Episcopalians and the Renunciation of the fruits of action: Let yes be yes and no, no.

(From notes taken last Christmas in India, on how The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion might find a way forward.  The full essay can be read HERE.)
 ...Mahatma Gandhi wrote that the matchless way to attain self-realization, is renunciation of fruits of action.That's the core center around which the Bhavagad Gita is woven. The self-realization attained is our participation in incarnational living. 

We live incarnationally to the extent that we both work to act with justice, compassion and stand in the truth as it is given us and are willing to live even as God does among us in Jesus Christ. Even Jesus did not call down the forces he might have in order to guarantee the results he wished.

So the Gita and Gandhi suggest, do what we do with the deepest reverence for truth, for life, and for justice possible, but do not be overcome by attachment to the desired end. 

As Jesus suggests, we must learn to let our "yes" be "yes" and our "no," "no." Everything else, for example, having "our way" will eventually become an obstacle to enlightened action.

If we want the Anglican Communion to be inclusive of men and women in all orders of ministry, open to all who qualify, and we want to clearly state that persons in committed relationships with another of the same sex are not disqualified from such inclusion, then what we must do is show it in our actions and not be so attached to the inclusiveness of the Anglican Communion that we would either do anything to make it happen or alternately refuse to act because we might loose the Anglican Communion all together. The truth of our actions must stand on its own, not on the success of turning the Anglican Communion towards our vision for it.

The "Listening Process" needs to be totally rethought. So long as listening is listening to arguments for or against, or to recounting of experiences that support or do not support a particular position regarding human sex expression by faithful people, the process is a prelude to judgment. Judgment makes listening a listening FOR. We will listen for words that support our claim, or go against the claim of others. We will listen for the "therefore" at the end of statements, rather than the content of the statement itself. 

We do need a listening process, but the process we need is not a way into deeper decision, but deeper respect and love.Perhaps a better listening is not receiving statements from people and groups, it is people and groups engaging one another in respect and love.

The goal of all our efforts to keep the Anglican Communion alive can not be orthodoxy and collective agreement on terms of engagement with one another. That way lies the tyranny of the ego and the collective.  

The goal of our efforts is to be yet another effort to make God's presence known in the world, not in what we do, but in how we love one another and the world in Christ's name. 

If our actions are of the Light of the World, then we need not worry about desired ends, for the Light is already here. If we listen in love, then the Light that is present in each of us will shine forth, and we will see the light of Christ in it.

Perhaps then the Anglican Covenant is a worthy exercise in telling the truth about who we are, but a terribly mistaken instrument of unity. Our unity is not in ourselves, but in our actions to the end that all people know themselves as people of Light and Life. And to the extent that the Covenant attempts to bring conformity it is simply untrue to the multiplicity of ways in which we experience the light of the Gospel.

The point at Christmas is simple: The Light does indeed shine in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. In Jesus all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and Jesus calls us to be that light as well. ...Of to church, then...

May your Christmas be blessed, the Incarnation known, and may all the sages jump for joy.

Christmas, Chennai, India, 2009.

1 comment:

  1. You might have a look at Philip Turner's fine essay. He explains the tradition of 'dissent' associated with Ghandi and MLK and shows why TEC cannot legitimately claim that ethical tradition.


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