Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Gospel According to Jim Naughton: Pay Attention, Tell the Truth, Say Thank You

It’s the “end of an era” as Jim Naughton steps down after over seven years as editor the Episcopal Café: the go-to place for independent church news for Episcopalians.

Seven years – it has a nice Biblical ring to it. And it seems to me today that like another nice Biblical story – the story of Esther – it was “for just such a time as this” that Jim Naughton stepped up and brought his manifold gifts to work in the digital fields of the Lord.

Just as in the game of baseball (a passion Jim and I share) where a pitcher-who-can-hit is the double threat gift that keeps on giving to a team, Jim has brought to this team – the Episcopal Church team – his gifts of being a theologian-who-can-write. And edit. And investigate. His deep faith and hopefulness about the gospel in general and the Episcopal Church in specific has given him the grace to critique the church when it fell short of being the Body of Christ it’s called to be and to cheerlead the church when it rose to the occasion.

Since it has arguably been a particularly “dense” seven-plus years in church news land, he had plenty of opportunity for both. I remember when he started the “Blog of Daniel” – in response to the short-lived television show that was actually shot at All Saints Church here in Pasadena. As he describes in his farewell post over at Episcopal Café:
The Blog of Daniel was succeeded by Daily Episcopalian, a blog devoted primarily to the struggles over the place of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion. At some point, while keeping that blog, it occurred to me that it was going to be difficult to persuade people that the Episcopal Church was more than an argument over human sexuality if all I covered were arguments over human sexuality. And so, Episcopal Café was born.
And what a gift it has been. Today I’m remembering General Conventions past and surviving Lambeth 2008 together. I’m remembering our Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys moments as we unraveled “The Case of the Errant Email.” Claiming the Blessing and the Chicago Consultation … and a boatload of blog posts along the way. From Plano to Putney, it’s been a journey we’ve shared toward the goal of a church where all the baptized are fully included in all the sacraments – and where “respect the dignity of every human being” doesn’t have a bunch of fine print in the disclaimer after an asterisk.

It is a true thing that our ecclesial GPS is not yet chirping “arriving at destination” – and yet we are many, many miles further down the road than we were when we started … with a big hunk of those miles directly attributable to the work and witness of Jim Naughton. And we are not done yet. There’s still work to do together and I look forward to doing it.

So as we salute Jim for his “just such a time as this” work at Episcopal Café and look forward to that work ahead, I’ll be taking with me all these great memories as motivation to keep moving forward – along with the Gospel Appointed for the Journey … from the Book of Jim, Chapter 7:10 – “Pay attention, tell the truth and say thank you.”

Thank you, Jim. La lucha continua.

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