"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
Friday, August 18, 2006 Oh for the days when APO meant Army Post Office...
The latest thing in the Episcopal Church is for dioceses to request Alternative Primatial Oversight (APO). It's a riff off what conservatives have been doing for awhile, requesting Alternative Episcopal Oversight when they feel the bishop of their diocese is not someone they can have allegiance to (usually because of his or her views on sexuality issues). In cases where AEO has been granted, there have been arrangements made for a bishop who more closely lines up theologically with the people in question to have a quasi-bishop relationship with that congregation (I really don't know how this works and I haven't read up on it because, frankly, I really don't care how it works). Mostly, it seemed to me a way to take the concept of "flying bishops" -- bishops who were exercising ministry in dioceses without the permission of the diocesan bishop -- and give it some structure, accountability and legitimacy. Whatever.
But then came the last General Convention. And before the echoes of the shouts around Katharine Jefferts Schori's election as PB had died out, dioceses were announcing that they were appealing to the Archbishop of Canterbury for "Alternate Primatial Oversight." In other words, they don't want to be responsible to the presiding bishop (Primate) of the Episcopal Church, they want to be under the jurisdiction of another (presumably one who is more in line with their theology).
First of all, if this isn't enough to convince any outsider looking into the Episcopal Church that we have nothing of substance to say to the world, I don't know what is. That we are spending our time wrangling over stuff like this is just beyond me.
Second, I can't see the difference between this and something else I just despise -- which is people who don't like President Bush wearing shirts and plastering on bumper stickers that say "He's not MY president!" Well -- sorry. You might not like him. You might (like me) WISH he was not your president. You might even think there were some dirty tricks in both elections. But the fact remains that the vote was certified, the oath of office was taken and, barring impeachment and removal from office he IS our president.
In many ways it seems like a combination of two things run amok -- individualism and a sense of entitlement -- both of which the church should be in opposition to.
There's a sense that personal freedom means we shouldn't have to endure anything we don't like. That anything we find distasteful is somehow infringing on our rights. That we are entitled to be free from anything that challenges us or makes us uncomfortable or, God forbid, that we flat out hate. It is both a cause and effect of a society that is increasingly litigious, it reflects a lack of sense of a common good that is worthy of individual sacrifice and, more than anything, it makes us all begin to resemble a bunch of spoiled children who have to have everything their way.
If Jesus felt this way, I think the conversation with God in the garden at Gethsemane would have gone a lot differently.
You can dress this up any way you want. You can call it "standing firm in faith" or any other such thing. But it just looks like whining. And the problem is that the people who do it are really shooting themselves in the foot.
If people are really interested in defending what they believe in against laws or leaders they believe are unjust -- the most powerful weapon over time has been civil disobedience. The power of civil disobedience is that people feel so strongly that they cannot obey unjust leaders or follow unjust laws that they flout them and willingly suffer the consequences. It is the suffering that is the key. It is the willing suffering that makes people stand up and notice and maybe think "wow, maybe there's something to this if these people feel so strongly about it."
Belief and love that is so strong that you're willing to undergo suffering for it. Hmmm ... I'm sure I've seen that somewhere before.
| Mike at 8/18/2006 12:31:00 PM
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"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."