Category Archives: Anglicanism

Easter Musings

Holy Week is a hard week for me. Usually, it’s not hard for me to “get into” a story (as a child, I often struggled more to “get out”!). But Holy Week is hard because I know how it ends.

Good Friday? Well, yes, that’s the day we remember that Jesus died. But he came back! Two days later, I’m absolutely positive. Holy Saturday? I’m sure it was difficult beyond words for his friends and family to leave him, along with many of their hopes and dreams, in the tomb. But he came back!

Do you see the pattern here? This is why I struggle with the story of Jesus’ death (and, actually, all of Lent). It’s not that I don’t believe it, or that the emotional impact doesn’t hit me. It’s more that I don’t remember living life without knowing that Jesus came back. Ever since I was very small, since my first Easters, I’ve known that Jesus was the one who came back. That bit of knowledge has been central to who I understand him to be. Other people did their worst, did all of the terrible things to him, but he still came back. The fact that I know he comes back mitigates some of the pain and some of my ability to walk in those desolate places year after year.

As I write, I’m actually struggling with this. On the one hand, walking through some of those dark places seems important, even if all it ever serves to do is highlight Easter morning (and I would guess that it does more than that). On the other hand, my Lord lives. He is alive to me and I struggle to imagine him dead. The fact that I can’t live (even if only for a few days) in a world where he is gone tells me that I truly know him, alive and active. And in that, I rejoice.

In the end, I want to find a way to truly walk through Holy Week without losing the fact that he comes back. I want to honor him by remembering the worst, the hardest, the pain and indignity of it all. But I don’t ever, ever want to forget that the Lord is Risen. Indeed. Alleluia!

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Anglicanism in America, II

One of the things this blog will chronicle is my reaction to what is going on in the Anglican church. I should give a history of this here, and at some point I will, but life is crazy right now, and I don’t have that long of a break from work. Maybe this weekend.

Someone I love dearly and respect highly blogged this morning about discernment and the church right now. I commented on his post, but wanted to expand on what I said there. He describes those labeled “liberals” thus:

Liberals strive to uphold love as the primary focus of the Gospel. They value “inclusion”, “acceptance of all”, “justice”, “making a home for the outcast”, and “making the Church and the Gospel relevant and timely for all people”. These positions are definitely authentic to the Gospel. But the besetting sin of such a position is departure from discipline and failure to call people to change for the better. When these positions are taken at the cost of the Biblical and historic understanding of the Faith, then this viewpoint has become unbalanced. It leads to division, outrage among others in the Church, and controversy. Whenever someone emphasizes love at the expense of truth, then something is wrong.

and “conservatives” thus:

Conservatives strive to uphold truth as the primary focus of the Gospel. They want to uphold the doctrines the Church has accepted as authoritative, traditional moral standards, and so forth. These positions are also definitely authentic to the Gospel. But the besetting sin of such a position is rigidity, judgmentalism, and threats of separation. When these positions are taken at the cost of the Biblical and historic understanding of love and charity, then this viewpoint has become unbalanced. It also leads to division, outrage among others in the Church, and controversy. Whenever someone emphasizes truth at the expense of love, then again, something is wrong.

My problem with both of those is that it would be nice if they were true.

The ones called liberals don’t really seem to be practicing love, as he describes it. They have a veneer of love, and they may even think that’s genuine. However, they don’t love the conservatives. They don’t try to include them or tolerate them or reach out to them when they’re rejected or oppressed. The church I’m currently a part of was once basically outcast in our diocese. The liberals did not reach out, did not try to reconcile with us (until our current bishop), because they considered us conservative. It seems like true love requires us to love our enemies, not just the people we like. All of this makes me wonder if their talk of love and tolerance is anything more than a nice face to put on their desire for power. Even if I give them the benefit of the doubt and believe that they are genuine in their pursuit of love even though they are deficient in its practice, I think that for the love to be genuine it needs to include the conservatives as people who are loved.

On the conservative side, I’m not sure if everyone is fighting for truth, or for traditional values. Since I would consider myself more on this side than the other (though I would take offense if someone told me I emphasize truth over love), this is a much more convoluted issue for me. I know that most conservatives believe that they are fighting for truth, but I’m not entirely sure if they’re fighting for it because it is truth, or because it’s what has been believed for years and that needs to be upheld. It seems genuine (and even loving!) to fight for truth because it’s truth. To fight for it because it’s not change seems a little more dubious. If the application of truth to a particular social situation changes, we need to be open to changing with it. If changing the application would be trying to change the truth, we need to hold on to the truth. From what I’ve read thus far, it’s really hard to tell why conservatives are taking the positions they’re taking, and that disturbs me.

In the end, I disagree with these grounds as a distinction between what makes a person liberal or conservative in this debate. I think that this distinction offers us a good beginning for finding out what actually delineates the positions, but it’s too simplistic for the long run. It scares me that people might take this and run with it.

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Anglicanism in America

*These are very early, very initial musings. Take them as such.

I fear for my church. I love my church, but I fear for it.

The word from Lambeth seems to be (if I’m reading the communique and the commentary on it right), that a group is going to draw up a covenant, which each church in the Anglican communion will have to agree to. To help The Episcopal Church, there’s going to be committee…though I’m not quite clear as to what they’re going to do. I think they’re supposed to help discern what was and was not ratified at General Convention this summer, and help oversee the ratifying and installation of the covenant and covenant-lifestyle in the church, from what I can tell.

I guess I wanted more. I wanted this to have been the last straw, for someone to tell The Episcopal Church that they’ve gone too far, have finally crossed the line, and are out. And yet…well, I’m not sure they could have done that. Then again, if not now, when? Where is this line? When will it be crossed? How many (more) times does The Episcopal Church get to cross the lines that are drawn without grave penalty?

The problem with the Windsor Report, and the problem now, seems to be that the consequences are not outlined clearly. It’s like shaking your fist at the bully, saying, “Don’t take my lunch money or else!!!” As far as he knows, you won’t do anything. Maybe you can’t. That’s how this seems, to me. When do you shut the bully down, stop him, take yourself out of his reach?

I think I’ve reached that point. I just wish the rest of my church had.

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Risking heresy, once again

…but if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry. So don’t read this if you’re A) easily offended, B) can’t take a joke, or C) think the new Big Bish is Quite The Gal. And yes, I’m an Evil Crossposter, as I already posted this over at the Blessed Sacrament Message Board.

Did anyone else notice that they managed to elect Rainbow Brite as the Primate of North America (or whatever her title is). Pics here.

And, for your, erm, caroling pleasure (don’t read this if humor is not one of your major defense mechanisms), found here.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Kate Schori’s invested,
And tanned and well-rested,
Frank’s out on his ear!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s the hap, happiest season of all!
Kate’s hat is more pointy,
The right’s out of jointy,
And playing hardball!
It’s the hap, happiest season of all!

There’ll be liturgies crazy and sermons quite lazy
And syncretism just for you.
Defections increasing, parishes deceasing
And deficits out the wazoo.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Kate Schori’s the primate,
A liberal climate,
And Robbie’s still queer!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

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An Apologetic for Leaving

I’m not leaving Blessed Sacrament…yet. But I feel (and think…why do we always say “feel” in these situations?) pretty strongly about some of the issues and, if I don’t see us headed the right way, I will be leaving eventually. There’s a lot of talk around church about whether leaving is ever the right thing to do. I think that it has to be, and here is part of the reason why.

This came to me as I was getting ready this morning, which is pretty bizarre when you think about the fact that I only got 4-5 hours of sleep last night. Usually, when that happens, it’s all I can do to put my feet in the right pant legs, let alone think up arguments for something. Now I’m thinking, though, that maybe my brain was still in that waking place, where you’re still partly asleep and you have the deep sorts of insights.

Anyway, on to the argument.

It has to be ok for some of us to leave because, as a body, we are to reflect God. In Isaiah (well, lots of places, but I’m choosing Isaiah), we see God leaving his people. They have abandoned him, have come to love other things more than they love him, and have generally turned their backs on him. And so he turns his back on them. We even see Isaiah urging him to do this, to turn from his very own people, because they have abandoned him.

If it is right for God to leave his people, must it not also be right for us, if we are to reflect God, to leave a group of his people?

The thing is, this very same argument shows that it must also be right for some people to stay. God doesn’t just leave his people, but in his leaving them actually brings them closer to himself, which isn’t what I think of when I think of leaving. So he both leaves them and remains with them (or, more directly, teaches them to remain with him).

Since I, at least, have not mastered this “leaving through staying” thing yet, it makes the most sense to me that we would reflect God BOTH by leaving and by staying. Some leave. They show God’s justice, his zeal for justice and truth. They love the church by taking the business of their worship elsewhere. Others stay. They show God’s deep and abiding faithfulness, his mercy. They love the church by exhorting it to better and better places.

My point? No one of us can do both of these tasks simultaneously. To truly reflect the God who loves us and who we love, different ones of us must do different things. I think it simply must be that way.

Not that that is massively comforting. I still feel like I’m in the midst of the old song.*

* You know:
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble;
If I stay it will be double.

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I was going to post earlier…

…about men who sit in green silk rooms and make decisions that drastically effect other folks’ lives. But it wasn’t where I was at then.

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I should be making dinner…

…but instead I’m sitting here crying. Finally. I think I’ve wanted to cry most of today.

The Episcopal Church finally made their choice–they decided to (functionally) reject Windsor and antagonize the situation in the process with their choice of Presiding Bishop.

There are a lot of options for a church like mine. I don’t have a strong belief that it will take one of the ones that would make it ok to stay where I am, but I don’t know yet.

So I grieve. I grieve for the hearts and souls of the people who make these decisions, for the ones who don’t know what they’re flouting, or who flout it in the name of truth, love, and justice. I grieve for what their choices say about God, who He is and how He acts. Mostly, though, I grieve selfishly. I grieve for the fact that, because they made this decision, I and many of those I love face loss. I don’t yet know for sure what I’m going to do. No matter what I do, though, I lose. If I stay at Blessed Sac, I lose those who choose to leave. If I leave, I lose those who choose to stay, and probably many of the others who choose to leave as I can’t imagine we’ll all go to the same place. More than that, I lose something more abstract, something harder to define. I lose through the experience of this, through having to make this sort of choice.

I think that’s what I hate the most, overall. This should not be. It just shouldn’t. It’s wrong on so many levels that I don’t even know where to start. I don’t even know where to start grieving. God’s children should not have to face choices like this because those who claim to be His children should not be making the choices being made. So it is wrong, on a level bigger than the decisions made at General Convention. It’s wrong on a cosmic, how-the-world-works level.

I also hate the way these decisions were being made. If I decide that I could abide with the decisions, this would be another obstacle. It’s like the ECUSA is run by a bunch of teenagers, dead set on making flagrant decisions that will set the rest of the Anglican Communion ablaze. I keep thinking about it this way: If I had a major moral disagreement with my boss, and we were in the process of trying to decide if we could still work together or if one of us had to leave, I would hope that I would not make any decisions that I knew would antagonize the issue before we decided. I might put some off, but I would hope that I would not act as they have–deliberately making choices they’ve been asked not to make, and not waiting until they knew if reconciliation was possible before throwing more wood on the fire.

So I don’t know. I don’t think I can stay, but I don’t know that I have what it takes to take a stand and go, either. I know, I have some time. But Blessed Sacrament means so much to me. It came along when I mostly felt betrayed by and therefore suspicious of Church and churches, and it snuck up behind those defenses and touched me deeply. To leave is like leaving a home, maybe one of the truest homes I’ve ever had. But it seems that my home may be leaving me. Once again, that should not be.

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