lundi, mars 12, 2007

No idols, please, we're human

Pushing my cart out of the grocery store on Saturday, I saw a couple from the parish where I had worked before moving into more secular pursuits five years ago. I had presided at Dave and Ronnie's wedding. In the evangelical church I used to serve as associate rector, they had been one of the couples willing to be married by someone who was not the head pastor (and by a female, to boot).

I'm always pleased to see that one of "my" couples is surviving-though I take no credit for it at all. Mostly, I'm thrilled when they are happy.

Naturally, we started talking about the current drama in the Episcopal Church.

In the course of many heated discussions, I have discovered that I have a self-anointed role as devils advocate. There are few things that tick me off as badly as certainty-about almost anything but the belief that God exists and loves us. And there are moments when, being a broken woman, I doubt that!

I doubt it was the better angel of my nature that spoke up when R. started talking about leaving the Episcopal Church for an "Anglican" congregation led by an African bishop.

Those bishops aren't as saintly as some of us would like to think, I said to her. Not all of them really care about human rights, I muttered, knowing that my words were probably as incomprehensible to her as they would have been if I were speaking in fluent French (say).

Waving cheerily as them as they drove away in their SUV, I wondered what impulse had driven me to bring up such a politically incorrect topic. After all, it comforts many of us to think that there is, somewhere, a safe port for our driven little ships when the waters are stormy. I doubt that my yen for grey areas and need to question is really a helpful pastoral strategy. Yet blind idolatry isn't the answer, is it? It didn't work in the Hebrew Scriptures!

It's a hard time to be a pastor in the Episcopal Church, or in any mainline denomination-it's like living on the San Andreas fault. That being said, I hope that our leaders have the courage to step out of their foxholes and be critical, not just of their opponents, but of themselves.

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