December 17, 2009
Kabuki is a form of Japanese drama marked by stylized movement and singing with the characters wearing heavy make up and, occasionally, masks. I have been thinking about this as the Church has reacted to the election of Mary Glasspool as one of two Suffragan Bishops in Los Angeles. Her election is causing a furor of sorts because she is a partnered lesbian. (Who recalls offhand the name of the other distinguished priest who was elected first?) Since the election all the usual players have made all the usual and predictable moves. Rowan Williams has shown that he has more grasp of the polity of The Episcopal Church than some do and urged that her election not be approved by those bishops with jurisdiction and Standing Committees that will be asked to give their consent. He is still hoping for an Anglican Covenant that will keep conservatives in the fold. Others have colorfully praised the election as “another nail in the coffin of Christian homophobia”. Various groups have made various statements, but there just is not the heat behind all this that there was when Barbara Harris was elected a Suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts and many thought the sky was falling, or when Gene Robinson was elected Bishop of New Hampshire and a similar furor followed. We are ‘over it’, pretty well confirmed in our various positions and moving on. The actors with all their masks and arcane costumes are taking all the right steps, but they no longer inspire passion.
I, and many others apparently, are much more concerned that Anglican Bishops in Uganda are waffling about whether or not they condemn a proposed law against homosexuality. The threat of a death penalty has been removed, partly as a result of international pressure (Our Presiding Bishop and even Rick Warren have made statements opposing the proposed laws on moral grounds but as yet nothing official from the ABC—He is ‘working intensively’ behind the scenes apparently.) There are some signs of right wing groups in the US funding and supporting aspects of the proposed law which criminalizes not only homosexuality, but the suspicion of it, outlining punishment for those who do not report such deviant behavior among their neighbors. That is worth getting worked up about and it is unclear to me what would be so terrible about the ABC making public his concern over the position of Anglican Bishops in the matter. He was willing to have an official opinion about an election in TEC within about twelve hours of its happening and making that statement public? Can anyone explain why a statement ‘urging’ his brother bishops in Uganda to take a clear position in line with various Lambeth Conference resolutions would be so terrible?