"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
A friend emailed me with this response to my last post:
Mike, as your friend, I invite you to try an experiment. Read what you wrote in your most recent blog post imagining that you agree theologically with those who have requested APO, and thus make your "they" into those who would say e.g. "Lambeth 1.10 isn't *my* Anglican doctrine" and your "we" into those who would say "we are the ones doing true civil disobedience; they are the ones resisting suffering," etc. (After all, we are the ones waiting for the deposition letters to arrive, going without health insurance, with our pensions frozen......)
See how many of the statements and convictions of your post you can make from inside that assumption. (Nearly all, if you have good intuituveness and empathy.)
This is yet another reason why it's madness to give one minute more to sitting in the nest eating each other's young.
This is a good exercise. It doesn't make me any more receptive to APO because the polity I signed up for when I was ordained has to do with obeying my bishop. There are times when I disagree with my bishop, and then I have to decide how to deal with that disagreement. It can go to the point of deciding to disobey my bishop ... but at that point I have to realize - even welcome -- deposition. But nowhere did I sign onto a system that said if I didn't agree with my bishop that I could request another one.
Those clergy and people who are conservatives with liberal bishops and liberals with conservative bishops represent most strongly for what they believe when they keep the courage of their beliefs under fire. (Frankly, I wish conservatives and liberals alike would be a little more accomodating to those with whom they disagree .... but that's another story.) The person who wrote me this email is a great example of this, having stuck to her beliefs and actually quit her job because she questioned whether she could serve with integrity in a post-2003 Church. She was respectful to her bishop every step of the way, never asked for a new one but instead took it as a sign that God was calling her to something else. That's courage. That's the way it should be done.
The part of the exercise that is most interesting is when you play out the liberal Episcopal viewpoint in terms of the Anglican Communion. Now granted, the polity is different. Provinces of the Anglican Communion have a certain amount of broad autonomy and Lambeth resolutions are not officially binding ... but beyond the legalisms, we are bound together in a communion, and that means we need to love and respect one another.
Essentially what we as the American church are saying is that we want to overturn 2000 years of Church teaching -- if not practice -- for what we believe is a better, truer interpretation of Christ's dream for us. That pretty much sums up how I feel about it. As such, we have two choices -- we can rest on the fairly recent legalisms and structures of the Anglican Communion and argue that we have the right to do this and nobody else can tell us what to do. Or, we can ask the question of Jesus and Gandhi and King and others - How can I love change into their hearts? The answer for all of them was nonviolent self-sacrifice. Maybe that's the answer for us.
Maybe the answer for the Episcopal Church is allowing ourselves to accept whatever discipline the Communion offers to us ... and to do it gladly, and with the conviction that we will keep on being the Church and that if what we are doing is of God it will stand and if it is not, it won't.
There are some other concerns, of course. There's the concern that much of what is happening is being financed and manipulated by wealthy conservative bigwigs. There's the concern that the real battle is over whether the communion will be Anglican or fundamentalist. But those don't change my growing sense that us standing up for what we believe in and accepting whatever consequences might come from that in the communion with love for those who oppose us is the best route -- after all, it is the model of Christ.
This same friend has suggested to me that perhaps the best road for us is an amicable separation -- and that it would make it easier for us to get back together 50-60 years down the road. I don't think that's such a bad idea. Certainly there are a lot of people on either side bent on an ugly break ... which would be much more difficult to heal.
Frankly, all I care about is being able to work together. If we split and yet had the same kind of "called to common mission" relationship that we have with the Lutherans where we could continue to work together while acknowledging a need to be separate, that would be fine with me. Sure beats eating our young, which is what it feels like we're doing now.
| Mike at 8/23/2006 07:26:00 AM
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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."