Monday, June 26, 2006

In favor of and against B033

Here's the text of what was finally passed on the last day at GC in response to the Windsor Report:-

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 75th General Convention receive and embrace The Windsor Report’s invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation; and be it further

Resolved, that this Convention therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.

The debate on this issue has been reported extensively at ENS and elsewhere. Bishop Gene Robinson has written an open letter in The Witness to lbgt people in the aftermath of GC alluding to the debate. He makes the point that it was the appeal of Presiding Bishop elect Katharine Schori that tipped the opinions of many to vote in favor of the resolution at great personal cost.

Let's remember that a statement of dissent from B033 on the basis of conscience has already appeared from Bishop Chane supported by Bishops from dioceses including Vermont, Chicago, Newark, Northern Michigan and Rochester. This is an indication of principled support for the nominations of glbt clergy to the episcopate, recognizing ministries of glbt folk in the Anglican communion and condemning the coersive elements of the debate in the House of Deputies.

B033 is of course a response to the Windsor report. Passing B033 is a way of making sure that Presiding Bishop-Elect Schori gets invited to Lambeth. One could say that Bishop Schori's election guarenteed the passage of a resolution like B033. The question is whether the compromise that B033 represents (and with which no one is happy) is worth it.

I am reminded of Paul's attempt to coerce the Corinthian body by arguing against women prophets in I Corinthians 11 finally from custom and with all the weight of his personal authority that such a custom isn't recognized and just isn't done in the churches. This kind of argumentation tells us far more about how Paul uses his personal authority in the service of community order to coerce women prophets and far less about women prophets in the Corinthian community. And so it seems to be in the debate about B033. It is entirely up to dioceses to raise up candidates for episcopal office and I trust that this will continue without an eye to resolutions like this.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

From Columbus: Aftermath

It seems that the election of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to the office of Presiding Bishop is the work of the Holy Spirit. Elected on the fifth ballot, to many at Convention her election was a complete surprise. However, a bishop I know indicated in conversation at GC that she was lucid and theologically articulate in presentations to the house of Bishops before the election so brother and sister bishops already thought highly of her. For a reaction from a liberal perspective (which I share), see this post from the Diocese of Washington after her election. A marine biologist by training, her comments on evolution are available on the web.

The NY Times profiles her today and calls her family of origin "staggeringly competant." If her press conference after the election is anything to go on, she is capable of handling barbed questions and critical remarks well either in English or Spanish.

The duties of the PB include: the charge to be chief pastor and primate, to provide for episcopal oversight in the absense of a diocesan bishop, to take order for the consecration of bishops when duly elected and from time to time assemble the bishops to meet as a house or council, to preside over meetings of the House of Bishops, and to call a joint session of the Houses of Bishops and Deputies at General Convention. Any new bishops will be consecrated by Presiding Bishop Schori.

Thanks to the Diocese of Nevada for providing the whole church with Bishop Schori. Brave new world indeed!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

From Columbus, Ohio #3

Wednesday was a long day. The day began with a eucharist in Spanish and English at 9.30am and was followed by staffing the seminary booth in the Exhibit Hall. Several of us attended a hearing on Baptism as Full Initiation with presentations by Lee Mitchell, John Westerhoff and others over lunch. There was a seminary reception from 5.30-6.30pm and the day finished with hearing statements on resolutions A160, A161, A162, A163 from 7.30-10pm in the Hyatt Ballroom. For a transcript of most of the 65+ statements of two minutes or under, see Fr. Kennedy's blog sent from the floor of the ballroom as speakers were speaking.

Larry King Live at 9pm Eastern Time tonight (Thursday) has an exclusive interview with Bishop Gene Robinson who was one of the speakers last night.

Perhaps indeed what we are watching is a struggle between two different definitions of what it means to be Anglican. Bishop Sauls describes it thus:-

The constitutional issue we face is between two competing visions of what it means to be an Anglican. One vision has its roots in the English Reformation, particularly something known as the Elizabethan Settlement with its key principles of (1) common prayer as the broadly inclusive framework of unity holding together a diversity of doctrinal belief on even fundamental issues and (2) local leadership of the local church. This vision of Anglicanism seems to me particularly well-suited for a world endangered by rising and intolerant fundamentalism, coping with globalization, and struggling with an ever-increasing rate of significant change and its resultant discomfort.

The alternative vision sees our roots in the English Reformation as fatally flawed. Dean Paul Zahl of the Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry states, “This whole crisis has revealed a very serious deficiency in the character of Anglicanism. It’s a severe deficiency in Anglicanism because there isn’t really a church teaching in the same way there is in the Church of Rome…. I would say there is a constitutional weakness, which this crisis has revealed, which may in fact prove to be the death of the Anglican project—the death, at least in formal terms, of Anglican Christianity. We’ve always said that we’ve had this great insight, and I used to think that we did” (New Yorker, p. 63).

Its interesting to ask who has a stake in this struggle: not many women and minorities judging by people who spoke last night.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

From Columbus Ohio #2

Windsor Report hearings are moving through committee deliberations and at 7.30 tonight there's a public hearing on the Windsor Report in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom which I am planning to attend as part of the general public.

Walking by the State House this morning, I saw the very moving AFSC exhibit of boots commemorating the Iraqi and US dead (2497 soldiers and God known how many Iraqi civilians). To see the laid out boots and shoes brings the dead home.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

From Columbus, Ohio #1

General Convention is taking place in Columbus, Ohio for the next several days which is where I'll be. Amongst other things including responses to the Windsor Report, Ruth Gledhill of the London Times (now publishing in the US for $1.00 daily) opines that a topic will be a debate over whether ECUSA will "repent" our actions in consecrating an openly gay bishop. I am looking forward to great liturgy and preaching of the word and to hearing from Anglicans around the world. On my taxi ride from the airport, the Somali driver enlightened me with up to date information from Mogadishu and Nairobi (where his family now lives given the present state of Somalia). He announced that we were neighbours (since I was born in Kenya).

Friday, June 09, 2006

Talk at the Smithsonian

Last week, I was in Washington DC staying with friends and speaking once at a gathering of clergy women at the Cathedral School and at the Smithsonian Resident Associates program on Saturday June 3rd from 9-1pm. The Smithsonian program was a panel with Profs Carol Meyers of Duke and Elizabeth Johnson of Fordham. Each of us gave separate talks on Miriam, Mary and Mary Magdalene followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with the audience.

It was a wonderful occasion for cross-disciplinary discussion and interfaith reflections some of which we got into after the presentations. Elizabeth Johnson, for example, proposed that traits of Mary are attributed to the Holy Spirit by Protestants. Carol Meyers argued that the term "coming/going out" describes the action of women musicians celebrating miraculous events such as deliverance at the Red Sea (Miriam), celebrating David's victory after killing the Philistines (I Sam 18:6), and Mary Magdalene who went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord" (John 20:18).

The Smithsonian specifically asked that we make power point presentations with handouts. Mine used music and images from the Biblia Pauperum to show the expansion of dialogue between Jesus and MM at the tomb in John 20 by incorporating material from the Song of Songs. Since the technical people could not get either Carol Meyers or my power point presentations to work at the outset, we reversed the order of presentations to finish with material from the Hebrew Bible. By 11.00am order was restored and Carol presented. I was reduced to using handouts alone although they did manage to play my music. It was hard to concentrate on content and points of dialogue when worrying about delivery.

All of this goes to show that having plan B is essential and that plan B must not mentally be second best. Perhaps practising a day ahead is optimal. I did appreciate the simplicity of Elizabeth's lecture and handout presentation :)