Wednesday, May 28, 2008


May 28, 2008

In the same Journal of Anglican Studies that I mentioned on May 26 there is an article by Philip Sheldrake, a professor of theology from Durham University in England and Roman Catholic writer on Christian spirituality. He argues for “keeping faith with the vital importance of reconciliation at a time when siren voices suggest that a quick divorce in the Anglican Communion would now be less painful, more honest and less distracting.” (p.108) In his quest for reconciliation which he sees as central to the inner life of the Church and the ministry of Christ he looks at the words we use, fear and loathing, spaces for change, catholicity, the spirituality of St. Benedict, hospitality and much else besides. In one section for example he identifies ways in which we deal with ‘otherness’ by different forms of exclusion.

He says we demonize, colonize, generalize, trivialize, homogenize and we ignore. We colonize “when we think of others as inferior and to be pitied. They become objects of our charity or our bullying.” We homogenize when “we say that ther is no real difference at all. In a well meaning way, we make premature pleas for tolerance and closure.” (p.110) here is much wisdom here and I am reminded of the work of Ron Heifetz of the Kennedy School on leadership and the work of Valerie Batts of Visions-Inc, both of which I have written about before.

This summer we are going to try offering a single major morning service at 10 a.m. for six weeks. Each of these services will be followed by a brief ‘summer GIFT class’ in Ellis Hall with a parallel offering for children. Our hope is that there will be a different kind of energy than we experience during the school year, more attuned to summer rhythms but still life giving for those who come for worship and stay until noon. I will plan to offer one of these brief talks on this essay by Philip Sheldrake. I hope I will see you there.


Helen Pope said...

I am really looking forward to the summer GIFT meetings. It is a constant struggle to deal with otherness in an affirming, non-patronizing way. Since your talk about the Visions, Inc. Framework at GIFT this spring, I've thought a lot about it. The very word otherness sounds negative, but ignoring differences doesnt allow for dignifying those differences in a positive way. At any rate, I look forward to summer GIFT.

patty said...

It will be interesting to see how this one service plays out. We're all, or at least, I'm very comfortable in my space at the 11:15 service, so I'm looking forward to seeing how this one service works. On another point, I think so many times it has been politically correct to be "color blind, gender blind, and all difference blind." One thing I have learned from working with those of different ethinicities, cultures, orientations, etc, is that instead of being "blind," we or, at least, once again, I have been so much more enriched by embracing and appreciating these differences and what they add to my life personally, the life of the church, and the life of the world. If we were all the same, where would the richness in this great tapestry be? Wouldn't life be boring? The different cultures, religions, ethnicities, etc, all have something grand to add to this world we're in, so, let's celebrate!!