Comments: Misguided and missing the point

Exactly! You won't solve anything by not meeting and/or not discussing. The rationale of some of those who are wondering whether to attend is, however, different: namely, there has already been a great deal of meeting and discussing. Proportionally (and financially) probably a great deal too much.

Bp of Ripon is right that those who convene should not merely 'celebrate' but discuss and pass motions.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 12:10pm GMT

My, how times have changed. We no longer tolerate any sniff of disagreement as unity has come to mean sameness. If we're not the same we'll refuse to sit down and talk or even, in a classic confounding and rejection of the power and meaning of sacrament, take communion together. The Protestant, as in "protest-ant", star must be ascendant.

Posted by Aaron Orear at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 1:38pm GMT

As part of the Bishop's Course taken locally, we were reminded yesterday that there is no agreement in the understanding or even having baptism and eucharist among Christians, and ministry varies.

Even within the Anglican Communion and within the Churches there are wide varieties of understanding. There is now interpretation that includes same sex blessings and a fully inclusive ministry. There cannot be a one for all Lambeth resolution, and such carries no directive authority anyway. My only disagreement with the above is how a Covenant is supposed to be about providing support one Church to another. That is more physical and practical, through agreements and actions.

Posted by Pluralist at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 2:28pm GMT

Christopher:

Have the conservative and liberal wings of Anglicanism nothing in common? Is there not enough unity in Christ among us for us to sit at the same table and enjoy the fellowship of our communion (small c and capital c)? We have differences about doctrine, interpretation, liturgy--we have always had those differences. Like the poor, they will always be with us.

Why is it that this one difference--not about the nature of God, or Christ, or salvation, but about human sexuality--must rend the communion?

I (and those who think as I do) am more than willing to sit with those who think otherwise--and share the sacraments with them. While I do not agree with them, I can see that their positions are honestly held (for the most part). Why can they not see that mine are, as well, and be willing to sit with me?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 2:36pm GMT

As Paul the apostle, wrote:

Don't give up meeting together regularly (as some have done).

Jesus is recorded as encouraging the meeting of two or three in his name. (Was he wary of the debilitating and paranoia inducing effects of large group dynamics ?).

I wonder if 'in my name' may mean, in the radical tradition of listening and spiritual hospitality he initated. Meeting with his ethos,in a small group, it becomes harder to call my brother or sister, "Raca".

Meet dear bishops in the spirit of Jesus ....

Posted by L Roberts at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 2:39pm GMT

Now, could someone please explain to me again how one who refuses to go to a meeting if anyone at the meeting disagrees with him, and refuses to attend the eucharist if any one attending the wucharist disagrees with him ISN'T a schismatic?

Posted by Malcolm+ at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 3:49pm GMT

Definitely one of the good guys.

But I think the time has come when they (liberal CofE bishops) have to get off the fence and start speaking out clearly and firmly in support of TEC and the liberal cause.

I hope this is a beginning.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 4:01pm GMT

The bishop's talk is as good a start as any, on reminding ourselves of what it means to follow Jesus of Nazareth as Risen Lord, across a variety of global differences, and by living together as honestly as we can manage given our hot button Anglican differences.

Thereby we model peace, a fruit of the Holy Spirit. We still have good hope as we seek to grow out of self-righteousness, glimpsing how God is working through others of very different cultural and worldwide Anglican church life.

The moment with the Bretheren visiting the bishop reminds me greatly of the USA Bible Belt, and so also of the current conservative realignment campaign - minus, sadly, the carefulness and intentional Bretheren efforts to leave space for others to pray even when they are prohibited from joining in prayer because those others are not conformed to their strict confessions.

Conservative Anglican campaigners may: Withdraw, secede, criticize, judge, condemn, threaten, say all manner of terrible things about all sorts of different people - we will still all, be right here, on a functionally shrinking and imperiled small planet - together, including all of our differences, cultural and religious.

None of our hot button controversies can actually be resolved by our strictly adopting a so-called biblical conservative presuppositional world view, because this world view simply refuses to admit that it is an intentional and self-serving heremeneutic of quite modern vintage, designed mainly to make de-legitimizing hot button Anglican differences the right and possible thing to do among believers.

PS. Do Anglicans still have to strictly believe that Moses wrote the Pentateuch? What happened to that litmus test for reading scripture?

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 4:10pm GMT

"We shall only grow in Christ if we are prepared to listen to one another and learn from one another."

OK, I missed the "pass motions" bit -- not that I am against "mind of the house" motions -- they just are legislation -- never have been -- only will be if the puritans seize control of meetings (so they can exclude the impure, as they have always delighted in doing). Archbishop Whitgift was right about them.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 4:57pm GMT

Pat,

I identify with much of what you say. The crux is much of what the bishop says is past the point of where we are now. In essence you say can we not converse? Yes on this matter we have talked now, what is it - three decades or more? Tough as the conversation was at Lambeth '98 something was affirmed together. Who walked away from that conversation in direct violation of agreement and the commitment of trust? Now when things are falling apart the cry goes up from those very people, "Let's talk."

What about all the conversations even since 2003? (e.g. Windsor, Covenant formation, Dar S, House of Bishops '07 etc). When the invitation appears to be a way to co-opt those who stand with what was last agreed (Lambeth '98 1:10), are we surprised that people look at this invitation twice? If there is to be talk it will need to take account of this with some clear terms and not simply "make nice."

The bishop refers now, after all this, to those who look for a "perfect church." Hardly! That has never been the issue; but can we have a church that keeps faith - faith with agreements made in communion, faith with historic confession and scripture as decisive and authoritative. The issue is not "perfect church" but the possiblity of "psuedo-church" (in the words of Bonhoeffer).

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 6:38pm GMT

"The debate we face now is often represented as a debate over scripture. I do not believe that is true."

The debate we face now is often represented as a search for the perfect church. I do not believe that is true.

But perceptions matter - on all sides - and we should not be content with proving ourselves right in our own eyes. As for the question at hand (to attend or not to attend), meetings are important because they can help to clarify such matters. They allow some to ask "what makes you think we are in search for the perfect church?" and others "what makes you think we are happy to ordain things contrary to God's Word written?" At the same time, portraying "the others" in ways which they do not recognize does not make meetings more attractive. What's the point of conversing with each other, if no-one is listening? While I grieve over the prospect of non-attendance, I think the Bishop would have been more winsome, if he had shown himself a better listener.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 7:33pm GMT

"Bp of Ripon is right that those who convene should not merely 'celebrate' but discuss and pass motions."

This sentence actually gives a lot of cultural insight. It says that it is not enough to get together to enjoy each others' company, to share stories, and gain wisdom from each others' experiences. It states that the purpose of convening is to discuss and pass motions.

This highlights a major problem in the fast-paced, outcome-oriented, performance-driven global economics and associated theological, philosophical and sociological paradigms and practices. Namely, that everything has become "results" oriented and that everything has become a competition.

It is not enough to gather to share experiences from 38 provinces of a 77 million Anglican communion. Players have to be able to tout their influence over that communion and present it as a marketable package that brings privileges and assurances to the authorities in the local nations.

This is a corruption of the worst kind. Using meetings to demand "enrolment" to the majority paradigm or covenant by its very nature is demanding that the minorities surrender their experiences and wisdom "for the greater good".

Personally, I prefer to see the diversity that enables leaders such as The Rev. Canon Benjamin Twinamaani or Dr Jenny Te Paa to develop and then bring their flavour of Christianity to the broader communion. I don't have a problem with their being misogynistic homophobic Christians (God knows we can never get rid of all of them), but I do have a problem with them passing motions to gag or expel that which is an anethama to their restrictive selves.

The other thing to remember is that in some cultures souls who only show up to pass resolutions, gather tithes or demonstrate their authority are known as "users" or "plunderers", their relationships are seen as selfish and mercenary and their supposed charm a veneer over fundamentally selfish machevellian motivations.

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 7:40pm GMT

The problem with listening processes is that at the end of the listening, there is still disagreement.

And neither side can be really expected to go against what they feel to be right.

Thus, the question is - given the disagreement, can the two sides co-exist or not, accepting that the other side will continue with practices and beliefs they disagree with?

Conservatives - and ONLY conservatives - insist that liberals must change and fall into line. That isn't going to happen. The problem is that conservatives cannot handle diversity because it flies in the face of their (in my view, mistaken) beliefs about the authority of the humanly-produced bible, and the existence of religion as revealed truth rather than socially constructed

Liberals do not believe that 'scripture' ( the evangelical mane for the bible) is either decisive nor authoritative. Some of it is simply wrong. It is full of contradictions. It needs to be read with a need to revise and interpret in the light of new knowledge and awareness of cultural limitation.

Conservatives could not sign up to any of that. This is the core of the problem - the basic belief systems are really very different. That won't be changing.

Posted by Merseymike at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 11:10pm GMT

Ben:

The problem is that--at least for what I must call (for brevity's sake) "the other side"--they did a lot of "talking" but not a whole lot of listening. They only heard "contradiction" of Scripture...and not the heartfelt belief that, for 2000 years, we have misread the meaning of God's word, because we didn't have the human understanding of God's creation we have now.

Further, if we are truly brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be able to share that sibling relationship even in the presence of our differences. I don't agree with my brother and sister on everything--not even religion--but I remain a member of the family, as they do. We sit at the table and share the things we DO agree on. Why can't the liberal and conservative wings of Anglicanism do the same?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 4 December 2007 at 11:27pm GMT

Hmm, ´Machevellian motives'....

Since a letter from this good Bishop is hardly likely to be received by the orthodox Global South Bishops as a positive encouragement to attend Lambeth I wondered, sceptically, whether he really wants them to turn up - putting the conservatives in the usual vast, and growing, majority - or whether this is a subtle attempt to harden the GS's resolve not to attend...

They should, of course, come. If they come it is their Communion; if they don't it will belong to TEC and their like. Attending would also make it pretty embarrasing, if TEC's 98 1.10 defiers are allowed to come; there might well be more attendees at the Global South's alternative services than at the official communion services!

On the other hand, if they don't come, I wonder whether a new 'positive' resolution on homosexuality might not suddenly appear?

Posted by David Wh. at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 12:21am GMT

ps Simon, I think that Mark Wh and another contributor adequately answered your challenegs to give examples of TEC's persecution of the orthodox etc.
I was suprised you weren't aware of what liberals have been doing to orthodox Christians in TEC who can't agree that gay sex is good.

Posted by David Wh. at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 12:24am GMT

Ben
I agree with Pat.
And if I may get personal for a moment, this not really listening includes you too.
A week or so ago I posted a brief description of my own relationship with my partner here. Ford later asked you to comment on what that description signified for you and whether what I am describing can rightfully be called Sin, and if not, what it can be called.
You did not engage with Ford at all, moved the conversation to a different point and later closed it.

I have such a strong sense of people "hearing" but not "listening". They hear the words, they instinctively don't like what they hear so they don't think about it deeply, and a few days later find themselves safely back on another TA thread simply repeating their traditional arguments.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 9:11am GMT

" If they come it is their Communion; if they don't it will belong to TEC and their like"

No chance that it could be "our" Communion then? It's all nothing but a power game? No genuine attempt to discern where God might be guiding his church? No genuine attempt at respecting the other's viewpoints?

OK, so I presume your reality is:
If the conservatives turn up and reaffirm their hostility to same gender love we're all expected to treat the resolutions as gospel truths.

But if they don't turn up and the resulting statements are a little bit more positive on homosexuality, you would reject them outright because they were made "only" by those you don't agree with.

And then we wonder why the majority of people don't want to have anything to do with the church!

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 9:49am GMT

I fully support the action of the orthodox Bishops to decide not to attend the Lambeth conference; if they cannot share the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when they attend, why should they go? We ALL know if we are honest that regardless of how many orthodox Bishops attend, the traditionalists will always be heard but never listened to. There are two types of Christianity being played here and I for one am in full support of the Traditional Universal catholic teaching that we should ALL be adhering to. On a different matter, I have only recently found this site but I have heard allot of talk about inclusion. In my experience “inclusivity” usually ends up with those calling for inclusion only wanting those with whom they agree to be included! This then is the most exclusive form of Church!

Posted by Mark Wharton at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 10:07am GMT

David Wh
No, I don't think so at all, but please, let's keep that discussion on the other thread, not here.
Simon

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 10:30am GMT

Mark Wharton

Then why are anglo-catholic parishes, where you get the holy sacrifice, usually like gay clubs of the 50s and 60s then ?

Posted by L Roberts at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 10:39am GMT

In my experience “inclusivity” usually ends up with those calling for inclusion only wanting those with whom they agree to be included! This then is the most exclusive form of Church!"

Can you provide any evidence for that please?

Stay around here for a bit and judge us after you've actually had a few proper conversations with us.
I don't know where your experience comes from but I for one am very happy to live side by side with all those who would kick me out of their church.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 10:57am GMT

Mark Wharton:

Do you ever read without your own prismatic glasses on? Many here--including myself and Erika--have clearly said we have no interest in excluding those who disagree with us. We welcome them as brothers and sisters in Christ...the differences we have with them are not sufficient to turn them away from the table (figuratively and literally).

The choice to leave is theirs, not ours.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 12:03pm GMT

One of the great vexations of our current realignment is the either/or manner in which so much of the realignment gets pitched to the rest of us.

It is completely right; we are completely wrong. It is completely faithful – we are said to be completely unfaithful. We are said to even be, not even interested in being faithful. A great touchstone of our vexed liberal status repeatedly comes to mind as we listen. We ask too many questions.

All hot button domains of modern life get pitched ahead of time, in inadequate and strikingly self-serving forms: as black/white, as good/evil, as ethical/unethical, as in/out, as up/down.

Agree with my conservative way, or hit the road, bud.

One big reason the realignment bishops face such a dilemma about attending the next Lambeth?

Canterbury has said it is for prayer and fellowship - so Akinola calls it nothing more than a jamboree of dirty thinking people who do not know their knee from their elbow when it comes to following Jesus of Nazareth. This is code for: I will not pray, nor praise God, nor come to the Lord's Table with anybody whose hot buttons are not pretty much aligned with my own hot buttons.

Another difficulty? No matter what resolutions the next Lambeth might pass - as mind of the conference reports - they would not resolve our differences. The best thing I could hope for from the next Lambeth would involve a clear reaffirmation of historic Anglican leeway. For the rest, let us differ, and let Jesus be Risen Lord.

If your conscience is strict and tends towards simple, clear ethical distinctions, well follow it. Nobody wishes to deny you that responsibility. You can try to stay away from any and all grey areas, if you think you can do so in your daily life. If a conservative believer cannot tell the difference between, say, a life partnered and parenting queer couple down the street, and, say, John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer - well the rest of us as global nieghbors still may, know the key differences.

This conservative realignment valence has hardly anything to do with traditional Anglican tones – plural, welcoming, engaged with the human body and with the hurting world - as these historically are.

Where is the Anglican generosity towards warring church life factions? Towards warring factions in global culture? Where is the almost maddening historic Anglican abilities to see all six sides of controversial matters? Where is the dispersed institutional notions of typical Anglican authority? Where is the frustrating Anglican open-endedness? Where is any familiar Anglican species fruit of the Holy Spirit being manifested in the realignment campaigning?

Posted by drdanfee at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 3:49pm GMT

"he choice to leave is theirs, not ours"
If a situation is created whereby the teaching of the universal church is prohibited, the catholic anglicans have no alternative but to seek to build a church upon universal catholic teaching somewhere else!
I would also ask if Pat O'Neill and Erika Baker are in favour of structured provision i.e. a free province for those who seek to maintain universal catholic teaching?

“Then why are Anglo-catholic parishes, where you get the holy sacrifice, usually like gay clubs of the 50s and 60s then"
I have never worshipped in an Anglo-Catholic church that resembles at 50's and 60's gay club!
Perhaps if you visited some FIF Parishes you would see an awful lot has changed!
The nature of the Universal Catholic Church is indeed INCLUSION, but this does not and should not equate to “do what you like” and “There is no such thing as sin”. The Universal church is about correcting sin and wrong and not about condoning it!

Posted by mark wharton at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 4:08pm GMT

Erika,

I want to answer you directly here, but in part with reference to what I said to you on the Calvery to Lambeth thread, because the conversation overlaps. We may have to raise the issue of listening to each other from time to time. We could begin to go in circles on this; a person may have listened to this carefully before, sometimes to the same person. And none of us has unlimited time; as I believe you agree this goes both ways.

I have not commented on your situation, as Ford suggested earlier I do, because for one I do not know you or your situation. I think the question of historic Christian identity and respecting that identity is critical. Does not mean there is no appropriate conversation on various matters all the way from episcopasy to baptism to polygamy etc.

So we agree that we do not simply close the conversation down; can we also agree on respect for those who hold to historic Chritian identity and teaching on this (recognizing that there are things to be worked out both ways)?

I reflect on the earlier thread as it unfolded. I had little indication that I was heard. Much of the response was simply misunderstanding sometimes misrepresentation. It is important to hear you say, "I would like to stress that on the whole we do not expect the church simply to accommodate our views." The difficulty, as we have seen here on this thread itself, is how a person like ab Carey is first misinterpreted and then reviled(should I say denigrated?)when he seeks to affirm in open conversation the historic Christian teaching in accord with the line of scripture on this. That hardly makes for a church listening and working together!

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 4:22pm GMT

Erika Baker:
The call for a single-clause measure with regard to women Bishops in England; yes it may be an attempt to secure no stings attached ministry for women Bishops, but it is also an attempt to remove catholic Anglicans from the CofE. If a single clause measure is approved then we will have no choice but to go.

Posted by mark wharton at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 4:25pm GMT

Mark, as I said in another thread, that liberals are good at the talking and not necessarily doing "inclusivity". God forbid if you don't agree with them during a "lovefest"/"trendfest" as I like to call our local diocesan conventions.

But at the same time, refusing and agreeing with refusing to attend anything in the leadership capacity of the church (including Lambeth) is a ticket to automatically being ignored and marginalized.

Learn from the LGBT (at least of us that are honest about it) experience in the church. We refused to be marginalized and openly participated in the inner workings of our parishes/dioceses/provinces.

There is an Anglo-Catholic parish that split off over the female priest issue twenty years ago in my metro area. Although they have a proportionately large endowment, they are struggling numerically. Sadly, they are on the verge of closing. Do you want this?

If you want to included, you've got to be able to prove it yourself! Remember, it's a two-way street!

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 4:26pm GMT

Pat,

I think conversation has been hard at times in large part because of preconceptions on both sides. Before we ask a lot of fresh questions I think it is important to hear and attend to those that have already been asked. What I don't see you facing, if we want to understand where we are now, is what I asked, "Tough as the conversation was at Lambeth '98 something was affirmed together. Who walked away from that conversation in direct violation of agreement and the commitment of trust?"

We do after all think and determine with reference to some authority or other. If it is not centered in Jesus Christ in the context of scripture and Christian teaching as a whole, it will be something else. What is that "something else?" For you it seems what is final and above historic Christian teaching is "the human understanding of God's creation we have now."

The critical issue here is simply assumed. If we want to affirm that than we need to evaluate it. How is this derived and what is it that trumps scripture? You well know that, whether it comes to origins or the development of human sexuality, these theories are a dime dozen. You also know that science within a recognition of its limits (apart from an "idelogical version" - of the Dawkins type - leaves this open).

So there is a place and a need to talk, but in light of the actual history on this, in the real world this now is possible only within some clear terms.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 5:50pm GMT

One of the strengths of the local church is that it has people of difference in it. You cannot reduce or minimise the differences. I went to a prayer meeting, ecumenical, and through increasingly gritted teeth sang some Graham Kendrick songs, wrongly given the title hymns (in my opinion). I did not sing a chorus attached to one, and had a verse obviously difficult to rhyme and ended in the line "thing" - which reminded me of a rising hand, somehow. One participant went on and on and on with a prayer that sounded like a one woman recruitment drive.

Yet the leader of the group, who provided the content and structure, who is an astonishingly warm and pleasant individual, of the church, was kind enough to say afterwards that it was not what I was expecting - I just thought it would be the evening eucharist, but not on the first Tuesday of every month. It is typical of me to turn up and find something isn't as expected - I hardly read calendars and notice sheets.

I did contribute a prayer, but it was one about hoping people find discernment, can use the season to think again in a holistic sense, and get through the all too evident clutter. I made no appeal to any deity of any kind. One participant made a contribution on more Catholic lines too.

I just will remember in future not to go too often at that time of the month - it hasn't been a usual attendance but can be on the way to my night out at the pub, and can save petrol therefore if I've no real reason to go out early on a Wednesday.

The fact is that this just can't be swallowed whole, and I might say that I understand the woman that made this on and on evangelical prayer came from a church that is, well, not exactly healthy in numbers or age distribution.

It is a divided religious world, and that's the way it is, and it is becoming ecumenical within the same Church. Nevertheless everyone has a right to be there, and should expect proper provision, and should be able to provide and participate. And I say this fully aware of my own borderline position where some would say that right and any provision should stop before it reaches me.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 6:19pm GMT

Erika earlier reminded us of another thread where direct questions were asked of some but, as she commented: "You did not engage with Ford at all, moved the conversation to a different point and later closed it."

I've actually watched a number of such threads over the last few weeks on TA. It's a pity we're not in the same room playing poker, that way when we say "bluff" they really have to show their cards rather than emitting another smoke screen and dissembling into another tangent.

Mark wrote "If a situation is created whereby the teaching of the universal church is prohibited, the catholic anglicans have no alternative but to seek to build a church upon universal catholic teaching somewhere else!"

There are some who purport that the "teaching of the universal church" might be prohibited. I think that is another example of overstating one's case, claiming to repesent more than one is entitled and claiming signatories who have not actually fully read, nor understood nor signed "universal teachings".

Not all Christians have universal anathema against females heralding, teaching or witnessing. Jesus certainly didn't have a problem with women and elevated the most despised as best examples of implementing faith honestly and purely.

Not all Christians believe that the priestly scribes and teachers of the law are the gatekeepers to the Torah or manfesting God's grace and authority on earth. Jesus and the Torah both demonstrate complete contempt for such self-aggrandisement, especially when collusively done by priestly castes.

Not all Christians believe that we must be saved by works, or correct thinking, or correct membership. Some of us actually think that God unilaterally offered grace to all humanity through Jesus, and that grace came from the moment of his birth, and was thus not dependent even on Jesus' own teachings.

Not all Christians believe that God failed or that God is unjust and has not taken steps to bring all humanity into a positive relationship with God, irregardless of their relationship with the scribes' teachings.

Many Christians believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of the messianic requirements of the Torah, and that priestly corruptions that ignore or dispute Torah exhortations prove they have a disrespect for God and no longer worship what Jesus reveres e.g. they refute the everlasting covenant of peace was meant to be applied on this planet or for all its living occupants.

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 7:42pm GMT

I admire the way you engage with different individauls, groups and theologies Pluralist. I hope your generosity will inspire many.

Posted by L Roberts at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 7:49pm GMT

The issue of Anglicans listening to Lambeth 1.10 continually comes up as a hot point.

But do we listen, legalistically?

Is the resolution quite like a court ruling, come down from the bishops at that 1998 Lambeth, as it were? So the matter is indeed - closed, settled?

If we still have pressing citizenship or church life questions, are they invisible or silent until/unless our questions can be strictly posed, only inside the 1998 Lambeth resolution frame?

This alleged Lambeth traditional rule is how way too many conservative realignment Anglicans like to define and set up the fundamental dilemma or choice, for all the rest of us in Anglican church life.

So we ask ourselves: What else would there conceivably be to hear in that Lambeth of 1998, that could conceivably matter to us?

Well, for one thing, we might attend to three matters of context, which speak loud and clear to the rest of us?

One. A sizeable portion of 1998 Lambeth bishops - reports suggest about one-third? - immediately dissented from hearing the resolution as church law, de facto and de jure. This alone would tell us something else was up, if we bothered to listen.

Two. All of us know that this particular Lambeth resolution was policitized and weaponized, as a conservative barrier against changing our believer minds. That is still how it is mainly being used, again on the conservative Anglican sides of our discussions. Thus, we can accurately hear it - as a rush to conservative judgment, intended to pre-empt changes in our thinking. Yet the real working group of bishops that had devoted hours to sexuality issues accurately concluded that a sea change in our modern understandings of sexuality was going on, and that even quite traditional people were noticing this or that aspect of the changes happening, even if traditional views were still widespread.

That is to say, we can hear just as much of a change message when we listen to 1998’s Lambeth, as we can hear a no change message. Even many conservatives hear, clearly, nowadays: Putting queer folks in jail because they are not straight is silly, and mean.

Three. In any case, all of us can surely see – 1998’s resolution hardly resolved anything for us. Hearing the resolution from 2007, we can hear it’s closed self-righteousness, its confidence in its own traditional heterosexual/male privileges to rule. So – no thanks.

Posted by drdanfee at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 8:22pm GMT

""he choice to leave is theirs, not ours"
If a situation is created whereby the teaching of the universal church is prohibited, the catholic anglicans have no alternative but to seek to build a church upon universal catholic teaching somewhere else!
I would also ask if Pat O'Neill and Erika Baker are in favour of structured provision i.e. a free province for those who seek to maintain universal catholic teaching?"

Who's prohibiting anything on the liberal side? Has anyone said you CAN'T teach that homosexuality is sinful? No, we have simply said that some of us see it differently and will teach it a different way. In my view, it is YOUR side that keeps prohibiting things.

"The Universal church is about correcting sin and wrong and not about condoning it!"

And I here I thought Christ died to forgive our sins. Silly me.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 9:39pm GMT

Ben, you wrote:

"We do after all think and determine with reference to some authority or other. If it is not centered in Jesus Christ in the context of scripture and Christian teaching as a whole, it will be something else. What is that "something else?" For you it seems what is final and above historic Christian teaching is "the human understanding of God's creation we have now.""

Anglican thought has always had three parts--scripture, tradition and reason. Reason, to me, includes the human understanding of God's creation...and that, thanks to science, is constantly changing, improving, becoming more aware. I consider this a good thing, as any deeper understanding of God's creation brings us closer to God.

I cannot separate my knowledge of science from my faith. If scripture and historic teaching contradict scientific knowledge, then we must admit that scripture and teaching--having been written and taught before current knowledge--are, if not incorrect, at least misunderstood.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 5 December 2007 at 9:46pm GMT

what is it that trumps scripture?

I see. So there might be a few scientific aces of hearts, the tens and kings of biblical criticism of clubs, the aces of experience in spades, but when twos or threes of diamonds are played of a literalist reading of scripture, whether said by St Paul (usually it is something to do with the early churches), or someone who wrote it like they thought he would think, then those low diamonds win the game.

Well in my game, diamonds are not trumps, and there are no privileged suits.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 3:11am GMT

Ben W wrote: “Tough as the conversation was at Lambeth '98 something was affirmed together. Who walked away from that conversation in direct violation of agreement and the commitment of trust?”

“Something was affirmed together”?

Dear Ben W, I would suggest this is being disputed. Lambeth 1998 was an internationally recognized failure in leadership (there were other churches there, remember), a scandal and an outrage.

Why do you call it “a conversation”?

“in direct violation of agreement and the commitment of trust”? I would beg you not to use a language of violence, if you want to be thought of as engaging in serious conversation with Christian siblings whom you respect and affirm.

“Framing the Debate” in too obvious ways is bad form (and gives a bad impression).

Whatever the 15 Lambeth 1998 resolutions under rubric I. represent (incl. I.10 on Human sexuality), they are not a “commitment of trust”. Actually, I doubt they represent commitment of any sort, having been honoured only in the breach. Actually, I cannot remember the last time any of the other 14 was even mentioned.

I don’t know anything of the previous Lambeths (though the Polygamy resolution sounds very fishy to me), that was before my time, but meeting wise Lambeth 1998 was a scandal and an outrage. That it was allowed to happen at all can only be blamed on the well documented (think Hansard) homophobia of the Chair (remember that you are on record in theses threads as having denied that several times CLAIMING that ++Carey is a defender of Human rights for homosexual persons; something he himself rejected in his latest BBC appearance).

It should not have been.

My bishop spoke to me upon return from Lambeth. “Tough” was not the one of the words he used.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 9:02am GMT

Ben W wrote: “We do after all think and determine with reference to some authority or other. If it is not centred in Jesus Christ in the context of scripture and Christian teaching as a whole, it will be something else. What is that "something else?"

What, pray, makes you think that people who believe the standing of lesbians and gays in the Congregation is a Gospel issue for today (just as the standing of Slaves and Women in the Congregation has been a Gospel issue in the past) are “not centred in Jesus Christ in the context of scripture and Christian teaching as a whole”?

How do you reach the conclusion that it is “something else”?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 9:03am GMT

Cheryl Clough wrote: “ .. reminded us of another thread, where direct questions were asked of some but, as she commented: "You did not engage .. at all, moved the conversation to a different point and later closed it."

Cheryl Clough commented: I've actually watched a number of such threads over the last few weeks on TA. It's a pity we're not in the same room playing poker, that way when we say "bluff" they really have to show their cards rather than emitting another smoke screen and dissembling into another tangent.“

Trouble seems to be, that for some this is about the Gospel, and for some it's just parlour games.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 9:03am GMT

Ben,
I seem to have responded to your post here on the Calvary to Lambeth thread, getting a bit muddled about the way the conversation has developed on both. Apologies!

"can we also agree on respect for those who hold to historic Christian identity and teaching on this (recognizing that there are things to be worked out both ways)?"

Yes, I have no problem with that. I never have had, as it happens. And I truly respect those who have wrestled with this issue but honestly feel they cannot change their thinking.

My problem lies with those who don't appear to have listened and thought, and from whom I don't on the whole sense much respect for my life and my experience of God and the resulting theology.

The strategy employed is always the same - ignore the emotions, the personal story and the direct questions, but retreat for a while, then bounce back with merely abstract pronouncements on what is right or wrong.

All I have ever wanted was agreeing to disagree while still being able to kneel side by side at the altar.
It IS possible and being lived out weekly in my own small parish. A shining example of what Christian unity (not conformity!) can be. And praise to the evangelicals in my congregation who can bear to live with me, pray with me and share a coffee with me after the Service.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 10:58am GMT

drdanfee,

You say "The issue of Anglicans listening to Lambeth 1.10 continually comes up as a hot point." And your question is how do we hear this or listen to it? Is it a closed or settled matter?

I have already said in another post that "we do not simply close the conversation down." In answer to your point one, there were some you say who dissented. That is the nature of any meeting in council. (Could be said about Nicea 325!). The question is, was something affirmed together in the end (even with the understanding on the part of some that this is not "church law" that is now permanently closed).

On your point two, the bishops knew, as you say, a "sea change in our modern understandings of sexuality was going on." Yes, more openness and clearer recognition of the good of human sexual being are all to be affirmed. But without direction and meaningful framework the fruits of this "change" become largely destructive, as is evident all around us today. On many fronts now we face this, do you not see those organizing and pressing for polygamy or pedophilia? Does the church have the faith and discernment to affirm the GOOD of sexuality without abandoning the field to all the evils that would encroach upon it? What is the Christian framework from which to think and act?

The point is, if new questions arise we do not simply forget about agreement in council and walk away from it. We work with and keep faith with our partners and bring the new questions once more in council and work through them. Who walked away and abandoned the commitment and trust of this agreement?

At the same time we do not converse without reference to historic Christian teaching; that is the character of 1960's "situation ethics" thinking (perhaps in many ways the precursor to where we are now). It makes the situation itself the reference point. That is, without asking "how in this situation is the way of Christ to be lived?" It makes the situation decisive or final and sets the situation above scripture.

On your point three, the issue is hardly a matter of closed self-righteousness or "heterosexual/male privileges." That is dismissive dead-end thinking that closes down the conversation and to a way forward together.

Peace,

Ben W


Posted by Ben W at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 2:41pm GMT

"The Universal church is about correcting sin and wrong and not about condoning it!"

And I here I thought Christ died to forgive our sins. Silly me"

Do you really believe the cross has given you carte blanche to do as you please just because your forgiveness is guaranteed!
come on!

Posted by Mark Wharton at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 3:32pm GMT

Pat,

Just a note. You make the point, "Anglican thought has always had three parts--scripture, tradition and reason." I have repeatedly referred to "scripture in the context of historic Christian teaching." That would inlcude the first two, and if we are going to think of scripture in light of historic Christian teaching we have the third :-).

Of course we take account of the realities of life, but beyond that we may set up something else as authoritative which denies scripture its proper place. In the name of ideological - historical criticism or reason we have had denial of everything from Jesus' teaching on important matters to his resurrection. These people said with you, "If scripture and historic teaching contradict scientific knowledge" than it must be rejected.

It was not that simple then and is not now, that science comes along and can be the light for the questions of who we are and how we are to live. Of course it can be used to take our own way in evasion of scripture. Today some will say in the "light of science," this is a downs syndrome baby and it will not live a full life. We have the right to abort it. Can science indeed tell us all that? It may tell us about the condition of th baby but hardly about how to respond. Science may tell us a lot about the world but hardly tell us our worth, our purpose or how to live.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 6:33pm GMT

Pat wrote:

"If scripture and historic teaching contradict scientific knowledge, then we must admit that scripture and teaching--having been written and taught before current knowledge--are, if not incorrect, at least misunderstood."

If scriptures are completely fulfilled by the "highest" prophet then there is no need for further religious texts. There should have been no need for the texts beyond what Moses gave us.

But we have Isaiah, Jeremiah, Job, Daniel, The New Testament... Historically, new prophetic works are incorporated that have ongoing merit and add value to the existing "complete" knowledge.

Would we want to no longer have electricity, microwave ovens, antibiotics? Electricity and microwave ovens involved accepting that matter is not solid and that there is energy that can be harnessed. Antibiotics meant accepting there were organisms too small to be seen and that it was scientifically possible to cure someone without relying on exorcisms to expunge demons.

Why is Lambeth 1.10 such a big deal? Because some primates and bishops want some kind of cudgel to justify insulting and excluding souls from "their" communion?

No, Pat, you are not silly. Instead of Lambeth 1.10 we should remember Romans 11:5-6 "there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace."

Rebuke those who try to create new laws or covenants with Galatians 3:11-12 "Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith..."

The other thing that has struck me in the last day or so is how Jesus affirmed women's ability to be teachers. Not by how they preened themselves before others in the high places and synagogues, but by how they demonstrated faith in the small mundane things of this world. For example, affirming the woman who washed his feet with her hair and tears, acknowledging the faith of the woman who was happy to accept scrap breadcrumbs, affirming Martha's desire to listen to God's word over obsessing about chores. Plus Jesus died such a feminine death by having living waters come out of his body when penetrated by a spear, nor lashing out no matter how much he was insulted or beaten, even his cry to God was feminine "My God, why have you forsaken me?"

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 6:57pm GMT

Mark Wharton: a very large proportion of FiF priests are closet gays. Surely you are not unaware of that? They haven't taken vows of chastity, you know, and they certainly don't live as if they had: I know many of them well. It has always been thus in the Anglo-Catholic wing of the C of E. So, it's perhaps not very seemly to get wound up about the gay issue if you come from that side of the Church: you have certainly been ministered to by many practising homosexuals if you have been hanging around FiF churches for any length of time.

Posted by Fr Mark at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 7:24pm GMT

Following up on my previous comment, I ran across the following at Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/verena-von-pfetten/sister-wendy-my-semispi_b_75338.html)
in an interview with Sister Wendy, the Roman Catholic nun famed for her TV shows exploring art:

"You've spoken out about gay marriage. How do you balance what you believe with what you have sworn to uphold?

"I believe in loyalty. We should respect our church, but never believe that the church has the last word. The church is saying "this", but I believe that sooner or later "this" will change. "This" is not the mind of our Lord. God is all love. It's a delicate balancing thing. The Church has changed it's position over the years, and because the spirit is with the Church, in the end the Church will always get it right. But in the end. The spirit of the Church is the meaning of love, which hasn't yet, perhaps, been fully understood."

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Thursday, 6 December 2007 at 8:44pm GMT

"What is the Christian framework from which to think and act?"

That's a bit basic, Ben!
Abusive relationships are wrong. Fullstop.
Loving, faithful and hopefully lifelong relationships are not. Fullstop.

You would do us all a great favour if you could indicate that you had indeed listened enough to understand that we are not pushing for paedophilia, pornography, molesting old grannies or taking a shine to our puppies.

Can you PLEASE begin to talk about what is actually the issue?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 9:38am GMT

By all means meet and celebrate as well as passing motions: this is both/and. Bear in mind that other bishops are now only the touch of a button away, so the need to meet is less pressing - and even less so considering the number of other conferences, meetings and conventions there have been already recently. The central issue is the right use of time and money, and I agree that simply meeting together is a priority - just think that bishops can do and are doing that on plenty of occasions already.

Posted by Christopher Shell at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 12:59pm GMT

Erika,

Thank you for your response and clarifying some points.

I think we do proceed differently in our thinking and acting. I think this needs further reflection by us all. You highlight "the emotions, the personal story and the direct questions." I did not work through the experience of divorce with my two brothers without a lot of all of all that! But in the middle of all that are questions about what really happened and the requirement for honesty to face up to that (on the basis of feelings one could simply blame the other or say "well many marriages now fail or last only a few years that is the way it goes" (no real understanding of self or about what happened). But if one intends to deal in truth and as a true person something more is called for - one cannot simply go on the basis of feelings, in the light of the gospel this is recognized as something that falls short of God's good purpose and in that same light in faith one asks the question about how to go on.

If I am reading you right, there is no decisive place for this reflection on the gospel in Christian thinking and acting; that is "merely abstract pronouncements on what is right or wrong." With you I affirm a full place for "emotion and personal story," but in terms of how we come to the issue we try to address here, we are very different, and what seems clear to me is that we take differeent things into account. That can all of course, if you want, be dismissed as a matter of "closed self-righteousness or 'heterosexual/male privileges.'" The question is does that get us anywhere? Are we prepared to take steps out of this dead-end?

I see the assertions on this thread about Ab Carey on full "human rights" for homosexual persons are simply being reiterated again. I have gone back to the archives for Lambeth '98 and to the earlier thread, I think it is as clear as can be that Carey affirms full "human rights." I will not be be part of this kind of denial or denigration and will not respond to that. I will simply add below part of the resolution which Carey supported and was agreed by the bishops at Lambeth '98. That goes well beyond just affirming human rights.


Peace,

Ben W

With reference to homosexual persons the pertinent portion of the resolution reads:
"Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptised, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ;
while rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex..."

Posted by Ben W at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 3:31pm GMT

Fr Mark wrote "...certainly been ministered to by many practising homosexuals if you have been hanging around FiF churches for any length of time."

Actually, I think that anyone who has been ministering for any length of time would have been ministering to homosexuals, bisexuals and adulterers. The same as they would have been ministering to thieves, liars and thugs.

Surely no one believes that souls who come to church every day do not sin at all? The evidence is in that being Christian and going to church does not stop souls slandering, abusing, deceiving and stealing. There's heaps of evidence that occurs, up to and including primate level of the Anglican communion. Just as it does in all the other faiths as well.

Mark W wrote "Do you really believe the cross has given you carte blanche to do as you please just because your forgiveness is guaranteed!
come on!"

What Mark W forgot when he threw that ball is that the conservative camps have dirtied their own nest so much in the last few years that they are in no position to tout how any sin puts one "outside of grace". Their conduct and slandering of God's name; in conjunction with their diminishment of God's breadth, nature and capacity voided their rights to purport that theirs is the only path to salvation. They do not love as God loves nor do they love what God loves, they show no respect for the covenants that God desires especially the everlasting covenant of peace that is meant to apply to all humanity and beasts.

Matthew 7:1-2 "“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

I would rather be judged as someone who attempts to be kind and who desires that all live in safety and enjoy friendly companionship. I might not socialise with some souls because I don't like them, but I don't go around sabotaging their attempts to have other friendships. However, I do intervene when they and their friends attempt to deprive others of safety and companionship. I don't mind being judged as protective of the vulnerable and undesired, God knows I would like that to be given in full measure back to me!

Posted by Cheryl Va. Clough at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 6:25pm GMT

Ben W writes to Erica: "... what seems clear to me is that we take differeent things into account. That can all of course, if you want, be dismissed as a matter of "closed self-righteousness or 'heterosexual/male privileges.'" The question is does that get us anywhere? Are we prepared to take steps out of this dead-end?"

Ben W, Are you prepared to take any steps out of this dead-end? for it seems to me that it is you whom we are waiting for...

As to Dr Carey and Human Rights, I suggest you have a look on the From Calvary to Lambeth thread below.

(I still don't believe you deny his very words time after time :-(

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 7:12pm GMT

Erika,

As you have said, listening closely goes both ways. If you listen closely to what I actually said you will see that I nowhere said what you have taken up and I fully accept, in your words, "we are not pushing for paedophilia, pornography . . ."

Rather, the point is, we are making our way in a confused society without direction in a sea of change. In this setting, as I said, "without direction and meaningful framework the fruits of this 'change' become largely destructive, as is evident all around us today." In that context "paedophilia, pornography" etc are examples of destructive change. For some of us (if you listen closely :-) those who now want in the church to simply affirm homosexual relationships raises the question of framework! In light of historic Christian teaching how do we respond? I raised it here precisely because I think you will recognize with me that we face some real issues in this area.

If it is difficult to acknowledge that, it is still true, and challenges us all to find a framework within which we think and respond to this. The statement you make iself requires a framework if we are to be able to affirm it meaningfully: "Abusive relationships are wrong. Fullstop. Loving, faithful and hopefully lifelong relationships are not. Fullstop." The need for framework is evident in several ways. Take only the most obvious, the affirmation of the "loving, faithful and hopefully lifelong relationships." Not all relationships that might be so described are good or to be affirmed (and I think you would join me in that). And here we might think specifically of those who push for paedophilia for one.

So the question is pertinent: "What is the Christian framework from which to think and act?" Hope that helps clarify things a little.

Peace,

Ben W

That's a bit basic, Ben!
Abusive relationships are wrong. Fullstop.
Loving, faithful and hopefully lifelong relationships are not. Fullstop.

You would do us all a great favour if you could indicate that you had indeed listened enough to understand that molesting old grannies or taking a shine to our puppies.

Can you PLEASE begin to talk about what is actually the issue?

Posted by Ben W at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 8:24pm GMT

Ben
"If I am reading you right, there is no decisive place for this reflection on the gospel in Christian thinking and acting; that is "merely abstract pronouncements on what is right or wrong."

I'm not sure that's what I tried to say.

I believe what comes from the conservatives are mere pronouncements on what is right or wrong based on their interpretation of the gospel.

In the case of divorce they have managed successfully to see the fullness of Jesus' compassion, mercy and forgiveness that sets the sinner free and restores him to a new life.
This against the direct and clear pronouncement that divorce is wrong.

Yet, in the case of homosexuality the personal experience doesn't somehow contribute to seeing wider gospel issues and balancing them out against what appears to be clear condemnation (not by Jesus).

I'm always astonished how the fullness and depth of the gospel is understood when it suits, yet limited when it doesn't.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 7 December 2007 at 10:05pm GMT

Well if we do a thought experiment and see what applies in traditional religion and ethics, supposing we accept the modern data about queer folks being competent humans - at work, at school, in family life, and yes, in committed lifelong sexual and parenting relationships - then we can ask: Is this experimental acceptance of the data really the total and utter destruction of the claimed universal faith once preached to the saints, as conservatives now say it is?

In fact, no. In fact, not very much at all.

Much remains in our understandings of traditional ethics and traditional religion. These continuities are hardly insigificant - including huge whole realms of committed relationship, parenting, and citizenship life shared with our wider overlapping local communities.

Not all that difficult to see, common sensically, that this experiment offers us much, and actually changes little for now, stemming from what the new data on competency is, and stemming from how this data repositions our religious and ethical thinking.

What is undeniably destroyed? Or undeniably challenged?

Start with: Pat completely negative conservative assumptions that any mention of same sex behaviors in scripture must simplistically translate into what we modern folks know and understand by all we connote when we use words like homosexual or lesbian. When we moderns talk of sexual orientation as a naturally varying general personality descriptor, particularly in large human populations. Yes, done for, I would guess.

Next: Absolute ethical and religious condemnations - regardless of person, circumstances, and the hearts inner motives or needs. We end up with those absolute traditional notions fairly well done in, too.

What is left from that point on, is just the same ethical considerations we tend to common sensically use for weighing and estimating the goods of how a heterosexual orientation gets lived out among us, not much more, nor much less. That is to say, queer folks are no more destined to go blindly over all the nearest libertine cliffs due to their being gay or lesbian, than straight folks are because they are straight.

Hence our lingering suspicions about traditional homophobia or traditional hetero privileges - what is left is mainly the traditional belief that being straight is innately better than being queer or lesbian - that one is somehow crippled, diminished, or rendered incapable - ethically, humanly, and religiously? New thinking holds us all to pretty similar ethics and religion.

Posted by drdanfee at Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 1:07am GMT

Ben

"Take only the most obvious, the affirmation of the "loving, faithful and hopefully lifelong relationships." Not all relationships that might be so described are good or to be affirmed (and I think you would join me in that). And here we might think specifically of those who push for paedophilia for one.

So the question is pertinent: "What is the Christian framework from which to think and act?" Hope that helps clarify things a little."

I'm genuinely puzzled about your comment.
I'm not interested in establishing a framework for paedophilia. It's abusive, it's wrong. Under no circumstances can it be described loving, stable and faithful. I'm sure you must have accidentally typed that bit of your comment.

I am interested in establishing a framework for loving and stable homosexual relationships. The framework is the same as for any loving stable heterosexual relationship. It really is that simple.

There are abusive heterosexual relationships. You don't support those any more than I do.
There are abusive homosexual relationship. I don't support those any more than you do.

But we support loving stable heterosexual marriages.
So we also support loving stable homosexual marriages.

It really is that simple.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 9:04am GMT

drdanfee
"supposing we accept the modern data about queer folks being competent humans - at work, at school, in family life, and yes, in committed lifelong sexual and parenting relationships"

That's just the problem as is easily seen from my conversation with Ben here. There is an almost stubborn refusal to even look at these data, far less accept them.
If someone can still put paedophilia in the framework of stable loving relationships after having talked to us here for weeks now, there is very little hope to reach those who don't even debate on TA and who are so sure that homosexuals are likesodomising rats.

Supposing we accepted the data, there would no longer be a case to answer.
That is why we refuse to accept the data.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 9:07am GMT

I was watching a video of the Royal Albert Hall concert performance of Les Miserables and I was struck by the final line, a direct quote from Victor Hugo:

"To love another person is to see the face of God."

Can someone here please explain to me why that should be different if the other person is the same gender I am?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 12:29pm GMT

Ben: re your comments above. Did you read what I posted on the other thread about my Lord Carey? He did speak, and vote in the Lords, against an equal age of consent for gay people. He thought that lowering it from 21 to 18 would destroy family life. It has since been lowered to 16, and no problems have arisen. So, he was wrong, and worked against human rights, I would say. I think he should admit that, and aplogise.

Posted by Fr Mark at Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 5:50pm GMT

Yes Erika, it is typical and customary in most exchanges with conservative believers, for them to simply repeat the received negative presuppositions about queer folks.

These almost all ways, remind of us the standard accusations - dirt, danger, disgust. A deep - and seemingly deeply involved - sense of contra naturem runs like a prurient vein of thinking and feeling, beneath and through these traditional preachments.

Yet conservatives now play loud catch up, talking as if all along, they never ever spoke against the citizenship or human rights of queer folks in British or other global cultures. (Is Lord Carey now admonishing Akinola and Nigeria? Or Rwanda?)

The rest of us are supposed to be so feeble minded that we cannot remember social and church life history in enough detail to recall their consistently trending campaigning, just against these very citizenship equalizations, in our own lifetimes.

The bottom line?

I have yet to hear any negative condemning preachment from the current realignment which even seems moderately familiar with modern queer citizenship in modern daily life.

This omission stands out, boldly, a weighty mattter of sheer factual consequence.

Conservative campaigners seem to have missed so much that has happened in modern queer citizenship and in daily life.

(1) They missed the incredible depth of compassion that swept through the gay communities, responding to the HIV-AIDS epidemics.

(2) They missed the added steps in greater self-efficacy which were realized as the queer communities responded, at least in USA in the early years, to studied neglect and HIV stigma in government and public policy.

(3) They missed the deep grief and mourning of whole generations of lovely, gifted queer folks as we buried them, often in the prime of their youth.

(4) And they missed the resulting deepening of our wisdom about our natural place in the great orders of things which we all share, living the human condition together, facing mortality and impermanence.

(5) And they missed the gaby boom, which continues to this day.

(6) And they missed the shining ethical and religious witness which committed same sex couples are making in so many places, including so many local parishes, up close and personal. (How else could New Hampshire have called VGR to be their bishop?)

Conservatives simply do not see any of these daily quiet goods of modern queer life and citizenship, all around our planet.

Posted by drdanfee at Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 6:35pm GMT

drdanfee,

Dr Fee has spoken, the data are all in! Is it really that simple then?

It begins like this, "supposing we accept the modern data about queer folks being competent humans - at work, at school, in family life" etc. The first word in basic respects assumes (i.e."suppose")the point at issue. If it is a question of human competence in different areas of life, who questions that? As humans they can manage different aspects of life quite well, so do many atheists and so do many polygamists. What has that got to do with it?

First off, about presupposition, who assumes this? Whose data are these? And what exactly are the data? The piece goes from there, a tissue of presuppositions or assumptions. You mean there is now consensus on sexual development and how sexual attraction/commitment comes to focus? Within the larger context of sex, family, and societal well-being, it is not limited to the effects of homosexuality, but a question of the whole range of life and relationships in this area: how do we understand ourselves as sexual beings in relation to others (i.e. to begin with the relation of sex to bearing children - for many men and increasingly for women the connection has been lost. So we have more and more children growing up without parents who are committed to each other and or to them. Who can begin to reckon the effects of that??). The loss of direction in life and society in this area - heterosexual and homosexual - has consequences.

In particular, on what basis does one affirm that homosexuality does not have effect for family life or society? I accept that many gay people seek and live in fairly committed relationships (and there is no need of the continued question, "what is wrong with loving someone of my sex?" In context, that is part of life for us all! And to state what should be obvious, of course on the basis of homosexual practice as such there would soon be no such thing as family of any kind).

And it certainly is not a matter of homosexuality and the destruction of "the faith." It is a question of what Christian teaching actully is and whether it holds together in coherence. Again it has nothing to do with "Absolute ethical and religious condemnations - regardless of person, circumstances etc." (too clever by half - read Lambeth '98.1 for a start). The point I have made is that we will think and act in some framework, we can opt for something other than historic Christian teaching, but then lets say so and put it on the table.

This piece wants to make some space for "religion," does not quite think we can do without it; perhaps a little like the person of old European stock when asked, "Are you religous?" replied, "Of course, I don't believe in God but I am Catholic." In this response it is notable that reference is not to Christian teaching but to "New thinking" that can now be handed down as final edict, as something that now "holds us all to pretty similar ethics and religion." What stands behind this new thinking? The reductionist bishop Spong? Or even the sociologist/sexologist Michel Foucault (published three volumes on sexuality, seeking to understand himself and his subject without reference to "framework" and died in 1984 as one of the first victims of AIDS). There is a better way.

Ben W


Posted by Ben W at Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 7:00pm GMT

Erika,

If you follow what I have been saying about "framework" in several posts now it should not be that hard but I will try again.

I said in opening this up earlier,"Does the church have the faith and discernment to affirm the GOOD of sexuality without abandoning the field to all the evils that would encroach upon it? What is the Christian framework from which to think and act?" It is clear if you have no basis for affirming what is good on one hand, or what would be an encroachment on it(a violation of it), you have way of the excluding whatever comes along.

How for instance within how you reflect on marriage or sexuality do you answer those who seek to establish polygamy? In terms of your response above, its hardly a question of a framework for the acceptance of paedophilia, but it is a question of the basis for saying no to it (beyond saying, "I don't like it.")

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben w at Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 10:42pm GMT

Ben
"There is a better way."

So what is it?

It is clear that traditionally understood Christian sexual ethics does not say anything about the real experienced truth of gay relationships.
We keep telling you this and you just have to take our word for it.

You don't like what we propose - simply taking the spirit of the gospels and all of Scriptures at their deepest level and discerning that our loves are perfectly capable of being included in that framework.

So - where do we go from here?
What is your "better way"?

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 9 December 2007 at 6:41am GMT

Ben
I have no views on polygamy, I have never thought about it much.
If you really want me to I shall go and start doing some in depth reading and then get back to you.

I really don't see how it has anything to do with "the presenting issue" as it's so often called.
And that is still very very simple:
It if looks like a marriage, if it smells like a marriage, if it's lived out like a marriage, and if the participants know it to be a God given and affirmed state of living, like a marriage - then it IS a marriage.

As I have said a few times recently - you are all very capable of discerning deeper gospel truths about other human conditions - when it suits you. There is no need to avoid the reality of people's experience and insist on a reductionist reading of a few lines in Scripture, refusing to see them and our relationships in the context of ALL of the gospel.

Can I also just say, please, there seems to be this mistaken impression among conservatives that you are sitting on a judgement table discerning whether our loves and our lives meet your criteria for Christian purity, and that we are sitting before you pleading to please please please be let in.

It could not be further from the truth.
We actually KNOW that we are loved and affirmed by God as much as you are. We're dancing joyfully in that knowledge and nothing can separate us from this.

What we're trying to do is to make you see it to so you can share in that wonderful revelation of how much greater God's love is than we all sometimes fear.

It's up to you to join us on the dance floor.
It's your loss if you don't.

To us the whole conversation feels a bit like the ending of Narnia when those who really cannot see beyond their own narrow concerns are stuck in the stable while the rest of the world joyfully celebrates the new creation. We'd love you to join us, but if you prefer to sit amongst yourselves debating whether we're worth your approval we'll regretfully leave you be.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 9 December 2007 at 6:54am GMT

Sorry Ben W, but the Traditional understanding (European Neo Platonist Academia) is that sexuality is n o t good, but problematic.

European Neo Platonists claimed Chastity as a value for all, Celibacy for the ordained and Abstinences (water, bread, soap, sex in that order) for those able to abstain. The social realities were somewhat different (based on quarterings, amongst other things).

Marriage was a lesser Celibacy for those week in the Flesh. I am sure you’ve heard the words.

Oh, they’ve done it 3 times…

So sorry, what you are up to calling framework, are novel Heresies of the 1960ies.

Heterosexist Fertility Cults from the late Modern Roman Bible translations from the Codex Sinaïticus and Focus on The Family.

Plus the 1978 CLAIMS about Genesis 1 and 2 being a basis for theology.

Sorry.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Sunday, 9 December 2007 at 7:29am GMT

"The point I have made is that we will think and act in some framework, we can opt for something other than historic Christian teaching, but then lets say so and put it on the table."

We've never said anything else!

Historic Christian teaching has to be adjusted in the light of Reason, Reason being derived from new scientific and psychological insights as well as the observation of people's real experience of life and of God in their lives.

It's an ancient Christian tradition, otherwise we would still be stoning people, keep slaves, treat women as chattel....and don't tell me they're not biblical, they used to be thought as biblical for ages and ages and ages.

As for this
"And to state what should be obvious, of course on the basis of homosexual practice as such there would soon be no such thing as family of any kind"

It shows how sorely a bit of Reason is needed. Do you really think that integrating something between 2-5% of the population into your Christian framework is suddenly going to make all the rest impotent and incapable of creating children? Or do you think that we could contaminate the whole rest of the population and make you all gay?

As for:
“to begin with the relation of sex to bearing children - for many men and increasingly for women the connection has been lost. So we have more and more children growing up without parents who are committed to each other and or to them. Who can begin to reckon the effects of that??)."

Absolutely agree. And it’s clearly a heterosexual problem, wouldn’t you say?
Let's get back to the real data of my actual secure and very stable family, shall we? Am I to be denied marriage and full inclusion because many heterosexual relationships fail? Scapegoating went out with the New Testament. It's not historic Christian teaching.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 9 December 2007 at 7:55am GMT

I had not considered it worthwhile to interact with the Bishop’s references to ancient heresies but I have now discovered that others have responded to similar challenges. In case any TA readers are interested, let me link to a neat summary of the historical background of Donatism by William Tighe at http://confessingreader.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/dr-tighe-responds-to-misconceptions-about-donatism/ Compare http://idrathernotsay123.wordpress.com/2007/12/04/the-last-refuge/

As for Novatianism, see, e.g., http://www.catholicity.com/encyclopedia/n/novation_and_novatianism.html and draw your own conclusions.

Posted by Thomas Renz at Sunday, 9 December 2007 at 7:47pm GMT

Ben W: you clearly didn't understand Foucault's position. He was totally opposed to the sort of communitarian and moderate position espoused here. He would have rejected categorisation and the liberal perspective of TEC, which is a long way from post-structuralist queer theory.

Posted by Merseymike at Sunday, 9 December 2007 at 9:44pm GMT

Mersemike:

In drdanfee what is referred to the "New Thinking." The reason for my questions right at at the top: "First off, about presupposition, who assumes this? Whose data are these? And what exactly are the data? The piece goes from there, a tissue of presuppositions or assumptions." You are saying "not this new thinking" - making it clear you cannot simply operate with assumptions here and all the more reason for the questions.

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Monday, 10 December 2007 at 2:50am GMT

Ben W,

Now that was unintelligible.

How about answering some of my questions instead (there are a few up thread)?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Monday, 10 December 2007 at 9:18am GMT

Ben,
Göran asked :"How about answering some of my questions instead (there are a few up thread)?"

And mine, please. What is your better way?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 10 December 2007 at 11:49am GMT

Ben; please can you address my points about your attempt to apply Foucauldian theory. I have a feeling you may not be familiar with his work, because you appear confused as to his likely stance. By all means argue against liberal theology, but the stance of TEC is quite clearly not post-structuralist.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 10 December 2007 at 12:46pm GMT

Erika,

In some ways you seem simply to be talking past what I have been saying or failing to take account of what I have said.

If you begin with the assumption that when writers in scripture refer to homosexuality they simply do not know what they are talking about then what you say is true, "Christian sexual ethics does not say anything about the real experienced truth of gay relationships." This was part of a thread much earlier, what keeps being denied here, in which I pointed out that people were quite aware that homosexuality can take different forms; as we see in Plato's Symposium and in Philo etc. there is clear awareness but certainly can be "stable and long term."

Some things are becoming more clear, Dr Fee in making his case referred not to scripture but simply to "New thinking." So now you say, "Historic Christian teaching has to be adjusted in the light of Reason," and this on the basis of "new scientific and psychological insights." This has been the way again and again to set up the self or human reason as a way to dismiss scripture - sometimes much or all of what is central to Christian faith and teaching (e.g. bishop Spong is a prime example of it, everything from a Christian understanding of God to basic moral teaching to the place of Christ himself in human salvation is reduced or abandoned). If you think picking and choosing what suits in response to scripture is the way to go, you can do it. When I talk about there must be "a better way" that is what I am speaking of.

Your response on polygamy is telling. In the light of "man and woman" in creation, Jesus'affirmation in his teaching on marriage, Paul in his teaching, this and other questions are clear. That interpretation of scripture takes account of the fact that it is lived in real context where there are distortions of God's intention along the way and that scripture reflects this in the way it speaks to Israel in all the different circumstances (in this sense much of it was for and limited to that time). The question is what is fulfilled and affirmed in Christ and expressed in the NT and the church.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Monday, 10 December 2007 at 3:14pm GMT

Ben
So your "better way" is simply the old way of don't do it.
I should have known.

Sorry, it won't do.

There is a way of reading the gospel that is inclusive, true to what Christ wants for human beings and not forcing a group of people to live lonely lives.

There is outstanding theology on this issue (you might read it one day), we really do not have to stick to this "Paul said in one or two places" nonsense.
And we won't.

This geenie isn't going back in the bottle any longer.

God's peace to you too, my friend

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 10 December 2007 at 4:59pm GMT

Ben: you should read some of James Alison's or Marilyn McCord Adams' recent writings on this topic - they are very thought-provoking.

Posted by Fr Mark at Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 9:06am GMT

Fr Mark,

I did in fact read James Alison, Faith Beyond Resentment several years ago and I have read other work. There is some thought provoking material in this book. This matter of reading could go both ways?! How many on this list have read Willard M. Swartley, Homosexuality: Biblical Interpretation and Moral Discernment, Or Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament?

Interesting that in the gay community there is an interest in putting this all down to resentment (in accord with casting people in the role simply of victim). Nietsche, you will recall,was the great champion and forerunner in this, in his attempt to put the whole of Christian faith in this position ( i.e. it is a position thought out and acted out in resentment of life and of others).

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 1:30pm GMT

I have read Hayes. One might as well read Cameron/Gagnon.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 2:31pm GMT

how can you have any resolution on homosexuality without putting it under the law. there is as of yet no explanation of how homosexuality comes against loving your neighbor as yourself, the summation of all the law.

are we to ignore romans for the sake of the commune?

is our theology about an inference loaded teaching that borderlines on being antiscriptural.

taking a scripture about heterosexual human bonding and concluding that we know was god's mind, his plan, his intention, his desire.............................

Posted by john r at Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 3:18pm GMT

"Interesting that in the gay community there is an interest in putting this all down to resentment"

I suppose we see that you are perfectly capable of in depth biblical interpretations when it suits you and that you harp on about a very literalist "Paul says here" approach only when you talk about homosexuality (the few true puritans among you who also oppose divorce and any kind of sexual activity outside marriage are at least consistent in their approach).

It appears rather unintelligent, to be honest, but as I don't believe you are all unintelligent the only other conclusion is fear or resentment, acknowledged or unacknowledged. Especially since, with a few laudable exceptions, most of you speak in appalling language about us and to us, clearly lie when you talk about us, make up data to suit you and resolutely refuse to listen when we talk about our lives.

What other conclusion are we to draw?

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 4:39pm GMT

Ben: not many of us who have have been churchgoers all our lives started out as liberals on the gay issue. Like most people of my generation, my understanding of the topic, and of how best and most Christianly to live with my own sexuality, has developed. I would say, though, that if one is gay oneself, there is an imperative to confront and deal with issues that straight people would find very hard to understand. I think that doing that, and keeping one's faith, probably calls for some respect from other churchpeople, instead of the condemnation so many of them are so keen to show. James Alison and Marilyn McCord Adams are both sensitive to the holiness of those individual journeys, as opposed to writers whose approach to gay Christians is chiefly juridical. I suppose the thing that really irks me about the Conservative Evangelical position at the moment is simply how deeply unpastoral it is. They seem to be saying "open up to us, so we can then tell you how awful you are." I can't imagine that being an appropriate pastoral method in any other context.

Posted by Fr Mark at Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 6:24pm GMT

"open up to us, so we can then tell you how awful you are."

Fr. mark, my experience has been the reverse: "Here is how awful you are, but if you admit it and grovel sufficiently, God might be good enough not to roast you for all eternity." Remember, before one accepts Jesus as one's Personal Saviour, one must be "convicted of sin". Only the guilty are convicted, so sin must be crime, one must be guilty, and God, being something of a corrupt judge, can be bought off by sufficient public grief and remorse accompanied by a good outward show of abiding by 1950s sexual ethics. That of course means do it in secret, in fear, and with no thought to protection. If you can pretned to love your neighbour so much the better, but it isn't really necessary, and may be detrimental, if love of neighbour gets in the way of pointing out to them how evil they are and "convicting them of sin".

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 8:18pm GMT

Fr Mark,

What you say is helpful, I cannot simply put myself in the shoes of a gay person, it is a challenge to try and understand. I respect your aim to work through this in faith. I will take your word for it that you have had some harsh encounters with "the Conservative Evangelical position." That is not the language or the spirit of Swartley's book. I think it has become polarized and difficult to engage.

From our side we also meet people who are "in your face" gay champions, who assert themselves and think of others as either simply ignorant or "traditonal" or worse. We also meet it in the context of work like that of John Spong, where it is quite clear that he has abandoned historic Christian faith across a range of central matters and has little but contempt for those who disagree with him. If we hear respect in how a person deals with scripture and respect for others who who seek to affirm the gospel with integrity that goes a long way in setting the stage for open/caring communication!

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 8:42pm GMT

dear ole Jack Spong is surely one of the great evangelists of our time ?

Posted by L Roberts at Tuesday, 11 December 2007 at 11:09pm GMT

"What you say is helpful, I cannot simply put myself in the shoes of a gay person, it is a challenge to try and understand. I respect your aim to work through this in faith."-Ben W.

Then don't judge us on the basis of sexual orientation alone. We are varied in our geographical locations, churchmanship, theological training, and a plethora of experiences. Believe it Ben, we too are struggling everyday to do the best we can do for the Lord in our everyday lives.

Given that, think for a moment of how it would be like for you to be denied ability to love the person you have found for the rest of your lives, just because of the "plumbing". Just think of the pain of it during this Advent. What you take for granted isn't available to many, and they are mocked and derided for it.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Wednesday, 12 December 2007 at 2:03am GMT

Spong denies the literal truth of the bible stories, he does not deny their theological truth.

You may not agree with him but by painting him as the biggest destroyer of Christianity you only show that you haven't understood what he's trying to do.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 12 December 2007 at 9:06am GMT

Ben W: thanks, that was a good reply.
If you met me, you wouldn't think I was "in your face" or anti-traditional: quite the reverse. You probably wouldn't realise I was gay at all. A Conservative Evangelical clergyman was sitting in my congregation a couple of weeks ago. At the end of Mass, he came up to me and said, a propos nothing at all, "Are you married or are you single?" I suppose he thought that was an appropriate way to make general conversation, but it showed me how he is still on planet 1950s - it wouldn't be a good way to open conversation with anyone in their thirties, I think - my straight friends would have found it weird too.

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 12 December 2007 at 9:19am GMT

"At the end of Mass, he came up to me and said, a propos nothing at all, "Are you married or are you single?" I suppose he thought that was an appropriate way to make general conversation, but it showed me how he is still on planet 1950s - it wouldn't be a good way to open conversation with anyone in their thirties, I think - my straight friends would have found it weird too."

Mark--I'm 55 and straight. I'd never even THINK of using that question as an opening conversational gambit with anyone.

I suspect it was the CE clergyman's surreptitious way of finding out your sexual orientation.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 12 December 2007 at 11:34am GMT

Fr Mark,

As an opening the question from the con ev clergyman is "in your face." I don't know where he might be coming from. Because this is the issue around which conversation here moves much of the time we may at times make that the focus of identity, but as I tried to say earlier with reference to being a slave or not there is more to it.

Peace,

Ben W

Posted by Ben W at Wednesday, 12 December 2007 at 4:40pm GMT

Pat: maybe so, but I think there are a lot of Con Evo clergy who are obsessed with talking about their own, as well as everyone else's, marital status. It must be ghastly to be one of their wives.

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 12 December 2007 at 5:21pm GMT

"I suspect it was the CE clergyman's surreptitious way of finding out your sexual orientation."

I gotta tell ya, there is a subtle dance that goes on when two people meet who suspect they are gay. I used to do it all the time when I worked in ER and patients came in with their partners, etc. and I wanted to make them feel at ease. It's about mentioning friends you might mutually know, that sort of thing. I happen to have a friend who is well known in the lesbian community, and dropping her name was a great way to sound out possible lesbians. I asked one couple if they knew her, and we had a good laugh at the fact that I had asked them the same things several months before and forgotten! We agreed that if friendship with anyone could be held to be proof of lesbianism, then SHE was the one. It has become something of a standing joke:-)I just assumed this was the same kind of thing, and said clergyman was just trying to do the dance that eventually spirals in to "We probably have a lot of mutual friends". It didn't occur to me that he was nefarious in his motives.

I can't imagine what conservatives would say if that kind of behaviour were a necessary part of their lives, though I'm sure they understand that kind of thing, having done so much listening and all.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 12 December 2007 at 6:18pm GMT
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