Monday, June 30, 2008

Checking my dance card

Just how much posturing, dishonesty, threats and duplicity is the average person to take from those in certain quarters who claim to be the ‘confessing’ leadership of our Church?

And then, of course, in other well-intentioned quarters, there’s the diplomatic silences and ineffective fumbling & bumblings of those who fear being expelled, or in one particular case at least, those who have been almost-hypnotized into ineffectiveness by staring down their own ‘worst case scenario-‘ the rupture of the Communion.

One thing I’ll give ‘em- the only thing I’ll give them- those dissembling bullies of Gafcon, they sure know where it hit for maximum effect those of us walking the tightrope of a living faith we average Christians walk every day. And more specifically in the case of we LGBT people of faith, in that place of waiting in hope for our often-abusive parent (the Church) to come to its senses, to own the effect of their past actions, and to open their eyes and hearts to the true and lasting work of reformation and renewal the Holy Spirit is working in the Church in these times.

Please don’t misunderstand me- when I look at the big picture, or the long run and remember the wondrous fruits of renewal, healing and reconciliation I find going on throughout the Communion and in the lives of so many LGBT folk, I am anything but despairing. But the fact is that once again, I and an untold numbers of brothers and sisters throughout the world have had to witness men with all the outer accoutrements of leadership within our Church resorting to formulas which, for generations have caused untold damage to countless LGBT lives of faith. (Their lack of originality of course only confirms their real impotence)

What saddens me even more however is the silence and ineffective bumblings in other quarters of the Church as certain of the apparent leadership try to hold on to their own version of what effectively no longer exists i.e. a whole Communion. ( ++Katherine and a cherishe brother ‘in the eye of the storm’ being the two most visible, radiant exceptions to this passive despair.)

The bottom line (the most glaring example perhaps) is the accumulated time and energy which has been expended by the collective Church responding to or dancing around the venomous outbursts, priacy, threats and posturing of brothers who have knowingly & intentionally chosen to alienate themselves from us. (A tremendously greater investment than that the Church has made in learning from & listening to the witness of our LGBT lives of faith, which was supposed to have been their declared intent.)

Slipping on my ‘organizational transformation’ cap, I can’t be too surprised by the outcome of Jerusalem.

Of course they’re not ‘leaving’. Being a lot more savvy (bullies often are) than many voices of inclusion, they’ve realized the limits of their threats, (and just how much they might lose in real estate and loot by storming out.)

Typical bullies they ‘want their cake and to eat it too,’ and have no qualms about dismantling the Church as we know it, re-writing decades of Spirit-lead embodiment, scholarship and renewal within the Communion, and remaking the household in their own grasping likeness.

Staggered only a little more than momentarily by the Jerusalem pronouncement and a sound bite on the CBC of the ‘Australian voice of Gafcon’ talking of ‘defending ourselves from post-Modernity’ and ‘rescuing’ folks, I hauled out my bench and sat in prayerful silence, resorting to the elements of practice counting the breaths at first to get beyond the verbal mis-representation and patriarchal posturing I’d just read.

In the long run though none of this should really prove all that surprising...

As much sharper minds than mine have long ago witnessed, this is about a whole lot more than the consecration of a single bishop, the blessing of the committed lives of faith and faithfulness of our LGBT brothers and sisters, or even the ordination and consecration of our sisters in faith- (all three of which I would suggest have been the means for endless blessing in the continued life of our Church.).

it’s even greater than colonialism or post-colonialism as Gafcon would suggest.

Yes, in part at least, it has something to do with embracing and learning to the fullness of our Divinely created humanity

Yes, in part a least, it has to do with power

Essentially however what’s at stake here is our understanding and experience of the meaning of our individual and collective lives, and our relationship with God who since the beginning of time has ‘loved us beyond our wildest imagining’ and Whose Love has too long put up with the posturing, pronouncements and theatre of men as they try to colonize and create franchises of that Love.

Of course there’s also our stewardship of the planet and the botched job the patriarchy has done of that

The care we take or refuse to take of our brothers and sisters living in poverty, with illness, or fear for their lives

There’s our understanding of God’s bounty and how grossly disproportionally certain humans have chosen to distribute it

There’s the impotent prison of self-alienation patriarchy would perpetuate, which bumbles all too often off to war; squandering the bounty of this earth on great arsenals ‘just in case’ and then becoming their own self-fulfilling prophecy

There’s the objectification of any difference outside patriarchy’s collective small mind, and the generations of violence, alienation and the empovrishment this has brought about

None of which denies that wondrous, unfailing love ‘beyond our wildest imagining,’ it only confirms the self-destructiveness of patriarchy and dualistic thinking.

As more than one radiant life has recently witnessed what we’re suffering at present are the violent last grasps of patriarchy.

Patriarchy which is implicitly dualistic to shore up its illusion of authority, its privilege & its excesses.

Patriarchy which arrogantly disassociates itself from the excesses, lies and abuses of the past in the Church and which denies itself the lessons, grace and healing in those same difficult truths

Patriarchy which judges, objectifies, orders & condemns, inspite of Scriptures injunction that we judge not, lest we be judge.

Patriarchy, which is implicitly monolithic: requiring a ‘them’ to sustain the illusion of a chosen ‘us’; a monolith built on the backs those who seemingly don’t know better, all too often all the while isolating itself from the lived reality of the faithful.

Almost sounds like a medieval curia to me, and ‘Curia ain’t no compliment’ to quote a dear acquaintance of mine.

So what do we do?

Building on the norms of inclusion and non-dualistic communication and the example of so many of radiant brother and sisters in faith who have claimed the promise of their baptism both in the Church and on-line, I would suggest that more than ever we are called to embody the future Church the Holy Spirit is leading us into.

A muscled embodiment which doesn’t resort to dualism, or condemnation, threats or name-calling, but which is the radiant, loving proof of Christ’s redemptive power in our lives.

A muscled embodiment which isn’t afraid of honest Scriptural study: God doesn’t need us to lie on her behalf.

A muscled embodiment which owns and learns from the centuries since the scriptural canon was closed: God didn’t go into hibernation when they closed the canon.

A muscled embodiment which honours and makes room for the experience & witness of all the faithful in its rites and liturgies.

A muscled embodiment which discerns between cultural norms and the true revelation of the Good News of Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.

A muscled embodiment confident enough to learn and grow from the experience of other traditions and faiths.

A muscled embodiment not afraid to listen, to share, to apologize.

A muscled embodiment not afraid to establish limits to the behavior we find acceptable, and to act on those boundaries

A muscled embodiment which is not afraid to take God at his/her Word.

Sitting here, gratefully aware of many of the wondrous examples we have throughout the Church of this radiant, muscled embodiment, there are two portions of Scripture resonating within me:

Corinthians 13 ( the way forward)

and Romans 8: 38-39 (the promise)

So what more could be ask?

And as to that ‘big picture’?

It’s inevitable- the monolith of patriarchy is a self-consuming beast- their anger, venom and self-delusion makes it so. A creature which sees itself called to ‘protect itself’ and ‘rescue people’ bound to starve in its self-created fortress.

They just don’t get it.... before all the canons, the recognition of the sacramental, before all the orders and liturgies there was and is God’s inestimably precious gift of Life itself; the original, un-mediated sacrament; forever changed and redeemed by the life, teachings and sacrifice of our radiant Lord Jesus Christ.

One day, we’re all going to be dancing on the tomb of ‘patriarchy’ and if he’s lucky- real lucky, i just might invite +Peter to join- he is a brother after all. But he’s going to have to be patient- my dance card’s filling up pretty fast ( many of them names you might recognize)- more radiant brothers and sisters who have blessed my life than you can ever imagine, and +Peter will have to wait his turn.

But oh we’ll dance! To the Greater Glory of God- with deep and with profound gratitude for the lives of faith who have gone before, and in absolute wonder at the miracle God will have wrought.

Undoubtedly still in the thick of process now- that same process itself stands proof of life in the Church, of the larger lives we are called to and of the actively engaged, patient, loving God who is calling us.

Love never fails.
But where there are prophecies, they will cease;
where there are tongues, they will be stilled;
where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Prophetic pieces

What a week!
Two incredible documents of faith crossed my path, and I'm not referring to either the Windsor Report or the latest self-important pronouncement from the gang of pirates wandering between Jordan and Jerusalem.

Remarkable for several reasons, they're articles, speaking with voices of Anglican witness, appearing in rather surprising quarters- which should be a lesson in itself about underestimating the grace of our loving God.
'Let Me Worship As I Am' (NEWSWEEK)is a powerfully honest witness to the healing, health and humanity Jimmy Doyle has found in the Episcopal Church, at times inspite of the opinions and issues which might incline him to stay in bed some Sunday mornings.

LET GOD LOVE GENE ROBINSON (GQ Magazine) is the result of an in-depth interview with the living blessing currently occupying the Episcopacy of New Hampshire.

Both powerful pieces of writing, both moved me to tears of joy and gratefulness. Both also reminded me powerfully of what an awesome blessing it is to be alive in the Church in these times, to witness and to participate in the incredible reformation of the 'structures' and a breaking-open of our lives in/of a God who 'loves us beyond our wildest imigining.'

I encourage you to bless your day with both articles, and find your own joy and blessedness in the witness of these three brothers (Jimmy, +Gene and Andrew Corsello the author of the GQ piece).

Both articles have within them a prophetic voice which speak to the incredible work I believe the Holy Spirit is working in our Communion for all humanity.

Jimmy Doyle: 'It is right to stand before God as I am, and speak my own truth.'

As to the article on dear +Gene, I'm not even going to try to lift extracts. I'll warn you though, watch out for when the blessed man cuts to the quick of the current situation, when he speaks of fear. Which of course resonnated with his witness on the same emotion in his new book ' In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God.'

All of which only resonates even more within me because of a rather remarkable series of exchanges I've been having with a 'shanga brother' who like me was damaged in the name of God and who calls himself a 'intellectual Buddhist' ( more on that another time.)

Writing this, I am only too aware of how far short my efforts fall of doing any of these remarkable men the credit they deserve for the blessings they have brought me this week. All I can do is urge/encourge you to access the links;to get +Gene's book, and find your own joy and blessings in these exceptional gifts.

for God's Greater Blessing, to God's Greatest Glory- always & unconditionally


Sunday, June 1, 2008

How often are we able to make such a concrete difference

You know I wouldn't be bothering you if this wasn't essential

To one degree or another we've all lived reminders of just what a scary place the world can be at times.

Some of us have paid a very real price for the violent fear of others
And some of us have also been mightily blessed to meet others who have paid, and who continue to pay that price in larger, more real ways than we will ever have to.

I'm referring to the Bishop +Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire who, with his beloved partner Mark was obliged to live with bodyguards in the weeks and months between his election and his Consecration as Bishop of New Hampshire. Who with Mark had to wear full body armour under their vestments at his Consecration.

The same man who continues to live and preach the unconditional love of God for all creation- a passionate love 'beyond your windest imagining.'

The same man who continues to speak love to those who curse and abuse him, the same man who offers to meet and share with those same 'brothers in Christ.'

The same man who has put up with the cowardly waffling of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and yet who has urged his brother bishops to turn up for a key church event he is being excluded from.

Well +Gene and Mark, with a great crowd of LGBT witness of faith are going to be at Lambeth.

Not protesting, witnessing.

Willing to meet, to share, to witness and to pray with those present.

Lambeth yes, but out there in the same world which continue to include regular death threats against these two brothers.

Lambeth yes, but out there in the same world where gay and lesbian men and women continue to pay with their lives, continue to suffer curses and condemnation in provinces of the church.

Lambeth yes, but even before the first prayer's been invoked, the threats have not only been made against Mark and +Gene on two continents, they've even invaded their home via their answering machine.

So this is where you come in...

A sad and scary world which requires body amour for a rite of Consecration...

Unfortunately one of the necessary costs for the LGBT presence at Lambeth is protection for +Gene and Mark, and that costs.

Canon Elizabeth+ Kaeton (part of the Lambeth Initiative) and the good folks at St. Paul's Chatham have made it possible for us to have our own presence at Lambeth- by contributing to the cost of security for +Gene, Mark and our LGBT brother and sisters of faith.

Details can be found at Elizabeth+'s blog

And this is legit.

I'll personally vouch for Elizabeth+ and her long involvement in the cause of full inclusion of LGBT folk.

And I'm not asking anything I haven't already done myself.

As strange as it might seem, as much as it's about amounts, it's the initiative which is essential here- you can make a difference by doing the do-able.

For me personally, it was also an act of faith in that same 'Love beyond our wildest imagining.'

As some of you will already know my employment at the University is being 'phased out' in a month, as part of the exercise to balance a fourteen million dollar deficit.

So as I said, it's doing what you're able which is essential here.

Paypal or personal cheque.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender folk have too long a martyrology already- and you CAN make a difference, by doing what you are able.

This isn't just about +Gene and Mark- it's about birthright- our birthright as sons and daughters of the Living God- about claiming the blessings of our baptismal covenant- about embodying that 'Love beyond our wildest imagining'- it's about being 'truly alive' which we're told is only to the greater glory of that same Living God.