All About Trey

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Filtering by Tag: Anglican

A Conversation about God (Part 1)

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and meant to publish it, but didn’t. It seems appropriate now:

Last Sunday I went to church twice. Not my usual routine for Sunday, but I had heard that Bishop Robinson was in town preaching that the Church of the Epiphany and I wanted to him here speak. I wasn’t sure if he would address the latest issues in the Anglican Communion, the results of the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans, or what, but I wanted to go listen to him speak. And then I went to my normal service at St. Thomas’.

But I had company with me that weekend. Susan, a friend of mine from the Navy and her partner Mary (not their real names since they are both active duty) were in town seeing the sights and crashing at my place. And when I mentioned that I was getting up early to go listen to Bishop Robinson, Mary asked to come with me. And I of course said yes!

So we drove down to Epiphany and since we found parking rather quickly (no mean feat in DC), we had time to sit in the pew and chat. We started comparing churches and Mary goes to the protestant chapel on base pretty frequently and sings in the choir there. I explained that I really like my church and that it was very open and inclusive and I felt very welcome there. And Mary said that she liked her church, but that obviously she wasn’t out there, and not sure how open and inclusive they would be.

And then she said, “You know, I know God I loves me, but sometimes I wonder if he really loves me 100%? If he loves me less because of who I am?

I immediately turned to face her squarely, looked her in the eye, and said, “God loves you the way you are. There is no partial love from God. God loves you 100%. We are all God’s children.”

We talked some more and then the service started. After the service, which was different, but nice, we went back to my condo and had breakfast. Then she and Susan went off to explore DC and I headed to St. Thomas’.

As I sat in St. Thomas’, thinking about our previous conversation, and thinking about how Mary felt, I started to get mad. Really mad. I was furious that Mary felt that way. The way Mary feels is the result of people (and a lot of whom are Christians!) who continue to denigrate and denounce GLBT people. Oh, sure it’s “love the sinner, but hate the sin” and all that crap, but I think that’s just a nice little cover for their homophobia. And then I think of BO33, the Dar Es Salam communiqué, and the recent announcement from the House of Bishops. The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are saying that GLBT persons are children of God, and that we are full participants in Christ’s Church, but . . . . you can’t serve as Bishops and we can’t bless your relationships. So we welcome you, and we want you to be part of the church, but only about 80% compared to straight people. So no wonder Mary sometimes felt that God didn’t love her 100%. That’s the message she gets from The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, and the larger world around her.

And that’s why it’s important and I tell her that God loves her 100%. That we tell every GLBT person in the church, or in the world at large, that God loves them. That despite all of the machinations of the church, all of the homophobia and hate in the world around us, that there is Good News: That God loves us all!

Win, Lose, and Draw

Checking email today and I thought I would hit my favorite blogs and the news to make sure we haven't gone to war in Iran while I'm gone.

1. Win: VA is turning blue again. It looks like the dems picked up enough seats to recapture the state senate. I'm not sure if the guy who ended up running in Prince William country (instead of SuperLawyer) won, but they did pick up some seats in the house.
2. Draw: ENDA passed in the House of Representatives. Don't get me wrong. It's historic and amazing, but even if it does pass the Senate, W has announced he plans to veto it. Yep, he's going to bring out that big bad veto pen specifically reserved for things like stem cell research, health care for poor kids, and employment protection for gays and lesbians. That's government for the people and by the people in action. Not.
3. Lose: Apparently the Archibishop of Nigera is rejecting the Council of Nicea? That's like the foundation of not only the Anglican church, but modern Christianity writ large. So are they going to stop saying the Nicene Creed in Nigerian Anglican churches now. Or will they continue to cherry pick the parts of the Bible, and history for that matter, that supports their power thirsty ambitions and hate? I'm guessing it's going to be the power thirsty ambitions and hate mode as usual.

A real post about my vacation soon. Needed to get that last one off my chest. ;-)

Home for the Holiday!

Yep, I'm in Colorado right now. I have seen the rentals since my touch-and-go at Christmas, so I thought I would come out for a quick visit. Interestingly enough, we were both in Chicago on Thursday but at different terminals. I was on United, they were on American. I landed about 2 hours before them and then took advantage of the free internet at the COS airport to get some work done before they landed.

So far, so good. Yesterday was a nice lazy day. I spent about half the day trying to fix Mom's PC. It's AGONIZINGLY slow. And it's a bit better, but I think she needs to bring in a real IT guy to look at it. And I showed Dad how to download his digital photos to his PC. It's baby steps around here, okay?

Today I'm actually going to be doing some house work. Pulling a dead ivy off the side of the house. And then climbing up on the roof of the deck to cauk the sunlights. My dad doesn't want me to do it, saying he'll do it instead. I'm sorry, but if anyone is going to be climbing on top of the roof, it's going to be me. My insurance is better than yours and my bones will heal quicker! He's just crazy that way.

Amazingly enough I've been having some conversations that border on gay issues, and she seems okay with it all. But we'll see.

She's off to Altar Guild right now at Grace CANA. We were talking around that last night and she said that the altar guild is decimated and she feels like she has to go, regardless of what is happening in the church. And I'm okay with that. We both agreed that there are a lot of people, especially older people like my parents who don't understand what is really happening are just collateral damage in this situation. It really is sad.

I hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day Weekend!

Partial Orthodoxy

So I’ve been blog surfing a lot of religious blogs to keep up to speed on the turmoil going on in the Episcopal Church (TEC). Obviously I like some of the more liberal blogs, such as Father Jakes, but I also read some of the more conservative ones, such as Titus One Nine. As much as I like reading the blogs, it’s the comments that intrigue and fascinate me. It’s interesting to hear other people’s comments and their perspectives. But considering the fact that we are all Christians, the animosity and vitriol being put forth in some of these comment driven conversations is quite sad and upsetting.

Lately I’ve see a term that keep popping up on some of the more conservative blogs, and that’s “reappraisers.” That’s the term used to describe some of the more liberal Episcopalians and definitely those who support the full inclusion of GLBT members in the church. And trust me, it almost leaps off the screen as a curse word the way it is used by some bloggers.

But here’s the deal, for all that the conservatives decry the “reappraisers”, they really aren’t totally orthodox either. They’ve done some form of reappraising themselves one way of the other. If you’re truly an orthodox Episcopalian (or any religion) and believe that every word in the bible is the word of God, then you don’t believe in evolution. You don’t lie. You don’t touch pig skin. You don’t wear two different types of cloth. You don’t commit adultery. Women are considered property. Owning slaves is okay. Etc. There’s a lot of rules and proscriptions in the Bible on how you should live your life, so I won’t list them all, but you get my drift.

So unless you are truly living according to the literal interpretation of the Bible in ALL ways, you’re a reappraiser. You may do work on Sunday. You may covet they neighbors Lexus. You may have gotten a divorce at some point in your life. So I would argue that all of those conservative Episcopalians who throw the term “reappraiser” are a little bit hypocritical.

Hypocrisy is one thing, and we all have done it from time to time, but bigotry and prejudice are another. For the conservatives who claim that homosexuality is a sin and that it precludes the full inclusion of GLBT members from the church, I want to know why? Why is this particular rule in the Leviticus Codes so important over the rest of them? Are people who eat shellfish not fit to be clergy because the Leviticus Codes also say that’s a sin? Why are you elevating this one rule to prevent a group of people from serving God? Explain that to me. Please.

The Schism Comes Home

So I've not blogged about this. But I've thought about it a lot. My parent's church in Colorado Springs has left the Episcopal Church and petitioned to join the Nigerian Anglican church.

This saddens, stuns, angers me. And to have it all done amidst allegations of theft, embezzlement, etc only clouds the issues and makes it harder to distill the real forces at work here.

My mother lives by the church. Born and raised an Episcopalian, she's been involved with the church all her life. Even now she's a member of the alter guild and works in the thrift store. The separation, and the ugly situation there, are just killing her.

I've sat by, waiting, making no comment. I keep telling myself that it doesn't really effect me. That I should let them make their own decisions on which group they should go with. It obvious to me that chosing the vehemently anti-gay Nigerian church is the wrong answer, but they do have a lot of loyalty to their rector. But if there was a misappropriation of funding, is that loyalty deserved? If the rector is going to take them down a path of hate and "partial orthodox", then they need to question whether that loyalty is deserved.

I wonder if I write to them, tell them how I feel, whether it will make a difference? I'm almost convinced that nothing will persuade my father short of a clear declaration of wrong doing by the rector. Which will never happen. My mother might be swayed by logic and reason, but I'm not sure. And to mention that my passion behind my concerns has to do with the being gay will surely kill any chance I have of convincing them to think about the issues before they make a decision.

So do I write to them, and tell them how I feel, knowing it might not make a difference. Or do I maintain my silence and let them do as they please?

I'm going home in May to visit them. I won't go a Nigerian Anglican church. I won't. And I'm sure that will be an issue. But I guess I can deal with that then.

This Old Body . . . .

is hurting. Badly!

I woke up this AM to excruiating pain in my left foot and the tell-tale sign of a scratchy throat that means a nice cold is on it's way. Not sure what the deal is with my foot. I suspect it's gout. And yes, it's an old person's disease, but it's also apparently genetic, and can be triggered by diet. Especially a high protein diet. Which is what I've been on, up until Thursday that is. So I'm not sure what triggered it. I'm going to try to hobble along until I get an appointment with my Dr tomorrow. So much for running up and down the Champs in Paris. I'll just be happy if I'm not limping. And ironically enough, this will be the first time I've been to visit my sister and gotten sick before I get there. Usually my little lovely virus factory niece infects me and I'm sick when I get home. Of course, this could all be allergies, but I'm thinking not.

So I went to Truro for church this AM. I wanted to experience their service, I wanted to sit in their pews, I wanted to listen to how they worship to see if I could figure out why they feel the need to leave the Episcopal Church. Before I left, I had read their website, and while they claim to welcome gays and lesbians, they also refer to several of the ex-gay ministries. So I'm not sure how welcome they really are. Unfortunately with my gimp foot I got there late and quietly sat in the back. While the format and many of the components of the service were the same, it just felt odd. I'm not an evangelical, and there were several evangelical and/or charismatic moments in the service. I'm also pretty conservative when it comes of my church music. And there were several songs/hymns that seemed more at home in a big tent revival than in an Episcopal (or Anglican) church. Unfortunately as I sat there, I realized that I was listening to the lessons, the songs, the sermon through a very jaded perspective. Almost everything I heard I was probably taking the wrong way to fit into the mindset that I had already created. So I got up and left. I wasn't being honest in my attempt to listen to them, to figure out how they feel. So I left. And to be honest, my foot was trobbing so hard that I could barely focus anyways. I'm not sure I'll go back. I'd like to figure out a way to have a meaningful conversation with someone from Truro, but I'm not sure how to do it.


The House of Bishops speaks:

"We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion, and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that stands against any violence, including violence done to women and children as well as those who are persecuted because of their differences, often in the name of God. The (Primates') Communiqué is distressingly silent on this subject. And, contrary to the way (others) have represented us, we proclaim a Gospel that welcomes diversity of thought and encourages free and open theological debate as a way of seeking God's truth. If that means that others reject us and communion with us, as some have already done, we must with great regret and sorrow accept their decision."

Schism is inevitable, but I think that was the case regardless. It's a good day to be an Episcopalian!

I Dare YOU!

To Read THIS!

I was there on Sunday when he gave this sermon. I was a bit offput at first. Using terms like "hetero dictatorship" usually turns me off. But as I listened to this warm, funny, determined, old man I became entranced in the sermon, the lesson, the history and towards the end I had trouble holding back the tears.

If you aren't touched by this, then I weep for you.

Quotes of the Day

Wow, I guess I was a little prescient last night. Well it's not really a rant about the Anglican Community, but these words from Bishop Robinson better express how I feel than I could possibly write about what amounts to an ultimatum from the Anglican Community:

"How will we explain this 'forbearance' to all those gay and lesbian Christians who have come to the Episcopal Church because, for the first time ever, they have believed that there is a place for them at God's table, not simply beneath it, hoping for fallen scraps?"

And . . .

"Does anyone believe that our full compliance with the primates' demands, our complete denunciation of our gay and lesbian members or my removal as bishop would make all this go away?" he asked. "For the first time in its history and at the hands of the larger communion, the Episcopal Church may be experiencing a little taste of the irrational discrimination and exclusion that is an everyday experience of its gay and lesbian members."

I completely agree. I think we're already beyond the breaking point. I don't see the Bishop Akinola agreeing to stop his colonization of America and slowly destroying the Episcopal Church of the United States.

As my rector paraphrased the Dixie Chicks last Sunday: "I’m not ready to make nice—not ready to back down—still mad as hell”!

A Wind Rose . . . .

The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving memories and traditions that become legend and rituals. In the early 21st century, a wind rose above the towering majestic cathedral in Canterbury. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

Born in a cold, grey dawn on a mid February morning, the wind raced around the Crown Tower, built to house the crown of St. Thomas' head which was struck off when he was murdered so many years ago. Eastward, and south, the wind howled, crossing the English Channel, one of a hundred winds blowing across the continent. But this wind was different, it had a purpose. South it continued, riding high on heat currents as it crossed the Mediterranean and the hot North African desert. It weakened as it approached the equator, but turned eastward picking up strength as it passed the oil refineries in Nigeria, the poverty stricken villages, the huge orphanages for children who not only have AIDS, but lost their parents to the disease as well. The wind crossed central Africa turning south and flowing along the plains of the Serengeti with the great Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance. Onwards the wind blew, slowing as it approached the Indian Ocean and the city of Dar Es Salaam. The wind crept into the beachside resort creating little whirlwinds in the courtyard that pulled at the cassocks of the Anglican Primates as they scurried from one meeting to the next, avoiding members of the opposition and giving them the barest of courtesies.

My apologies for Robert Jordan for stealing this analogy, but every report I've read from Dar Es Salaam talks about the various rival groups, plotting, secretively in different corners of the resort. It reminds me of the Aes Sedai, their Ajahs, and the plotting and politics within the White Tower and around the world. The greatest irony in my little analogy is that there is only one female at Dar Es Salaam and she's surrounded by men. My thoughts and prayers go out to Bishop Jefferts-Schori. She's going to need all of her strength, patience, intelligence, and deep love, knoledge, and understanding of God to be able to deal with the swirling maelstrom of hate and discontent that is going to try to ridicule and belittle her. I definitely think she's the right person, at the right time, at the right place to fight against the schismatics and help make our Church stronger.

Anglican vs Episcopalian

There was an article in the Washington Post on Thursday talking about the impact of the split between the Episcopalians and these "Nigerian-American Anglicans" (or NAAs for short) in a small town in Viriginia. It was a heart breaking story. And it put a very human face on the impact of the schism.

As I mentioned before, it think it's sad that when the NAAs voted to leave the Episcopal Church, they forced the remaining members of the church to find someplace else to worship. Interestingly enough, an old family friend is quoted as saying: "It cannot be shared when things are in limbo, and that's the position we're in," said Ward LeHardy, a congregant serving as spokesman for the majority group. Such an arrangement "would complicate legal and spiritual aspects."

Well, that's partly true. But not the part that is most important. I don't see how sharing the church would complicate things spiritually at all. The Episcopalians could worship at a 9AM service, and the NAAs could worship at an 11AM service. Both groups, who have nutured their church for many years, would be able to worship within the church. Isn't that what brothers and sisters in Christ should do?

No, the reason why they can't share is more legal in nature. The lawsuits are coming and it's not going to be pretty. But it is going to be petty.

Oddly enough, in church today we heard about Paul's letters to the Corinthians in which he talked about the very fractured church of his time. And he said:

"That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular."

I wonder if the Nigerian American Anglicans had the same readings we did today, and whether they really heard them or not?

(I promise non-religous or political blog entry soon!)

Episcolypse Now

I love Jon Stewart. He did a great bit about the Episcopal Church that just killed me. I've stolen the title from him. Well the great Anglican blogosphere is up in arms about the schism, though many don't use that term in order to minimize what is happening. And to put some perspective on it I think. We are just talking a few churches, but it will remain to be seen whether this was just the beginning of the exodus, or just an isolated event.

Anyways, it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who understands that this was something that started a long time ago, and is just now coming out into the light. Some of my favorite bits:

The Daily Episcopalian: "The members of Truro and the Falls Church have now declared that belonging to a church that permits gays and lesbians to become bishops is too great a tax on their conscience, while belonging to a church that believes gay people should be imprisoned for eating together in public is not."

From Harold Meyerson in the Post: "Explaining the decision to leave the American church, Vicki Robb, a Fairfax parishioner and Alexandria public relations exec, told The Post's Bill Turque and Michelle Boorstein that the church's leftward drift has made it "kind of embarrassing when you tell people that you're Episcopal." It must be a relief to finally have an archbishop who doesn't pussyfoot around when gays threaten to dine in public. The alliance of the Fairfax Phobics with Archbishop Restaurant Monitor is just the latest chapter in the global revolt against modernity and equality . . ."

From Stephen Bates: "Truro church and Falls church have made it quite clear that they have been disenchanted with the Episcopal church's liberal-leaning leadership for a long time, looking for an excuse to go. Virtually nothing could have persuaded them to stay. Although the proximate cause may have been the election three years ago of the openly gay bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, the real causes lie in a fundamental disagreement over the nature of Anglicanism and a determination to wrest it from its broad and tolerant roots into a more evangelical, conservative direction."

And "These groups have chosen homosexuality as a defining issue because they believe it is something that will unite and mobilise sympathisers in a way that other current issues in the church, such as women's ordination, have not been able to do. There is still a visceral distaste for the idea of homosexuality and the prejudice against it can be characterised not as bigotry but as something sanctioned by a few (and there are only a few) references in the Bible. Interestingly, the same mobilisation in defence of biblical orthodoxy does not seem to apply to other facts of life about which the Bible's authors were quite as adamant, pre-eminently divorce. Surely this can't be - can it? - because many more folk have experience of divorce in their families these days than of homosexuality, and that even some of the most outspoken evangelical leaders are themselves divorced."

So why do I care about all of this fuss? It's hard to explain. Sure I was born and raised an Episcopalian, but then I fell away from the chuch. It was too hard to try to reconcile my sexuality, and my place in the world, with some of the preachings I had heard. But I came back, and I sort of fell into a place where I appreciated, understand, and truly believe in the power of God as described and preached in the Episcopal Church.

I like this description from Bruce Bawer: "Anglicanism, I'd discovered, isn't for those who see the Bible as a rigorous rule book and infallible history but for those who recognize it as a kind of poetry. It isn't for those who wanted the smug satisfaction of "knowing" that they're saved and that others aren't, but for those who respond to the radically inclusive message of Jesus, who rejected the rules and taboos that divided people, and tribes, from one another."

While all of this intercine squabbling is going on, big kudos to the Presiding Bishop for keeping her eyes on the ball: "Our mission as a Church is the reconciliation of the world. We will continue to feed the hungry, house the homeless, educate children, heal the sick, minister to those in prison, and speak good news to those who have only heard the world's bad news. That is the work to which Jesus calls us, and that is the work we shall continue - with a priority of peace and justice work framed by the Millennium Development Goals. May God bless that which seeks to unite and build up and heal this broken world."

The Great Anglican Schism

Yesterday marked the beginning of the great Anglican Schism here in America. Several churches, almost within earshot of the National Cathedral, voted to secede from The Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA). I really shouldn’t say this is the beginning. This moment has been years in the making and there was much preparation for this event. But I’m sure historians will mark this date as the beginning of the Great Anglican Schism. And I weep. I really do. I rarely talk about religion. My relationship with God is mine. But I don’t talk about it. That’s something that we Episcopalians just don’t do. We aren’t evangelicals, but don’t question our faith.

So the succession of the churches in Virginia, and there will be more to come, is hurtful. I want to go to Truro and talk to them. To ask them questions. What is it about Bishop Robinson’s sexuality that forces you to leave the greater Episcopal Church in this country? I know my conversation will serve no purpose. There’s no reasoning or logic, this is an emotional argument. But I still have to try. Is there an 11th Commandment that forbids homosexuality or sodomy? No. What did Jesus say about homosexuality? Nothing. Why must you cling to the literal interpretation of scripture that was written over a thousand years ago and translated innumerable times when it comes to homosexuality, but ignore those same interpretations when it comes to eating shell fish, or touching pigs skin, or divorce? There are no logical answers to those questions from those who oppose Bishop Robinson. They are so wrapped up in their own belief system that they refuse to look at, or even consider, anything that undermines their position. So arguing with them on what caused them to take this draconian step is futile.

But I can’t give up. I believe in one holy apostolic church. So I have to ask, why must you do this? New Hampshire is a long way from Virginia. How can Bishop Robinson effect you and your faith and service to God? Bishop Lee, the Bishop of Virginia, even accepted the affront of being asked not to come to your parishes and instead offered to send Bishops who hadn’t been “tainted” by the vote for Robinson as you so implied. But apparently this wasn’t good enough. Again I ask, how can this effect your faith, your calling, your service to God?

I ask in all sincerity, please explain this to me because I really can’t understand it.

The parishes that seceded had recently completed a discernment process, 40 days to think about what they wanted to do, where they wanted to go as a parish. But I suspect that those 40 days were just window dressing on a decision made months, if not years ago. It is interesting to note in the declaration that these parishes made, that they “voted” to keep their property. More interesting is that it was over a year ago that a state representative who attends Truro tried to pass a bill in Virginia that would have intervened in Church law and allowed the parish to do just that. No, the vote yesterday was just a sad formality. So resolute in their beliefs, no compromise, no concessions, would satisfy them.

When these parishes fight for the property, when they hire lawyers to gain control of the physical church property, look at where the money comes from to pay for these lawyers. Will it come from within the parish, or will it come from those who have some sort of agenda to fight? I think there is more to this that meets the eye.

And a final question for my brothers and sisters in Truro, what would Jesus think of the millions of dollars spent to claim the temple, while the poor and hungry and sick of the world continue to suffer?

“Let us pray for the whole state of Christ’s church, and the world.”