I've been thinking about the Anglican three legged stool and the hope and prayer of being a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice, etc.
The past weeks have seen some signs that a number of people who we might otherwise have thought were caught up in the realignment agenda have had second thoughts about taking themselves out of this Church and into some other.
Fr. Jake reflected on friends in the Diocese of San Joaquin who he holds dear even when there are apparent divides. Likewise, I read the list of those who signed the letter from 12 clergy in Pittsburgh stating their intention to continue to work from change from within the Episcopal Church and found the name of at least one person I know and respect highly. The Rev. Dr. James Simons is quoted extensively in the Episcopal News Service article on the letter just published in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and for good reason. Jim is a thoughtful and talented priest and a person of great integrity.
I am thankful that as Anglican Land matters play out it appears that we may end up with an Episcopal Church that will still have in it James Simons and Terry Martin ( Jake's more or less reall name), Dan Martins and Sarah who Laughs, and everyone in between. What holds us all together can be viewed in a number of ways. Here is one:
We mostly sit on Anglicanism's three legged stool - scripture, reason and tradition. Oh we may argue about which is most important but we know that is really not very helpful. We find stability because the legs are all there, all strong and present.
Oddly, we know also that a one legged stool would suffice but that such a stool acquires its stability from a certain rigidity - it has to be squarely seated under one's rear, or perhaps pushed into the ground. It's not really suited to being moved around much, or for the squirmy.
As someone who would just as soon shift the stool occasionally, or shift around, I don't really like the one-legged type. I've met some who think one-legged stools work just fine. These are the sorts who like the stools you sometimes find at soda fountains or a certain class of bar. As I remember, if not well bolted down, they don't work very well, particularly if the sitter is not always attentive. (Not to suggest that I've ever fallen off a bar stool!)
So I like the Anglican reliance on a stool that you can move about and sit or stand on with some confidence.
For some reason in the back recesses of my mind I remembered today one of the first books ever read to me by Anne (sainted and still lively mother), Horton Hatches an Egg. Horton, who was faithful one-hundred percent, sat on a one-legged stool. I loved Horton and his faithfulness and his tree. I noticed as I got older that what with Horton being heavy (after all he was an elephant) his tree (one-legged) ended up having several more props and became a bit more stable. Horton, faithful one hundred percent, found himself on a three legged stool after all.
Perhaps friends who I thought had moved into one-legged land of Scripture, or Reason or Tradition alone, have instead come to realize that they too have needed the full prop-up of a three-legged informing faith.
All of this is of course foolishness as ruminations go. I know that the three-legged stool of Anglicanism idea gets to be somewhat hackneyed and overused. Still, I am hopeful that the future of the Episcopal Church will be filled with all sorts of Christians with a tendency to lean back on two or even one leg of the stool and still settle back down to the stability of all three together.
The Episcopal Church is filled with lots of one hundred percent faithful folk, relying at one time or another more on scripture, reason or tradition, sometimes on two, and mostly on all three. It's good to know that friends with whom there are strong disagreements are still sitting down together to talk - sitting on three-legged stools in Anglican Land.