaps, at "their church" at home - hardly. And yet we are there, like the Rev. Absolom Jones. As Bishop McKelvey said, not because God promised us comfort - but because we know right to the core of our beings that God really will make a nation of us because He loves us perfectly. Abraham went where God sent him. We stay where God planted us.

Sometimes the hardest place to be a Christian is in Church, but that is where God has sent us. To make a home among hostile strangers with nothing but absolute faith in God that it is where we must be, knowing that we can expect no one to be there for us except God.

In Rochester there is not a single Episcopal church where I couldn't send a GLBT teenager, alone, to find a church home. I am in one of those rare places where we really are at home when we're in church. If I get in my car and drive for just 3 hours to the East I hit Albany, and Episcopal churches that may as well have signs over the door, "Fags and Dykes: Abandon hope all ye who enter!".

The 5 Primates are afraid of being called, "haters" and "bigots" by the people who they have made unwelcome in the house of God. Why on earth do they think they are entitled to feel "at home"? For shame. They can't have ever read a single thing Jesus said. There is nothing orthodox about heterosexuality. Jesus never told a single soul that heterosexuality was next to Godliness. He told them to love each other and used only the example of the closest bonds of same sex friendship as an example. He never used marriage as an example of how to live to any of them. He railed against the family relationships of his time because he found them devoid of love, too much about power, and that they subsituted the earthly master of huband/father for God. He told them if they were married they should never divorce because he despised their cavalier disposal of dependant women and children. When asked if it were better not to marry at all he told them that being a eunuch (which in his day was common,did not exclude a vibrant sexuality - just an inability to reproduce, it also didn't refer only to those without testicles) was a very good thing but not all would understand it. He wasn't whistling dixie - most clergy choose to ignore he ever said it. Just like they ignore the stories of the "beloved disciple" in the Gospel of John.

In my humble opinion the modern day Pharasees do not want to face the fact that if GLBT people are allowed full status in the church marriage will cease to be about gender roles, property, money, power, or inheritance according to biology. Instead it will be transformed into nothing more or less than a covenant for each other's life long care between 2 lovers and their God. Like St. Serge and St. Bacchus, whose love for one another was used by the church as an example to straights to LOVE their spouces. This is the best of news for all couples no matter what their genders are.

Jim Costich
Rochester, NY

Hiram said...

It is true that Jesus ate with tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners. But one must look not only at the fact but the context. When the Pharisees condemned Jesus for eating with non-observant Jews, he replied, “It is not the well who need a physician, but the sick.” When Jesus ate with the outcasts, he did so not to approve of what they did, but to reach out to them, help them to see their need for redemption, and to encourage them to repent and to ask forgiveness. He was engaged in evangelism. He was not engaging in fellowship with those who stood before God on the basis of God’s mercy. Rather, he was seeking to build a bridge of trust so that the sinners could be reconciled to God through repentance and through trust in him.

It would be one thing if I went down to my neighborhood bar a couple of evenings a week, had a few beers, and developed some friendships with those who came there, and as the relationship was established, eventually speak of Jesus and the life he offers. It would be quite another if I went to the bar and recruited members for my vestry there, no changes needed.

If the African primates and the bishops of their provinces were to come to Lambeth with the hope that they could call those bishops within the Anglican Communion who approve of same-sex sexual activity as morally acceptable to God to repent and change their mind, they might well come. But the fact of the matter is that much of the Western Church has abandoned not only the ancient standard that sexual intercourse is to be reserved only for a man and a woman in marriage, but also many other historic doctrines. Has the Rev Bacon been tried for heresy for saying that the death of Jesus on the cross was not an atoning sacrifice for the sins of humanity? No; he preaches with impunity that Jesus died because of sins, not for them. Did Episcopal priests participate in the “Re-imagining God” conference some 15 years ago? Yes – and none received any admonition for engaging in that syncretistic event, where one speaker named as her “trinity” three goddesses of eastern religions. Then there is the “Islamopalian” priest of last year, who was only told to rethink her position after her status attracted attention from around the country, and indeed, the world. The bishop of the diocese in which she served saw nothing wrong in what she was doing – even though the Jesus Christ of the Bible and the Jesus Christ of Islam are not the same person. I could go one at length. Much of the West has chosen beliefs other than those of “mere Christianity” and have done so, it certainly seems, adamandantly.

And then there is the fact that the West holds the cards in setting the agenda for the Lambeth “jamboree.” The Global South bishops know that there are important issues to deal with. They also know that the Abp. Of Canterbury does not want to deal with those issues, and has set an agenda that would be extremely difficult to change.

The five primates are not afraid of “catching cooties.” They simply would rather invest their time, energy, and money in doing something that will advance the Gospel that has brought them into fellowship with God and which they are convinced is the only hope for the men and women of this planet. The presence of Bp Robinson at Lambeth, in some kind of semi-official status, would be living symbol of the teachings of the West that deny Jesus as our only Mediator and Advocate. Therefore, they will use their time for something else.


hiram ... we could keep at this til the cows (or the cooties!) come home and to what end? I could repeat back to you everything you've just written substituting "repent of their bigotry and homophobia" and come up with an agument for American bihsops to boycott the opportunity to be in council and communion with those with whom they disagree.

As for your other "crimes against the orthodox state" list of charges you only make my often argued point: this whole manufactured "schism" has nothing to do with the issues du jour but with the on-going temper tantrum of those who no longer have the power to "decree" what falls within the bounds of Anglican Comprehensiveness.

In days of yore the "ins" burned the "outs" at the stake ... over doctrines like transubstantiation, etc. Now there are just efforts to roast us over the coals on the reasserter" blogs and drum us out of the councils of the church.

Meanwhile, we argue that the presence of Bishop Robinson at Lambeth is in some ways a living symbol of the inclusive love of the God who loved us enough to become one of us in Jesus Christ our Lord who called us to follow him in "going and doing likewise."

Pity the Petulant Primates will miss the party!