Time to move on

June 19, 2006

I'm getting exasperated.  I'm exasperated because I'm tired of doctrinal debate.  I get that doctrine is very important to our conservative brothers and sisters.  The problem is that they aren't really open to "debate" about it.  They are only open to "pontificate" about it.  I don't have a problem with that, really.

As I've written here before many times, I have compassion for them.  They are where they should be on their journey.  That means they are innundated in doctrine.  Hopefully they will at some point make a decision to open their hearts and mind to the Holy Spirit.  At some point they have to make a decision whether they want to move forward on the journey, and that will require a decision as to whether they want to submit in humility to the Holy Spirit and release their desires for doctrine and the church, allowing direction to come from the Spirit, or continue to work from within- the selfish desires and hopes that they are so invested in.  Interesting that I and others like me are the ones that get accused of believing in a "selfish" theology- but it is only by releasing myself of my own personal investment in what I want that I have been able to get where I am on my journey.

But even as I understand all that, I'm still exasperated.  It is time to move on.  Enough with the doctrine.  Enough with the debate.  I realize that the doctrine of the right on GLBT issues is steeped in homophobia, although they would deny it.  Despite that, I'm willing to live under one roof with them. 

I've heard arguments that the church is being taken over by new members who are not cradle Episcopalians.  How is anyone's "cradle-ness" relevant?  I don't think my or your "cradle-ness" allows any more claim on the church than somebody who walked in the door five minutes ago. The church belongs to God, not you or me.

The spirit is moving us. Again- if they don't like it, why don't they make the difficult but humbling decision to move on. Either keep with the tradition they love of being a part of the institution and a part of the family – while not necessarily enjoying all the family reunions – or leave.

I don't love everything that we do either. I don't love the language of all the resolutions as they stand. But to leave for me is to say that I value my own selfish desires for the church more than the community itself. I think they have to make that decision for themselves as well. And my exasperation is that the Network keeps threatening to make the decision to leave, but never actually does – I hear Kendall Harmon said the other day that the Network is going to defer a decision for six more months now. Enough already. Poop or get off the pot. Let's get on with the business of the church already. Either commit to reconciliation by withdrawing the threat of leaving or leave. You can commit to reconciliation without giving up your values – it isn't an either/or.


6 Responses to “Time to move on”

  1. obadiahslope Says:

    I wonder if you could sketch more fully what “”you can commit to reconciliation without giving up your values’ might look like in practise. Do ou think TEc is a healthy place for an conservative (thelogically) evangelic to be? Can they flourish there, or just hang on?

  2. Jeff Says:

    Thanks for the question, obadiahslope. Sometime you’ll have to explain your screen name to me.

    I don’t know what it is like to be theologically conservative, so I can’t answer whether or not TEC is a healthy place to be if one is conservative. My inclination is to say yes, because I want it to be, but I know that to say so would minimize the experience of those that are genuinely hurt and feel excluded by the actions of TEC over the past few years.

    However, I think that part of the hurt comes from the inability of the conservative leadership to reconcile. Canon Anderson’s answer on CNN (I’m here to fight) was a perfect indicator of this pattern.

    Let me define what I mean by reconcile. I think that reconcile has a couple of different meanings based on one’s theological orientation so it is an important point. My view of reconciliation is to be reconciled with each other. In doing so I believe we are reconciled with God. I do not believe that reconciliation means that we have to agree on theological positions. I do not believe that it means we have to come to consensus on doctrine. I believe simply that it means we have to come to terms on how to heal a broken family unit that doesn’t see the world in the same way but still wants to have family reunions. Still wants to come to the table together. Still wants to get together at the holidays. A family that, while living much different lives while apart, acknowledges the shared history and tradition of our past when we come together to do what we do– eat the bread and share the wine, the body and blood of Christ. We are one body. We believe in one Saviour. That is what is important.

    What we have, though, is the conservative side refusing to come to the table. They are, in effect, saying that if the Christmas lights aren’t hung on the tree the way that they like them hung, then they won’t sit at the dinner table for dinner. They’ll still come over, but they’ll sit in the other room and complain about the misplaced lights. That is not reconciliation.

    We have to have everyone at the table. In my opinion, people need to either decide they want to be at the table and dialogue on reconciliation, or they shouldn’t come over at all. They need to make the very difficult and painful decision to leave, for their own health and for the health of those who are at the table waiting for them.

    Now — all that is just the domestic reconciliation problem. The internation reconciliation problem is that we are all at the table, but we are being potentially asked to leave the table. We are being asked at the Christmas dinner to go back home and rearrange the Christmas lights or be kicked out of the dinner party. That is a much different reconciliation problem. That is one where everyone already at the table needs to listen very closely, because it is very likely that most of the problem comes from a lack of understanding of what is being said to cause the problem in the first place. We are not asking, say, Nigeria to reaarange their Christmas lights back at home on their tree. Yet we are asked to rearrange ours. Even though we went through a big family meeting in our house to decide where to put the lights and got them just-so.

    So yes, I believe that conservatives can flourish in TEC. But I do not believe they can do so in their current mindset. Their current mindset seems to be that they must either have it all their way, or no way at all. We have conservative dioceses right now. They do find. We will continue to have conservative dioceses. The real question is when we ANY of us will be able to flourish, because ALL of us are now being held hostage to this doctrinal debate. We’ve got to all let it go, and move forward trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us. We’ve got to do it knowing that we have the hard work of putting the family back together after the nasty fight. We’ve got to do it understanding that the call of Christ to go out and do God’s work never ends, and we have been distracted from it for quite some time now.

    Hope that answers your question.

  3. obadiahslope Says:

    The easy part: Obadiah Slope is the ‘odious evangelical’ in the Barchester Chronicles by Trollope. He is a scheming church politician and a slimy character, so the name is an act of self mockery (i hope). The Barchester Chronicles which starts with “The Warden” is a set of five or six books, which satirise the evangelical vs anglo catholic battles of the 19th century. The journalist John Bold is a notable villian too, so it satirises the industry I work in as well.

    The hard part: I think the international and domestic (from your pov) reconciliation struggles are linked.
    Were I the AC, i would be tempted to say “reconcile at home, and you can be reconciled with us”.
    The (global south for want of a better word) primates look at the US and see their friends driven (loaded term but accept it for a moment) from TEC, and they will ask, why should we welcome TEC internationally?

    The conservative primates are concerned for conservative parishes in the Us and Canada.
    A more positive spin would be to say – “Show us how you care for the conseervatives in your prov9ince and we will know better how to care for progressives in the communion.

    On another level it is probally true that the battles in TEC are holding back your mission. It might be better for both sides if there was a drawing apart.
    Personally i would do it by allowing flying bishops or parallel juridictions.
    I think that is how the communion will go – there will be a series of networks losely connected to canterbury. gay nigerians could get help from TEC. Conservative Americans will allign with say Uganda.

    Well thats my best guess anyway.

  4. Jeff Says:

    Interesting idea. I’d heard the idea of dual provinces in the US, but not in, say Nigeria before.

    I think either idea has merits and drawbacks- but I doubt that the Communion or the ABC will come to that conclusion quickly. If we do go that route it is years away.


  5. Jim Says:

    Jeff – the new presiding bishop offered a glimpse of her vision for the Episcopal Church. Her homily a this morning’s GC ’06 Eucharist suggests she has a vision for a new creation where Episcopalians “ give up fear.” She also may have used the term “mother Jesus” ( I personally believe she said brother Jesus ; so, we will need to read an ENS official transcript). In either regard – she calls us to not be afraid because God is with us.

    I like what I read and wish I had been there to listen to + Katharine’s words in person.


  6. Jeff Says:

    Thanks, Jim.

    I also received a transcript from the Integrity communications person just a moment ago and have placed it on my parish GC web site, Voices of Columbus. We’ll see when the transcript comes out what the actual text says…

    Love her message – I think she’ll be a great PB!

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