Standing up for freedom

June 23, 2006

One of the comments I made over at Fr. Jake Stops the World yesterday was that I'm not really sure that blogging does much good.  That seems really obvious to me right now, when after Wednesday's events the blog debates aren't across the divide, but within the same side of it.  I can see that blogging only really contributes to polarization.  After Wednesday within the gay community we just started fighting amongst ourselves.  Going back into the same familiar blog pattern of constructing and deconstructing arguments, point and counterpoint, we started bickering.  With ourselves!  Very stupid.  We all want the same things.  Blogging hasn't been building up community- it has been breaking it down in the past days.

That isn't true completely, of course.  Since I administer so many of these stupid things I can see the stats, and I know that a lot more people just read them than actually post on them.  That's particularly true of this one, for some reason (why don't you people ever comment here, anyway?  Give a guy some props. :))  Only about 1-2% of hits on my blog post– more on some of the other blogs I run and less on others.

So maybe you folks are just absorbing, forming your thoughts, trying to find inspiration, meaning, hope, and guidance.

AND – the whole point/counterpoint thing for me doesn't put me in a very relational place.  I realize that because I've been doing this for the past two weeks (I'm the chair of a sub-committee at All Saints Pasadena responsible for the use of technology in Communications– you might call it the Chair of Blogging and Web Sites), I've been glued and stuck in a position of blogging.  That has put me in a very non-relational place to respond to everything from convention.

With each passing day I have gotten a little more space to breathe.

And, I get a little less pragmatic about the results.  A little more disappointed.  Not less hopeful for the future, but more disappointed that Griswold didn't head this off sooner.

I don't know if he just thought that the Houses intuitively understood that the moratoriums were necessary and that they would have sailed through.  I don't know if he just panicked at the end.  I don't know if he got an 11th hour call from Lambeth saying "What the hell are you letting them do?"  I just know that the convention was going fine until his last minute engineering.

It seems to me like there should have been, right up front, at the beginning of the convention, an open and honest debate about our place in the communion.  Do we have a place here?  Can we stay at the table in a communion that won't allow us the freedom to follow the Spirit as we are called?  What sacrifices are we willing to make if we decide we are to stay?  At whose expense, and are those people willing martyrs or are we sacrificing them without their consent?

Those questions, to my knowledge, never got honest debate or dialogue during the convention.  That is why the outcome was disingenuous.

Fear certainly was there.  I don't know what happened in the few short hours between Schori's election and her speech to the House of Deputies.  Did the Archbishop of Canterbury call her?  Did she get electro-shock Griswold therapy to remove her backbone?  I don't know.

Hopefully she will tell us someday.  I'm certain she's hearing lots of disappointment coming her way.

But, that is not to say that all is lost.  I still have a problem with those gay and lesbian people who automatically translate one loss into "the church is going to hell and I'm leaving."  I'm sorry, but that is just childish.  That is just throwing a tantrum because we didn't get what we wanted.  I know we're not talking about getting an ice cream cone at the park, but we do have to think strategically here.  We have to acknowedge what we've gotten, and plan for our next success.  Yes, there may be a few who are just so isolated and alone in their faith journey that they cannot bear the burden of waiting.  To those, God's peace, and may you find a home where you can get the nourishment you need.

But for the rest of us, set the timer for five minutes, have your tantrum, pick up your toys, and let's start planning for the next victory.

Yes, it's disappointing.  Yes, it was a shock.  Yes, we got sold out.

But this is a time where we as a people can show our strength of character.  When the going gets tough, the tough… pack up their pantyhose and go to another church?  Hell no.  This is my church.  I will not leave.  I am claiming it as mine.  If there comes a time where it is obvious that I am not wanted, I will reconsider.  That just isn't what happened here.  We rejected the ban on same-sex unions.  We got a resolution to fight the Federal Marriage Amendment.  We even rejected the moratorium on gay bishops before Griswolds whip was held to the back of the deputies.

No, I will not leave.  I will stay and chart this course.  I will stay and walk the talk.  When Jesus faced persecution, he didn't say, "Well, I guess I'll just quit."  No, he kept at the Pharisees and Saducees relentlessly– until they killed him.  He took it that far.  We must show strength.  We must show resolve.  If we do not have the stomach to fight our fight than how can we possibly expect anyone else to?

Let's hold it together.  Let's move forward.  Let's thank our brothers and sisters in the House of Deputies and Bishops for their draining and hard work over the past two weeks.  They didn't cave, they were under duress.  Let's write letters to Griswold, Schori, and Williams.  Let's show this church who they are dealing with.  We showed our power in the 80s with Reagan when he messed with us.  Let's show these folks again what they have done now.

Are you with me?

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14 Responses to “Standing up for freedom”

  1. Bruno Says:

    Well Jeff
    I never posted, because I couldn’t find you!
    Peace Brother.
    Jeff, We are at an exceptional place, but not all have All Saints Pasadena to support them.
    As Ed would say, “We MUST continue to speak truth to power” and I would add, we MUST be ready to bear the result of our actions, and the responsiblities of such.
    Peace, and yes I will see you in church on Sunday.
    Bruno

  2. Jeff Says:

    Thanks for posting, Bruno!

    And I agree – I wish everyone could share in All Saints Pasadena. Like I said – to those who are isolated, left stranded in the desert- God's peace, and may you find a place of nourishment.

    But I've read some blogs where people are just throwing tantrums. And they are in places (I think anyway) that contain nourishment and support. That's what I was talking about.

    Anyway – I think we've got to focus our energy and hold people accountable.  We'll see what happens…

    j

  3. heather Says:

    I post because I sympathize. Of course, my blog is genuinely dry and boring.

    I couldn’t say how I got here, but I am trailing around the aftermath and looking for people who remember ‘via media’ doesn’t mean press releases.

    Thanks,
    heather

  4. Laine Says:

    Jeff –
    I don’t have a lot of time (nor do I comment often), so I’ll have to continue this with you later, but I wanted to make sure that I responded, at least, in brief. I will continue this with you later. Please understand that this comment has less to do with your comment to me, but is made out of concern.

    I have been reading your blog for a long time (pre-current blog), and I have always thought you a level-headed, thoughtful blogger who was in control of his emotions (even if you do find it necessary to come to the rescue of others rather than letting them speak for themselves) at times. I have respected your calm responses to those bloggers who only wish to fight, and your non-condescending tone in dealing with them. You are the blogger who has kept things “adult.”

    However, that blogger has disappeared in the last few weeks, and especially in the last few days.

    I feel like you have been the cause of alot of this fighting “with ourselves” with your decendance into condescending remarks, and with your tactic of treating other bloggers like they are, to use Ed’s phrase, naughty little children.

    From what I have seen, your irritation with the “tantrums” you have read has been transferred to all bloggers, not just those who deserve it. People are grieving over many different issues involved with GC, you cannot assume what bloggers are talking about, or what their heart state is. Personally, I think that people are descending into really tantrums with you (mostly on Susan’s blog) because you appointed yourself ‘Father-figure,’ and chastised others instead of encouraging them.

    Bruno is right, not everyone has an All Saints. Encouragement is necessary, chastisement from an unknown only brings out the worst in people.

    I pray that you will be able to take a break and relax a bit and return to the blogosphere refreshed.
    Peace.

  5. Jeff Says:

    Yes, Laine, I think you’re right- at least partially, and I tried to acknowledge that at the beginning of the post.

    The “children” I’m referring to here weren’t the ones on Susan’s blog, though- I think those folks are mostly just sad at the decisions. While my position was certainly in the minority there I hope I didn’t come off as “chastising” them.

    The “children” I’m referring to were at Fr. Jake Stops the World. They were referring to the decisions of Wednesday as casting us out as the “Spiritual toxins” of the church. I just don’t think that is what happened. I remember some of the militant activism of the 80s during AIDS and I just don’t want to see that in the church – where people were just so angry that they couldn’t think clearly.

    Yes, I have become too opinionated over the past too weeks – blogging, as I mentioned, doesn’t bring out the best in me. It is just because I see us splintering in the face of fear- our own fear of being oppressed.

    When that happens we all lose. And that pisses me off. We need to have stamina. No everybody doesn’t have All Saints. I’m from Texas, for cryin’ out lout- I know how it feels to be isolated. But some of the people shouting the loudest are from Massachusetts, San Francisco. These aren’t exactly conservative strongholds.

    That was my point.

    But I’m sure that in a few days, I’ll calm down. I almost didn’t even post about convention today.

    But I’m very excited right now. I’m working on a way to channel everyone towards something positive. I spoke to Susan and Louise this morning and we’re working on a response to this whole mess. I think it will be very exciting.

    Maybe that will keep me from getting so immeshed in all this other crap.

    j

  6. Jeff Says:

    Another way of saying the same thing:

    The convention didn’t go without its effects on me to.

    For that, I am sorry. I am only human too.

    I am working on it.

    j

  7. DF in Massachusetts Says:

    Jeff,

    You have a noticeable tendency to assume that everyone wants the same thing as you. We all have unique perspectives, and we all prioritze issues based on their importance to us.

    When people comment that they are upset, angry, grieving over a particular issue your tendency is to berate them for “wanting to win everything” or to “smear it in the opponents faces” and then to boast that “that’s not how I was raised”. That simply isn’t the reality of life, however.

    Blogs offer an opportunity for people to toss out their feelings, to test ideas, to have some safety in exploring what they are thinking. I don’t see the vast range of comments as being divisive to “our cause”, but rather helpful as it enables us to be better at expressing ourselves, and more effective to getting our ideas across, when we are engaged face-to-face with other people. We will accomplish the most when we engage people face-to-face… think of blogs as a practice run.

    I have to agree with Laine that you have often made remarks that are condescending to others, though it appears you aren’t intending to do that. Stop assuming others think exactly like you. Start exploring your own feelings without telling others they should be in the same place as you. The heat on you will drop tremendously when you do that.

    Just a helpful hint.

  8. Jeff Says:

    OK, OK – I can take my beating like a big boy!!

    Well deserved- my frustrations got the better of me, just like everyone else’s have.

    This convention had too many hopes, fears, and anxieties pinned on it.

    And, now that its over, I’m already working on the next project to capitalize on it’s momentum.

    Let’s hope we can now move forward to effect some change, hold our leaders accountable for what they have done, maybe change the path of forward progress, and see if anything can be done to reverse Wednesday’s decisions.

    j

  9. Rich Says:

    Jeff,

    Perhaps you have already started your formation to a priest. Seminary will only “officialize” it.

    Again, living in the Ozarks (which is probably not unlike Texas) is living in the middle of the Baptist bible belt. I’m in a small town with no priest presently. The majority of my small mission congregation is supportive of LGBT inclusion and that’s a comfort. There are few, also, who are fanatically conservative and the only information they have about LGBT’s is what they hear on Fox news (have mercy).
    My little church doesn’t fight amongst ourselves, but we have to be strong to show a loving presence to the “right believers” who picket our church for things from having a statue of Mary on grounds, to being that “queer church”.
    I completely understand the volume with which our brothers and sisters are crying and I know that when things settle down a little we’ll be able to take this on…..again…..and keep marching upwards to that city on the hill.
    Pray for us in smaller churches. We so often don’t have the luxury of what you have in Pasadena. Peace, brother!

  10. Rich Says:

    P.S. check out my friends at the Rivendell Community!

  11. Laine Says:

    Jeff…you crack me up.

    I support your willingness to get on with things and turn a seeming negative into a positive.

    One more friendly “jab” and I’m done: I can read. Yes, I know that’s hard to believe, but I can! You spent alot of time reiterating to me what you had already said in your post…which I did read thoroughly before I posted, I just happened to have a different take on it, though. Save yourself from carpal-tunnel and remember that a different take on what you said doesn’t mean that I didn’t read or comprehend your post!
    I wish you the very best!
    🙂 Much Peace and Love.

  12. Kirstin Says:

    Hi Jeff,

    I found your blog through Jake’s site. I don’t agree with you that blogging does no good. It depends, like all tools, on how we use it.

    I use it to build community, to gether strength from the people around me and share mine with them. I have no interest in going up againt David Virtue or any of his ilk; I do want to help us speak clearly and truthfully, to the most appropriate people. Exactly as your last paragraph proposes.

    If I didn’t know that I could find friends here, I’d just be angry and surly by myself.

    Anyway, it’s good to meet you. If you see Shelley Machock at church, tell her I said hi. (I’m a first year student at CDSP, from Olympia and in Seattle for the summer. She’s an internet friend from other boards.)

  13. Jeff Says:

    Thanks, Kirstin. I think the tool has potential, but as I told someone else today– since we can’t really pick up the other person’s energy when we’re reading it is really hard to hear through this medium.

    That doesn’t make the tool bad in and of itself, but it does make it prone to distortion, in my opinion.

    j

  14. Kirstin Says:

    Everything is “prone to distortion.” So you use your tools responsibly.

    The main thing is to keep talking, really listen to each other, build trust, and speak to power with compassion.

    Peace.
    Kirstin

  15. Jeff Says:

    Sure.

    Maybe I should have said blogging is especially prone to distortion.

    Since we usually only get a sentence or two at a time, we don’t really know the person we’re talking to, and we have no real connection, it takes a real effort to do the things you’ve mentioned.

    It isn’t impossible, but not everyone takes the full effort to do those things, and because it is such an intentional effort it is very easy to be reactionary.

    But of course if we are very intentional we can use it for good purposes.


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