Sunday, 9 March 2008

Rebuilding Communion

St Deiniols Library is publishing a book with this title.

The aim of this book is threefold: firstly, to provide a brief Who’s Who and What’s What on the recent history of sexual orientation and Anglicanism; secondly, to give voice to gay and lesbian people from around the Anglican world; thirdly, to reflect on the present crisis and offer new possibilities for learning from areas such as human rights legislation, the African concept of ubuntu and conflict resolution in Bosnia.

Read a fuller description of the book here, and there is a list of contributors.

The Introduction to the book is also online here. It begins:

Dear Bishop,

Thank you for your comments and concerns about the Rebuilding Communion conference and book. Let me reassure you about what we hope to achieve.

No one can deny that homosexuality is a key issue in contemporary Anglicanism; it is one of the causes of the present fracture in the worldwide Communion. St Deiniol’s has a tradition of providing a space for the discussion of issues confronting church and society. On one level, that is all we are doing. I hope we can approach the issue in new ways. For instance, the final section of the book looks at the issue from the perspective of human rights legislation, the African concept of ubuntu, conflict resolution in Bosnia and pastoral need in Canada.

All the contributors to the book are committed Anglicans, not all of us are gay. We all want to see Anglicanism renewed and revived - we are passionate about this. Most of us are Anglicans because we are attracted to its inclusive nature and its careful sifting of scripture, tradition and reason. For many of us, the ‘untidiness’ of the Anglican Communion is part of its attraction. We know that the health of our planet depends on the maintenance of our biodiversity. The same may well be true of Anglicanism. Our tradition is one of expressing faith through the cultures of our people. Consequently, our theology and ethics have often been shaped by pastoral care and concern. In a worldwide Communion, this is bound to lead to diversity and to suppress this diversity is to inflict a high cost on the freedom of the human spirit…

Recently, the library also held a conference related to the book Rebuilding Communion - Who Pays the Price? and you can still read the announcement about it here.

Some reports of the conference, including pictures and even some video, can be found at this blog, starting here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 10:05am GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

I've been keeping a look at this and thought it quite interesting. I'm not sure what the impact will be. I suppose small and steady, to give the side of the story that needs to be made (unfortunately).

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 4:01pm GMT

W E Gladstone would turn in his grave to see his library used like this.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 8:26pm GMT

What an extraordinary remark. Gladstone was a religious radical - all these things are comparative to the time, but a reading of the conference hardly is out of keeping. Friends had a week with John Spong earlier in the week.

I thought it worth a summary entry, if only to balance up the attention given to the other lot.

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 9 March 2008 at 10:38pm GMT

Robt Ian W and Pluralist: Gladstone wasn't just a religious radical, but socially too. His plans for a saner settlement in Ireland were years ahead of his time, much too far ahead for the backward-looking Establishment to countenance. If Gladstone's forward-looking Home Rule plans had not been repeatedly blocked by closed-minded reactionaries, would not Ireland have been spared partition, and would the whole relationship between Britain and Ireland not have been less fraught in the 20th c?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 10:13am GMT

R.I. Williams, it seems, not only has unique insight into the mind of God on non-Christian religions, but also knows the opinions of dead nineteenth-century prime ministers. How useful! While you're communing with the dead, Mr Williams, can you tell me what Pitt the Younger would have made of the Lisbon Treaty, and elucidate Disraeli's views on NATO?

Posted by: MRG on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 2:14pm GMT

God bless St Deiniol's Library for this effort.

Posted by: Davis d'Ambly on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 5:46pm GMT

It's lovely to see some souls actually continuing the listening process.

In the introduction, they raise the proposition that some "...suggest that Anglicans should be discussing more important issues like world poverty, HIV-AIDS, climate change, issues of conflict and justice."

The question of how to handle GLBTs actually weaves into all these other debates. HIV-AIDS is not just a GLBT disease, but they have been scapegoated for it, but the blessing of the disease is providing and auditable trail of just how diverse human sexuality actually is.

Poverty, conflict and justice are amplified when we look at how GLBTs are treated, just as they were when Jesus looked at how lepers were treated in their time.

Climate change is the consequence of ostrich-in-the-sand complacency and dodging responsbility, which is also why poverty, AIDS, conflicts and injustices were so out of hand.

Let's not forget that the TEC were at the forefront of adopting the Millenium Development Goals. Rowan himself has said that some of them only adopted them to buy votes.

A theology that accepts and embraces diversity brings with it the faith and courage to take on the hard issues. Whether that is GLBTs, AIDS, climate change, poverty, conflict or justice.

Look at the track record of those who have dodged the GLBT issue, look at how they have dodged properly handling and talking to their neighbors (whether they be Jew, Muslim, or other). Look at how they have dodged sustainable economic management, and have actively participated in tyranny and complacency teaching. Look at how they have refused grace and forgiveness to souls, up to and including Eve.

GLBTs might not be the biggest issue in town, but it is woven through all the other issues.

This planet is not going to be healed by avoiding the knots, nor by only extracting one strand, nor by making it that only one camp must get it all right. It's going to take all our cooperation - reducing pressure so you can wiggle the knots loose, partially pulling out some threads and leaving their minor knots in place whilst you work on the bigger knot that blocks the weaving.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 6:07pm GMT

Gladstone was a political realist and reformer, but he was also a devout Christian High Churchman, who spoke firmly against divorce. He had a strong conviction of sin , and would be appalled at liberal theology. In fact if he had seen what has unfurled in Anglicansim , i think he would have converted to Roman Catholicism.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 6:36pm GMT

I wonder if one of you could please recommend one or two books, to begin dipping into Gladstone ? Thanks

Posted by: L Roberts on Monday, 10 March 2008 at 7:41pm GMT

RIW: how the heck does this

"Gladstone was a political realist and reformer, but he was also a devout Christian High Churchman, who spoke firmly against divorce. He had a strong conviction of sin"

equate to THIS??? :-0

"[Gladstone] would be appalled at liberal theology. In fact if he had seen what has unfurled in Anglicansim , i think he would have converted to Roman Catholicism."

Respectfully, I believe Gladstone would think such an equation is NUTS! ;-/

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 12:14am GMT

By the way, the big news is now that Gene Robinson's non-invitation is final. I can imagine the joy over at the other places.

Posted by: Ren Aguila on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 11:05am GMT

L Roberts: Roy Jenkins' biography is pretty exhaustive.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 1:05pm GMT

It's a little bizarre that anyone would convert from Anglicanism to Catholicism with its different views of papal authority, the magisterium, the nature of the sacraments, grace, sin and redemption and the nature and role of Mary and the Saints, just to get away from openly gay people.

But people do bizarre things.

Posted by: toujoursdan on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 1:06pm GMT

L Roberts - Roy Jenkins' biography of Gladstone is excellent, and very readable.

Posted by: Graham Ward on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 2:53pm GMT

Gladstone had been evangelical as a young man, but was disillusioned after visting the Waldensaians,as he could not see historical continuity. He became a high churchman. He valued the sacraments and had a belief in Holy order.Despite his political liberalism, he would not tolerate theological liberalism that undermined his belief in the Catholicity of Anglicanism.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Tuesday, 11 March 2008 at 8:57pm GMT

+Gene does this???

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 6:32am GMT

Robt Ian W: where you and I differ, I think, is that I believe that a catholicism which is realistic about gay people in the Church is actually in line with the spirit of the Oxford Movement. The thing that always strikes me about the Oxford Movement fathers, who were so close to Gladstone, is that they were unashamed to meet the intellectual challenges of their day head-on. They didn't at all go in for the kind of issue-avoidance which is the chief characteristic of the Con Evo side of the current gay debate. Newman, Keble and many others of the Oxford Movement's first generations would have been recognised as gay today (though I realise I am being anachronistic in applying the term - Geoffrey Faber did as much, though, in "Oxford Apostles" in the 1950s, if I recall correctly). I have no doubt that, had they lived in my generation, their searing intellectual honesty would have led them to deal with the articulation of sexuality in a non-avoidant way consonant with catholic principles, and yet most appropriate (and therefore attractive) for today's society, viz the position I believe I hold.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 8:58am GMT

If I might interject, while it is anachronistic to speculate about what the position of persons of earlier historical eras might be to contemporary issues, it seems prudent to point out that, after reflection, frequently people change their minds (Gladstone certainly did) and that not all leaders of the Oxford Movement agreed about everything (obviously).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 11:12am GMT

The thing that always strikes me about the Oxford Movement fathers, who were so close to Gladstone, is that they were unashamed to meet the intellectual challenges of their day head-on. They didn't at all go in for the kind of issue-avoidance which is the chief characteristic of the Con Evo side of the current gay debate. Newman, Keble and many others of the Oxford Movement's first generations would have been recognised as gay today (though I realise I am being anachronistic in applying the term - Geoffrey Faber did as much, though, in "Oxford Apostles" in the 1950s, if I recall correctly). I have no doubt that, had they lived in my generation, their searing intellectual honesty would have led them to deal with the articulation of sexuality in a non-avoidant way consonant with catholic principles, and yet most appropriate (and therefore attractive) for today's society, viz the position I believe I hold.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 8:58am GMT

I find this striking and moving. Thank you. I have ill with a virus for some weeks and have recently been using this involuntary immobilisation to re-read Michael Ramsey and his biography. It has been a good and salutary experience for me in a needy time.

I must turn again to Newman, Keble and the others.

Perhaps we could all do with the prayers, as as well the teaching,of Michael Ramsey and the others at this terrible time for the anglican communion ?

Thanks too for the recommendations for the Gladstone biography -- the Jenkins it is. Much obliged.


Posted by: L Roberts on Wednesday, 12 March 2008 at 8:16pm GMT

The ultimate issue is authority. Did Christ found a visible church under the leadership of Peter. That is why evangelicals are nearer to liberals, and in fact they opened the door to female ordination and divorce.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Friday, 14 March 2008 at 7:22am GMT

The first question would be: Human authority?

And the answer By no means.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 16 March 2008 at 7:48am GMT

Robt Ian Williams: yes, you're right about authority. I think you pays your money and you takes your choice. If the RC claim to absolute authority does the bizz for you, then you have to try to live within that framework. But to be an Anglican and yet also to try to claim RC authoritarianism is just counter to the natural order, to coin a phrase!

Posted by: Fr Mark on Sunday, 16 March 2008 at 6:08pm GMT
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