jeudi, juillet 16, 2009

America -- always rights

I haven't had much desire to post over the past few days. My church, the Episcopal Church has been racing towards the cliff of schism -- and now apparently has decided to jump. Over the past few days our bishops, clergy and lay leaders have voted, essentially, to put the church's good housekeeping seal of approval on ordaining practicing gay clergy, gay unions, and allowing for the consecration of more than one gay bishop.

To me, this really isn't about gay clergy or justice for gays. The church has been ordaining gay men, and, more recently women, for centuries. To be totally honest, I can't get that bent out of shape about gay clergy, particularly since I've known some wonderful gay priests.

And I don't believe that, as much as there are homophobes in the Episcopal Church, that a moratorium on consecrating gay bishops or blessing gay unions is all about homophobia.

But this is about something a lot more theological -- whether anyone has a "right" to be ordained. And I have to say that on this point, I'm with Bishop N. T. Wright when he says:
"The appeal to justice as a way of cutting the ethical knot in favour of including active homosexuals in Christian ministry simply begs the question. Nobody has a right to be ordained: it is always a gift of sheer and unmerited grace."

Nobody does -- men, women, gay or straight. But we here are all about "rights" -- the right to rid ourselves of unborn children. The right to own 25 guns. The right to plunder our environment.

The right to be ordained.

A decade or so ago, I'd have dinner with my conservative friends at conferences -- the fact that they didn't think I should be ordained mattered much less than our friendship -- and our shared Christian faith. Now they are pretty much all gone. And I'm not sure that there is a place for moderates like me, either.

We have so little conception of a "common good" -- instead, it is always about "us."

The Americans are making all kinds of noises about welcoming conservatives. Some of the bishops act confused, like they aren't quite sure about the implications of what they voted for. Well, the rest of the world is. If the majority of dioceses in the Anglican Communion decides to allow the Americans to stay in the "club" it will most likely be because Americans are generous with mission money.

But how satisfying it is, for the less than 2.1 million Episcopalians, to be finally, and forever, on the "rights" side.

2 commentaires:

mompriest a dit…

I was in the House of Bishops when they discussed and voted on the resolution asking for resources to create liturgies to bless same gendered unions. It was not a House confused. It was not a house divided. It was a House of integrity and respect and love. I was deeply moved and felt the power of the Spirit in that room. I do not think this is as you have written or perceived. I do not think that people are actually talking about ordination as a "right" as if there is a sense of entitlement. Rather it is about integrity - all orders of ordination are fully available, upon appropriage discernment procedures - to all baptized members of the church. We will not simply exclude one category of membership (partnered gay and lesbian) simply because they are partnered and gay or lesbian. We will discern and see where the Spirit takes us.

Offcenter a dit…

I respect your point of view, Mompriest. I read Bishop Robinson's interview in the NYT today -- he seemed to feel a similar sense of unity among the bishops. What are folks like me to make of it when Bishop Duncan claims that the Spirit moved him, too?

I have a very different lens than those who met in that room -- and I value connections with my brothers and sisters who hold different views more than perhaps I value the inclusivity that seemed to mark this gathering. You and I don't need to agree on that. But I do think that Episcopal Church leaders will have to acknowledge that they made a decision that will reverbrate through the communion. I assume that, knowing this, they were ready to live with the still unknown aftershocks.