This will be my last post. I’m closing up shop, in part because my work is needed elsewhere in the
church. The last 5 years in my parish
have been simple: love the people and
keep things going. But now we are
entering a time of redevelopment, opportunity and growth that require much more
deliberate attention. I am starting a new church blog at my parish site (its not quite up yet), and I'm toying with new uses of the medium.
But before I go,
I’m going to meander a bit about where I think the church is going, the current
crisis, and leave with a couple problems I’m thinking about.
Most of you know that by temperament, rather than ideology, (or maybe its the other way around) defines me in the progressive camp. Anselm, Ekhardt, Spinoza, Burke, Proudhon and Keynes are the thinkers I find myself appreciating these days. I'm by nature a bit forgiving of people's sins, and I'm not much one for lots of rules and legalisms.
After Bo33, I’ve found myself cringing – just a little – at the indignation I’ve heard after the resolution was passed. I understand frustration at the process – but the outcome just didn’t deserve the virulent response from the more fervent supporters of the “inclusive” position. I get even a bit more disturbed when I hear the resentment people have toward the Archbishop for not taking up the liberal cause. I still have an immense amount of respect for the Archbishop, and I believe that his caution will actually serve gays more strongly than the church approval a gay people seek.
He's stated clearly that he thinks all voices should be heard; and that the conversation should continue. He's pointed out some flaws - practical and theological - that we need to address. Granted, I don't think he understands America - and our anti-authoritarian, individualistic, protestant, social gospel heritage (nor, of course, do many American conservatives), but he is always illuminating in his depth.
So I have a ... friend who is a very attractive, bright (linguistics and piano performance), Sri Lankan. Like most of my Subcontinental friends, homosexuality just doesn't make much sense. I'll leave it at that.
Now, she is trying very hard to be both "tolerant" and affirm her own sense that there is something wrong with homosexuality. She has decided that no, homosexuals are not going to hell. And no, they are not like drunkards. She has also not said that homosexuality is a "sin."
Instead, she said, "gay people are like the obese. There is nothing wrong with it. But there is no reason to affirm it."
I was, of course, speechless. I thought that maybe the church would find a new cause: refraining from consecrating the corpulent. For clearly, being obese is an indication of gluttony, a lack of self-control. Self=control is clearly one of the episcopal virtues.
So I guess I should tell you that I've begun a body building routine. Please humor the stereotype, but I admit, every gay man I know has a great body. I will do this in solidarity with them.
I take these as small victories: at least she isn't comparing them to destroyers of western civilization or murderers. I'm not one for PC puritanism - I'm looking for small steps at improvement. If you were once a racist and have not learned to undo all your sterotypes, well, I'm with you. Just try to do good by people and be humble about your worldview.
My Lutheran colleague is very conservative, but we've become friends. We disagree about many things (he calls my hermenutic about property, and sex foreign to scripture), but we are fighting remarkably similar battles in our parishes - especially the challenges of materialism and affluence. I think we recognize that our battles are a bit more concrete than the theologies we discuss, so honest fellowship is what keeps us talking.
I'm not much of a PC person - and I work hard to understand other people's perspectives. But what is most important to me is not ideas, but lives. And that includes both my conservative colleague, and the gay couple in my parish. Its more important for me to encourage people in their call than to worry about their final state with God.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Katharine Jefferts Schori, Robert Duncan, Jack Iker, Peter Lee and John Bruno are getting together to talk about their differences. I can't imagine what the conversation will be like.
++ABC Greetings everyone. It’s nice to see you. God bless you. ++KJS Thank you, Archbishop. +RD Isn’t it a bit soon for that? We don’t know really if God blesses her. +JI Relax, Bob. +RD. Jus’ sayin’. Not everyone in the Anglican Communion recognizes she is a PB. Represent! +PL. We’re here just to talk, not fight, alright? Be good. Everyone gets their say. +RD. “Be good” that’s not in scripture. It’s “be perfect.” Which YOU, clearly, my brother, are not. Only God gets his say here. Power to Akinola and his Peeps! +ABC I thought we might talk about oversight. Bob, are you willing to proclaim allegiance to the Queen of England? +PL. You are such a ham, your grace. Noone could possibly… +ABC. Just checking. +RD, well, only if she signed this statement I made with my friend “Big Daddy Petey” (hands him a sheet of paper) it says, “gays may not wear big hats or touch other people’s penises while in God’s house. They may not talk about it anymore. +JI: But they may still be church organists +ABC: well thank jeezy Chreezy for that! +RD We really don’t want her to touch us. Or to touch other people. +PL: She doesn’t need to touch you if you don’t want +RD: But if someone thinks she can touch someone else, then that someone also cannot touch anyone. Those someones, archbishop, must not be allowed to touch. Nor can they come to the party. +ABC: The party? Lambeth is another issue. KJS: Well, we were thinking of helping some African bishops get to Lambeth +RD Oh Really? Well that’s not very nice, you liberal imperialist! We have plenty of money from the IRD. They'll clear everything up for us. +KJS: Look, I don’t need to “touch” Bob. I just want to talk +RD: Enough talking. Jesus said swords (takes out a sword). I’m not listening! +PL: Could you put that away, Bob? I mean, is it necessary? +RD: Jesus never asked, “is it necessary.” It is Necessary. (he waves it around a bit) Jesus wants me to brandish this sword for the sake of the new Anglican Communion. To cut and sever the heads of all the Jesus hating abortionist unbaptized gay lovers who take communion. Which is exactly what the new presiding bishop stands for. +ABC: Well, I think I’m going to invite both of you. +RD: Jesus says the archbishop can’t invite two Anglican bishops together, especially if one is gay. Jesus also says that gay bishops are nasty. So we want you to be our presiding bishop. +ABC: What would some “alternate primate” need to do? +RD: Um. Come and hang out, I guess. Do the regular bopping. Then preach about how Jesus came to save our souls, and that gay people should repent. And gay bishops. You should tell people that you really don’t like gay bishops. Tell people that Jesus really doesn’t like gay bishops. ++ABC: That’s oversight? +RD: Well its not oversight. But it would help. We’ll put pictures of the queen on our doors. +JB (from LA): Queen. (snorts). Yeah, that’s very straight of you. +RD: And don’t listen to anything about the TEC. They are irrelevant, unlike us. We have the swords. They, however, preach the gay gospel, which is all about making everyone play with their genitals. +JB: Sounds interesting! +ABC: Why can’t you just let Katherine select three conservative bishops from the US to do the consecrating thing. +RD: If she even talks to a conservative bishop, she messes it up. She can’t even LET anyone be a consecrator, or even write a letter allowing someone to be a chief consecrator. If she does, then Jesus cries. Archbishop, do you want Jesus to cry? Jesus cries whenever someone has sex and doesn’t think about little babies, babies who Jesus loves. And she encourages this kind of sex. Look at her! She's a woman. Who doesn't believe in Jesus! So if she invites someone who does believe in Jesus, then their love of Jesus become changed into unlove. So we need purity. From the top! +KJS: Bob, if you let me… +RD: Don’t talk to me. Get Behind Me you double twin headed Jesus loving abortionist! I'm with Jesus. And he ain't with you. I know. +ABC: I think we have a problem. +PL: Yes: where’s the Gin?
Along with Slacktivist, the Green Knight is one of the few truly excellent Christian bloggers, combining a keen wit, an economy of words, an excellent eye, and an admirable sense of outrage. I'll miss him.
The Rev. Andrew Weaver writes about the Conservative Catholic Influence in the Institue for Religion and Democracy, and its growing influence. They constitute about a third of the board (about the same proportion of Catholics in the country, I think), but have undermined the general ecumenical work between Catholics and protestants. What is interesting is how anti-Catholic, also, their theology truly is, especially when it comes to capitalism.
He writes: While Father Neuhaus and his Catholic cohorts have built and sustained an organization that has consistently labored to generate suspicion and hostility
about mainstream Protestant leaders, not a penny has been spent nor
staff member assigned to attempt to change anything about the Catholic
Church. This conduct constitutes the single greatest breach in
ecumenical good will between Roman Catholics and Protestants since
Weaver quotes a former editor of First Things: The America toward which Richard John Neuhaus wishes to lead us -- [is]
an America...in which moral and theological absolutists demonize the
country's political institutions and make nonnegotiable public demands
under the threat of sacralized revolutionary violence, in which
citizens flee from the inner obligations of freedom and long to
subordinate themselves to ecclesiastical authority, and in which
traditionalist Christianity thoroughly dominates the nation's public
life (Linker, 2006).
Is Neuhaus aware that American Idol and Project Runway are more important than church these days, and that young people are simply ignoring adults about sex?
Weaver concludes: Imagine the outcry from Catholic leaders, a fully justified response,
if a highly influential group of Protestants obtained a million dollars
a year from left-wing sources to generate a propaganda campaign against
the leadership of the Catholic Church over the issues of the ordination
of women and divorce. Moreover, this Protestant-directed group
constantly sought to undermine Catholic leaders and missions through
twisted and demeaning distortions of what they said, while seeking no
reforms in their own communions. This is exactly the situation we have
Although I generally think Protestant Christianity has rendered "god-talk" to be redundant, and has not called young leaders of great talent, I do believe that there is a deliberate attempt to destroy the liberal, magnanimous, social justice tradition that is a crucial part of American culture - via Henry Ward Beecher, Walter Rauschenbushc, Henry Fosdick, William Sloane Coffin among others. Perhaps protestants were right: Catholics would undermine the American traditions of sympathy, mutual aid and civil rights.
These days I've been flipping through an interesting book titled "Karl Marx and the Anarchists." I was once much more sympathetic to anarchist thinkers, but it was Edmund Burke who helped me understand humanity. Burke helped me understand the need for citizens to have roots and relationships.
In this country, the more powerful strand of libertarianism is the populist and hyper capitalist strand of anarchism that has a cultural fondness for Americana, but a skeptical view of social progress and cooperation. Its political organization has shown itself to be incapable of dismantling the state: and perhaps this is a good thing. Michael Lind (who looks like a young Donald Trump) explains and gives a description of the future -[via] but I wonder whether he could be more precise about the future divides: the environment will be one place where global and regional and local groups will be trying to work things out. I wonder if we could look at the coming battles around food (local? Organic? Industrial Organic? Industrial?) and water to see what sorts of ideologies arise. My answer: back to Proudhon and George!
The most epochal event in world politics
since the cold war has occurred - and few people have noticed. I am not
referring to the conflict in Iraq or Lebanon or the campaign against
It is the utter and final defeat of the movement that
has shaped the politics of the US and other western democracies for
several decades: the libertarian counter-revolution.
What happens to the Word as our culture becomes more of a visual culture, or as people don't read? Why must we prioritize the written word and its "texts" above visual representations? And what is at risk when we do so?