Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Moving beyond our hatred of people not like ourselves"

The Diocese of the Episcopal Church in my area had a big meeting this weekend. 80% of those attending voted to leave The Episcopal Church.

They apparently believe that because TEC has a woman Presiding Bishop (Katharine Jefferts Schori) and a gay Bishop (Gene Robinson), it no longer respects or honors scripture and tradition. In their minds, apparently, the Church has moved so far to the dark side that this Diocese can no longer be associated with it.

This both saddens and angers me.

Is it moving to the dark side to welcome others (other-than-heterosexual-males) to the full life of the church, including its leadership?

Is it moving to the dark side to think that God IS STILL SPEAKING?

I say, in fact, that this Diocese is not in a very light place when it remains blind to its own homophobia and sexism. Blind to the all-embracing love of God, a God who calls each person to flourish and become the person God intends---which just might include church leadership. (Really, the arrogance galls me. Does this Diocese actually believe that every single woman or GLBT person who has ever come before it, or before other judicatories, seeking ordination is deluded? that his/her profound sense of God's call to ministry is an exercise in self-deception?)

This local Diocese believes that PB Schori is behaving badly when she threatens a lawsuit. Why can't she just be more Christ-like and let us leave in peace? they wonder. Well, the answer is that you're trying to steal HER (as the PB of the Church) property! Why do you imagine that you can take what has never belonged to you?

Roberta Bondi has written that one of the fruits of prayer is when you experience yourself as more real and less living in fantasy or in principle.

I had not thought much about the falsity that can arise from living in principle, but I think she's right. Standing on principle when real life is happening all around you--when women, GLBT folks, people of color are coming into their own, and God is their head cheerleader!--strikes me as quite sad, really.

Not that respecting and honoring and giving authority to scripture and tradition isn't important. It is very important. But I believe that God IS still speaking, that human beings, even those who penned the words of scripture and doctrine, were .... well, human! As I have been blinded by my own fears and "isms," and as this Diocese is now blinded, the authors of scripture and traditions were people who loved God but were nevertheless less than perfect. I once read something by a local rabbi, Ralph Mecklenberger, that is quite germane here. He wrote:

Thank God the biblical ethic of love and justice has continued to advance, moving us beyond our hatred of people who are not like ourselves. Our biblical and post-biblical traditions demonstrate progression from exclusivity to inclusivity, as the Abrahamic promise advances from a narrow tribal understanding to God’s promise of light for all the nations in the Prophets and beyond. We believe that this movement of God’s Spirit did not end when the last words of Scripture were written, but continues to this day, tearing down barriers of injustice and small-mindedness that make it impossible for us to practice the Biblical ethic of love.


INTPanentheist said...

If there were more Christians like you then perhaps I wouldn't have left. Sometimes, as someone who was raised fundamentalist (albeit more open-minded than your average fundie), it's difficult to remember that there are Christians who aren't of the intolerant variety (or of the I'm-not-intolerant-I-just-won't-speak-up-for-others-since-it-wouldn't-look-Real-True-Christian sort). I wish that there were more Christians who were outspoken about their passion for, say, equal rights for everyone, or helping the poor, instead of just teh gheyz and abortion. I don't miss being a Christian, and I prefer my religion, but yours is a much more tolerable religion, maybe even a completely different one, than what I went to church with as a child.

Mary Beth said...

Still Episcopalian here. Watching the diocese just to my West implode was been more painful than I expected...after all, it was a fait accompli.

I am focusing on supporting the folks left in TEC there. They will need our light and joy. They are remembering what that is like.