4/19/2008

Taking a breath, saying a prayer (or two or three.)

I've not posted anything since Thursday, when as angry as people who have been sold a pack of lies for years, I took a shot across the bows of the Empire with a very small harpoon. The whale of a lie, that all is well in the War, has been seriously challenged by the report by a think tank hired by the government that upwards to 300,000 (that's three hundred thousand) US service personnel suffer from some form of post traumatic stress syndrome and as many suffer from brain injuries from concussions.

I thought this would lead to real questions of the candidates, real arguments by news hounds and rage by bloggers, even Anglican bloggers. It would appear in the latter category that no one gives a damn, since it is on the face of it not about the war in the Anglican Communion.

Still, here in the quiet backwaters of Anglican land the stresses are real.

I must confess my own stresses have had to do more with worry about a "saturation biopsy" of my prostate (which sounded very much like saturation bombing), worry about the health of other family members and of several clergy who are in dire straits over the usual parish miseries and about good friends who are dealing with "the usual" suspects of life and limb dangers and bodies that insist on getting older.

The report on the biopsy: no signs of cancer. The report on health of family: daughter great, mother old. The report on clergy: bearing up well. On friends: Haiti is is a mess, but friends are OK and they have been there before, and what can be done about surgeons who whittle away at the bowel except to recover as well as possible.

All in all a busy week. Fortunately the blog sphere in Anglican-land has many good resources:

Fr. Jake did a remarkable job in taking a report on the Falls Church and using that as a basis for a slice and dice memo on the incursion of the Church of Nigeria into the Episcopal Church. And for those who think he overreached, Bishop Tom Wright (no friend of the Episcopal Church) said (thanks to Thinking Anglicans HERE) ,

"I do have to say, as well, that these situations have been exploited by those who have long wanted to shift the balance of power in the Anglican Communion and who have used this awful situation as an opportunity to do so. And now, just as the super-apostles were conveying the message to Paul that if he wanted to return to Corinth he’d need letters of recommendation, we are told that, if we want to go on being thought of as evangelicals, we should withdraw from Lambeth and join the super-gathering which, though not officially, is clearly designed as an alternative, and which of course hands an apparent moral victory to those who can cheerfully wave goodbye to the ‘secessionists’.

He wrote of all this earlier and said, "To say “scripture is our authority” does not commit anyone to joining the small group represented by Chris Sugden, Martyn Minns, and Peter Jensen. It is clear that they are the prime movers and drafters, making a mockery of Canon Sugden’s claim (Comment, 11 January) that GAFCON is about rescuing the Churches from Western culture."

THINKING ANGLICANS as usual has been on top of some of the papers that require some heavy lifting and careful analysis.

I have been
impressed also with several other contributions to Anglican blog land this week:

The Mad Priest snatched the Pope's Weekly Planner and gave us a view, compared to a local vicar. The local vicar is a vicar of Christ for sure...about the Pope, well, let's see.

Susan Russell puts it into pictures as well. With all the furor over letters from the Archbishop of Canterbury it is useful to remind ourselves that some put their faith in horses and men, and others in balloons and compliance. Let's not put ours in either. Windsor compliance is a non-starter. The Anglican Covenant is an idea that may have a future or may not, but don't ride in it yet.

I have however been thinking of clergy friends on both sides of the divide and of how there lives are going in the midst of difficult times. Parish ministry can be a pit and a joy both and when it is a pit it is the pit of death and someone has to go, usually the priest. I have several friends in this pickle. And this week Matt Kennedy of Stand Firm fame has been challenged by the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese to turn over the property of the parish he in which he is working. While I can completely agree with the Bishop that he had every business business doing this and can often agree with parishes that they can have legitimate complaints against their priests, I know that doing the work of the ministry in those settings is a mess.

Bishop Tom Wright seems to think that the Episcopal Church is full of walking wounded. He said, "
I do not for one moment underestimate the awful situation that many of our American and Canadian friends have found themselves in, vilified, attacked and undermined by ecclesiastical authority figures who seem to have lost all grip on the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be eager only for lawsuits and property squabbles. I pray daily for many friends over there who are in intolerable situations and I don’t underestimate the pressures and strains. "

The pressures and strains here dear Bishop are indeed real, but you fail to mention many of those strains that involve faithful priests who get dumped on by bishops, parish leadership, friends, and who knows who else, for all sorts of other matters. Where are those mentioned?

Where is the acknowledgment that gay and lesbian clergy in the church are routinely made to
conform to a silence beyond which they dare not go? Where are the signs of care for gay and lesbian people who believe they are indeed Christian and who cannot deny who they are and what that means for their lives? And the transgendered simply are consigned to silence.

And of course Bishop Tom Wright, when he writes,
ecclesiastical authority figures who seem to have lost all grip on the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be eager only for lawsuits and property squabbles" betrays a pastoral deficiency that is all the more remarkable for its simple wrongheadedness. I would invite the bishop to live in a place where the Church is not established and where the recourse to law is an important right of institutions of the Church. I have remarked before on the possibility that a large proportion of American lawyers are Christian as are the people for whom they are bring suit. We thrive on the odd working of church and state where neither has the upper hand. And, just for his information, our bishops and other ecclesiastical authority figures have not "lost all grip on the gospel of Jesus Christ." That is simply a throw away snotty comment unworthy of a pastor bishop.

And, in case anyone in blog land is interested, a lot of people, gay and straight, are getting on with ministry without agreement among themselves as to what is the very best way to be a Christian, but with great agreement that everyone can set their shoulder to the wheel. Most of these folk are, if not insanely happy, at least reasonably so. Bishop Wright has nothing to say to these, who constitute the large majority of all Episcopal church folk.

My sense is this is even more so in the Anglican Church of Canada which is full of nice people doing good work.

Well, there it is. I was hoping only to remark on my silence for the past two days. The rant is extra. Use it well.

Oh, by the by, in the context of doing something good for the universe of ideas, blah blah blah...this week while preoccupied with the health of self, others, the church and the world, I finally bound ten copies of a print/image book titled, "TRANSLUCENT." No great thing, but art always advances the creation, even bad art. Ask the Mad Priest.








4 comments:

  1. Great news on the biopsy. Otherwise so much going on, so much of it surreal, that I am astonished at your ability to pull this disparate mess together - and in a week when even Fr. Hagger decides it's time to take a breather. Thanks.

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  2. Thanks be to God for the good medical news, Mark!

    I'm sorry for all the stresses and strains in your family, among your friends, and in the church. The one good thing is that there is still so much love in the world, even amongst all the fussing and fighting. God bless you and those you love.

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  3. I am glad to hear the medical news is good.

    Sometimes, often in my case, it takes a while to decide if one has something to say/post on a topic, and then to decide what it is. So, for instance, I just now posted a comment on your war entry.

    I think that one of the problems with instant communications media is that we communicate instantly. Better to be quiet (probably what I do best,) think a bit (probably not my strong suite,) and then if and only if we have something worthwhile, post it.

    I will this morning, probably, post a thought or three on Sunday's lessons. Not having to preach (praise G-d!) or write to a schedule, I can let what I heard preached and read help me form what, if anything, I choose to write. If I get to John after the lectionary, what of it?

    My marine brother has a word for a completely disastrous failure. It begins with "cluster." ;-) Yup!

    FWIW
    jimB

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  4. Mark,
    I just saw this. Good news about your health! Keep up the good work.
    Pierre

    ReplyDelete

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