Do Glass Pools Break When You Throw Stones at Them?

There’s not really a lot to say about the confirmation of the consent process for the appointment of a woman living in a sexual relationship outside of marriage as Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles (because, boys and girls, let’s remember that this has nothing to do with her being a lesbian and everything to do with her sexual arrangements). Canterbury has come out with the usual kind of statement, which I guess is worth repeating for the sake of filling up the page.

It is regrettable that the appeals from Anglican Communion bodies for continuing gracious restraint have not been heeded. Following the Los Angeles election in December the Archbishop made clear that the outcome of the consent process would have important implications for the Communion. The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion re-iterated these concerns in its December resolution which called for the existing moratoria to be upheld. Further consultation will now take place about the implications and consequences of this decision.”

Since the Standing Committee reiterated the concern about the moratoria, and since Schori has now presided over her Church essentially ignoring that concern (and the moratoria), is it not time for her to be booted off the JSC? Mouneer Anis has already seen the obvious contradiction of having her on board and has jumped ship. Perhaps by not inviting Schori to the next JSC or Primates Meeting Rowan might actually demonstrate some backbone behind his regret.

Meanwhile, the march to litigate continues and reports from South Carolina demonstrate that 815 is getting ready to sue the pants, the buildings, the candle-sticks, the altar linens and just about anything they can get their grubby little hands on if Bishop Lawrence and the SC Standing Committee attempt to even distance themselves one iota from the central leviathan. Bloggers would do very well to read Kendall’s latest piece and then pray very hard.

Here in England the new General Synod elections approach, and with them a concerted effort from Inclusive Church to change the balance of Synod and pass revisionist legislation. Remember folks, the decline in the US happened because liberals presented fait accomplis on the ground and then challenged the orthodox to do something about it. When they didn’t, the war was lost. The time is coming very soon in this Province when choices will have to be made…

If anybody thinks we are at a time of calm, they need to look very carefully at the still pool they think has no ripples in. It is in fact made of glass, and one well directed rock and it will become a deadly place to play.

20 Comments on “Do Glass Pools Break When You Throw Stones at Them?

  1. Peter I'd be grateful for a source for the supposed Lambeth Palace/Archbishops statement. Where has Canterbury come out with the statement you attribute?

  2. Andrew,

    So far it's only been cited from Kendall Harmon's blog. This is one of the most widely-read Anglican blogs and is known for being accurate in reporting such things. Canon Harmon hasn't yet said where his information comes from.

    Going there, I see you've found the comment. Canon Harmon doesn't make things up – I find it frustrating as well that no source is cited, but I'm sure that there is a source. It's possible also that Lambeth sent this directly to Canon Harmon – he is, after all, in the church concerned, and in a diocese where TEC's actions are now critical, given the barrage of litigation-related events there and the unfortunate hiring of the Dioceses' last chancellor by TEC which is proving, at this juncture, hostile intentions. The ABC sometimes does this – personal invitations to Duncan et al, perhaps this is one of them, finding Kendall Harmon's blog the most apt place to break this news. We can look to people like Canon Harmon as a kind of "last hope" within TEC. There isn't much chance of its reforming, but there is a chance that those who are within it can reduce the effect of the things happening within it – such as the Presiding Bishop's denials of the doctrines of the resurrection and the divinity of Christ – in the Communion at large – I think this is one of the main goals of the Diocese of South Carolina. I do hope they succeed.

  3. "It has nothing to do with her being a lesbian and everything to do with her sexual arrangements"

    More accurately, it has nothing to do with her being a lesbian and nothing to do with her sexual arrangements and everything to do with her honesty (and the willingness of the TEC to allow her to be honest) about those sexual arrangements.

  4. To be honest, I don't feel that Mary's appointment has any bearing on my ability or someone else's ability to get on with loving and serving other people, and walking with Jesus the way of the cross. I don't 'tune in' to the tone of politics and conflict in your post Peter. I read it, and I feel, well I don't feel anything much really because it doesn't seem relevant to just living the way of the cross with Jesus, though I feel sorry you clearly feel some alarm or distress. I feel like your emotions get sucked into some kind of theological star wars, while all the time, really, we can just get on with loving God, and loving other people, within the path of our own integrity.

    I don't mean this offensively. I have a certain respect for your searching and desire to love God. I just personally believe this whole uproar about people's personal lives is just not frontline stuff it's made out to be.


  5. (…continuing from previous comment)

    The frontline is the comfort of the dying patients I see each day at work. The devastating poverty in the world. Not whether someone is living out of wedlock, when the very people who accuse her are also the people most strongly opposed to her being able to live in wedlock with her female partner anyway. It just seems to me that this obsession with sex and other people's sex is… weird.

    For my own part, I am celibate, and have no interest in sex anyway. I have interest in the call to each of us to follow the way of the cross, to die to self, to try (fallibly) to love the person in need.

    There is not enough love in the world as it is.


  6. I always think love is more important than sex anyway (some readers may beg to differ…) Mary Glasspool and her partner have been together for twenty seven years or something like that. I really do wonder if their relationships revolves around sex per se or is more about the shared commitment of all those years, the deep friendship, the knowledge of each other, the love that binds them. I think they are a model for each and every one of us, gay, straight, bi, post gay, celibate or anything else!

  7. What truly excellent pieces from Susannah and Sue which give the whole debate about human sexuality it's proper perspective.

  8. Thanks Andrew – you know it is often the women who get the priorities right :)____I agree with Susannah about that there should be an "uproar" and it shouldn't be "frontline stuff" – and as a Church and Communion we are tearing ourselves apart over it. So sad and needless.

  9. Very happy to see that walking away from TEC is met with so much serenity here. I'm happy that heated opinions don't prevent us from seeing what's the clear mind of the Communion, and that those in TEC can continue to tend to the sick and the poor without any unnecessary or dishonest affiliations with the Communion. It's really mostly just an odd situation we're currently in with a religion seems to think that "Anglican" is something like unitarianism, and whose members are being taught rather odd things about what this word "Anglican" means, sort of like a football team being part of an association of bird watching clubs, whose members think bird watching is rather daft, and have been taught that "bird watching" means kicking a ball around. I tend to agree with Peter on matters concerning sexuality, though I hardly ever write on them; but it has been the denial of Christ in TEC which indicates to me so clearly that all here are being most charitable to all if we simply part ways – and that such parting needn't even be a sad event since the true split occurred long ago.

    The church's teaching regarding sexuality is also important – it's just such a pity that it has become such an up-front-and-center issue due to the bizzarre actions of TEC, given the global situation and the Communion's repeated emphasis of its take on these difficult matters of sexuality. True, Susannnah, it's difficult for many to grasp, as are many church teachings, but fortunately one doesn't need to understand the ins and outs of it in order to live a faithful Christian life, or to minister faithfully to LBGT people. Hopefully after we have walked away, we will all be able to re-assess and approach sexuality in a healthier, and less obsessed, front-page news type manner, and a healthy focus on Christ will help us to show the most charity to those of all beliefs regarding sexuality, no matter how disparate they might be from societal norms, or from Christ's own words regarding sex. We must still love them all.

  10. […cont'd] It seems to me that our biggest challenge on this front here isn't in reaching out to LGBT people who are in stable relationships like Mary Glasspool, but rather it's in reaching out to people who are severely scorned by society: to pedophiles, to people stigmatized for promiscuity or out-of-control sexual habits, or more recently: reaching out to people who have once been in the LGBT lifestyle but don't find that appropriate for themselves, for whatever reason. The comments on various articles at this site show how difficult it is for someone who has once been gay to "come out of the closet" as not wishing to act on same sex attractions any more – and there are even "watchdog" associations for tracking persons who once identified as gay, but no longer do. Though there is still discrimination against LGBT people, it often pales compared to the scorn heaped upon people who either struggle with a gay identity, or even leave it entirely.

    I'm glad that Peter is willing to take on this tough role and be a voice for this community. The struggles here do sound to those outside like odd theological "star wars" – yes – why didn't you just keep doing what your hormones tell you, and stay with the nice sexy guys? It's tough to grasp that God also cares about what we do in an area that seems so "personal." But history also tells us that this "personal" is also profoundly "public" – as feminists have been good at reminding us that "the private is also public." Societies that "lose it," where private sexuality becomes such a widespread phenomenon that it has massive effects on the "public," suffer greatly. Aristophanes tells us that in his day, it was tough to get guys to pay attention to their wives, as they were mostly interested in young teenage boys – mind you, as all cultures "regulate" sex through cultural norms, the socially permitted sex acts didn't include penetration, but there was widespread overt sexual interaction between older men and boys that had become more or less a societal staple. This also tells us: desire is mimetic. What we teach, and what example we hold forth, counts. It's a tremendous challenge when we need to love people of any and all sexual habits. We don't want to condemn people. Not even when they engage in sex which society firmly disavows, such as pedophilia or incest. But in a society where lots of guys are fondling boys and becoming aroused, as in Aristophanes' polis, other guys learn to do the same, without even thinking about it – in a society where we not only love LGBT people, but somehow promote this lifestyle implicitly, more young people grow up with impulses likely to lead to an LGBT lifestyle. I think it's a challenge however you look at it – from the "gay sex is good" perspective or the "gay sex is not what God intends for us" perspective. I love my gay friends. But I wouldn't want what they experience, to be inflicted on others – and when I speak of their experience, I am not speaking of rejection or societal tension, but primarily in what they experience with each other and with themselves. I think it's right to say that almost no one consciously chooses to be gay. But almost no one chooses any of the other paraphilias either – they come from day by day choices and interactions, and it can take years of day by day choices and interactions for these "mind maps" to re-settle into different patterns.

  11. For what it's worth, I don't want to walk away from TEC and, if the Anglican Communion do so, it won't be over their "denial of Christ" ( incidentally I know little about TEC's theology -so haven't been able to make my mind up on that one ) it will be over their honesty about their gay priests!

    My recent post Expressions of faith

  12. "I love my gay friends. But I wouldn't want what they experience, to be inflicted on others – and when I speak of their experience, I am not speaking of rejection or societal tension, but primarily in what they experience with each other and with themselves."
    I do find this comment strange. I know lots of people in stable gay relationships – (I am involved with several LGBT organisations) and I would wish that the love and fidelity that they experience, could be SHARED by others. The only thing that I wouldn't want to see INFLICTED on others is the pain caused by rejections and misunderstanding.
    What do you mean by, " the way they are with each other and with themselves"? I have NEVER met so much love as I have in the Christian gay community, nor any group of people who display so much wisdom, kindness and self knowledge. Is the difference in the types of gay people we are associating with – or does the different interpretation arise from our different perspectives?

  13. Incidentally, I totally condemn the persecution of any individual who decides they " don't wish to act on their same sex attractions", especially as I know and love several people in that position.

  14. Sue,
    It's quite true, I don't know the gay people you know, and vice versa. I can only speak for what I've seen fairly up close. I'm happy that the individuals you know are in happy and stable relationships. That is an enormous blessing. I also know others who have the same testimony of some gay people in their lives.

    I had guessed that the serenity here might not be with realizing the full implications of the Glasspool consents – yes, we can continue to do the things we do, but implying that this is not an event worthy of our attention is more or less the assertion that one's own view on the matter here is cardinal: that the Communion should do nothing and implicitly accept that the sexual ethics of TEC is correct, and not that which has been embraced as the mind of the Communion by consensus. I am very concerned about the issues of sexuality; but as I mention time and again, it's the Christology I'm worried about. You are also right that the Communion decided to pursue the issues of sexuality, and not Christology, a choice which I think is easier to understand given the history going back to the 1980's.

    Though sexuality has been a "red flag" issue since the 1980's, the issue of Christology was less "actionable" (in a legal / disciplinarian sense – difficult to warn TEC not to engage in concrete things), and had also not reached such heights of greviousness until 2006. We also can't "discuss" the issues of Christology in the same way we have sexuality without making clear that we are going back on the Ecumenical Councils of the Church Universal, and thus declaring ourselves to be less than Trinitarian, and in some manner more like the Muslims, Mormons and Jehovahs' Witnesses in how we believe in Jesus (non-Trinitarian) rather than how Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Reformed, Baptist, … etc., – those churches we generally call "Christian" – believe these things.

    We can't walk away now because of the Christology without abandonning all process, and the very process – if we did it in the same way, listening to a church which will very likely tell us things like, "God has revealed to us that we don't really have to believe in the resurrection" – would be utterly devastating. Though it may in fact be what we deserve and what is necessary to call other faithful churches to heed Scripture in ways that we have not. I think, though, that it would more likely spur forms of fundamentalism which, I believe, we are already encouraging with our close ties with TEC, as I argued here:

  15. I don't really see evidence that the Communion is being dishonest about gay priests – I don't see it alleging that it has none, or any less than we know the case to be. We tend to be rather forthright that our priests don't always live up to what our church teaches. I would think that this would be enough "honesty." If people feel that the church has been dishonest in this area, it's important that we investigate, and make sure that we are being fully honest. On the other hand though, with the problems of ephebophilia in the Catholic Church – I don't think that the Catholic Church would be any more honest if it were to begin writing liturgies for the blessings of ephebophilic relations for its clergy members. In alleging that TEC is being more honest, we make a grave mistake – confusing love (including love for those who engage in things we find wrong) with affirmation.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.