Monday, March 26, 2007

A Consolidated Response

As one might imagine, there has been an unusual level of response to my previous post, which also appeared at Daily Episcopalian. Rather than respond on the comment thread, which I find technically cumbersome, I'm doing so as a new post here. I'm only responding here to those who commented here. But I have also posted a response (in the comment thread) at Daily Episcopalian to those who left their comments in that venue.

To Marshall:

You wrote: “I would only hope that the larger Communion can be as inclusive of the Episcopal Church as I want the Episcopal Church to be inclusive of you, and of those who, in commitment to Truth, question whether they can maintain Unity.” I can agree with this. My fear is that we are not at a place where that can be done anytime soon. The sense of woundedness and level of distrust that much of the Communion feels toward TEC is simply too high. I’m not saying I think it ought to be; it just is. It’s a “fact on the ground.” And I cannot help but say that it’s largely TEC’s own fault for forging ahead as quickly and aggressively as we did in 2003.

To Bill Carroll:

Since you commented in both places (here and Daily Episcopalian), I’ll respond in both places.

I agree, Bill, that you are a veritable exemplar of what I meant by Truth Liberal. In your goal of enshrining same-sex blessings in the BCP, you seem to commit yourself to taking TEC even further down the road of alienating not only Episcopalian conservatives, but most of the rest of the Anglican Communion. I respect the integrity of your position, but it saddens me.

Interestingly, in your words about the sort of relationship you would like people who believe as I do to have with TEC—if I may paraphrase: a well-behaved minority with no actual power—one could virtually reverse the terms and it would, I believe, speak for most Truth Conservatives. At this eleventh hour, I’m going to be bold enough to suggest that, in either scenario, one side gets to have a church that suits them comfortably and the other side gets to be a kept pet. If we are going to be “repairers of the breach” (Is. 58:12), we need to be mutually willing to be uncomfortable, to be part of an ecclesial community that makes us wince, that we often find embarrassing, that contains elements—beliefs and practices—that we believe are simply wrong, but which we accept for the sake of unity.

Bill, how uncomfortable are you willing to be?

To Trey:

I am truly glad you have found a spiritual home for yourself by coming back to the church of your youth.

I would respectfully suggest that you are mistaken with regard to the level of awareness the Primates have for the polity of the Episcopal Church. I think they are acutely aware of the way we are constituted to take counsel for the affairs of the church. They simply believe it is inadequate to the crisis at hand. For your convenience (and mine!) I will reproduce here part of a reply I left over at Daily Episcopalian on this subject:

“Episcopalians simply do not trust the power structures of TEC and the individuals who inhabit those structures. There’s no point arguing whether the perception is correct or not; it’s the perception. And as we all know (those in parish ministry more than any, I think), perception is reality.

So the only sort of Primatial Vicar arrangement that can address the trust issue quickly and effectively is that the individual is neither appointed by the Presiding Bishop nor accountable to the Presiding Bishop. Yes, that’s a horse pill, to use the metaphor of my original post, for liberals. But is it really one that cannot be swallowed? I can understand a Truth Liberal choosing to die in this ditch. My hope (fantasy?) is that there are enough Unity Liberals out there who would be willing to suck it up and endure a political anomaly for the sake of institutional unity, and avoid the expenditure of many tens of millions of dollars in legal fees generated by property disputes.”

To CWO Butler:

Nothing you said was offensive to me. Indeed, it is a moving and thoroughly challenging testimony. This is not the venue to get involved in the moral arguments about either war or sexual behavior, and I’m going to resist the temptation to do so. I thank you for your transparency, and honor your service.

To Phil:

Thank-you for your challenging observations. While what I suggested might bear a superficial similarity to “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” it was not my intent to embrace such an attitude. Rather, I was floating the possibility of both sides agreeing to an arrangement that is manifestly uncomfortable (a “horse pill”) for both. Out of respect for the conscience, good faith, and commitment to Christ of liberals, conservatives, who believe that any sexual behavior apart from heterosexual marriage in inherently sinful, would sublimate that conviction by not judging, publicly or privately condemning, or otherwise harassing same-sex couples who cohabit—and in fact provided quiet pastoral care for them as couples, on the notion that a committed relationship within the community of the church is a lesser evil than many of the alternatives. At the same time, liberals, out of regard for the consciences of their conservative brothers and sisters, and for the sake of the unity of the church, would voluntarily lay aside the perceived right to publicly bless and celebrate such relationships. Moreover, those involved in such relationships would decline leadership opportunities that might scandalize the church’s witness. This is an arrangement that would be tremendously costly for everyone concerned. It would require truckloads of humility and patience. My feeling is that it is a lesser evil than any of the alternatives. In time, it may even lead to something that can be known as good—something we cannot now ask or imagine.

To EH:

So how much did the 2005 World Series influence your epistemology? At any rate, you’re dealing with a Cubs fan here, so hope springs eternal.

To Anonymous:

I’m with you in that there will be no “happy issue out of our afflictions” without some of those in power voluntarily surrendering a measure of that power. How hard is that for a fallen human soul to do?

1 comment:

Luiz Coelho said...

From another Carioca...

I'd just say that, although I'm a bit more to the left than you, I see and understand your pain.

I just hope that a peaceful solution may be found for all these troubles.

Blessings to you.