Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Canterbury Tale

April 25, 2010

It is not fun to come from a Sunday Morning celebration of our children’s and youth choirs, wonderful preaching by high school seniors, high energy and many visitors effusive in their praise for a vibrant, young, downtown parish only to read A Canterbury Tale by Jane Kramer in The New Yorker of April 26, 2010. it is a careful and thorough examination of the Church of England in relation to the ministry of women in the clergy in general and the debates about women in the episcopate in particular. I find my self wearied by the whole discussion that seems like ancient history for us even as I recognize all the same old arguments that have been around for so long. The Archbishop of Canterbury comes off as a nice and thoughtful man who really dislikes the divisions that seem to be exacerbated by debates of the kind going on in the C of E.

I also received an email today from a parishioner telling me that he is now ‘Anglican’ (as though The Episcopal Church isn’t) and begging me to follow the Bible. He has nothing against ‘those people having civil unions or whatever’ but sees no need for the Church to ignore the Bible. He asked that he and his wife be ‘removed from the rolls’.

Another visitor told me how much he enjoyed the liturgy and how religion is complicated for him as he also loves parts of his own evangelical heritage , especially the belief that we should ‘take the Bible as it comes’ and his concern that the Episcopal Church does not do that.

When will religious leaders stop making the false claims that they are following the Bible and that those who think differently (on what is culturally conditioned and necessary to change as a direct consequence of reading the Bible) are not being Biblical? They are as disingenuous as those who claim that ‘The Episcopal Church has left them’ as the basis for their ignoring their ordination vows or seeking to retain property. They are as disingenuous as those who say that the Church is following a path that ‘no Christina can take’ as though they and their doctrines are the ultimate arbiters of who is Christian. How long must we keep on making our case against those who should know better? How long must we debate those who repeat slogans without using the God given gift of reason?

I thank God that in the midst of this I am able to gather with all manner of hypocrites and sinners around the table of the Lord knowing that we are all striving to accept and honor the invitation to be transformed into the people we were created to be in and through the Love of God.


diane said...

My sympathies and condolence to you. Thank you for posting.

Diane Hughes

Anonymous said...

Your last paragraph is the main reason I love All Saint's. Indeed I think that is it's greatest strength!

Roy Coker

Lerewayah said...

Geoffrey, thanks so much for being willing to walk from the heavenly buffet to being buffeted on all sides, so to speak. Having come to Atlanta from a diocese whose pastoral leader frequently uses that phrase you mentioned, i.e., "The Episcopal Church has left us/me," I rejoice to be here with you and all of the All Saints'.

I recall one of our recent speakers (Marcus Borg, perhaps?) saying that he takes the Bible too seriously to take it literally. If only.

So, for my part, I am glad to be a part of EfM, in which we have a safe place to test and probe and question and listen hard for the Word of God that is surely not too fragile to withstand our clumsy efforts.

Lerewayah said...

Oops, I (4/28/10 @ 12:48) forgot to sign my last post.

That's me, Lerewayah, more commonly known as Gretchen Chateau.