Friday, August 15, 2008

Post Lambeth post-mortem

These are some bits and pieces that struck me as "keepers" as I waded through the post-Lambeth reflections that accumulated while I was in Minnesota. Will be on vacation now through Labor Day so blogging will likely be sporadic, but ... for today ... here's a post-Lambeth post-mortem "sampler:"

From Episcopal Life Online:

Jefferts Schori said that on the question of moratoria affecting gay and lesbian Christians, the Episcopal Church has been living in a "season of gracious restraint for some time and I don't see there is any church-wide push to end that in the coming months. The General Convention is going to have to consider these issues. General Convention is the only body that really can decide to do anything significant related to them. Individual bishops have always made their own decisions within the canonical responsibilities of their dioceses."
-- The Rt. Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop TEC
From The Church Times:
The decision that the Conference should not seek to offer any clear guidance or teaching on any issue because of the potentially divisive effects upon the plenary debates had had the effect of “legitimising, in the life of the Conference and by implication in the Communion, the whole range of convictions about same-sex relationships and about the use of scripture”, he said.
-- Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester
Every decade or so, the Lambeth conference has urged bishops to champion human rights for all and enter into dialogue with the gay and lesbian community. But this has been widely ignored: blessing same-sex couples is apparently a far greater offence than allying with repressive governments to hunt them down.
-- Savi Hensman, LGCM (Lesbian Gay Christian Movement)

Much has been made of Resolution 1.10 from the 1998 Conference, as though this is an enduring and unerring piece of truth. It has become almost a test for orthodoxy. But if this resolution has such enduring status, then all resolutions of the Lambeth Conference must be given the same status. . . .
. do we reconcile Resolution 19 from 1897 with 1.10 from 1998?

“That it is important that, so far as possible, the Church should be adapted to local circumstances, and the people brought to feel in all ways that no burdens in the way of foreign customs are laid upon them, and nothing is required of them but what is of the essence of the faith, and belongs to the due order of the Catholic Church.”


Finally, this "keeper" by Jim Naughton, which ran in the Guardian's "Comment is free" on August 10th:
The archbishop's hands are tied, not ours
The politics of the church make Rowan Williams act against his beliefs on gay marriage. We don't have to do the same.
Extensive research has proven that I am not the Archbishop of Canterbury. Neither, in all likelihood, are you. These facts, in hand for some time now, acquired new significance yesterday with the revelation that Rowan Williams, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury, believes, what a great many Anglicans believe, namely: "that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might ... reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness."

As archbishop, Williams might feel that the proper execution of his office requires that he puts aside his personal convictions. Juggling numerous concerns and multiple constituencies, he may have reason not to speak out boldly on behalf of one marginalised audience for fear of alienating another. Equipped with a variety of subtle ways to move the Anglican Communion toward a fuller understanding of human sexuality, he can initiate imperceptible advances on one front while publicly taking a hard line on the other. There are wheels within wheels, and he can make them all spin. He is the Archbishop of Canterbury.
But I am not. And neither are you. We can either speak our truth - which as it turns out is also his truth (and more important, we believe, His truth) and organize ourselves to reform the Churches we love, or we can sit back, beg our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to be patient, and hope that somehow the Communion will arrive at a new consensus on homosexuality without anyone seeming to have so much as nudged it in that direction.

I can just barely imagine embracing the latter of these two strategies if I were the Archbishop of Canterbury and privy to the secrets of Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion office.

Were I the archbishop, though, I would have to acknowledge that the nature of my dispute with liberal Anglicans — particularly those in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada — must now be understood in a new light. We do not differ over essential matters such as the nature of Jesus or the mechanics of salvation. We do not differ over sexual ethics, or the interpretation of Scripture. Rather, we differ over the proper response to a belief we hold in common.

What is most objectionable about Williams' recent machinations are his efforts to construct a Communion in which only one response is permissible. He has sacrificed his opportunity to act on his convictions because he believes that his office demands it. One may disagree with that choice, but one can respect it. What one cannot respect, and must not accept, are his efforts to impose a similar sacrifice on those who believe that their offices — as pastors, as friends, as Christians — demand a different conclusion.

Under Williams's leadership, an elitist view of history is acquiring the force of doctrine. One may believe that the world needs examples of gay and lesbian couples living in what he refers as "covenanted" relationships before it will readily adapt to the notion of gay marriage, but those who act on this belief face consequences. One may believe that social movements are driven from the bottom, by the men and women affected by existing discrimination, but one must behave as though such change is legitimised by ecclesial elites.
As Anglicans, we have fallen into the habit, lately, of holding lengthy meetings, from which prelates emerge with fresh pronouncements about how we are to regard people we have lived with and loved for our entire lives. We are to abide by these pronouncements or accept that whatever happens next is on our heads.
Through these meetings, Williams is gently, adroitly, yet unmistakably coercing people who wield none of his power to make his compromise with conscience their own. He is asking Churches and their members to pay a price — in lost relationships, lost vocations, lost credibility, lost integrity — that he has deemed acceptable, with the promise that it will facilitate some greater, slowly-materialising good. I might do the same thing if I were the Archbishop of Canterbury.
But I am not, and neither are you. And we must do what we must do.
And let the people say ... AMEN!
We must do what we must do. And we will. And so, let the preparations for General Convention begin! (After vacation! :)


DerekMcKernan said...

Amen & AMEN!

Muthah+ said...

Ah, yes! After vacation! Spoken like a true Anglican!

Allie said...


Oh General Convention... why are you so soon...