Saturday, August 16, 2008

Somewhat Final Thoughts


Over the past week and a half I've been trying to get my mind around my thoughts and feelings. I had a very good time, mind you. Draining, but good, but I still left with an overarching feeling of disappointment.

Don't ask me what I was expecting, because I really don't know. I suppose in my mind I realised that what happened was all I really expected to happen. I suppose what I didn't expect was just how much of a minority position inclusivness is. I had to wonder, if all of the bishops who were for the full inclusion of all of God's children into all sacraments of the church - regardless of whether or not there was a scriptural justification for it (the church is good at working on those later), if all those bishops took a vote - I wonder then, what we would find. That would, of course, till leave out people who are exclusive because of the "ick" factor - the "having sex with someone of the same sex is icky" factor (real mature, right?).

I also have no patience for bishops who won't take the Eucharist with people they disagree with or because they disagree with the celebrant over some issue. We are Anglicans, not Donatists. That is simply bad theology and there is no excuse for that.

But truly, while in the stewards programme most of the young adults didn't seem to feel that LGBT stuff was a "core doctrinal" issue, many were still against it, for scriptural reasons. This brought me to another disappointment: that the reasserters and the reappraisers aren't talking to each other - they are talking past each other - about very different things.

Many reappraisers are over the scriptural issues, so they don't realise how many of the reasserters, or even moderates are still caught in them. Upon mentioning the importance of using scriptural references for inclusion - or at least explaining why the reasserters usage of scripture is inaccurate, a reappraiser priest said to me "well they already know that, we've told them that."

Well actually, no, they don't, and no, we haven't.

Religion, and Christianity, and Church and being Anglican, means very different things to different people.

I'll admit, to me, on the most basic level, they all represent unconditional love. This does not mean condoning all sorts of behaviour - especially when we fall short of behaviour that shows love and kindness to others. Yes, of course it isn't that simple, Christianity isn't that simple, but I do believe that that is where I begin.

So I suppose that I'm proud to be part of a vibrant, living communion with people striving to live Christ's love the best they can, I'm also a bit disappointed that in many ways the Anglican Communion isn't what I thought it was. That people aren't doing what they said they would do - that a true variety of opinions aren't being heard where they need too, and that people are so wrapped up in their hurt that we can't move on or feel each others pain.

I keep trying to sound uplifted when I talk about Lambeth and it isn't that I'm not grateful for the opportunity -I am, but - I've been trying to sound uplifted since about two weeks into the trip, but in all truthfulness, my confession is that in many ways it feels more like a burden.


PseudoPiskie said...

Meeting, talking, living in community with loving LGBTs is necessary, IMO, but impossible if some will not even be in the same room. That is the height/depth? of hypocrisy. Those men - I assume primarily males - think they follow Jesus but they definitely do not.

Jesus was in the marketplace and probably with a number of the stewards. Jesus is/was with the "dregs" of society as always.

What is missing from some Bibles? I sometimes think the reasserters have never read the Gospels. Or maybe they don't believe them? Or have ever thought past the printed words? Or understand that what is said can have more than one meaning? One wonders how they get along in life if everything is so black and white.

Cheer up, Allie. Perhaps it will be necessary to someday be part of the Episcopal Communion. I look forward to it.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Beautiful and from the heart, Allie.

I lost much of my hope of good coming from Lambeth when Bishop Gene was excluded. Who better to listen to in an indaba group? The ABC insulted not only Gene and the diocese of New Hampshire, but all of us in the Episcopal church who work for inclusion.

Then later, the indaba process seemed to be working. The bishops seemed to be listening and really hearing each other. And then, the ABC wipes that out by declaring that we are back where we were after Lambeth 1998. What was the point of the indaba process?

His final presidential address was a huge disappointment to me.

Thanks for writing.

MadPriest said...

Excellent, Allie.
One comment and one question.

Church and religion are not simple but I really do believe that Christianity is as simple as love another. In 50 years nobody has convinced me otherwise.

Now the question. You mention pain. Now I can understand the pain of exclusion. What I can't believe is that there is an equivalent pain that comes from an adherence to legalism. Obviously you came face to face with people claiming such a pain when you were at Lambeth so can you "help my disbelief?"

Paul (A.) said...

Also, Pseudopiskie, Jesus never badmouthed sinners but he certainly had it in for hypocrites.

We tend to forget that the hypocrites that Jesus lambasted doubtless thought that there were very good reasons for doing what Jesus called hypocrisy, and they thought they were doing the right thing. Jesus, however, disagreed.

Just so Abp. Williams, in claiming continuing validity for Res. I.10 of Lambeth 1998 yet in hypocritically excluding Bp. Robinson from the conference in the teeth of I.10's call to listen, thinks he is doing the right thing. Yet I am afraid that Jesus, again, disagrees.

Certainly it is cause for sadness.

Allie said...

MP: that's the rhetoric that's being used... so be it. I think there is a pain to being told that something that you believe to be true is false... or watching what you believe is the condoning of sin... or watching your religion be turned into something you believe is against God and then not as.. whatever... I do believe the pain of exclusion is more severe or more whatever than that of legalism, but if that's the rehortic being used, that's an issue that isn't mine to tackle...

Paul, I think that is part of what is most irking me... he said "no resolutions" this year, but then kept referring to earlier resolutions. It left no place for anything other than the status quo, regardless of what was desired.

I honestly don't think he meant to do that manically, but it is a problem.

Oh, and I think you'll be seeing me at CC more often.

KJ said...

Good comments and thoughts, Allie.

I have expunged the terms "reappraiser" and "reassertor" from my vocabulary -- useless lexical tosh.

I would agree with the Mad One -- If Christianity and faith are not simple, then religion and "church" have gotten in the way.

Allie said...

KJ, to be honest, I have yet to find a better set of words. I may not like the person who coined them, but no one has shown me anything better/more accurate.

Cany said...

Lovely post, Allie.

I think the weight of Lambeth has been put upon the wrong shoulders. The weight should fall on those who chose to exclude, their burden to bear.

We are witnessing a time of change and with that comes heights and depths, joy and despair. I sure feel it, you obviously did. I know I throw up my hands some days and think, 'man, this is just nuts.' But in perspective, we walk forward, peacefully, and just keep going.

I know I sigh a lot these days when reading things, something I really didn't used to do. But lately, I view it as a breathing out of despir followed by a new incoming breath.

We'll be alright. To quote Tom Petty, "The waiting is the hardest part."

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us, Allie.

MadPriest said...

I have yet to find a better set of words
Allie, you're a good Christian woman - but I bet you could.

Allie said...

MP, you are too kind... I would consider myself a mediocre (at best) Christian girl...

KJ said...


I am constitutionally unable to rely on labels that then require us to think no further beyond a moniker, though if others want to apply labels to themselves, God bless 'em. In regard to these labels, neither of the two non-words describe me, though those who created the labels would think that one did. And even if one did fit, I'd reject it if it were applied to me as if I'm a lab specimen.

My hope for a truly inclusive Gospel would be that such terminology would be completely unnecessary while church nonsense reveals itself by its demand for it.

Jane R said...

Thanks, Allie. Good to hear your thoughts. And I share much of your frustration. I am very, very happy people finally did some real listening, but the intervention at the end reminded me a lot of the end of Convention 2006.

I think Katie Sherrod had it right with her observation that the real church life is closer to the grass roots.

As for biblical interpretation and the ick factor, sigh.

Chris said...

I'm glad I read this, Allie - but am I alone in wishing it had been posted on your Lambeth blog? I think ++Rowan has been castrated by his position, and I don't like to think of other people suffering the same fate, if you get my drift.

Maybe I have the instincts of the CND demonstrator of the 80s (which I was) but I still think we have a moral duty to shout from the housetops - and if we find ourselves on a taller house than usual (at Lambeth, f'rinstance) then so much the better.

Cheers anyway.

MadPriest said...

Yes, Chris. And we must never forget that it was the CND demonstrators and the women of Greenham Common that, in part, led to a change of world view in the USSR that in turn led to the coming down of the Berlin Wall. And remember how savagely the establishment and its media belittled them.

Allen said...

I'm with MadPriest: the gospel, insofar as it is about personal behavior, is as simple as "love one another." The rest is commentary.

These past several months I keep thinking of James Russell Lowell's words "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth; They must upward still and onward Who would keep abreast of truth.". -- Hymn 519 in the 1940 Episcopal Church Hymnal.

The cost of discipleship is high. Many have assumed that cost voluntarily -- in this case, continuing to witness for full inclusion of all women and all LGBT persons and indeed all persons. The tragedy is that Archbishop Rowan seems to think that he has the right and duty to impose costs on others.

Bishop Gene says we are living through the end of patriarchy -- I hope he's right.

And Allie, you're spot on about people talking past each other. The so-called reasserters have such a different approach to scripture from the so-called reappraisers that in general neither really hears the other.

Andy said...

Allie, I really enjoyed your blog during Lambeth and I want to thank you for giving us a unique insight.
God Bless

Allie said...

KJ, I actually sort of disagree. I think it will be a sad day when all of our life experiences and thoughts lead us to a place where we all agree as to how to read scripture and interpret the word of God. I just hope that in the future those differences are not painful or exclusionary.

Allie said...

And thank you to everyone for following along!