June 19, 2006

Various and/or Sundry

So this is how a schism happens. We weren't there in the 11th century when East and West officially went separate ways. We weren't there during the Reformation. We weren't around to watch the Anabaptists get out of Dodge or watch the Mennonites split from the Old Order Amish. But we are watching a train wreck now as the American Episcopalians begin divorce proceedings from the Anglican communion (although admittedly the former comprise a tiny fraction of the latter).

From the Columbus Dispatch:

At least 1,000 people pushed into Trinity Episcopal Church to celebrate the Eucharist and show their support for New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man. His supporters filled the pews, balconies and basement and spilled out onto the S. 3 rd Street sidewalk. They laughed and cried and stood clapping as a teary-eyed Robinson urged them to love those gathered about a mile away in a modest, windowless room at Nationwide Arena.

There, Bishop Peter Beckwith of Springfield, Ill., presided over an intimate service. Although their numbers were small by comparison, roughly 80 people, they sang loudly and held tightly to their convictions.
Re: the phrase "tightly-held convictions" with respect to conservative Episcopalians. "Tight" seems often used in conjunction with conservatives in the media but seems here an adjective very applicable to the progressive Episcopalians, who not only have tightly-held convictions but are not shy about imposing them.

From a progressive Episcopalian blogger at the Convention here in Columbus:
Yesterday a really cool resolution came before the House of Deputies it called on dioceses and congregations to do education about debt and debt reduction for families and called for February to be designated 'Debt Awareness Month'...We had amendments and amendments to amendments and people were debating the month that should be debt awareness month and someone suggested April instead of February and someone else said we shouldn't pick a month and it was taking a long time. Someone got up and said we should really have September be debt awareness month because that prepares people for Christmas buying and doesn't overlap with Easter. I strongly agree with him and right after he spoke they called for a vote. I ended up voting for the resolution because I think in essence its a good resolution while at the same time thinking February is the wrong month...All in all, I'm excited about debt awareness month and think any month is really a good month to talk about it and every month is essentially debt awareness month.
I think that pretty much speaks for itself. Later she expresses qualms about using her child as prop:
I've been struggling with the idea that Naomi is someone or something that helps me make political points. Many times before and during convention people have told me that Naomi's presence really makes a point (her being here in general, me having her on the floor with me, me bringing her to a committee meeting, me bringing her to a hearing). I decided during morning worship that although I often feel uncomfortable with politicians 'posing' with their kids I could find a balance between using her as a prop and finding a way to be truly me, protect her, and have her presence here with me be the natural thing I think it is and if all that happens to be a political statement then so be it.

A thought: the Beatitudes begin "Blessed are the poor in spirit" and continue in that sort of third person vein. "Blessed are those who mourn...Blessed are the peacemakers". We may or may not be able to identify ourselves in those categories (which is the source of consternation - Bob Deffinbaugh writes, "I was thinking of the statement Nikita Krushchev made a number of years ago while in the United States, when he said, “I’ll tell you what the difference between Christians and me is, and that is if you slap me on the face, I’ll hit you back so hard your head will fall off.” He was impacted by the Sermon on the Mount. He knew what it said, and he didn’t like it at all. The truth is that the natural man does not like its message. This is not the message one would take to write a best selling book—even a Christian book. The message of the Sermon on the Mount is not one that sells.")

But then the Beatitudes suddenly switch to the first person: "Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake." (emphasis mine). I wonder if this suggests that not all are called to be martyrs in the sense of the verse before ("Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness' sake") but that all Christians will be persecuted in the sense of falsely accused and reproached.

As Roman Catholics, there is a tendency to think the events at the Episcopalian Convention have nothing to do with us but they are momentous in the sense that we are all affected by each other and by the climate of the culture. Artificial birth control was universally prohibited before the Anglicans, in 1930, okay'd their use. Some thirty years Rome visited the issue and the papal commission apparently approved the Pill, while Pope Paul VI (suprisingly given his generally diffident management style) condemned the practice. I know of Catholics who date their disobedience to the pope to the promulgation of Humane Vitae. So, at the risk of great oversimplication, the actions of the Anglicans in 1930 eventually led to a great deal of our current division in the American church.

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