Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This is NOT a joke

Truly amazing the grief and pain we are expected to suffer these days in the name of our Anglican faith- and what makes it sadder still is that most, if not all of this comes from the hands of those who so proudly sport their purple shirts and shiny pectoral crosses.
Case in point, an innocent Google news search this morning of the word ‘Anglican’ for the latest in Anglican-land brought up the following headlines:

‘General Synod Gives Anglican Trads in England No Option on Female Bishops’ from Peter J. Smith at something called

‘Gay Anglican blocked from becoming bishop’ from AFP

Perhaps intended as a more positive note, there was also:

‘Church of England bishops 'will be allowed to become nuns', according to Synod source’ from Damian Thompson at the Telegraph UK

‘Anglicans to relax rules on church weddings’ from The Guardian

‘Learn about Anglican chant with new series’ from Lexi Bainas at The Citizen

Not that I look to the secular press for either my theology or spiritual nourishment; I was practicing what became a useful ingredient in the grief management program I co-developed during the darkest years of AIDS here in Montreal. Essentially, what I was looking for this morning was a sense of the message the official organs of our Church was sending to the ‘secular world’ it only too readily objectifies and vilifies.

Perhaps I should have known better; having survived the last decade of life in Anglican-land; but I came away sadder than ever and seriously concerned about the functional competency of certain ‘official Anglicans’ who continue to inflict yet one wound after another on our Church.

In a nutshell, it would appear that by their latest actions, the purple shirts of the CoE are basically telling the world our Church is incapable of engaging with contemporary realities in an authentic, engaging manner, and showing by their actions that the assessment of those who walked out of our pews or who have never darkened are door is correct- our Church is essentially irrelevant to their lives.

‘General Synod Gives Anglican Trads in England No Option on Female Bishops’: That certain quarters within our Church are even having this discussion: questioning the vocations of certain fellow Christians to the episcopacy because of their gender, is scandalous. That they are also wasting time, energy and the Church’s resources arguing over the means for accommodating the self-righteous misogyny of certain quarters is worse than scandalous, especially when one considers that similar pandering to prejudice in the secular world would be considered illegal.

‘Gay Anglican blocked from becoming bishop’ once again, becoming more and more Vatican-like in its pronouncements, the response of an official organ of our Church is a resounding NO to the realities of the sacrament of life in this time and place, apparently never for a moment entertaining the possibility that the Holy Spirit, Herself, might indeed be trying to accomplish a transformative miracle through the incredible, faithful lives and witness of our LGBT brother and sisters in our midst.

Not that this should come as a surprise, following on the heels of Dr. John’s earlier call to the episcopacy, and the shameful violation of his personhood when he was required to assure certain delicate sensibilities that his marriage is indeed celibate.

O.K., but what about the other headlines our Church has made in the last twenty-four hours?

‘Church of England bishops 'will be allowed to become nuns'

Less than a week ago, an e-mail I received bore the caption ‘YOUR Church is a bad joke people don’t even hear anymore-never mind bother to laugh at.’ This from a well-known, Anglican-born, human-rights lawyer who had served in a number of capacities in a wealthy Anglican parish and now worships in the United Church of Canada when she is home here in Canada. ‘More and more Anglican culture is showing itself reactive, incapable and irrelevant of addressing & engaging the complexities of contemporary life on this earth- a mockery of Christ’s passion for his creation,’ she wrote in response to the denial of Dr. John’s candidacy.

‘Anglicans to relax rules on church weddings’

‘Learn about Anglican chant with new series’

The meaningless irrelevancy of these last two should be obvious.

In a world which is literally choking on the fruits of Christian imperialist objectification of God’s creation, where thousand die unnecessarily each hour due to the unchristian distribution of creation’s resources; where millions will never know anything by abject poverty; where wars are waged and anonymous bombs are set off daily in the name of the god certain nations and individuals have been taught, where one half of humanity is objectified, exploited, , still forced to live under legalized discrimination to accommodate fearful misogynists, mutilated, violated and publically stoned, the best the Synod of one of the principal and most visible provinces of our Church can do this morning with the Good News of our lord Jesus Christ is ‘Anglicans to relax rules on church weddings’ and ‘Learn about Anglican chant with new series’?

As simplistic as it might sound, I think there’s only one question I’d ask of Rowan this morning:

What would Jesus do- you remember Him- turning the money changers out of the temple- calling the purity police of his times on their impersonations of whitened sepulchres?

Or if that’s just a little too uncomfortably obvious, how about ‘Just what do you think the Holy Spirit might be trying to accomplish –through the message of our empty pews- the persistent radiant presence of our LGBT brothers and sisters in faith- through the repeated dismissal of your impotent objectification of the complexities of contemporary life- your repeated failure to accommodate misogyny and homophobia in our cannons and congregations – and the toxic results complicity in corporate culture and your refusal to prophetically witness to the fruits of imperialistic hubris?

Yes, there is the shining exception of our American brothers and sisters- led by our wondrous sister +Katherine, and forever indebted to the courage and faith of the current Bishop of New Hampshire in answering God’s call to the episcopacy; which essentially resulted in our Church being dragged- kicking and self-righteously screaming in some quarters, into the twentieth century. But the price these two individuals, and countless others have paid and continue to pay is unconscionable and should be an embarrassment to our Church.

And perhaps that’s what saddens me the most this morning- the possibility that in certain quarters these issue might be little more than the contemporary version of debating how many angels can dance on the head of a metaphorical pin. While for the rest of us –the little guys- our faith can literally at times be a matter of life and death, a costly reality. Our faith is not an 'academic matter. Our lives are lives are not a joke for the jousting and idle speculation of purple shirted egos.

Another voice I’ve listened to within the last week- another life-long Anglican told me she doesn’t even want to hear from the Church anymore, whose involvement is reduced to Sunday eight o’clock communion and the generous monthly check she send by mail. ‘I’m beginning to feel like one of those Roman Catholics who live their faith inspite of their Church- inspite of the foolishness over birth control, inspite of the scandals of pedophile priests, inspite of the silly get-ups and obscene excesses seemingly necessary for the Roman rite while millions starve and children die of malnutrition.

And judging by this morning’s offerings of the currently most visible quarter of our Church to the world, I understand exactly what she’s saying.

Rowan the Irrelevant and John the.... (well that one may be only too obvious I’m afraid) you’ve sacrificed the very last suggestion of any confidence in your leadership, in this quarter at least. ‘Official’ though you may be, you leave me feeling something other than Anglican- one of those folks with no option but to live and find their faith in but inspite of the antics of their ‘Official Church.’

We are indeed a people of hope, as one much loved brother reminds me, and all my hope is on the working of the Holy Ghost in this sorry mess, and thankfully She’s not finished with us yet!