Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How did Pharaoh feel?

I've been reading Exodus. I started around chapter 3, where Moses encountered burning shrubbery, and skipped across to chapters 5 and finally to chapter 7, where Moses and God finally focused in on getting Pharaoh to take notice of the Israelites' demands for freedom. There are some interesting passages in here:
"The Lord said to Moses, 'See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.'"
What an interesting parallel here between Exodus and Lambeth 2008. +++Rowan, Pharaoh of Lambeth, has in his panic regarded +Gene as a God to be feared. Earlier, he barred him from participating in prayers and conversation, and just now has forbade him from celebrating or preaching during "the Lambeth period".
"But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and I will multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt."
+Gene may not celebrate or preach, but he will be at Lambeth. So will Integrity; so will Fr. Jake; so will dozens of TEC bishops. Their presence and their witness will spread across the entire Conference, spreading the Good News of God's amazing love for all of us, gay or straight, in spite of +++Rowan's best efforts at containment.

OK, I've escaped from the OT, but there are wonderful parallels in the NT. From John 20:19:
"...the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you'".
Oh, the scariest message you can imagine, that all our fears and terrors and defenses and denials are permeable by His spirit. Just imagine Abp Rowan chartering a flight or two for the whole conference, taking "the wings of the morning and settling them all at the farthest limits of the sea", yet still unable to escape the living God who desires all His children to be loved.

It's late. Much to do tomorrow. Love one another.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Blog surfing

I stopped by Mark Harris' blog this afternoon and revisited a post he started a few days ago. You can read it here. Rev. Mark's comments are, IMO, reasonable and sane. The comments, OTOH, deteriorated into a battle of wits between two contributors not fully armed. Phil, aka "anonymous," had two real clinkers:
"[homosexual sex] is short of what God desires for us and designed us for.”
“we are fallen creatures who's [sic]judgement is faulty, so we need some external touchpoint to know God's will and design for human beings"
BLS, not to be under-done, had this gem:
"To change my mind, I need to be shown arguments from Holy Scripture and/or the Teaching of the universal Church."
Where to begin. In the first excerpt, God appears to have died and left Phil in charge. To Phil alone have God's desires and plans been revealed. The physical aspect of my partner's love for me appears not to be included. This would be disconcerting if Phil were God. He isn't.

Next, we learn that our judgement is faulty by reason of Original Sin. The murders of Matthew Shepard and Lawrence King, among countless others, were merely lapses in judgement. Archbishop Peter Akinola's labeling us as less than human was an error in judgement. I think not. I believe they were failures of the heart. Pharaoh kept the Israelites in bondage because his heart was only in the Egyptian economy. +++Rowan's heart is likewise in bondage, to the number of Anglicans ++Peter et al have gathered into the Anglican Communion. A schism wouldn't look good on his watch.

BLS has a different problem. You gays! Come down from the cross that culture has put you on and he will believe. BLS is a reincarnation of Thomas. He has no connection to Matthew Shepard and Lawrence King, therefore they do not inform his belief. BLS doesn't understand that he is in community with all of us, Gentile and Jew, man and woman, gay and straight. We are all the Body of Christ, when one suffers, we all suffer. Until the authorities come for him, it's not his problem.

And then there's the matter of the "universal" Church. What the heck is that? There hasn't been a universal Church since the Council of Chalcedon. Silly.

Where do these people get their religious education? God knows.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Rev. Canon Mark Harris has a brilliant post on where he thinks the Church should be regarding sexuality. Find it here.

Mark doesn't hide:
I still believe that sexual expression between persons of the same sex is no more evil or good than is sexual expression between men and women...

As to marriage, I am convinced that holiness of marriage is not in marriage, but in God's blessing on people committed to life long companionship. I see no reason to suppose that God does not, or can not, bless such commitments when they are other than between a man and a woman. The Church ought do no less.
There's more, a lot more. Read it all. Mark writes succinctly and in a highly organized manner. I should learn composition from him.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Episcopal Church Still Welcomes You!

Two events galvanized religious conservatives in and out of The Episcopal Church (“TEC”) in 2003. The Diocese of New Hampshire elected, and TEC approved, the first openly gay bishop in the Church, and the Canadian diocese of New Westminster authorized services for blessing same-sex unions.
Conservatives had been uncomfortable since 1979 with women in the clergy and a new Book of Common Prayer. Outside TEC, the Institute for Religion and Democracy (richly endowed by Howard Ahmanson Jr. and the Bradley, Coors, Olin, Scaife and Smith-Richardson family foundations) began plotting to recast mainstream denominations in rigid doctrinal—and homophobic—terms. TEC became one of its prime targets. IRD and Anglican neoconservatives coaxed other churches around the world to be horrified by an openly and honestly gay man being made a bishop. Together they helped create several organizations in the US, reconnecting conservative parishes to African provinces, forming an alternative church that they hoped the Anglican Communion would recognize as the “true” Anglican church in the US.
A word about Anglicans. There are 34 autonomous Anglican churches in the world, called Provinces, each governed by an Archbishop, called a Primate. Most primates appoint their own bishops, who then select the next primate. The Archbishop of Canter¬bury (UK) is “first among equals,” a position with more clout by rea¬son of being the “Mother Church”. The Primate in the US is called a Presiding Bishop and is elected every nine years by bishops, clergy and lay persons in a triennial General Convention (GC). The GC is the governing body of TEC. All church property is held in trust for TEC.
Following Bishop Robinson’s election, the Archbishop of Canterbury convened an “emergency” meeting of primates, appointing a conservative to conduct a Special Commission to address the twin horrors of an Episcopal bishop not hiding his homosexuality and an Anglican diocese producing a rite to bestow God’s blessing on gay couples who love each other. The Eames Commission produced the Windsor Report in 2004. It called for moratoria on the blessing of same-sex unions, consecration of gay bishops, and incursions by primates on other primates’ turf. The Windsor Report was thoroughly critiqued in 2005, part of the building resistance to hijacking TEC.
TEC elected not to consecrate any bishops until GC 2006. Primates in Nigeria, Rwanda and elsewhere continued their cross-border incursions, picking off conservative Episcopal parishes and taking the property with them. In 2006, TEC elected the Anglican Communion’s first female Primate, Katharine Jefferts Schori to be its new Presiding Bishop, another shock for Anglican traditionalists. Bishop Katharine has actively cleaned house since, tolerating dissent but not schism.
For all the noise emanating from straight Christians who hate gay Christians, fewer than 1% of Episcopal parishes have voted to leave the church. Congregations who lost members over Bishop Robinson report a net increase since. Still, count¬less thousands of dollars will be spent in litigation to recover church property, funds that will not help those who need it the most, for food, clothing, education and shelter. Forgive us, Father, for we have sinned.
David Fleer
There really are churches that welcome lesbians and gays?
Yes, there are. St. Nicholas in Elk Grove Village has an active ministry for LGBT Christians:
 adult education on spirituality and sexuality
 LGBT group discussions on spirituality
 openness to leadership talent: 50% of the board is gay
 commitment to celebration, not just tolerance or inclusion
“The Church has a sexuality complex, it’s bankrupt on issues of sexuality,” says pastor Stephen Martz. “It’s hurting the Church. Until this issue is resolved, the Church cannot be whole, cannot be human.” Martz’ vision for St. Nicholas is a congregation that includes everyone, not just those with a narrow range of “acceptable” sexuality. Oh, did I mention that St. Nicholas is growing larger, year by year?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fr. Jake pointed me to an interview with PB Katharine Jefferts Schori in the Seattle Times. You can read it here.

I found this comment of hers particularly interesting:

"The Lambeth Convention's intent is to gather bishops in community and to meet each other as individual human beings. It's never been intended to settle issues."

Oh, really? Has anyone bothered to inform +++Rowan, the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose conference this is? One duly elected and consecrated bishop, V. Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, was not "gathered" into this conference, even for common prayer. Why? Is he undeserving of being in community with his peers, some of whom have never been elected? Or is it because he is not perceived to be an individual human being? Conventional wisdom being oracular, all should know that heterosexuals can fall in love, form close personal bonds and make long-term commitments, while gays can only copulate. Has +VGR been relegated to a sub-human species, as were the Jews under the Third Reich? We must hope not.