Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Waltham Mutterance

The Boston Globe came today with a mountainous packet of ads reminding me that all three variants of my seasonal Noelophobic cri du coeur -- it's not even Halloween/Thanksgiving/Advent yet ! -- will all outdate and need to be replaced with my signature holiday inchoate whimpering.

It did not help to read about an internet phenomenon that had, so far, been off my radar screen: the mommy blogger youtube "haul" vlog. Which kind of rhymes with yule log, in an over-nutmegged eggnoggy sort of way. I have not had the Santa Clausian cojones (vide infra for reflections on ecclesiastic linguistic and iconographic phallicity, also applicable to para-ecclesiastic phenomena) to check out any examples of this genre. There are some things that even my hypertrophied sense of irony do not equip me to face. Especially in this most vulnerable season.

And it really did not help to encounter this headline, red-inked by DK, as he commented that most people do not find the ongoing vicissitudes of the Anglican Communion of particularly compelling interest. Well, I confess that I have found said vicissitudes fascinating in the vaguely repellant way that roadkill or zombie movies are fascinating, and tend to track them rather closely. Hence my surprise to hear that GAFCON had just issued a statement , The Oxford Statement, in the long tradition of various other globetrotting primatial ejaculations such as the Jerusalem Declaration, Camp Allen Principles, Dromantine Communique and Kigali Statement, pronouncing the controversial proposed "Anglican Covenant" as "fatally flawed."

"Now wait a minute," I thought, "isn't this whole Convenant thing those dudes' brainchild, something designed to keep the apostate Piskies in line via Section 4's infamous provision for ostracizing the wayward ? Shouldn't the headline read "Anglican Liberals Reject Plan" ?

What more could the dissenting bishops want ? To import the language of "objective disorder" from the Roman Catholic Catechism ? To move the 39 Articles of Religion from the historical documents appendix of the BCP to an honored spot in the front ? To mandate that there be bouquet of Calvinist tulips on every credence table ?

The first thing an Episcopal Priest ever said to me -- I was in the earliest stages of my then-unchurched inquiries, long before encountering my current parish -- was "we are not a confessional church." We have the three legged stool of scripture, reason and tradition and four broadly catholic, foundational and ecumenical principles of the Lambeth Quadrilateral: the scriptures, the Nicene Creed, the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, and the historic episcopate.

But, for some of the orthodox, those broad principles do not suffice. They want the devilish details spelled out in black and white, presumably as a measure against which "anathema sit" might be pronounced.

They have gathered in a "Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans" who consider the Jerusalem Declaration to be their "rule," a collection of bullet points that includes #8, the marriage as one-man-one-woman thing, which gets equal billing with things like the "gospel of God" and the "universal Lordship of Jesus Christ," and also -- a confession within a confession ! -- #4, which upholds the authority of the 39 articles.

The machinations of power transcend the boundaries of sacred and secular.

All these statements and communiques and declarations and manifesti seem the protestations of men who cannot bear to see their holy sanctuaries invaded by women, to see their patriarchal definitions of marriage and family overturned, or to see their heterosexist models of God and Church interrogated.

To do so, they say, is to violate the deposit of faith, the faith once handed down to saints, to deny the received and literal truth of scripture and to abrogate the will of God, Father & Son.

That's when some of them break into Latin.

When that happens, sisters, you'd better watch out.

The deep wisdom of the liturgical year provides two dark, penitential desert times before the festivals of birth and resurrection. I prepare to plunge into the purple shadows of Advent like a parched woman openmouthed into freshwater.

It is the season of lack and longing, of decidua and mulch, of ravishing dark blue twilights between the horizon's black-as-lead stripped branches.

It's the season when the obverse of that for which we mourn is clearly visible as that for which we are most grateful, not the least of which is the ravishing mystery of being-here-at-all.

I, notorious anchorite that I am, have been chafing at religious anthropocentricity, and I think I would chafe as much if the second person of the Trinity had happened, scandalously & particularly, to have been incarnate as a woman.

I find myself wishing Christianity were more like a Chinese landscape painting -- fog shrouded gorges and ancient pines with one tiny human figure on the periphery -- but its path to compassion is through history and narrative, through scandalous particularity, through an incarnate solidarity with suffering outcasts and a penal death -- with forgiveness -- on the cross. Not through demolition of the ego toward the realization that nothing separates us one from the other. Two paths to one destination ?

And what about shopping ?

No comments: