Walking apart, separately, alone, etc.

For some time now the phrase, "walking together or walking apart" has been used. It's first use seems to have been in the Windsor Report, but it has been widely used by those advocating a realignment of the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada have been accused of threatening to, or deciding to "walk apart." In the June 30 addition of the Toronto Globe and Mail (brought to my attention by Harry Coverston), Jen Gerson wrote an article saying that the "Canadian church signals it is prepared to walk away from international body."

All this got me to thinking...what is this walk business? Without anyone actually mentioning the fact, walking together or walking alone, or even deciding to walk apart, are charged with negative value. But why is that? In a time when walking was how you got there, as well as a way of being present, Jesus walked sometimes with folk (in his preaching and teaching circuit), sometimes walked alone to go off to pray. His presence was sometimes revealed in a walking (as at the close of the story of the encounter on the road to Emmaus.) But in any event walking was able to be itself a destination as well as a means of getting to a destination. Thus walking with Jesus is like walking in the light, or walking in the day time. Walking with Jesus, being his follower, seems to be the core value concerning walking - thus walking in the faith, walking with Christ, etc.

So the imagery of "walking apart" gets the overlay of the image of walking with Jesus, and walking apart becomes ecclesiological language in which the real accusation is that ECUSA is walking away or apart from the faith in Jesus.

Writing in the secular press Jen Gerson at least got it right: to be prepared to walk away from an "international body" is quite different from walking away from the faith, or walking apart from Jesus. In fact quite the opposite might be true, that walking away of a "mere" international body (i.e., the Anglican Communion) might be walking toward the faith and with Jesus. The article quotes Archdeacon Feheley, "if this is where Canada believes that this is where the Holy Spirit is guiding us then other churches must respect that."
I suppose I am simply getting tired of ECUSA and the Anglican Church of Canada being accused of walking apart, out, separately, as if that was in and of itself wrong. Suppose the walking is indeed TOWARD and WITH God in Jesus Christ, as guided by the Holy Spirit.

1 comment:

  1. Q. How do we recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives?

    A. We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation.

    Q. How do we recognize the truths taught by the Holy Spirit?

    A. We recognize truths to be taught by the Holy Spirit when they are in accord with the Scriptures


    I seem to recall, shortly after GC 2003, the meeting that established the ACN (known as the "Plano" event but not held in Plano TX) also claimed to experience the Holy Spirit in their midst. It seems to me that everyone gets to claim they are under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is a whole lot like themselves. At GC 2003, the Holy Spirit is a liberal (would you deny that ECUSA is dominated by such?). At Plano, the Holy Spirit is a conservative evangelical or anglo catholic. I'd like to believe you're following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but can you give even the slightest shred of evidence that the majority of the ECUSA have not simply projected their own beliefs and values onto the universe (a la Ludwig Feuerbach), called them God, and followed them? It's so nice to know that everyone is following their own personal Holy Spirit, but I seem to recall that their is actually only one Body and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Is that no longer true? Does God now call us to multiple faiths, bodies, by multiple spirits?

    I should tell you that before I was an Episcopalian I was a member of a holiness-pentecostal sect, where we regularly knew powerful experiences of the Holy Spirit. While I love our liturgy and our experience of Christ in the Eucharist, I must tell you that I am of the opinion that most Episcopalians wouldn't know the Holy Spirit if He bit them on the nose. One of the clearest signs of the absence of the Spirit is the way Episcopalians love to castigate each other, and assume "Holier Than Thou" or "More Tolerant Than Thou" attitudes. I was a kibbitzer on the HOB/D for a month, and that was almost enough to make me leave the ECUSA. I can only hope the acridity I saw there doesn't really represent the bishops and deputies of ECUSA.

    If there was any real guidance going on by the Holy Spirit, I think I would see a whole lot more concern about and respect for one's opponents who are the most vulnerable in this conflict. I am thinking of the conservatives on liberal dioceses who struggle terribly with the disdain of others (even outright persecution, especially this week), and how to appropriately respond to the recent actions in light of their own commitments and beliefs. I also think of the gays and lesbians in conservative areas who are told they can "be healed" and have their sexual orientation changed and either don't want to, don't believe it can be done, are fearful of how difficult and potentially damaging the attempt might be, or have tried and failed. When concern and action for these starts to happen without outside pressure (and I'm not holding my breath), then I might begin to think the Spirit of Jesus is at work. Until then, I perceive a whole lot of self-deception going on.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.