Saturday, August 09, 2008


This past, odd, month's background music has been rain and news from the Lambeth Conference, and, quite frankly, I prefer the sound of the rain. Hanging out with my convalescing Dad has dislocated me from my usual daily groove; my reserve of patience for nonsense is nearly depleted. I've had an earworm of Schubert's Ave Maria for the past 10 days, ornamented with a strange quodlibet of Losing My Religion.

The nagging question keeps coming back: how can I remain affiliated with a Church that's part of a communion that places preservation of a misconstrued institutional integrity over the needs of certain classes of its parishioners ? This is the narrative: the wicked GLBT-and-woman-honoring Episcopalians have wounded the sensibilities of certain Anglicans; these wounded sensibilities trump any cries of marginalization, persecution, and injury that might be raised by and for these classes of Christian. The wounded sensibilities come fully vested in scripture, and represent an attempt to cling to old, mouldering structures of tradition and power, as if faith were a static object "once delivered to saints" and not a living, breathing, growing organism infused with the breath of the Holy Spirit.

What was that category-abolishing thing St Paul said about "In Christ there is no...." ?

I am sick to death of this discussion. It reminds me of the circular, reiterated conversations that mark the last, painful days of a doomed marriage. I am tired of seasons of fasting and restraint that will never, EVER satisfy the, yes I'll say it, homophobes. Nothing will satisfy them but damning GLBTs to hell -- some as they sweetly, smugly smile their pious "blessings" and "love the sinner hate the sin" platitudes, others, more honest, as they cry abomination !

It hasn't helped that daily office lectionary this past week brings us to the Book of Judges. I am 2 months or so away from completing the 2 year cycle of daily office readings, and I have met my scriptural Waterloo. I grit my teeth and pushed through Joshua, thinking "Great, genocidal imperialism in the name of God !" I was relieved when I had to get a LEM and lector substitute 2 Sundays ago -- the OT reading was about Jacob's marriages -- how he served Laban for seven year to obtain the hand of Rachel, but -- surprise, surprise ! -- he woke the morning after the wedding night and found he'd been given her sister Leah ! He had to "complete the week of this one" (plus seven more years of service) before he could have Rachel, too !

The temptation to preface "The Word Of The Lord" with "And here endeth another tale of manly, heterosexual, Biblically inerrant Christian marriage !" would have been overwhelming.

Slavery is "Biblical" -- must the church accommodate the wounded sensibilities of those who propound it by declaring seasons of fasting and restraint in order that the Communion adhere ? Unity in the Body of Christ is pretty myth. There are thousands upon thousands of denominations, each with its own claim of Truth. To try to preserve the thing called the "Anglican Communion" by rejecting the full Christian personhood of 10% of the members of its churches -- 50% if you include the widely-held notion that women should STFU in church -- is an unChrist-like travesty. Jesus was not a church planter.

And in the spirit of ecumenism Rome weighed in on the topic,

Quoting from a key document on Anglican and Catholic relations (Cardinal Kasper) said: "Homosexuality is a disordered behaviour. The activity must be condemned; the traditional approach to homosexuality is comprehensive ... A clear declaration about this theme must come from the Anglican Communion."

Such a statement would "greatly strengthen the possibility" of the two churches giving common witness regarding human sexuality, something that was "sorely needed in the world of today".

I must say, the man has balls. Huge balls. Ironically huge balls. Why would any one want to give common witness regarding human sexuality with an institution that oppresses women and GLBTs, denounces condoms in the midst of a lethal AIDs epidemic, and that covered up a pedophilia scandal amidst its clergy and rewarded a Cardinal who facilitated the cover-up with a plum job in the Vatican ?

One would think he would not want to mention "Catholic" and "sex" in the same breath. Lest someone be reminded of the track record.

All this rancor. Forgive me, miserable offender that I am. But, honest to God, I am no wild eyed radical proponent of guitars and drumsets in church or liturgical dance. I am a closet high-church Anglo-Catholic -- a Roman Catholic wannabe from way back. I prefer wafers to freshly baked communion bread, and feel squeamish when the priest says we will communicate one another. If the priest wants to face Ad Orientem, I can get behind that. I offer as further evidence my orthodoxish bona fides my brand new copy of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

I joined the Church because of a life filled with existential anxiety. All religions are highly complex meta-languages with which to discuss the Unknowable: the Sacred Ground of our Being. The Christian language, I decided, suffices. Faith is the conviction that this Ground is, as Genesis says, Good, even Very Good. Christ, the Incarnation, brings the Sacred Ground into our human lives and bodies and interactions; the Holy Spirit (or, in the spirit of 1662, Ghost) disperses it through the broken world.

This probably makes me some sort of heretic. I can hear the cries -- Pagan ! Pantheist ! Universalist ! Colonialist ! American ! Baby Boomer ! -- the voice is familiar -- whose could it be ? Bp. NT Wright ? Abp. Akinola ? Reverend Phelps ?

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