Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Is that a $600 Check in Your Mailbox or are You Just Happy to See Me?

I am officially stimulated.

Most of you are probably thinking, "You just got your check TODAY?" Well, yes. The IRS distributed the checks according to the last two digits of the taxpayer's social security number. My last digits are 98. Could have been worse, I suppose.

My dear friend "Anonymous" was looking in vain (though, not very hard) for some instance where I disagreed with Barack Obama; this is one. In fact, back in January I said the only politician on the right side of the government's "economic stimulus" bill was...Mike Huckabee. I am still upset that we're going to borrow billions of dollars from China (ummm...that we have to pay back, with interest) to send people a paltry $600.

Granted, right at this moment I'm pretty relieved to have $600 more in my checking account, but it irks me that this isn't actually a tax refund, it's essentially a cash advance on a credit card that George Bush and the Congress took out in my name.

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Following up on Bp. Robinson's visit to the UK during the Lambeth Conference from which he is being excluded on account of some other bishops' discomfort with homosexuality, the Vicar of St. Mary's, Putney -- where Robinson preached this past Sunday -- wrote one of his predictably acidic and hilarious columns for The Guardian about the event.

Money quote: "How on earth does Gene Robinson cope with the disgusting abuse to which he is subjected most days – the protester who interrupted his sermon in my church on Sunday being a pretty mild example? Day after day, buckets of spiritual shit are thrown at him, sometimes by fellow bishops, and he just keeps going."

Wow, I am loving the phrase I emboldened there (to use a favorite word of the President's). It's vulgar, sure, but so, so, so accurate. Absolutely the right metaphor for the situation.

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It's To Wong Foo meets Priscilla meets The Last Debate: fellow blogger and JustOut columnist SMB and I are teaming up to cover Hermiston, Oregon's first ever Gay Pride event. Okay, well, no SMB will cover it, I'm just driving and along for the thrill of it. It's the weekend of August 1-2; stay tuned for another exciting Road Trip Live Blogging Event (this time without cats, I'm afraid.)


Joel said...

I think it's terrible that Bp. Robinson wasn't invited to the Lambeth Conference, but I'm not sure I feel it's fair to discuss this without at least noting that the wildly homophobic Bp. Minns--in a way, Robinson's counterpart--wasn't invited either.

Andy said...

Well, okay, but let's pause to consider that Bp. Robinson was duly elected and confirmed, in all propriety, by the canons of the Episcopal Church. Martyn Minns' "consecration" can hardly be said to have been appropriate, in flagrant contravention of the traditions of the Anglican Communion as it was, not to mention as an affront to the polity of TECUSA. (Then there's the matter of theft of church property.) I see your point, but raise you apples and oranges.

seithman said...

The thing that gets me is that Bishop Robinson does more than just cope with it all. He also manages to find compassion for those who abuse him. Have you seen his blog post about his thoughts over the interruption? After the initial shock and fear, he began to think about how sad and hurting his heckler must be to house that kind of anger and hatred.

-- Jarred.

SMB said...

Heeeeey Hermiston.

PS, in case you missed it, Hermiston falls under the largest Wi-Fi cloud in the world. So that's why no hotels there "offer teh internets."

Quinn said...

Go Hermiston! Who knew?

Gino said...

if bp robinson was ordained in accordance to church law, he should be treated as an equal.

if they dont like the result of church laws, or where their curch is headed, maybe schism is the only answer?

Andy said...

Well, Gino, I think you give the bishops too much credit. What binds the Anglican Communion together is common worship, not common doctrine. In other words, you can't identify an Anglican by his theology, but you could by his liturgy. As a church we have established guidelines for practice, but not really for belief. The renegade bishops are trying to argue that to be an "orthodox" Anglican means to have traditional beliefs about homosexuality, which isn't orthodox Anglicanism at all. Anglican doctrine, such as exists, is essentially contained in the Creeds, which are silent on the subject. Our great strength -- "the brilliance," as Bp. Robinson calls it -- is that our common worship allows for a broad range of beliefs to come together for a mutually enriching faith experience. (At least, that's the idea.) I don't want Bp. Akinola to leave our church; he doesn't want me to enter. He wants to establish a doctrinal litmus test for being an Anglican, which rather flies in the face of why our church was founded in the first place.

Gino said...

andy:can we have a discussion?
thank you.

i get what you are saying, as per common practice vs common doctrine.

but, wasnt the anglican church founded in response to the king wanting a divorce?

i dont know what precepts he used as his foundadtion, other than as king, he could do who he wanted.
but didnt the church at one time adhere to doctrines, and why the monarch is known as the 'keeper of the faith'?
faith requires some doctrines/stated beliefs to believe in.

we catholics have a catechism that explains things like doctrines and diciplines and meanings.
is there any kind of catechetical offering from the anglicans? something that says "this is how an anglican should live and believe".

is it possible that anglicanism has always accepted that traditional doctrines and beliefs would always survive within the body of faith, and therefore no need to expound on doctrines?

as per catholicism, and the issue of homosexuality: sex is forbidden outside of marriage. marriage is only valid between one man and one woman.
being openly gay is really not a problem. being sexually active and gay is the issue. as is active and hetero.

is it possible that akinola has as valid a point as does robinson, but two points that cant be reconciled, though both may be in-line with anglicanism on an intellectual level?

i was surprised when the 'robinson as bishop' story came up.
he was already a preist, and everybody knows that bishops come from the preistly class.
if there was no issue with his gayness before, then there should not be one now.

Andy said...

As to the history of the Church of England, yes, it's true that the catalyst was ignominious but the seeds of the Reformation had already been sown and were merely awaiting an opportunity. You can't really say we were founded because Henry wanted a divorce, but you could say that the reformers took advantage of the opportunity Henry's vanity provided them. We have largely retained Catholic theology and practice; our major innovation was to empower the laity and de-centralize authority.

Yup, we have a Catechism, found in the Book of Common Prayer. (And for the record, the BCP defines the Sacrament of Marriage as the union of "woman and man.") Regarding Bishops it says, "The ministry of a bishop is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as apostle, chief priest, and pastor of a diocese; to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the whole Church; to proclaim the Word of God; to act in Christ's name for the reconciliation of the world and the building up of the Church; and to ordain others to continue Christ's ministry." The discussion, then, is whether as an openly gay man living in a committed relationship with another man, Bp. Robinson is meeting those standards. I think you can see that, depending on your perspective, either a "yes" or a "no" interpretation is possible. And for most Anglicans, that means we are on the right track.

I think our reticence to enforce doctrine comes from looking backward over church history and seeing how many times "the official line" has been tragically wrong. The silencing and oppression of dissent not only won't keep you on the righteous path, it's the quickest way to Hell. That is why I firmly belive the Anglican world needs both the Akinolas and the Robinsons; together we will find the way forward. We have to listen to each other.

As to your point about "being gay" is okay but having gay sex is not (I paraphrase), there are many Anglicans who would agree with you. In the Episcopal branch, a plurality, if not a majority, would argue that intimacy is one of God's great gifts to humanity, and that it has sacred aspects of love and -- yes! -- pleasure, apart from biological functions of reproduction. Well, if not "apart from," in addition to. And as the evidence builds that sexual orientation is biological in nature, and as experience teaches us that gay people can be perfectly moral and that gay relationships can be as loving and supportive and committed and monogamous (and not) as heterosexual relationships, then we start to lose the rationale for objecting to them. Whereas the Catholic Church has identified homosexuality as "intrinsically disordered," back in 1976 (!) the Episcopal Church resolved "that homosexual persons are children of God and have an equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the Church."

is it possible that akinola has as valid a point as does robinson, but two points that cant be reconciled, though both may be in-line with anglicanism on an intellectual level?

Yes, and that's really the argument being made by the Episcopal Church, however it is rejected by Akinola. I am of the firm belief that God is bigger than any one doctrine (another aspect of our reluctance to enforce a hard theological line, again pace church history) and I think we should not discount the experiences and heartfelt beliefs and longheld convictions of other witnessing Christians. The renegades are claiming that we are creating some kind of hostile, apostate environment (and I admit, there are definitely people in TECUSA and elsewhere hostile to Akinola et al) from which they have no choice to remove themselves. And if they truly believe that TECUSA is embracing heresey, then by all means, on principle they should leave. But that's not really what they're doing; they're attempting to take over the Anglican Communion and kick out the Episcopal Church and the Church of Canada (and take millions of dollars of church property with them). If actions speak louder then words, then unfortunately I feel compelled to add that the antics of the separatists weaken their claim that they are acting in principle.

As to the propriety of Bp. Robinson's consecration I will say that there does seem to be the general assumption (with which I would not disagree) that a bishop should be held to a higher standard. On a practical level, if the Episcopal Church were to object to the ordination of women and gay people, there would be about 17 priests left. The people of the Diocese of New Hampshire voted to have him as their bishop; the Anglican Communion grants sufficient autonomy to each of its provinces to choose their respective bishops, and it is unprecedented that the bishops of another province should claim some kind of authority to tell us who we can and cannot ordain.

Gino said...

Whereas the Catholic Church has identified homosexuality as "intrinsically disordered," back in 1976 (!)

the Episcopal Church resolved "that homosexual persons are children of God and have an equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the Church."

yes, it was 1976, maybe 1976 yrs late, but you have to understand that the Church assumes that traditional jewish theology should be sufficient on issues such as sexuality, unless the Church speaks otherwise.
as a result, the Church doesnt speak on issues until its actually an issue (there was no gay movemnt back in the 1800's, so the question was never proposed, nor addressed)

as for the second part, the Church has issued a statement very much along this same line.

now at last i understand what is the cause of the anglican infighting.
it looks to me that there is nowhere to go but schism. a matter of when, and not if.

a question: akinola beleives homosexuality, or at least its sexual acts, to be sinful.
can the robinson wing really feel comfortable sitting a pew when an "akinola" is preaching about sexual morality?
wont they they ask that he keep it to himslef so as not to cause a rift?

akinola may 'turn a blind eye' to what is happening elsewhere, but in the final analysis, as a minister, he must speak to moral truth as he sees it. to expect him to do so, but just dont mention 'this', would be the same as taking away at least a portion of the ministery he was ordained to serve.
the same effect if you tell robinson to limit himself as well.
it would be unfair to either man, cause i dont think either of them understood they were only recieving a 90% ordination, especially if both views are consistent, and not outside of, anglicanism.

assuming the only agenda of both men is the cause of Christ, and given no reason to believe otherwise of either of them, i'd hate to be an anglican right now while having to brace myself for the sundering to come.

your command of the issue, and fairness to both sides while explaining it to me, is commendable.
and i thank you.
i now understand more than i did before.