Friday, January 12, 2007

Changing the Future Before It Becomes the Past

I suppose I was a bit strident in my last post, but it's what passionate people do: get strident and moved by an issue or issues that are not only important to them personally but to the enlightened and spiritually progressive as well. And I can see how our reasserter counterparts in the Communion have their passion about an issue or issues that are important to them, even if they are misled by the reactionary elements of the Global South and the "I'm Switzerland" attitude of the Church of England along with its apparent lack of leadership. As wishy washy as it is, I suppose it's better than none.

I would remind us all that we are "to be the change we want to see in the world" [Hat tip: M Gandhi]. It is true that if we stand or sit still, lament the state of inequality and prejudice, then Christ's unconditional love for us without some kind of action is to give into the apathy that brings about a tyranny of the soul. To give Christ's love and grace the impetus it needs to spread like a strong, warm current into the frigid, freezing inflexibility of legalist sola Scripture-based "pseudo-faith", we need to be active, moving, speaking, talking, writing, painting, singing, perhaps most importantly, praying the real Christ-centered faith into the hearts and minds of those who are being misled, who are following the Pharisaical bishops and priests of our Church and Communion, and being led astray by the fervor of fear and fiery damnation they speak of against the Episcopal Church, its mission to include all in the gift of salvation, and against the Spirit-inspired chosen leadership.

Our Church stands on three supports: Scripture, Reason and Tradition. It cannot stand on Scripture alone as a result. Nor can it stand only on Tradition, or a combination of Scripture and Tradition. It is these two "legs" that the reasserters seem to claim that is all that is needed for our Church to be the witness in the world. They conveniently forget Reason. Without it, the other two relegate our denomination and consequently our faith, into a legalistic, stagnant and ignorant institution instead of a living Church.

Reason is what guided the founding Americans to include rights and privileges to everyone. Yes, it was a long time coming for full implementation as we well know, but it is coming, albeit slowly, to fruition. Women's rights have come a very long way; rights that should have been ours decades and decades ago. The Anglican Communion has to understand that once you give the Church something as blessed as women's ordination, you cannot take it back. It's like a handsome guy in a steady relationship with a fine woman. You cannot tell her you love her and then one day decide to take it back. She believed you and in you for your truthfulness and honesty. If you do, you lose your credibility, reputation, character, and respect that she once held for you, as well as that of your peers and family. The Anglican Communion can no more "take back" women's ordination than the young man trying to take back his commitment of love from the young woman he has given it to with all sincerity and good faith.

Christ loved all of His followers, women and men alike. To say that women have no place in the leadership of the Church is to buy into Paul's momentary lapses of clear judgment and intelligence. I believe many things he talks about, and I also don't believe other things he brings up. But when it comes down to who I believe more, it will always be Jesus, no matter how many scholars, et al., laud Paul's intellect and spiritual insight. Paul was human and therefore occasionally flawed in his thinking. I do however believe Christ, hands down. The Gospel writers clearly let us know that women were a very important part of Christ's life with us, from His birth to His death and resurrection. The Epistles are full of examples of the leadership of women in the Early Church. To say that women don't know how to interpret Scripture, or lead others, or preach is simply unreasonable as well as ridiculous.

And to say that only some are allowed at the Lord's table is clearly wrong. Christ had every manner of man at this table, and for all we know, the women who supported them all were there too, but were too insignificant to mention. I am sure that the manner of life of the disciples, both men and women, did indeed trouble the Pharisees and the Sadducees, but not our Jesus. He cared for their hearts, minds and souls, and these He knew better than the holders of them. "Christ did die for all, ALL, not some", as ++Desmond Tutu reminds us. Clearly Scripture states [New Testament] that Christ's blood covers all and forgives all sins with the exception of one: the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit. The majority of members of the House of Bishops said time and again that the Spirit of the Lord was upon them as they prayed, voted and voted again for the new Presiding Bishop. The organist and other attendants also felt this moving of the Spirit within Trinity Church, Cleveland. If the reasserters do not accept the reality of the Spirit to make and create an atmosphere of unity and of God's will among them, then they must not believe in Her at all. It makes me wonder what they do at Pentecost…

What part of this do the reasserters not understand?

I appreciate the following haunting words that remind us that not doing anything to thwart the modern day Pharisees and Saducces,as well as the alleged Christian governmental leadership, can have devastating and life-threatening effects:

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a
Protestant .
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
-- Martin Niemoller

Perhaps an Episcopal version would read something like this:

They came first for the ordained women,
And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a woman.
Then they came for those who loved differently,
And I didn't speak up because I was straight.
Then they came for the disabled,
And I didn't speak up because I was abled.
Then they came for the people of color,
And I didn't speak up because I was neutral in appearance,
Then they came for me, a Christ-centered believer,
And by that time there was no one left to speak up.


Here's a little exercise: try your hand at writing a similiar piece based on the examples above. Fill in the words or descriptives as you have experienced it or have seen it, or even what you envision is coming in the future. Send them to me or just put them in the comments for all to read.

Thanks and God bless...


Nothing we do changes the past. Everything we do changes the future. ~~ Joan Chittister


Eileen said...

I want to type something witty and clever, but I don't really think I could say anything better than you have already said it.

It's easy to look the other way when it doesn't touch you directly - until you begin to realize it could be you at anytime. That thought makes you remember there is safety in numbers. And if you feel strongly about something, you need to say it.

Catherine + said...

Dear Eileen, thank you for your kindness and good words. To be a woman and ordained is an accomplishment I will not give up without a fight.

I appreciate your wit immensely and covet your cleverness at times. But I thank you for being gentle and able to see so clearly.

Eileen said...

Awww, Catherine+! You are too kind as well - and your conviction and passion are coveted by me!

It's so great to be part of these mutual admiration societies!

We rock!