Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Point

Yes, of course I read it (the HoB New Orleans statement) along with many of the hurt and confused responses of sisters and brothers throughout the Communion and our LGBT tribe.
But a fall cold and real life (more on that later) kept me very much occupied elsewhere.

Time and distance from engaging with post New Orleans blogdom brought an interesting insight- for me at least. An insight informed by years of dharma study and practice as much as by the work on ‘process’ by Margaret Wheatley PhD.

Yes I was hurt and dismayed, yes I shook my head over the essential impotent irrelevance of the New Orleans offering., but the longer I sat with the experience, the clearer it became. The whole thing had to be what it was because of where they started out: a place of re-acting instead of a place of acting.

And let me be clear here- I am neither criticizing or blaming the HoB. With all the noise and acrimony of the past many months they would have had to shut themselves away for a lot longer for any other sort of outcome.
And thank God indeed there's still the rest of TEC & House of Deputies to balance the New Orleans statement!

To understand what I'm talking about, it is perhaps necessary to revisit a term I've used in this space previously, and which has earned me a certain amount of criticism. 'Bullies of the patriarchy' I believe speaks not only to the real issues at stake, but to the behaviour of many I would associate with that moniker.

Bullying is rarely ever about what it claims to be ie.
fear of the open vulnerability to both God and life which is the vocation of
every Christian.
Bullying breaches the norms and conventions of the
ie. storming out of one of the most sacred rites of our
Communion, the Primatal Holy Eucharist at Dar Es Salam.
resorts to a continually escalating vocabulary of threats and accusation which
is a non-stop denial of the essential humanity, experience and grace of its
Bullying’s charges can never be effectively met or satisfied, as its
real agenda is never admitted
(see The Chapman Memo nefariously written
back in 2003).
Bullying can never be satisfied as the essential
dishonesty of its attack requires a continual escalation and shifting of its
and need I say it?
Bullying is always an expression of a lack of emotional
intelligence, spiritual maturity and experience.

But to get back to my point about The Point.

One of the most valuable gifts the dharma has brought me has been some insight into the important and essential difference between acting and re-acting. An insight I might add which came in the rawest days of our local fight against AIDS, with friends and clients sometimes dying daily.

Re-acting always

limits any subsequent discussion or peace-making to the vocabulary and context
established by the bullies.
is implicitly incapable of including the experience and understanding of the party under attack
will always fail to satisfy either party, as it is always speaking to the past ie. earlier charges rather than the current situation & fails to call forth the bullies real

disengages, while owning both the charges of the bully and the experience of
being bullied
practices prayerfully (ie be still and know that I am God) until the deeper truth, experience and understanding of the real situation are gained, at the same time disengaging from one’s own instinctual responses
speaks or acts only from that larger place ie: taking the whole
exercise outside the area of violence and accusation, addressing both the shared
humanity of all parties and once again opening the discussion to God’s grace.

Of course I wasn’t there in New Orleans, so can only read the outcome and the pain and confusion of my brothers and sisters in Christ. But the bottom line appears to be that no one was ‘satisfied’ and the essential process our Communion is going through right now wasn’t advanced a centimetre- on the contrary judging by the reaction of the patriarchy.

Yes, I shook my head, but I also felt real sadness for our brothers and sisters wearing the onerous mantle of the Episcopacy in the American Church.
By re-acting, with the best of intentions no doubt, and only after they themselves had gone through the same agonizing long months we’ve all traversed since Dar-Es-Salam, they essentially found themselves implicitly having to overlook much of what has gone on in that same period of time:

Primatal poaching from outside TEC
irregular consecrations of more bishops
than I need to see
the damning of duly consecrated primates, bishops, priests
and the lay baptized including my radiant LGBT brothers and sisters of
too many of the resources of the Communion squandered on these ‘issues’
while the holocaust of AIDS continues to spread, wars wage and whole societies
unravel under the curse of poverty.

So it was inevitable that we all came away from the latest exercise shaken, sore and still hungry for the bread of heaven.

Unfortunately New Orleans couldn’t be anything more than it was, when the discussions were framed by the deadline and conditions established by the statement of Dar-Es-Salam.

So what’s the alternative model ?

Might I risk sounding simplistic (once again some might add) by suggesting it be that of our sweet Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who Himself ‘drew apart’ regularly as Scripture tells us.

One of the many dharma teachers who has nourished my practice over the years speaks ’three breathes.’ Taking time ie enough breathes to get beyond whatever might be coming at us, enabling us to respond in the larger unconditional openness of the ‘now’ rather than in the dead history which lead to the original attack or accusation.

What did I expect/pray for/hope for?

Nothing short of sheer radiance!

A statement which would have established the example and teachings of Jesus Christ as the first and only principle of the exchange.

A statement which would not have wasted time or energy trying to accommodate a problematic resolution which is already effectively dead-in-the-water.

A statement which would have admitted the need for God’s grace and patience as the HoB was not of one mind on all things.

A statement which would not have contradicted or compromised the final declarations of its communique.

Only then could the meetings of TEC have stood as proof that their discussions were
outside the ‘fist’ of the bully,
a true reflection of the path that TEC has walked, and the grace they have known in their efforts to be a true embodiment of Christ’s loving vocation for humanity,
witness to glorious outcome of Christ’s Incarnation, Christ’s crucifixion and yes, Christ’s resurrection ,
only then could the current discussions have been truly taken beyond the place of accusation, acrimony and condemnation.

Once again, you have my full permission to call me simplistic, but I’d offer a parallel example.

Earlier this week, at work, I was given an opportunity to work with a colleague who was buying-into a series of continually escalating exchanges and accusation about ‘fairness’ & ‘responsibility’ with another colleague.
Both parties are basically decent human beings, each who at different times have confided in me some of their personal baggage and the resulting behaviour patterns.
‘You know you still have a choice in all of this’ I reminded Jenny, bringing her up short in her list of complaints. ‘You can still decide wether or not to buy into this game, or owning your feelings and personal history, to step outside into something larger. The choice of how you will spend your next breath is still yours.’
Of course our discussion didn’t end with my suggestion, but one thing did change, and that was Jenny. Instead of returning to her cubicle and firing off another re-active e-mail or shouting her response over their common wall, she chose to not return to her work space until we had talked the whole thing out and she was ready to get on with the real reason she turned up each day- the work awaiting her.
And when she didn’t respond?
Jenny and her colleague eventually talked about the specific work issue which had been the grounds of the latest aborted round. When her colleague tried carrying it further, turning it into a personal attack, Jenny simply disengaged- citing her ringing phone.
It may not happen next time, but it did then, and that’s some sort of a start.

And thankfully, our blessed Communion is further along than Jenny.

Personally, I’d most readily refer to all of the radiant voices of inclusiveness within the Communion which continue to nourish, bless and inform me daily. You know who you are.

I would also take great hope from the existence of the House of Deputies within TEC, the structure of our own Canadian Synod, and similar structures throughout the Communion.

Then there’s the courageous embodiment of grace in the insistence by our countless LGBT sisters and brothers in faith, of their full inclusion in that same Communion, through God’s grace and the rite of baptism.

But there’s also the unwavering assurance that ‘God so loved the world that S/He gave His only begotten son Christ Jesus’

Thankfully this is not our Church, our Truth, or even our issue that our beloved Communion is undergoing at the present time.

Unfortunately, too often in the past, too much Christian history has been one of ever- escalating action and re-action; a direct result of the dualistic-thinking necessary for the establishment of the patriarchy which for too long imposed its fears and insecurity on Christian practice.

But through God’s unfailing grace and the living contradiction to patriarchal dualism we LGBT people of faith embody at this time, Christ’s Church is once again being called out of fear, to be the radiant embodiment of God’s love which has always been it’s true vocation.

To act (embody Christ Jesus in the world)
rather than re-act in the realm and vocabulary of fear.
the choice is always ours.

A new day...

But for this to happen, the ‘listening process’ becomes more essential than ever.

Not just whatever forums and ‘public processes’ individual dioceses and provinces may offer, but every blessed life, every blessed voice within the Communion- and none more or less so than my radiant, blessed LGBT sisters and brothers- each and every one of you.

LGBT lives - LGBT grace - essential - yes essential to the life and future of the Anglican Communion.
Who would have ever imagined the day?
But that is exactly where we are now.
Dare I say it? Praise God!

All we have to do is show up- be still and know that I am God, to quote scripture.

The Communion may rend- no make that- the Communion may be rent. But it will still be the Communion, working its way back to the inclusive wholeness God has always wanted for all of Creation & the Church.

So what are we supposed to be afraid of in the long run? Nothing comes to mind... because this is not just our process of growth beyond fear, not just our growth in grace, this is not just our Communion.

It never was. Thank God.


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