Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Leaven in the Lump of Lambeth

Updated Friday

The Reverend Professor Marilyn McCord Adams delivered a lecture with the above title last Saturday. Its subtitle was Spiritual Temptations and Ecclesial Opportunities.

The occasion of this was the LGCM Annual Conference in London.

You can read the text of this at Episcopal Café the new version of Daily Episcopalian.
It is here at Leaven in the lump.

You can also listen to it by downloading a podcast file that is 17 Mbytes (large, but then it took 42 minutes to deliver). That file is here.

Update
My report of the lecture is in Friday’s Church Times at Primates seen as dictatorial.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 1:07pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion
Comments

Prof. Adams in full voice, with all the parrhesia of the Gospel as read in connection with the signs of the times. The Global South have nothing like this to show, shackled as they are by the attitudes she rightly names.

Posted by: Fr Joe O'Leary on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 1:47pm BST

Brilliant!!

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 2:51pm BST

Brilliant - so clearly a different religion to the AC, such a different interpretation on the authority of the bible, a real contribution to the argument for split.

(Tutu comes second to St Paul for me!)

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 5:10pm BST

"a well-laid plan by conservatives to take over the North American churches."

Excellent! The above is something that needs to be noted. This is something widely believed in North America. There is ample evidence for it. Note that it does not say TEC, but "North American churches". There is great suspicion of the right in this regard, and the general idea is that the right, in a more or less coordinated fashion, is attempting to tie the mainline churches up in interminable debates about sticking points like sexuality, thereby weakening their witness against the Republican policies of war and disenfranchisement of the poor. I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but it is good to bring this suspicion to the fore, so it can be addressed.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 6:07pm BST

Prof. McCord Adams's lecture ought to be required reading for the ABC and the pompous Anglican primates before they further disgrace themselves, reducing their primatial gatherings to a "primatial circus". Definitely, as a traditional Anglican, I have no use for a "primatial curia", dominated by the Senior Cardinal of Abuja--his way of the highway!

Posted by: John Henry on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 7:48pm BST

Ford's unease about chicanery in the US is reflected in an article in today's Guardian by Naomi Wolf:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,2063979,00.html

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 9:55pm BST

I loved this passage "...my point is not psychological but theological: homophobia and misogyny are contrary to the Gospel because they imprison everyone in lies about who we... It is not true that anyone has to appear smaller so that someone else can stand up to their full stature in Christ! It is not true that some have to stay in the closet so that others can be true to themselves. God Our Creator knew what God was doing. God calls us each to grow up into our full stature, and God has a way, God is determined to make a way for each and all to do it at once."

There were a lot of other passages I'd love to quote e.g. "Human social institutions are not ends in themselves. Their raison d’etre is to be skillful means, to train us up in ways that will help us as individuals, and human beings together stretch towards our transcendent end of honoring and glorifying God... Because human beings are socially "challenged", human social systems always spawn systemic evils, structures of cruelty that oppress and degrade. The vocation of Godward individuals and communities is to be alert, on the look out to spot them, to point them out and work to uproot them. Since only God can organize utopia, this side of heaven, Christian vocation will always include this prophetic, socially critical thrust. The Church is human as well as Divine, and the human side has always shown an interest in confusing the two."

Actually, this paper is so good, I'm making a permalink to it.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 at 10:56pm BST

Yes that passage was well worded, as highlighted by Cheryl Clough.

Whilst the lecture is right that the international communion thrust was somewhat previous before the reality, it is coming off the rails now, and it is very doubtful that the Anglican Communion agenda will go forward. If Rowan Williams wants Lambeth 2008 to be prayer and Bible study as a way of discernment it won't advance an international agenda as before. We may find that Nigerian bishops decide not to come as nothing will be finally decided there (unless they will try to make a communion agenda again) and if they did decide to stay away that might be progress.

We will see, of course, when 30 September comes and goes. It is a dead deadline.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 1:36am BST

Ford's unease about chicanery in the US is reflected in an article in today's Guardian by Naomi Wolf:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,2063979,00.html

Posted by: Mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 24 April 2007

My thanks for this. Very disturbing. We all need to read it, I think .....

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 25 April 2007 at 10:42am BST

Ford - maybe you are seeing a plan by a minority in TEC to stay in the AC - i.e. by not constantly breaking trust through innovations and then challenging the AC to face schism or accept the innovation.

Maybe some just plan to stay in the AC and be faithful members of it

Posted by: NP on Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 10:07am BST

Laurence, David and all those who can look beyond complacency

These are the big issues.

Do we want to live in a world where there is no refuge from tyranny (we simply choose whether it is an Islamic/Christian or other tyrannical monster)? Or do we want tyranny to be isolated and seen as an unhealthy abherration of a society that has gone amock?

The former means following the trends and allowing posturing males to escalate to ridiculous lengths to prove they can get others to do as much or worse than their competitors.

The latter means recognising that competition for competition's sake can actually become insane and dysfunctional and there needs to be a circuit breaker that egotistical posturing can become harmful. e.g. You can have too many sheep for a closed system's ecosystem. You can have too limited diversity and no genetic buffers against plagues and disasters.

Creating one movement in one religion with an awareness of these issues was too slow to save humanity. What was required was an independent perspective, relevant to all the players, that was capable of saying that this kind of competition/posturing put both the individual and collective groups' needs at risk of survival.

We did not need a new theology, church or philosophy; we needed all the existing theologies and philosphies to realise that they were in a nil sum game and if they did not back down from posturing literally no one was going to win the game. Ironically, in making this realisation and coming to accept what was possible, they would all stop aiming for utopia and be equally rewarded for accepting God's Will in the here and now.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 10:42am BST

NP,
The right hasn't broken trust? I say agreeing not to cross diocesan boundaries and then doing exactly that is breaking trust, so is putting together a plan to take over the Church because of a particular issue, while the process of sorting out that issue is still ongoing is also breaking trust. You need to realize that in TEC this issue is seen in the much wider context of government sponsored subversion of their democracy. Many of the supporters of your position are also inplicated in this wider movement, and are therefor very suspect.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 3:13pm BST

>>>Many of the supporters of your position are also inplicated in this wider movement, and are therefor very suspect.

BINGO!

When the churches leading the secessionist movement count among their parishioners such luminaries as Alberto Gonzales and Karl Rove and draw their funding from the nation's leading radical reactionary sugardaddies, like Richard Mellon Scaife, Howard Ahmanson, and the Coors family, then people have good reason to be suspicious.

In the end, I don't think any of this really has much at all to do with Gene Robinson and what he might be doing with his naughty parts. Sure, the dupes in the pews care about such things, but the big boys know that the name of the game here is silencing the mainline churches so that the only religious voice in America will be that of the so-called "Christian Right."

Posted by: JPM on Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 6:08pm BST

Ford

I empathise. What I am seeing is one group telling the "impure" and "unrepentant" that they have to be good submissive subjects whilst the power brokers set up their empire.

We are to be tokens of no consequence, the same as the starving in Africa are of no consequence, or the victims of irradiated weapons in Iraq are of no consequence.

Stupid souls playing power games to see who can get the most tokens or get them to do the most gross acts to prove their loyalty.

It reminds me of other recreational competitions - Christmas street decorations, stereo units, customised cars, fashion, consumerism.

The problem with these power wars (whether they be institutional or national) is that the tokens are sentient living humans with feelings and a comprehension of what is being done to them.

Surely at some point people need to come awake to the insanity of greed and power lusts that has distorted and repressed not just the odd dissident, but whole continents and genders?

Who is more insane? The one who sees this as insane and hopes for a more just and merciful world? Or the one who sees this as business as usual and hopes to be in the winning clique and stuff all the others? If the latter is sanity, then I would rather be insane.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Thursday, 26 April 2007 at 10:36pm BST

I have doubts about the headlong character of some of Prof. McCord Adams' rhetoric, notably this: "Renouncing society’s right to say who we are and what we mean, frees us for full communion with Our Creator, with that gay men’s chorus, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

I have nothing against gay men's choruses, but the metaphor and its tritheistic aspect are flippant.

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Friday, 27 April 2007 at 4:49am BST

"In the end, I don't think any of this really has much at all to do with Gene Robinson and what he might be doing with his naughty parts. Sure, the dupes in the pews care about such things, but the big boys know that the name of the game here is silencing the mainline churches so that the only religious voice in America will be that of the so-called "Christian Right.""

This reminds me of March 2003 when people darkly whispered that the Iraq War was not about WMDs or democracy but about oil and American hegemony. Conspiracy theorists? But they turned out to be horribly right. And I suspect we will be seeing the frenzy about Bishop Robinson as a similar well-funded right-wing conspiracy, with the vocal secessionist minority as its mostly innocent dupes.

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Friday, 27 April 2007 at 8:59am BST

JPM says "the name of the game here is silencing the mainline churches so that the only religious voice in America will be that of the so-called "Christian Right.""

- you do know that TEC is hardly mainline???

(not to mention, its size)

Posted by: NP on Friday, 27 April 2007 at 11:38am BST

"I have nothing against gay men's choruses, but the metaphor and its tritheistic aspect are flippant."

Amen! I hope little more than a piece of rhetoric meant for effect, else the idea that the Trinity HAS sexuality on any way we would experience it, much less that They "get it on", (and I agree with your comment on tritheism too) makes me doubt her understanding of the basics of the faith. I think it was the former, though, but still a bit much.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 27 April 2007 at 1:48pm BST

I love the image of the gay mens chorus and the joyous Threesome.

Don't be so tight assed you guys !

Ever read the Song of Solomon ?

Lighten up !

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Friday, 27 April 2007 at 3:19pm BST

Ford - when I see the disgraceful if not blasphemous statements on this thread (from others, not you) , I am more convinced than ever that we must stick to the scriptures or people will continue to make God in their own image and lead others to destruction

Posted by: NP on Friday, 27 April 2007 at 4:39pm BST

NP, I agree we must stick to the Scriptures in the sense of revering and obeying the Lord. But St Paul shows us that wresting with Scripture, in search of a larger fidelity, is an exciting and dynamic business. Paul was denounced as a heretic in his time, and those of us who seek a larger scriptural vision on sexuality, overcoming the limitations of ancient homophobic patriarchy, often find ourselves on paths that seem like those of Paul.

Posted by: Fr Joseph O'Leary on Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 4:41am BST

NP, in the American religious context, the word "mainline" hasn't got a thing to do with attendance figures or fundamentalism.

And NP, I will agree to try not to make God in my own image if you will agree to stop trying to make him a Calvinist accountant. Deal?

Fr. Joseph, we have already seen that conspiracy: see http://edow.org/follow/index.html. While the NPs of the world obligingly froth at the mouth every time someone invokes the terrifying prospect of a homo getting within five miles of a church, the people with actual power have much bigger things on their minds.

Posted by: JPM on Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 7:29am BST

"disgraceful if not blasphemous "

? Which ones?

"Don't be so tight assed you guys"
And, Laurence, not being tight assed, just taking exception to what seems to be too much emphasis on the Threeness of God, and the idea that sex is somehow part of the unity of the three hypostases. "And yet there are not three Gods, but one God." I wasn't offended by the sex reference, but it could reasonably be expected to offend some, and I wonder if perhaps that wasn't the point. If so, I understand, appreciate, and have even used the rhetorical ploy, but it is a trifle unseemly, no?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 28 April 2007 at 6:41pm BST

Ford - exactly what you refer to as "unseemly" I think is disgraceful if not blasphemous.

Sad to see this kind of comment on the Trinity

Posted by: NP on Monday, 30 April 2007 at 8:39am BST

Ah, but why, NP? I have all kinds of disagreement with the idea that sex is some sort of a "binder", in some sense, of the hypostases of the Trinity, and with what I see as too much separation of the hypostases. I get the feeling your attitude is more on the lines of a school child taking offense because someone called him gay.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 30 April 2007 at 11:26am BST

Ford I thinkI know a tight ass when I see one --the preacher made no reference to sex that I could see. But others seem to have rushed in and projected on to what she said ! Wonder why ?

But have NP and you read the Song of Songs much these days?

Do you reject the Christian and Jewish mystics' imagery then ?

Isn't God constantly ivolved in all that love making - everywhere ?

btw --remember to breathe from your diaphgm if not lower .... and smile (both spiriual practices of the bod )

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 30 April 2007 at 1:59pm BST

Ford - please - Father and Son to be thought of like that? And the Spirit too? No - not right at all - even in human terms, I would not want to mention you and your father in that way.

Posted by: NP on Tuesday, 1 May 2007 at 11:54am BST

Laurence and NP,
Chill,brothers! Laurence,I have no problem with sex, really, I neither hide it away in the dark where we can do it only if we are suitably ashamed of ourselves for being such beasts, nor do I elevate it to some badge of freedom and enlightenment that all must validate or risk being fitted for jackboots and black shirts. What's wrong with imaging the Trinity as three gay men? Lots. The Trinity is one and three, it puts too much stress on the threeness. To call the Trinity three "men" is to totally misunderstand. Only the Second Person can with any reasonable validity be referred to as "man". Apophatic theology tells us that there comes a point at which all our human understanding breaks down when it comes to God. We must be strict about this, I think, or we end up making God in our own image. It is the "covert Arianism" I see in much Evangelical thought, at least as represented in the dialogue of educated lay people. Witness that NP's attitude is of a son and his father being portrayed "in that way". No engagement at all with the ideas of Trinity, Unity, Incarnation, no it's all a slur because it implies homosexuality and incest. God is just an all powerful man in the sky, to be understood on human terms. Typical Evangelical soullessness! And all that from an off handed comment meant just for rhetorical effect!

Posted by: FordElms on Tuesday, 1 May 2007 at 4:27pm BST
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